Joe Rogan is probably the most popular “news” source on the internet right now, but goddamn, it would be nice if the popular sources actually knew anything. Thanks, YouTube, your algorithm is one of the primary enablers of evil in America.
His latest inanity, the latest among many, is that he is spreading COVID misinformation.
Joe Rogan’s public misrepresentation of a 2015 vaccine study has gone viral. His misunderstanding of the study leads Rogan to wrongly conclude that vaccinating people against COVID-19 will increase the chances of some hyper-virulent mutation. You can watch the video below [Nah, I’m not including a Rogan video here–pzm]. But before you do, the lead scientist and author of the study who spent 10 years conducting this research has something to say. Because he’s horrified.
“Joe Rogan is getting this completely wrong,” says Andrew Read, professor of biology and entomology at Pennsylvania State. “He’s taking very careful work about evolutionary scenarios of the future, and from that, erroneously concluding that people should not be vaccinated now.”
Right. Rogan claimed that vaccinated people were a reservoir of variation in the human population. This is not true, as the author of the scientific paper plainly says.
“Evolution, at the moment, is all happening in the unvaccinated. That’s where the majority of cases are. That’s the majority of transmission. Every time a virus replicates, it can mutate. So the evolution is, right now, occurring in the body of people who are not vaccinated. Rogan is completely wrong trying to deduce anything else.”
If you were to listen to Rogan’s video, you’d see it’s one meathead having a conversation with another nobody, misrepresenting the work but claiming that he has a scientific paper proving his point (it doesn’t) while complaining that you have to get vaccinated to hang out in a bar, followed by a lot of conspiracy theory bullshit. That’s the discourse. This is where we’re at, the state of public science communication of significant information is now in the hands of assholes.
Speaking of assholes and misinformation, have you ever heard of Tim Pool? He’s big. He’s making millions of dollars off YouTube programming and biased lying to the public. The Daily Beast just posted a lengthy exposé on Pool.
…Pool has discovered a style of commentary and audience where a lack of knowledge or journalistic skills might not prove an impediment to success. In some ways, incuriosity and incapacity serve as valuable attributes in this medium. Not solely because of the political valence but thanks in part to how YouTube itself functions: rewarding the kind of high-volume, sensationalized, and sloppy churn Pool specializes in.
And it has made Pool both exceedingly rich and one of the most-watched independent YouTube political pundits in the country—over 3.3 million subscribers, 1.5 billion views, and, by all estimates, hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue per month. He earned $600,000 just in August 2020 and “most of it” came from YouTube, Pool claimed in the recorded conversation.
It’s stunning that that much money is cheerfully forked over to an incompetent grifter by YouTube and Google. You’d think somebody at those companies would look up and notice that they’re enabling some of the worst journalism on the planet, and that maybe they ought to adjust their algorithm to disable its bias in favor of screeching sensationalist jerks. We’ve long been plagued with tabloid-style yellow journalism, but somehow YouTube has figured out a recipe for turning it into even more money.
At the same time, though, some people manage to produce excellent content on YouTube, which will never be rewarded as profligately as the garbage Tim Pool or Joe Rogan churns out. For example, here’s a beautifully detailed dissection of Tim Pool — it’s worth listening to the whole thing, if you have the patience. I was a bit worried at the beginning, because the creator starts by praising Pool’s goals and claims, and I started thinking that this might be a puff piece by a fan…but never fear, as he continues, he carefully shows how everything Pool says is a self-aggrandizing lie by a lazy pseudojournalist. It’s a thoroughly damning analysis.
Give all of Tim Pool’s money to that guy. It’s too bad they won’t, because sensationalist lying and crazy conspiracy theories bring more views and advertising dollars.
Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says
I still think my random bimonthly blogging is worth more than Russ Douthat’s columns. Yet here I am, trudging along, not making anywhere near in a year for my blogging what he does for his columning.
In fact it would be fair to say that he earns an infinite percent more than I do.
Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says
My son is a Rogan fan…a Roganite?…so I avoid bringing him up. My son is otherwise a smart young fellow but I wish he would wise up to this con man.
PZ Myers says
I was once talking to a NY Times journalist who told me that he knew Douthat personally, and that he was actually quite nice and very intelligent. All he managed to do was confirm my estimation of NY Times journalists.
Marcus Ranum says
Joe Rogan’s the guy who used to run a TV show about eating bugs? He’s a “credible journalist” now? What’s next, Bill Maher for president?
Akira MacKenzie says
They listen to Rogan and Pool because they’re attention-deficient, emotionally stunted, adult-chlidren. They have no time or patience for those Brooks-Brothers-clad, straightlaced, journalist you see on the nightly news. BOO NERDS! They don’t even swear! What they want people they can relate to: An ayahuasca-addled egotist who made this fortune getting celebrities to eat unappitizing animal parts and a barely-closeted crypto-fascist who thinks courting white supremacy and wearing a beanie indoors makes him “edgy.” They don’t want be lectured about the day’s events by someone who looks and behaves like their grandparents. They want to sit down with someone who publically drinks, openly does drugs, tells dirty/racist/sexist jokes, throws whatever brainfarts out into the ether to see what sounds “cool.”
YouTube’s algorithm yields some doozies, but it was Twitter that suggested I follow Joe Rogan. (I didn’t take their advice.)
drewl, Mental Toss Flycoon says
I liked Joe Garelli on NewsRadio. Joe Rogen can piss up a rope.
Quite a thorough take down. Pool appears to benefit from YouTube elevating unremarkable men, who insincerely claim to have left leaning beliefs, while pushing right wing talking points. As far as Rogan goes, I can’t imagine how people can actually listen to him. No one inspires me more to pick up a book, so as I don’t end up so confidently uninformed as him.
I find this facade very common among my millennial generation. None of them want to label themselves conservative from the get go, and claim to hold egalitarian viewpoints, but whole heartedly embrace right wing thought when in private or think the audience is as fake as them. What came first, the audience of ignoramuses looking for a king or the ignoramus that inspired them?
Isn’t this ableist? I’m sure that not everyone who listens to Rogan and Pool fit this description. I’m also sure that of those who might fit the description, more or less, many of them don’t listen to these guys.
As for the descriptive terms, I find them fuzzy at best. I’ve known quite a few kids diagnosed as AD/HD, among other classifications, only to see those diagnoses change repeatedly over time because the definitions are vague and the determining criteria more like throwing darts at a target.
In short, I don’t think we understand why people fall for con men, although all of us are vulnerable to doing so regardless of our psycho-emotional capabilities or disabilities.
I get why people watch Rogan, he can be entertaining and is probably just a little bit more curious and smart than his audience, which makes him relateable. I will never understand why Tim Pool is popular. He is just Dave Rubin with a beanie, every bit as incurious and dimwitted.
If Rogan hadn’t gotten his gig as UFC colour commentator he’d probably be playing “Witness number 3” on whatever TV series gigs he could get. That gives him a large potential audience.
I think a large number of people find questions more compelling than answers and enjoy being privy to someone going through questioning at the same level they themselves do without the hard work of finding answers.
I think theres a lot of classist assumptions in some of the more casual critique of the sorts of people who enjoy these shitheads but really I think we should be doing our best to learn from what makes them compelling so we can better counter them (not necessarily through debate).
Although I do suspect the answer to their appeal to be close to “A famous guy I admire said it” which seems to be how most of the population, regardless of intellect, forms their opinions.
As for why people admire Tim Pool? I believe his audience is very young? Easy for young guys to see someone who was in their position and now seems to have it figured out.
All in all I think the answer is probably to reign in tech platforms and marginalise these dickheads.
Can we not? I mean stoking the fires can be fun, but really from what we understand isn’t it pretty clear that people like Rogan are popular becaue they reinforce and legitimise people’s prejudices? Make the world seem a more understandable place?
Having attention deficits never made me a bigot, that was childhood indoctrination. Similarly delayed emotional response patterns don’t mean I can’t understand other people’s needs or suffering.
Rogan and Pool are rw grifters, liars and boringly uninquisitive. But their success isn’t the fault of some kind of broad aneurotypical malaise.
John Morales says
That’s probably part of it, but more probably not all of it.
I googled Joe; he was a successful comedian and commentator before his current gig, so he probably is also popular because he is entertaining. People like entertainment.
Obviously having a vaccinated population mixed with an unvaccinated one increases the chance that a vaccine resistant strain might flourish. But the problem here are the unvaccinated. In an entirely vaccinated population the virus would disappear and there would be no vaccine resistant strain. And the smaller the unvaccinated population, the lower the chance.
But the key point is that complaining that a vaccinated population might (extremely marginally) increase the chance of a vaccine resistant strain is like saying that having an umbrella in the rain increases the chance of getting drenched after the umbrella breaks, so you decide to go into the rain without an umbrella at all.
Justin Kashtock says
“In an entirely vaccinated population the virus would disappear and there would be no vaccine resistant strain.”
What are you on about?
The current vaccines do not provide sterilizing immunity. They do lessen the severity of the symptoms in most of the vaccinated population and they do exponentially reduce the chances of dying from SARS-Cov2, but to suggest that in a 100% vaccinated population with our current non-sterilizing vaccines there would be zero transmission or zero mutation is not how evolutionary biology works, nor is it how the currently available vaccines work. Your statement is as much disinformation as the claims by the RW that the vaccine is completely ineffective “because I know someone who was fully vaccinated but still got sick”. A 100% vaccinated population will not end SARS-Cov2 transmission or mutation, but it would slow the death rate and could potentially slow the rate at which mutations occur via lowering total viral loads in those that do become ill, which could buy us time to find better therapies for dealing with symptoms of the virus or to create a vaccine that does provide sterilizing immunity.
It seems to me that variants arising from vaccinated people should be more dangerous. As immunity in the vaccinated is based on epitopes on the spike subunit only, any variant infecting one vaccinated person would be more likely to infect all vaccinated people; For people who recovered from COVID this seems less true as there is no way to know the particular epitope that antibodies in each individual use to recognize the virus. Some claim infection in the vaccinated is more likely than natural infected because some antibodies are secreted. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2798-3
and because SARS family viruses are particularly prone to mutations.
THe details of the argument are more complicated than I had time to review but it certainly seems like Rogan’s point is more empirical than deductive.
PZ Myers says
You first cite one article about vaccine development in progress. It does not support your point.
You then cite one speculative news article from 2005 that says “Jab against one strain might worsen infection with others.”
Then you claim Rogan might be basing his claim on empirical evidence, none of which is given, when actually, the empirical and deductive evidence currently screams “NO! THE DANGER IS FROM THE UNVACCINATED!”.
I’ll just warn you now: spouting off with dangerous medical misinterpretations is just as likely to get you banned here as promoting Nazis. Watch your ass.