The problem with 'gurufying' the male podcast bros.

The male podcasting bros are having a moment online.

Actually, they've been the stars of the podcasting realm for a long time now, dominating the charts and considered 'gurus' by their adoring fan bases. Think Jay Shetty, Joe Rogan, and Andrew Huberman.

All three of these men say and do very different things on their podcasts.

One of them spouts divine musings about purpose and following a meaningful path, after having found himself a niche slice of the pop psychology movement.

Another is a comedian and commentator who shares his opinions (fair enough) - but much of what he says leans towards the far right and anti-science rhetoric.  

The third one is without a doubt the most qualified and knowledgeable — he is a neuroscientist after all — though his fascination for all things 'optimisation' sometimes gives superiority complex vibes.  

Watch: Andrew Huberman on his morning routine. Post continues below.

Video via YouTube.

Jay Shetty has worldwide fans, sold-out shows, a podcast, talk show appearances, invitations to the White House, awards and big, big money.


In terms of expertise, he's basically a life coach who has a background in business and marketing, though Shetty said he went to India to become a monk when he was younger. This has been questioned in recent investigative reports, and there have been accusations of plagiarism on his part.

Joe Rogan doesn't need much of an introduction. Perhaps a memorable refresher point would be the accusations that he regularly promoted COVID-19 misinformation on his show, as well as his anti-trans rhetoric. 

Yes, he brings various experts and guests onto his juggernaut podcast regularly, but Rogan's background is solely in comedy, acting and sports commentating — yet he tends to speak as though he has a direct line to a higher power of truth and knowledge. 

Huberman is a slightly different story.

He's an associate professor of neurology and ophthalmology at the Stanford University School of Medicine — aka he certainly has the relevant knowledge and qualifications to be speaking on the subjects he does. And he does regularly bring evidence-based strategies with other experts in the field. 

Huberman is still 'bro-like' and sometimes unusual in his approach though. He's anti-sugar, thinks we should all 'sun ourselves without UV protection' for 10 minutes every morning, and is all about bio-hacking, which in layperson's terms is excessively customising one's diet, exercise and wellness routine to optimise cellular performance. He also promoted the 'fluoride in the water is bad' conspiracy theory, and promoted a guest who claimed that fluoride is a government psychological operation designed to shrink pineal glands.  


And while this week's investigative report about his alleged behaviour towards women he apparently dated doesn't exactly paint him as a monster (rather, just a bit of a d**k), the outpouring of support from his humongous fanbase has been disproportionately intense.

That's the unique beauty of podcasting that each of these men has tapped into effortlessly. The forum allows their audiences to feel as though they are deeply connected to the hosts, given they spend hours upon hours listening to them, their thoughts and their beliefs. 

We think we know them in a way, or at the very least, we feel as though there is a mutual understanding and rapport — that we can wholeheartedly trust these figures who speak with confidence and passion.

Carly Dober is a psychologist and the Director at the Australian Association of Psychologists Incorporated.

She says it's often the case that public figures can achieve 'cult-like' or guru status, with people who look up to them thinking they can do no wrong.

"Lifestyle gurus embody the parasocial relationship, in which there is the trading of the appeal of intimacy, authenticity and integrity. Trust and attention capital in para-social relationships is paramount in providing ubiquitous access to achieve influence," she tells Mamamia.  


"Many men are trying to understand and explore what masculinity can look like in contemporary society. These guru podcasters show these listeners they can be strong, opinionated, successful, some of them have families, and they are focused on their health."

An important point to make is that access to low cost or free high-quality health information is great, especially considering health information has often been inaccessible to many throughout history.

It's just about making sure the pendulum doesn't swing too far in the other direction, and that we don't leave our rose-coloured glasses on forever.

Dr Hayley North is a neuroscientist and the founder of Understand Your Brain. She is also a research fellow at Neuroscience Research Australia and a conjoint lecturer for the UNSW Faculty of Medicine & Health.

Speaking with Mamamia, she has a very relevant perspective on the influence of 'guru-like podcasters'.

Generally speaking, she says the rise of interest in 'neuroscience wellness' is fantastic, because it shows people are really looking to evidence-based approaches to improve their wellbeing. But Dr North feels the female voice is often missing from the neuroscience and wellness pop-culture space.

"There is an immense amount of neuroscience research out there that has the capacity to make profound differences to people's wellbeing and mental health. However, neuroscience is incredibly complicated, so we have to make sure we are getting information from reputable sources and qualified people, because a slight misinterpretation from the untrained eye can be problematic," she notes.


Dr North also says there are dangers in assuming all of the bio-hacking tricks and protocols will benefit us as individuals. Some may even cause harm.

 At the end of the day, direct health, lifestyle and wellbeing advice is individualised and should be accessed from your individualised health professional.

"It's important to remember that as humans we are prone to a bias called the 'bandwagon effect' which is the tendency to believe something is true because it is popular, so we should exercise extra caution regarding the truth and reputability of advice given by popular podcasters of 'guru-status'," says Dr North.

"It's also important to remember we are individuals so even though a piece of advice may be beneficial to most people, it's not necessarily beneficial to everyone."

If there's one thing Psychologist Carly Dober wants you to know it's the following.

"Remember humans are fallible. No one is perfect and we should not expect them to be."

Perhaps it's time the podcast bros realised this too. 

Feature Image: Getty/Instagram/Canva.