Out of Bounds

The Joe Rogan Effect

I like that Rogan is a hunter who talks about hunting intelligently and with passion

By Rob Breeding

I’ve never been a Joe Rogan fan. I think he can be politically naive, reckless when it comes to medical issues, and horribly misguided with his past use of the N-word on his podcast, though he’s acknowledged that mistake and apologized for it.
Using that word is a choice only those who are victimized by that slur get to make. 

But I haven’t paid attention to Rogan. That remained the case even in 2020 when his business relationship with Spotify resulted in a handful of musicians pulling their work off the music playing platform.

I was just fine without adding the “Joe Rogan Experience” to the media I regularly consume, even if 100 million listeners have turned his podcast into the most popular on Spotify.

Then one headline changed that.

“Is Joe Rogan Good for Hunting? The answer is yes — whether you like it or not.”

That “Outdoor Life” headline over a story by editor-in-chief Alex Robinson, made me stop and ponder. I first read Robinson’s story, then watched about a dozen segments on hunting from Rogan’s program. What I’ve seen so far suggests Robinson has a point. 

Does it make him right? I’m still sorting that out.

I like that Rogan is a hunter who talks about hunting intelligently and with passion. It doesn’t hurt that just about every clip I watched featured Steve Rinella. Rinella will make anyone sound knowledgeable about hunting and conservation if they’re smart enough to shut up and let the MeatEater do most of the talking.

Rogan has a formula: get smart people on your show and let them talk. Interject your nuggets of “wisdom” from time to time, then shut up again while they correct you.

Rinella does that a lot with Rogan, though he does it like a good teacher. He doesn’t tell you you’re wrong, he just downloads a tsunami of information that leaves no doubt you are in fact, wrong.

And you’ll know better next time.

Another Rogan guest is my favorite astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson. He’s a regular on the podcast. He also happens to be African American.

If you want to observe a podcaster smart enough to know when to shut up, track down deGrasse Tyson’s appearance on the episode discussing the Webb telescope, from about a year ago. Rogan pipes up about how the telescope is changing our understanding of the universe, and that maybe the Big Bang Theory isn’t correct.

Like a good teacher, deGrasse Tyson doesn’t tell Rogan he’s wrong. He instead spends 15 minutes explaining how Einstein’s theory of general relativity doesn’t disprove Newton’s law of universal gravitation, it simply adds to what the Enlightenment-era physicist sorted out after that apple fell on his head. And that the Big Bang remains our operative theory of the origins of the universe while we pile discoveries upon it.

Rogan is solid when it comes to wildlife management. We share an understanding that wildlife management is mostly about killing animals. And he sees how hunting fits into wildlife management.

He understands that left to their own devices, wildlife species govern themselves using a form of boom-and-bust chaos and that hunting-based management keeps things from going too far off the rails. 

And he’s pro-wolf, while still allowing that wolf management is necessary.

Rinella, in an exchange I appreciated, said that those chaotic wildlife cycles are normal, but we can’t manage wildlife that way in the modern world since it has been so dramatically transformed by the naked apes that seem to be everywhere these days.

But do I think Rogan is good for hunting? Maybe that’s a question a hunter can’t answer. What hunting needs are people who can speak to non-hunters, not necessarily to turn them into hunters, but to make sure they don’t become anti-hunters.

Rinella does that. Rogan seems he might have that potential as well. 

For now, I’m listening.