I avoid Alex Jones because once you’ve seen part of his schtick you’ve seen it all.
But I saw he was on Joe Rogan recently and I wanted to see what Joe was doing with him. I know Joe kind of likes Alex, but he also thinks he’s full of shit. But Joe is also hyper-curious, and used to be into a lot of conspiracies, …so he was willing to hear him out again.
I was curious how that would play out, and I was pleasantly surprised. He basically outed him as a complete imbecile in front of millions of people.
He kept interrupting Alex, telling him he couldn’t say what he just said without having data to back it up.
Jones kept pulling up his silly collection of papers, but over time it became extremely clear that he was using them as a shield. A paper shield.
Joe also kept having Jaime pull up data in realtime to fact-check his claims. He used directness and intelligence to counter Alex, which was extremely effective.
When you silence someone you make it seem like his truth is TOO POWERFUL FOR MORTALS! It feeds the conspiracy that Alex has the truth that people want to hide. In that way, silencing makes him more powerful.
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Calling him out exposes him as a fraud in front of fans and haters alike.
You could tell Joe wasn’t enjoying making this guy look like a dumbass, but that he felt his duty to truth was a more important calling.
It was as if he told Alex beforehand that he wasn’t going to be gentle with him, and that he better come prepared. And Alex showed up like his magic show would work just like before.
And then it didn’t.
I don’t always agree with Joe on things, but I think he’s a deeply curious person with a good heart. And I credit him more than anyone with spawning a culture of long-form conversation and civil disagreement that we see some places on the internet.
I think he did the world a tremendous service in this episode. He, better than any left-wing media outlet, successfully displayed how much Alex Jones’ game was built on bullshit.
And he did it while offering him every chance. He tried to steelman him. He gave him an honest shot, and the ideas simply didn’t hold up under scrutiny.
This is how we clean up our ideasphere. We expose ideas to sunlight, in good faith, and we let people decide what they think.
I do think there are cases where certain ideas are too toxic, and too fast-spreading, to allow them to spread. An example would be a conspiracy theory launched by a hostile government designed to undermine democracy. That’s the type of conversation you want to be able to have, but maybe not in the middle of an election where it could affect outcomes before being assessed properly. But I don’t think most of the dumb shit Alex talks about comes close to that level of danger.