Barnett: Don’t count on Joe Rogan for health information | Chroniclers


By Jake Barnett

Joe Rogan is a popular UFC podcaster, television host, and commentator. It hosts one of the most popular podcasts in the world, featuring hundreds of guests from a wide variety of fields.

During COVID-19, Rogan received negative comments for controversial statements regarding COVID. Rogan’s large audience proves that these claims don’t fall on deaf ears.

There are many reasons why we, as a population who want the best for themselves, should be wary of the Rogan Podcast as the primary source of health information.

The first is that it is most often not correct. An example of this would be when Rogan repeatedly invited guests to discuss ivermectin, and even used an ivermectin cocktail and other vitamins to treat his own COVID infection. He did so at a time when there was no valid evidence to use the antiparasitic against COVID, which is at a minimum a dangerous spread.

Recently, guest Peter McCoullough claimed that the CDC, WHO and health officials have intentionally suspended treatment for people with COVID to spread fear and increase vaccination rates. This is a substantial claim without proof and could best be described as a baseless conspiracy theory.

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Rogan’s content is often politically charged. So anyone who claims that Rogan is politically uninvolved or completely neutral and only listens to the facts has been misled.

The podcast can be really interesting on some topics, but a line needs to be drawn when people like Alex Jones or disgraced health officials promote hate speech and content that harms more than it helps.

For example, Jones is known to have been held responsible in a libel lawsuit where he claimed the Sandy Hook massacre was a left-wing hoax along with many other equally insane theories. What started out as a harmless podcast has become a vivid example of the dangers of mass media misinformation.

Ironically, the media he claims to despise and accuse of foul play also includes himself, as he himself contributes to the media’s greatest zeitgeist whether he likes it or not.

So how can a person who truly wants the best for themselves and for others decide who and what to believe?

A good start would be to regularly check on how to tell if a guest or podcast host is a conspiracy theorist.

First, a theorist will always come up with a seemingly secret plot with numerous conspirators. They will use vague statements like “follow the money”.

Second, they will offer evidence that appears to support the conspiracy theory in a way that does not address verifiability or reproducibility. The evidence will be anecdotal, small, or claimed to be extensive, but will not have the quantitative robustness that big data should have.

The theorist will then mistakenly suggest that nothing happens by accident and that there is NO coincidence; nothing is as it appears, and everything and everyone is connected.

The theorist will have an “they” to which he constantly refers without an exact approximation of who “they” are.

This inherent division of the world for good or for evil is a false dichotomy, which ignores the natural complexity of life, which is more often than not a gradient between the two.

Then, once the plot takes root, they’re hard to refute as anyone who tries is seen as part of the plot.

The person is a self-proclaimed expert. They are not related to any organization or institution, or the speaker claims to have identifying information, but they do not stand up to scrutiny or are suspended. The person gives his opinion as the only possible truth. Their style of speaking is subjective, charged with emotion.

So who is least likely to be a conspiracy theorist? The person most likely has recognizable credentials in the subject. The person should use facts and evidence from academic research.

The person openly discusses the complexity, including perspectives different from their own. The person is ready to recognize the limits of his knowledge and his own prejudices.

Their tone should be objective, factual, but open to discussion and disagreement. The person spends more time talking about solutions than vilifying others.

I am by no means saying that Rogan should be silenced; I just think more people should use the tools above to keep mental control over what information they believe is legitimate. Things that cause mistrust of public institutions and scientific and medical information can have serious consequences for all of us.

Jake Barnett holds a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Virginia Tech and is currently a graduate student at Bluefield University.


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