Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

In Defense of Joe Rogan

I listened to The Joe Rogan Experience for years. Not all of them – mainly the ones with comedians and people from different fields of science. MMA and hunting? Not really a topics of interest for me.

I discovered Sam Harris, Rhonda Patrick, Nicholas Christakis, William von Hipple, Lex Fridman, Eric Weinstein, scientists from the fields of evolutionary biology, A.I., and medicine. I’ve read many books from interesting people I discovered on his podcast.

I think it’s fair to say that one’s true nature will quickly be exposed in long-form conversations. By that metric, Joe Rogan is a thoughtful man, aware of his own limitations, someone who promotes love and empathy toward his fellow humans. He is quick to admit mistakes, and I’ve never heard him promote himself as an expert in anything other than MMA and comedy.

Yet I had to stop listening. Why? Because of COVID.

At first, chalked it up to my apocalyptic experience working on the frontlines at an ER on the border of Manhattan and the Bronx. What I and my fellow nurses and docs went through was beyond explanation. Death on a scale we’d never seen – and we were used to seeing death on a daily basis. We ran out of space for the corpses, wheeling one dead body out of a room only to have the next patient die.

I didn’t expect a comedian to understand that.

But look, here’s the thing. Public health isn’t an intuitive topic for Americans. We’re not a very caring nation as it is, so I get it.

Rogan’s massive popularity coinciding with the pandemic created a perfect storm for yet another failure of our ability to handle COVID. His tone-deaf ignorance on the subject led to the mess he’s in now.

Whether he fully understands it or not, his massive popularity comes with a responsibility to disseminate accurate information when it regards public health. But that’s a tall order for a comedian, isn’t it?

There is so much malicious disinformation in the world spewed by people with an agenda, I just don’t think Joe Rogan is one of them. Misguided? Yes, but who among is isn’t? Malicious? No.

Do I agree with everything he says? Of course not. But I don’t want to just listen to people I agree with. That’s not how life works. If I believe your heart’s in the right place and you try to be a decent person, that’s good enough for me.

His greatest sin was getting too popular – which gave him more power than he ever asked for. So I wanted to go on the record and stand up for someone I genuinely believe is a good person. I may not listen to his podcast much anymore, but I respect and like him.

Life is complicated. Some times we find ourselves in over our heads and then say things we shouldn’t.

Let’s have a little understanding here.