Joe Rogan is wrong about Ivermectin, but we can do a better job criticizing him


Drew DeGennaro

Joe Rogan

On Oct. 13, Joe Rogan had The Cable News Network’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the aptly named “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast. Most of the three-hour conversation consisted of friendly banter, but the moment being clipped, tweeted and retweeted a thousand times over was when Rogan confronted Gupta over CNN’s response to his positive COVID-19 diagnosis. 

For context, Rogan was not vaccinated at the point of this podcast, and openly used Ivermectin as a form of treatment. COVID-19 is a virus, and not a parasite. At this time, there is no worthwhile evidence that Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic, helps with treating for COVID-19.

Joe Rogan, for all his claims about how he was feeling better less than a week after taking it, is incorrect. The claims about Ivermectin’s potential effectiveness go as far back as April 2020, but haven’t been substantiated with enough evidence to be worth taking seriously.

Times like this are when Rogan’s influence is at its most regrettable. The recent case of Green Bay Packers and Chico native Aaron Rodgers essentially lying by omission about his vaccination status (referring to himself as “immunized,”) and others like it is a direct result of the kind of rhetoric Rogan has been pushing.

The opposing rhetoric across many center-left to left-leaning news publications is one of disdain toward anyone using Ivermectin, sometimes even reveling in their political opponents’ ignorance. After all, Rogan’s reaction isn’t completely unjustified. The CNN news crew referred to the drug “used for livestock.”

Rogan may be incorrect, but from his perspective, a news site that he’s already skeptical of is now mocking you while using insults that mislead their audience into believing that he’s using horse dewormer. Not only does this confirm Rogan’s (as well as his audience of like-minded listeners) suspicions about CNN’s bias, it fuels the use of Ivermectin by these people in spite of CNN’s smugness.

If people using Ivermectin have a mindset remotely similar to Joe Rogan, they’re probably the type of people to be highly distrustful of anything relating to “the establishment,” priding themselves on independent thought and self-sufficiency. 

The Pfizer and Moderna are new, “experimental” vaccines being pushed on us with mandates and social pressures, while Ivermectin has been used for decades. Yes, it is used for livestock, but to the people using it, anyone who lobs that criticism towards them clearly hasn’t done the research.

The people using Ivermectin are wrong, and a lot of the time embarrassingly so, but they aren’t going to change their minds because Brian Stelter sneered at their misfortune. Although the trending topic today is Ivermectin, tomorrow marks a new battle in the neverending culture war, and that smugness isn’t going to get us any closer to progress.

At the end of the day, I agree with the people at CNN. Joe Rogan is causing measurable harm with his anti-vax advocacy, and Ivermectin does nothing to help the world move towards a post-COVID-19 world.

But if we actually care about helping the public and not  dunking on them when they do stupid things, we should shift to a more empathetic approach, because nobody is going to change their mind because someone simply laughed in their face.

For the record, this mindset does not necessarily have to extend to public figures. These people, especially Rogan, have been given enough information or talked to enough experts where they have no excuse for believing what they do. But for most of these interactions, take a second to think about whether you are truly working toward the result you hope to achieve.
Thomas Stremfel can be reached at and on Twitter @tomstremfel.