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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Why Joe Rogan Matters

As something of a star in the world of mixed martial arts, Joe Rogan likes a smackdown, and now he’s got what passes for one in the fluid world of social media. Last week he ticked off Canadian septuagenarians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, and they have taken him on.

The issue is serious: Rogan’s podcasts on Spotify and YouTube attract huge audiences, and lately he has hosted several high-profile COVID vaccine skeptics and egged them on at length (he does everything at length). In the middle of a deadly COVID surge (62,000 Americans died of it in the past four weeks) against which vaccination is the primary defense, Rogan’s enthusiasm for two credentialed experts who argue against vaccination provoked 270 public health officials to sign a letter to Spotify, Rogan’s exclusive host, asking it to rein him in.

Young and Mitchell joined the fray by asking Spotify to pull their tunes in protest, and since then half-a-dozen other musical artists and three podcasters have done likewise. Joe promised more balance, Spotify promised to issue COVID content warnings if necessary, Jon Stewart and others weighed in to defend Rogan, and that might have been close to the end of it: Rogan has 200 million monthly listeners on Spotify (and a 100-million-dollar contract), Young had 5.9 million, Mitchell 3.7 million. Podcaster Brené Brown has about 6 million. She’s also exclusively contracted to Spotify, and she has only announced a “pause” in adding new podcasts, not a withdrawal. The six other musicians and two other podcasters who joined the crusade have far fewer monthly listeners.

But one of the musicians who joined the complaint, the R&B vocalist India.Arie (1.4 million monthly listeners on Spotify), has subsequently released a compilation of Rogan episodes wherein he used the N-word. Rogan apologized, saying it sounded awful, and he would never do that now (the clips were, apparently, from earlier episodes–he’s been doing this since 2009).

Spotify has taken down about 70 pre-Spotify episodes recently, and over 100 Since Rogan brought over his whole catalog a year ago. He’s up to nearly 1,800 episodes total. Presumably they are pulling episodes with the potential to fuel further complaints. It will be interesting to see if other musicians now ask Spotify to remove their music in response to India.Arie’s post. Streaming has become the single largest source of revenue for musicians since the pandemic collapsed their touring income, so it’s not an easy thing for many of them to do.

Beyond this current controversies, is Joe Rogan important? I think he is. His absurdly long and typically disestablishmentarian conversations with chefs and physicists, martial artists and authors, doctors and hunters, comics and entrepreneurs, and occasional flat-out crazies, are unbelievably popular. His unfiltered, let’s-go-there style and his instinct for “what’s interesting” have made him an unprecedented media phenomenon.

He does roughly three podcasts (with video) on Spotify and YouTube each week, and each one draws around 11 million downloads, making him the biggest draw in Podlandia. Rogan attracts an audience substantially larger than those of Tucker Carlson and Rachel Maddow combined, and he’s doing it via meandering marathon podcasts from an antler-bedecked mancave in Texas.

What’s important about Joe Rogan, though, isn’t simply his supersized audience numbers, it’s his potential for positive impact on our national Trump problem and the threat to democracy it represents. Rogan’s audience includes a very sizeable and strategically significant group of Americans—the ones (more male than female) who often feel dissed and abused by the credentialed cognitive elites but are too intellectually curious to be lumpenMAGA.

They may be the real swing voters, both culturally and politically: they could be the tipping point group that chooses the next president, and they love Joe Rogan because he reduces their fear that the world is making less sense every day. He channels them into extended conversations with famously smart people who are willing to give them hours of attention. Through him, they feel like the world is a little bit less incomprehensible and their lives are a little bit less uncontrollable.

At times, he abets the dissemination of conspiracy theories, but not in a cynical or systematic way. To some extent, an audience that wants to feel that the world is a less random place is asking for theories that simplify everything and name villains and heroes. Rogan entertains more of that than a “straight” news organization would, but is not as bad, by far, as many right-wing talk-show hosts.

Rogan believes his listeners are up for arcane discussions of astrophysics and neuroscience. He gives them hour upon hour of free-wheeling, could-be-happening-in-your-kitchen conversations with everyone from Anthony Bourdain to Bernie Sanders to Roger Penrose to Elon Musk, as well as many unfamiliar people who can speak compellingly about what they do: a kid named Boylan Slat, for example, who is out to clean up the oceans and seems to be making progress.

What Rogan gives his audience is a lot meatier than MAGA red meat. He has a chance to reengage them with their fellow non-MAGA citizens to some extent, in part by empowering them against the monolithic elite which haunts their dreams. Rogan is very drawn to what might be called credentialed outsiders: people who have insider-like resumes but have turned their fire on the conventional wisdom in their fields.

The two vaccine troublemakers, Dr. Robert Malone and Dr. Peter McCullough, are fairly extreme examples of that, but if they’d been outliers on a less loaded topic than vaccination during a pandemic, they would have simply been interesting intellectual grist. Rogan’s guest list on first inspection is exceedingly diverse and goes wherever his attention takes it: lots of physics and astronomy, for example, because he’s fascinated by that stuff. To scratch that itch, he gets Nobel laureate Roger Penrose to come talk to him, and Brian Greene, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson (3 times), Sean Carroll (3 times), Brian Cox (twice), and more.

It’s not eggheads all the way down though. He dropped out of college to launch himself doing standup comedy, so lots of his guests are comics. As such, they are born outsiders. Rogan himself, with his standup history, is capable of saying things that would get him chased off most respectable campuses with torches and pitchforks, as his history with the N-word demonstrates. On at least one occasion, he crossed the streams, and carried on an extended astronomy conversation with a comic because why not?

He’s also into the swagger-building topics that used to sell Esquire and Field & Stream—hunting, boxing, and other manly stuff, though many of his guests in those fields of endeavor are women. On January 27, he spent over two and a half hours in conversation with Spokane native Julianna Peña (#venezuelanvixen), the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) Women’s Bantamweight Champion. The day before, he spent a similar period of time with Valentine Thomas, a woman who describes herself as “a former attorney and financier turned spear-fisher, free-diver, chef, and author.”

That kind of personal narrative really lights Joe up: it’s got extreme physical performance, blood sport, cooking, individual independence and well-developed communications skills.  The day before Valentine Thomas, his guest, for 4 hours 13 minutes, was Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychologist and guru to many young men. Peterson grates on progressives, but he’s an advocate of finding better ways to overcome vaccine hesitancy, and he’s going to reach a lot more of the people who need to overcome their hesitancy spending 4 hours with Joe Rogan than he would by getting a few minutes with Rachel Maddow or a half-hour with Terry Gross.

Rogan’s views of the master caste which distresses his audience were formed at close range. He’s a graduate of Newton South High School, a school close to the heart of the elite credentials factory that is greater Boston. NSHS is ranked by US News in the top 5% of high schools nationally; nearly two-thirds of its seniors take at least one AP test; 98% graduate and 97% are accepted to college; its 33-acre campus is organized into four “houses” just like Hogwarts, which is good practice for the organizational structures of Yale and Princeton.

No need to go that far though: Within a six-mile radius of NSHS sit the campuses of Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Boston College, Wellesley, Brandeis, and many more. Joe slummed by attending UMass Boston (almost 8 miles away!), where he reports that he spent three years as a freshman before realizing he could make money doing standup.

I imagine he takes quiet satisfaction in the fact that he could now buy and sell many times over his bright-penny high school classmates who busted their asses to become doctors, lawyers, scientists and captains of industry while he was climbing the ladder at Comedy Central and Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Rogan says he books all his own guests and goes wherever his interests take him. That feels organic and authentic to his audience, as does just about everything about him. His remarks about college are typical—he went to college because it was socially necessary from his high school, but once he realized his mistake, he left. Many a Newton parent would rather die than hear their kid talk like that, but to many a Roganaut, it’s a natural and familiar thought process.

One thing that separates the elites from the rest is a certain linearity—adept at deferred gratification and impulse control, and well-equipped with literacy and numeracy, they get on the up escalator early and ride it all the way to upscale assisted living 50 or 60 years later. Lots of people just aren’t wired that way—their personal history is more modeled on Brownian motion, with unpredictable zigs and zags. They duct tape the pieces together and keep going.

In modern times, however, they pay too high a price for their random-walk lives, and everything about the Joe Rogan Experience makes sense to them. Rogan himself feels like them. His guests are often people with an outside perspective—Michael Pollan talking about psychedelic drugs, Amanda Knox talking about criminal justice, Edward Snowdon talking about national security.

Rogan’s formula also includes an uncanny ability to listen in a way that gets his guests to venture out of their canned comfort zones. The sheer length of some of his conversations with just one person—they go until he’s finished, typically at least a few hours—is a radical break with conventional wisdom, which requires hosts to keep a show careening from guest to guest at a rapid pace. Unlike typical talk show hosts, Rogan himself isn’t a bloviator. He creates all kinds of space for his guests. He also panders shamelessly, because it works, even though it makes journalists cringe. It also gets him into trouble when he panders to people saying things Not To Be Said, because he may well say them too.

These conversational marathons also serve to blunt criticisms, however. By listening to his Robert Malone conversation, I came away with a much better feel for who Malone is and what makes him tick than I’d ever get from seeing or hearing him in sound bites. In some ways, Rogan gave him plenty of rope and encouragement to practice his knots.

In his three hours, Malone was able to make his case against vaccination, but in doing so exposed some of the holes in his data and logic. He also revealed himself to be more concerned with whether or not he was sufficiently respected by his peers than with whether or not COVID was killing millions of people. In some ways, his smooth persona and impressive resume melted as the hours wore on. Rogan didn’t attack him—instead he made a lot of positive, encouraging noises, but the result was that Malone more fully—and less impressively—revealed himself. If I were a Rogan regular, I’d be more willing to doubt Malone’s recommendations on vaccines after hearing him ramble on with Joe like this. Meanwhile, Rogan gains credibility with his skeptical base for giving Malone all the time and encouragement in the world.

Because Rogan has that credibility, he can also spring a Steven Pinker or a Bernie Sanders on his audience and get them to listen. You can’t be a regular Rogan listener and be simply hard right or totally anti-science. Rogan loads up on scientists because he likes talking to them. Because he is an avatar in the room for his listeners, they enjoy it too. Many of his listeners probably weren’t science majors, but now they can hear extended conversations with some really good ones, which if nothing else de-demonizes the scientists, and gives listeners confidence in their own ability to contribute to public conversations about important issues in a slightly more nuanced way.

I expect Rogan will be a little more careful now, but hopefully not enough to lose his bond with his audience. He has the potential to pull thinking outsiders away from the raw fury of the MAGA camp, pull in some old libertarians, and give collective self-awareness and self-confidence to a big group of people who know in their bones that the people running the world aren’t doing a good enough job of it, and are serving themselves too well. He’s arming them to take on “the man,” mostly free of the dog whistle and hot button issues that have bedeviled the right. He’s blurring left and right and creating more of a donut-shaped siege army. It’s messy as hell and driven by instinct over agenda, but Saul Alinsky would be impressed.

In the first two podcasts since Young’s complaint, Rogan has hosted two prototypical guests: on February 3rd Andy Stumpf, retired Navy SEAL, record-setting wingsuit pilot, BASE jumper, public speaker, and podcast host; on February 5th Randall Carlson, a builder, architect, scholar, and teacher whose podcast “Investigates the catastrophic history of the world and evidence for advanced knowledge in earlier cultures.” Rogan knows what will hook his audience. If he can keep bringing on guests who are outsiders from all directions, not just the right, he’ll do the country a service.

I wonder which of the people who have pulled their music or paused their podcasts to protest Rogan will be the first to be a guest on his show? Mary Trump because she’s also an instinctive outsider? Brené Brown because she’s a healer and needs to find a way to resume her own Spotify-only podcasting? Neil Young himself because he and Joe have pretty similar let-it-fly personalities? Rogan would be smart to invite them, and they’d be foolish to turn down a chance to speak directly (and at length!) to his much-bigger-than-theirs audience. Stay tuned.

Tom Corddry
Tom Corddry
Tom is a writer and aspiring flâneur who today provides creative services to mostly technology-centered clients. He led the Encarta team at Microsoft and, long ago, put KZAM radio on the air.

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30 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve never listened to Joe Rogan but your (what seems to me fairly extraordinary recounting) makes me curious.
    It would be fun to see a list of the thousand or so guests and see how many of them are recognized cranks or just somewhat eccentric/independent.
    Anyway, extremely good post! Thank you

    • David, if you go to Spotify and search on “Joe Rogan” you get his podcasts, newest on top, and can scroll back through the whole list of nearly 1,900 episodes (minus the 100 or so Joe has pulled). I scrolled back through a year’s worth to write this, and checked the lists various fans have made of his “greatest hits” episodes. It’s an exceptionally eclectic list. He DOES entertain Ben Shapiro, Brett Weinstein, Jordan Peterson and other high-profile libertarians/conservatives pretty regularly, but also a lot of chefs, comics, scientists, boxers, etc. One of his most popular episodes was with Alex Jones, the absolute worst of the worst, but on it Alex melted down into an obvious lunatic. In his #1 most popular episode, he shares a joint with Elon Musk. That one sent Wall Street around the bend.

      • Thx, Tom.
        I took your advice. I started with Jordan Peterson who hitherto I had kind of liked. But he comes across as such a blowhard and way out of his expertise. Is mention of climate was embarrassing . (On his behalf because I still kind of like the guy.) I got bored with him at about 45 minutes tho.

        But Joe is very effective. He seemed to have a real time fact checker involved as needed. Did I get that correctly?

  2. Progressive eyes may see Rogan as a welcome way to decontaminate and gentrify recovering MAGAs, but in a world where traditional news sources average less than 8 minutes per hour of fresh, honest, content, Joe Rogan may be the disruptive technology the news industry needs.

  3. Thank you Tom, this is the best Post Alley opinion I have read to date.
    Hope all readers relearn that to understand a position you must listen to others not sharing the same views. Debate ! Don’t instruct…………..

  4. This is a good and insightful take. Deplatforming Joe Rogan – if such a thing were even possible — is a terrible idea. As you say, Tom – and this is the politically important point – his audience is gettable, but not if the educated movement progressive left keeps signaling to them that they consider them to be moronic reactionary rubes.

    The current assault on Joe is not entirely about class, but it’s a lot more about class than the New New Left is willing to acknowledge. It’s certainly at least as much about class, and cultural affinity, as it is about combatting the spread of misinformation. Increasingly, (as I’ve argued elsewhere) college educated cultural cosmopolitans in blue cities live in sort of separatist cultural bubble that increasingly diverges from the world (or separate bubble, if you will) that Rogan and his mostly non-college, culturally traditional listeners live in.

    He doesn’t see the world the same way they do, but that doesn’t make Rogan evil or ill willed. There’s a big difference between Rogan and, say, Tucker Carlson. Unlike Carlson, Rogan isn’t a cynical manipulator or easily pigeonholed ideologue – after all, he endorsed Bernie Sanders in 2020 – but he is a non-college educated populist with a deep skepticism (which he shares with his millions of non-college educated listeners) with what we might call mainstream elite, educated progressive opinion. The overwhelmingly dominant opinion, rooted in a set of cultural commitments, that defines the worldview of ideologically cosseted people who live in politically monochromatic cities like Seattle. And that skepticism is not entirely unwarranted, since educated, polarized movement left routinely claims to speak on behalf of working class people while pushing cultural agendas that those people don’t support.

    What Rogan really is, is the intellectual guru for millions of non-college educated American men. He’s genuinely inquisitive and curious, with admirably ecumenical interests, but also prone to certain sorts of class bias and blindness – such as his COVID skepticism – that strikes more educated people as dangerous, and does in fact sometimes leads him astray.

    As for his use of the n- word: well, he’s right that cultural mores surrounding the utterance of that word have shifted rapidly. Still, he shouldn’t have said it even ten years ago, given its sensitivity. That said, when it comes to the utterance of words, like most people I’m firmly in the “intent matters” camp. I know some disagree, but my view is that there are no magic words, such that the mere utterance of them ipso facto constitutes an evil act. And there’s no evidence I’ve seen that Rogan’s past utterance of the word was done to express racist contempt for black people. So what I see here is insensitivity on Rogan’s part, not racism.

    Anyway, I think you’re exactly correct that the right answer to Rogan’s occasional forays into misinformation is to engage with and cultivate Rogan and his audience. Of course, that would require the polarized movement left to be less culturally censorious, narrow, puritanical, and (at their core) deeply insecure. Instead, they prefer to denounce Roganland in a self-congratulatory virtue-signaling cultural/ideological Twitter pile on.

    The results of that sort of demonization are entirely predictable. There’s a reason, after all, why Democrats are facing the very real potential for a catastrophic electoral bloodbath in November.

    • It might be appropriate to refer to Joe’s audience as “educated non-college” rather than “non-college educated,” since they wouldn’t be listening if they weren’t intellectually curious. My main concern is that a big enough progressive conflagration about Joe Rogan might intimidate potential guests who wanted to maintain their good standing with progressives, and keep them from agreeing to participate in Rogan’s podcasts. This would leave Rogan only the right-wing guests–basically forcing him into the polarized black hole that sucks so much in. If Rogan is reduced to just right-wing-ish guests, he loses a lot of ability to move potential voters away from MAGAville.

      • Tom: Just FYI — Rogan’s audience is apparently evenly split between high school and college grads, which means that it is marginally more educated than the U.S. average (Media Monitors). The most common denominator for listeners is gender (71% male), not education.

  5. Hoffer! How quickly we forget. Hoffer had a very coherent argument to make. Rogan at this point seems more like some sort of universal solvent: he revs up his guests rather than promoting his own views.

  6. Like you, I believe that the best antidote to speech with which we disagree is more and better speech.

    I’m old enough to remember when Woodstock icons Joni Mitchell and Neil Young would agree. That we have multi-media artists chiming in for silencing expression and inquiry is a particularly notable moment. It’s sad that Mitchell apparently does not wish to look at life from both sides now. And for his part, Neil Young railed to Rolling Stone about gays and spread a ton of unscientific misinformation about GMO’s as recently as a decade ago.

    The reason that so many are trying to de-platform Rogan is that he has an audience many-fold greater than the former arbiters of narrative. This action is about narrative enforcement, not about any supposed claims of offense or misinformation. Has he said the n-word? Apparently so. To hear even more of it, simply press Play on any of the millions of songs labeled “Explicit” on Spotify.

    Those calling for his deplatforming should think a little bit more about why people are turning away from the CNN’s and NPR’s of the world and are interested in tuning in to someone who simply asks questions, and lets heterodox guests respond without interruption.

    As Rogan himself noted, we can list multiple things that were once labeled as “dangerous misinformation” which are now, in hindsight, much more likely to be true than not: The ineffectiveness of cloth masks. The fact that vaccinated individuals can indeed transmit COVID. The likelihood of a lab leak as an origin to this crisis. And much more. Those who have a large audience to give voice to these questions are in target-sights of those who wish to be able to say what people should consider and what they shouldn’t.

  7. How convenient to be a super wealthy “universal solvent” reflecting the intellectual prowess of the working class! And better still, he’s not Tucker Carlson. Golly, I guess Neil and Joni got it all wrong. No reason to applaud artists who actually take a moral stand when simply by conversing with opinionated folks Rogan can pretty much let any destructive ideology fly around him without taking any responsibility for it. Sorry but I’m not convinced.

    • There is a certain weird symmetry: Neil sold half his catalog for $150 million at about the same time that Joe cut his $100 million deal with Spotify. Both are, in effect, handsomely monetizing their success at being outsiders. I have no problem with Neil pulling his tunes, but it’s primarily for his own comfort: Rogan’s audience shrank when he went behind Spotify’s paywall–it would grow if Spotify actually booted him. For all it’s many faults, Spotify has become one of the biggest revenue streams for musicians since the pandemic killed touring. If Neil actually broke Spotify, there would be a lot of financial pain inflicted on musicians while the streaming world reorganized, though no pain for Neil. All of which is tangential to my main argument, which is that it’s possible to loathe Rogan and still recognize that he may be providing a net public good in spite of himself.

  8. As a card-carrying member of the “culturally censorious, narrow, puritanical, and (at their core) deeply insecure polarized left,” I would like to thank you for this original and insightful analysis of the Rogan situation. Resisting the urge to put people in buckets in order to prop up your argument is an approach that’s as rare as it is admirable. Keep up the good work, Mr. Corddry.
    BTW, I am very taken with your idea about Neil Young appearing on a future podcast. Would Rogan invite him? And having done that, would he pander and be conciliatory or would he put up his mixed martial dukes and go head-to-head with the smart, stern and famously acerbic musician? It would be a great opportunity for Young and a true test of Rogan’s vaunted mixed-martial-arts mettle. The biggest problem for Rogan would be figuring out which strategy would best serve his interests at the moment. I suspect that what he has always been most passionately interested in is the art of mixed-motive monetizing.

    • Rogan Young could sell tickets. I suspect they would end up “getting” each other, and it wouldn’t be a snarling fight.

      • I’m don’t imagine for a moment that Young and Rogan would “get “each other. Maybe Rogan would get him but, keep in mind, Young is a thousand times cooler, smarter, and more accomplished than Rogan will ever be. By all measures, Rogan’s career and accomplishments—such as they—comprise a tiny blip on the screen compared to Young’s. It would be a huge coup for Rogan if Young did offer to appear on his show, but why would he want to? Rogan is the one who’s so thirsty for attention. Young doesn’t need it and I don’t expect he gives a damn what happens on Rogan’s show now that he doesn’t share a platform with him any more.

        • I imagine you’re right, Neil doesn’t really care now that he’s out. Since I disagree with Neil that Rogan should be thrown off Spotify, I’m fine with that, although he did recently urge listeners to quit too. I took a peek at listenership by streaming service, and Spotify has a huge lead, so much so that musicians who haven’t recently banked $150 million by selling part of their catalog, as Neil has, may be reluctant to give up the income, now that streaming is the largest single source of musician income. I just checked to see which other musicians might recently have joined the “wave” leaving Spotify. Turns out, after the first few days, none. It’s still just Neil, Joni, Nils Lofgren, India.Arie, CSN, and one other band. Crickets for the past 10 days. The reason Young SHOULD go on Rogan is that he’s the kind of unfiltered grouch Rogan’s audience would respond to, and probably plenty of them already like him. The more Neil Youngs Rogan hosts, the better the chances of pulling some of his crowd farther from unquestioning love of Trump. It would do the country good to see Joe Rogan courting Neil Young. Hell, host a CSNY reunion on Rogan, with a surprise roll-on by Joni. It would be the most popular episode in Rogan history, supplanting the one where Rogan roiled Wall Street by getting Elon Musk to spark up a doobie with him. Rogan would be eager to do more like it. Rogan’s audience would edge a little farther away from Trump. Master plan for world domination.

  9. Thanks, Tom, for this thoughtful and charitable analysis of the Rogan brohaha. I think, however, you are too charitable — to the podcaster and his audience.

    You may be right that Joe doesn’t have a clear left-right ideology; but neither did Donald Trump until he surrounded himself with folks like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller. Rogan clearly is a misogynist who thinks feminist men should “choke to death on vegan pizza.” He is openly hostile to transgendered folks. And his views on race suck. He has warned that “woke culture” is so TERRIBLE that straight white men eventually will not be allowed outside. Rogan has acquired knowledge about one thing — mixed martial arts — but pontificates on everything.

    Which brings me to his audience! How in the world can a know-nothing like Joe attract 11 million listeners? Honestly, I don’t get it. I listened to his rambling interview with Jordan Peterson, the psychologist, and was appalled at how stupid or just incoherent it was. It sounded like a couple frat boys sitting around a bong in the basement. They spent the first segment talking about climate change. Rogan let Peterson declare that “climate” has become an all-encompassing term, and that its change over time cannot be modeled. WTF? The rest of the dreadfully long podcast was just as irresponsible. Rogan, like Peterson, appeals to young, straight, white men who cannot handle complexity — especially in the changes coming slowly to our society. One blogger claims Rogan is so popular with guys because they are not represented in the “MSM.” If you read a daily newspaper, you know that this is mostly nonsense. But straight white men, including Rogan, do feel threatened by emerging voices in our society. JRE, this blogger writes, creates a space for “topics that need to get discussed” but that “are ‘taboo’ to speak about out loud.” Yeah … I can only imagine.

    I get what you are trying to say, Tom, and you make a generally strong case: We college-educated elites need to connect with, not look down upon, disaffected “working class” Americans. (Incidentally, half of JRE’s audience is college educated.) It’s one of the primary reasons I won’t join the effort to boycott Spotify or encourage them to “cancel” (yuck, another stupid term like “woke”) Rogan. But please don’t tell me our route to salvation lies in listening to the likes of JRE, passing the bong around, injecting more testosterone, comparing blacks to apes, or embracing mindless conspiracy theories. Surely we can do better.

    • Thanks, Walter. Rogan’s audience is my primary interest too. And no, you don’t have to commit to listening to him on an ongoing basis, but thanks for taking a pass at it! Joe’s appeal may be that he’s the doofus in the room, yet he’s in the room with presumably smart people, and they are treating him with what passes for respect. Many in his audience are probably drawn to that. Regardless of why he has such appeal, I think his podcast is competing successfully for the attention of some of the same people that are also attracted to the more brutal Trump/Bannon/Carlson worldview, and that’s probably a good thing.

    • It is hard to seriously debate with a person who is ‘WOKE’ .Being aware is important, but being WOKE is just another religion.

  10. Quote of the day, from Joe Rogan during a stand-up comedy gig this week: “I talk shit for a living — that’s why this is so baffling to me. If you’re taking vaccine advice from me, is that really my fault? What dumb shit were you about to do when my stupid idea sounded better?” His two most recent guests were Akaash Singh (stand-up comedian) and Josh Dubin, described as a “criminal justice reform advocate.”

  11. This is more leftist Bolshevist false narrative! You don’t like someone else’s opinion so instead of debate based on factual evidence you attack that person with prerogatives and act high and mighty as if only you know the truth!

  12. Tom
    I agree it is useful to give a listen and take a moment to understand what Joe Rogan is doing on his podcast to reach people. I appreciate how you frame what Joe may be trying to do in his overall approach to his show. I am troubled though by his approach to the anti-vaccine situation during the ongoing emergency situation we are in with a highly contagious virus. I guess it is possible that his audience picked up on the utter fraud of Dr. Malone. I doubt it.

    During a global pandemic where each and every day millions of people are at risk of severe health complications and death, the Joe Rogan’s of the world have a special obligation to be helpful instead of hurtful. He gave his mega phone to someone who shouted “no need to evacuate it is not a real fire” and “don’t trust the people in the fire engines outside”. During emergenies we have an obligation to help each other. Joe Rogan makes money giving voice to false and misleading opinions. It is likely that some people actually died as a result of Joe handing his mega phone to Dr. Malone.

    I have been on numerous natural disaster emergencies where indeed there can be a few people that do stand in the way of rescue in order to “prove” they were right about living in wildfire or flood risk areas or want there freedom to save themselves. Always wrong they are and they waste the time of first responders and risk the lives of their neighbors by the delays they cause. After the disaster they are often first to complain about the lack of action and criticize how government response was all wrong. That is natural for some people to do, and fortunately it does not get in the way of helping the majority of people affected by the wildfire or flood. Joe Rogan can give them all a mega phone to say all that, just please not during the disaster, not while first responders–our medical personnel in the current case are risking there lives. When he does that he forfeits his humanity.

    • Thanks Gordon. I wonder roughly how many deaths might result from Malone’s extended conversation with Rogan? If we take the topline data that each Rogan podcast has “11 million listeners” as a starting point, we could take stabs at how many unique listeners that represents, how many registered that Malone was recommending against vaccination, etc. Then we’d subtract those who are already vaccinated, those who have had the disease and recovered and now have some degree of immunity, and those who are were already dead set against being vaccinated before hearing Malone. The rest could be divided into at least three groups: those influenced to be less likely to be vaccinated, those influenced to be more likely to be vaccinated, and those not moved one way or another. Of the group “less likely to be vaccinated,” we’d take the subset that would actually have gone out promptly to be vaccinated (in order to gain some benefit before the end of the Omicron surge), and estimate how many of them would have decided not to get vaccinated soon after all. For that group, we’d look at their chances of being infected before the Omicron surge is done, and from that their odds of dying. Lying awake last night after reading your thoughtful comment here, I guessed that it might turn out to be a handful of deaths–single digits or at most double digits. It’s not morally acceptable to kill any number of people of course, but the scale of the damage from hosting Malone has to be weighed against the benefits (and detriments) of having Rogan’s show exist, which could also be measured, in a somewhat macabre way, in the odds of causing or preventing deaths. My hypothesis in this article is that there might be some substantial benefits to having The Rogan Experience keep rolling, and part of what makes it work is that Rogan’s audience–most of all youngish libertarian-ish men–trusts him because he strikes them as a “fearless truth-teller.” Though he was warned about Malone, one of the warnings was a fellow scientists worrying that Malone was “going to fuck up his Nobel Prize,” which means he hasn’t been, previously, a crank from the margins. Just now I saw a story in the Atlantic arguing that the share of Americans likely to get a vaccine–or likely never to–was predicted early, and is right in line with predictions–an awful lot of positive and negative exhortation seems to have had very little effect. I’m not sure if this is paywalled, but here’s the story from The Atlantic. Thanks again. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2022/02/joe-rogan-covid-vaccine-misinformation/622040/

      • Thanks for your response Tom. I agree that the JRE may have some worthiness. It is the one or two shows that amplify the false narrative about vaccines during an emergency situation I take issue with and think is unworthy of amplification by JRE. How the Dr. Malone show may translate into deaths is also a challenge. Having his false information on JRE adds to the other places of Dr. Malone gets amplified. There is a multiplier affect one could calculate to add to the impact JRE has on harm to others that should also include the harm to people who have to wait longer for hospital treatment because of the impact un-vaccinated covid patients have on hospitals. One thing leads to another. Pretty simple for a MMA JR to fathom. He has a responsibility when occupying the public square. He failed..

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