Episode 310

Social Media & Public Trust

A Conversation with Bari Weiss, Michael Shellenberger, and Renee DiResta

January 31, 2023

Sam Harris speaks with Bari Weiss, Michael Shellenberger, and Renee DiResta about the release of “the Twitter files” and the loss of trust in the institutions of media and government. They discuss Bari and Michael’s experience of participating in the Twitter files release, the problem of misinformation, the relationship between Twitter and the federal government, Russian influence operations, the challenges of content moderation, Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop, the need for transparency, platforms vs. publishers, Twitter’s resistance to the FBI, political bias at Twitter, J.K. Rowling, the inherent subjectivity of moderation decisions, the rise of competitive platforms, rumors vs. misinformation, how Twitter attempted to control the spread of Covid misinformation, the throttling of Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, the failure of institutions to communicate Covid information well, the risk of paternalism, abuses of power, and other topics.

Bari Weiss is the founder and editor of The Free Press and host of the podcast Honestly. From 2017 to 2020, Weiss was an opinion writer and editor at The New York Times. Before that, she was an op-ed and book review editor at The Wall Street Journal and a senior editor at Tablet Magazine.

Weiss is the winner of the LA Press Club's 2021 Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism. She is also the winner of the Reason Foundation’s 2018 Bastiat Prize, which honors writing that “best demonstrates the importance of freedom with originality, wit, and eloquence.” In 2019, Vanity Fair called Weiss the Times's "star opinion writer."

Weiss is a proud Pittsburgh native. Her first book, How to Fight Anti-Semitism, was the winner of a 2019 National Jewish Book Award. She lives with her wife and daughter in Los Angeles.

Website: thefp.com


Twitter: @bariweiss


Michael Shellenberger is the author of two best-selling books, San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities and Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.

He’s been called an “environmental guru,” a “climate guru,” “North America’s leading public intellectual on clean energy,” and a “high priest” of the pro-human environmental movement.

Michael is the founder and president of Environmental Progress, an independent non-profit research organization that incubates ideas, leaders, and movements. He is also a co-founder of the California Peace Coalition, an alliance of parents of children killed by fentanyl, parents of homeless addicts, and recovering addicts. 

He also has a newsletter on Substack titled Public

Website: public.substack.com

Twitter: @ShellenbergerMD


Renée DiResta is the Technical Research Manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, a cross-disciplinary program of research, teaching, and policy engagement for the study of abuse in current information technologies. Her work examines the spread of narratives across social and media networks, how state and non-state actors leverage the information ecosystem to exert influence, and how policy, education, and design can mitigate manipulative dynamics. She is currently working on a book about propaganda and influence.

Website: reneediresta.com, io.stanford.edu

Twitter: @noUpside

Learning how to train your mind is the single greatest investment you can make in life. That’s why Sam Harris created the Waking Up app. From rational mindfulness practice to lessons on some of life’s most important topics, join Sam as he demystifies the practice of meditation and explores the theory behind it.