A Pandemic of Stupid

I am so full of anger and hatred that it’s 3:00am and I can’t sleep.

There are conversations going on about Joe Rogan. Fucking hell, it’s one of my worst nightmares: the dumb asshole jock who somehow managed to become one of the most popular (and therefore significant) media figures in America. He’s right up there with Oprah and Elvis: good old-fashioned American anti-intellectualism at its max.

And Neil Young, bless his heart, opened the door by asking the question which was: “why do I have to put up with this shit?”

There are so many things left unsaid, so I’m going to say a few of them. For one thing, Young implicitly points out a problem with the music ecosystem: the labels still control you, even if you’re Neil Fucking Young. The label is now called “Spotify” or whatever but it’s still positioning itself across the public’s artistic experience, trying to cash in by paying the creative talent as little as possible – nothing new, there. The fact that it has a prettier user interface doesn’t change the fact that it’s a reprehensible organization. Nobody should pay Spotify for a membership, because when they do that, they’re participating in techbros’ relentless drive to push down the market value of everything.

honor among thieves

I’m fortunate and in the course of my life I’ve bought dozens of albums and then CDs of Neil Young’s music (I wore out 3 copies of Live Rust) and I know that the leeches at Warner/EMI pocketed virtually all of that, but that’s maybe beside the point. It does explain why I was unmoved when the capitalists tried to make us weep on behalf of the labels that were seeing their lifeline jeopardized by MP3 publishers – watching apex predators tear eachother new bloody assholes is, after all, free entertainment. But the thing we cannot forget in all of this is Spotify paid Joe Rogan $100 mil. Remember when we all hated SiriusXM for turning the Howard Stern shit-hose into a galactic embarrassment? It’s the same thing: space aliens are going to hear Stern and nudge a rock into our orbit. When they hear Rogan they will realize they didn’t need to bother but by then it’ll be too late.

Spotify made some free speech-loving mumbles about how Rogan’s Just Asking Questions, but mainly their response was: “What? We paid good money for that.” Therein is the problem: anyone who is everyone ought to have uninstalled Spotify and asked for their money back when Spotify decided to have their own wholly-owned subsidiary buttsuck. It could have been any buttsuck, too, it really didn’t matter. Spotify is crying some crocodile tears about how they don’t want to control Joe, and they’ll put a warning blurb on his show, etc., but the fact is that they decided to pay him a huge amount of money to bring his dumb jock routine to their label. It’d be as if SiriusXM said, “What, Howard Stern is an asshole? We are shocked to learn this!”

Then, Rogan made his elaborate not-pology, basically saying that he’s just a dumb jock, and he’s a curious guy who likes to interview trolls. Basically, he’s pulling the Oprah excuse, “I didn’t create ‘Doctor’ Phil, I just uh… promoted him and handed him my microphone. He’s the grifter, not me!” Everyone is playing the same song, and it’s edging perilously close to the “free speech” defense. You know, that one? It’s usually followed around by its nasty little cousin “Both sides”. And that’s where I have to stop and call ‘bullshit’ on the whole thing.

It’s not “just asking questions” or “Rogan’s opinion” when we are talking about lying with knowledge. Telling lies that you know are lies. Sure, Rogan is a dumb jock but that’s because he chooses to play that role, and was indeed chosen by Spotify to play that role. I’m not going to give that excuse. (I don’t excuse Oprah, either) – why not? Because all of these lying assholes have full-time staff that research, manage, arrange, and outline their ‘spontaneous’ interviews. As the conspiracy dipshits say, “the truth is out there” – well, let me say categorically that anyone with a functioning brain can learn enough virology in 24 hours to know that a livestock dewormer is not going to be an effective antiviral.

It’s that simple.

Rogan doesn’t get to slide off saying, “I’m just asking these questions” because the fact is that the questions aren’t even worth asking. The most generous we can be about Rogan or Oprah is that they should have done better quality control over their research staff, but that would only be in the context of “I’m sorry…” If Rogan was a cool guy, which he isn’t, he’d spend the next 2 days “researching thoroughly” the topic of vaccines and would announce that he’d had a revelation from god in the form of listening to TWIV for 2 days and now he was going to bring antivaxxers onto his show and flay them verbally and publicly. The American people would probably be just as entertained by that, and a bit of verbal thuggery would actually be more “on brand” for Joe Rogan’s dumb jock persona.

dumb jock schtick

This whole thing is, basically, like religion: if you have a functioning brain you can do the research and you’ll realize it’s bullshit. Therefore, the only way you can believe the bullshit is that you didn’t do the research or the thinking – or you have been knowingly lying all along. I’m going to go out on a limb here and bet that Rogan actually has someone on his staff that is responsible for helping him phrase his statements so they aren’t actionable. Otherwise, Spotify would be vulnerable to lawsuits for giving medical advice that results in people coming to harm. It’s not “entertainment” folks, and even if it were, Spotify is probably set up to lose more in lawsuits than they’ll ever make from Rogan. And, for the record, I don’t think Oprah is such a natural smoothie that it was purely by accident that ‘Doctor’ Phil was kept plausibly deniable. Oprah is a multi-billion-dollar media target and every word that comes out of her mouth passes through an attorney before it is uttered into the mic.

So, what I am saying is: fuck Spotify. But, you already should know that, too. You should have done your research before you gave them money. You should have thought beyond, “now I don’t have to buy those expensive CDs and I can enjoy all the free music.” The ‘free’ part is the giveaway. And they used the money to fuck us right back. I’m too lazy to install Spotify just so I can delete it, but it’s tempting and that’d be the only way Spotify would wind up on one of my devices.

We have to be a lot less forgiving of the bullshit, “I am just trying to learn…” dodge. Let me speak as someone who used to teach (fairly well-reviewed and popular!) classes around the world: I would not give a 1 hour lecture on any topic whatsoever without developing the expertise, first. It usually took me most of a day to write any given 1 hour presentation and I already knew my topic. If someone offered me $1 mil to do a talk on virology, sure, I would do it but it’d be basically a wad of “this paper says this and this professor says that and isn’t it all cool?” That’s being a cheerleader, not an expert, but I’d take the $1 mil. Anyone who is trying to have a public conversation about any given topic, whatever, owes their audience the simple attention to detail to absorb the supporting knowledge necessary to have the conversation. That’s why I have to hoist another great big “fuck Joe Rogan” flag – he had Jordan Peterson on his show and simply batted the bullshit-ball back and forth; that tells me that he (and his handlers) didn’t do the simplest, most basic research, to figure out that Jordan Peterson is a sociopathic compulsive liar who doesn’t even bother to get his facts straight in the field he professes; never mind the other fields: the guy is omni-wrong. Interviewing Jordan Peterson is not the time to play dumb jock, it’s the time to pull out the verbal knife. That is the only way to get these people off the mainstream media: make them walk off the stage with the rhetorical equivalent a fat lip and a bootprint on the seat of their pants. Any “interviewer” who can’t hold their own against a bullshit artist is, ipso facto, a bullshit artist themself. Or they’re not qualified to hold a mic.

As I write this, I keep thinking of the In Our Time podcast and interviewer Melvyn Bragg. Bragg invites working scientists and researchers on his show, and asks them interesting questions that show that he took the time to research the topic enough not to be stupid. Or, his handlers did the research and Bragg read the notes. I hear the same thing on TWIV: the interviewers are subject matter experts and so are the people they are interviewing. They are not afraid of asking stupid questions because they don’t ask stupid questions – at least not when they’re talking about virology.

So: fuck Spotify, Oprah, ‘Doctor’ Phil, Joe Rogan, and all the other lazy wannabes that were too busy promoting themselves to even do a few basic fact-checks. Fuck them all; they’re emblems of American intellectual laziness and anti-intellectualism, and they dare say ‘do your own research.’ I did my own research, what’s why I’m angry.

And I’m going to have to finish with a related but unrelated topic, namely the incredibly stupid thing Whoopi Goldberg said, namely that the holocaust was not about race. That was about as smart as saying that the KKK wasn’t about race. I’m noticing some swirls in the media-sphere that make it look like Whoopi’s apology is going to be accepted at face value, i.e.: “I said a really dumb thing.” Which she then compounded by saying some of her best friends are jewish she has a lot of sympathy for the jews. I am only mentioning this because: none of that stuff above is relevant. What is relevant is that: it is not possible to say something that stupid without it resting on a deep well-spring of long-held stupid beliefs. I’m not interested in hearing apologies out of Whoopi. I want to hear an explanation of how someone could, at her age, have failed to learn a fucking thing about the holocaust, and anti-semitism, and the relationship between christianity and anti-semitism. At her age, with her access to information and a microphone, the only thing she would have any business saying would be, “this is a deeply embarrassing topic for me, because when I was raised I was exposed to a bunch of anti-semitic tropes and it took me until adulthood to unwind them and realize that someone had taken a shit in my brain. Then, I had to clean that out and I’m angry about that, and it makes me renew my committment to anti-racism and against ethnic hatred.”

See a pattern here? Like with Rogan’s long-held and carefully guarded ignorance, Goldberg doesn’t get to skate by with “oops who’d’a thunk I said something that makes me sound like I’ve been having lunch with nazis?” Where did you get that idea, Whoopi? How long have you thought the holocaust is not about race? Are you now or have you ever been a fucking idiot? And Joe, how did you manage to avoid learning a goddamn thing about virology, especially since you a) talk about it b) have a popular show with zillions of listeners c) are an embarrassment to your country d) are a profit center for Spotify, which ought to get a class action lawsuit on behalf of everyone who has been harmed by your ignorance.

Neil Young was 26 when he blew out Old Man – a brilliant song about looking forward and backward at the significance of our lives; who we are, who we were, who we will have been. I’ve always loved that song. In this context it’s another riff on the significance of the words we carry, and the impact of our actions on our future selves. Joe Rogan, Oprah, Neil Young, Whoopi Goldberg – all people of a same age, who lived through important events like the Vietnam genocide and the endless fight against American ignorance and racism. One of those people has been thinking about what they’ve learned and what they’re going to share, and the others have not.


  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    … but it’d be basically a wad of “this paper says this and this professor says that and isn’t it all cool?”

    Still, it takes a decent amount of work to figure out which papers and professors to cite. There is danger in “doing your own research.”
    First of all, you have to ask, “is there any actual expertise to be had in this field?” Let’s call this The Theology Disqualifier.
    And then there is another problem: a portion of the peer-reviewed scientific literature is low quality noise.
    The Real Scandal About Ivermectin

    The secret, again, is simple: Much research is simply ignored by other scientists because it either looks “off” or is published in the wrong place. A huge gray literature exists in parallel to reliable clinical research, including work published in low-quality or outright predatory journals that will publish almost anything for money. Likewise, the authors of fabricated or heavily distorted papers tend to have modest ambitions: The point is to get their work in print and added to their CV, not to make waves. We often say these studies are designed to be “written but not read.”

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and bet that Rogan actually has someone on his staff that is responsible for helping him phrase his statements so they aren’t actionable. Otherwise, Spotify would be vulnerable to lawsuits for giving medical advice that results in people coming to harm.

    From what I’ve seen over the years, the bar for ‘actionable’ is absurdly high. If it weren’t, Rupert Murdoch, Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and many others would be paupers serving prison time.

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    Goldberg doesn’t get to skate by with “oops who’d’a thunk I said something that makes me sound like I’ve been having lunch with nazis?”

    Well, she kinda did:

    ‘I know Mel [Gibson], and I know he’s not a racist…’I have had a long friendship with Mel. You can say he’s being a bonehead, but I can’t sit and say that he’s a racist having spent time with him in my house with my kids.’

  4. says

    Reginald Selkirk@#1:
    First of all, you have to ask, “is there any actual expertise to be had in this field?” Let’s call this The Theology Disqualifier.

    That’s a great point. What about a field of applied phlogiston dynamics, or something like that – it could drag along for a while.

    So, there has to be a disqualifier qualifier. How long would you need before you were willing to make a substantial bet about a field’s truth? I’m guessing you’d take a $5,000 bet against applied phlogiston dynamics after about 2 hours of study – and most of that time would be carefully hedging “what the hell is applied phlogiston dynamics anyway?” Theology is a great example, though. So much ink and blood has been spilled over it, that there’s got to be something there other than just bullshit, right?

    I’m not saying we should imagine Joe Rogan weighing in on the truth or falsity of god’s existence with certain well-defined parameters – all he would have to do is say, “so it turns out that this issue has sincere supporters and I’ve studied the back-catalog and I want to hear from those supporters regarding specific topics that are relevant.”

    When the TWIV guys got into the whole Ivermectin topic, there was some sciencely reluctance to say flat out, “it doesn’t work” because the answer is not that; the answer is “this study does not show that it works” and that negative framing was enough to start a run on the horse paste.

    It seems like “basic critical thinking 101” to ask, “why do you think Ivermectin, which kills insects by jamming their nervous system, would have any effect on a virus?” I have to say it’s obvious that a neurotoxin isn’t going to do much to something that hasn’t even got a nerve. I’m just a retired computer programmer/consultant and it took me less than an hour to figure that out. We should be able to expect similar attention to detail from the extensive staff and research/production teams of these media bloviators. They’re not even good bloviators: they proceed to spout their shit in spite of the fact that there is ample published material explaining in detail why they are wrong.

  5. says

    Akira McKenzie@#3:
    Well, she kinda did:

    Exactly. There would have been a fascinating opportunity for some reflective self-analysis. “Now why would I have an anti-semitic christian sadist in my house…?” Lots of opportunity there to deconstruct that, i.e. “Mel said the most fascinating thing about how my kids are going to hell, before I called security and had them take him into the alley and beat the shit out of him. Geeze.”

  6. says

    Rob Grigjanis@#2:
    From what I’ve seen over the years, the bar for ‘actionable’ is absurdly high.

    Yeah, true. Unfortunately.

    Trump’s bullshit helped propel a pandemic that killed more Americans than World War 2. He might as well have told those poor saps to shoot themselves, except that would have been less painful and expensive. But you bet they’re all over complaining that Tony Fauci couldn’t get his story straight about masks.

  7. says

    Reginald Selkirk@#1:
    A huge gray literature exists in parallel to reliable clinical research, including work published in low-quality or outright predatory journals that will publish almost anything for money. Likewise, the authors of fabricated or heavily distorted papers tend to have modest ambitions: The point is to get their work in print and added to their CV, not to make waves. We often say these studies are designed to be “written but not read.”

    That’s why, by the way, you will not see me say, “read the peer-reviewed journals.” The days when we could trust the journals ended long ago.

    The TWIV guys did a bit of review of the paper that triggered the whole Ivermectin fad and it’s pretty fascinating. It sounds as though someone used a markov-chain AI textbot trained on other papers to produce it; it has big chunks of stuff lifted whole cloth from other sources.

    I think that someday there will be a fascinating history of how that little turd blossomed into a volcano of bullshit. “Peer reviewed” my ass.

    That does make me wonder if it’s worth doing the experiment to write a paper on some topic (“Accurate PCR detection of wordpress templates in messenger RNA”) and get it published; see how much that costs and then do some google searches for it in 1, 2, 5 and 10 years. Applied Sokalology I suppose.

  8. jenorafeuer says

    From what I’ve heard, much of what kicked Ivermectin into the ‘cure-all!’ category was a combination of three things. The first, a wish from all the anti-vax/anti-lockdown/etc. crowd to have a ‘cure’ so they could claim that everything could go back to normal without needing vaccines. The second, there is a theoretical mechanism of action, even though it requires a concentration of Ivermectin in the body that isn’t actually possible to achieve. And third and most importantly, the fact that Ivermectin did improve results from CoViD-19 in formal studies… in certain cases.

    Specifically, it improves recovery and survival of people who have already been infected who live in areas where certain forms of parasitic infections are also common. Because it turns out that some of the (steroid-based?) treatments for CoViD-19 interfere with your body’s normal response to the parasites in question, thus making things like River Blindness worse. Ivermectin is normally prescribed to treat those parasites anyway, so in people who have parasitic infections, Ivermectin plus the usual CoViD-19 treatments produces much better results than just the CoViD-19 treatments themselves.

    In other words, Ivermectin is literally not useful unless you’ve already contracted both CoVid-19 and a parasitic infection… but just like with the initial study that showed that people taking hydroxychloroquine were less likely to get sick (gee, people taking an immune suppressant are going to be a lot more careful about getting into situations where they might be exposed to other diseases, who’d-a-thunk) it only took one vaguely plausible report that there was a correlation for all the people who desperately wanted there to be a miracle cure to go jumping off the cliff on causality.

  9. uncategory says

    Goldberg has been suspended from The View for two weeks for her comments. The View does not have any comment about that except to say “You all saw the news”.

    As you say, this goes beyond dumbassery and well into the territory of willful ignorance.

  10. Reginald Selkirk says

    @8 – I wouldn’t put a lot of confidence in that. That is an attempt to make sense of a number of poor papers – but those papers were mostly pure fraud. It just so happens that a number of those fraudulent papers were in “third world” countries where parasite infection might be common (Iran, Brazil, Egypt, etc.)
    It’s like so many people who have put a lot of effort into providing naturalistic explanations for the Star of Bethlehem. Don’t bother, it’s just a story.

  11. jenorafeuer says

    Reginald Selkirk@#8:
    Did you actually read what I wrote? Ivermectin does absolutely nothing for CoViD-19 on its own. All it does is that if you also have a parasitic infection, it prevents some of the CoViD-19 treatments from making the parasitic infection worse. That’s it. That is the only actual signal in the noise, and yes, every other study since then has either been negative, fraudulent, or a meta-study relying on the fraudulent data.

    But that one marginal (and completely useless for 99% of people) signal was why people chose Ivermectin of all the various off-brand drugs to treat as the cure-all.

  12. Reginald Selkirk says

    @10: Yes I read what you wrote. Did you read what I wrote? Because I don’t see anything that would refute it.

  13. lanir says

    I think this is why I don’t listen to talk shows unless they wow me pretty fast with something interesting. If it doesn’t sound like I’ll learn something just by listening, I’m off to do something more entertaining or more likely to contain new knowledge.

    For Rogan and the others like him I guess I do think they’re just “asking a question” but singular, not plural. The only question they’re ever asking is “Are you bored/disinterested/deluded/ignorant enough to listen to me?” I don’t think they’re actually asking any other questions because when someone comes on with bullshit to sling they’re always there with a shovel to spread more and spread it farther. They’re not doing “asking questions” wrong, they’re doing “lying for personal profit” correctly.

  14. says

    As you say, this goes beyond dumbassery and well into the territory of willful ignorance.

    I think it is impossible for a person to reach her age, and spend so much time as a public speaker, without plenty of opportunity to encounter the idea that “the holocaust was a result of racism/anti-semitism” It simply beggars the imagination, yet the fact that she blurted that out makes me think that’s how she thinks about it, herself, and has just not been saying that kind of shit, for years because she knows she’d get legitimately snapped for doing so. All of that tells me that she knows perfectly well what she was saying, she’d just been biting it back for years and it slipped out.

    I’m just so sick of these dipshits. Give me an old-fashioned nazi that just stands there screaming “I HATE YOU!” until someone drops a bomb on them from high altitude. At least they’ve got the courage of their fucked up convictions.

  15. Bernie says

    I think a lot of causes contributed to the holocaust and I can’t help but wonder if some of the outrage expressed against Whoopi Goldberg is a result of efforts to deflect culpability. In particular, to say it was racial, deflects from the outsized role Christianity played in fostering an environment where religious bigotry could blossom into intense racial hatred. Undoubtedly, another contribution to the holocaust was good old fashion jealousy and greed. In common with other genocides, race served as an excuse to justify the confiscation of wealth and property – state sanctioned theft, if you will.

    Considering the meticulously organized manner and the industrial scale with which the holocaust was carried out, it should serve as the ultimate cautionary tail concerning the depth of evil to which modern society and individuals can sink, and it should cause us a lot of soul searching.

  16. Pierce R. Butler says

    Goldberg (as I understand it) saw the Shoah as white-on-white violence – a chronic problem through history, one for which the best minds have never found a cure.

    From her side of the black/white divide, the nuances of the extremists claiming “Jews aren’t really white” might look quite trivial. Most whites have, mutatis mutandis, never had much reason to ponder the shades-of-brown issues which have, at times, stratified African-American society.

    Finally, Goldberg has for all her adult life made a living as a comedian, and has surely specialized her learning accordingly. We should perhaps give her a little credit for not cultivating audiences for whom the Holocaust is funny.

    /advocating deviltry

  17. robert79 says

    “If someone offered me $1 mil to do a talk on virology, sure, I would do it but it’d be basically a wad of “this paper says this and this professor says that and isn’t it all cool?””

    On the other hand… if someone offered me $100 mil to do a talk on virology, I would step up to a well known prof on virology, apply to do a PhD with him saying I can provide the funding, and give the talk 4-5 years later. Pocket the change. But then, that would require brains and a willingness to do *hard* work for four years. But you know what they say about hard work…

  18. mplo says

    I remember Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, when they were still as one group, and Neil young singing solo. I remember “Old Man” quite well. It kind of caused a lump in my throat, but that’s how it goes sometimes. Neil Young has always been a good musician who’s written many meaningful songs.

  19. snarkhuntr says

    @Pierce R. Butler

    If the Holocaust was ‘about race’ does that mean that Socialists and the Disabled are now distinct races?

    The Holocaust had racial components, to be sure, but it was ‘about’ eliminating ‘the other’ and if there’s anything to know about fascists it’s that they’ll always have another group to exclude. Once they’d finished with the Jews, Slavs, Blacks, Disabled, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other ‘others’, they would inevitably have kept drawing finer and finer distinctions to maintain the illusion that someone, anyone, other than themselves was responsible for all the ills of their society.

    I hate to agree with Whoopi, but the Holocaust was not ‘about race’. Race was a factor, but the Holocaust was ‘about’ the fascist need to find a group to demonize and purge. To the extent that races exist at all, fascists will invent new ones in order to have someone to purge from the society.

  20. Captain Kendrick says

    Without weighing in on the decision to cancel my paid Spotify membership in protest of Meathead Rogan (I’m tempted, but….), and also not getting into specifics of artist compensation from these models compared to previous business models (do we really think that the record labels were giving artists their fair share?), there is an aspect to Spotify you leave out — and that is the promotion and dissemination of new artists/music. When I first started to use Spotify 10 or so years ago, I discovered that the key value to me was not to have “free” or “unlimited” music available — it was the ability to go down the “Spotify Rabbit Hole”, which they do a very good job of enabling. I have discovered thousands of hours of music that I never knew existed, and many new artists, who I never would have heard about if it wasn’t for Spotify.

    As a result, I have spent gobs of my disposable income on concerts (where the artists make most of their living) and buying their vinyl and merch out in the lobby (which supplements their living) after the show. So we can bad mouth Spotify all we want (and they do deserve criticism), but there is a positive side to this new technology. Even if I had time to hang out in my local record store (yes, they still exist in some neighborhoods), and peruse the vinyl, I would not discover many of the newer artists who are making a living by touring and making interesting new music. I’ve even talked to some of the musicians in the lobby after the show if the do “meet and greets” and talked about this. There seems to be love-hate relationship with Spotify. Yes, the business model should be more fair, but they also acknowledge that the small venue that they just played in that night might have been an even smaller venue with fewer ticket buyers if it were not for Spotify.

  21. Pierce R. Butler says

    snarkhuntr @ # 18: … does that mean that Socialists and the Disabled are now distinct races?

    Given the flexibility of that concept, particularly in the racistically-motivated mind, probably so.

  22. says

    If the Holocaust was ‘about race’ does that mean that Socialists and the Disabled are now distinct races?

    Lots of people get this wrong: it wasn’t about the “inferior races” it was about the “master race” – the others (including socialists and the disabled) were to be swept away to make room for the nazis and their offspring.

  23. brucegee1962 says

    Mid-rant you brought up this excellent question:

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and bet that Rogan actually has someone on his staff that is responsible for helping him phrase his statements so they aren’t actionable. Otherwise, Spotify would be vulnerable to lawsuits for giving medical advice that results in people coming to harm.

    I have been wondering this for some time. Maybe the bar for actually winning a suit is high, but class-action lawsuits seem to be brought all the time on much shakier grounds. Lawyers have a reputation for being ambulance chasers — well, there’s a long string of ambulances and hearses going by, so chase them, already!

    How hard can it be to find someone willing to testify “Daddy listened to Tucker or Rogan religiously, and that’s why he never got the vaccine, and now he’s dead *sob appropriately*”? String a bunch of those together and you have a chance at many millions, plus a guarantee of Avenetti-style headlines, for any lawyer at the helm. Many would view such a lawyer as a hero. Why haven’t any of them risen to the bait yet?

  24. says

    Why haven’t any of them risen to the bait yet?

    Probably because ambulances are easier to catch, while they are napping near the watering-hole.

    Joking aside, I don’t know. Yes there is a high standard of proof but it appears to me that Rogan has been giving medical advice and is therefore on shaky ground, as is Spotify. It would come down to good lawyering. There is no question that the evidence is there and speaks for itself, it’d just be a matter of connecting Rogan’s comments to someone’s actions. One of those “my dad WAS one of Rogan’s biggest fans and now he’s dead because he listened to Rogan. In fact, my dad made all these facebook postings specifically saying he was following Rogan’s advice. Then, he died.” Oh that would be the sound of fuckage for Rogan and Spotify.

  25. says

    Meanwhile, it now turns out that Rogan has been openly racist on his podcast for years. It’s just that his appreciative racist fans never thought to complain because, of course, they were along for the ride. Now they are having an “uh oh” moment.

    “The Rock” handled this fairly well, I think. “I used to support Joe but then someone told me about all the racist shit he talks so now I am not supporting him at all any more.” Well, better late than never “The Rock”

    The fascinating question, now, is how Joe Rogan got away with saying things like “Going into ${certain neighborhood} was like ‘Planet of the Apes'” ? Clearly he has had many listeners (and people at Spotify who paid him $100mn for that) who think that is perfectly acceptable. Wrong.

    Tempting to start a pool, whether Rogan will be cancelled or not. Either way, he should not ever have another black guest willing to give him the time of day, and ought to be subjected to challenge and derision for the remainder of his career on air.

    Every black musician on Spotify now has a move to make.

  26. says

    The “spotify gives an opportunity to unknown musicians” argument is … OK but not great. Guys like Charles Berthoud, Ichiko Nita, and Leo Moracchioli are monetizing their talent pretty well on youtube and are touring and performing.

    My opinion is that talent speaks for itself and organizations like Spotify or Warner Music or whatever only serve to get in the way (so they can get their unearned slice of the action by acting as gatekeepers)

  27. lorn says

    There are some factors and dynamics not being mentioned that cast a slightly different light on things:

    Human brains are set up to love stories. For thousands of years people sat around campfires and listen to stories. This may have been their main form of communication and their primary form of entertainment. Even interpersonal communications may have been in the form of a story.

    Language, much less writing, were not the primary means of communication. Many early cultures use acting, dance, drawings, dress, and artifacts to tell stories.

    Possibly the single most important thing to understand is that listening to stories is an active undertaking. You have to engage the spirit of the story. Suspend disbelief and take bluster and exaggeration in stride. The primary mode of understanding is feeling, not thinking.

    A good example of this is professional wrestling. The wrestlers are athletes and the blood is, for the most part, real but they are actors playing characters and the action is story telling. Again, this is about feeling. Not thinking.

    Because it is about feelings and emotion the story lines are simple. Usually with clear indicators of each character’s roll in the play and clues as to how you are supposed to feel about them. There is very little nuance. The good guys are always good and reliably right and correct, and the bad guys are consistently evil, conniving and underhanded.

    The stories are morality plays and Just So stories where the good guys prevail and evil is defeated, but never destroyed. There may be some reversals and surprises along the way but, like Gilligan’s Island, the outcome is always the same. The reassuring aspect of repetitive and consistent outcomes is one of the major points.

    Trump’s connection to professional wrestling and how he presents himself and his opponents is part of this storytelling tradition.

    Rogan making $100M is not unexpected. Storytellers are valued. Content is king. Not too long ago Rogan was pro-vaccine. The switch to anti-vaccine is a matter of what plays better. Outrage and controversy captures audience. Telling people to get vaccinated with a free, safe and effective vaccine doesn’t bring in an audience. Facts have nothing to do with it. This is about feelings and a lot of people want to feel special. The combination of blameless victim-hood, entitlement, and winning through simple contradiction is heady stuff. They will reward people who make them feel this way with their attention, time and votes.

    Unfortunately progressives haven’t got the hang of storytelling. Of framing ourselves as heroes and our opponents as evil. Of framing every fight as a Manichean struggle of good versus evil. We are adults and find such simplistic stories to be boring and tedious. But then again we aren’t always in touch with our reptile brain. Or how children think. We don’t understand why our kids like hearing the same story book read the same way for months. Or the forms and function of ceremony. At a recent funeral the honor guard played Taps and I was unexpectedly overtaken by a feeling of sadness and finality. It wasn’t rational, but it was real.

    When and if Progressives master storytelling we will win, and win big.

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