The Truth and Trust Project… Episode 119 with Dr. Francis Collins Part 1 of 2

Do you trust that our public health officials are telling you the truth? This question, for me, lead to the Truth and Trust Project. I for one find myself very skeptical these days. As many who’ve listened to the DTH podcast for long know, I’ve been highly critical of the government’s response to the pandemic from the very beginning. How does someone like me have a conversation with someone who had direct influence on the government’s response to the pandemic? Not so long ago, I would say that the conversation would never happen, because my attitude would not have allowed it.

The Truth and Trust Project may be one of the most important endeavors of my life. Several times over the past several months, I asked the question, “if you could ask Dr. Francis Collins or Dr. Tony Fauci a question, what would that question be?”. For that question, I received nothing but negative responses. The most common response was some variation of, “I wouldn’t waste my time, they wouldn’t listen anyway”… I asked the question because I am currently involved in a Braver Angels initiative called the “Truth and Trust Project” with Dr. Francis Collins and myself as partners.

Wilk Wilkinson and Dr. Francis Collins discussing their "Truth and Trust Project" on the Derate The Hate Podcast.
Wilk and Dr. Francis Collins discussing the Truth and Trust Project

Dr. Francis Collins is a  physician-geneticist, Dr. Collins took office as the 16th NIH director on August 17, 2009, after being appointed by President Barack Obama. In 2017, he was asked to continue in his role by President Donald Trump, and in 2021, by President Joe Biden. As such, Dr. Francis Collins played an instrumental role in the government’s response to the pandemic. There are many things with respect to the government’s response to the pandemic that Francis and I disagree on vehemently. We are both men who dearly love our country. We are both individuals who hold strong to our values. Both Francis and I recognize that there needs to be a better way forward. This starts by understanding that contentious topics don’t have to result in a contentious conversations.

The only way we can expect as a country to rebuild Truth and Trust is to have conversations with those whom we disagree. The only way to get results from those conversations is to actually LISTEN to those with whom we disagree and look for the humility and humanity in their position. In this episode, Part 1 of 2, Francis and I discuss:

  • How we met (origin of The Truth and Trust Project)
  • 1st days of the pandemic and thoughts of those in charge of response
  • How virus and information has evolved
  • Mistakes made
  • President Biden getting Covid-19 and his past messaging on vaccine 
  • Vaccine efficacy and how that messaging has evolved

What have you done today to make your life a better life? What have you done today to make the world a better place? The world is a better place if we are better people. That begins with each of us leading a better life. Be kind to one another. Be grateful for everything you’ve got, and make each and every day the day that you want it to be!

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2 comments on “The Truth and Trust Project… Episode 119 with Dr. Francis Collins Part 1 of 2

  1. Rita Chisum says:

    Dear Wilk and Dr. Collins,
    I listened with great interest to “PUBLIC HEALTH & TRUTH: A Braver Angels Debate Featuring Dr. Francis Collins” ( in which the two of you were involved, along with other special guests. It was a very interesting conversation.

    Knowing that this particular Podcast was a Project “In the works”, I anticipated it with much interest and excitement. I was thrilled to receive Wilk’s Alert that the first interview between just the two of you was hot off the press (airwaves?) and ready for listening.

    The two of you did not disappoint! Thank you so much for this very open and authentic conversation between two American citizens who clearly love our country but have differing perspectives on the events in our country over the past few years. I was very encouraged by the civility and transparency of your discussion. Your ability, as two very valuable human beings of differing walks in life, gifts and talents, to be able to have an exchange (with some minor challenges thrown in 😉) while showing great respect for one another, was very encouraging and inspirational.

    I especially applaud each of you for owning those things, which you both readily admitted, were misunderstood or communicated wrongly until more information became available. It is especially heartening to hear the two of you refer to one another as “friends”.

    Wilk, I always appreciate the Guests that you interview on your wonderfully engaging Podcast, helping us to hear from an interesting line-up of people with varying, but important, perspectives. Your commitment to “Derate The Hate” is a noble and worthy cause. Thank you for all the love and hard work you put into both your Podcast and your work with BRAVER ANGELS!

    Dr. Collins, Thank you for giving of your time to speak to some of the very real concerns that many American citizens have had over the government response and, seeming, overreach in some areas of personal freedom. I appreciate the humility I hear from you in responding to the reality that NO ONE knew what we were dealing with in the initial stages of this devastating public health crisis. Your willingness to admit that even some Health Care Professionals handled some of the situations, given what little knowledge they had, in ways that were less than ideal in their direction, appeals and examples to the public, garnered my respect.

    My faith in you as a public servant of highest ranking has begun to be restored with this honest conversation. Thanks to both you and Wilk for offering this transparent exchange as a way to “Derate The Hate”.
    May you both be blessed. 🙏🏻

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