The latest controversy involving podcaster Joe Rogan has some folks debating the value of debating itself: especially when conspiracy theories are a factor. Rogan has drawn sharp criticism for platforming problematic guests, as has his podcast platform Spotify. The latest such guest: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. He is running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Their conversation included a number of questionable claims that were quickly fact checked online, including by vaccine scientist Dr. Peter Hotez. In response, Rogan challenged Hotez to debate Kennedy, with a $100,000 charitable donation as an incentive. Twitter owner Elon Musk is among those calling on Dr. Hotez to do it. Many say he should not do it, arguing that there is no real way to “win” a debate like this. So what should be done? There is another option for dealing with people who have problematic views: not to argue, but to question in a way that has impact. Let’s walk through a few facts about COVID vaccine development, and consider how a sharper approach might also make a difference in the debates over new laws affecting LGBTQ people.
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