The Joe Rogan Experience – Sam Harris, Ph.D.

Key Takeaways

  • Joe is planning to have Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, back on his podcast for a round 2
  • About 50% of Joe’s podcasts listens come from his Youtube uploads (it used to be only 10%)
  • Joe accepts sponsors for his podcast, while Sams is supporter funded through his website
    • “My philosophy getting into advertisements was – I’m gonna do whatever the f*ck I want to do, 100%, and not allow it to have any impact whatsoever on the content of my podcast. Whatever advertisers I’m going to make deals with, they need to understand there is no way I’m going to change the content of the podcast. If I lose them, I lose them. I don’t care.” – Joe
  • Sam has some good thoughts on the future of digital media:
    • On Facebook, the users are the product – their attention is sold to advertisers
    • Companies like Netflix charge a subscription
    • “I’m hoping the digital future looks more like Netflix and less like Facebook”
      • “Ads have anchored everyone to the illusion of free – everyone expects their content for free”
  • Your behavior at any point in time is the result of a cumulative force of influences and societal conditioning, much of which is out of your control
  • A great quote from Sam:
    • “You can learn that when you suddenly feel anger, if you just pay attention to the experience of it, if you just watch the mere physiology of it, and get out of your thoughts about it, and just become interested in it….the half life of the emotion is seconds. It’s impossible to stay angry for very long if you get out of the story you’re telling yourself about why you should be angry.” 
  • It’s a superpower to say to yourself – “Do I really need to stay angry about this?” or “How useful is it to stay angry about this?”
  • We should be teaching children at a much earlier age how to self-regulate emotions by becoming aware of them

Intro

Joe’s Interview with Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter (Listen To This Segment)

  • Sam also recently interviewed him – check out the Podcast Notes
    • Sam’s interview took place before the Covington Catholic High School circus, which Sam says “represents everything that’s wrong with social media at this moment and Twitter in particular”
      • He would have loved to ask him about it
  • Joe got a lot of backlash for not grilling Jack enough about censorship
    • He actually plans to have Jack back on – Jack said he’s going to bring along someone from Twitter who’s in charge of banning/censorship
    • Much of the hate Joe got over the interview was due to the fact that Jack’s company, Square, creators of the Cash App, sponsors Joe’s podcast
      • “The Cash App buys a lot of ads, but I don’t need them. If they went away – I have too many advertisers waiting to fill their spot.”
  • There was also a good amount of backlash, accusing Joe and his producer Jamie of deleting Youtube comments for the episode
    • “We don’t delete any of them”
  • Joe also comments on how there was no discussion whatsoever before his interview with Jack about anything that might have been off-limits to talk about
  • Joe thinks the interview came out kind of “boring” – “I thought my podcast with him just wasn’t very good”
    • “I sometimes do too many podcasts, and when I sometimes do too many podcasts, I think I run low on juice, and I’m not as engaged”
    • ‘I don’t like doing bad podcasts, but I’ll be the first one to tell you when I think a podcast sucked”

Podcasting (Listen)

  • Differences between Joe and Sam’s podcast:
    • Joe streams live, and Sam records his weeks in advance
      • Because of this, Sam offers his guests the opportunity to cut anything out if they wish
        • However, nothing was edited out from his conversation with Jack Dorsey
    • Joe also films his episodes, and puts them on Youtube – Sam doesn’t film (but he does put the audio up on Youtube)
      • About 50% of Joe’s listens come from the Youtube videos (it used to be only 10%)
    • Joe accepts sponsors, and Sam is supporter funded through his website
      • “I just felt personally I couldn’t use ads because of what my platform is and the kinds of topics I’m engaging” – Sam
        • Sam did accept Audible as a sponsor, but it just didn’t feel right to him – so he decided to experiment with a different business model
        • “It’s working for me, but I don’t think it can work for most people, and that’s a problem”
      • “Personally I’m very uncomfortable that if someone actually can’t afford it, they can’t get access to my content. So I just tell people – ‘If you really can’t afford the stuff behind my paywall, or you really can’t afford my meditation app, just send us an email, and we’ll give it to you for free.”
  • Joe’s been doing the podcast for 9 years, and didn’t start running ads until 2012ish
    • The first advertiser was a company who made fleshlights
    • “My philosophy getting into advertisements was – I’m gonna do whatever the f*ck I want to do, 100%, and not allow it to have any impact whatsoever on the content of my podcast. Whatever advertisers I was going to make deals with – they needed to understand there was no way I was going to change the content of the podcast. If I lose them, I lose them. I don’t care.”
    • One thing Joe says he won’t do is interrupt a podcast with an ad (this costs him a ton of money not to do this)
      • “I just feel like the experience of listening to a podcast unbroken is so much better….it feels gross to do otherwise”
    • He says there are quite a few advertisers he says no to 
      • One past example – an Uber for babysitting
  • Joe is in the process of building a new podcast app
    • If you pay a monthly fee, you’ll be able to listen to his podcast with no ads
  • Sam says his thoughts on podcast advertising, shouldn’t necessarily apply to other people
    • Take Tim Ferriss for example – his whole persona/brand involves him finding the best shit out there, and recommending it to his listeners/readers
      • “I want to know what Tim has found” – Sam
  • Sam says he once started a podcast over about a half hour in, after the conversation turned pretty bad (he doesn’t say who it was with)

Joe’s Podcast with Elon Musk (Listen)

  • “We were drunk by the time the weed came out”
    • Joe says they began drinking whiskey as soon as the podcast started
    • “Nobody cared that the CEO of Tesla was drunk” – But they certainly cared that he smoked weed
  • Considering Elon’s stress level, Sam says Joe really did a good job

Netflix, Facebook, and The Future of Digital Content

  • On Facebook, the users are the product – their attention is sold to advertisers
    • Most people don’t realize this at all
  • Netflix charges a subscription
  • “I’m hoping the digital future looks more like Netflix and less like Facebook”
    • “Ads have anchored everyone to the illusion of free – everyone expects their content for free”
    • “Everything is too cheap in the digital space”
      • “There are people who will spend $5 a day on a  cup of coffee for the rest of their lives, but if you told them that this podcast or this app, which they say is incredibly valuable to them, is going to cost them $5 a month….they feel raped”
    • “But something is going to win in the end. At some point, media will look much more like Netflix or much more like Facebook.”

Public Apologies (Listen)

  • The Liam Neeson Example – If you missed the news, here’s the story
    • Essentially, Liam had a friend who was raped, and according to him – he then entered a murderous state of mind where he was walking around with a “cosh” (a metal club) looking for a black guy to kill (because his friend had been raped by a black guy)
      • Liam had said that if it had been an Italian, or a Japanese guy, he’d be “looking for one of them”
  • “We need to think through the whole process of redemption for people in our society. We need to understand what the criteria are for successful apologies and forgiveness.” – Sam
    • ‘We need to talk about how people can redeem themselves once something this unsavory is revealed about their past – whether they reveal it or it’s found out about them”
    • Sam brings up how Kara Swisher publicly apologized for her comment on the Covington Catholic High School scenario – which he approved of
  • Sam’s thoughts:
    • “It [the apology] has to show, intelligibly, how you are different from the person who committed that thing”

Why is outrage more in season than ever before?

  • “It’s recreational” – Joe
  • “It has a lot to do with Twitter and social media” – Sam
    • People just didn’t have the opportunity to do this before
  • Everyone just wants their opinion to be heard (Joe)
  • “I just think this world is going to get more and more intrusive – this is just the beginning.” – Joe
  • “I try to communicate with people the same way online as I would if they were right in front of me” – Joe
  • Joe thinks the norm in which we engage on social media is flavored by two things:
    • The immediacy of it, and the fact that you don’t experience another person’s anger/sadness/fear when you say something hurtful
    • The anonymity – thus people are more likely to say hurtful things 
      • “Anonymity encourages less hospitable behavior”

Sam’s Meditation App

  • “Releasing this meditation app has given me a sanity check on everything else I’m doing”
    • “In my view, a meditation app on your phone is the one thing you can have on your smartphone that completely subverts the technology and gets you to live a more examined life”
    • Sam says it’s probably the only thing he’s ever put out where it’s been received exactly as he intended

The 2020 Election

  • “I’m worried that we could totally blow it with some leftist uprising” – Sam
  • Sam says of Tulsi Gabbard – “It seems like she isn’t making the right noises on Syria and Assad”
    • “I would be very circumspect about endorsing her going forward. Do a little homework.”
  • Both Joe and Sam agree Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy is done with after the whole DNA test fiasco
    • Joe says he’s 1.6% African (so he’s much more African than she is Native American)

What has caused identity politics to reach the “boiling point” that it’s at now?

  • Sam thinks it’s largely what the internet is doing to us 
    • There’s the silhou effect
    • There’s also the effect that groups become more radicalized because the most extreme voices seem to pop up more
      • “It only takes a small percentage of extreme voices to overtake the rest of the group, and make it seem like the extreme voices are speaking for the group”

Free Will

  • “The concept of free will is a very flawed thing. You have to really take into consideration who a person is, right now, and what caused a person to be that person…right now. A lot of us are operating on this really bizarre momentum of our past and our behavior and our genetics and our life experiences and all these different variables that really have to be taken into account. This idea that you are autonomous and you’re the director of your own life is true to a certain extent, but it’s also very complicated – much,more complicated than we’d like to admit.” – Joe
  • “Taking the red pill on free will makes you much more forgiving of a lot of this stuff” – Sam
    • Sam is referring to the backlash society has against actions people committed a very long time ago 
      • Joe brings up the Brett Kavanaugh situation – “Jesus Christ – You’re gonna hold a 55 year old man accountable for something he did when he was 17 that wasn’t a crime, and you’re not exactly sure what happened? This all very strange.”
  • “Everyone is an open system. No one authored or created themselves. No one can directly regulate the effect of every influence that they had or didn’t have. You are the totality of what brought you here. The universe just pushed you to this point in time, and the only thing you have is your brain and its states, and that is based on your genes and the totality of environmental influences you as a system have had working on you up until this moment.” – Sam
    • In a way we’re like robots – “You’re a robot that is continuously open to influence”
      • Like the influence of culture – “Whatever’s getting in can change you in radical ways very quickly”
      • Your behavior at any point in time is the result of a cumulative force of influences and societal conditioning – whether evil behavior or good behavior
      • “Everything on some level is more of a force of nature, more so than something you need to take personally”
        • In a way then – a person’s behavior is much like a weather event 

Sam’s Thoughts on The Nature of Evil

  • We don’t really understand it at the moment, but one day we will….
    • “The moment we really understand human evil at the level of the brain….once we understand it as a neurological condition that’s governed by genes and environment, we can actually intrude at the level of the brain so we can mitigate it”
      • In this way – evil becomes a “disease” or “injury syndrome” that we can fix
        • Perhaps we’ll find out it comes down to something as simple as a neurotransmitter imbalance in the brain, and it’s treatable in the form of a pill
          • When this happens, we’re apt as society to have a lot more sympathy towards those with the imbalance
          • “In the presence of that breakthrough, we will feel very differently about that species of human evil. We won’t judge it in the same way.”
  • “The more we see the causes, the more we view this as in terms of just sheer bad luck” 
  • Back to Liam Neeson
    • It’s just hard for us to understand his state of mind, but in reality…somehow…there’s a cause for it 
      • You are a product of all your experiences
      • For example – Liam’s wife died recently in a ski accident – who knows what effect that has on the brain

Mental Training

  • “Society really has no good norms around mental health, and zero norms around mental training”
    • Compare this to physical training – 100 years ago physical training made no sense, and there were no norms around it
      • But now we have a great understanding of the norms around mental training – “You’re actually a freak if you don’t do some kind of exercise”
  • “The locus of so much of the fragmentation in our lives now is the smartphone. It’s continually amplifying our desire for approval. And the outrage you feel when you see something on Twitter is shortening everybody’s fuse. It’s making road rage more of a general feature of our lives.”
    • But this is all trainable
      • “You can learn that when you suddenly feel anger, if you just pay attention to the experience of it, if you just watch the mere physiology of it, and get out of your thoughts about it, and just become interested in it….the half-life of the emotion is seconds. It’s impossible to stay angry for very long if you get out of the story you’re telling yourself about why you should be angry.” 
      • “But until you can get out of the thoughts, and are able to just pay attention to a negative emotion…you have zero choice. You’re going to stay angry for as long as you can stay angry for.”
        • This is why people stay angry for hours or days
        • “There’s no way to stay angry for more than moments unless you’re just lost in the story.”
      • It’s a superpower to say to yourself – “Do I really need to stay angry about this?” or “How useful is it to stay angry about this?”
    • But very few people know this training actually exists
      • “More and more we’re going to understand that this has to be part of everyone’s tool kit”
  • Sam’s wife teaches mindfulness to 6-year-olds
    • In the beginning, what they’re learning is just basic awareness of their inner lives – just being able to name the emotion they’re feeling
      • But for a 6 year old, that’s an amazing capacity
    • “These kinds of emotional and cognitive tools, the ability to self-regulate emotion by becoming aware of it, that is something I think we could teach kids much earlier”

Trust Your Intuition

  • Gavin de Becker, a security guru, was once a guest on Sam’s podcast – they talked about how our intuitions are actually really good for detecting something which makes us uncomfortable about another person
    • Gavin’s advice was that if you’re about to get on an elevator with someone who makes you uncomfortable…don’t get on
    • “These are intuitions from a self-defense point of view, that are worth listening to” – Sam
      • The worst that happens is you seem a little rude, but people are trained to ignore intuitions for fear of being judgmental or racist
    • “Whether we understand it or not, there are evolutionary reasons for why this is so [trusting your intuition]” 
      • It makes sense why humans have evolved to detect violent intent in others

Random

  • Spotify just purchased Gimlet Media for $230 million (read)
  • Sam says he doesn’t really read his mentions on Twitter
  • Think about how old school it is to call or Facetime someone out of the blue
  • Joe says he’s never voted anything but democratic, except for when he voted for Gary Johnson (who actually was on his podcast)
  • Sam has a podcast coming out with Chelsea Handler
  • Sam recalls a story from a tech CEO friend:
    • At his friend’s company, there was someone who identifies as a “furry” (he thinks he’s a cat). That person filed an HR complaint because there weren’t litter boxes in the bathroom.
  • Humans are very bad judges of whether or not people are telling the truth
    • There’s been studies showing that even people who work for the FBI are not much better than chance for detecting when someone’s lying
  • Check out Islam and the Future of Tolerance – a documentary collaboration out now between Sam and Islamist-turned-liberal Muslim Maajid Nawa

These notes were edited by RoRoPa Editing Services

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