Fear, Losing, and Unpopular Opinions | Stephen Dubner on the Joe Rogan Experience #1437

Key Takeaways

  • Want to come up with more creative ideas? Go for a walk.
    • Joe goes for hour walks with his dog. It’s a great way to get your exercise and brainstorm creative ideas
  • People believed that as technology got better & people could work from anywhere that more people would move out of cities
    • The exact opposite happened: “The share of the human population [that] is urban is higher now than it’s ever been in the history of the world” – Stephen Dubner
  • Trump isn’t a politician, he’s an entertainer
    • “Here’s the problem, you shouldn’t have a goddamn popularity contest to see who controls thermonuclear weapons, that’s fucking stupid”
  • Remember that you aren’t your ideas. You aren’t losing in life when you change your opinion on something
    • “I love changing my mind…I appreciate the opportunity to change my mind” – Stephen Dubner
    • “We’re so often married to our ideas–like our ideas are a part of us–and we’re losing if our ideas . . . are incorrect” Joe Rogan
  • You have to be willing to have unpopular opinions to make new discoveries
    • “If you look at people who really change the world, they have courage” – Stephen Dubner
      • “The world doesn’t progress very much unless there’s a guy like Steve Jobs or a Copernicus…poking people in the eye with a stick…you know very often they’re discredited or hated for their whole lives”

Intro

  • Stephen Joseph Dubner (@Freakonomics) is an award-winning author, journalist, and podcast host.
    • He is co-author of the popular Freakonomics book series and host of Freakonomics Radio, which gets 15 million global monthly downloads
  • Host: Joe Rogan (@joerogan

Books Mentioned

Walks & Silence

  • Want to come up with more creative ideas? Go for a walk
    • Joe goes for hour-long walks with his dog. It’s a great way to get your exercise and brainstorm creative ideas
      • “You’re thinking about stuff in a way that’s a tangible sort of meditation on your life” – Joe Rogan
  • There’s value in thinking in silence. You don’t need to be always listening to music, podcasts, audiobooks, etc.
    • As a writer, Stephen spends a lot of his time working in silence or uses noise-canceling headphones
      • Stephen is a fan of the Bose wireless, noise-canceling headphones

Thoughts on Religion

  • In Stephen’s first book, Choosing My Religion: A Memoir of a Family Beyond Belief, he talks about how religion tore apart his family
    • Both of Stephen’s parents converted from Judaism to Catholicism and were shunned by their families
    • Stephen converted back to Judaism
  • Religion offers people community and humility
    • Religion also incentives people to be good because they will be rewarded for it in the afterlife

Thoughts on Cities

  • You can estimate how dense a city’s population is by how fast people walk and how quickly they speak
    • The faster, the denser the population 
  • People believed that as technology got better and people could work from anywhere, more people would move out of cities but the opposite happened
    • “The share of the human population [that] is urban is higher now than it’s ever been in the history of the world” – Stephen Dubner
      • “There’s something about humans wanting to rub up against each other physically, intellectually, etc, that is incredibly strong”
      • Joe adds that going to a comedy show is much funnier than watching it online. People enjoy being around other people

Politics Quicktake

  • When it comes to politics, Joe is a fan of Bernie Sanders
  • Trump isn’t a politician, he’s an entertainer
    • “He’s a guy who’s a media star and he’s been a media star for decades. He knows how to manipulate the media.” – Joe Rogan
      • “Here’s the problem, you shouldn’t have a goddamn popularity contest to see who controls thermonuclear weapons, that’s fucking stupid”

When Success Goes Too Far

  • Success can become toxic. Once you get a taste you want more & sacrifice personal relationships to achieve it
    • People also start to cut corners and do questionable deals to gain new levels of success

Sports & MMA

  • People love sports because they get to be part of a team
  • It’s also exciting to watch something live since it’s unpredictable
    • Joe’s favorite sport is MMA: “It’s high-level problem solving with dire physical consequences”
      • “We’ve been interested in people beating the shit out of each other since the beginning of time”
  • Joe believes new MMA fighters should be paid more so that they don’t have to work a full-time job to support their fighting careers.
    • They could spend more time training. The fights would be more entertaining
  • Most MMA fighters only fight 2-3 times a year, why? “Because it’s the sport of hurting people”Joe Rogan
    • Sometimes it takes 6 months to recover from a single injury
      • One negative huge consequence of combat sports is the damage done to the brain
      • Soccer is looking at removing headers because of the concussive hits it causes to the brain
  • Why do people want to become MMA fighters if it’s so dangerous?
    • You don’t have to sit in a cubicle
    • You don’t have a boss
    • You get to talk shit
    • You get to work out a lot
    • You can make millions of dollars
      • Paradoxically, even though MMA fighters try to almost kill people for a living, most are really nice people
  • The UFC’s biggest rival is Bellator MMA
    • More fighters prefer Bellator’s model because they allow fighters to pick their own sponsors whereas in the UFC, everything is sponsored by Reebok

Keep An Open Mind

  • You aren’t your ideas and you aren’t “losing in life” when you decide to change your opinion
    • “I love changing my mind…I appreciate the opportunity to change my mind” – Stephen Dubner
    • “We’re so often married to our ideas like our ideas are a part of us and we’re losing if our ideas that we’ve been discussing are incorrect” Joe Rogan
  • One example of an idea to change your mind about: Nuclear plants
    • Most nuclear plants were built in the 1970s and new ones haven’t been built because people are scared of meltdowns–However, science has improved dramatically.
    • One analogy: compare the safety of a car built in the ‘70s with a Tesla. Things have gotten much better. The same is true of nuclear plants

Suicide

  • “Suicide rates tend to be higher in countries with more prosperity” Stephen Dubner
    • Why? One suicidologist calls this the ‘no one left to blame’ theory: When you live in a prosperous society, you can’t blame others for your bad life, only yourself  
    • Also, smartphones and social media are correlated with an increase in suicide rates
  • If you’re feeling down, the best thing you can do is help others through service

Why Losing Is Important

  • Getting fired, dumped, or losing a game is important because the feelings of failure make the feelings of success sweeter
    • “Feelings of failure are really critical for your motivation” — Joe Rogan
  • If you’re afraid of failing, but you go out and fail anyway, you learn that fear won’t kill you
  • You can view failure positively or negatively, the choice is yours

Have Courage

  • You have to be willing to have unpopular opinions to make new discoveries
  • “If you look at people who really change the world, they have courage” – Stephen Dubner
    • “The world doesn’t progress very much unless there’s a guy like Steve Jobs or a Copernicus…poking people in the eye with a stick…you know very often they’re discredited or hated for their whole lives”

Additional Notes

  • If Joe could give one piece of advice to all Americans, he’d tell them to exercise more
  • Joe uses a Whoop band to track his sleep and says he started sleeping more because of it
  • Years after the nuclear bomb was created, J. Robert Oppenheimer, one of the physicist involved in the Manhattan Project, quoted a line from the Bhagavad Gita and said, “I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
  • Joe recommends watching the Netflix documentary Rats
  • Since going on a mostly meat diet, Joe says he has much more energy
    • To supplement some nutrients, Joe takes a multivitamin called Pure Pack, fish oil, and other supplements
  • Be able to take a joke about yourself
    • “We should be concerned about people’s sensitivity, but we shouldn’t coddle people” – Joe Rogan
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Notes By Alex Wiec

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