Joe Rogan sounded off on what he sees as a major issue in American culture today: polarization. On the March 9, 2021, episode of the Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan ranted about how the issue has also affected how the country has handled the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Rogan, talking with writer and futurist Jamie Metzl, said, “A problem that we have with our culture today is that we’ve fallen into this very strange situation where we really have two sides of America. We have a left side and a right side. And I don’t understand how it happened this abruptly. Where it even has an influence on the way we view this pandemic, it has an influence on the way we look at scientific inquiry. People don’t want certain results because those results would somehow or another this political party that’s so polarizing or would go against this other party that’s more to their liking. It’s such a strange situation, as a non-scientist, someone who relies on scientist, to figure things out, to go, ‘Hey what the f*** is going on? Why is this politics? We’re talking about a pandemic.’ We’ve got to know what this is and how to fight it and where it came from.”
Metzl, a Democrat who worked in the Clinton administration and for then-Senator Joe Biden, but who has been a contrarian on the origins of coronavirus, agreed with Rogan, saying, “It’s really unfortunate. … We live in these kind of information cul-de-sacs, where we are just stuck. It seems to me we should just say, ‘let’s try to be open-minded.’ That doesn’t mean we don’t have views, we all exist on some kind of spectrum, for everything, but if we’re just stuck there and we can’t even hear what other people are saying, we’re going to drive ourselves not just to ignorance, but to terrible decisions.”
Rogan said, “We just have such a tendency to buy into narratives, I think now more than ever. There’s too much information out there to pay attention to everything, so we find the information that fits our narrative, we lock into it, we hold onto it and we just stick with it and argue against anything that opposes it.”
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Rogan Said ‘I Think the Polarization Is Stronger Now Than Ever Before’
Rogan told Metzl, “I think the polarization is stronger now than ever before. … We need to stop all that s*** and work together.” Rogan added, “One of the most important things is our ability to communicate openly and freely so that we understand these problems and we realize that our differences are far smaller than the things that we have in common. We tend to highlight our differences, which is part of the problem with these social media algorithms, that it enhances those differences, it makes those differences seem like they’re the only things that matters.”
Rogan said he thinks it’s the first time in his life that people are concentrating more on their differences instead of what people have in common.
Metzl, who said he’s been on Twitter more during the pandemic, said he has become more aware of the polarization. Rogan joked about Twitter, “It’s a terrible place isn’t it?” Metzl responded, “It’s great in a way, but now every time when I go on Twitter it’s like all these people who I really respect who agree with me, now I see their feeds. And obviously I like their feeds, and because I like their feeds, I see more of it. So that’s why we all have to challenge ourselves. Because social media is kind of pushing us into two things. One, into these little realities that are self-reflective. And two, into a world where conflict is rewarded more than finding middle ground.”
Metzl explained, “If you say reasonable things on Twitter, three people like what you say. If you say incendiary things you start a whole you-know-what storm. I think being mindful of the environment where these ideas are being shaped is as important as the ideas themselves.”
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Rogan Said Trump Made It ‘Taboo’ To Talk About Coronavirus Theories He Supported, Because He Was So Divisive
Rogan said he thinks Trump made it “taboo” to talk about the theory that COVID-19 originated with a leak from a lab in Wuhan, China, because that was what then-President Donald Trump was pushing. “It’s so crazy that something which is science, it’s a scientific discussion and inquiry, that it could be stunted by these political ideas when someone is so polarizing like Trump that people just want to reject very plausible and possible ideas just because of him,” Rogan told Metzl.
Metzl told Rogan, “It’s just crazy because it seems, this is a really, in my view, likely possibility. We should be investigating all hypotheses not saying we can’t even look at something that could be the real story here.”
Metzl said he still has hope, despite the polarization and information silos. “The sad thing is you would say, in some abstract way, ‘Well maybe if hostile Martians show up, we’ll realize we’re all humans.’ But right now we have hostile Martians, we have this terrible virus that’s killing so many people, you’d think now is the time to rally. That’s why it’s been a heartbreak that we’ve kind of fought over these things. But I still think that there’s an opportunity to come together.”