Joe Rogan & Sam Harris Dissect the Jack Dorsey Podcast

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Sam Harris

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Sam Harris is a neuroscientist and author of the New York Times bestsellers, The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, and The Moral Landscape. He is the host of the podcast “Making Sense" available on Spotify.

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Good to see you. Happy to be here. I listened to your podcast with Jack. Let's just get right into the Jack stuff. Yeah. Because I listened to your podcast with Jack and I found something very, when I did my podcast with Jack, first of all, it was not anticipating the blowback that I received. It was stunning. But he, what I thought was, I was just going to have a conversation with this guy. It'd be fun. See what it's like to run this gigantic network that helps people communicate. You okay, Jamie? All right. Helps people communicate and distribute information worldwide. What is it like to start something like that up and have it become what it is? Like how have you managed to try to keep up with it and what have the headaches been? And apparently people online, particularly the people that want to comment about this, all they wanted to know about was censorship. And that was an issue with me. There was a question with me, but it became a far, it was a far bigger question for people online. They felt like that I tossed him softball questions. And that I didn't press him. Yeah. And then I listened to your podcast. And one thing about Jack is very smart guy, very nice guy, but he talks in a very slow and methodical way. And when you ask him a question, he takes these routes. And if you don't want to jump in and press him, like you're in this weird situation where he's not totally answering your question, but he's talking about the same subject that you talked like, for instance, you brought up Lewis Farrakhan, right? Like how is Lewis Farrakhan a good standing on the platform and someone like, you know, fill in the blank Milo Yiannopoulos or Laura Loomer or whoever it was, they get kicked off. He never got to that. He went around and around and around with you. And he recognized this after the podcast. I received a lot of blowback. He received a lot of blowback. So I contacted him and he said he would be more than happy to come back on again and address all these things. And I said, okay, what I'd like to do is address specific instances of people being censored. And he said, okay, what I'll do is I'll bring in someone from the company that's in charge of that stuff. Right. So I'm starting to put together a picture of what it's like to be a CEO of something as big. And he's also a CEO of square. He's runs the cash app. There's a lot of stuff going on there. Right. So he's obviously busy. How much day to day involvement does he actually have and who gets censored and why they get censored and how much is he willing to share about that? So we're going to find out in the next follow up podcast, but I got accused of everything from being a shill to being a cuck to being a, and there's also an issue that you've managed to avoid wisely. So of advertising the cash apps and advertiser on my podcast. So because the cash apps and advertisers are on my podcast, right? The man had you by the throat. Exactly. And you think they ask all those great questions that were queued up. The reality is, uh, those are the questions I would have asked now. That's hard to say because no one's going to believe it, but those are the questions I would have asked. And I tried not to be too confrontational with the guest, but in hindsight, I probably could have pressed more, particularly on people like Kathy Griffin, um, calling for doxing for the, the, the kid with the MAGA hat on with the native American. There was, there's a quite a few, but I noticed that, well, what was your experience like with it? Yeah. So it's interesting cause you and I have, uh, we had different interviews because they were timed differently. I mean, it's a, this is an interesting topic because this opens the door to all the ways in which our podcasts are different. I mean, they, you stream live. I sit on my podcast for at least a week. So I mean, in Jack's case, it was like two weeks before I released it. So, um, I did my interview with him before this flurry of interviews with him came out. I mean, there's a Rolling Stone interview. There was a, uh, uh, I think only, I think maybe a Huffington post interview had come out, but basically there was nothing out there. So I had no real examples of how he dealt with these questions. Um, or how he talked. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, slow talking is not a problem for me because I'm one of the great slow talkers. So, we're, we're in a groove there. Uh, but he, um, I, I didn't know what his boilerplate was and how he would, he would answer any of these questions. And, uh, your podcast came out before mine did, but mine was mine was before the Covington high school Catholic circus happened. Right. So the, the real missed opportunity for me was just a sheer matter of timing. Like I, you know, because the Covington thing puts such a fine point on everything that's wrong with Twitter and the way journalism interacts with it. Right. And it was, it just, you know, I think it was, uh, Farhad Manju wrote a, uh, an op-ed in the New York Times saying Twitter has destroyed journalism. And, and, and it was not a crazy op-ed in fact, uh, after the Covington thing and the whole, you know, and then Kathy Griffin would have been the perfect example to talk about it. Like, you know, why is she still on if she's calling for the doxing, right? Yeah. But, you know, I, I think I had a substantially similar interview with him that you did, uh, because he's, and there's two things. One is he's great at sort of pirouetting around the, the, the, the sharp pointed question of, you know, what is the policy and why, why are you applying it in this seemingly disparate way? And it seems to skew politically in one direction all the time. Right. Uh, but you know, I think you also, I mean, you know, I did, and I think you did naturally, we cut him some slack in that he's the CEO of these two corporations. He can't be expected to actually know what happened in every one of these micro cases. Like, I think I brought up the case of, I think her name is Megan Murphy. I mean, I hadn't even heard of her before. That's the lesbian woman. She was like a feminist who said sort of the wrong thing in the transgender space. She said something like men are not women, and she got banned. And for life or temporary? No, I think it was temporary, but you know, so I raised it and you know, he, he obviously can't know exactly what happened in that case, or at least it would be surprising to me if he knew. So the fact that he doesn't have his finger on each one of these cases and what the, what the rationale was, and he has this sort of generic answer that what you're seeing, you know, in public is not necessarily what we're seeing. In fact, in, virtually every actionable case is not what we're seeing in private with respect to how these people are opening, opening multiple accounts and doing seemingly nefarious stuff behind the scenes. Now, whether that is true, I don't know, but I mean, I can just say that Jack seemed, one, I liked him and he seemed unusually open to talking about anything I wanted to talk about. And so I saw one allegation that got hurled at you was that, you know, you must have been constrained by, you know, the topics you couldn't touch in advance. You must have had some agreement with him in advance. You know, it didn't happen with me right now. I should address that. There was no, no discussion whatsoever about what was off limits. Yeah. No, nothing. And he asked for no. So in my case, I tell all my guests, and this is the difference between you streaming live and me not, I tell all my guests, listen, if at any point in this interview, you put your foot in your mouth or I put my foot in there, we can edit it, right? Like we, I want you, I want you to be totally happy with what you say over the next two or three hours. So if you have to take something again, take it again, and you know, we'll just hide the seams as we go. Now, that virtually never happens, right? And in Jack's case, there wasn't even a wrinkle like that. So, but you know, I just, you know, I recognize it's a high wire act for a lot of these people, especially for someone who's running two publicly traded companies, right? And you know, I was the one I invited him on. I said, I said, Jack, you know, we were DMing on Twitter, I said, Listen, I promise I'm not going to make you smoke a blunt on video. And that got him. So I don't know how you got him, but I didn't try to get him to smoke a button. I didn't even think about it. Yeah, we weren't drinking. We were just talking. It would have been better if we were drinking, because it did seem very stiff. I listened to it after the fact. And I mean, I get from their anticipation, why it would be disappointing. I just thought it was kind of boring. I thought my podcast with them just wasn't very good. I sometimes do too many podcasts. And when I sometimes do too many podcasts, I think I run low on juice. And I'm not as, I don't know, I'm not as engaged, or I'm not as fired up about it. And maybe I just should have, I definitely should have prepared more for him. But I really thought it was just going to be a conversation about what it's like. And I thought that would be really easy to do. Because it's such a unique position to be running something like Twitter. But I don't know if he was evasive because he didn't know the things or because he didn't want to talk about the things. But there was things like he didn't know exactly why Alex Jones was ultimately banned. He couldn't recall or didn't know. No, is that because he couldn't recall? Is it because he didn't want to talk about it? Or is it because he didn't remember it? I mean, I don't know. I mean, you'd have to be inside his head to get that answer. Yeah. He's clearly got a very practice line that he uses to answer these questions. And I mean, because I know what it's like to have boilerplate. I've been on a book tour and you're just basically getting asked the same questions again and again. And here he's getting asked fairly pointed questions about where Twitter's going. And he's got, I don't think this is dishonest. I just think, but it has this amazing ability to close the door to further inquiry because he gives you the full mea culpa right up front. You ask it like, what's the situation with the seemingly asymmetrical banning of people? And he'll say, yeah, we really, I mean, we've got to get much better at communicating our process. We're not nearly transparent enough. This whole thing is in disarray and my job is to fix it. So it's like a global, we're fucked up and we're going to get better. I promise you. Yeah. But that doesn't do any good for the people that are already banned. But there's not a lot to get beyond that in an interview. Yes. So it worked whether, I don't think it's nefarious. I think it could well be totally honest, but it does have this effect of you just keep reaching a brick wall that you know was going to be there. Yeah. I felt that too. And I didn't really navigate that very well. And that was a big part of the blowback. But then the blowback was accentuated when they found out that he sponsors me. Because the catch app is one of his businesses and it sponsors the podcast. Yeah. Well, I had a very similar result and I don't have that problem. So I don't think that diagnosis your situation at all. But it's very interesting. I mean, the difference between these business models under which we run our podcasts and just the different, I mean, just every choice you make and how to produce a podcast, I essentially have made the opposite one. You know, like streaming live like this. The fact that you're, so this is just all very interesting to me. Because I'm kind of a reluctant student of digital media now because I've just kind of stumbled into this Wild West that you in large part have invented, right? I mean, this podcasting space was nothing. And now we've got Spotify buying up, it's like a land grab for audio. Yeah. We were talking about that before the podcast. They just purchased some company, what is it called? For some ungodly amount of money. Yeah. Like $200 million and they're going to spend 500 this year or something. And so it's this, we're all just making this up. And I've just released a meditation app, which is a different business model still. And so now I have these kind of two parallel digital businesses happening in my life. And it's just very interesting, the decisions you make or are forced to make and the consequences of it. And so like the fact that we're having this conversation live, you don't even have to think about whether you're going to edit this, right? Because it's going to be streaming live and when we're done, we're going to turn off the mics and walk out of here. And your job is done with my podcast. That's not the workflow at all. And I totally envy this approach that you have, but for a variety of reasons, I feel like I can't take it in my life. And so it's, but it is very different. It dictates many choices down the line, which I mean, there's a positive and negative, but it's the positive is what you hear is what we got and we're done after we turn these mics off. And that's not how I podcast. There's also the visual element of it and the visual element of it initially was almost like a side effect. I mean, we first started it out visually, but then when it started going to iTunes, the iTunes aspect of it became the focus, the audio version of it rather became the focus. But then we decided to stream on YouTube and put it up on YouTube, but it was totally not profitable. It was just for a goof like, Oh, we'll have the video up. Why not? Some people like video. It was one of those things. But then you realize ultimately that YouTube becomes a viable source of revenue. And then it's also the way a lot of people like to watch it, you know, and they also like to watch it because they can comment under it. So that was the other thing that came out of the Jack podcast. We got into a controversy about comments and about how comments are deleted or how they're shown in hidden and what happens. Cause people were accusing Jamie of deleting all the derogatory comments that we don't touch any, we don't, we don't delete any of them. We don't do anything to them. We just leave them up there and it's a mostly assessed pool. But I mean, even, even on a good podcast, there's a lot of crazy shit that happens on these things. But from what we think, and Jamie, correct me if I'm wrong, you think that what's going on is that people are marking other people's posts as spam. There's that. And then Brandon also has a theory that a lot of alt right people are targeted by the algorithm that YouTube uses. Like in, in, in one case, there was a guy who had a Pepe the frog avatar. And he said like his, his comment immediately went to spam. And that the other thing is that the comments are curated depending upon who is watching it and what account it'll be, they'll be different. Sort of, yeah, they'll propagate different comments to the top. It's not a, this, you can actually change it if you, if you prefer to see the most new comment, like from your own personal YouTube when you're watching. You, you as a viewer or user of YouTube have to make that actual. Yeah. So that, that conspiracy theory just heightened the whole thing, right? Okay. Now they're deleting negative comments. Like, like, look, I don't like doing bad podcasts, but I will be the first one to tell you when I think a podcast sucked. Yeah. That podcast was definitely disappointing. It wasn't good. Mine wasn't good. It was like, I said, when I listened to it, I was like, God, this is kind of boring. Yeah. Just wasn't, it wasn't juicy. There was nothing he, we didn't get a flow. It wasn't like he and I were just shooting a shit, having a good time. Well, take that one decision. So you have decided to make video a main component of this podcast. It's still probably a small percentage of your actual listens. Not anymore. Not anymore. It's gotten to, it's almost 50 50. Awesome. Because it's closing in on that. Yeah. It used to be like 90 10. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So, so I have it. I don't have a video component. And so I just put audio on YouTube, but I put absolutely no energy into YouTube. I mean, that may one day change, but because I don't, I don't care what's happening on YouTube, right? So I never see the comments. And whenever I look, it is, as you say, accessible. It's insane. I mean, YouTube is just skews massively right. It skews, just massively male. And it's probably skews very young too. So you have a just like millennial alt-right craziness, right? Like, like as I say these sentences, your YouTube page is just blowing up with hate for me, right? Like you got a bunch of millennials with a thumbs up their asses, just whinging, right? There's a lot of older people too. Well, yeah, but I mean, it's got to be younger than, than most of, of where, well, first of all, I'm not even seeing most comment threads that could possibly respond to anything I put out there now, right? So I got, I don't even look at my ad mentions for the most part. I spend maybe five minutes a day looking at what's coming back to me. But, and you were actually helpful in, in reformatting my brain on that, on that topic. But so because I don't see any of that stuff, I mean, maybe I'm getting a lot of pain for my Dorsey interview, but I don't even know about it, right? And so I'm not having, I don't feel like I have to course correct in response to anything now. And in large measure, it is a consequence of just this decision that, you know, I inadvertently made that I'm just, I don't have a video component to my podcast at the moment. And so I'm not, I'm not spectating on, you know, the feedback on YouTube. Well, the feedback thing is interesting, because we were just talking about this before the show, that with feedback and comments on YouTube, essentially anyone can comment. And if you don't go banning people from the channel, which we don't do, it's not what we wouldn't do if someone was totally a piece of shit, but we don't. So you essentially have this open forum. So it's like, almost like a message board where people you just sort of comment. And it's unlike Twitter in that regard, because Twitter just, you know, you get abusive and shitty on Twitter, they just get rid of you. If you get abusive and shitty on Instagram or on Facebook, Facebook, they'll just get rid of you. But if you're on YouTube and you're in those comments, you could kind of get away with more. So I would imagine that people that don't appreciate censorship and want to just, just fucking spew out whatever's on their mind, that would be the place where they would go, especially if it's the same product, essentially, the only thing different. And this is a thing where it got confusing with the YouTube people versus the audio people. With the audio people, it's very obvious that the cash app is a sponsor because it's, we say it, this podcast is brought to you by the cash app. Whereas in YouTube, they're like, ah, they're hiding the fact that the cash app's a sponsor. We talked about it during the podcast itself, but we don't put the ads on YouTube. There's ads that YouTube puts on, but we put the ads on, like after the show is over, I'll read the ads and we'll insert those into the audio and that will go up to iTunes and RSS feeds and all that stuff. So the stuff that's on YouTube, it's abbreviated in the sense that especially the live one doesn't have anything. So like this has zero ads and then the ones that'll be posted on YouTube later, it'll have YouTube ads. Right. So that's why there's, so there was a couple of conspiracy theories in that regard. There's also apparently an emerging conspiracy theory about that Jack was trying to pump up Bitcoin because they have some sort of a Bitcoin deal. Have you heard this one? I read that, but like it's from what I saw, it's not higher than it was at any point. It's still right around $3,500. So if there was a pump and dump scheme of some sort, then like it should be like provable on the blockchain, I guess. I don't know. Yeah, I don't understand that, but is there any other component to it? I don't know. I don't know where that was coming from necessarily. I don't even, what did it, all he said was that, well, the cash app sells Bitcoin. So we talked about Bitcoin. I think you can buy and sell Bitcoin through the cash app, I should say. I think he said something about blockchain technology, rendering everything permanent online. And that was something different. But I think that's in regard to comments into anything, blog posts, blockchain is essentially going to have everything that's online forever. But there's so many fucking conspiracy theories about all this stuff. It's fascinating.