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The Impact of Approachable Information

June 28, 2022 By Eric Olson
Graphical figures magnifying results from Consensus scientific answer database

Dr. Andrew Huberman is an enigma. He’s a punk-rock-loving, muscle-bound, tenured Stanford professor who also happens to be a world-renowned neuroscientist.

However, despite his exploits in academia, Dr. Huberman is most famous for his podcast, The Huberman Lab, where he takes on a variety of topics, from depression to weight lifting, diving deep into what the scientific research says about them.

Dr. Huberman presents a unique value proposition by allowing listeners to gain a genuine scientific understanding of a particular subject regardless of their background or level of expertise. And people have noticed. The video forms of his podcast uploaded to YouTube alone have millions of views per video.

So who are these millions of listeners? Are there really millions of other PhDs, researchers, and experts consuming this content?

Dr. Huberman’s recent podcast appearances, from the Joe Rogan Experience to Dax Sheppard’s Armchair Expert, suggest that his audience is diverse and that many of his biggest fans do not come from scientific backgrounds.

Reality TV Drama With a Dash of Academia

One recent podcast appearance, in particular, stood out. Earlier this year, Dr. Huberman appeared on the Skinny Confidential Podcast, a lifestyle, business, and beauty podcast hosted by Lauryn Evarts Bosstick.

His appearance was sandwiched between episodes titled: “Sex Tape With Harry Jowsey & What’s Real on Reality TV” and “Divorce, Therapy, Blending Families & Exiting an Empire,” which is not typically the content you see a lifelong academic engaging with.

Following his appearance, the Skinny Confidential Instagram page was busy reposting dozens of videos from their listeners showing off themselves getting early morning sunlight and delaying their caffeine intake. Two of the many evidence-based “protocols” that Dr. Huberman preaches everywhere he goes.

So, why does Dr. Huberman’s message resonate with so many across different demographics and academic backgrounds? Listen to a Huberman Lab episode and the answer is clear: Dr. Huberman makes getting complex, evidence-based information simple and actionable.

Why Does Everyone Know What HRV Is?

This is not the first time that making complex information easier to understand has led to a boom in popularity in recent years. Take the advent of wearable technology like Whoop or Apple Watch, two products that have made it easy to both track and consume personal health metrics like sleep quality/duration and Heart Rate Variability (HRV).

Even just a few years back, how many people knew what HRV was? Yet today, millions of people not only know what HRV means and its implications, but regularly check on theirs as a part of their daily routine.

Because, like the Huberman Lab Podcast, these products have made consuming complicated information easy and accessible for anyone.

This is all a fascinating juxtaposition to the current perception of the state of misinformation. Despite the booming interest in evidence-based information, most would agree that our online spaces have a serious misinformation problem.

There are many reasons why this is the case. I recently wrote an article about the problems that stem from getting information from products that use advertising-based business models.

However, one of the largest driving forces behind the misinformation phenomena is even more simple: our current technology landscape has often made it easier to come to an incorrect conclusion than an evidence-based, nuanced one.

In fact, a recent MIT study showed that misinformation spreads about SIX times faster than factual information.

Fight Fire With Fire

What does Dr. Andrew Huberman appearing on The Skinny Confidential and your favorite wearable have to do with misinformation?

The Huberman Lab Podcast and Whoop suggest that if people are given an easy way to consume rigorous information, they will take it. Because of this, I contend that there is reason to be optimistic about our information landscape.

However, Andrew Huberman is just one person, and manually-curated content like his, while truly fantastic, will never scale to combat the algorithmic forces that started this mess. We must fight scalable fire with scalable fire.

But — if the same or similar technology that led us down this path can make getting nuanced, evidence-based information as easy and consumable as a Google Search or a Quora query, then maybe there is light at the end of the misinformation tunnel.

We need easy-to-use, innovative search products designed for this purpose because, as Dr. Huberman shows us, if you build it, they will come.

Consensus’ Mission to Make Science-based Information Accessible

I am biased. We are currently building Consensus, a search engine that uses artificial intelligence to aggregate easy-to-understand scientific insights from peer-reviewed literature in seconds.

Our hypothesis from the beginning has been: If we can make getting insights and answers from evidence-based sources as easy as a Google search, then people will engage.

We believe that the rise of misinformation has less to do with people’s intentions and their nature but instead is a symptom of the systems we use to consume our information.

We humbly hope that Consensus can help, even just a little.

When we started working on Consensus in the midst of the pandemic, Dr. Andrew Huberman was relatively unknown. In the time since he has exploded in popularity and has millions of followers on multiple social media platforms. His meteoric rise gives us hope for our upcoming launch of Consensus, but more importantly, for our society.

If science can be made approachable and easy, then people will engage, no matter their background. To learn more about Consensus, sign up for our free BETA.

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