Do Debates and Interviews with Contrarian Theory Spreaders Serve the Public Interest?
There are opposing views:
Yes: Contrarian theory spreaders (voices raised in opposition to established policies and common factual understandings) are false theory spreaders in the eyes of some people and honorable whistle blowers in the eyes of others. Let the sunshine in. The truth will emerge in the clash of conflicting views. To refuse to debate such people or shy away from interviewing them is to implicitly concede that their claims are true.
No: If contrarian theory spreaders— the anti-vaccination provocateur and Presidential candidate, Robert Kennedy, Jr., has been cited as a prime example — have demonstrated a consistent pattern of lies, misrepresentations, distortions, and fabrications, debates and interviews with them usually serve to increase their reach and amplify their false claims. Claims such people make in debates and interviews often can’t be fact-checked in real time, and are brushed off with more of the same when they are. Such occasions segue into rhetorical contests rather than honest weighings of the facts. “The worst are full of passionate intensity,” which is why, regardless of how baseless their claims may be, their message gets through. That free speech is a sacred right is not a warrant to hand microphones to people who traffic in lies.