No, Joe Biden Does Not Have Dementia
A cognitive neuroscientist who specializes in cognitive aging remarks on Joe Biden's supposed dementia.
NOTE: This story was originally published for Banter Members, but is now available for free. There is now clear evidence of an orchestrated attempt by both far left and far right activists to smear Joe Biden for political purposes, and we felt it was important to help put many of those conspiracy theories to rest. There are of course legitimate reasons for criticizing the former Vice President, but media outlets need to be scrupulous about investigating him responsibly and objectively.
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I have watched two grandparents descend into clinically diagnosed, vascular dementia. Over the years, they began withdrawing from family life, became confused when doing simple tasks, developed acute anxiety, and could not effectively organize any aspect of their lives, including feeding and washing themselves.
Dementia feels more like a death than anything else. It is a cruel, unstoppable process of erosion that chips away pieces of personality, drains vitality, and ends intimate relationships with everyone around the person suffering. A once vibrant, autonomous person becomes completely dependent on others and incapable of navigating social relationships. I remember having to come to terms with the fact that my grandmother, whom I was particularly close to, simply wasn’t “there” anymore. She looked and sounded like her for the most part, but she stopped remembering things about my life; whom I was dating (or now married to), what I was doing for work, and where I was living.
When a friend or family member becomes incapable of giving back in a relationship, the loss is painful. My grandmother passed away recently, but in truth she hadn’t really been present for many years.
From first hand experience, I know how serious dementia and other degenerative cognitive health conditions can be. They require expert diagnosis to be treated properly, and no one suffering should be put in any position of power or authority.
Joe Biden’s Cognitive Health
I have watched Joe Biden closely during this election cycle and have seen a clear decline in his energy levels and physical appearance. Biden occasionally loses track of thought, makes routines gaffes, and has stumbled in a few interviews where he appears to not be able to find the right words. At 77 years of age, Biden would be the oldest President in US history, and it is right to ask questions about his fitness to serve in office.
Gaffes and stumbles aside, Biden has been overwhelmingly coherent during his time on the campaign trail. He has shown an ability to parse complex questions and give thoughtful answers, remember intricate policy details from decades ago, and debate intensively over several hours.
I have no expertise in cognitive science or dementia, but there is nothing I see in Joe Biden that reminds me remotely of my grandparents — even in their early days of decline. Joe Biden is still very much Joe Biden. He is acutely aware of who he is, his surroundings, and other people. Thus when activists on the far left and far right began circulating rumors that Biden “has dementia”, I feared the worst: a new politically motivated conspiracy theory aiming to smear the former Vice President and scuttle his chances of winning the 2020 election.
Pro Trump Media Fuel The Conspiracy
The right’s attempts to diagnose Biden have been blatant, forgoing the term “cognitive decline” in many instances and outright accusing Biden of being senile, or having full blown dementia. Reported Politico:
“Fox News’ Sean Hannity, who often speaks with Trump, said it is “a legitimate question” whether the former vice president has “the stamina and the strength, the mental acumen and the focus required to serve in what is the most difficult job in the world, period … Without a doubt, Biden is struggling…Carlson, who also speaks informally with Trump, said Biden has “clearly lost it” and “is noticeably more confused now than he was even last spring when he entered the race.” Radio host and author Ann Coulter said that “no Republican with that level of senile dementia that Biden has” could run for president because they would be savaged by the media.”
“I think the guy may have dementia, or early onset dementia" said Trump loyalist Mark Levin on his show.
Rudy Giuliani has also claimed that claimed that Biden is showing “obvious signs of dementia,” and Brit Hume stated that Biden, “like so many people his age, is losing his memory and is getting senile.”
The Far Left
While Bernie Sanders extremists like Matt Taibbi have called Biden a “corpse” and a “neurological glitch”, smears on the far left have generally been more subtle, but no less dishonest and equally scurrilous.
In an astonishingly deceitful piece (even for him), Glenn Greenwald claimed “establishment Democrats” are responsible for the rumors about Biden’s “serious cognitive decline”. As evidence, he posts multiple links of politicians and commentators questioning whether Biden is up to the rigors of presidential campaigning. That includes Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan saying that some Democrats are concerned because “there’s sometimes a lack of clarity,” and Cory Booker wondering whether Biden has the ability to “carry the ball all the way to the end line without fumbling”.
This, according to Greenwald, constitutes ironclad proof that Democrats secretly believe Biden is mentally incapacitated and incapable of functioning as a president.
“It is visible to the naked eye that the 77-year-old six-term Senator and two-term Vice President is in serious cognitive decline,” wrote Greenwald.
“Biden’s cognitive decline is visible to the naked eye and it is incredibly reckless and repressive to demand that it be suppressed,” he continued.
His evidence for this “Orwellian”, nakedly self serving suppression? Anyone pointing out the very obvious fact that the attacks on Biden’s cognitive health are coordinated, and a couple of tweets from a former Julian Castro staffer and a fringe Democratic consultant asking people to stop spreading conspiracy theories:
This, according to Greenwald is evidence of “Democratic operatives,” trying to “impose a ban on speaking ill of him while deceitfully pretending they and their clients never did so for fear that it could cost them future consulting or political gigs within the Biden-controlled Party.”
Not only is Biden severely cognitively impaired, but there is a giant conspiracy (made up of largely unknown Democratic staffers) to cover it up.
It is interesting to note that Greenwald has not spoken to a single medical expert about Joe Biden’s “serious cognitive decline”, and has provided no sourcing for his assertions (other than other non-qualified commentators).
In fact, no one mentioned in this piece has sought the opinion of a medical or scientific expert on cognitive disease.
Is Joe Biden Actually Suffering From Serious Cognitive Decline ?
Given the medical nature of this issue, I felt it was best to speak to an actual expert in cognitive aging. I contacted Dr. John R. Biggan, a cognitive neuroscientist who received his doctorate at The University of Texas at Arlington and specialized in the changes in cognition associated with aging. Contrary to the alarmist claims of activist political commentators, Biggan’s assessment of Biden is, well, quite reassuring.
“As a Cognitive Neuroscientist and someone who has spent more than a decade studying cognitive aging, I know that the risk of cognitive decline increases with age, but that many people experience healthy aging,” Biggan told me. “Although I have only observed Joe Biden from a distance, he has the characteristics of someone who is more likely to experience healthy aging as opposed to decline. Good physical health and regular physical activity have been shown to have an incredibly robust impact on cognitive health.”
Biden’s physical health, says Biggan, is key here.
“Mr. Biden appears to be in good physical health, working out 5 days a week and abstaining from alcohol and tobacco.”
According to Biggan, Biden’s verbal gaffes and are not likely to have anything to do with age related cognitive decline.
“While Mr. Biden has at times stumbled through his words on the debate stage, this is more likely a result of his well-documented history of stuttering, something he has fought with all his life,” Biggan told me.
“All-in-all, it is prudent to consider cognitive decline for any older candidates, but based on my observations I am not concerned about the Vice President’s cognitive health.”
It should be noted that this view is shared by several other neuroscientists who have stated publicly that they do not believe Biden is cognitively impaired. “He is every bit as sharp as he was 31 years ago. I haven’t seen any change,” Dr. Neal Kassell, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Virginia who operated on Biden after he suffered two aneurysms in 1988 told Politico recently.
Interestingly, Dr. Biggan also mentioned to me that he does see serious signs of cognitive decline in president Trump. The president, says Biggan, “is overweight, is known for his poor diet, and believes that exercise is bad for one’s health,” which, he says may explain Trunp’s “mood swings and impulsivity, symptoms related to cognitive decline.”
“I have yet to find an explanation for Mr. Trump’s poor debate performances and bizarre press conferences/campaign rallies.”
I want to be clear that I believe questions about Joe Biden’s cognitive health are entirely legitimate. The media has a responsibility to discuss and investigate it fairly, and stick to the evidence.
What is not legitimate however, is to take short clips from thousands of hours of campaign footage, splice them together and claim the former Vice President is suffering from dementia.
It is not legitimate to claim Biden is suffering from “serious cognitive decline” or other forms of degenerative illness without sourcing or seeking advice from medical and scientific experts.
It is not only deeply dishonest, but a severe abdication of journalistic responsibility, and everyone involved with spreading these baseless rumors should be deeply ashamed.
Podcaster and well known conspiracy theorist dupe Joe Rogan stated that he would rather vote for Donald Trump than Joe Biden given Biden’s supposed cognitive decline. Rogan, who previously endorsed Bernie Sanders, claimed that Donald Trump “is gonna destroy him [Biden}. He's gonna kill him man. I mean it's such an easy target, it's like Mike Tyson versus a 3-year-old."
Bernie Sanders was supposed to do the same to Biden before they debated one on one in March of this year. It didn’t happen (to the contrary, Biden performed extremely well) yet the conspiracy theories continue to circulate. Fringe conspiracy theories helped scupper Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016, and the same could well happen in 2020. It is time to start speaking out about this more aggressively, not only because of the enormous stakes, but because the rumors about Biden’s cognitive health are provably false.
Joe Biden has obviously has dementia and not only that it’s being cover up
By his wife
White House staff
This is a serious fraud
Is a felony
And elder abuse
He has no clue what he is signing
Elder abuse can be physical
Which I don’t believe
But no doubt emotionally and taking advantage of hs dementia
The is a felony
They all should be charged and imprisoned
Our country is at stake
If he does not have dementia then
Take the long form mental status exam
By impartial neurologist
Should be required
Jesus, anyone who has had a close friend or family member who has suffered from this disease, it is more than obvious that he is well on his way. He should not be running, it is insulting to the American public they are trying to hide him and not debate because they know he couldn’t make it two minutes in a debate against Trump. He is merely a trojan horse for the radical left and anyone who cannot admit this is in serious denial.