The majority of the 270 signatories to an open letter to Spotify accusing Joe Rogan of pushing ‘anti-vax misinformation’ on his podcast – with one branding him a ‘menace to public health’ – are not medical doctors.
Hundreds of doctors and scientists signed the letter, published January 10, that called on the streaming giant to adopt a misinformation policy after the comedian hosted the controversial Dr Robert Malone last month.
Only 87 of the 270 signatories are medical doctors – the rest are from assorted professions including engineers, teachers, psychologists. Malone himself has an MD from Northwestern University.
Some of the other medical professions represented include: Dr. Christine Garvey, a Western New York-based veterinarian; Dr. Colleen Trecartin-Frost, a dentist from New Jersey; Autumn Schuster, a social worker at the University of California at Irvine; Korinne Bricker, a ‘COVID-19 laboratory supervisor’, as well as a host of teachers, engineers and psychologists.
A few of the people signing the letter also work on podcasts like Rogan’s.
A total of 270 experts and medical professionals called on Spotify to adopt a misinformation policy after Joe Rogan (pictured) hosted the controversial Dr Robert Malone last month
Alie Ward (left) is the host of ‘comedy science’ podcast Ologies and also works as a consulting producer for one of Barack and Michelle Obama’s Netflix projects, while Dr. Christine Garvey, DVM, (right) is a veterinarian
Forrest Valkai (left) describes himself as a ‘renegade science teacher’ and TikToker, while Dr. Colleen Trecartin-Frost (right) is a New Jersey-based dentist who signed the letter demanding Spotify take action against the comedian
Bridget Scallen, an MS, credits herself as the editor of the Unbiased Science podcast, which calls itself ‘devoted to objective, critical appraisal of available evidence on science and health-related topics relevant to listeners’ daily lives’ and says it aims to ‘dispel misinformation and misconceptions across an array of science and public health topics’ like vaccines.
April English, an MPH and signee, is a contributor to Unbiased Science like Scallen.
Shoshana Ungerleider, MD, is herself also in podcasting; she hosts the TED Health Podcast from the company that produces TED Talks.
Nini Munoz is senior electrical design engineer at Garmin International, a company that delivers ‘innovative GPS technology across diverse markets, including aviation, marine, fitness, outdoor recreation, tracking and mobile apps’ according to its website.
Alie Ward, host of the Ologies podcast which describes itself as a ‘comedic science’ program, has no medical degree but is a co-founder of the science communication collective Nerd Brigade. Ward also works as a consulting producer for Ada Twist, Scientist, a Netflix cartoon executive produced by Michelle Obama.
Read the full letter sent to Spotify – accusing Joe Rogan’s episode with Dr Robert Malone of ‘damaging public trust in scientific research’
An Open Letter to Spotify: A call from the global scientific and medical communities to implement a misinformation policy:
On Dec. 31, 2021, the Joe Rogan Experience (JRE), a Spotify-exclusive podcast, uploaded a highly controversial episode featuring guest Dr. Robert Malone (#1757).
The episode has been criticized for promoting baseless conspiracy theories and the JRE has a concerning history of broadcasting misinformation, particularly regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals. JRE #1757 is not the only transgression to occur on the Spotify platform, but a relevant example of the platform’s failure to mitigate the damage it is causing.
We are a coalition of scientists, medical professionals, professors, and science communicators spanning a wide range of fields such as microbiology, immunology, epidemiology, and neuroscience and we are calling on Spotify to take action against the mass-misinformation events which continue to occur on its platform.
With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Though Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, the company presently has no misinformation policy.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Joe Rogan has repeatedly spread misleading and false claims on his podcast, provoking distrust in science and medicine. He has discouraged vaccination in young people and children, incorrectly claimed that mRNA vaccines are “gene therapy,” promoted off-label use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 (contrary to FDA warnings), and spread a number of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.
In episode #1757, Rogan hosted Dr. Robert Malone, who was suspended from Twitter for spreading misinformation about COVID-19. Dr. Malone used the JRE platform to further promote numerous baseless claims, including several falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines and an unfounded theory that societal leaders have “hypnotized” the public.
Many of these statements have already been discredited. Notably, Dr. Malone is one of two recent JRE guests who has compared pandemic policies to the Holocaust. These actions are not only objectionable and offensive, but also medically and culturally dangerous.
The average age of JRE listeners is 24 years old and according to data from Washington State, unvaccinated 12-34 year olds are 12 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than those who are fully vaccinated.
Dr. Malone’s interview has reached many tens of millions of listeners vulnerable to predatory medical misinformation. Mass-misinformation events of this scale have extraordinarily dangerous ramifications.
As scientists, we face backlash and resistance as the public grows to distrust our research and expertise. As educators and science communicators, we are tasked with repairing the public’s damaged understanding of science and medicine.
As physicians, we bear the arduous weight of a pandemic that has stretched our medical systems to their limits and only stands to be exacerbated by the anti-vaccination sentiment woven into this and other episodes of Rogan’s podcast.
This is not only a scientific or medical concern; it is a sociological issue of devastating proportions and Spotify is responsible for allowing this activity to thrive on its platform.
We, the undersigned doctors, nurses, scientists, and educators thus call on Spotify to immediately establish a clear and public policy to moderate misinformation on its platform.
Some of the other members of the medical academic field featured include physicians’ assistants, a biochemist, nearly 100 Ph.Ds and Ph.D candidates, over a dozen nurses, medical students and public health advisors.
One such medical student, Forrest Valkai, also describes himself as a ‘renegade science teacher’ who has a podcast, YouTube channel, TikTok account, Patreon and merchandise store.
The nearly 100 Ph.Ds and Ph.D candidates largely do not practice medicine and many are professors.
Spotify has yet to publicly address the letter or the controversial episode of Rogan’s hit podcast.
During a three-hour and six-minute interview on the now-viral episode #1757 of The Joe Rogan Experience, Malone compared the US to Nazi Germany and said today’s society was suffering from a ‘mass formation psychosis’ over the use of vaccines.
He also claimed to be part of the team that invented the mRNA technology used in the Covid-19 jab and said pharmaceutical companies administering vaccines – such as Pfizer and Moderna – have ‘financial conflicts of interest’.
The hundreds of medical professionals claim to have fact-checked Malone and demanded accountability from Spotify – which spent a reported $100million on exclusive streaming rights to the Joe Rogan Experience last year.
In an open letter, they said: ‘With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE, which is hosted exclusively on Spotify, is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence.
‘Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy.’
The letter claims Rogan has a penchant for ‘broadcasting misinformation, particularly regarding the COVID-19 pandemic’ and that the episode with Malone promoted ‘baseless conspiracy theories’, including ‘an unfounded theory that societal leaders have ‘hypnotized the public’.’
The letter added: ‘Dr. Malone is one of two recent JRE guests who has compared pandemic policies to the Holocaust.
‘These actions are not only objectionable and offensive, but also medically and culturally dangerous.’
In the episode, posted on New Year’s Eve, Malone, 61, said: ‘It was from, basically, European intellectual inquiry into what the heck happened in Germany in the 20s and 30s. Very intelligent, highly educated population, and they went barking mad.
‘And how did that happen? The answer is mass formation psychosis. When you have a society that has become decoupled from each other, and has free floating anxiety, in a sense that things don’t make sense. We can’t understand it.
‘And then their attention gets focused by a leader or series of events on one small point, just like hypnosis. They literally become hypnotized and can be led anywhere.’
Streaming giant YouTube removed the episode from its platform, while Malone’s Twitter account – which had amassed 500,000 followers – was suspended hours before appearing on the show for ‘violating’ its rules.
The episode was still available on Spotify as of January 19. Dailymail.com has contacted Spotify and the Joe Rogan Experience for comment.
Dr. Katrine Wallace, who signed the letter, branded Rogan a ‘menace to public health’, adding that she condemned giving people like Malone a platform.
She told Rolling Stone that his claims ‘are fringe ideas not backed in science.’
She added: ‘Having it on a huge platform makes it seem there are two sides to this issue. And there are really not.
‘The overwhelming evidence is the vaccine works, and it is safe.’
Dr. Ben Rein, a neuroscientist at Stanford University who co-authored the letter, added: ‘People who don’t have the scientific or medical background to recognize the things he’s saying are not true and are unable to distinguish fact from fiction are going to believe what [Malone is] saying, and this is the biggest podcast in the world. And that’s terrifying.’
In the podcast episode, Rogan talked about Malone’s ban from Twitter, which happened just one day before the podcast was released.
‘They removed you for not going along with whatever the tech narrative is because tech clearly has a censorship agenda when it comes to Covid in terms of treatment, in terms of whether or not you are promoting what they would call ‘vaccine hesitancy’ – they can ban you for that,’ Rogan said, adding that Malone is ‘one of the most qualified people in the world to talk about vaccines’.
Malone responded by questioning: ‘If it’s not okay for me to be a part of the conversation even though I’m pointing out scientific facts that may be inconvenient, then who is?
‘Whether or not I’m factually correct or not – and I freely admit no one’s perfect. I’m not perfect. It’s one of my core points is people should think for themselves.’
‘And I try really hard to give people the information and help them to think, not to tell them what to think,’ the doctor added, pointing out that ‘no one can debate the dispute that I played a major role in the creation of this tech’.
Malone later alleged on the podcast that many of the pharmaceutical companies administering vaccines – such as Pfizer and Moderna – have ‘financial conflicts of interest’.
In what appeared to be an effort to establish his credibility, Malone reassured: ‘I think I’m the only one that doesn’t. I’m not getting any money out of this.’
Meanwhile, as the creator of the mRNA technology used in Covid vaccines, many questioned why Malone would then speak so strongly against getting jabbed.
Malone claimed the answer was simply ‘because it’s the right thing to do’.
He said: ‘For me, the reason is: Because what’s happening is not right. It’s destroying my profession, it’s destroying the practice of medicine worldwide, it’s destroying public health in medicine.’
He continued: ‘I’m a vaccinologist. I’ve spent 30 years developing vaccine. A stupid amount of education learning how to do it and what the rules are.
During a three-hour and six-minute interview on the now-viral episode #1757 of The Joe Rogan Experience, Malone (pictured on the show) compared the US to Nazi Germany and said today’s society was suffering from a ‘mass formation psychosis’ over the use of vaccines
The 61-year-old doctor’s account was suspended and Twitter cited a violation of the platform’s rules
‘And for me, I’m personally offended by watching my discipline get destroyed for no good reason at all except, apparently, financial incentives, and – I don’t know – political a**-covering’.
The controversial doctor also offered his expertise on the government’s Covid-19 response.
‘Our government is out of control,’ he said, adding: ‘They are lawless. They completely disregard bioethics. They completely disregard the federal common rule. they have broken all the rules that I know of – that I have been trained on for years and years and years.’
He went on to say that government-imposed vaccine mandates ‘are explicitly illegal’ as they do not align with the Nuremberg Code and the Belmont Report.
According to a research team at the University of North Carolina, the Nuremberg Code is a ten-point system determining what medical experimentation is justifiable on human subjects.
Similarly, the Belmont Report established basic ethical principles to guide medical research involving human subjects, as stated by the US Department of Health & Human Resources (HHS).
‘They are explicitly illegal and they don’t care,’ Malone reiterated.
It is not the first time Rogan has courted controversy over comments made about Covid on his podcast.
Last April he seemed to discouraged young people from getting the vaccine, saying in a conversation with comedian Dave Smith: ‘If you’re like 21 years old, and you say to me, “Should I get vaccinated?” I’ll go no.’
Rogan, who caught Covid himself, also promoted taking ivermectin, despite no evidence proving it works to treat Covid.
Dr Robert Malone’s role in developing Covid-19 vaccines
Dr Robert Malone came under criticism for speaking out – and tweeting – against vaccines when he was reportedly a key player in developing the mRNA technology used in the Covid-19 jabs.
According to Malone’s LinkedIn profile, he is the inventor of mRNA and DNA vaccines and a worldwide expert in RNA technologies.
Before being suspended from the social media platform, the Harvard Medical School grad’s Twitter bio even read: ‘I literally invented the mRNA technology when I was 28.’
Malone, 61, claims to have invented the mRNA technology used in Covid-19 vaccines when he was just 28 years old
Malone, now 61, did, in fact, do intense research in the field of gene transfer.
According to a 6,000-word essay written by his wife Jill and reviewed by The Atlantic, Malone in the late 1980s – as a graduate student in biology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies – injected DNA and RNA into the cells of mice in efforts to create a new kind of vaccine.
He authored a 1989 paper telling how RNA could be delivered to cells via lipids – fatty acids – as well as a 1990 paper demonstrating how injecting pure genetic material (DNA or RNA) into a mouse’s muscle cells could lead to the creation of new proteins.
Malone theorized in the 1990 paper that if the same would go for human cells, the technology ‘may provide alternative approaches to vaccine development’.
A fellow mRNA-vaccine researcher and lead author of a 2019 history of mRNA vaccine development Rein Verbeke told The Atlantic that he believes Malone ‘sparked for the first time the hope that mRNA could have potential as a new drug class’.
However, he went on to add that ‘the achievement of the mRNA vaccines of today is the accomplishment of a lot of collaborative efforts’.