I never watched Fear Factor. I’m no fan of UFC fighting. And I truly despise podcasts, preferring to read to get information. This is my way of saying that the only thing I know about Joe Rogan is what I read and one funny but politically wrong song. On the other hand, I’m familiar with Justin Peters because he stepped onto my turf.
We are living in the dumbest period of modern American history, where our centering institutions have destabilized, our governing social norms seem unenforceable, and our fast-food restaurants routinely insult one another on Twitter. Into this breach have stepped myriad articulate charlatans, aggro-provocateurs, and other confident dullards who seek to capitalize on the end of authority by using the internet to proclaim their own truths. Their goal is to convince the world’s least-informed people that they are actually the most-informed people, and they are very good at their jobs.
These aren’t the words of Joe Rogan, but of Peters about Joe Rogan and his ilk of the Intellectual Dark Web, the sneering name attributed to the purveyors of heresy. It’s rude. It’s harsh. It’s denigrating. And in case you failed to notice, it’s the logical fallacy of ad hominem. Peters musters no argument against anything anyone says, or any unorthodoxy sold. He attacks them as “articulate charlatans, aggro-provocateurs, and other confident dullards.”
What, to an intellect like Peters, does Rogan do to deserve such adjectives?
In Rogan, they have found an enthusiastic and receptive interlocutor. For the past several years, Rogan has made a point of regularly interviewing the IDW’s leading figures, declining the opportunity to meaningfully challenge them, and laundering their ideas in the process. Over the past year alone, he has hosted long conversations with Harris, the “Sokal Squared” academic hoaxsters Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay, social psychologist and trigger-warning foe Jonathan Haidt, mathematician Eric Weinstein, former Evergreen State College professors Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying, and Canadian psychology professor and anti-PC crusader Jordan Peterson.
There is a commonality in these guests of the “receptive interlocutor.” Each has caused embarrassment to fall on the critical theory intellectuals, revealing gaping holes in an ideology that must be believed if one isn’t to be targeted by the passionate children of social justice. They don’t comprise a group of ideologues so as to be legitimately wrapped up in the IDW bow, and each offers ideas and views that differ from each other. But it’s their commonality, that they reject the One True God of progressivism, that compels Peters to list them.
And that they have all been guests on Joe Rogan’s podcast.
These grifters, who include the president of the United States, profit by obscuring facts for personal gain. They are working an angle, all of them: the health gurus and conspiracy theorists, the life hackers peddling easy solutions to difficult problems, the IDW stalwarts who sneer at “PC culture” and “identity politics” as a means of reassuring cisgender white males that they are not and have never been the problem. Rogan has given these people a safe space where they and their grifts can feel right at home.
No, Trump has never been a guest on Rogan’s podcast as far as I can tell, but it’s mandatory that any mention of grifters, a favored new word of the woke, include a swipe at Trump, thus tarring people with his slime no matter their stance on the subject.
But Peters gets to the core of his complaint clearly enough, that the “snake oil” these “grifters” are selling serves to reassure “cisgender white males that they are not and have never been the problem.” Cite? Don’t be silly. This is a strawman that exists only in a child’s facile self-delusion that our society is diseased and that cancer is normalcy. Rather than challenge racism, sexism head on, Peters regurgitates the mantra of the evil cis white patriarchy as the root of all evil, then attributes his extrapolation to these “dark intellectuals” who have said nothing of the sort.
Rogan, however, isn’t himself a provocateur, per se, but a guy with a very popular podcast who hosts people who, according the St. Peters, are the personification of awfulness. So why attack Rogan for providing the platform, even if he fails to attack his guests in the way Peters would, ignoring the conundrum that if Peters had a podcast to ask the questions he deems critical, no one would watch because, well, he just doesn’t matter enough.
The common thread is the privileging of “common sense” over all other inputs in the struggle to forge a life philosophy, and the idealization of one’s own life experience over that of other people.
If you can get past the verbization of “privilege,” you reach a phrase that represents Peters’ characterization of Rogan’s show. It’s a phrase preferred by the intellectually vacuous more than the intellectual dark web, but this is Peters’ post and so he’s entitled to devolve to any rhetorical depth that makes him feel comfortable and doesn’t stretch his brain muscles to the point of sprain. Common Sense.
So what is the evil springing from what Peters calls “common sense”? That they refuse to subjugate their life to that of “other people”? Like Peters? Like the marginalized and oppressed? Like everyone who isn’t a cisgendered white male? Even the simplistic Jordan Peterson, who was canceled by Cambridge because it ironically violated their value of inclusion, offers such horrifying advice as to grow up, take responsibility and make one’s bed. Does Peters not want to make his bed? Or does he just not want to lie in it?
Peters isn’t done, however, as he has one last bullet in his gun to shoot down those who get asked to be Rogan’s guests when he does not. They profit from their notoriety. They sell books and advertising. They are desired minds at dens of iniquity. Who else but charlatans would capitalize on their popularity to make a buck? Certainly not someone as ideologically virtuous and pure as Peters. It’s the reason Slate writers don’t drive Lamborghinis.
I still won’t watch Rogan’s podcast, for the same reasons as before. But just as I read Ta Nehisi Coates to learn what he has to say, read Maya Angelou to appreciate her perspective, the views of the heretics like the dreaded Jonathan Haidt (and his trusty FIRE-brand sidekick, Greg Lukianoff) interest me as well. That Joe Rogan’s podcast enjoys a popularity that Peters never will isn’t because he’s a charlatan. But to someone as coddled as Peters, it must seem like voodoo.