Abigail BanerjiApr 29, 2021 19:59:58 IST
Joe Rogan, on his The Joe Rogan Experience (JRE) podcast, advised healthy people to not take the COVID-19 vaccine. He went on to talk about vaccinating children and spoke about his own kids’ experience with the virus. Fellow comedian and podcaster Dave Smith joined him on the episode that aired on 23 April. The entire podcast spanned 193 minutes.
The three-hour podcast was two hours too long. The last time I willingly sat to watch anything that long was Snyder’s Cut of Justice League, which was at least well worth the time spent.
The entire conversation, like most of Rogan’s podcasts over the 12 years it has been active, was in a lighter vein. And that’s what makes his podcasts so enjoyable for most of his 190 million listeners. He is clearly doing something right if he is one of Spotify’s top listened-to podcasters in 2020. He was paid a whopping $100 million to make his audio-video podcast exclusive to the music platform.
This podcast, though, reeks of privilege and an ignorant person talking to another ignorant person about a situation they escaped unscathed, trivialising the pain and suffering of the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their lives or been greatly affected by the virus.
The first 20 minutes were boring, but it was at the 24-minute mark that the anti-vaxxer opinions started to flow and were dispersed throughout the episode. They started by talking about a mutual friend – Ari Shaffir – getting his Moderna shot.
Rogan said, “He (Shaffir) got shot up with the Moderna as soon as he got back.”
“I’m like that’s the one that is supposed to give you the worst side effects, buddy. Allegedly,” he continued, with Smith ‘hmm-ing’ along.
Both comedians were on a roll, and the next thing Rogan talked about was “how masks do not work at all” and mentioned a doctor’s YouTube video (Here is scientific information on how and why wearing a mask protects one from COVID-19).
If @Spotify were smart they would step in here because this is a public health issue as much as it’s anything.
— Molly Jong-Fast🏡 (@MollyJongFast) April 28, 2021
There is plenty of back and forth between the two, with Rogan and Smith seemingly having an issue with anything and everything pandemic-related. During their entire tirade, all I could think of was – “Put that tin foil cap away, guys. Your paranoia is showing.” An ironic thought, since they jokingly mentioned wearing tin foil hats several times on the episode.
Out of all the inane things said on this podcast, Rogan topped it off with “As a global pandemic, we got really lucky. I mean it could’ve been a Spanish flu, it could’ve been something that really does wipe out…” he stopped short of completing that sentence. Maybe common sense took hold.
The Spanish flu, according to some estimates, killed 50 million people. That is a lot higher than the three million deaths COVID-19 has caused so far. We have managed to avoid that number because governments put in place lockdown orders, mask-wearing and handwashing guidelines and pushed research in medicines and vaccines. Should we have waited and watched while people suffered? Isn’t this a good thing? Isn’t hindsight our biggest weapon against future outbreaks?
However, always the yes-man, Smith bemoaned the fact that he can’t be vocal about his opinion as people won’t like it. God forbid you’re not allowed to talk smack about people dying during the pandemic. How does one survive without an ounce of human decency?
If Rogan thinks this virus hasn’t had as significant an impact as it could have, here are a few India-specific numbers to open his eyes.
India, according to the Delhi High Court, is currently facing a “tsunami” of new COVID-19 cases. 3,79,257 fresh infections and 3,645 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. We have been recording over three lakh new cases every day for over a week now.
Over the course of their brain-melting conversation, they mentioned reading the science, listening to the science, following the science behind the virus and the vaccine. I couldn’t help but wonder if they had actually taken the time and effort to read the science, considering their stance, or did they just selectively read the stuff that supported the argument they want to make?
Science is never definite and is constantly changing. During a pandemic, it is changing even quicker with studies, analysis, and reports coming out daily. It is nearly impossible to keep up with everything, but if you are going to use your platform to put out strong opinions, it’s best you arm yourself with sufficient knowledge.
Special mention: JRE does have a producer/fact-checker/ Google master overseeing the operation. This entire podcast would’ve provided them with plenty of homework if they were up to it.
Smith said, “Well, imagine if kids died, how much worse the panic would be” with the same tonal voice one would use when discussing the weather or an irksome pet. And I would like to ask them – does mostly adults dying make this situation any better?
Rogan bragged that he hasn’t been sick in 15 years and went on to explain why. Along with popping vitamins, he also boasted that he does a daily sauna session, is on testosterone and exercises daily.
Well, good for you, Joe. You are taking care of yourself. But it would be unwise to overlook the fact that you can afford to do this. Not everyone has the same spending power, but that doesn’t mean they deserve to suffer from the virus, or worse, die.
Rogan stated he is not against the vaccine. He tried to get it himself during the UFC 261 pay-per-view, but for some reason, couldn’t do so. He said his parents are vaccinated and said vulnerable people should take the vaccine. However, he added that if you’re 21 years old, exercising “all the time” and healthy, you don’t need to get vaccinated. Smith also said something similar a little earlier in the podcast.
“I don’t think you need to worry about this (COVID-19),” said Rogan.
Healthy young people DEFINITELY SHOULD get the vaccine. That’s how we stop the spread. Not rocket science guys. It’s about returning to normal and saving lives. In India they are literally burning bodies in the street while people like Joe Rogan encourage people not to vaccinate.
— Ethan Klein (@h3h3productions) April 28, 2021
During his tirade, Rogan diminished the coronavirus experience because his children weren’t affected too much, “akin to them getting a cold.” Smith also firmly stated that he won’t be vaccinating his offspring, for the sake of virtue-signalling.
After their constant digs at White House’s chief medical advisor Dr Anthony Fauci, the good doctor spoke to the Today show and said, “You’re talking about yourself in a vacuum. If you want to only worry about yourself and not society, then that’s OK.”
Fauci also added that healthy, young people should “absolutely” get vaccinated.
After this episode aired, there has been a lot of debate, with Twitter opinions split about the comedians’ stance. But when more than three million people have died because of this virus and the US is currently leading the charge, now is not the time to be a woke bro.
My feeling is that, no matter what your age, you should not take medical advice from Joe Rogan
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) April 27, 2021
Maybe Rogan needs a reminder that children and newborn babies have died because of this virus. Many young and healthy people have died or have been affected so badly they are still facing the effects of long COVID. Parents, grandparents, people of all races and ethnicities and age groups have died of this virus that started at the end of 2019.
Maybe Rogan needs a sign that says “Check your privilege” as a famous, rich, white male living in one of the most developed countries in the world with access to quality healthcare.
Rogan needs to remember that being humane, compassionate and kind are qualities everyone needs to possess during a time of global crisis.
He definitely needs someone to nudge him into using his platform to spread the right information in the midst of a worldwide humanitarian crisis that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight.
An apology is in order for dismissing the experience of hundreds of people with a little “no offence but…”
Here is a list of other COVID-19-related thoughts that Rogan and Smith shared during the episode:
- Ivermectin is 99 percent effective against COVID-19, but Rogan thinks no one is talking about it. This, he believes, is because it will somehow stop people from taking the vaccine if there is an effective medicine – This is completely untrue. Recently, WHO conducted an analysis of several studies and found Ivermectinis not as effective as some think it to be, and there isn’t enough evidence to suggest otherwise. Read the report here.
- Lockdowns were ineffective and were done as a way to control us – Lockdowns were initiated as a way to stop the spread of the virus when not much was known about it. Studies have shown they saved lives and also managed to help the Earth heal for a brief period. They resulted in cleaner air and water, a drop in pollution levels and a growth in local wildlife. You can read an analysis of the lockdowns’ effectiveness here.
- There was some talk about how the virus cannot spread via surfaces and everyone went berserk cleaning their groceries for no reason – There was a lot that was unknown at the start of the pandemic, but as studies were conducted, changes were made. It is not true that surface transmission cannot take place. However, the possibility is low. But why do we have an issue with hygiene and cleaning surfaces and groceries? Read an epidemiologist’s POV here.
- Rogan mentioned that some doctors spoke about ventilators killing people during the pandemic, but that information was shut down and no one was talking about it – That is untrue. Some of the major news outlets spoke to doctors and reported on this topic. Read here.
- Another nugget that Rogan so generously passed onto us was that one can fight COVID-19 by being outside in the sun and absorbing Vitamin D – Having a balance of all vitamins and minerals along with a healthy lifestyle will help in fighting all diseases. However, taking Vitamin D pills or even getting it naturally from the Sun will not help fight the virus. It will help if you have a deficiency. Read more here.
- The most controversial of all statements on this podcast was Rogan telling “young and healthy” people to avoid getting vaccinated because they don’t have to worry about getting infected – There is no scientific evidence to back this statement. People of all ages are contracting the virus. While it is true that the virus mostly harms the elderly, recent trends have shown that now even younger adults are getting infected. Read here.