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The Second Smartest Guy in the World gives the rest of us a lesson in critical thinking
A popular substack author believes RFK Jr. is "just another Trojan horse Candidate". What do you think?
This article takes a critical view of a recent post by a substack author that writes under the pen name of “2nd Smartest Guy in the World”. I have no feelings of ill-will against this person. Neither do I know anything about his intentions or identity. My intention is to use a recent post of his to suggest ways to make better sense of complicated and often polarizing commentary while modeling reasonable ways to engage with people.
I respect the rights of all people to express themselves, including those I disagree with…
Does anyone know who is the second smartest guy in the world? I don’t, but apparently he writes a popular column on the substack platform called “2nd Smartest Guy in the World”.
Is he really that smart? Is he being handled by smarter people? I recently questioned his thesis that RFK Jr. is not the spearhead of a growing movement that demands properly tested vaccines and transparency but is in actuality a shill of the Pharma industry who will change his tune once he gets into power.
I thought I was being reasonable and respectful, but after a brief exchange with the erudite author my comments were deleted and I was banned from leaving any further comments:
I noticed that some of the readers of this substack also read 2SGW (2nd Smartest Guy in the World), so I became a free subscriber of his a few months ago.
He consistently writes with an anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian bent. I’ve got no problem with that.
He always refers to the Covid-19 mRNA products as the PSYOP-19 DEATHVAXTM. I don’t have much confidence in the safety or efficacy of these jabs. “DEATHVAX” is a bit extreme for me, but without any solid long term data nobody can say how extreme his choice of words are here. Apparently it is an unregistered trademark. Who trademarked the term? 2SGW?
He believes in early treatment with Ivermectin, concluding every post with these images:
I believe that Ivermectin is an effective treatment for Covid-19, especially if given early in the course of the disease. There are ample studies that prove this.
Although I tend to write on more nuanced topics that require examination from different perspectives, the articles of his that I read were succinct while still offering pertinent references and media content with which I generally align with.
I thought we were on the same side of things until I saw this post on his substack:
2SGW’s main points:
Kennedy is a “Wolf” in antivax clothing, meaning he pretends to be antivax while covertly intending to pursue vaccine mandates and lockdowns if he gets to the Oval Office. “It would be wholly unsurprising if he were to lock down the country for another “pandemic” with whatever “unprecedented” excuses his handlers would cook up for him.”
Kennedy did good work in exposing former NIAID director, Dr. Anthony Fauci, in his NYTimes Bestselling book, “The Real Anthony Fauci”. Yet “...it was sadly too little too late: Dr. Mengele 2.0 was already headed out to greener pastures — at least officially — when that book was finally released. “
2SGW implores his readers to “...never forget that RFK Jr. remains supportive of many of the current vaccine offerings, not limited to the deadly childhood vaccine schedule; in other words, like all skilled politicians he has a knack for speaking out of both sides of his mouth.”
To prove Kennedy’s mendacity, 2SGW writes that “[Kennedy] implicated vaccines as potentially causing autism, but hedged by invoking “environmental factors” while he dared not mention a moratorium on these poisons.”
The biggest issue 2SGW has with RFK Jr. is around the second amendment to the Constitution. Although he quotes Kennedy asserting “My position on gun control is that I’m not going to take away anybody’s guns. I’m a constitutional maximalist and the issue has been settled by the Supreme Court”, he also said that with regard to an assault weapons ban: “If we can get a consensus on it, if Republicans and Democrats agreed and it passed Congress, I would sign it.”
2GSW thus concludes that “We now have more than sufficient evidence to appreciate that this man will in no way uphold the Constitution.”
Many found his arguments against RFK Jr. compelling. 2nd Smartest Guy in the World has 18K+ followers. The majority of the comments on this article were supportive of his reasoning. How do we make sense of this hit piece?
Acknowledge the Uncertainty
Unpacking arguments with an open mind requires us to acknowledge the uncertainty we should have at the start. I do not know with certainty that RFK Jr. is not a “Trojan Horse Candidate” a priori. Neither do I know if 2SGW is controlled opposition. In other words, how do I know that 2SGW is not an operative of the very interests he claims to despise and is unwittingly being used to take down their biggest adversary?
I had a brief exchange with 2SGW in his comment section, and this was my main critique. Without accusing him of anything I posited that if he were able to see the situation clearly he would have acknowledged that it would be impossible for the objective reader to know who to believe.
Perhaps Kennedy is who 2SGW says he is, an operative of the Pharma Industrial complex. Then again, maybe Kennedy is the best hope we have of dismantling their stranglehold on public health. How much are we potentially sacrificing with our decision on this matter?
Separate Fact from Opinion
Does Kennedy want to protect second Amendment rights or not? 2SGW believes he doesn’t because Kennedy said he would support a ban on assault weapons if there were bipartisan support.
The issue of assault weapons and the right to own them under the freedoms granted under the second Amendment is highly contested. To my knowledge, the Supreme Court has yet to officially support or overturn state laws that ban assault weapons. It all boils down to one’s interpretation of the second Amendment which states:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
If assault weapons are banned, does this constitute infringement? 2SGW believes that it does. That’s his opinion. He’s welcome to it, but it isn’t a fact.
I have thought quite a bit on our right to bear arms. I agree with it. I believe it must be protected, but it invites deeper questions.
A well-regulated Militia would have been a match for a tyrannical government a century ago, but now? Do we honestly believe that a large group of private citizens heavily armed with the most sophisticated guns and ammo would be any match for SWAT teams, armored vehicles and smart bombs dropped from drones? We all saw what happened in Waco, TX.
If our citizenry will never be a match for our government, why is our government interested in imposing limitations on the kinds of arms available to the public? Yes, it is being framed as a matter of public safety, but is that the real reason behind it?
I suggested to 2SGW that it may be worthwhile to take a look at the topic from a different philosophical perspective. I believe our authorities want to disarm the public not because they are a threat to the police force, the national guard or the army.
A populace that is armed believes that they are empowered to affect drastic change if necessary. It is this independent spirit that is the real threat to an ever expanding authority, not the number of rounds or kinds of guns they have in their closet.
It’s an idea that could bring some of the disparate and passionate voices on this together.
In any case, Kennedy is saying that as POTUS, he would go along with what the majority of the country desired. As the top dog in the executive branch of the Federal Government, he would have the authority to override the wishes of the country if his convictions compelled him to do so. 2SGW can condemn him for not doing that, but that is different than saying he is against the second amendment.
2SGW goes much further, using this argument to predict that he “will in no way uphold the Constitution.” Is this fair?
Identify Nonsensical Arguments
2SGW says that Kennedy is a “Wolf in antivax clothing”. Is it possible that all of the work and litigation Kennedy has been involved in over the last eight years against big Pharma has been a ruse in order to get him into office so that he can do a 180 and be a Pharma shill?
It’s possible, but is it plausible? Isn’t being a vaccine skeptic right now the biggest detriment to Kennedy’s bid for the WH? As the most impactful environmentalist on the planet who carries the mystique of the greatest Democratic political dynasty he would be a shoo-in to receive the top billing on his party’s ticket if he would simply drop his stance on vaccines.
Although Kennedy frames his position on this matter as only one plank of a nuanced political platform, he hasn’t backed down from his criticism of big Pharma although it would make his path to the WH much easier to negotiate. Yet 2SGW believes that he is posing as an antivaxxer to get into office. Does this make sense? It doesn’t to me.
Identify False Claims
A wolf in antivax clothing? Just one problem with that. Kennedy has repeatedly and vociferously expressed that he isn’t anti-vax, despite how 2SGW characterizes him.
Furthermore, 2SGW implores his readers to remember that Kennedy “remains supportive of many of the current vaccine offerings…”. Which vaccine offerings? 2SGW gives no citations.
I let 2SGW know that I served as the Senior Science Editor for CHD’s publication, The Defender, for a year. I was unaware of any vaccine that Kennedy supported. In fact, I would have to occasionally veto some of his requests to publish certain findings around vaccine harm that were too difficult to defend against the attack that would surely come from the medical establishment. To his credit, Kennedy never interfered with my judgment calls on these specific findings.
Furthermore, Kennedy has repeatedly said that vaccines are not subjected to adequate safety testing prior to licensing. This is a pivotal position and one that he is prepared to publicly defend against all comers, including giants in vaccinology like Peter Hotez and Paul Offit.
What Happened Next?
I would have liked to include the comments between us as they appeared in the comment section. Unfortunately the comments were deleted and I have been blocked from leaving any further comments. I will do my best to accurately reproduce the content and tenor of the exchange.
I politely summarized my issues with his article, pointing out that
It is impossible for the reader to know whether Kennedy is the Trojan Horse or if 2SGW is controlled opposition. Because he doesn’t not acknowledge this, he hasn’t grasped the difficulty we all are in. If he cannot grasp the difficulty we are all in, perhaps he has a few blindspots himself.
Kennedy’s vaccine skepticism isn’t helping him get on mainstream media platforms. Although vaccine hesitancy is growing, it has not overtaken the pro-vaccine camp in popularity. Why would he make it harder for himself to win the nomination?
Claiming that Kennedy is supportive of the use of many vaccines is quite a big claim to make without offering a single citation. Kennedy has made it very clear that he would support vaccines that are proven safe, if there were any. This is precisely how Kennedy refutes the accusation that he is “anti-vax”
It is possible to support a ban on assault weapons while still protecting rights under the second amendment, this is not mutually exclusive. This is my opinion only. I appreciate there are other opinions, but if Kennedy supported a bipartisan bill that banned assault weapons it would be far from “sufficient evidence to appreciate that this man will in no way uphold the Constitution.”
I appreciated the fact that he allowed comments from all subscribers, not just paying ones. Open conversation between those with differing opinions is needed now more than ever.
Here was his response:
What we see here is a number of strategies taken from the propagandist’s playbook:
Use of insults. Denigrating those who disagree with you is a powerful tactic to elicit an emotional response. Responding with emotion can easily cloud ones discernment. However using this strategy is a clear sign that you aren’t thinking clearly. Insults burn bridges. Burning a bridge is free from blowback only when one has 100% certainty. In other words, how could he backtrack if he was eventually proven wrong? This possibility of being wrong doesn’t it exist for him. This is a sentiment he shares with the medical establishment and Dr. Fauci, who he refers to as Dr. Mengele 2.0.
Use unjustified extrapolation (the issue isn’t around one’s knowledge of guns, it’s around the interpretation of law). One doesn’t have to be an expert orator to fully understand the first Amendment. Neither does one have to be an expert marksman or gunsmith to understand the second.
When a nuanced challenge is offered, call it “mental gymnastics” and “disingenuous” (these are often signs that the challenge is too robust to dismantle). This is much easier than articulating the specific issues one disagrees with and why.
Close the book and end the conversation, intimating that any further discussion is a waste of everyone’s time
I offered these points in my response to him. Apparently I had gone too far. My comments were deleted.
Pruning the commentary of any robust and sincere rebuttal is yet another maneuver of the propagandist. This keeps the audience in lockstep with the propagandist’s perspective, unaware that substantiative counterarguments have been offered. This technique was used with brutal efficiency over the last three years. I attempted to explain the hypocrisy of suppressing dissent while advocating for freedom:
And so, the final blow. The dissenter is forever eliminated from voicing their opinion. I was censored.
First, if you support 2SGW, good! I am glad you are still here. Perhaps you would be willing to share this article with him. Maybe he would leave some comments in his own defense.
Second, I am in no way suggesting that everything he has posted in the past is wrong.
Third, I failed in my attempt to maintain a dialogue with him. I am learning more everyday. The point is that we all have a role to play in bringing clarity to the world. It is important to remember that when communicating with someone you disagree with in a public forum the intent is not to convince the other person they are wrong, it is to convince the audience that you have the better argument. I believe this was the reason my comments were deleted.
Is Kennedy a “Trojan Horse” candidate? Is 2SGW controlled opposition? Who knows? What do you think (leave your comments please)?
There is another possibility: the second smartest guy in the world is unaware that he has been manipulated into playing the role of controlled opposition. Is that possible? Who would be smart enough to pull this off? The smartest guy in the world?