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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Opinion | Terrified Parents, New Age Health Nuts, MAGA Exiles. Meet the R.F.K. Jr. Faithful.

BusinessOpinion | Terrified Parents, New Age Health Nuts, MAGA Exiles. Meet the R.F.K. Jr. Faithful.

Their conversation is fascinating, demonstrating how frustrations with conventional medicine and the desire for a transcendent order — for a big holistic framework that makes sense of the world’s destabilizing chaos — lead away from technocratic liberalism and toward, well, the unstable political formation that’s coalescing around Kennedy. Listening to it, you can hear a smart and sensitive woman narrating her own journey down the rabbit hole, a portal that took her to a place where she could help swing the 2024 election and thus the course of American history.

Shanahan came to Kennedy the way many desperate parents have. During the pandemic, her 18-month-old daughter was diagnosed, over Zoom, with autism, and she described how none of the interventions offered by experts helped. Another Silicon Valley mom with an autistic child urged her to listen to Kennedy, who has long asserted a false link between vaccines and autism. Though Shanahan was resistant at first — she knew about Kennedy’s reputation as a conspiracy theorist — she tuned into his podcast.

Around the same time, she got deep into the work of Jack Kruse, a neurosurgeon and self-described “biohacker” who emphasizes the importance of sunlight for good health. (Kennedy and Kruse appeared together on Rubin’s podcast last year.) Kruse, said Shanahan, awakened her to the idea that autism could be “related to the way that the brain was responding to some kind of outside influence” — like vaccines — “and how to heal the brain.”

She started her daughter, Echo, on a regimen that included lots of early morning light, swimming in a saltwater pool and music frequencies that send “a signal to brain cells that they can repair.” (“Morning sunlight in particular is like chicken soup for metabolic health,” she told Rubin.) At the same time, she worked to reduce Echo’s exposure to “nonnative light sources,” and cellular and Wi-Fi signals. These interventions, she said, have all helped her daughter. “When it works, maybe we need science to catch up,” she said.

When she met Kennedy last summer, she was impressed by his record of “looking at the environmental exposures and the things that impact human health that are man-created,” she said. Shanahan lamented what she sees as widespread closed-mindedness in the face of the questions she wants to explore. “My daughter has lifted the veil for me,” she said, in an allusion to Aldous Huxley’s work on psychedelics. “If we’re talking about my support for Bobby Kennedy, that is what has brought me to this movement.”

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