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Check the Claim: Will Earth’s magnetic poles flip and cause a climate cataclysm?

SKILL: Check the Claim

DIFFICULTY: Challenging

SUBJECT(S): Climate change, Science

In this example students will use a keyword search to learn that the “Adam and Eve Story” is a viral climate change conspiracy theory with no scientific evidence to support it.

Background

Joe Rogan

Joe Rogan is an American UFC commentator, podcaster, comedian and actor. He hosts the popular podcast The Joe Rogan Experience in which he discusses current events, comedy, politics, philosophy, and science with various guests including entertainers, academics and comics. 

While supporters praise Joe Rogan for his advocacy of free speech, he has been criticized for spreading COVID-19 vaccine misinformation as well as engaging with far-right figures and conspiracy theorists. 

Earth’s Magnetic Field

Earth is surrounded by a magnetic field that protects the atmosphere from the sun’s energy. The field is in continual flux, causing the Earth’s magnetic north and south poles to gradually shift and flip locations approximately every 300,000 years. According to NASA, there is no science to support the idea that the magnetic field has an effect on climate change. 



About the Example

In this clip* from The Joe Rogan Experience a guest describes the “Adam and Eve Story”: a theory that Earth’s poles are overdue to flip and cause Earth to stand still leading to cataclysmic heating and winds. The theory posits that this would last 7 days after which Earth would “start anew.”

To verify this worrying claim we can use a keyword search (“joe rogan adam eve earth heating”) to learn what other sources are saying. 

Headlines from the first few search results like “A fake climate change theory is going viral on TikTok after Joe Rogan talked about it” from The Verge already tell us that this claim is not credible, but we can click in to learn more. 

The Verge article explains that the “Adam and Eve Story” is, “a made-up global warming theory” that has gone viral through the sharing of this clip from the Joe Rogan Experience. 

*The clip (originally shared on YouTube) has been uploaded to the CTRL-F YouTube channel to prevent students that are accessing it from their own devices from being suggested further conspiratorial content. 



Activities 

  1. Show students the video clip and have them summarize the claim. Fill in any gaps in their knowledge about who Joe Rogan is.
  2. Have students check the claim using a keyword search (“joe rogan adam eve earth heating”).
    • If students are using the Google Chrome browser, have them click the “News” tab to refine their search results to news stories.
  3. Have students click into the coverage from The Verge. Guiding questions:
    • Often misinformation and disinformation is built from a kernel of truth that is misrepresented or distorted. In this case, what is the kernel of truth behind the pole reversal conspiracy theory and how was it distorted?
    • The guest making this claim, YouTuber Jimmy Corsetti, says that clips were edited to remove context where he explains the “Adam and Eve Story” is not considered accepted science. What share of responsibility do you think each of the following individuals have for the spread of this disinformation: Joe Rogan, Jimmy Corsetti, creators of the clip, re-sharers of the clip, viewers of the clip.
    • This disinformation was shared first through podcast platforms like Spotify and re-shared through TikTok, Twitter and YouTube. What responsibility, if any, do these platforms have in stopping the spread of mis and disinformation?


Review and Discuss Key Concepts (optional)

Discuss with students what they know about conspiracy theories. Why do they think that conspiracy theories like this one can become popular on social media?



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