Joe Rogan, Please Stop Calling Everything Woo-Woo.
I’m so over Joe Rogan. While I have enjoyed many of his podcasts, particularly when he’s had Jordan B. Peterson or Russel Brand as guests, it really rumples my feathers when the slight mention of anything spiritual automatically gets categorized as “woo-woo”. Mention anything about spirit, crystals, aliens, or the universe being made up of energy (an illusion) opposed to matter, and Rogan immediately dispels the idea, brushing it off as woo-woo. This bothers me for several reasons.
1.Part of being an intellectual is knowing that there is always more to know.
Empiricism is a limiting idea. It states that we can only believe what we experience with the senses. It doesn’t take into account the power of imagination, dreams, or subconscious messages. It places all of reality into a box and classifies everything else as “other”. The nature of society and our thought system is that it is constantly evolving, particularly the sciences. What was not possible (or even believable) one day is mainstream the next. As people begin to embrace branches of science such as epigenetics and the relationship between the body and the mind becomes something that is more studied and accepted, our views of our bodies, spirits, and what is possible will shift radically.
There is always more to know, as science is continually changing. It is logical to accept that we don’t know everything, and there are things that cannot be proven in a lab today, but tomorrow, or ten years from now, those very ideas might be the foundation of the thought system accepted by the mainstream.
3.It’s silly to be open to a little bit of mysticism, but not all mysticism.
I don’t understand how one discerns between what’s a little woo-woo (and thus acceptable) and an idea that’s far too radical and crosses into woo-woo land. Rogan accepts the idea of entering into altered states of consciousness by means of hallucinogenic drugs, or partaking in activities such as radically dropping one’s body temperature, but he doesn’t believe it is possible to enter an altered state and receive divine guidance (especially not without the assistance of drugs). It doesn’t make sense to believe some parts of what one might call new age thoughts (such as shifting one’s perception by altering one’s consciousness), but be closed off to other facets of said belief system. If we can change what we see and how we experience by eating small mushroom that grows from the ground, then who’s to say the world is real? Pop one pill and all of a sudden, the walls dissolve and you’re floating in outer space, feeling nothing but love? Who’s to say when you come back down to earth that that is the ultimate reality? If it’s so easy for our perceptions of what is reality to bend, then that teaches us how limited our perceptions of reality truly are.
4.The term woo-woo sounds idiotic.
When I was younger, I suffered from severe depression. I didn’t like the idea of taking medication, and I knew there was a way to feel happier, even though I was sure how that would unfold in my life or what that might look like. I began studying eastern religion, meditating, and praying. I clearly remember a day when I felt particularly low, and the thought that life was meaningless and it’d be so easy to kill myself kept looping in my mind. I began to pray over and over again, pleading for God to help me see things differently, when I experienced what I can only describe as a profound feeling of peace and love wash over me. A still, small voice inside of me (that felt like a parent) told me that everything was going to be okay and let me know that I was so loved. In that instant, it was as if my despair was lifted. It was a miracle. People have profound and inexplicable transcendent experiences that alter the course of their life, and it’s outrageous to place these grand moments that are almost too momentous to express in words in a silly phrase such as woo-woo. Woo-woo sounds like something a five-year-old would call his friends in the middle of a fight on the playground. It has an air of condescension, and the sheer fact that it was made up (and sounds silly) gives everything it tries to encompass into a small, childish thought. Prayer? Oh, that’s woo-woo. God spoke to you? That’s woo-woo, too! You had a vision? Stop being so woo-woo! I wonder if mystics and writers, people like Rumi or Goethe were ever called woo-woo by their critics. Imagine a review of the popular Novalis, written by Rogan. Blue flower? What blue flower? Man, that’s so woo-woo.
All this to say, I do find Joe Rogan enjoyable, and I think he breaks down topics in a way that make them accessible to the masses. When he talks about things like nutrition, exercise, or his daily routines, I find that he is exceptionally helpful and well-informed. Further, he is gracious with his guests, and his generosity of spirit is obvious, making his podcast a delight to watch. All I’m advocating for is that he not rush to classify certain ideas as woo-woo, and instead, be willing to listen and learn, as there is always room for learning, and it is obvious that human beings don’t know everything there is to know.