Episode 90

Published on:

28th Dec 2023

Mini-Decoding: Huberman on the Vaccine-Autism Controversy

Andrew Huberman, Stanford academic and host of a science-themed podcast, recently released an episode on Autism with guest Dr. Karen Parker. Considering the prevalence of misinformation about vaccines and autism and this episode being promoted as providing an overview of the topic, we were interested to see how the topic would be covered. In part, this interest was because of Huberman's strategic choice to avoid any discussion, let alone any recommendation, of COVID vaccines during the pandemic. The topic came up 2 hours and 43 minutes into the episode and lasted for around 10 minutes.

What we found was interesting and we think deserving of a mini-decoding. What you will not find here is any endorsement of lurid anti-vax claims or cheers for Andrew Wakefield. Indeed, Huberman notes that Wakefield's research was debunked, while his guest Dr. Parker explains the consensus view amongst researchers that there is no evidence of a link. What you will find: Huberman readily engaging in ‘both sides’ hedging: maybe Wakefield’s research helped locate real issues with preservatives, maybe there are too many childhood vaccines (some clinicians 'in private' recommend none), maybe new data will come out later that reveals a link between autism and vaccines. There certainly are a lot of questions and could it be that 'cancel culture' is the real problem here rather than the existence of a very influential anti-vaccine movement?

Let's just say, when you pair this with Huberman's comments on the potential dangers of Bluetooth headphones/sunscreen, the potential benefits for negative ion bathing and grounding, the lab leak origins of COVID, endorsement of AG1 and a host of other supplements, and fawning over figures like RFK Jnr and Joe Rogan... we have some questions of our own.


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About the Podcast

Decoding the Gurus
A psychologist and an anthropologist try to make sense of the world's greatest self-declared Gurus.
An exiled Northern Irish anthropologist and a hitchhiking Australian psychologist take a close look at the contemporary crop of 'secular gurus', iconoclasts, and other exiles from the mainstream, offering their own brands of unique takes and special insights.

Leveraging two of the most diverse accents in modern podcasting, Chris and Matt dig deep into the claims, peek behind the psychological curtains, and try to figure out once and for all... What's it all About?

Join us, as we try to puzzle our way through and talk some smart-sounding smack about the intellectual giants of our age, from Jordan Peterson to Robin DiAngelo. Are they revolutionary thinkers or just grifters with delusions of grandeur?

Join us and let's find out!
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About your hosts

Christopher Kavanagh

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A Northern Irish cognitive anthropologist who occasionally moonlights as a social psychologist. Chris has long standing interests in the psychology of conspiracy theorists and pseudoscience. His academic research focuses on the Cognitive Science of Religion and ritual psychology. He lives happily in Japan with his family.

Matthew Browne

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An Australian psychologist and numbers-guy. He does research on all kinds of stuff, but particularly enjoys looking into why people believe the things they do: religion, conspiracy theories, alternative medicine and stuff. He's into social media in the same way people slow down for car accidents.