In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Nicholas Christakis about the Covid-19 pandemic. They discuss the breakdown of trust in institutions and experts, the corruption of science by politics, the ineptitude of the Trump administration in handling the pandemic, whether the gravity of Covid-19 has been exaggerated, preparing for future pandemics, whether Covid deaths are being over-reported, bad incentives in the medical system, tracking “excess death” statistics, the prospect that the novel coronavirus will evolve to become more benign, the efficacy of current treatments, safety concerns about a rushed vaccine, the importance of public health communication, when life might return to normal, the economic impact of the pandemic, long term social changes, the future of universities, Nicholas’s personal habits during the pandemic, the importance of rapid testing, and other topics.
Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is the Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science at Yale University, where he directs the Human Nature Lab and is the Co-Director of the Yale Institute for Network Science. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2006, the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017.
He is the author of several books—Connected: The Amazing Power of Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society, and most recently Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live.