The others things that bothered me were not the topics themselves, but the manner in which they were presented.
For instance, I found the debate over what Dr. Mark Gordon said in a prior episode # 438 about a chemical called glutathione and effects on the liver it had when drinking alcohol that caused Brian to shut off the episode and describes an experience closely resembling the uncomfortable feeling of distress that I had while listening to this part of his conversation with Joe. After they replayed and listened to the prior segment in question during the show, Joe clarified what the doctor had said and Brian stood by his original statement. I remember when the initially started the conversation that it prompted me to start thinking about the interview because I had just listened to that episode and found the doctors’ statement to be suggestive, but it wasn’t clear to me it was being recommended. After they brought the subject up, I remembered listening to this episode the day it became available for download and my memory of that show didn’t include the sort of menacing portrayal as described by Dunning’s experience. But, I also recall not being too convinced by the evidence Dr. Gordon did provide either, such as the one little anecdote that gets brought up. What did seem to stand out about this part of the conversation is that Brian appeared eager and bent on being confrontational based on something I believe he misheard. Perhaps, being hyper focused on activism can lead to fighting fights that are not effectively helpful in the spreading of the original intended message.
At the end of the day, skeptics are susceptible to their own psychology too. It’s just that as skeptics, we are often aware of these pitfalls in thinking and intently seek out contradictory evidence. However, as we are all flawed and biased we are all guilty on occasion of hearing what we want to hear, or perhaps in some cases, we don’t hear what we weren’t listening for, and being aware of our bias doesn’t make us immune to it.
Guests like Sam Harris or Neil deGrasse Tyson seem to corral the conversation into staying within reason by breaking down ideas before tangents go too far down the rabbit hole. Even the silly conversations are so much more interesting when one or more people in a party are scientifically literate, then you can really nerd out properly. Like what often happens on The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe. I really enjoy these conversations the most and feel that I get more out of these types of episodes too. Joe also appears to be much more pliable in these scenarios than the common misconception that many people hold of him in the skeptical community. Much of this is due to the history surrounding Joe and his former beliefs that the Moon landings were a hoax, amongst a few other conspiracy theories thrown in there too. When Joe had a debate with astronomer Phil Plait on Penn Jillette’s show, it got the attention of the scientific and skeptical communities. So, I can see the need of some damage control on both sides. Joe has since relinquished many of these beliefs but has been written off long ago and said to be too far gone in his irrationality. After someone brought the whole Moon debacle to my attention, I initially felt that way too. It would be one thing if it was strictly an all hardcore comedy show, but the fact is that most of the time it treads into scientific topics of discussion lends itself to criticism. In the past I have proposed to other notable skeptics that there is some potential for outreach on Joe Rogan’s podcast, but for many there is still a bad taste left after the whole Moon incident. There are so many times in conversations that I wished Dr. Steve Novella from the SGU was there to discuss experiences of the brain that people have or when there is a weird news story in the media that Sharon Hill from Doubtful News could help put into perspective by providing further insight with a little back story.
I noticed things that have changed for the better especially with recent Joe Rogan Experience episode featuring from something you might have already sensed, psychics. It was pleasantly surprising and I feel is definitely the most skeptical thing he has done. At one point he slips and calls himself a skeptic, only to quickly retort. It features an engagement with another prominent skeptic and world class mentalist, Banachek. This podcast episode JRQE5 with Duncan Trussell was recorded during the production of Joe Rogan Questions Everything which originally aired on SyFy and it discusses how that meeting not only changed their perception of all psychics, but reality as well.
I was really hoping for this episode to be an opportunity to share the ideas of what skepticism, science, and critical thinking has to offer everyone and the importance they are to the way we acquire knowledge about the modern world we live in today. So, I guess what bothered me the most and got me down was the lost opportunity to point out what distinguishes something as being scientific and the notion that it's the same perspective that lies in the heart of skepticism wasn’t stressed at all. “Skepticism and science are not so much about what you think; it’s about how you think.” And it is possible to have an intellectual debate that is still lighthearted that others can learn and grown from. I would just like to hear or see them in more places other then skeptics podcasts.