Answers To Your November Questions
Heterodox brainworms, the future of journalism, autogynephilia, and more
AMA Q: We’ve seen loads of “heterodox” figures like Bret Weinstein or James Lindsay fall victim to audience capture. You definitely have some specific beliefs about youth gender medicine that make extremists like your content (insofar as you agree with them), and make many progressives hate you. Yet it seems like you have remained pretty consistent in your beliefs — neither downplaying your beliefs nor exaggerating them for clout. What traits or strategies do you have that you think make you less susceptible to audience capture? —Approaching-Significance
I’d also be interested to hear his answer, though I have my own theory: unlike all the Lindsays and Weinsteins and Rubins and Petersons out there, Jesse (and Katie, his B&R cohost) maintains a sense of humor about everything — including, crucially, himself. This is a very effective shield against the sort of grandiosity, hyperbole, rage, and paranoia that tend to derail people in this space with depressing [regularity]. —Corey N
Good username! I’m not sure I’ve done anything intentional. I think it’s a combination of a few things, some of which I’ve mentioned before.
—For totally random reasons, most of my friends have always been normies who aren’t journalists, aren’t particularly radical, and aren’t interested in online nonsense. Some of them have, like, Instagram, but they generally aren’t all that active on social media. So even when I’ve gotten dogpiled online, I’ve always been able to have a normal life offline. For some people, that isn’t true — if you’re truly ousted from your offline communities, which some “canceled” people are, I think that makes it much more difficult to maintain some level of perspective and equanimity. What happened to Weinstein at Evergreen College was truly ridiculous and, I think, partly explains the trajectory he has taken. I don’t know what Lindsay’s excuse is. It’s to Katie’s credit that she hasn’t gone crazy, except in unimportant ways like her dog obsession, given what she went through socially post-“cancellation.”
—I have pretty strong feelings on progressive versus conservative politics that would make any sort of all-out “conversion” or side-switching impossible. The issues I feel strongest about have to do with basic economic fairness, and on those I think the Democrats beat the Republicans by a mile, even if they’re still quite centrist and even if many of their members wouldn’t pass muster in the sorts of social-democratic parties you see all over Europe. Many Republicans are just gonzo on anything having to do with economics, and that left a big impact on me.
—Everyone wants to think they’re objective and virtuous, but we’re probably all influenced, to some degree, by what pays the bills and what audiences want. What I’m doing seems to be working so there’s no real professional pressure to adopt some radically different belief system, do some sort of public renunciation of my past beliefs, or anything like that.
—I do think a sense of humor helps. I am far from a genius and will always get stuff wrong and don’t even have clear views on a lot of things, so I can’t be any sort of hyper-confident guru. I also find it very cringeworthy when people get on a soapbox and exclaim I AM BEING OPPRESSED BY THE ENEMIES OF TRUTH BUT WE WILL SEE WHO LAUGHS LAST HA HA HA HA.
Related, more specific Q: In the interview with Erica Anderson (March 2021) some of your questions and many of her answers took for granted that many people experiencing gender dysphoria should be treated with social transition, blockers, hormones, and surgery rather than just psychiatric or psychological therapy and medication. Has your thinking about that changed? If so, why (not)? —Mike
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