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The latest episode of Joe Rogan’s podcast, which featured prominent clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, saw the two discuss numerous topics including racism, comedy, climate change, and energy. Many liberal media outlets, who generally criticize both Rogan and Peterson and believe them to be “dangerous figures,” were quick to take issue with the opinions expressed during the four-hour episode. 

Many outlets drew up headlines describing the latest episode of the podcast as “idiotic,” “brain dissolving,” and a “word salad of nonsense,” with an opinion piece for Rolling Stone calling Rogan and Peterson “two of the dumbest people on earth.”

The first issue many had a problem with was Peterson’s opinion on skin color. Recalling his encounter with academic Michael Eric Dyson, who called him a “mean angry white man,” Peterson said: “I am white – actually, that's a lie too. I am kind of tan. And he was actually not black, he was sort of brown.” Rogan agreed with the notion, saying: “Well, isn’t that weird. The black and white thing is so strange, because the shades are such a spectrum of shades of people. Unless you are talking to someone who is like 100% African from the darkest place where they are not wearing any clothes all day ... the term ‘black’ is weird.”

The observation that Dyson is “not black” has drawn the ire of many, with ‘Daily Show’ host Trevor Noah responding by “schooling Rogan and Peterson on blackness” according to the Daily Beast, while others accused the speakers of racism.

However, those defending Rogan and Peterson have pointed out that their discussion simply highlighted the absurdity of placing people into categories like ‘black’ and ‘white’, since those words don’t actually represent skin color.

Another opinion that triggered many was Peterson’s issue with the term ‘climate change’. The psychologist pointed out that ‘climate’ and ‘everything’ are essentially the same word, and that models can’t be based on ‘everything’. “Your models are based on a set number of variables,” Peterson said. “So that means you’ve reduced the variables, which are everything, to that set. Well how did you decide which set of variables to include in the equation, if it’s about everything?”

“That’s what people who talk about the climate apocalypse claim, in some sense. We have to change everything! It’s like, everything, eh?” he elaborated, before saying that the same logic can be applied to the word ‘environment’, which he believes to be such a broad term that it doesn’t mean anything at all.

While Peterson didn’t outright deny that the climate can change, many have interpreted his opinion as dismissive of the notion entirely, with climate change scientists describing Peterson’s comments as “stunningly ignorant” and offering lengthy explanations to multiple media outlets as to why the clinical psychologist is incorrect.

Peterson also commented on recent concerns around nuclear energy, stating that “more people die every year from solar energy than die from nuclear.” When Rogan questioned exactly how people die from solar, Peterson said: "Guess how you die from solar? You fall off the roof when you're installing it. That's gravity, and a good example of unintended consequences, because systems are complex, and when you change them you think only good things will happen”

He also made the point that such things as climate and energy are of little concern to poorer populations, saying that poor people are “not resource-efficient” since their main priorities are feeding their families, adding: “When you're insecure on a day-to-day basis, you don't know where your next meal is coming from, you're not paying attention to the broader ‘environment’, that hated word, around you.”

"The fastest way to make the planet sustainably green and ecologically viable is to make poor people as rich as possible as fast as we possibly can," Peterson suggested.

While his comments suggest that tackling climate change should start with governments fixing poverty, some outlets such as Newsweek have misconstrued Peterson’s comments as bashing poor people.

The backlash against the latest Rogan podcast comes amid his recent row with doctors who have accused him of spreading dangerous misinformation about Covid, as well as a call from musician Neil Young to have Rogan’s podcast removed from Spotify over his opinion on vaccines. The latter issued an ultimatum to Spotify, saying “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.” Spotify has since started removing Young’s music from the platform.