Phoenix Skeptics in the Pub Message Board › Joe Rogan - New Science Friendly Show on SyFy
Though he’s primarily known as a UFC commentator and comedian, Joe Rogan
is also an outspoken advocate of science. In his new show, Joe Rogan Questions Everything, premieres Wednesday July 24 at 10PM on Syfy later this month, he critically investigates a
series of strange and unexplained phenomenon. We recently caught up with
him to learn more.
If you follow mixed martial arts you definitely know Joe Rogan. But you
may also remember him from his days with News Radio and Fear Factor.
He’s got a wildly popular podcast and his Twitter account boasts over a
A polarizing figure who’s frequently criticized for his political
incorrectness, Rogan is always outspoken and completely unafraid to drop
an f-bomb at the most inopportune of times.
But he’s quickly becoming an important popularizer of science and
futurism. His audience, a group consisting primarily of jocks and
stoners, wouldn’t normally be exposed to many of the ideas tossed around
on his show. Though he could be easily dismissed as a major contributor
to “bro science” culture, the fact of the matter is that his message is
getting through: Science is interesting. What’s more, he’s showing that
it’s cool to be smart and knowledgeable. And as his new show suggests,
it’s also important to be critical.
I recently bumped into to Rogan at the recently concluded GF2045
Congress held in New York City where we talked about these issues. He
agreed to do an interview for io9 which we conducted earlier this week.
Can you tell us a bit about the new show? How did it come about?
Remember Jesse Ventura’s show, Conspiracy Theory? Well, I’ve been
friends with the producers of that show for quite some time. We had been
talking about doing something and they thought up of having someone
replace Jesse Ventura. I immediately thought — Oh my God, I am so not
interested in that, and I’m so not the right guy for that — because I
think most conspiracy theories are bullshit. Most of these “mysteries”
can be solved fairly easily. And most of this shit really starts to
depress me, particularly when you get into things like government
schemes and efforts to control the population — that shit kind of freaks
me out and I’m really not interested in that. But I am interested in the
really stupid shit — like UFOs, Bigfoot, ghosts, and psychics. And I’m
also fascinated with the psychology of the believer — and that’s what
this show has really turned into being a lot about.
So we got together and came up with a show where we discuss these
subjects with a completely open mind — where I talk to people, get their
take on it — regardless of whether they’re a proponent, or a critic, or
whatever their particular take on it might be — and we try to figure it
It’s interesting that you bring up the psychology of the believer. What
have you discovered?
Well, for one thing, it’s way more fun to think that there are aliens
than that people are full of shit.
When I talk to all these people, and we talk about the evidence, they
tell me the strangest things. One of the guys I talked to recently, when
I asked him what evidence he had, said he had a signed and written
I stopped him right there and said, “That’s not evidence.” But he argued
and said the document would hold up in a court of law — and that it
could even have the power to convict someone. I said to him, “But we’re
not in a court of law — we’re talking about scientific evidence — what
you’ve got there is a story. You just asked some people who agreed with
your story to put their names to it. That’s not how you do science, and
that's not evidence.”
As for UFO claims, when you sit down and talk to these people who say
that UFOs are visiting us on a daily basis, that the government has been
in regular contact, and that they’ve been back-engineering
this-and-that, I respond by saying that what they’ve got is interesting
and fascinating...but where’s the evidence?
To be fair, some of their ideas are certainly plausible — like the idea
that there’s intelligent life somewhere out there in the Universe. In
fact, it’s a conjecture that’s being supported by science. We’re
constantly finding new planets — many of them in goldilocks zones that
can support life. And we’re constantly re-evaluating the potential for
life. We’re finding it where we didn’t think it could exist, such as
volcanic vents and other extreme conditions like under arctic ice. We’re
finding life in these incredibly harsh and dynamic conditions, so we’re
having to re-evaluate our own ideas of what’s possible on this planet
alone. So, in the Universe, could there be life? Fuck yeah, there could
be life. Absolutely. However, we haven’t found it. And to say that we’ve
found it would be a massive disservice to what we have found.
But when these people start talking about UFOs, there’s nothing. There’s
nothing we can weigh, nothing we can measure. There’s not one thing we
can put on a scale and say, “Hey, this is something we simply do not
understand,” or “We really don’t know where this thing came from.” Or,
something more than just a blurry video showing a ship landing on a
field. There’s nothing that makes me believe. Now, I don’t disbelieve.
But there’s nothing I’ve seen that seems real to me.
Terence McKenna had a really beautiful thing to say about UFOs. He said
that when someone tells you about UFOs, don’t ask them about UFOs.
Instead, ask them about how they feel about psychics. Ask them what
their opinion is on ghosts. Ask them if they believe in Bigfoot. You’ll
find a pattern. And this is one of the things that I’m finding on this
You see, they’re not just looking to find out if UFOs are real. What
they’re looking for is something magical and something mysterious that
hasn’t been discovered yet. They’re looking for some excitement in their
boring lives. One of the ways that I describe these people — and it’s
really quite unfortunate — is that they’re a bunch of unfuckable white
dudes. I haven’t found a single black guy looking for Bigfoot. I’ve look
high and large, and it’s all white dudes in their late forties and
fifties. It’s all midlife crisis people. They’re not the happiest people
in the world — and no disrespect — but they’re looking for things to be
real that aren’t necessarily real.
I think it’s awesome that you’re approaching these claims with a healthy
degree of skepticism.
Well, to be fair, I do try to come in with an open mind. But
unfortunately, with all these subjects, you kind of have to be skeptical
after a while. The more you talk to people about UFOs or Bigfoot or
psychic phenomenon, the more you start to realize that the same sort of
thinking exists almost across the board. And it almost stops being about
the subject — it’s more about the idea of mystery than anything else —
this recurring theme of someone trying to figure something out, and
trying to find something that makes their otherwise mundane life more