The Joe Rogan Experience: The most popular podcast in the world is heavily slanted about nutrition science. Can that change?

The following is a reposting of a thread (here)–with minor, introductory and concluding modifications to make it more appropriate for a blog–that I wrote on Twitter as part of an exchange with Joe Rogan on August 18-19, 2018. Before I wrote these things to Joe, I want to make clear that I had been a close follower of his for some time, and was very fond of his show, the aggressiveness of the exchange notwisthanding.

I also want to make clear that in response to that exchange, Joe had Dominic D’Agostino debate/discuss with Layne Norton and Chris Kresser debate/discuss with Joel Kahn. The final and most anticipated of these debates is that between Stephan Guyenet and Gary Taubes, which will take place on March 19th, 2019. The background information for this last debate can be found here.

Without further ado, it all started with a tweet…

To which Joe responded…

To which I responded…

Your show has positively impacted my life and scientific trajectory, @joerogan. However, contrary to tweets attached–JRE *does* present a unbalanced perspective on nutrition that overwhelmingly promotes a low-carb narrative. I will show this with data.

Here is a screenshot of my spreadsheet that I used to analyze these data. The two colored left-hand columns are an indication of the positions taken on the podcast re: carbohydrates. Green is positive, red is negative. Right column is Joe’s view; left is guest.

I will make the spreadsheet publicly available upon request (note: screenshot is not final), and in this thread, I will be communicating the methods after I have presented the data.

Graphical breakdown of overall findings, below. Of 1136 episodes analyzed, 99 (9%) discussed carbohydrates in a way that framed consuming them as “good” or “bad”. (Interestingly, of the last 157 episodes, 33 (21%) had discussions about carbs.)

There were 6 episodes where carbohydrates were discussed by scientists. 3 negatively (@gadsaad, @jordanbpeterson, @DominicDAgosti2 ), 1 neutral (@sleepdiplomat), and 2 positively (@DrAndyGalpin, @tattoosandbones). If we limit ourselves to nutrition scientists, there was one positive about carbohydrates (Dom) and one negative (Andy).

In contrast, there were 27 episodes with non-scientist gurus (popular communicators who are not scientists, such as healthcare workers, authors, etc.), of which 21 were negative, 4 were positive, and 2 were neutral. The positives were @richroll , @DBolelli, @CameronHanes. The two neutrals were @bengreenfield.

Of athletes, there were 24 episodes. 10 positive, 11 negative, and 3 neutral about carbs.

Of the 99 episodes, you (Joe Rogan) took a position 60 times. 53/60 were negative, and 7 were neutral. Some of these 7 might be considered positive depending on coding criteria. It should be noted that many of these 53 were overwhelmingly negative. “Bullshit” was not a rare word.

Next up. Here is a screenshot of the software that I used. As you can see, the audio “scrollbar” lights up with each mention of “carb”, according to the computer-generated transcript.

The most frequent occurrences of “carb” were Gary Taubes (@garytaubes), Nina Teicholz (@bigfatsurprise), and Robb Wolf (@robbwolf). These interviewees discussed carbohydrates the most (naturally). Here is a screenshot.

Note that all of the non-scientist gurus use scientific language and make scientific claims. Here is a shot of a real scientist, Dom D’Agostino (@DominicDAgosti2). He is also on the first page.

Now take a look at @AndyGalpin. 7 of 15 pages. Andy talks about carbs less than almost half of everyone else who talks about carbs. And Andy was as far as I am aware the only scientist to do something even close to a sustained critique on keto (9 minutes).

This means of approximately 100 episodes where scientific claims about carbohydrates are made (which are usually negative and lengthy), only 1 includes a scientist who can actually give an opposing expert opinion, and he barely talks about it.

You can do whatever you want @joerogan. Obviously.

But what else would you call not taking the many high-carb ppl who have wanted to be interviewed over the years–than refusal? Not sure if conscious or not. Does it matter?

Again, @joerogan you don’t have to have a balanced show. It’s obviously your choice. I commend you on your tweets yesterday where you promised more balance.

However, you did tell Chris Cage exactly this in Episode #939: “I am going to bring in people who are anti-ketogenic diet, as well, so that I can get a balanced perspective on it.” Episode #939 was two years ago.

Now you’re telling everyone you’re going to bring more balance to the show with an anti-keto guy AGAIN. When is it going to be @joerogan? A debate is NOT enough. We need someone who is capable of making an extended argument against @garytaubes and team.

You’ve one-on-oned dozens of people making an extended case against carbs. Interview one capable of making a scientific case a case for them. That’s balance.

Let’s talk methods.

(Then we’ll move onto the comment about kooks.)

I used the software FluidDATA (http://www.fluiddata.com ) to search through the computer-generated transcripts of 1136 JRE episodes available. This suggests 20 missing episodes, but this almost certainly will not affect the analysis.

Using the search terms “carb” (149 hits) and “carbohydrate” (128 hits), I found all instances in these episodes where these terms were discussed–at least according to the transcripts. I then characterized the discussions as positive, negative, or neutral.

Positive discussions were defenses of carbohydrates. Negative discussions were carbohydrate bashing. Neutral discussions were when views about carbohydrates were qualified, or when carbohydrates were spoken about in an ironic (i.e. ambiguous) manner.

In addition, I categorized the speakers involved in each discussion. I then categorized each speaker as of a) comic/author/media, b) guru, c) athlete, d) scientist, or e) @joerogan.

Looks like Twitter is ending my thread. Before I continue, I want to remind you why I responded this way. Attached.

My point is you always choose alt-health guests. Then you interview quacks like Shawn Baker (and others). But you won’t interview at any length a serious scientist that will criticize your beliefs. It’s either out of the mainstream or off the deep end.

Why not get a serious, establishment scientist? You know, to respond to the things you say about them. As for the Lancet paper, who is “legitimate” to you, @joerogan? This is all I have to say.

The rest is history…

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As an MD/PhD student, my passion is for communicating the cutting edge of medical science and fighting misinformation. If this post is of use to you, please consider donating to my Patreon account. Your contribution will make a significant positive impact, and I will be greatly personally appreciative.

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