Joe Rogan vs. Phil Plait

I’m not sure where to put this, but since it is regarding the Moon Hoax I’m going to start it right here. On Penn Jillette’s radio show – also available on podcast – there has been a two-part debate between Bad Astronomer Phil Plait and Fear Factor’s Joe Rogan. The second part (broadcast on 2/23) has been particularly maddening. Poor Phil has held up his side about as well as can be expected, but the interviews have been a real study in how hard it is to debate a true believer. I’m a bit disappointed in Penn, who seems overly willing to concede Joe’s points, such as they are. Michael Goudeau (Penn’s sidekick) has been, bless him, less credulous. Or maybe Penn is just being polite.

I guess there’s a first time for everything…

Know if there are transcripts anywhere, or will be?

No idea. I listen to the show on podcast, so I’ve never looked for transcipts. I just listened tot he last of the second interview and it looks as if they will be scheduling a third.

Joe Rogan was a complete dick at the end, frankly. Big surprise, I know. If I’d been Phil I’d have been mightily tempted to punch him in the head. I suppose that’s why I don’t do much debating.

Seriously. Now I have to listen to this just to hear such an unprecedented thing.

Not that I think that there is anything wrong with Penn’s approach generally. I’ve just never imagined that someone could consider it “too polite”.

I had no idea Joe Rogan was a Moon Hoax believer.

I’ve listened to it twice. Here’s my paraphrase of the discussion:

Phil: 800 pounds of moon rocks and dust. Formed in a low-gravity, waterless, airless environment. Examined by scientists around the would.
Joe: Von Braun went to Antarctica in 1967 and collected moon rocks (100s of pounds)
[Phil hadn’t seen this, argued that they were meteorites]

[huge sidetrack whether Von Braun was a Nazi, or worked for the Nazi]
Joe: Are you a Von Braun apologist?
Joe: That’s a huge point.
[Goudeau points out that his Nazi affiliation was known, just downplayed]

Phil: questions why you would send Von Braun, a high profile person.
Phil: In 1969, Japanese scientist first discover meteorites in Antarctica.
Phil: Not enough time to prepare the meteorites.
Phil: Antarctica meteorites look different than moon rocks.
Joe: The Soviets collected meteorites from the moon with unmanned crafts.

Phil: 400,000 people working on Apollo. Too large for a conspiracy.
Joe: In government, things are compartmentalized.
Joe: A couple days before Apollo 11 launched, the head of NASA resigned.
[Phil is taken aback, has to think of James Webb and defend his resignation]
Penn: Then why wouldn’t he come out about the hoax.
Joe: Do you want to get killed? They killed Gus Grissom for hanging a lemon on the craft.
[discussion about Grissom]
Joe: If he was just having issues with subsystems, why would he publicly put a lemon on a hanger, and hang it on the lunar module. That’s a monstrous statement from the number one astronaut.
Phil: Grissom was a pain in the butt to a lot of people.
Joe: That sounds like the kind of a guy I would kill. [added-] If I was running things.

Joe: If they’re willing to kill Gus Grissom - I’m not saying they did. Wouldn’t they kill the guy with the big mouth designing the O-Rings
Phil: Why would they kill him so publicly? It made NASA look bad, distrupted the program.
Joe: 2 years later they were on the moon.
Phil: The Apollo 1 blow was a crippling blow.
Joe: But they were on the moon 2 years later.
Penn: So you do admit they were on the moon.
Joe: It’s not that easy, bitch.
Phil: It doesn’t make since to kill him publicly. Throw a toaster in his bathtub.
Joe: They shot Kennedy in the middle of the street.

Phil: Back to James Webb. Resigned in 1968. Was a Democratic appointee. Possibly resigned because of Nixon’s imminent election.
Joe: That’s a possible answer. Or because he didn’t want to be go along with a hoax.
Phil: I would agree with you if there was more compelling evidence.
Joe: There’s no need for compelling evidence.
Phil: It’s circumstantial.
Joe: But it throws doubt.

Penn: How many people have to know about it.
Joe gives big monologue about making videos of simulations, that not that many people have to know about it.
Talks about globalization and bank conspiracys. Dozens can keep there mouths shut. They think they’re being patriotic about beating the Russians.
Phil: Yet the Russians think we went to the moon.
Joe gives ignorance of how it’s done, but when he looks at the big picture, it smells

Phil: Observation of rockets. Ham radio operators detected where the radio signals came from.
Penn: How they do this? I don’t understand the technology.
Phil: I don’t either.
Joe: How can you not understand it.
Phil: From what I’ve read they can do this.
Joe: Online? On my message board?
Phil: It was also tracked by Austrailian telescopes.
Phil: But then you say: we just sent rockets there. Astronauts left reflectors.
Joe: Soviets left laser reflectors on unmanned missions. That proves nothing like the moon rock argument.
Phil: It has to designed differently, like a robot, instead of adjusted by the humans. Engineers would go have to know.
Joe goes back to the compartmentalize argument.
Penn points out the bureaucracy problems in the Challenger Diaster in backing Joe’s argument. [???]

Joe: We haven’t been back since 1972.
[discussion about going back]
Joe: Why do we have to start from scratch to go back?
[Phil trys to talk about government bureaucracy, cost - Joe isn’t listening]
Joe: Why did we go backwards? They have the shuttle, why can’t they do a flyby?
Phil: It wasn’t designed to go there.
Joe: But nobody’s gone more than 400 miles back up. That’s the best they can do?
Joe: They talk about going back in 2020 instead of now.
Joe: They lost all the telemetry data. Isn’t that the most important data?
Joe: Because you can’t fake the telemetry data.
Joe: 14,000 reels of data. It’s not under lock and key.
[Phil doesn’t know if it’s that much. Other contractors than NASA. They weren’t required to save it.]
Joe: How convenient.

[on fade out]
Joe: I’m not done with you bitch! [his new catchphase]
Joe: We haven’t even gotten to the solar flare cycle. They would have fried up there!
Penn: Joe is holding his own.
Joe: If I worked for NASA, I’d fire you, bro!
Phil: Good thing I don’t work for NASA.

Rogan is only interested in scoring points.
The reasoning goes like this:

The moon rocks were all collected by Von Braun in Antarctica.
Von Braun did go to Antarctica - SCORE!
Phil didn’t know this - SCORE!

It wasn’t known that there were meteorites in Antarctica at that time. (that you know of - SCORE!)

Meteorites are different, not enough of them.
So they were collected by unmanned crafts, the Soviets did that - SCORE!

Von Braun was a Nazi! He’s evil! The Government’s evil! - SCORE!

James Webb resigned days before Apollo 11 launched.
It was actually October 1968 - close enough - SCORE!

Gus Grissom hung a lemon on the craft. Was killed in a fire on Apollo 1 - SCORE!

Astronauts put reflectors on the moon.
Soviets put reflectors on unmanned missions. - SCORE!

We haven’t been back. - SCORE!

They lost all the telemetry data. - SCORE!
I can see where it’s tough to debate on the fly. Especially when it’s points you haven’t heard before. Rogan will call it a victory. It’s just disappointing.

Why the hell is Joe Rogan considered an expert on anything, other than getting people to eat bugs?

Great synopsis & anlysis, Petey – I should have done that myself, but I started this thread on the fly since I had plans this morning. I meant to come back and expand on it, but you did it for me.

I agree with your choice of the word ‘disappointing.’ That’s how I felt, too. I’m sure Rogan is calling this a victory. I went to his website message board after the first debate and there were idiots there talking about how Rogan had ‘owned’ Phil. Just depressing. I think Phil is posting over there, too, as BadAstronomer. It was all too irritating for me to read much, to tell you the truth. As you say, it’s nothing but ‘scores’ which Rogan is counting as victories.

Didn’t you think Penn acted way too impressed with Rogan’s ‘evidence’? Gaudeau seemed less impressed, several times he tried to back Phil up. Anyway, I was more disappointed in Penn than anything Rogan said. After all, who expects Joe Rogan to be an expert on anything? But Penn is supposed to be a skeptic, and a backer of science. The first debate (which doesn’t seem to be available on the website) was less disappointing to me because Penn kept his yap shut.

Penn seemed like he enjoyed the theater of the debate, and wasn’t interested in being a Moon Hoax Skeptic. The stuff he said about the NASA hierarchy in the Challenger Disaster that supported Rogan’s claim made no sense to me

Phil posted on his blog about the first show. Link
He did admit that the second show didn’t go as well. Hopefully he’ll have more on this later.

There was also a link to the first show here: (
It seems to still work.

Joe Rogan must be just a generally argumentative sort. He just lost his agent and got banned from Comedy Store for fighting with Carlos Mencia.

Regarding von Braun, he was employed by the Nazis and his work in rockets did kill thousands, no questions about it. He was also arrested by the Nazis and had every reason to fear for his life if he defected (Himmler hated him anyway). Of course if he was Hitler’s adopted son, helped envision the Holocaust and started every morning by slapping his wife and kicking his dog it doesn’t affect the merits of his scientific research, just his character; did they point at the ad hom fallacy to Rogan?

Not really. Certainly not strongly enough. In fact, I think it was about that point in the debate where Phil started to lose his grip. Rogan just kept shouting and kind of went on a rant about NAZIS and EVIL and it just went downhill from there.

Re: my previous criticism of Penn. My husband (who doesn’t usually listen to the radio show at all and so has no preconcieved notions about Penn) heard part of the debate and he thinks that Penn wasn’t so much agreeing with Rogan as just marveling that he (Rogan) was so well versed in this stuff. So maybe I’d better retreat to my previous position (that Penn was unreasonably polite), rather than that Rogan was succeeding in convincing Penn that we didn’t actually land on the moon.

I just wanted to add: Phil wasn’t sure if Von Braun was a Nazi. Rogan was basically yelling that all Germans were Nazis, and put Phil in the unenviable position of appearing to defend a Nazi.

Rogan alluded to the JFK assassination, globalization, and banking conspiracies.

It’s like he stole Richard Belzer’s act. :stuck_out_tongue:

Wow, I have never seen anyone confess to ignorance, yet display so much arrogance as effectively as Joe Rogan.

Whenever he was faced with something that conflicted his views, he would respond with “I dont know about that” or “I’m not an expert,” yet whenever Phil was conflicted on a matter, Joe would exclaim “HOW COULD YOU NOT KNOW.” It was ridiculous.

And I’m disappointed with Penn Jillette. How does he go from being such a total hardass on his show, Bullshit, to a complete wimp in this radio program?

In defense of Penn, he is under no obligation to bail out either side of a debate. Frankly, Phil shouldn’t have needed any help. The onus is on him to be prepared.

All that said, this whole thing reminds me of the early debates between creationists and evolutionists, which, as evolutionary biologist Eugenie Scott points out, the creationists almost always won. Why? Because the evolutionists were caught off guard. When creationists debated biologists, they talked about physics; and when they debated physicists, they talked about paleontology. The evolutionists miscalculated everything from the subject material of the debates to their stakes.

Phil probably knows better than anyone else that this is not the time to coddle him. He needs to pull his research together, broaden it from the experiences he’s had, and go back to work debunking the hoax theorists. And I’m sure he will.

WTF does von Braun have to do with the Moon Hoax? He built the Saturn V, and had precious little to do with the Apollo capsule, the LEM, or the moon expeditions. We know the Saturn V works - I saw it go up myself.

And anyone who has read a history of the Apollo program knows why Grissom hung a lemon up. The Apollo capsule was a lemon, as shown by the results of the investigation after the fire.

As for Penn - after seeing some of the episodes of Bullshit, first season, I think he is sometimes funny, but not very clever. He’s great fun if he’s on our side, but I wouldn’t trust his skeptical judgement very much.

Assuming the paraphrase is generally accurate

:smack: It really is taking longer than we thought.


Wow, I always liked Joe Rogan. I had no idea he was a moon hoax believer. I guess I can’t hate him based off of this one belief of his but he’s certainly lost a lot of respect and credibilty in my eyes.

I like what Liberal said. Agreed.

I hope Mr. Plait will come discuss this with us - does anyone know if he’s still a member?


An American launch and moon landing would (should) have been tracked by everyone with the ability to do so.

The Soviets, themselves, had sufficient radar and radio capability to determine whether a rocket indeed made it all the way to the moon, and whether or not radio transmissions were originating (as opposed to being relayed/bounced back) from there.

The Soviets, had they detected a hoax, would have… discretely, I’m sure… pointed this out to the world at large.

If ham operators were listening in on the stuff, the voice radio was not encrypted, correct?

Was the telemetry data stream encrypted?

Phil stopped coming here when the board became a pay board. He posts on the JREF forum as well as his own site:

Wouldn’t this be a simple triangulation? I wouldn’t know exactly how to go about doing it, but it seems like the Bad Astronomer should know.