When chat goes bad

It’s great having random guys who admire themselves a lot telling us all what’s what and collecting millions of fans for doing it, but, that said, I can’t help thinking there’s occasionally a slight downside. Like when they tell us what’s what about Covid or climate change.

As podcaster Joe Rogan faces condemnation from medical scientists for spreading misinformation about vaccines and Covid-19, another interview by the controversial host this week has become the subject of mockery — this time among climate scientists.

Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson appeared on “The Joe Rogan Experience” on Monday, making false and generalized claims that the modeling scientists use to project climate change and its impacts are flawed.

See this is where the “random” comes in. Joe Rogan isn’t a medical researcher, and Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson both are not climate scientists. They’re not the right people to be “challenging the conventional wisdom” or whatever the fuck it is they think they’re doing. I like to challenge conventional wisdom myself, but I don’t go around telling neurosurgeons they’re doing neurosurgery all wrong.

“Such seemingly-comic nihilism would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous,” Michael E. Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, told CNN.

“Similar anti-science spread by these two individuals about COVID-19 likely has and will continue to lead to fatalities. Even more will perish from extremely dangerous and deadly weather extremes if we fail to act on the climate crisis. So the promotion of misinformation about climate change is in some ways even more dangerous.”

This is what I’m saying. They’re famous and popular and all, but that doesn’t make them medical or climatological experts. They shouldn’t be leveraging their fame and popularity to play Anti-science Geniuses to their adoring fans, especially when getting it wrong is literally fatal. There’s a lot at stake in both climate science and medical science, so amateurs should stay out of it, all the more so when they have huge audiences.

Mann said that Peterson’s claims were “nonsensical and false,” and seem to boil down to the idea that climate science is so complicated that scientists could never model it or understand it.

“Such an absurd argument leads to a dismissal of physics, chemistry, biology, and every other field of science where one formulates (and tests—that’s the critical part Peterson seems to fail to understand) conceptual models that attempt to simplify the system and distill the key components and their interactions,” Mann said.

“Every great discovery in science has arisen this way. Including the physics of electromagnetism that allowed Peterson and Rogan to record and broadcast this silly and absurd conversation.”

There’s our solution. Peterson and Rogan should tell us the physics of electromagnetism are beyond human ken therefore recording and broadcasting are impossible therefore they’re giving it up to go live in isolated cabins in Maine.

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