The Intellectual We Deserve
March 16, 2018 8:40 PM   Subscribe

Nathan J. Robinson's authoritative and unrelenting tear-down of the Jordan Peterson sham.

If you want to appear very profound and convince people to take you seriously, but have nothing of value to say, there is a tried and tested method. First, take some extremely obvious platitude or truism. Make sure it actually does contain some insight, though it can be rather vague. Something like “if you’re too conciliatory, you will sometimes get taken advantage of” or “many moral values are similar across human societies.” Then, try to restate your platitude using as many words as possible, as unintelligibly as possible, while never repeating yourself exactly. Use highly technical language drawn from many different academic disciplines, so that no one person will ever have adequate training to fully evaluate your work. Construct elaborate theories with many parts. Draw diagrams. Use italics liberally to indicate that you are using words in a highly specific and idiosyncratic sense. Never say anything too specific, and if you do, qualify it heavily so that you can always insist you meant the opposite. Then evangelize: speak as confidently as possible, as if you are sharing God’s own truth. Accept no criticisms: insist that any skeptic has either misinterpreted you or has actually already admitted that you are correct. Talk as much as possible and listen as little as possible. Follow these steps, and your success will be assured. (It does help if you are male and Caucasian.)

Jordan Peterson appears very profound and has convinced many people to take him seriously. Yet he has almost nothing of value to say. This should be obvious to anyone who has spent even a few moments critically examining his writings and speeches, which are comically befuddled, pompous, and ignorant. They are half nonsense, half banality. In a reasonable world, Peterson would be seen as the kind of tedious crackpot that one hopes not to get seated next to on a train.
posted by little eiffel (173 comments total) 76 users marked this as a favorite
 
A much briefer but also very good engagement from kiwi Danyl McLauchlan.

Are the social justice groups that Peterson and his followers war with online and at campus protests products of postmodernism? Let’s think about that. Are feminist movements like MeToo motivated by Judith Butler’s gender performativity theory, or the fact that the criminal justice system is broken when it comes to preventing or punishing sexual assault? Are Black Lives Matter inspired by the Frankfurt School, or the fact that police in the US routinely assault and murder young black people? Do Bernie Sanders’ supporters, who advocate for socialism understand a single damn sentence of Capitalism and Schizophrenia, or are they reacting to the conspicuous failures of the form of capitalism ascendent in the west for the last thirty years?

Some of the intellectuals affiliated with these groups try to articulate their views using postmodern jargon, but if you “purge” the social sciences and humanities departments of postmodernists, as Peterson urges (he describes himself as a classical liberal, which seems to mean ‘someone who opposes all modern manifestations of liberalism’) all you’ll accomplish is a more comprehensible, coherent activist left.

But, Peterson might argue, aren’t left-wing political parties and western society in general dominated by relativism and nihilism, the pernicious postmodern doctrines that there’s no such thing as reality or truth, and that all beliefs – no matter how monstrous – are just as valid as each other? Are they? Really? There are postmodern thinkers who – somewhat problematically – claim it is true that there is no such thing as truth, and that all value systems are relative. But are these views prevalent on the political left? It seems to me that, what with climate change, Piketty, implicit bias tests and gender pay gaps, the contemporary left is very vigorously Team Rationalism, Team Science, Team Reality-is-Real, and Team Aghast at the Alternative Facts and Fake News Ascendent on the Right.

If anything, much of the contemporary left veers too far in the wrong direction away from moral relativism. One of the central tenets of liberal democracy is pluralism: the hard-won idea that not all moral values are equal, but that individuals have the right to determine their own values, within certain parameters, because if the state tries to act as the total arbitrator of all moral value, things quickly degenerate into centuries of genocide and civil war. I agree with Peterson that there’s an ominous drift away from pluralism and the related commitment to free speech among factions of the left. But that’s like, the opposite of relativism.

And the rejection of pluralism is also a problem on the right. Specifically it’s a key characteristic of Jordan Peterson. Despite his advice in Rule 8 (“Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t”) Peterson literally demonises his ideological opponents as anti-human Luciferian totalitarians. But when he warns about postmodernism or Marxism what he’s usually complaining about are the tenets of liberalism which is less a plot to destroy western civilisation and more one of its defining qualities. And the real irony is that Peterson’s critique of liberalism, rich with Freudian psychoanalysis, his insistence that social interactions are mediated by power and Nietzschean elevation of narrative or moral truth over rationalism, is incredibly postmodern.


I think it's arguable that the left's ceding of the intellectual battleground (you should do right because these principles that apply to everyone say it's the best thing to do) for a social one (you must do right because otherwise you will be shamed) has played a significant part in the rise of flawed prophets like Peterson.
posted by Sebmojo at 9:20 PM on March 16, 2018 [44 favorites]


Going by this critique it seems like Peterson's philosophy was pulled out of a Werewolf: the Apocalypse source book.
posted by runcibleshaw at 10:07 PM on March 16, 2018 [17 favorites]


He has been called “the deepest, clearest voice of conservative thought in the world today”
To be fair, the state of conservative thought in the world today means that this may well be correct.
posted by flabdablet at 10:33 PM on March 16, 2018 [92 favorites]


I don’t know, Dad, but I think I have discovered something that no one else has any idea about, and I’m not sure I can do it justice. Its scope is so broad that I can see only parts of it clearly at one time, and it is exceedingly difficult to set down comprehensibly in writing….
I held much the same belief during those two weeks in the year 2000 before my mania exploded into full-blown psychosis.
posted by flabdablet at 10:43 PM on March 16, 2018 [47 favorites]




It’s really a bummer hereabouts that that guy has the same name as my niece.
posted by notyou at 11:00 PM on March 16, 2018 [8 favorites]


(Who is set to marry her girlfriend sometime when they can figure out the dates.)
posted by notyou at 11:02 PM on March 16, 2018 [15 favorites]


This is a very good critique but I'm really dubious about the "the left has failed in offering moral guidance" framing. Firstly because it seems like an assertion in the midst of argument. All the coherent analysis of Peterson's nonsense is suddenly pressed into service to support an entirely unconnected claim. That is an unfortunate move, particularly in the context of the article.

I take issue with the view that the left is failing to promote a moral standpoint. The reality is that a coherent and useful leftist moral ideology has emerged very clearly in the last ten years. Primarily it's about creating space for the voices and needs of people other than white, straight, abled, cis men to be heard and prioritised, but it's no less serious or moral for being nondirective and disinclined to trust the sort of people who tend to be in academic authority. As an example, look at where Metafilter is now, compared to where it was ten years ago. Look at the development of the cultural assumption that we should respect marginalised voices, beyond merely paying lip service to that idea, and the implications of that for our values with respect to so many issues (I'm simplifying, for which I apologise). And we aren't an island; we're responding to and engaging with a broader change, with many intellectual leaders. It's true that most of them aren't in academia, but so what? Academia won't provide all that many of the intellectual leaders we need until it stops being so dominated by the voices of white, straight, abled, cis men. There are, of course, many people in academia offering potent and coherent leadership, but very few of them are members of that privileged minority.

I don't think that the intellectualism of the left is in a parlous state. I think Jordan Peterson's popularity indicates pretty much the opposite, if I'm honest. We're winning the argument because our argument is a good one, and so people who don't like the consequences of that argument are turning to gibberish from academics like Peterson and politicians like Trump because an incoherent argument is the only one they can win.
posted by howfar at 1:03 AM on March 17, 2018 [64 favorites]


Another part of it, though, is that academics have been cloistered and unhelpful, and the left has failed to offer people a coherent political alternative.

This statement (written by the author of the article) is where the good work is. This sentence needs to be shared far and wide.
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:42 AM on March 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


The reality is that a coherent and useful leftist moral ideology has emerged very clearly in the last ten years. Primarily it's about creating space for the voices and needs of people other than white, straight, abled, cis men to be heard and prioritised

(Everything I am about to say is based solely on my perspective as a US citizen and I cannot claim any authority at all on how things are politically in the UK)

I don’t think leftism gets to claim this as solely their win. As a trans woman I take issue with the tendencies of progressively minded people thinking that they are the reason I can legally change my gender without surgery, and thinking that my ability to exist in public with minimal harassment was a great honor they bestowed upon me.

The gains i personally get to enjoy in the US at least required broad political coalitions in the US that included republicans, democrats, leftists, neoliberals and a lot of tireless political activism by trans women of color.

So no I’m sorry, leftism doesn’t get to swoop in and claim all that work. As a matter of fact I think leftism needs to get better at being helpful members of coalitions and quit being so precious about non-negotiables.

I say this as a trans activist who last year was migendered by a democrat in a senate hearing on a “bathroom bill” (who subsequently supported the bill) while the republican speaker of the house stood against the far-right members of their own party and democrats as well to defeat said bathroom bill.

I don’t know what to say, really, I believe I could be a really useful leftist but I do struggle with the fact that the tactics of leftism as currently organized are not getting the job done where the rubber meets the road.

So IMO the left does need a more coherent strategy and part of that includes being a touch more willing to work with progressive democrats and dare I say it even conservatives.

I fear even my suggestion that a leftist consider a conservative as a temporary ally in order to get the job done disqualifies me from allying with leftists in my area and that makes me sad, because we can’t afford to be splintering coalitions right now. At least I can’t.
posted by Annika Cicada at 2:08 AM on March 17, 2018 [41 favorites]


I don’t think leftism gets to claim this as solely their win. As a trans woman I take issue with the tendencies of progressively minded people thinking that they are the reason I can legally change my gender without surgery, and thinking that my ability to exist in public with minimal harassment was a great honor they bestowed upon me.

I think you're correct. But I think we may be talking at cross purposes. I think that you're correctly identifying that a cultural difference is probably a significant part of that. The fact that the term "left" covers a much broader range of perspectives in the UK, is much less loaded, and refers primarily (in electoral politics) to the very broad coalition of the Labour Party probably means that we're using the word in somewhat different ways. I don't think of "the left" as a number of groups around me, but rather a broad and growing group with a wide range of approaches and attitudes.

That said, I should clarify that I don't think that left institutions or middle-class progressives (etc) have transformed their approach as a boon to excluded voices. Rather I think that excluded voices have done the work of forcing us to listen. I worry about calls by white male academics for more academic leadership on the central issues of the day because I can't help but feel that part of the (I think usually unconscious) subtext is related to the problem you're identifying, the feeling that a conversation can't be worth having unless it is led and defined by the (probably not entirely coincidentally usually white and male) high status members of the academy.
posted by howfar at 3:19 AM on March 17, 2018 [9 favorites]


The fact that the term "left" covers a much broader range of perspectives in the UK, is much less loaded, and refers primarily (in electoral politics) to the very broad coalition of the Labour Party probably means that we're using the word in somewhat different ways. I don't think of "the left" as a number of groups around me, but rather a broad and growing group with a wide range of approaches and attitudes.


I love that this exists in the UK. How you are using left to describe what exists is a left that I hope can form in the US. And that’s a whole discussion about how the US is a bicameral representation currently held hostage by two parties determined to stay in power...

I would really like to see the US house have a makeup of many coalitions that’s a touch more like the parliamentary model.
posted by Annika Cicada at 3:41 AM on March 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


When I was reading this, I thought of a quote from Writing For Social Scientists, by Howard S. Becker. He quotes a former student of his, Rosanna Hertz, from back when she was a student of his. It's one of the most refreshingly honest things I've read about being an academic:
When I read something and I don't know immediately what it means, I always give the author the benefit of the doubt. I assume this is a smart person and the problem with my not understanding the ideas is that I'm not as smart. I don't assume either that the emperor has no clothes or that the author is not clear because of their own confusion about what they have to say. I always assume that it is my inability to understand or that there is something more going on than I'm capable of understanding. . . . I assume if it got into the AJS [American Journal of Sociology], for example, chances are it's good and it's important and if I don't understand it that's my problem since the journal has already legitimated it.
Reading this for the first time was one of my biggest "I thought I was the only one!" moments, because it's like you're not supposed to think that someone, especially someone with a reputation for brilliance, is just an awful writer and a painful slog to read. There are plenty of people like that, and some of them really are brilliant, when you eventually get at what they're saying. Not Jordan B. Peterson, though.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:07 AM on March 17, 2018 [24 favorites]


> shapes that haunt the dusk:
"it's like you're not supposed to think that someone, especially someone with a reputation for brilliance, is just an awful writer and a painful slog to read."

This is what it means to be critical, being able to fight this feeling, the argument from authority.
posted by chavenet at 4:15 AM on March 17, 2018 [10 favorites]


i wasn't familiar with this guy, but two things strike me

first, his thoughts about order and chaos were presented much more succinctly in the principia discordia, with a proper emphasis on the importance of chaos

second, after reading that whole account of the children's book and the 4 year old kid that wouldn't eat, i award him the world championship of overthinking a plate of beans - we will never get close to this level of solipsism and obsession - just give it up, he's got it

william blake just emailed me and said "Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained; and the restrainer or reason usurps its place & governs the unwilling." - also something about peterson being of the devil's party and not knowing it

and i have a taschen book with tons of illustrations from alchemical documents which are much more thought provoking (and better drawn) than those stupid illustrations of his - (not to mention that diagrams from the tree of life of the kabbalah are more thought provoking)

it's all been done before and much better, by people who were better writers and illustrators, which does not necessarily mean they were right

he should find another career as donald trump's speechwriter - his style will be perfect - people will think that donnie's become an intellectual and they still won't know what the hell he's talking about
posted by pyramid termite at 4:23 AM on March 17, 2018 [17 favorites]


Great article parricularly this part:
...[A]fter all, if “many human stories have common moral lessons” was his point, he would have been saying something so obvious that nobody would think to credit it as a novel insight. Peterson manages to spin it out over hundreds of pages, and expand it into an elaborate, unprovable, unfalsifiable, unintelligible theory that encompasses everything from the direction of history, to the meaning of life, to the nature of knowledge, to the structure of human decision-making, to the foundations of ethics. (A good principle to remember is that if a book appears to be about everything, it’s probably not really about anything.) 


Not just Peterson that falls into this category. I recently had a purge of my bookcase of these sort of authors.
posted by 92_elements at 4:47 AM on March 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


it's all been done before and much better, by people who were better writers and illustrators, which does not necessarily mean they were right

This is how I feel about Joseph Campbell. A few years ago I had a phase where I read a lot of his stuff. (Funny enough, around that time I was a depressed young man with a lot of problems.) There's some similarity between the goofy diagrams in Peterson's book and a lot of the ideas and illustrations presented in Campbell's Masks of God. And a similarly dense, discursive writing style, too. Campbell was engaging and presented some interesting ideas, but he also presented some blinkered sexist crap and was sort of creepy in his personal life (married one of his advisees at Sarah Lawrence, etc). Even in my depressed-young-dude phase, my takeaway from a lot of it was: that's an impressive string of hypotheses that *might* be plausible if you squint at it, but hey it's intriguing so I'll indulge this line of thinking. Like, it's entirely possible that you've been talking out of your ass for the last seven hundred pages, but I truly can't tell.

I am grateful that I am not in that phase any more. Not least because I could have ended up going down a very dark rabbit hole with the likes of Peterson, who sounds like Joseph Campbell crossed with a bunch of Stefan Molyneux videos.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 5:27 AM on March 17, 2018 [10 favorites]


There's some similarity between the goofy diagrams in Peterson's book and a lot of the ideas and illustrations presented in Campbell's Masks of God.

Maybe because they are both derived from Jung and his pseudo-Christian mysticism
posted by thelonius at 5:34 AM on March 17, 2018 [12 favorites]


People used to poke fun at Hegel, saying that, as a tenured professor, he WAS the End of History. Tenure is the summum bonum; it doesn't get any better than that. I see this trend among such academics to write bestsellers for popular consumption as a fierce attempt to hang on to their tenure because, in the current milieu, you can lose tenure by making the smallest non-PC or triggering remark. When Universities are run as corporations, a bestseller such as this latter-day Desiderata will cover a multitude of sins, and Jordan Peterson gets to go on being a professor, psychologist, great dad, media pundit and the cynosure of all eyes.
posted by Tarn at 5:37 AM on March 17, 2018


That McLachlan excerpt is really good.

The academic left is anything but a vanguard or theorist of the media / street / political left.

The academic right is actually a lot more effective in that regard: when you look at what Trump is actually doing (as opposed to saying), for example, there is a conceptual very high throughput of libertarian economists and B-school professors and conservative legal scholarship. Probably one of the best indicators of the practicality of the academic right is that (folks like Peterson aside) it invests very little in tussling with the academic left; I've never heard a law professor luminary of the Federalist Society say that he had a goal of tamping down the extremism of the humanities professors across the quad.
posted by MattD at 5:40 AM on March 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


you can lose tenure by making the smallest non-PC or triggering remark

what? no you can't. Can you give any examples of people who have had tenure taken away from them for making one "non-PC or triggering remark"?
posted by thelonius at 5:41 AM on March 17, 2018 [53 favorites]


To be fair to conservative pseudo-intellectuals, the kind of wilful obscurity and free fall blatherscythe at which Peterson excels is what they believe actual academia is based upon.

The critiques from certain quarters of “ivory tower elites” circle-jerking one another with meaningless tracts of flowery nonsense have come full circle — it’s as if they’re saying, “We were jealous of your book-learning words and phrases and such, but no longer, for we have our own! It has every feature we identify in your scholarly output: syllables, syllogisms, symbols, presupposed conclusions and something that smells vaguely of profundity.”

Cargo-cult intellectualism.
posted by Construction Concern at 5:44 AM on March 17, 2018 [43 favorites]


Not just Peterson that falls into this category. I recently had a purge of my bookcase of these sort of authors.

You had an old white man bonfire too! Did Harold Bloom feature prominently in yours? I kept one because it’s the perfect height for a laptop booster, but that is, after long last, the only thing it is good for.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:03 AM on March 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


you can lose tenure by making the smallest non-PC or triggering remark

Well, this tenured professor was fired for this blog post.
posted by Tarn at 6:06 AM on March 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


What the hell kind of blathering Marine Todd nonsense did I just click on?
posted by Artw at 6:12 AM on March 17, 2018 [24 favorites]


You had an old white man bonfire too! Did Harold Bloom feature prominently in yours?
Well they weren't all white (Taleb was in there) however they were all men!

Haven't heard of Harold Bloom though I'll note it down to avoid.
posted by 92_elements at 6:36 AM on March 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


Tarn: that’s really poor writing but it appears a conservative student blogging about the injustice of being told that they were wrong, and neither party involved had tenure.

… looks around …

Oh my god, does the email address in the header mean that despite the incredibly weak writing that’s the personal blog of the John C. McAdams mentioned in this tenure revocation letter? That’s a rather dishonest comparison: he didn’t make “a single non-PC remark” but rather published her name in the process of publicly slandering her and directing the right-wing hate mob at her!
posted by adamsc at 6:45 AM on March 17, 2018 [44 favorites]


John Ganz and Steven Klein in The Baffler, "A Serious Man":
To people searching for spiritual nourishment, Peterson functions as a kind of huckster, handing out quick fixes. Charlatans like him are unfortunately all too common today. If Peterson really is the “most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now,” as Brooks writes, we have reason to worry. It is not the duty of intellectuals to be reassuring and edifying, to create a serious world for adult children to wrap themselves up in: they are supposed to be critics not clerics. Their job is to provide tools to weather the sometimes enervating, painful, and confusing path of reflection and thought, not to allow for its easy interruption with images of glory. And their task is certainly not to turn individuals into adulating crowds. In the hands of false prophets, the crowd quickly becomes a mob.
posted by sapagan at 6:50 AM on March 17, 2018 [11 favorites]


Let me speak to this from the inside. I am a tenured academic who wrote a general-audience book whose thesis (like that of almost every such book) might be described as "the difficult stuff I've spent decades learning is actually more interesting and more relevant to your life than you might think."

When you write a book like this, you have to maintain an appropriate stance of humility. It's a central part of the academic mindset. We know about the things we know about, but we aren't authorities on the things we don't know about. We may very well have interesting and useful insights to share about those things, drawn from our own expertise -- that's the promise of interdisciplinarity! And we should share those insights. But that's as far as it goes.

The fact that we have Ph.D.'s after our names and academic appointments at universities means that people are inclined to trust us and take our word for things. That's an amazing opportunity. But, more than that, it's a responsibility.
posted by escabeche at 6:53 AM on March 17, 2018 [36 favorites]


Oh, this reminds me - I had been waiting for a Jordan Peterson thread to post this criticism of his attack pn "postmodernism" in his last book.
posted by thelonius at 7:11 AM on March 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


One more thing. There were plenty of mistakes in my book! It turns out it's super-hard to write a 450-page book with no mistakes whatsoever. Lots of people emailed me about them. We can fix mistakes. I fixed most of them for later printings and for the e-book. (There's one chart that is still wrong; I'm sorry, readers, at some point I'll make a new chart.) Sometimes people write me saying something is a mistake, when the book actually has it right! I try to answer those emails too, because those people are trying to help me and are spending their own time doing so.

Not trying to hijack the thread, just trying to emphasize that

"speak as confidently as possible, as if you are sharing God’s own truth. Accept no criticisms: insist that any skeptic has either misinterpreted you or has actually already admitted that you are correct. Talk as much as possible and listen as little as possible."

is the exact opposite of the academic approach, or what ought to be the academic approach. Our job is not to "win." We are all on the same team. Our job is to be careful and get things right.
posted by escabeche at 7:41 AM on March 17, 2018 [29 favorites]


To be fair to conservative pseudo-intellectuals, the kind of wilful obscurity and free fall blatherscythe at which Peterson excels is what they believe actual academia is based upon.

Greenfield's Axiom of Twenty-First Century Conservative Thought: It's always projection.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:51 AM on March 17, 2018 [23 favorites]


you can lose tenure by making the smallest non-PC or triggering remark

Ironic that this was made in defense of Peterson, who has retained his tenure despite pushing for a McCarthy-style list tracking professors and classes he disagrees with, complete with unsubtle hints that it should be used for harassment or even violence.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:59 AM on March 17, 2018 [39 favorites]


you can lose tenure by making the smallest non-PC or triggering remark

You can? Well, then, what’s the hold-up, U of T?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:00 AM on March 17, 2018 [14 favorites]


And that doesn't even get into his mocking and haranguing of transgender students who politely ask not to be misgendered and/or deadnamed.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:02 AM on March 17, 2018 [17 favorites]


From the Current Affairs piece:

Peterson first came to international prominence when he publicly opposed Canada’s Bill C-16, which added gender expression and identity to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act. Peterson claimed that under the bill, he could be compelled to use a student’s preferred gender pronoun or face criminal prosecution, and suggested that social justice activists were promoting a totalitarian ideology. In fact, there was nothing in the bill that criminalized the failure to use people’s preferred gender pronouns (full text), and I share the belief that government legislation requiring people to use particular pronouns would be an infringement on civil liberties. But since that’s a position shared by Noam Chomsky and the ACLU, it’s not a particularly devastating criticism of the left. And when Peterson goes beyond the very narrow issue of compelled speech, his take on social justice isn’t much much more sensible than his lecture on Jungian archetypes in the story of the pancake-dragon.

So, about Peterson-as-tenured-academic-under-attack: In Ontario, public sector salaries about $100K (CAD) a year are publicly reported, and this includes university professors. As of 2016, he was pulling down $175K in base salary as a University of Toronto Professor. I think most people would agree that's a pretty darn comfortable situation. And there are a lot of hard-working non-tenured academics who would give their eye teeth for that level of job security and compensation.

Peterson:

You’ve been entirely dependent on your state and on your family for the brief few years of your existence. And the idea that you have any wisdom to determine how society should be reconstructed when you’re sitting in the absolute lap of luxury protected by processes you don’t understand… let’s call that a bad idea…

He's now pulling in somewhere in the neighbourhood of $50K/month in income generated via Patreon, not to mention whatever he charges for speaking appearances, his book sales, and so forth.

Point being that he took what was a fairly unremarkable but comfortable academic career and bolted onto that an exceptionally lucrative second-act career whose genesis was an intellectually embarrassing anti-trans meltdown.

His employer has not moved to fire or discipline him. Heck, they've even provided him with platforms from which to express his views on Bill C-16.

From that article linked above:

“I’m fighting this as a battle of ideas,” Peterson told the Star. “Hopefully I can bring high-quality education to millions of people — for nothing. Wouldn’t that be cool.”

[...]

Althea Blackburn-Evans, a U of T spokesperson, said that the university does not have concerns about his current YouTube productions.

Regarding his proposed crowdfunded accreditation program, Blackburn-Evans said that she was not aware of a professor carrying out a similar project in the past.

“As far as I know, Professor Peterson hasn’t discussed this with the university,” she said. “So really, we’ll have to wait and see how his plans materialize before we can comment on them specifically.”

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:03 AM on March 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


Well, this tenured professor was fired for this blog post.

The position of his employer (lengthy pdf) is that McAdams was suspended for repeatedly breaching the privacy of students and staff, and also threatening to do so as a means of intimidation, culminating with the blog post you link to.
posted by howfar at 8:04 AM on March 17, 2018 [27 favorites]


I've never heard a law professor luminary of the Federalist Society say that he had a goal of tamping down the extremism of the humanities professors across the quad.

Alan Dershowitz is perhaps the most prominent member of the Federalist Society on TV. And this is certainly one of his hobby horses.
posted by tirutiru at 8:08 AM on March 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


adamsc: That kind of behavior passes as "just one little thing." Just like how James Damore was fired for his political views. /s
posted by MengerSponge at 8:08 AM on March 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


I don't find Peterson's political ideas convincing. Some of Maps of Meaning was great, some of it was overwrought Jungian weirdness. I haven't read 12 Rules For Life, because I understand his views well enough, and I don't do self help books.

The recent flurry of takedown hate pieces directed at JBP seems unnecessary. I mean, who cares? So a lot of his stuff is bullshit. OK. But a lot of people find it meaningful, so they go about fixing their posture and trying to derive meaning from Dostoevsky, Jung, and some tortured metaphor about lobsters. This is pretty damn harmless.

I get that Peterson is a leftist-hating conservative who ties his psychological ideas to his conservative politics. That doesn't bug me, personally. His connection between modern social justice movement and various Marxist offshoots is wholly unconvincing to me. If some people read it and are convinced, well, good for them.

Peterson's shitck is not drawing people into the alt-right or MAGA nation, and if anything is drawing them out of such things. I don't think he makes people more conservative, I think he makes conservatives less angry and bitter. So I see him as a good thing on the whole, no matter how goofy his diagrams or archaic his politics.
posted by andrewpcone at 8:14 AM on March 17, 2018 [12 favorites]


From the end of the McLauchlan piece:
And he [Peterson] seems like a fitting adversary for the campus left, who are protesting and no-platforming him with vigour because his unrepentant stand on gender pronouns [emphasis added], rambling pontifications about Adam and Eve and suggestions that communist revolutions might have their downsides are triggering them and making their learning environments unsafe.
In his own words, let's think about that. Is it more likely that I came to grad school looking for an environment where my beliefs wouldn't be challenged, or simply that I'm at risk of violence if the wrong person sees me and decides to yell, what's he doing in here? Do I need to grow a thicker skin than the one I got by spending my twenties in submarines and oil refineries, or does it make sense that hearing No, you're wrong, you're a man and you'll always be a man from yet another authority figure, on a day when my brain is screaming the same thing especially loudly, might temporarily wreck my ability to focus on anything other than staying alive?

But instead of asking those questions, McLauchlan just had to get in one last jab at the sensitive snowflakes of the campus left. With allies like these, who needs Jordan Peterson?
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 8:16 AM on March 17, 2018 [15 favorites]


Peterson's shitck is not drawing people into the alt-right or MAGA nation,

I'm sorry, but this is demonstrably incorrect. He's a gateway drug. The little frisson young men, in particular, receive from having some perceived authority figure tell them their prejudices are justified emboldens them to act out in still more overt ways. (Ironically enough, for Frankfurt School haters, it's a textbook case of Marcusian repressive desublimation.)
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:21 AM on March 17, 2018 [44 favorites]


That "the left has failed in offering moral guidance" theme also annoys me, but it's part of a general problem I've had for a very long time? The Democratic Party of the US has rarely done right by me as a trans woman, and it sure as hell hasn't succeeded in upholding the rights of women, and people of color. But like... even if the assertion about the failure of the left is true, the alternative isn't to go full fash? To be clear I am absolutely not accusing anyone here of that, but I AM accusing Peterson's manchildren fanboys of that.

It's just I'm always being told, "These people may be racist misogynist transphobic terrorists, but they've been through so much economic hardship, or they just don't feel people are taking their grievances seriously, so you have to understand that," like... no, I don't? If the group you chose to identify with the term "the left" isn't perfect, there are a lot of answers, but to me they're all... further to the left, not repeating the same tired Joseph Campbell king-worshiping bullshit over and over till they spin themselves into an authoritarian fervor?

Is it just naive of me, for my brain to refuse to understand this mentality? Is it just this wannabe wealthy white man phony zero-sum mentality, that if a dude doesn't have EVERYTHING, and someone unlike him gets ANYTHING AT ALL, it means he's lost and he has to lash out like a baby?
posted by elsilnora at 8:22 AM on March 17, 2018 [18 favorites]


I'm sorry, but this is demonstrably incorrect. He's a gateway drug. The little frisson young men, in particular, receive from having some perceived authority figure tell them their prejudices are justified emboldens them to act out in still more overt ways.

Demonstrably? OK, demonstrate that. I don't believe this is true.
posted by andrewpcone at 8:25 AM on March 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


Also I'm glad you posted this here, because I had no where else to mention that I read the article earlier this morning, and when they quoted Peterson saying:

...
I know how to stand up to a man who’s unfairly trespassing against me. And the reason I know that is because the parameters for my resistance are quite well defined, which is: we talk, we argue, we push, and then it becomes physical. If we move beyond the boundaries of civil discourse, we know what the next step is. That’s forbidden in discourse with women. And so I don’t think that men can control crazy women.
...

I literally screamed out loud in furious laughter.

Until that point in the article they'd really been focusing on Peterson's general academic shortcomings and I'd almost forgotten that he is actually a violently misogynist thug, transphobe, and racist who imagines that no one should be allowed to criticize him for being needlessly, extravagantly cruel.
posted by elsilnora at 8:25 AM on March 17, 2018 [37 favorites]


Peterson's shitck is not drawing people into the alt-right or MAGA nation, and if anything is drawing them out of such things.

I...???? He's on Fox News on the regs.

I was raised in an academic libertarian household and the last 15 or so years of political history have been bonkers to me. I've had leftist tendencies for most of my life, finally shrugging off the ideology of my parents once and for all in college, but I definitely was told many times growing up that leftism is an ideology that rejects truth, operates only on feelings and emotions and is fundamentally anti-science and irrational. Postmodernism and Marxism were supposedly the root causes of these destructive tendencies. Buuuuuut now we find ourselves in a landscape where the Right happily and proudly rejects the idea of truth, rejects evidence-based science, and proudly embraces gut feeling over rationality. Up is down, black is white, cats and dogs living together, man!

I've noted that an entire generation of conservative intellectuals seems to be way behind the curve on this shift, rendering them largely irrelevant. That's a pretty big vacuum for someone like Peterson to step into. Not much effort or talent was required on his part to be like, "Hey, I'm a regressive douchebag with a PhD! Anyone want some intellectual credibility? My Patreon is right over there."
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:32 AM on March 17, 2018 [41 favorites]


The recent flurry of takedown hate pieces directed at JBP seems unnecessary. I mean, who cares?

It's because he couples relatively mundane self help messages and insights like "stories have meaning" with reactionary views under the guise of "just asking questions."

"Has anyone noticed that things have only gotten worse once women joined the work force? Just asking questions here. You can't criticize me for asking questions. Does anyone else think climate change is a big hoax? I never said climate change was a hoax, I merely asked a question. Why are you so against inquiry? Have you noticed that there's a lot of research linking race and intelligence? I never said some races were smarter than others, I just asked a question and it is you who is the real facist for criticizing me for merely asking questions."
posted by mcmile at 8:33 AM on March 17, 2018 [51 favorites]


Demonstrably? OK, demonstrate that. I don't believe this is true.

Spend some time on reddit, on the chans, in places where altists and Pepeheads gather. Can you name another public intellectual, contemporary or otherwise, whose interviews and videos are cited with such validating glee?

Anecdata, sure, but I've watched more than a few posters on a site I lurk on go, in the space of four months or so, from namechecking Peterson to full-on IDENTITY EVROPA (with maybe a quick pitstop at Varg Did Nothing Wrong).

I can see it happening around me IRL, too. You hear his name floating above pub conversation — not in my local, thank god, but it happens. He's not being mocked or held up for critique, either. He's being cited approvingly, and once the waters have been tested in this way without demur, the speaker often moves on to expressing more overtly white-nationalist sentiments.
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:33 AM on March 17, 2018 [21 favorites]


I get that Peterson is a leftist-hating conservative who ties his psychological ideas to his conservative politics. That doesn't bug me, personally.

It does bug me, very, very, personally, because he personally directs it towards being cruel to people like me.

His connection between modern social justice movement and various Marxist offshoots is wholly unconvincing to me. If some people read it and are convinced, well, good for them.

I mean... not really good, no, because as I think ArtW's link above to the article titled "How Anti-Leftism Has Made Jordan Peterson a Mark for Fascist Propaganda" shows, the people who read that specific argument and are convinced are pretty much neo-Nazis, whether Peterson claims to like it or not.
posted by elsilnora at 8:34 AM on March 17, 2018 [21 favorites]


Peterson recently came to my city to speak at Queen’s. Oh, the glee and admiration of local white guys that he came to school the rest of us morons about freedom of speech! And oh the pearl clutching when a protestor broke a window!
posted by Kitteh at 8:38 AM on March 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


Demonstrably? OK, demonstrate that. I don't believe this is true.

There are a ton of articles already posted in this thread and previous one that show how he speaks almost the exact same language as them, that his books and interviews are spread by them, that he takes the exact same "I'm not tooouuuching yooouuu" tack when he implies they should engage in harassment campaigns. He also pals around with alt-right personalities (including blatant white supremacists) and he champions when they support his causes...the list goes on and on.

The idea that he isn't directly appealing to the alt-right just because he claims that he's not associated with the alt-right interviews shouldn't be taken at face value, and certainly not without bothering to the barest modicum of research to see whether or not it's true.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:46 AM on March 17, 2018 [34 favorites]


andrewpcone, here's a Twitter thread about how the alt-right targets depressed men, from someone who spent a lot of time in their communities. Peterson is referenced as a favorite first step in the grooming process.
posted by skymt at 8:59 AM on March 17, 2018 [34 favorites]


I don’t believe for a moment that this shitlord doesn’t know exactly what he is doing courting the Nazi crowd.
posted by Artw at 9:02 AM on March 17, 2018 [24 favorites]


zombieflanders:
He does not speak "almost the exact same language as them." That is like a child saying "all classical music sounds the same." Right, if you don't know how to listen to it.

I have no problem talking to white supremacists. I'm glad he is, because I believe he is undermining white supremacy.

skym: That thread contains no evidence whatsoever. It contains one guy making lots of assertions with no evidence. I see zero evidence than Peterson has steered anyone to Molnyeux who weren't already. I doubt that is happening. The alt-right, for its part, has largely soured on Peterson.

I don’t believe for a moment that this shitlord doesn’t know exactly what he is doing courting the Nazi crowd.

I don't think he's doing what you think he's doing.
posted by andrewpcone at 9:22 AM on March 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


"Jordan Peterson does indeed have a good claim to being the most influential intellectual in the Western world"

I would bet a significant amount of money that very few people outside english speaking countries have heard of this guy. That said it was a very enjoyable and articulated takedown.
posted by SageLeVoid at 9:27 AM on March 17, 2018


Did you read his screed about how it's just too bad that you can't hit women any more, which is quoted in the article? I feel like you're engaging with Peterson as he wants to be seen exclusively, without ever addressing the blatant, horrifying things in his work.
posted by sagc at 9:29 AM on March 17, 2018 [24 favorites]


Sagc, I don't want to get into a debate about exactly what Peterson's point there was. Suffice it to say I reject your interpretation.

I don't care how Peterson *wants* to be seen. I don't even care that *some* of what he says is vile bullshit. I judge him based on the effects I observe his work has. I believe he is ultimately damaging the far right, more or less for the reasons he says. I have remained firmly on the left while engaging with his ideas, as have many people I know. I just disregard the stuff I don't like.
posted by andrewpcone at 9:34 AM on March 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


He does not speak "almost the exact same language as them."

Oh, come on now. Your shitty analogy aside, he lavishes praise on them, happily takes their money, and pretty much anything he says is indistinguishable from any alt-right forum.

I have no problem talking to white supremacists.

There are millions of people who are for the simple fact that it might get them killed, but, y'know, as long as you're feeling comfortable he must be doing something right.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:35 AM on March 17, 2018 [34 favorites]


That's an very charitable stance to take toward someone who, let's remember, is mostly famous for an incident of transphobic bigotry. I think that's enough reason to revile someone, even if they were a lefty darling.
posted by sagc at 9:36 AM on March 17, 2018 [18 favorites]


Yep, Jordan Peterson has endorsed some shitty people. That's shitty.

There are millions of people who are for the simple fact that it might get them killed, but, y'know, as long as you're feeling comfortable he must be doing something right.

I'm not saying anyone is obligated to talk to white supremacists, and uh, I wouldn't for the reasons you suggest. See my last name?
posted by andrewpcone at 9:39 AM on March 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


Thank you skymt, that Twitter thread almost directly answers my rhetorical questions in my first post about how disillusioned white dudes fall for fascist propaganda.
posted by elsilnora at 9:39 AM on March 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I just disregard the stuff I don't like.

Mkay. So what do you like? Is it the spicy "but men are the real victims here" tweets?
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:50 AM on March 17, 2018 [15 favorites]


you can lose tenure by making the smallest non-PC or triggering remark

You're far, far, far more likely to get in trouble with university administration for saying derogatory or even merely critical things about Israel.
posted by kenko at 9:51 AM on March 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


. I have remained firmly on the left while engaging with his ideas, as have many people I know. I just disregard the stuff I don't like.

Which is easy to do if you're playing life on easy mode. For women, trans people, and others, we don't get to "just disregard stuff" we don't like.

Jordan Peterson doesn't distance himself from alt-righters and misogynists because if you'll take their money, you're not exactly taking a moral high ground.
posted by Kitteh at 9:51 AM on March 17, 2018 [30 favorites]


[Greetings, we are 10000% not having a fight about Israel in here.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:52 AM on March 17, 2018 [29 favorites]


Peterson cautiously defended Trump before the election, praising his intelligence at making "billions of dollars" and comparing his narcissism favorably to Hillary Clinton's narcissism (despite Trump's call-ins to NYC talk shows pretending to be another person praising Trump). His refusal to critically assess Trump when asked was in the face of many other psychologists who spoke up to warn about Trump being dangerously mentally ill and delusional. So a question remains about whether Jordan Peterson is even competent in his field.
posted by Brian B. at 10:23 AM on March 17, 2018 [18 favorites]


A single non-PC or triggering remark can escalate into widespread and sometimes violent protests, causing immense distress to the professor. If you want an example, consider Lindsey Shepherd's recording of the panel review she had after showing a short video clip of Peterson. She started crying. I imagine a lot of academics hit the bottle, or take extended leave due to the stress or take early retirement, or start to behave in an inappropriate way, making their position untenable.
posted by Tarn at 10:34 AM on March 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


Just a reminder that there are academics and professors right here in this very thread. I'm not really sure we have to "imagine" what "they" do under pressure. We could just ask?
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:54 AM on March 17, 2018 [18 favorites]


Which is easy to do if you're playing life on easy mode.

That is so very cheap. Jesus. "I have no actual point! Uh, you are privileged! Score!"

Mkay. So what do you like? Is it the spicy "but men are the real victims here" tweets?

Focus on posture, reading of Nietzsche, the whole "clean your room" shtick, various bits on big5 personality traits. I enjoyed his bit on the bible, of which I listened to several hours. He helped me make some sense of Jung, which I had previously found pretty impenetrable. He got me interested in Sumerian mythology.

I dunno. I like him.
posted by andrewpcone at 10:55 AM on March 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


Ah yes, Peterson is being unfairly maligned here. Sure. Say, did you catch his appearance on Tucker Carlson the other day? Here’s a quote!

““If you have your children in a school, and [teachers] talk about equity in class–equity, diversity, white privilege, systemic racism, any of that–you take your children out of that class,” Peterson said. “They’re not being educated; they’re being indoctrinated. And there’s absolutely no excuse for it.”

“You might run out of schools pretty quickly, though, here in this country,” Carlson quipped.

But Peterson wasn’t in a joking mood.

“That would be just fine,” he said, stony-faced. “The sooner, the better.”
posted by faineg at 10:57 AM on March 17, 2018 [34 favorites]


That is so very cheap. Jesus. "I have no actual point! Uh, you are privileged! Score!"

It's not cheap if your response is the same one his abhorrent fans insist on trotting out on anyone who disagrees with their lord and saviour, Jordan Peterson. He is a shallow thinker at best, masquerading as an intellectual for the young privileged men who dislike women and minorities and trans people. His caginess is well-planned, not a sign of a smart person who is bewildered by all these alt-righters just giving him money to go from place to place.

Any leftist who takes him seriously and thinks he makes good points is not an ally.
posted by Kitteh at 10:59 AM on March 17, 2018 [38 favorites]


That is so very cheap. Jesus. "I have no actual point! Uh, you are privileged! Score!"

Women, trans folk, and anyone else attacked by Peterson’s rhetoric — and “attack” is appropriate, as we’ve all learned that legitimizing bigoted ideas gives tacit permission to people to act on those ideas, in the manner of stochastic terrorism — do not have the luxury of ignoring the things they “don’t like” about Peterson, because those things put them in danger. That you feel you do have that luxury tells us quite a bit about how important the safety of those groups is to you.

That you did not get the point does not mean it wasn’t there. It was. You’re choosing to ignore it either because the implications are uncomfortable for you or because you are not actually discussing this in good faith.

Given your refusal to engage with the many actual quotes in evidence in this thread, I know where I’d put my money.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:21 AM on March 17, 2018 [35 favorites]


the whole "clean your room" shtick

It's not a bad idea at all, I'll give you that. And for God's sake, get your teeth fixed!
posted by thelonius at 11:22 AM on March 17, 2018


Any leftist who takes him seriously and thinks he makes good points is not an ally.

Well, then I'm not an ally of yours, at least in that sense. I'm fine with that.

That you did not get the point does not mean it wasn’t there. It was. You’re choosing to ignore it either because the implications are uncomfortable for you or because you are not actually discussing this in good faith.

No, it is because I think you are wrong. I don't think the quotes mean what you take them to mean, or have the effects you seem to believe they do. My refusal to engage stems from my lack of faith in your good faith here. It has nothing to do with any discomfort or my own good faith.
posted by andrewpcone at 11:30 AM on March 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


Andrewpcone, you are babysitting this thread. It is clear to me (and perhaps others?) that your mind is made up, and that you 'reject the interpretation' of anyone who criticizes Peterson here. Are future comments of yours in this thread going to add anything meaningful to public understanding of Peterson, or just reaffirm your own cemented opinion?

Did you read the article, in which the author claims that precisely this capacity of Peterson's to be interpreted so widely is a flaw unto dismissal?
posted by Fraxas at 11:43 AM on March 17, 2018 [27 favorites]


[Couple of comments deleted. This thread needs to not be all about what andrewpcone thinks, so let's leave that strand of the thread at that; andrewpcone, you've made your point, and folks have responded, and it doesn't seem like going another ten rounds is going to lead to anything but increasing heat, so let's skip it.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:45 AM on March 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


Thanks, OP. Thus far everything I have read has been interesting and/or appalling. It has also confirmed that I was completely unsuited to the academic life and it's a fine thing I avoided it. I should note that I feel grateful to wonderful my professors in college and to those of you here who are honorable as well as honest in plying your trade as academics. It cannot be easy.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:10 PM on March 17, 2018


To be fair, the state of conservative thought in the world today means that this may well be correct.

Much as Gandhi commented when asked what he thought of Western Civilization, I’d say some Conservative Thought would be a good idea.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:46 PM on March 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


"But thinking like that won’t get you millions of hits on Youtube so Peterson looks for answers in the Old Testament."
posted by smidgen at 12:54 PM on March 17, 2018


What's he even talking about? All that stuff about 'poking' children was pretty weird too. Do people actually pay his wife to mind their children and get poked at?
And as for the whole 'being disadvantaged when dealing with women because men can't bring the threat of physicality into a discussion with a woman thing'... really? I've certainly met a few me who didn't seem that bothered by these terrible societal constraints.
posted by KateViolet at 1:12 PM on March 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


Yes, I'm always astounded by men who whine that "men don't hit women." It is one of the most ignorant statements that anyone can make: anyone who asserts it is either profoundly stupid or profoundly disingenuous.
posted by faineg at 1:22 PM on March 17, 2018 [26 favorites]


Is it just naive of me, for my brain to refuse to understand this mentality?

No, it's not, but

there are a lot of answers, but to me they're all... further to the left

conversations about whether the Left is failing to blah blah usually happen in context of trying to figure out why so many turn to the Peterson's answers instead of our answers.

I think a certain percentage of people who go for this shit are dyed-in-the-wool fash and not worth trying to convert but I do also think that others are more ideologically adrift. That group is apparently very susceptible to his mix of obvious advice, easy scapegoating, and pseudo-profound ramblings - but that doesn't mean they could never be amenable to an alternative worldview if presented in the right way.
posted by atoxyl at 1:26 PM on March 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


And as for the whole 'being disadvantaged when dealing with women because men can't bring the threat of physicality into a discussion with a woman thing'... really? I've certainly met a few me who didn't seem that bothered by these terrible societal constraints.

Well this is really interesting, because my own therapist, a psychologist, told me that men vs men and men vs women social encounters are gendered. She said that when she gets into argument with her SO, she does have a social protection and thus an expectation that it won't get physical. She said from a psychological standpoint that in practice, men v. men gendered encounters don't have this same expectation. One of the implications is that as a gay minority I might have to be mindful of that, in how I deal with interpersonal conflicts and male strangers and so on.

I think if two psychologists are suddenly touching upon a similar issue, maybe they're referring to stuff that's accepted in their field and we shouldn't just dismiss what they're saying. That's not to say that there's a lot of nuance involved, and that probably there's a specific context to this (for example Western 1st-world cultures), and that there might be caveats, and that there might be disagreement with specific interpretations (e.g. 'being disadvantaged' is also a feeling/interpretation, as in that white male person could instead learn to change how they feel about this dynamic) and what one might choose to do about it. Also, it is not to ignore that there are many forms of overt physical and structuro/geophysical violence perpetrated by misogyny. But the genderedness of physicality seems to something that my own trained personal psychologist pointed out to me.

The difference with Peterson is that he seems to draw more conservative conclusions than warranted from such psychological theories. So like how andrewpcone was saying; I had already seen some of Peterson's videos and in some of them what he was doing was basically appealing to a conservative sense of male masculinity and empowerment. It's why some sectors of reddit are really into him. As a leftist I think he's wrong and what he's doing is ultimately harmful. But I can see the complexity of asking whether he's a moderating force for white male extremism or if he's adding to it in the long run.
posted by polymodus at 1:46 PM on March 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


I think if two psychologists are suddenly touching upon a similar issue, maybe they're referring to stuff that's accepted in their field and we shouldn't just dismiss what they're saying.

What Peterson is saying is that men can’t control crazy women because they can’t just hit them. Congratulations on your ability to tie that back to the idea that social interactions and violence are gendered, but we already fucking know that and don’t need to be introduced to the concept, and your recent introduction to this concept doesn’t make his claim reasonable
posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:53 PM on March 17, 2018 [21 favorites]


I can see that your quote of Peterson there is an outright example of misogynistic rhetoric. But that quote was not what I was responding to at all (I had copied the specific quote I was referring to above). Everyone knows that physical violence has to do with gender. The observation I'm making is that psychologists make a discussion of genderedness explicit as a part of their process of teaching others. Making it explicit doesn't make it objectively condescending. It's not like the usual, "congratulations, thanks for stating the obvious / what our lived experiences taught us all along".

Look at how I felt when my own therapist said this to me. What went through my head was, a skepticism of, do you really think any of this is relevant to my situation? And how could she literally claim that she enjoyed certain protections? Because that's what she said to me.

What I'm saying is, given that, this struck me as intriguing to me that both psychologists take this kind of opening. Personally I had found the claim similarly problematic. It's something for me to process.
posted by polymodus at 2:08 PM on March 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


A non-PC or triggering remark can escalate into widespread and sometimes violent protests, causing immense distress to the professor. If you want an example, consider Lindsey Shepherd's recording of the panel review she had after showing a short video clip of Peterson. She started crying. I imagine a lot of academics hit the bottle, or take extended leave due to the stress or take early retirement, or start to behave in an inappropriate way, making their position untenable.

Here in the US, there has been a frightening rise in violence from the alt-right, many of which have been on secondary school and college campuses, including a lot of horrific hate crime murders involving students both on and off campus. Teachers are being targeted by them at a frightening rate. And you're here complaining about how a TA was crying over a video clip? If you want participate in good faith, provide us some actual evidence of the problem, not the usual claptrap from far right wingnutosphere blogs that turn out to be wildly incorrect or biased accounts. For instance, contrary to your insistence that it's the left that's the problem, the evidence actually says that the left (including and possibly especially college students) are among the most supportive of freedom of expression, with conservatives actually being among the least supportive.

We also don't need you to constantly repeat the "PC" or "triggering" framing that the alt-right is so fond of using, especially when so many of the instances you've mentioned are actually conservatives being so unable to deal with their ideas being challenged that they run crying to Nazis and other white supremacists to plead their case.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:18 PM on March 17, 2018 [49 favorites]


Ugh. Yesterday some guy wrote in to my local paper saying he had bought Peterson's 12 Rules book and found it astonishingly brilliant. So brilliant, in fact, that he has given a copy to his daughters. I can only hope they tell their dad what's what in no uncertain terms.

From "University of Toronto Prof Jordan Peterson’s Dangerous Views On Why Men Assault Women" by Rachel Giese:

Like his supporters, he’s preoccupied with the diminishing status of (white) men and the loosening up of gender roles. And he has a grandiose, apocalyptic warning about where all this is headed: “You can consider this a prophecy from me,” he said in an interview last year on CBC’s As It Happens. “Inside the collective is a beast and the beast uses its fists. If you wake up the beast then violence emerges. I’m afraid that this continual pushing by radical left wingers is going to wake up the beast.”
...
Or maybe it’s a sign of changing times. The recent and profound shift in our culture...as evermore incidents of abuse and discrimination have been revealed has led to what journalist Megan Garber calls the mobilization and weaponization of women’s rage. As a result, abusers’ careers and reputations are toppling, sexist institutions are facing a reckoning, and “crazy women” are refusing to be controlled or silenced. So, consider this a prophesy from me and my fellow insane females: Peterson has been worried about the wrong beast. Harpies, unite!

posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:32 PM on March 17, 2018 [10 favorites]


The fact that gender is significant to people's interactions and the contemplation of violence seems entirely uncontroversial. So obvious as to fall into the "hardly worth saying" part of Peterson's thought. That one can infer from this that there is some form of "protection" when by far the most common perpetrator of murder against a woman is an intimate or former intimate male partner (with there being no corresponding epidemic of male death through IPV) falls into the arrant fucking bullshit part.
posted by howfar at 2:34 PM on March 17, 2018 [13 favorites]


That one can infer from this that there is some form of "protection" when by far the most common perpetrator of murder against a woman is an intimate or former intimate male partner (with there being no corresponding epidemic of male death through IPV) falls into the arrant fucking bullshit part.

Right on. Like I had said, it was one of the first things I thought of. I was afraid to ask about this (cause I'd felt at the time it would have come out as skeptical/contrarian in a client-therapist setting), because what she said seemed to contradict that, coming from a psychologist speaking about personal experience. I'd have to ask her for clarification.

Yesterday some guy wrote in to my local paper saying he had bought Peterson's 12 Rules book and found it astonishingly brilliant. So brilliant, in fact, that he has given a copy to his daughters.

This actually reminds me, I've also looked at Peterson's coursework because there's a circulated 10 page Word document of his (on reddit, predictably) teaching his students how write a paper. And I'm like, OH MY GOD, this is not how you write a paper; this is how you generate pages of drivel. This is not how you should even go about doing research. I suspect that the way he thinks and speaks, like in this article, is encapsulated in his own writing advice. (To his credit out of those 10 pages I thought of maybe 1 new strategy/idea that I might actually use.) And again, it seems like a certain sector that really just laps it all up. It scares me when I think about it.
posted by polymodus at 2:42 PM on March 17, 2018 [7 favorites]


Actually the essay writing advice seemed reasonable, but I am not a writer. What was wrong with it?
posted by smidgen at 2:48 PM on March 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


Well there's nothing objectively wrong with it. I'd rather recommend a text like Craft of Research and techniques for practicing critical thinking skills, and assume students are capable of using these resources. The way Peterson presents it, writing at a rote level process of getting structure and iteration, and what's problematic is if the writer never goes beyond that, then it becomes a crutch and they don't really develop. He did say that the method was more like a crash course, that if you did that you'd get a B paper in his class, or something, and he did point out if you do a little more advanced thing then that satisfies an A paper. Which is all well-intentioned but I found it problematic. Again something like Craft of Research where they explicitly teach you about what a rhetorical warrant is, etc., that can be really instructive. It's what I was given as an undergrad.
posted by polymodus at 2:53 PM on March 17, 2018


Worth noting that Peterson posted a smug tweet about the joke ad at the bottom of the Robinson piece that recommends the parody book Robinson co-authored and mentioned in the article. He seems to have no idea he's being mocked.
posted by edeezy at 3:01 PM on March 17, 2018 [7 favorites]


Edeezy shame he didn't rtfa!!
posted by KateViolet at 3:14 PM on March 17, 2018


I’m afraid that this continual pushing by radical left wingers is going to wake up the beast.

um, doesn't that imply that radical left wingers don't have any beast in them? is he hinting that they are less manly, or something? or that women aren't beastie enough to deal with men in the political arena?

isn't this another way of saying, "shut up, or get your ass kicked"?
posted by pyramid termite at 4:13 PM on March 17, 2018 [17 favorites]


"Why do you make me hit you? I wouldn't beat you if you didn't make me!"
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:04 PM on March 17, 2018 [16 favorites]


isn't this another way of saying, "shut up, or get your ass kicked"?

Not quite that, but I've heard him discuss this male/male vs. male/female confrontations piece when I looked up what he was about, so I've heard it before and since.

In a conversation- with Camille Paglia of all people - he says something to the effect that in male/male contentions, there is always an implicit or explicit possibility that if one party becomes so insulting, or transgressive, or just plain insane, that the next stage of the confrontation becomes, "OK buddy, let's take this outside to the parking lot and settle it there." That's how a male deals with a crazy male, says Petersen.

He contends that this threat of violence-when-diplomacy-fails _tends_ to keep both parties civil with each other in a male/male contention, keeping both from trespassing into insanity. But since it's not an option in a male/female interaction, males don't know what to do next, once discourse has failed in the same way.
(Not supporting this view, just citing his repeated use of the idea in this instance.) It's here at 37:30 to about 38:50.

His "afraid of waking up the beast" is, I suppose, meant to mean that there's some potential point where one side will have had enough of the other's bullshit, and will move on to duking it out in the street. Which we've seen a little of in some protests turning into AntiFa vs ProudBoy clan LARPing skirmishes; but needs to not become a culture-wide "if you see someone wearing the wrong t-shirt, just go ahead and knock their teeth out, because discourse is over and now we're at the open violence stage".
posted by bartleby at 5:11 PM on March 17, 2018


I think it's regrettable how Jordan Peterson's rise to fame came about due to what seems a deliberate lie on his part about Canada's Bill C-16.

Bill C-16 – No, its Not about Criminalizing Pronoun Misuse - by Brenda Cossman
posted by little eiffel at 5:26 PM on March 17, 2018 [9 favorites]


smug tweet

A man as brilliant as JBP is supposed to be shouldn't be scoring so many own goals, should he?

At the university where I work, dialogue manages to fail pretty frequently without anyone resorting to violence. Of course, it may happen that someone goes "crazy" and one of us is called upon to defend ourselves, but self defense isn't gendered in the way that offense is supposed to be: if I get attacked, I defend myself with force in proportion to the threat, regardless of who or what is threatening me. But I and my colleagues would never attack anyone; that's just simply not in the social toolkit.

And the whole point seems kind of moot and ridiculous, especially coming from a guy who wears his serious-grown-up mask so tight he can't even smile. Violence is pretty clearly not in his social toolkit either, but hasn't that always been the case with eggheads who act out their tough-guy fantasies through angry young men?
posted by klanawa at 5:27 PM on March 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


Um, I’m pretty sure most women DO operate under the assumption that men can and will physically harm them in a confrontation. Which is one reason why many women are reluctant to confront men. It’s why most women don’t get aggressive in return with street harassers and predatory bosses. Your therapist is...unusual...if she does not assume physical violence is on the table when she confronts men.

WRT Peterson’s “waking the beast” spew: he apparently assumes that us women, POC, and LGTBQ people aren’t already living with a beast that wants to knock our teeth out. We are. We know. We’re choosing to fight back anyway, and it’s not out of some sense of deluded naivety.

Also: I work in academia and I have yet to encounter Critical Theory Fight Club at my workplace. How strange.
posted by faineg at 5:28 PM on March 17, 2018 [43 favorites]


You're right, of course. Now I feel like the privileged douchebag. Thanks for setting me straight, faineg.
posted by klanawa at 5:32 PM on March 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


he says something to the effect that in male/male contentions, there is always an implicit or explicit possibility that if one party becomes so insulting, or transgressive, or just plain insane, that the next stage of the confrontation becomes, "OK buddy, let's take this outside to the parking lot and settle it there." That's how a male deals with a crazy male, says Petersen.

At best, at most, this is how two men of roughly equal status sometimes can mark boundaries in conversation. A failure to recognize this represents a breathtaking stupidity about social dynamics.

So does an inability to recognize that men police different boundaries with women in the same way. Yes, in an academic or legal dispute, no matter how heated, no man is likely to ask me to take things outside. In a bar, when a guy is disagreeing with my position that he really shouldn't be all up in some other unwilling woman's personal space? I don't even necessarily get the courtesy of the formal invitation to duel. In a family setting, where the ranking male present doesn't believe women are entitled to express opinions contrary to his at all? I'm not in that situation anymore, but I sure remember how that could play out.
posted by praemunire at 5:49 PM on March 17, 2018 [18 favorites]


I lost a close online friend to this Jordan Peterson thing. I'm a chronic underachiever and have always been indifferent to most metrics of social success. My friend would always push my buttons over this because he was a striver, he believed money and women and status were objective signs of success.

Once he found JP though things started getting much worse. He would go on rants about how I believed everything was subjective or relative and that I was a Marxist. He would tell me I was these things despite me never having mentioned holding those views in our conversations. He became obsessed with trying to help me and a mutual friend "fix our issues" despite the fact that I kept telling him "I'm perfectly happy, you need to stop projecting" about 100 times.

I was used to dealing with people on the internet who are a little off so I stuck with the friendship despite his anger getting worse and worse. Every now and then he would let a glimpse of his true life through in our conversations: he was failing at his STEM university path, he would go on and on about how he hated where he lived how everyone there was stupid and didn't understand how to live correctly, his parents more or less kicked him out - he was so convinced he understood the right life path that he was angry with the world for not enabling that path for him. He refused to engage with the idea that maybe the path he chose was wrong, that was loser talk.

Eventually one day he completely lost his shit and flamed out. He started just throwing the most nasty personal insults at me and all of our mutual online friends. I kept trying to give him an out through humor or playing it off but he wasn't having it. This time he wanted to make it clear once and for all that he might be struggling now but he was a winner and that we were losers by default because we didn't care.

I wanted to make this comment yesterday in the "I deserve sex" thread but I didn't bother because it was just too exhausting to think about again. But this thread today made me realize there is some kind of clear dangerous pattern of thinking going on here. I hang around reddit/thechans/twitch and all sorts of places where the right demographic congregates. The worship of "the one true path" and JP as their leader is growing and it's a bad thing. It's like some twisted version of Ayn Rand + evolutionary biology as a way to find objective purpose in life.

Anyway I'm not informed enough on the academic side of things to explain what's going on philosophically and psychologically but I just want to get it out there that this thing is real and it's growing despite people like me fighting against it. I tried really hard with my friend to help him stop being so up his own ass but it didn't do any good. If I could lose a friend despite giving our relationship 1 to 1 attention I don't want to know how many people are out there with zero social network who are being completely absorbed by the JP community.
posted by laptolain at 9:35 PM on March 17, 2018 [42 favorites]


I feel you, laptolain. I also recently lost a friend to JP conversion (and all the bs that comes along with it), despite my best efforts. I feel like he was indoctrinated by a cult.
posted by Stonkle at 2:11 AM on March 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


Seconding the Ayn Rand analogy!
posted by Morpeth at 6:03 AM on March 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


Thank you for sharing that, laptolain and Stonkle. That's a really shitty thing to happen, losing friends to this. I'm really sorry.

Thirding the Ayn Rand analogy, I only hope Peterson gets run out of the discourse on a rail before getting as long-term influential. He is a monstrous man, and his reach is deeply disturbing, and I am very grateful that there has been a recent spate of thoughtful criticism of not just his dangerous political ideas but also of his banal, meaningless ones. This is a man who needs to be laughed out of the public forum totally and permanently.
posted by elsilnora at 7:07 AM on March 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


I work in academia and I have yet to encounter Critical Theory Fight Club at my workplace.

The first rule of Critical Theory Fight Club is not to join Critical Theory Fight Club.

unless you've gone crazy
posted by flabdablet at 7:50 AM on March 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


In a conversation- with Camille Paglia of all people - he says something to the effect that in male/male contentions, there is always an implicit or explicit possibility that if one party becomes so insulting, or transgressive, or just plain insane, that the next stage of the confrontation becomes, "OK buddy, let's take this outside to the parking lot and settle it there." That's how a male deals with a crazy male, says Petersen.

this is extra good because it is so plausible and easy to imagine our JP rolling up his sleeves and resorting to fisticuffs -- after issuing the proper gentleman's challenge, of course, like a man of honor. the great thing about men is they never just attack you, they always first settle on Swords, pistols, or fists? after a predictable and orderly escalation of easily identifiable verbal markers, and never just go for you until you are both out-of-doors and your seconds are present. you can really tell he's been in a lot of fights and definitely knows exactly how they work

me, when I was attacked by a 'crazy woman,' I dealt with it by first ducking out of the way so she didn't hit me and then calling the cops. it worked great! men are too strong & wise to follow my womanly example, I know. but everyone else can, if they want to know what to do about that.
posted by queenofbithynia at 12:57 PM on March 18, 2018 [15 favorites]




Sooo...

The latest from Peterson, wading into Ontario politics (a provincial election is scheduled for June.

Here's the article/video from the Toronto Sun (which is essentially the Ontario version of the Daily Mail)

“I think Kathleen Wynne is an utter disaster,” Peterson said. “I think she’s the most dangerous woman in Canada.”

[...]

“We’re replacing that with ‘believe the accused’ and ‘preponderance of evidence’ and it’s part of the assault on English common law, which is regarded by the postmodern, neomarxists as just another narrative, and part of the patriarchal tyranny,” he said.


Ah yes. Those postmodern...Marxists?

Anyway, the takeaway from this is that he mainly hates Kathleen Wynne because she's a woman and a lesbian.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:03 AM on March 19, 2018 [7 favorites]


Jordan Peterson is an asshole, and I'm astounded that anyone takes him seriously.
posted by heatherlogan at 4:29 PM on March 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


I think that sometimes wilful obscurity of language from people who actually have important and useful things to say is a contributor. Like, I believe very strongly that Derrida was/is a very important theorist who highlighted exceptionally pertinent difficulties with our understanding of the world. And I even think that there are genuine benefits to the style he uses to argue those points. But someone picking up Of Grammatology (for example) without a university course supporting them, or an already advanced understanding of the tradition he is working in, is going to find it impenetrable in ways that could have been avoided if he was as interested in explaining his points as he was in arguing them. That sort of thing creates space for charlatans like Peterson to exploit. But there are plenty of charlatans publishing in academia who aren't actively noxious and dangerous, as Peterson so clearly is, so recognising that context doesn't let him off any kind of hook.
posted by howfar at 5:15 PM on March 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


David Brooks thinks Peterson might be “the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now.”

Well. Is there a word for an anti-endorsement? The sort of thing where, when you see who praises it you can rest assured it's vapid bullshit?
posted by Kitty Stardust at 5:18 PM on March 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


So, in terms of what's being thrown into play in the Ontario election, he's doing shit like this:

Dr. Jordan Peterson on Bill 89: the latest attack on Ontario's families

Here is the actual text of Bill 89.

And let's review some facts here: Jordan Peterson has a tenured position for which he is paid over CAD$175,000 a year, funded by the public. By the state, as it were. He also has the risk-free proposition of pulling down tens of thousands of dollars per month via his crowdfunding efforts, on top of book sales and sold-out international appearances.

He's making fistfuls of money by shitting on women, queers, and trans people. And inciting violence against us via his follower base, but with plausible denial.

He's in no danger of being fired, of course.

He's just a more profitable version of Phillipe Rushton. Rushton, like Peterson, had hard links with organized hate groups, which included Stormfront. But the Department of Psychology at the University of Western Ontario still eulogizes him fondly.

So. We'll never rest again...until....
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:38 PM on March 19, 2018 [9 favorites]


No surprise he associates with Paglia. She's another person who rode some misapplied Nietzschean aesthetic theory to socially traditionalist conclusions, and the adoration of the sorts of readers who actually care what Brooks and Douthat have to say. Here's yet another benefit of education in the humanities: you can spot the "order/Apollonian/masculine" versus "chaos/Dionysian/feminine" argument a mile a way, and conclude correctly in the vast majority of cases that this binary is going to be used to uphold some reactionary shit.

Like, really, we can't "make meaning" without these 19th century reductive and oppositional binaries? No one since the Modernists has worked out an answer to how humans should live that isn't "put everything back the way it was when (I
imagine) I would have been king?" I mean I guess I shouldn't be surprised since this particular form of ultraconservative thought has always cloaked itself in pseudo-Romantic trappings, convincing itself the highest form of rebellion against society is to make sure the hierarchies, prejudices, and "just-so" stories that have always kept the Other in his/her place go unchallenged. That's why they love mythologies and semi-mystical justifications for a regressive social order. In many cases, those mythologies they call upon have already undergone multiple revisions reflecting the values of a patriarchal order, and are thus safe for whomever wants to reassure themselves their rightful place is at the apex of importance. Conversely, this explains why he hates Feminism, Marxism, and Postmodernism: because these lenses allow for a critique of the actual social hierarchies he wants to uphold, and draws attention to myth as a constructed text, not some sacred, unassailable "map of meaning."

The use of mythology to codify human relations and reinforce kyriarchy is the most upsetting thing to me, as a person who enjoys this type of storytelling, and finds within it a multiplicity of potential beyond what Peterson bothers to see. If anything, Peterson's popularity would suggest that there's actually a hunger for the oft-derided work of the humanities scholar who can analyze and contextualize stories. It's just too bad that Peterson isn't actually up to this task. He's only interested in cherry-picking justification for his vision of a traditional social hierarchy.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 6:44 PM on March 19, 2018 [15 favorites]


Also, I gotta say, I'm not entirely shocked to see such obscure writing gain prominence. I've long had to push back on freshman students who tell me they believe that writing which allows the reader to project meaning upon it--rather than clearly explaining the author's ideas--is superior. They mistakenly believe that vagueness is a sign of universality, because the text supports many different interpretations, which must mean that its themes and content are broadly applicable. As a result, students fill their work with undefined and unclear abstractions and shy away from taking strong, clearly stated positions. Part of this tendency is likely a misunderstanding of jargon-filled academic writing and an attempt to replicate it. But another part may just be the sort of grifter game Peterson plays of stacking abstractions until the reader, in exasperation, imposes some point on the sentences.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:06 PM on March 19, 2018 [10 favorites]


Final point (I swear I'm done after this): Who wants in on my Chaos Dragon Girl Gang?
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:20 PM on March 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


I've long had to push back on freshman students who tell me they believe that writing which allows the reader to project meaning upon it--rather than clearly explaining the author's ideas--is superior. They mistakenly believe that vagueness is a sign of universality, because the text supports many different interpretations, which must mean that its themes and content are broadly applicable.

See also: any tabloid newspaper's astrology column.

No surprise to me that the same folks who get their news from Fucks News and the Daily Fail get their philosophy from obscurantist poseurs like Peterson.
posted by flabdablet at 7:31 PM on March 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


As a result, students fill their work with undefined and unclear abstractions and shy away from taking strong, clearly stated positions. Part of this tendency is likely a misunderstanding of jargon-filled academic writing and an attempt to replicate it.

Yeah, that's why I always want to tell, like, everybody about Writing for Social Scientists, because it represents the polar opposite of that kind of writing. It also makes a compelling argument that any idea, no matter how complex it is, can be expressed in relatively simple language. The concept itself might be challenging, but the prose doesn't need to be. Of course, that can be very, very hard to do well.

And really, what I said before about even people with good ideas being bad writers -- Donna Haraway is the example that comes to mind, because being exposed to her ideas honestly changed the way I see the world, but I am beyond frustrated by her writing style. I have enormous respect for her, but I find her writing unbearably awful to slog through. People always say that the vagueness is intentional, the obscure irony proves a point, and so on, but the fact is that she writes in a way that makes it very difficult to understand her meaning. It can be hard to express that frustration without opening yourself up for accusations of anti-intellectualism, or without people assuming you just haven't given someone the energy they require, but I'm not convinced that her ideas require such impenetrable prose.

I can contrast her with someone like Sherry Ortner, whose writing is accessible without doing a disservice to nuance of the ideas she is expressing. I don't want to say that Ortner is better that Haraway, and I know people who think it's really fun to read Haraway because of how challenging it is. I'm not saying Haraway is a fraud like Peterson, and I'll say again that I think she's brilliant, but they both have similarly frustrating writing styles in my book.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 7:42 PM on March 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


Jordan Peterson and Fascist Mysticism

Hard- headed free speech warrior Peterson is responding to this piece with a pretty good impression of a triggered snowflake.

And you call me a fascist? You sanctimonious prick. If you were in my room at the moment, I'd slap you happily.

posted by the duck by the oboe at 11:36 PM on March 19, 2018 [9 favorites]


If you were in my room at the moment, I'd slap you happily.

Because as you know, Bob, the best antidote to bad speech is better speech.
posted by flabdablet at 2:30 AM on March 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


He's trying to do the William F. Buckley "sock you in the goddamn mouth" routine, which is undermined somewhat by his having apparently misunderstood the article he's responding to.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:58 AM on March 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'd slap you happily

Dude never met a modifier he couldn't misplace.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 3:29 AM on March 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Buckley made a better fist of it for sure.
posted by flabdablet at 3:30 AM on March 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Wasn’t Buckley sitting across from Chomsky when he said what he said? Kind of loses the tough guy appeal when it’s just the internet hardman routine. You get the feeling Peterson fancies himself quite the tough guy enscounsed within the safety of the “ivory tower” he claims to despise.
posted by eagles123 at 6:13 AM on March 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


You arrogant, racist son of a bitch Pankaj Mishra: How dare you accuse me of "harmlessly romancing the noble savage." That's how you refer to my friend Charles Joseph (http://charlesjoseph.ca/ ), who I've worked with for 15 years?

He's awkwardly combining two points of indignation to dodge the insult: "Some of my best friends are noble savages, see right here, and how dare you call them that." It's telling that under pressure he comes off as immature and petty, pretending he isn't being mocked. Unless he doesn't know.
posted by Brian B. at 6:14 AM on March 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


this just in: threatening critics with violence is a great way to show people you are no fascist
posted by thelonius at 6:15 AM on March 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


He's also now given all the people he has targeted and will target good reason to say that his campaigns are less "fighting for free speech" and more "harassment with intent to physically harm." That should hopefully be very useful for marginalized students and professors at the U of Toronto, and might even get his funding from Patreon shut down.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:23 AM on March 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'm a trans staff member at and three-time graduate of the university that employs him and gave him tenure, and in the nearly 25 years I have been on campus, I have never felt as unsafe as I have since the summer of 2016, when he first popped up re: Bill C-16, amplifying his willful misreadings of human rights legislation. His rhetoric has poisoned everyday life all the way up to the top of the university, to the point where a once-trusted colleague sarcastically said to me, of a staff member he didn't like, "I bet she uses they pronouns too." Every time I use the gender-neutral bathroom closest to my office, I'm scared there's a camera in it, again. The MRA #MenToo posters come up faster than I can rip them down. His acolytes were in my graduate classes, learning (but not grasping) critical theory in order to "fight back against the postmodern neo-Marxists." I feel like being visible is the very best I can do for trans students on campus right now without putting myself in more jeopardy. The QTBIPOC community here is upset and generally terrified, and the many, many complaints from myself and other marginalized students, faculty, and staff members feel ignored.

zombieflanders, if only the university and Patreon gave a shit about connecting his disclaim-everything-I-can't-be-responsible-for-what-they-say words to the actions of his followers, which include death threats to those who speak out against him. The administration won't draw the line on academic freedom vs. hate speech. I know this debate is happening on many campuses right now, but it feels like it's so simple to identify the catalyst for its sudden explosion right here. I fear that if they revoke his tenure, people may get killed, but if they retain him, people may also get killed.

This episode of TVO's The Agenda on JBP and freedom of expression on campus is simultaneously enraging and deeply meaningful.
posted by avocet at 6:37 AM on March 20, 2018 [21 favorites]


Here's a link from a previous thread, in which someone pretending to be a public librarian here tweeted that he was destroying his books before they got into circulation. /r/jordanpeterson "did their detective work" on the account that posted it, determined his first name, and doxxed a librarian friend of mine who happens to share the same first name and lives in the same city. "The evidence is clear," they said.
posted by avocet at 6:51 AM on March 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Jesus Christ these people are dumb.
posted by Artw at 7:05 AM on March 20, 2018


You arrogant, racist son of a bitch Pankaj Mishra: How dare you accuse me of "harmlessly romancing the noble savage." That's how you refer to my friend Charles Joseph (http://charlesjoseph.ca/ ), who I've worked with for 15 years?
He's awkwardly combining two points of indignation to dodge the insult

Yeah, this is a really disgusting move. It's profoundly disingenuous or unfathomably stupid. Well, to be honest, it's both. The man's a disgrace.
posted by howfar at 7:20 AM on March 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


The administration won't draw the line on academic freedom vs. hate speech.

Yup. See: Principal Daniel Woolf's statement in the Globe and Fail about him coming to Queen's. I was discussing this with a female friend about it's interesting that academic freedom defense seems to apply only to white men with no skin to lose in the game of their JAQing off.
posted by Kitteh at 7:43 AM on March 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry, Avocet. That sounds terrifying.

I think it says a lot about Peterson's true motivations that he believes the threat of physical violence is an appropriate response to challenging his ideas. I'd expect a full turn to open fash pretty soon if he doesn't get much push back. His "no, you didn't understaaaaaand," responses and the purposely vague wording that allows him to claim he's saying the opposite of what he's saying are probably just hedges as he tests out how far he can go while still enjoying "public intellectual" status.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:41 AM on March 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


I've really appreciated a lot of the comments here and they've helped make sense of some of own feelings towards Peterson.

A young man who works for me has entered into that Peterson world and man have I never tired of talking about someone as quickly as that man and his beliefs.
From those discussions I did derive some interesting things. Zizek weighing in on him in a typically Zizek way and the New Yorker profile on him. And Jeet Heer's connecting of Peterson's work with Dave Sim's misgogyny was appropriately ridiculous.

Of all his many sins, I think it is Peterson obsfucating the provincial election, as Mandolin Conspiracy points out above, which drives me the most nuts. Not to derail too much, but there is a very real probability that Rob Ford's less likable dumber older brother Doug may become premier of Ontario and having anyone fan those flames is an enemy in my book.

I haven't seen this come up previously but apparently, Peterson is a member of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations tribe.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:41 AM on March 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


That’s a rather dishonest comparison: he didn’t make “a single non-PC remark” but rather published her name in the process of publicly slandering her and directing the right-wing hate mob at her!

If only Peterson, Rick Mehta at Acadia, et al could face the same for all the students whose identities they disclosed! Mehta recorded his lecture and posted the audio of a student disclosing her rape to the class to make the point that his words hurt, for all of his followers to hear...
posted by avocet at 8:41 AM on March 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


Is anyone other than "The Chad" Zizek actually a post-structuralist Marxist?
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:42 AM on March 20, 2018


Oh, Slavoj is at it again:
"And this is why Peterson’s outbursts have such an effect. His crazy conspiracy theory about LGBT+ rights and #MeToo as the final offshoots of the Marxist project to destroy the West is, of course, ridiculous. It is totally blind for the inner antagonisms and inconsistencies of the liberal project itself: the tension between liberals who are ready to condone racist and sexist jokes on account of the freedom of speech and the PC regulators who want to censor them as an obstacle to the freedom and dignity of the victims of such jokes has nothing to do with the authentic left."

It's like following a path of rose petals to a bucket of dog puke. Damn those PC regulators that hold actual power to censure incitements to violence and the dehumanization of everyone who isn't a straight, cis, white man! If only they didn't have such immense, immense, totally real political power, then we could have real freedom of speech and every reactionary Uncle would finally be respected when they announce their amateur race science theories.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:56 AM on March 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


Of course, Kwak'wala pronouns are gender-neutral...
posted by avocet at 9:02 AM on March 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


He's awkwardly combining two points of indignation to dodge the insult: "Some of my best friends are noble savages, see right here, and how dare you call them that." It's telling that under pressure he comes off as immature and petty, pretending he isn't being mocked. Unless he doesn't know.

After the possibility was brought up on Twitter, I am now strongly in the camp that Peterson completely misunderstood what "romancing the noble savage" means and thinks he's being accused of having a secret affair with one of his friends who he's assumed the title of "noble savage" might apply to. That would explain his bizarre outburst better than just being criticized would, since Pankaj Mishra's article was hardly the first, harshest, or most prominent criticism of Peterson recently. I think even his detractors may have overestimated how smart and capable of reading texts he is.
posted by Copronymus at 10:16 AM on March 20, 2018 [10 favorites]


Is anyone other than "The Chad" Zizek actually a post-structuralist Marxist?

Althusser maybe sort of hovers around the border between structuralism and post-structuralism avant la lettre, I think. Althusserian overdetermination has always seemed, to me, to include some early gestures towards something like différance. But I'm not sure I know of anybody who could honestly say they're genuinely both Marxist and post-structuralist, especially Zizek, who is quite obviously neither.
posted by howfar at 10:27 AM on March 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I haven't seen this come up previously but apparently, Peterson is a member of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations tribe.

He certainly claims to be, but it is not an undisputed fact.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 10:55 AM on March 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


mandolin conspiracy: The latest from Peterson, wading into Ontario politics (a provincial election is scheduled for June.

Here's the article/video from the Toronto Sun (which is essentially the Ontario version of the Daily Mail)

“I think Kathleen Wynne is an utter disaster,” Peterson said. “I think she’s the most dangerous woman in Canada.”


Oh no. This is how you get Premier Doug Ford, isn't it?
posted by mhum at 11:26 AM on March 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


But I'm not sure I know of anybody who could honestly say they're genuinely both Marxist and post-structuralist, especially Zizek, who is quite obviously neither.

Right. Maybe I got my philosophies confused, or maybe what Zizek does mashing togther Freud, Marx, Hegel, Lacan, Baudrillard, and sho on, and sho on (*sniff*) is kind of hard to categorize. Am I incorrect in that he identifies as explicitly as a Marxist? Or is there a better name for the continental philosophies--perhaps based in Freudian theory of the unconscious via Lacan--that he applies?

One thing I'm seeing a lot recently is a weird confusion about the purpose of what people have been calling "postmodernism," which, as the Shuja Haider article discusses, encompasses several other critical theories with their own separate frameworks.

First, how did so many people come to believe that "postmodernism" means advocating for a belief that all truths are relative, and there are "no such things as facts"? I've seen friends of mine who are actual professors repeat that one, which is a claim I've never encountered in the wild.

Second, why do so many people come to the conclusion, as Peterson does, that postmodernism prescribes a system for operating society, rather than being a description of how things are functioning? Who really thinks "postmodernism" is an instruction manual? Like, do they think some philosophers sat down one day and thought: "People really need to be skeptical of metanarratives, and it would be dope if society was subjected to a barrage of competing claims on truth that were based on subjective criteria"?

If anything, I'd say the Rightward critique of postmodernism is a critique primarily of the social conditions they have created. In supporting Capitalism, free markets, and the individual as a rational actor, they created social fragmentation and alienation (Thatcher's "there is no such thing as society"). In prioritizing their comfort and prejudice-informed judgments (i.e. G.W. Bush "going with his gut") over empirical information, they created the post-fact situation where every bullshit claim can find some bogus Koch-funded think tank to lend it legitimacy, eroding the common basis of reality. In continually claiming moral authority over others while excusing themselves from judgement, they set the conditions where what's moral is inconsistent, and irrelevant besides. By deriding public goods that don't serve their immediate purposes, they created a society where market logic permeates all, effectively destroying the sorts of causes that once brought people together in solidarity and gave purpose to their work. So, they really should be pissed off at themselves.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 12:25 PM on March 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


Anyway, the takeaway from this is that he mainly hates Kathleen Wynne because she's a woman and a lesbian.

No, no, it’s these neomarxists, always with the ... um ... privatizing Hydro One. Yeah, that’s the ticket!
posted by Sys Rq at 12:58 PM on March 20, 2018


Am I incorrect in that he identifies as explicitly as a Marxist?

Oh, no, you're not wrong. Sorry! I was trying for a sick burn on Zizek. Zizek definitely claims a Marxist (he pretty much claims to be the Marxist as far as I can tell), it's just that I think he's deeply intellectually dishonest and a complete charlatan. I've never experienced Zizek as someone who wants to do the hard work of post-structuralism that you identify, realising that an honest assessment of how "truth" works doesn't add up to a coherent picture, doesn't offer us an way out of the contradictions. It's why Derrida dealt explicitly in aporia, not paradox. Zizek seems to be one of the many, like Peterson, who thinks that transcendental truth emerges from paradox: if you're clever enough you can find the loophole and slip through it. You're bang on, I think, that the whole point of post-structuralism is to say "we all of us believe in truth, we, as thinking beings, are fundamentally committed to making claims that can only hold up in the context of absolute faith in a real, mind-independent world, but when you honestly assess those claims, on their own terms, they always turn out to be futile, always turn out to be self-defeating. Well shit." Post-structuralism isn't the rejection of truth, it's a refusal to fall into the trap of pretending that our desire for truth means that truth must exist. It's not antirealism, it's radical hard-headed realism. The person I know who has most forcefully made the argument that post-structuralism and realism are not only not incompatible, but necessary consequences of each other (not that I agree with every detail of his position) is my old professor from Cardiff, Chris Norris.

The thing is that acknowledging that truth cannot survive being held up its own standards doesn't, it turns out, paralyse us. It doesn't stop us believing things. It doesn't make us amoral in any practical or experiential sense. It just makes us more realistic about the extent of the usefulness and significance of our beliefs.

The philosophical statement currently most widely misinterpreted, in the history of the whole thing, seems, to me, to be the last proposition of Wittgenstein's Tractatus: "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent". People seem to imagine that Wittgenstein is making some vague mystical statement, or making a positivist claim that people need to be silent about the inexpressible because the system of language encapsulates all truths. It's much simpler and more practical than that; he's saying that there are just loads of things in the world that are really real that we can't make truth claims about, or express, or even know. And no matter how badly we want to be able to do that, we just can't, so we need to get a grip and accept this. Many people think that the Wittgenstein of the Investigations is departing from his earlier position; I think he's just working out the consequences of that position.

And you're right, those who deride the left and the postmodernists as "relativists" are always, fucking always pernicious relativists. Always arguing that truth can be derived from their favoured system, that their way is the true way. It never occurs to them that this means putting desire first and truth second. We all bloody wish that there was some way to find truth. We all wish that we could find just one truth to hold on to; to hear the word of God. But if wishes were horses... and it turns out that, if we did find the word of God, it would just be another word. Another desperate striving for truth that can't get around the is-ought problem. There are no loopholes.

It seems to me that there's nothing wrong with just choosing to be kind and fair, and to protect those who are systemically disenfranchised into a positions of weakness, just choosing to wonder what the hell we think we're all doing when we fight wars and force people into poverty in the name of morality. It doesn't have to be choosing absolute righteousness or following truth. It can just be choosing. Doing that in the knowledge that it's just a choice doesn't remove any value from it, it just acknowledges the real limits that exist on value in the first place. It seems to me that there's something suspect about people who want to disguise their choices as inevitabilities. Just on a practical level, I'm more inclined to trust someone who is working hard to be honest with themselves to be honest with me.
posted by howfar at 3:33 PM on March 20, 2018 [10 favorites]


Also writing all that out reminded me of Chris Norris and the fact that he did a million press-ups. Not all at once. He just used to do 100 press-ups in his office whenever he took a break from work, and counted them until he'd done a million. I don't have any reason to mention that, although we did start referring to him as "Chuck Norris" soon after we found out about it, and it's one of my favourite anecdotes from university.
posted by howfar at 3:37 PM on March 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh god I knew this name rang a bell. His 12 Rules book was sitting on the counter at my Mum's place a few weekends ago (my sister is at home full time, caring for Mum, who is 85 and has dementia - my point being, the book was my sister's, not my Mum's, though it does seem like it might be a nice read for somebody with dementia).

I am basically the Fox Mulder of books (as in, his habit of immediately and consistently thrusting his bare fingers into mystery extraterrestrial and supernatural goop) and didn't know anything about Peterson or the book so picked it up and skimmed through the contents.

All perfectly pat and harmless and dad-like and old-fashioned - stand up straight, think before you speak, be attentive, try not to hit your kids too much - until I got to 6: "Set your house in order before you criticise the world."

Absolutely the most basic and dull-witted thing that anybody could ever say to anybody else. This is literally blastocyst-level cognition, the sort of thing you would expect from a Russett potato that suddenly learned to speak. In the thrift store of useless ideas it is an empty cassette tape case with a crack across the face and "Fart noises" written on the label, and those words are written in dried human shit.

"Pot-kettle-black" is in the same bucket of mildly-dangerous brain-garbage as "I have the right to my opinion" (on matters of fact, not taste and preference). Well, no you don't, and no I won't. Just because I'm sometimes tardy with the dishes doesn't mean I'm going to not tell you to stop kicking dogs or pissing on the floor of the bus.

So, this evisceration is delicious. Deviscericious.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:38 PM on March 20, 2018 [18 favorites]


Absolutely the most basic and dull-witted thing that anybody could ever say to anybody else.

I'm actually even less charitable about this. Seems to me that it's his way of trying to head off criticism of his garbage ideas. 'Look at these people saying bad things about me when they haven't even fixed their own shit,' which neatly allows him to segue into a derail about how wrong everybody else is.

It's Abusive Asshole 101 stuff, which tracks with almost every direct quote I've read from Peterson.
posted by mordax at 10:42 PM on March 20, 2018 [11 favorites]


Ya, good call.
posted by turbid dahlia at 11:46 PM on March 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Many people think that the Wittgenstein of the Investigations is departing from his earlier position; I think he's just working out the consequences of that position.

Well, no, he is abandoning large amounts of the Tractatus, I think, such as the "picture theory", or the purely linguistic nature of logical relations.
posted by thelonius at 2:06 AM on March 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


That's not an unfair point. I suppose I should have been clear that I was really referring to the central place of proposition 7 in the Tractatus, when it is often seen as a sort of strange coda, and my view that it's a fundamental through line between the earlier work and the later.
posted by howfar at 4:25 AM on March 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think you are right about that - W thinks that we cannot speak in propositions about ethics, religion, beauty - but, unlike the Vienna circle, he does not think that means those things are meaningless
posted by thelonius at 5:18 AM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


I remember reading something years ago (by a friend of his who was referring primarily to private letters, I think) arguing that, for Wittgenstein, defining the boundaries of language was primarily like creating a nautical chart defining the coastline of an island. Less to enable exploration within the island of language, propositional logic, etc than to enable navigation of the ocean surrounding that island. It seemed like a useful analogy, at least.
posted by howfar at 6:47 AM on March 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Remember Robert Bly? All of this sounds oddly familiar:

For someone who isn’t in the market for help, any self-help book will seem by turns obvious, eye-rolling, or ludicrous. Iron John is all those things. It’s irony-free, humorless, and often quite scoldy. I tend to be skeptical of any therapeutic, didactic, or moralizing readings of literature, and often reading Iron John I found myself wanting to toss the book across the room when I thought Bly was playing fast and loose procrustean games with familiar myths. He invokes the myth of Paris and the apple, skirting the part where none of that ended well for anyone in Troy. He talks a lot about “Zeus energy,” without grappling too hard with Zeus as a patricidal serial rapist, and whimsical thunderbolt tosser. He does at one point admit that there are next to no good fathers in Greek mythology, but that barely slows him down on his march through masculine space-time.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:02 AM on March 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


Thanks for your answer, howfar.
Zizek seems to be one of the many, like Peterson, who thinks that transcendental truth emerges from paradox: if you're clever enough you can find the loophole and slip through it.

Zizek does a more sophisticated version of the Slate contrarian hot-take, where his opening premise is basically "You might think X is good, but actually, it's bad. Lol! Pwned, lib." It's got a little more flash-bang than Slate, but the insight is essentially that you're not as smart as he is because you didn't come up with this contrarian interpretation. Like his whole "Trump is better than Clinton because he'll fuck up the country worse and bring on Marxist revolution sooner," thing.

Post-structuralism isn't the rejection of truth, it's a refusal to fall into the trap of pretending that our desire for truth means that truth must exist.

And that's the thing Peterson and his followers don't grasp. They see critiquing ideas as refusal to accept truth when the idea under critique is one they want to be true. They're willing to critique and deconstruct ideas they dislike, but not the ones that support a position of privilege.

Remember Robert Bly?
Ugh, no thanks. Are all Jungians gender essentialists? Or do gender essentialists gravitate to Jung?
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:58 AM on March 21, 2018 [5 favorites]


Ugh, no thanks. Are all Jungians gender essentialists? Or do gender essentialists gravitate to Jung?

Oh, there's definitely something there. The last article I read about "rapid-onset gender dysphoria" was in a journal of Jungian psychology, and it was so ill-informed and TERFy (and academically dishonest, but I repeat myself) that I'm submitting a comment ... which I will probably not list on my CV if it's accepted.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 11:57 AM on March 21, 2018 [5 favorites]




Oh, there's definitely something there.

iirc, masculine and feminine are built into Jung's system of "archetypes"
posted by thelonius at 7:12 AM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


Heh, I almost want to go back to the therapist who did premarital counseling for Dr. haltingproblemsolved and me (who was a Very Nice Person and, I think, a bit unprepared to find a healthy couple in her office) and ask her, What do you think about my anima now?
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 9:20 AM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]




Robert Jago, in a piece published today:

Peterson’s connections to the Kwakwaka’wakw people derive from his friendship and traditional bonds with the family of Charles Joseph, an accomplished Kwakwaka’wakw carver from Ma’amtaglia-Tlowitsis tribe. Earlier this year, I spoke to Charles Joseph—who confirms that Peterson is not a member of the Kwakwaka’wakw people nor the Ma’amtaglia-Tlowitsis tribe.

Peterson’s mischaracterizations are ironic given his admonition in his new book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, to be “precise in your speech.”

[...]

Peterson’s Twitter outburst against what he called Mishra’s “lies and halftruths” has ignited a heated debate within the Kwakwaka’wakw people. The debate isn’t about whether or not Peterson is truly a member of the tribe. I spoke to community members, and each confirmed that the naming ceremony that Peterson took part in does not grant him membership. Instead, there is concern about the harm caused by the way he has boasted of and exaggerated his Kwakwaka’wakw connections. Juli Holloway, a Kwakwaka’wakw community member whose family is in the process of arranging for a similar adoption ceremony for a non-Native friend, describes how she sees the problem: “It’s the lack of humility that bothers me the most, I guess. It should not be a badge of honour. It’s for within the community, not for without.”

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:41 PM on March 22, 2018 [9 favorites]


Jago talks, on Twitter, about some of the background for how he came to write the piece:

On the day we were set to talk about his Kwakwaka'wakw ties, Peterson had his now famous outburst on Twitter. Talking about slapping an academic, and standing up for Charles Joseph, reasserting his Kwakwaka'wakw ties. The timing is odd
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:44 PM on March 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


iirc, masculine and feminine are built into Jung's system of "archetypes"

As metaphorical functions of each individual human psyche, yes, but plenty of people start conflating "feminine" with actual women and "masculine" with men, and you get all kinds of nasty essentialist stereotypes out of that. You can tell because they believe all kinds of weird shit like Paglia's assertion that the only great women artists must be lesbians because of an overdeveloped Apollonian/masculine whatever because the "feminine" is all just passivity and chaos.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:50 PM on March 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


“It’s the lack of humility that bothers me the most, I guess. It should not be a badge of honour. It’s for within the community, not for without.”

I didn't like him before and this... Oof, what a piece of work.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:35 AM on March 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


I looked into his first book after reading this and came here to pile on...


but then I saw rule 11:
11. Do not bother children when they are skateboarding
Sorry, I now consider this book to be required reading for everyone.

(But please stop at rule 11. Rule 12 is horrible advice.)
posted by sirshannon at 10:27 AM on March 26, 2018 [1 favorite]




rule 12 - pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

as if any smart or self-respecting cat is going to let you get that close

(yes, i swear, this is really rule 12)
posted by pyramid termite at 4:32 PM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


This is just that song people misattribute to Kurt Vonnegut, isn't it?
posted by Artw at 4:39 PM on March 27, 2018


From the Johannesburg Review of Books: "This is just the fucking worst."
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:40 AM on April 6, 2018 [5 favorites]


All of this makes me sad because I really do believe in the healing power of stopping to hang out with random cats.
posted by Artw at 8:33 AM on April 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


The Jordan Peterson articles are ceaseless - self loathing Canadian Jesse Brown on Peterson.
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:05 PM on April 10, 2018 [2 favorites]




Guest Post: Jordan Peterson - Bumbling Cult Leader or Delightful Satire? by Elizabeth Sandifer, Director of the Institute of Gremlins 2 Studies

"Or take his analysis of pop culture. I used to think that classic Disney movies were just good fun. I’d heard feminists say it was rife with limiting, gendered stereotypes, but I don’t think I really internalized that criticism – until I saw Jordan Peterson analyzing pop culture. By taking these roles and treating them as biologically programmed fact, Peterson demonstrates how deeply these ideas permeate our media landscape. In his book 12 Rules for Life he chides postmodernists for making language about power, for deconstructing the gendered aspects of language. The brilliance of Peterson’s satire is that he takes the opposite approach – he reconstructs these gendered binaries, creates an entire system of justification from scratch. For example, most of his work revolves around order/chaos, and he clearly privileges the former over the latter – while Peterson will insist both are necessary, his book’s subtitle is “An Antidote to Chaos”. He criticizes the postmodernists for talking about gendered language, and then proceeds to explicitly associate “masculine” and “feminine” with a whole host of traits and concepts."
posted by Kitty Stardust at 12:02 PM on April 12, 2018 [5 favorites]


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