CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr Sanjay Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon and author of the new book World War C: Lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic and how to prepare for the next one. In today's highly segmented media world, most of the people who watch and listen to me days on CNN have already received and accepted the message about the usefulness of vaccines, the importance of masks, and how we can all work together to end this pandemic. So I realized if I did. was serious about trying to communicate about public health, I had to go somewhere less comfortable. I needed to go to the lion's denand accept an invitation to sit with Joe Rogan for over three hours. I don't think I've ever had such a long conversation with anyone. Seriously, think about it. We sat in a windowless podcast booth with two headsets and microphones, and a few feet between us. Not a single interruption. No mobile phones. No distractions. No bathroom breaks. In an age of shorter, crisper content - responding to abbreviated human attention sprawling across - one of the country's most popular podcasts presents conversations that last exceptionally long and are particularly deep. Joe Rogan, controversial podcast host, says he tested positive for Covid-19 Many friends have mewarned against accepting Joe's invitation. There 's no more room for reasonable conversations, one person told me. He 'sa brawler and does not play fair, another warned. In fact, when I told Joe at the start of the podcast that I disagreed with his apparent views on Covid vaccines, ivermectin, and many other things in between , part of me thought that MMA, the former taekwondo champion might run to the table and strangle my neck. But, instead, he smiled and we left. Here's a headline: Joe Rogan agreed to be vaccinated Read more OK, I'm beautifying here, but Joe Rogan is the only guy in the country that I wanted to exchange views with in a real dialogue - one that could potentially be among the most important conversations of this whole pandemic . After listening to his podcasts from un moment now, I wanted to know: Was Joe just a sower of doubt, a creator of chaos? Or was there something more? Was he asking questions begging to be asked, fueled by the necessary suspicion and skepticism? Into the lion 's den It wasn't that Joe Rogan thinks most interested , that was how he thinks. This is what I really wanted to understand. The truth is, I have always been a naturally skeptical person myself. One of my personal heroes, physicist Edwin Hubble, has said that a scientist has healthy skepticism, suspended judgment and disciplined imagination, not only about other people's ideas but their own as well. » Joe Rogan responds to his controversial anti-vaccine comments C ' is a good way to think about the world - full of honesty and humility. I live by that, and I think Joe can in ae to some extent. He will be the first to point out that he is not a doctor or scientist who has studied these subjects. Instead, he seems to see himself less as a rascal and more as a kind of guardian of the galaxy, pointing out the missteps made by big institutions like government and mainstream medicine, and then wondering aloud if we are. can always trust them to make recommendations. or even money orders for the rest of us. For many it represents a queen bee in a beehive spirit, advancing free will and personal freedom above all else. The free will of your fist ends where my nose begins When I Told this to Joe the MMA fighter he stopped, sat and listened for a while. I asked him: is it not possible to firmly defend individual freedoms, but also to recognize the unique threat of high disease?contagious? He seemed to agree, but quickly responded with a common misconception about the overall usefulness of vaccines. If vaccinated people transmit as much as the unvaccinated, why are they really needed? It was like Joe and I were now in the octagon , circling each other. He was staring at me intently now, eyebrows raised. I admitted that the vaccinated could still carry the virus at similar loads to the unvaccinated, but I quickly added - before he could claim victory - that there was more to it. 'story.