Fictional Global Warming Theory Discussed in The Joe Rogan experience podcast is spreading on TikTok despite the platform’s new policy against climate misinformation, a new report shared exclusively with On the edge find.
Seven TikTok videos promoting the so-called “Adam and Eve” theory — which falsely claims that Earth’s magnetic fields will shift and cause catastrophic effects across the planet — garnered more than 20 million views between January and April, according to the non-profit organization’s report Media Matters for America. The videos include clips from the January 18 episode of The Joe Rogan Experienceexpanding on statements by Rogan and his guests that contradict mainstream science.
The videos’ popularity shows how misinformation buried in a three-hour podcast episode can easily be ripped out and spread widely on TikTok. It’s also a test of TikTok’s recent commitment to “strengthen enforcement” of its new climate change disinformation policy.
“There is no evidence, no science, no physics behind any of the claims”
“It’s just unfortunate that these things are being put out there,” Martin Mlinczak, a senior scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center, said in an interview. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And there is no proof, no science, no physics behind any of the claims that the changing magnetic field is related to climate change.
Viral videos attempt to explain the so-called “Adam and Eve” theory of Earth’s magnetic pole reversal. A guest on Rogan’s show, YouTuber Jimmy Corsetti, says the theory is that the planet “flips” roughly every 6,500 years. “It’s a 90-degree turn, but six days later, or on the seventh day, it corrects itself,” he says. “Because of this, the Earth essentially stops — the sun will basically stay in the same place, causing heating like we’ve never experienced,” Corsetti says in a clip.
There is no evidence that the planet has made or will ever make that kind of 90-degree flip — where the Arctic would be where the Antarctic is and vice versa, Mlinczak says On the edge. “This is a complete scam. If this happened every 6,500 years, we would certainly see it; will be in all the records … The amount of energy to achieve this is enormous. And you know, there’s nothing that initiates it,” he says.
Earth’s magnetic poles are shift, just not in the way discussed in the podcast and TikTok videos. NASA has a helpful explanation of what’s going on on their website. But in short: the Earth’s magnetic field is constantly changing. Our planet’s North Magnetic Pole is moving, shifting towards the Siberian Arctic from Arctic Canada. Earth’s magnetic poles (not the planet itself) have even reversed 183 times in the past 83 million years, the paleomagnetic record shows.
As the poles are reversed, the Earth’s magnetic field gradually weakens and then increases in strength in the opposite orientation. This process is very slow — possibly spanning several thousand years, according to Brendan Riley, assistant research professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “It’s very possible that if this happened in our lifetime, we wouldn’t even know because the whole process would take many, many generations,” Riley says. “It’s not just this dramatic thing.”
But there’s plenty of drama in Rogan’s podcast and the TikTok videos it spawned. TikTok videos Corsetti says we’re ‘over 200,000 years overdue’ for ‘cataclysmic’ pole shift, according to unsupported Adam and Eve theory. In addition to causing global warming, he says the theory is that equatorial winds, moving “roughly 1,000 miles per hour,” will continue their momentum as the planet rotates.
“Winds of 1,000 miles per hour surpass supersonic winds. Right there, I mean the guy has no idea what he’s talking about,” says Mlinczak On the edge. Even the strongest hurricane-force winds only reach 150 to 160 miles per hour.
The world is not “overdue” for a pole reversal, according to Riley. That would be like flipping a coin, getting two heads in a row, and saying you’re late for tails, even though the odds haven’t changed, he says. And although Earth’s magnetic north pole has started to shift a bit faster — a point Corsetti makes in the podcast — Riley says that’s not outside the bounds of what’s typical of Earth’s magnetic field.
In an email to On the edge, Corsetti says the TikTok videos took some of his statements out of context. “Note that these various TikTok clips are edited portions of my conversation on Joe Rogan’s podcast, where I explain the difference between the ‘mainstream scientific view’ of pole shift versus the ‘Story of Adam and Eve’ — which is certainly it is not considered accepted science,” he wrote.
The Adam and Eve theory originated in a 1965 book by Chan Thomas, written before there was widespread study of climate science. The book caused an uproar in conspiracy theory circles after the CIA declassified it in 2013. (Among other things, the book claimed that Jesus was abducted by aliens in a “space vehicle.”) The theory today is often formulated so as to suggest that climate change is caused by natural forces rather than the burning of fossil fuels and does not pose as much of a risk compared to other threats.
Corsetti also walked back some of his statements on climate change in his email to On the edge. In one of the viral videos that came out of the podcast, which has more than 352,000 likes, Corsetti says, “I think the real data about the Earth is that the Earth is cold most of the time. Right now we should be thankful that it’s nice and cozy.”
The mountain of evidence shows that the planet is warming because greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels trap heat. The last eight years were the eight hottest on record, the World Meteorological Organization reported in January. The most extreme summer heat wave ever recorded in North America snarled roads and caused a spike in emergency room visits in the US Pacific Northwest in 2021, just one example of recent record heat waves around the world.
“It seems to me that anyone with eyes to see should understand that we are throwing away and negatively changing the environment… Personally, I drive an electric vehicle,” says Corsetti.
The popularity of TikTok videos featuring Corsetti, who cherry-pick misinformation from Rogan’s podcast and package it with dramatic music and imagery, shows how easy it is to false information on the platform through emotional short videos. It also tells how well the platform enforces its own policies.
In April, the social media platform pledged to “accelerate implementation of a new climate change disinformation policy that removes climate change disinformation that undermines well-established scientific consensus, such as content denying the existence of climate change or the factors that contribute to it. ”
Yet the seven videos Media Matters noted in its report are still garnering likes and shares on TikTok. TikTok did not immediately respond to On the edge when reached for comment.
Spotify is lagging behind other platforms because it has failed to implement a clear policy on climate misinformation in its content, says Abby Richards, one of the authors of the Media Matters report. “Spotify has long-standing policies that help us balance creative expression and listener preferences while minimizing the risk of offline harm. We have multiple measures in place to ensure that content on Spotify complies with our policies,” Spotify spokesperson Rosa Oh said in an email to On the edge. She declined to comment on Joe Rogan’s podcast, and Joe Rogan did not respond to a request for comment.
Rogan has been accused in the past of inviting guests like Randall Carlson who reject widely accepted climate science. “What Randall Carlson said that really scared me, he says, ‘Global warming is not scary. Global cooling, that’s what’s really scary,” Rogan says in another misleading clip from his podcast that made its way into a viral TikTok video. While Rogan’s podcast already has a huge reach, the episodes are hours long, and statements like this might have been buried if not for TikTok users editing it into more easily shareable content.
“It reaches a huge audience with fringe ideas and conspiracy theories [on his podcast]. And then they spread to these other platforms,” says Media Matters climate and energy program director Alison Fisher.
And that worries scientists like Mlinchak. “I’m concerned because people are being misled by these things and voting,” he says. “I have two children and all of our children will have to deal with the consequences of the decisions we make or don’t make about how to deal with climate change.”