Let’s me start with the world-famous cliche that “I’m an active listener” of the show. I like it. It’s better than most of what is out there, and it used to be even better. In general I’m a fan.
The Dunning-Kruger curve is the idea that initially, when you start a subject, you know nothing. As you learn more about it, your confidence grows. Your confidence about the knowledge of the subject grows almost at the same angle as a rocket-ship to the moon. Such is the growth in confidence (not knowledge), that you become even more confident about your understanding of the subject than experts themselves. But the whole thing is a mirage. You actually don’t know anything. It is only until you realize this, that your knowledge of the subject actually increases. At which point you realize how little you actually know and your confidence takes a hit. Eventually, if you stick it out, your knowledge of the subject continues to grow and your confidence on your knowledge and on the subjects comes back, but never at 100%. Why does it never come back to 100%? Because now, you know better. Now you realize that you cannot know everything.
What does this have to do with the JRE show and why does it matter? It matters because in the initial phase of the Dunning-Kruger, your high confidence vs low-knowledge state can cause problems, specially if you have a large audience of listeners (as the JRE podcast does). The problem, it turns out, is in the inadvertent staging and promotion of ideas of which you have little knowledge about (though high confidence) and thus you end up spreading fallacies and falsehoods.
In the show, there have been many examples. The most recent and the one which caused me to write this was the one with Ted Nugent. In that episode Joe is joined by Ted Nugent who is at the ends of the Dunning-Kruger spectrum for various subjects. He seemed to be very knowledgeable about hunting, but knew very little about immigration and its history. Everyone seems to be an expert in immigration right up to the point where their family immigrated to the US (legally or otherwise). In the case of Nugent, his knowledge came down to the Ellis Island of the 1900s. Nugent forgot about the lack of any immigration laws prior to that and/or how his ancestors may not have been the best and brightest we may have wanted. In this subject, Joe offered no reproach, though he did ask Nugent how comfortable he felt about hearing kids screaming for their mothers, something that Nugent said he’d rather not have happened, only to quickly revert back to the mantra of “we have to keep our borders secure” without a followup from Joe.
Another subject was that of the President, someone that Nugent seems to admire and Joe has in the past expressed disagreements with. In this subject, Nugent was left to praise the “accomplishments” of the President, of which there were few to bring forth, and Joe again didn’t speak up about the lack of substance.
It was only in the subject of weed, a subject in which Joe seems to be an expert in the Dunning-Kruger scale, that he was able to argue with Nugent on the subtleties of the practice and how smoking weed does not automatically make someone a pot-head, delinquent, or looser. Nor does it automatically turn someone into a user of another controlled substance. It was in this subject that Joe appeared to slightly influence Nugent on his prejudices, though as the conversations shifted from domestic policy to drugs, to immigration, etc, Nugent seemed to throw pokes at Joe’s smoking habits with very little resistance from him.
So that is the point? Do I have a suggestion? Is there a fix? Yes, I do. My suggestion would be for Joe to better weigh the possibility of his show becoming a platform for subjects of which he has very little knowledge about. As the potential to spread lies and deceit to such a large audience, is something that whether he likes it or not, he must be responsible for. As such, perhaps, there are certain guests he declines. Perhaps for certain shows, he invites a counter guest. Perhaps, after certain shows, he has a follow-up show where he can better express his views and/or the views of his guests.
Finally, Joe must be careful in not falling pray to that ever alluring sense of thinking you know something. Remember, if you think you know it, you probably do not.