Joe Rogan's Kobayashi Maru
'Debate me!' people are often trying to lure you into the (social) media equivalent of Star Trek's famous non-win scenario.
Previously: The Bright Distracting Fish
The mediocre marine biologists of the British media are once again over-excited about the behaviour of the Boris Fish. It's just the same shitty water.
Saavik: Admiral, may I ask you a question?
Kirk: What's on your mind, Lieutenant?
Saavik: The Kobayashi Maru, sir.
Kirk: Are you asking me if we're playing out that scenario now?
Saavik: On the test, sir. Will you tell me what you did? I would really like to know.
McCoy: Lieutenant, you are looking at the only Starfleet cadet who ever beat the no-win scenario.
Kirk: I reprogrammed the simulation so it was possible to rescue the ship.
David Marcus: He cheated.
Kirk: I changed the conditions of the test. I got a commendation for original thinking. I don't like to lose… I don't believe in the no-win scenario.
— Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
In the Star Trek universe, the Kobayashi Maru is Star Fleet Academy’s version of the Gordian Knot; the point of the training exercise is to experience failure, and the aim is for a captain to know that, as Spock says in Star Trek (2009), they “cannot cheat death”.
On Twitter this weekend, Joe Rogan and Elon Msk constructed an idiot version of the Kobayashi Maru, attempting to hector vaccine expert Dr. Peter Hotez, the Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Hotez had tweeted a link to a Vice article Spotify Has Stopped Even Sort of Trying to Stem Joe Rogan’s Vaccine Misinformation which highlighted Rogan’s recent three-hour interview with Robert F Kennedy, Jr, an anti-vaxxer, who has launched a 2024 presidential campaign.
Along with the tweeted article, Dr. Hotez wrote that “from all the online attacks I’m receiving after this absurd podcast, it’s clear many actually believe this nonsense.” Rogan, who spoke to Mr Kennedy for three hours during his Thursday show, responded:
Peter, if you claim what RFKjr is saying is ‘misinformation’ I am offering you $100,000.00 to the charity of your choice if you’re willing to debate him on my show with no time limit
“Joe, you have my cell, my email, I’m always willing to speak with you,” Dr. Hotez replied. He was previously interviewed on Rogan’s podcast but the host deemed the response a “non-answer”:
I challenged you publicly because you publicly quote tweeted and agreed with that dogsshit vice article. If you’re really serious about what you stand for, you now have a massive opportunity for a debate that will reach the largest audience a discussion like this has ever had. If you think someone else is better qualified, suggest that person.
Rogan gleefully pointed out he’d noticed another tweet the doctor had written and deleted – which read:
Be serious Joe, that’s what you throw out for your hunting buddies on a weekend. A $50million endowment (which You/Spotify/RFK Jr can easily afford), not for me but so we can continue making low-cost patent-free vaccines for the world’s poor. Preceded by RFK Jr’s public apology.
Dr. Hotez replied:
Yes Joe I thought it was over the top, unnecessarily provocative, so I took it down right away. But I’ve been hurt by the public/untrue statements you/guests have made about me being a Pharmashill, when all I do is make vaccines for the world’s poor. I don’t take BigPharma money. I’m happy to come on and have a meaningful discussion. I respect you and your show and I don’t want an adversarial relationship. I think we can make some progress.
And I’m open to a number of different options, but to be pressured to give you an answer on Twitter, now, with a ‘take it or leave it’ demand that’s not how I work… Joe if you are serious about addressing vaccines + the fact that 200,000 unvaccinated Americans needlessly perished during our awful delta/BA.1 Covid waves (including 40,000 in our state of Texas) because they fell victims to vaccine disinformation: I want to have that discussion.
Then Elon Musk arrived, tweeting:
Maybe @PeterHotez just hates charity. He’s afraid of public debate, because he knows he’s wrong.
Dr. Hotez replied to him:
Seriously Elon? This is monstrous… Please don’t do this.
First of all, I am generally pro-vaccine. “I have been vaccinated against pretty much everything, as have my kids. Second, I think there is tremendous promise in synthetic mRNA. It is like medicine going from analog to digital. That said, the world obviously went crazy with excess vaccination against ‘Covid-19’. I have that in quotes, because the RNA sequences changed so much that I called it the virus of Theseus. So many people I know had serious side effects from the vaccines, including myself. Failure to acknowledge that is a lie.As for the deaths you claim are due to Covid-19, why is the nation of Sweden still alive? Just go on Rogan and do the debate.
Dr. Hotez rightly said it “[was] not easy to respond when those 3 gang up and tag team,” before continuing: 'Wish I could be more eloquent and clever when the moment demands, but there you are.”
On Sunday, he told Musk:
I would like to invite you to visit our laboratories at Texas Children’s Hospital, meet our scientists and learn more about our work.
Dr. Hotez is right not to go on Rogan again and to fight back against the three-way kicking delivered by Rogan, Musk, and RFK Jr. It’s a Kobayashi Maru as are invitations to speak on TalkTV or GB News, which I always refuse. Those channels bring on experts and those who don’t share their politics only to harangue them and attempt to humiliate them.
I believe you should argue with people who disagree with you but there is no point in going into the kind of environments that Rogan, Talk TV, GB News, and the like create. They are intrinsically bad faith and will stack the deck against you. Even if you ‘win’, you lose because your side will like it but you won’t change the minds of a significant number of those watching those channels. That audience watches to hear what they already think expressed back to them more loudly. The only way to win a Kobayashi Maru is to refuse to play.
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