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Poop & Pee: Rogan Fans Got Hoaxed

by Brian Dunning

March 15, 2016

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Donate It's been over two years since I was on the Joe Rogan show, but since people continue to ask me about it, I'll talk about it. But the first thing to know is that if you saw the YouTube video, you got hoaxed.

Very few people go on his show to challenge him on his history of harmful conspiracy mongering and promotion of worthless supplement products. I was willing to be that sacrificial lamb, for better or worse. It turned out to be the latter.

Although Rogan and Redban were friendly and awesome while I was there, after I left, a deceptively edited 24-minute cut of our conversation was posted to a sock puppet channel called Roganology on YouTube. Apparently not satisfied that I may not have looked as bad as they wanted me to on the full 3-hour show, this hoax cut was designed to make me look as rude and stupid as possible. To get a sense,just watch the first 5 seconds. When Joe greets me politely, it's edited so that my only reply is to sneer and roll my eyes. That sets the tone for the rest of it. In reality, we had a normal friendly, positive greeting, and a conversation to match.

Apparently Joe has very little stomach for people challenging him on his own turf.

Personally, I think it's pretty messed up. If you hate me that much, let that come through in the actual video, rather than editing it to make it look that way.I don't know how the hoax edit is promoted, but it currently has more than 10 times as many views as the full version -- well over a million [Update: nearly 5 million now]. There are a number of cloned copies of it all over YouTube also.

But enough of that. Let's talk about the main moment in the hoax video that has Roganites dancing in the streets over how stupid I am. At one point in the interview, these words actually did come out of my mouth:
Any normal diet, the reason you poop and pee is because you ate more than you needed.
Now, of course that's not true, and no knowledgeable person thinks it is. Taken out of context, as a standalone claim, it's goofy; because poop and pee contain a lot more than undigested food, such as all your body's metabolic byproducts. And as a reasonable person might assume, there was a context in our discussion that is lost when you look at the sentence by itself. Here's what happened.

The hoax edit

Note that in the hoax version, in the midst of a conversation about antioxidant supplementation, I throw the sentence out at random, without any context:

The full show with context

In the full show, my comment is in the proper context of a discussion of the six basic nutrients your body uses in the food you eat. Your body takes what little of the basic nutrients it needs, and the rest of that giant Thanksgiving meal -- plus any dietary supplements -- go out through your GI tract:
[Update - At some point, Rogan or his people deleted the honest version of our show, leaving only the deceptive version out there.]

Obviously, my sentence was not worded to say what I meant. All I meant was that you poop and pee what you don't use; I did not mean that poop and pee consists of nothing else. It was a poorly worded sentence, jumbled on the fly as I was talking about a complicated subject. That's no excuse, because I was trying to represent a science-based perspective, and we should always have our best foot forward when doing so.

What can we do with this?

However, the idea does suggest an interesting puzzle. Would it be possible to get your body into a state of perfect equilibrium, where poop and pee actually do go to zero? What if you ate nothing that would produce any metabolic byproducts when digested, and contained nothing beyond the water, fats, carbs, proteins, vitamins, and minerals that your body needed?

Although it's a tempting experiment, the answer is a resounding no, and the first problem you'd encounter in such an effort is kidney failure. It's called acute tubular necrosis. Also, unless you urinate about 600mL per day, you'll build up toxic metabolites. There are, in fact, a whole raft of biochemical processes going on in your body, just in normal healthy living, that produce waste byproducts. Some doctors I've spoken to have speculated that it might be possible get poop close to zero, but not urine. You get big problems pretty quickly if the urinary system is not actively doing its thing.

Interestingly, your gut biome also plays into this puzzle. All those bacteria have their own metabolic systems, and are eating and producing the same as their host human is. Their output into your GI tract, along with your liver's output, mean that your poop will never quite get to zero no matter what, but you could certainly live well on a minimal all-liquid diet.

So for all of those interested in maximizing your body's efficiency, I am sorry to disappoint, but I'm confident you were not taking my comment on the Rogan show as inspiration that it might be possible. Eat up, and keep on pooping.

by Brian Dunning

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