Is Contact Tracing Worth the Loss to Civil Liberties? w/Michael Shermer | Joe Rogan


4 years ago



Michael Shermer

7 appearances

Dr. Michael Shermer is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, host of the podcast "The Michael Shermer Show," and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University. He is the author of several books, the most recent of which is "Conspiracy: Why the Rational Believe the Irrational."


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You know another thing I wanted to talk to you about Michael is there's an article today in the Atlantic which is really interesting. It's about technology. It's contact tracking technology. And this there's a real concern about this stuff. First of all the idea is great that if you that this could free America from quarantine. So this is always the risk right. The risk is just give up a little bit of your civil liberties, give up a little bit of your freedom and we're going to keep you safe. And you know it brings you to the old Benjamin Franklin quote you know he who would give up liberty for freedom deserves neither. Liberty for safety. I'm sure I fucked up that quote. But this technology is very interesting because they're using it in South Korea and they're using it in Singapore. And the title of the article in the Atlantic is the technology that could free America from quarantine. It's out today. And they bring up this conundrum. I mean nobody wants to give up civil liberties and civil liberties lost or rarely regained. And this is the real concern here that if you do allow people to track who you're in contact with and make sure that OK you're testing negative and you're in contact with people that also test negative. So you're OK. You're OK to travel now. Like this is you know this is a very weird thing and it gets us into a very gray area. How do you feel about this. I feel about it this way. In general I'm against that sort of thing. I like the idea of privacy and that I do have a right to not be tracked. And you know you can't have cameras in my home or my yard and so on. In general I think across the board that's a good principle and it follows the Constitution. I think there are times say national emergency like this. Of course there's always the risk that you know any autocrat can declare a national emergency grab the power never give it back. And I mentioned examples of this before in Turkey say. But the difference here I think is you know we do have a constitution. We do have states rights. We do have courts that litigate these sorts of things. I could see a reasonable measure being taken for let's say we're going to do the following for six months until we see what happens with this pandemic. And then once that's over then we're going to revert back. Now let's say the governor or the president says well I'm not going back. Well then you have courts and you sue the state or you sue the federal government for violations of civil liberties and then you can get them back. But that's never happened. We've never got them. Like what happened with the NSA when Edward Snowden revealed how much tracking is actually going on. I mean that's never been reversed. I know. I know. Yeah I know. It was very. I watched that show when you had him on and oh boy that was pretty disturbing. Very disturbing. Also disturbing was that now it's been proven that the Obama administration lied. They lied about what you know is just metadata. There's no concern. It was not just metadata. They were able to read people's emails. Right. Yes and you know this program was started under Bush and so supposedly when Obama became president it's like the transparent president. So we're going to stop doing that. Well that's not the case. So here's a good argument for you know WikiLeaks and the Pentagon Papers that I recognize is valuable that we wouldn't have known that without Snowden or the Pentagon Papers. And you know it's good to know what you know what your government is up to and you know in our mutual favorite subjects of conspiracy theories you know we didn't know about a lot of the things Kennedy was doing and Johnson you know all the way back to Eisenhower lying about the Vietnam War for example until the Pentagon Papers came out and then in the 90s the church committee on conspiracies from the 70s a lot of those documents were released and there was that that business about the operation Northwoods where Kennedy administration people brought to him this idea of a false flag operation over Cuba make it look like the Russians were harassing our aircraft or airports as an excuse to invading Cuba or assassinating Castro and so on. It's like you know like when you had Alex Jones on he talks about false flag operations and most of us skeptics go oh that's a bunch of nonsense and then you read these documents that are revealed in these released secret documents like wow okay so we did do that. Not just that it was signed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff vetoed by Kennedy was like what the hell are you doing you know and then finds himself dead less than a year later. Right. And then all the shenanigans of American intelligence agents manipulating elections in South American democracies in the model of well he may be a son of a bitch but he's our son of a bitch. Yeah. Right. So we'd rather support the fascist dictator rather than the communist dictator it's like what are we doing doing that anyway. Right. Well that's what we do it's like wait a minute does the public know about this did Congress approve this? No. Okay so you know this is one reason people believe conspiracy theories is because a lot of them are true.