Jordan Peterson, Custodian of the Patriarchy
May 21, 2018 9:54 AM   Subscribe

 
The only place I've heard of witches "living in swamps" is Minecraft.
posted by JamesBay at 9:57 AM on May 21 [17 favorites]


Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?
posted by mondo dentro at 10:01 AM on May 21 [32 favorites]




That twitter thread is a glory to behold. Good share, but sad that this conversation has to keep on happening.
posted by Fizz at 10:03 AM on May 21 [5 favorites]


ContraPoints has an amusing new video on Peterson. It's almost entirely critical and yet quite a few of the comments are appreciative responses from Peterson fans.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 10:07 AM on May 21 [30 favorites]


I liked mister "Actually, lobsters and humans have a common ancestor so it's relevant" as if not every creature on Earth has a common ancestor with humans.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 10:08 AM on May 21 [33 favorites]


....sorry, I think I got a corrupt link - the NY TIMES link says it's talking about someone named "Jordan Peterson", but then I was reading some of the things he said and surely it should read "Dave Sim", right? Is anyone else seeing that "Jordan Peterson" too?....

(innocent look)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:10 AM on May 21 [20 favorites]


I had an interesting convo with a philosophy student today who seemed to think that despite his alleged hatred of postmodernism, JP is a postmodernist thinker. Perhaps MeFites have a deeper understanding of this than I do? I was interested but unqualified to comment. To be clear, both of us have highly negative views of JP.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 10:10 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


as if not every creature on Earth has a common ancestor with humans

Is this the new octopodes thread?
posted by oulipian at 10:10 AM on May 21 [13 favorites]


I came for the Peterson critique and stayed for the Twitter thread on marine creatures' sex lives!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:11 AM on May 21 [17 favorites]


You want Gilead? 'Cause this is how you get Gilead!
posted by Kitty Stardust at 10:11 AM on May 21 [45 favorites]


every creature on Earth has a common ancestor with humans

Not the octopus! It's from space!
posted by Pyry at 10:13 AM on May 21 [23 favorites]


To attract a mate, male lobsters will pee on a female lobster's face.

If they are taking lobsters as their guide, I suspect that the reason Jordan Peterson's followers aren't getting laid isn't what they think it is.
posted by kyrademon at 10:16 AM on May 21 [48 favorites]


I thought witches rode broomsticks, and nubile princesses lived in castles, and kings sat on thrones in great halls? I get confused. Must be my chaos.
posted by yarly at 10:17 AM on May 21 [9 favorites]


That Twitter thread was a brilliant takedown of Jordan Peterson, and it also made me want to learn more about marine invertebrate social behavior.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:18 AM on May 21 [11 favorites]


ContraPoints has an amusing new video on Peterson . It's almost entirely critical and yet quite a few of the comments are appreciative responses from Peterson fans.

That's a great video (as is the rest of her ouvre).

The Crooked Timber folks are disassembling the Lobster Witch now, as well.
posted by busted_crayons at 10:21 AM on May 21 [6 favorites]


That was the fatal flaw in Joseph Campbell's trip. He crashed around Academia selling the "global monomyth" without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him seriously... All those pathetically eager Nazi misogynists who thought they could buy Truth and Gender Roles for three bucks a hit.
posted by curiousgene at 10:21 AM on May 21 [20 favorites]


Apropos of nothing: There's a line of row houses in my neighborhood that were all built at the same time from the same plans. It's a pretty typical Toronto design, except for one house right in the middle. The owner renovated it -- added a third floor sided with corrugated metal and completely changed the facade of the house. It's a monstrosity that ruins an otherwise nice stretch of character houses. Every time I've passed it for the last five years I've thought,"What kind of a jackass would wreck the character of the street like that." Well, a couple of months ago I was jogging by and saw the jackass leaving his home, and it was the good Dr. Peterson himself.

I guess I'm ahead of the curve on this; I've (unknowingly) thought Peterson was a jackass years before he got famous.
posted by melgy at 10:23 AM on May 21 [169 favorites]


I wish Peterson was as easy to dismiss as this thread seems to indicate. I don't think he is for a pile of reasons though this Canadaland podcast from a few months back is pretty good.

Why did an obscure Canadian psychology prof suddenly become an international media star?
It’s a much better question than “is he right or wrong?”

posted by philip-random at 10:24 AM on May 21 [13 favorites]


Ann Thériault also has a nice thread on Jordan Peterson, as do a thousand other decent people on twitter.

Worryingly, offline, a few of my friends and family report interest in his nonsense. He's a real problem, as far as I can tell, because his 'ideology' as such appears to be gathering followers, ones who I thought would otherwise reject these MRA/Incel/mysogynist ideas.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 10:26 AM on May 21 [11 favorites]


My first encounter with Jordan Peterson was about a year ago when Native twitter was taking him to task for this tweet, which his fans repeatedly defended, first by claiming Peterson was a Native, and then, when that turned out not to be true, by claiming he had been officially adopted by the Kwakwaka’wakw nation. The truth, as it turns out, is that he is not a member of the Kwakwaka’wakw people nor the Ma’amtaglia-Tlowitsis tribe.

He was, instead, blanketed and given a name by a personal friend, Charles Joseph, which is a ceremonial gesture of friendship and bringing somebody into your own family, but in no way can be interrupted as being adopted into a nation, and certainly doesn't give someone the right to make drunken, thieving Native jokes on a public forum. It's especially embarrassing when it's the guy who, as the linked article points out, has repeatedly and forcefully admonished that one must be "precise in your speech" — it's one of his 12 rules for life!

Only later did I find out that he is a career misogynist and psuedo-academic who has made a career for himself telling men both to make their beds and that the word is essentially structured for their benefit, and, I must say, I wasn't tremendously surprised.
posted by maxsparber at 10:27 AM on May 21 [50 favorites]


I couldn't agree more, philip-random. I'm feeling a growing dissatisfaction with a "left" whose arguments and "activism" amount to little more than saying your favorite band sucks. Smug knowledge of how right one is does not a politics make.
posted by mondo dentro at 10:28 AM on May 21 [7 favorites]


I don't easily dismiss him. I think he is adding fuel to a fire of toxic, murderous misogyny.
posted by maxsparber at 10:29 AM on May 21 [61 favorites]


But, you know, if you want to defend him, go ahead. I mute people on Twitter who do that, but I don't have a mute button here.
posted by maxsparber at 10:30 AM on May 21 [18 favorites]


"Actually, lobsters and humans have a common ancestor so it's relevant"


THEY'RE NOT EVEN CHORDATES AYFKM.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:31 AM on May 21 [10 favorites]


I'm feeling a growing dissatisfaction with a "left" whose arguments and "activism" amount to little more than saying your favorite band sucks. Smug knowledge of how right one is does not a politics make.

That's an unfair characterization of this post. Did you even read the Nellie Bowles NYT profile?
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:31 AM on May 21 [23 favorites]


and quoting myself from a recent AskME

my problem with Jordan Peterson is that he's not half-wrong about a bunch of stuff (and he's got the data to back it all up), which tends to occlude the fact that, like a classic conspiracy theorist, he can't help but keep pointing at the same inflated bogey men (or perhaps persons) "behind it all", which is the Radical Feminists (TM) and/or the neo-Marxist Post Modernists (TM) ... and even on a bunch of that stuff, he's not ALL wrong.

In fact, the best analysis I've found of where he does get it quite wrong is anything but succinct, but rather Peter Rollins rambling analysis of Slavov Zizek's recent thoughts on Peterson. If I could narrow it down to a few words, it would be along the lines of Peterson being a special kind of obsessive, using all kinds of solid empirical evidence to support some ultimately dubious propositions. Which yeah, is dangerous.

posted by philip-random at 10:31 AM on May 21 [7 favorites]


The I Don't Even Own a Television podcast, focusing on bad books, is normally pretty apolitical. But their most recent episode is about Peterson's 12 rules book and they do a pretty solid and thorough (and entertaining) job ripping it to shreds.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 10:32 AM on May 21 [11 favorites]


I wish Peterson was as easy to dismiss as this thread seems to indicate.

I mentioned him in the mass shooting thread for a reason - he’s providing a guiding philosophy for these dweebs and his comments on forced matrimony as a way to end male violence should be taken as a demand paired with a terrorist threat - but even there I felt a little bad about it because the more light you give the fucker the more his influence grows, even if, like all fascists, his philosophy carries inherently ridiculous contradictions.
posted by Artw at 10:32 AM on May 21 [40 favorites]


To (jokingly) quote Travis Bickle, "you talkin' to me", maxsparber? I can assure you, I have no interest in defending him. Peterson is a shallow thinker, a fraud, a charlatan, a hysteric, an embarrassment to academia. I'm simply saying that knowing that that is true is very far away from fighting him politically. Especially in the new media environment we find ourselves in. The guy is pulling in six figures a month from his blatherings.
posted by mondo dentro at 10:35 AM on May 21 [6 favorites]


I wish Peterson was as easy to dismiss as this thread seems to indicate.

My first instinctual response to this is to start yelling but I realize I may be misinterpreting your use of "dismiss" here, so I would like to ask whether you mean that we cannot dismiss Peterson's influence on and appeal to horrible people when analysing the current state of the world or whether you mean that Peterson's appeal to horrible people means that we cannot dismiss his ideas simply because they are noxious and factually wrong.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:35 AM on May 21 [8 favorites]


I had an interesting convo with a philosophy student today who seemed to think that despite his alleged hatred of postmodernism, JP is a postmodernist thinker. Perhaps MeFites have a deeper understanding of this than I do

Here is a review of his last book that says he has little idea what he's talking about, on this topic.
posted by thelonius at 10:39 AM on May 21 [7 favorites]


I feel like the IDEOT episode does a good job of balancing mockery of the stupidity of his ideas with expressing horror at the small army of incels and alt-right types they’ve apparently inspired. Weird episode to listen to if you’re used to their usual style as they are noticing having less fun than usual and are actively pissed off at the book.
posted by Artw at 10:40 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


I'm feeling a growing dissatisfaction with a "left" whose arguments and "activism" amount to little more than saying your favorite band sucks.

You are in a thread about the latest of Jordan Peterson's blatantly misogynist statements. As I said in another thread: Jordan Peterson is arguing for a world in which women are treated as resources, not people. This seems to be because he believes that women aren't people, but a resource that has been unfairly taken away from men.

This is a profoundly dehumanizing and - as his influence grows - dangerous view. This is a view that literally threatens women's freedom and women's lives. What in the world do you think it means to suggest that "enforced monogamy" will stop incel terrorists? What do you think that means for women?

If you think that anger and dismissal toward his views can be boiled down to "your favorite band sucks," then you need to take a long fucking look in the mirror, because if you don't see the horror in Jordan Peterson and his merry band of reactionary, entitled followers, then you don't really believe that women are people, either. This isn't a matter of personal taste.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:40 AM on May 21 [216 favorites]


Just have to quote this, from my above link:

Neither Derrida nor Foucault is cited in 12 Rules for Life. Apparently, not only has Peterson never bothered to actually read them, he seems not to have even read their Wikipedia entries. The only relevant citation is of a book called Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault, which he customarily recommends at speaking engagements. The author, Stephen Hicks, is Executive Director of the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship at Rockford University, and an acolyte of Ayn Rand. Armed with this dubious secondary source, Peterson is left making statements that are not only mired in factual error, but espouse a comically reductive conception of how social life and history work. He takes a common misunderstanding at face value, proceeding to build a whole outlook on it.
posted by thelonius at 10:41 AM on May 21 [23 favorites]


Atom Eyes, please read my comment more narrowly. It was certainly not intended to characterize all available critiques of Peterson. But the general observation and, indeed, deep understanding, that he is a charlatan is extraordinarily ineffective politically. This is the meaning of the claim that we mean when we say we're living in a "post truth" age.

The really deep irony, to me, as well as the source of my deepest rage, is that these motherfuckers are the epitome of the phoney "postmodernism" they rail against. But that's what Surkov's "nonlinear warfare" is all about, isn't it?
posted by mondo dentro at 10:44 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


Smug knowledge of how right one is does not a politics make.

Yeah, just look at me over here, existing with the knowledge that I'm a human being deserving of equal human rights. How smug of me.

smug
sməɡ/
adjective
having or showing an excessive pride in oneself or one's achievements.

So which part of asserting that women are equal human beings is "showing excessive pride"? How many of my own human rights to I have to willingly abandon in order to have a valid political argument?
posted by melissasaurus at 10:46 AM on May 21 [95 favorites]


It's really hard not to read your behavior as concern trolling and effectively shutting down conversation, mondo dentro, so it might be worth reconsidering how you are expressing yourself, as you have not made whatever point you are trying to make with any clarity.
posted by maxsparber at 10:47 AM on May 21 [28 favorites]


But also, if you think people on the left aren't seriously engaging with Peterson's ideas, then you're not that familiar with the left.

1. Peterson's ideas, such as they are, mostly aren't new, and have been the subject of literally decades of serious feminist and anti-racist scholarship.

2. There have been many serious and lengthy responses to Peterson himself, including ones linked to in this very thread.

He is a goddamn serious problem, and has been taken seriously - but he's making buck with his bullshit regardless. The men that he appeals to don't care about that. What matters to them is that he validates their feelings of entitlement and frustration.

Personally, I believe that one of the best ways to take Peterson down isn't going to be a serious debate of his ideas. It's going to be making him known as an idiot and a laughingstock, to diminish his appeal. (Which would not be unfair to the quality of his ideas, anyway.)
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:48 AM on May 21 [98 favorites]


so I would like to ask whether you mean that we cannot dismiss Peterson's influence on and appeal to horrible people when analysing the current state of the world or whether you mean that Peterson's appeal to horrible people means that we cannot dismiss his ideas simply because they are noxious and factually wrong.

I'm tempted to say just the former. But I fear it's a bit of both. That is, he's not your typical Fox News volcano of absurd and ridiculous bullshit. All of his ideas are not "noxious and factually wrong" (ie: when when he's coming from his academic expertise in clinical psychology). So to insist that they are is, as the Canadaland podcast suggests, playing into his game.

What I like about the the Peter Rollins / Slavov Zizek angle is how they take on not the totality of his stuff, but poke at what amounts to some un-examined mania (on Peterson's part) as to his motivations. There really should be some kind of drinking game connected to his inevitable mentioning of the "radical left" and/or "marxist-post-modernism".
posted by philip-random at 10:55 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


Personally, I believe that one of the best ways to take Peterson down isn't going to be a serious debate of his ideas. It's going to be making him known as an idiot and a laughingstock, to diminish his appeal. (Which would not be unfair to the quality of his ideas, anyway.)

As I've said in other threads, debate plays into his hand by legitimizing his views. We need to stop saying that he has a valid point, and start saying that he can be treated as legitimate when he starts accepting that women are in fact people.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:59 AM on May 21 [49 favorites]


You don’t take nazis at face value about what their ideas are and debate them, hope nobody is suggesting we do that.
posted by Artw at 10:59 AM on May 21 [52 favorites]


THEY'RE NOT EVEN CHORDATES AYFKM.

Read this as IYKWIM at first and was wondering what salacious implications about invertebrates I was missing out on.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:59 AM on May 21 [9 favorites]


I take him and dudes like him quite seriously, which is why I want them and their bullshit shamed and shut down, not engaged with as if "Women: Are They Even People?" is a legitimate course of inquiry, or as if their misogyny (trans- and otherwise) is somehow a new, never previously investigated area of thought.

I am all for people keeping an open mind but do not let your fucking brains fall out. Do not assume that just because you've never heard of something it means that thing is actually new.
posted by rtha at 10:59 AM on May 21 [101 favorites]


It's really weird seeing someone who's claiming to be "so rational," but his arguments are based on feelings. Like, deep down, you know he's right, so he says. Not, "here's the proof," in an empirical sense, but "here's an argument you want to believe."

But even weirder is that his "gut arguments" cut against what most people would agree is our deep-down instinct. The New York Times article starts off with his claim that the masculine is order, and the feminine is chaos, but isn't that exactly backwards?

Like, if I believed it at all, I'd say that chaos is the masculine. We're the warring gender. We're the exploring gender, we're the inventing gender. We change things, we shake things up. Women? They nurture, they keep the house in order, they heal. These are gross stereotypes, of course, but how can anyone take him seriously when he misses the mark on even these obvious things?

Oh right, because he assigns blame to women.
posted by explosion at 11:00 AM on May 21 [33 favorites]




That is, he's not your typical Fox News volcano of absurd and ridiculous bullshit. All of his ideas are not "noxious and factually wrong"

Agreed. Personally, I managed to listen to and passively enjoy a lot of Peterson's course lectures before getting clued in to the awfulness. (That's an admission, not a defense.) He's not a totally obvious clown like Glen Beck or Alex Jones.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 11:02 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


I think mondo dentro is commenting on the general fact that while in these centrist and leftist spaces JP is rightfully denounced, castigated and ridiculed, that doesn't seem to do much to deter his adherents.

That said, that's been the pattern with reactionary adherents of many types the entire time I've been aware of politics.

In person, I hope that the people I know can sometimes be dissuaded through discussion, which I've had some success with, but personal intervention is only sometimes a possibility and less often a solution, and then only on an individual scale.

I'd say more reading groups and group discussions might help, but only people already somewhat on-side show up to these the vast majority of the time. The followers of this simply do not engage with anyone I know organising on the ground.

On preview, I mostly agree with Kutsuwamushi.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 11:03 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure, as I haven't studied Jung extensively, but didn't he view the masculine/feminine as parts of the psyche--analogous to Freud's ego-superego-id parts--which resided in each human regardless of gender and required a balance of expression to make one whole and psychologically healthy? Seems like Jung, as mired as he was in gender essentialism and 19th C. Bourgeois patriarchy, didn't even go as far as to dumb down to masculine=all men / feminine=all women, and the two must constantly be at war with Team Masculine being the best obvs.

I think Peterson is very postmodern in his arguments that his revisionist narratives about psychology, history, biology, and politics are equally valid as other better-sourced explanations because of how they make the believer feel about his (and despite the one lady in the article, I'm pretty sure it's his) subject-position in society. Hence the whole "witches are real" thing. He knows witches aren't real, but he wants to give his fans permission to cast themselves as the heroes vanquishing chaotic witch-dom because that narrative serves both their purposes. The empirical truth of any statement he makes is irrelevant to the power of the narrative to determine its own reality.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:06 AM on May 21 [12 favorites]


I mean, I also live in Minecraft, therefore I am a witch? Is that how that works? I can't logic, I'm a girl.

This is not "your favorite band sucks". This is someone actively advocating for a way of life where I am dead or impoverished in exchange for better outcomes for cishet white men. But he's doing it really politely, and so people who aren't so actively threatened by this sort of thing want to be polite back, and yes, I feel hurt and betrayed by that. Advocating that other people should be second-class citizens is not civil and should not be treated like it is a civil debate.

Maybe he's very unlikely to "win", as such, but the problem is, even if he doesn't win, how many times during the remainder of my career are my job prospects going to be determined by white men who've heard him and thought he had the right idea? This isn't that abstract. Discrimination based on sexual orientation still isn't illegal a lot of places, and getting any kind of enforcement for gender discrimination issues is nearly impossible. This is... super, super personal for me. How exactly am I supposed to engage with people who think I shouldn't even be allowed to have a job, or that at best I should only be allowed to be self-supporting after all the white dudes have the best jobs, without saying stuff that makes them feel bad?
posted by Sequence at 11:07 AM on May 21 [62 favorites]


Seth Abramson has a long, even-handed and academically sound (to me, at least) tweet essay of sorts explaining where JP sits academically.
posted by flippant at 11:08 AM on May 21 [14 favorites]


Peterson's response to Bowles' piece.

oh my god he literally cites the fawning comment of some random redditor approving of his work as evidence for his 'argument'
posted by halation at 11:10 AM on May 21 [31 favorites]


I only recently encountered Jordan Petersen, through somewhat glowing reference from a friend and then the NYT article. I found both encounters disturbing - i.e. discovering that he has popular appeal and that there is a less than furious media response. The dismissive hilarity of the article, and of several of the comments here, is going to be an ineffective way to combat his ideas. It is such a biased piece with no attempt to really portray his popular appeal ("I laugh, because it is absurd" is the author's response to JP's concern about men who "fail to reproduce"). It reminds me of liberal response to the absurd idea of the candidacy of our current president. It's absurd-until it's not.
posted by sophrontic at 11:10 AM on May 21 [13 favorites]


Also, from the Jacobin:

Ironically, Peterson’s critique of postmodernism is itself very postmodern. His description of postmodernism as a new form of “dialectical materialism” that exercises totalitarian thought control not only echoes Cold War polemics against Marxism but also certain tendencies within French postmodernism. These accounts, such as Lyotard’s, accuse the Enlightenment, Hegelian dialectics, and Marx of constructing “metanarratives” on top of an irreducibly complex reality. Peterson shares the French post-structuralists’ fear that reason lends itself to a logic of domination. Indeed, Peterson recapitulates Heidegger’s own influential rejection of the “Cartesian Self” as the launch of a new stage of civilizational nihilism.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:11 AM on May 21 [11 favorites]


Being an opened minded sort, and having in the past logged into 4chan so aware of the groups he's kind of trying to reach out to, I thought I would give 12 Rules ago and downloaded the audiobook. Some of it's solid sensible advice that people could do with following (Pet cats! Listen to people! Turn up to stuff on time!) if they didn't have stern parents and their life is a mess BUT he then goes off on wild tangents (post modern Marxist women etc etc). I dislike the intellectual air power Peterson has given assorted newspaper blowhards and online neckbeards, more than Peterson himself who can be more nuanaced. Where Peterson argues that we should be able to talk about stuff, even stuff we don't like, others seem to be thinking this means we should get back to being massive old timey jerks because look muh smart man said so.

Also never listen to the audiobook, it's like getting lectured to by a slightly angry headmaster for several hours as it's Peterson himself who reads it. That said, his tone of voice does help you understand what he means.
posted by Damienmce at 11:14 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]


I will be murdered by state sanction in Jordan Peterson’s version of the future.
posted by nikaspark at 11:14 AM on May 21 [34 favorites]


And his axes of conflation with Masculinity-white men-order-hierarchy-control-Capitalism all jammed together with no breathing room and made to seem like "natural" alignments is an arrow pointing straight at fascism.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:14 AM on May 21 [38 favorites]


Oh yeah, lobsters too.
posted by Damienmce at 11:15 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


The dismissive hilarity of the article, and of several of the comments here, is going to be an ineffective way to combat his ideas.

Well, there's always violence spells and potions. Being a witch has its benefits.
posted by melissasaurus at 11:16 AM on May 21 [15 favorites]


I was so angry when he came to speak at the university in my small Ontario city. A group of protestors broke a window, but to hear the JP fans tell it, it was like the youth had run riot.
posted by Kitteh at 11:17 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


It's absurd-until it's not.

See: Gamergate, tiki torch Nazis, incels, Trump
posted by Artw at 11:18 AM on May 21 [51 favorites]




Personally, I believe that one of the best ways to take Peterson down isn't going to be a serious debate of his ideas. It's going to be making him known as an idiot and a laughingstock, to diminish his appeal. (Which would not be unfair to the quality of his ideas, anyway.)

This is certainly helpful, and should be continued, ad infinitum... but that's been going on for the past several years, as his star rose. Yes, he's had a negative critique in the NYT (with, nevertheless, high-fashion cheesecake photos), but he also was a star of the awful Bari Weiss piece on the cleverly-if-cynically-branded "dark web", in the same outlet. Which one had the bigger media bounce?

Anyone who thinks I'm minimizing the damage this asshole is doing is not aware of the despair that motivates my words, a despair that's born out of my love for family and friends who will be suffering with this shit long after I'm gone. I'm not fighting anyone here. I'm simply saying the left's--my tribe's--tactics are failing. I wish they weren't. I even hope I'm wrong. But it's not like Peterson is a phenomenon occuring in isolation. He's a small part of a global reactionary movement. It seems like the bad guys are winning. And it frightens me.

FWIW, I like what Doug Lain's been doing in his Zero Book podcast. He's trying to articulate an actual leftist argument against Peterson, drawing from multiple sources, including Zizek. (I also happen to like Lain's collage-like videos. Check them out.) What he's doing has nothing to do with "being open minded" in regard to Peterson's ideas, but he does try to take them seriously, which is a different thing. Being "open minded" toward Peterson makes no sense because his ideas are incoherent and, yes, vicious. It also, in my view, is orthogonal to the issue of no-platforming. Intellectually, Peterson is a joke, politically he's as serious as cancer.
posted by mondo dentro at 11:28 AM on May 21 [24 favorites]


Weird that Jordan Peterson's whole thing is lobsters, but he never suggests making men less violent by closing their hands with rubber bands

Oh Baba Yaga, of course the "that isn't an argument" failsons leap to his defense. You know what, your mom told you to clean your room a million times, but she didn't make it seem like you were becoming an Alpha bathing in SJW tears by doing it so you didn't listen and kept on wearing clothes that all smelled like feet. No one owes you a debate just because your Fash Daddy said so.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:32 AM on May 21 [27 favorites]


To attract a mate, male lobsters will pee on a female lobster's face.

If I may, it’s a bit stranger...
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:32 AM on May 21 [5 favorites]


I'm simply saying the left's--my tribe's--tactics are failing. I wish they weren't. I even hope I'm wrong.

Huh? What do you mean? Cause this is what I'm seeing:

JP: Women are things.
Feminists: We are humans.
World: Oh, divisive leftism! Why can't you engage with the ideas instead of falling back on identity????
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:35 AM on May 21 [83 favorites]


Personally, I believe that one of the best ways to take Peterson down isn't going to be a serious debate of his ideas. It's going to be making him known as an idiot and a laughingstock, to diminish his appeal. - Kutsuwamushi

Why don't you think he be taken down by a serious debate?
posted by therubettes at 11:38 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


Last year I was researching schools in the vicinity and happened upon the Waldorf (Steiner) variety. What struck me about them was that they also claim that myths contain truth. Do they overlap with Petersen?
posted by Laotic at 11:38 AM on May 21


I went to look up what Peterson's house looks like, after melgy described it. I didn't find it, but I found this photo and its containing photoshoot, well, I'm not sure why Jordan Peterson's wearing an ant costume, or whatever it is, but I feel decidedly uneasy about it.
posted by ambrosen at 11:41 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


That said, his tone of voice does help you understand what he means.
I have joked that Peterson is what young and young-ish adults who miss their childhood are looking for, when they got life lessons from Kermit.
posted by lmfsilva at 11:41 AM on May 21 [8 favorites]


I say this as someone who strongly disagrees with Peterson's hazy and conspiratorial thesis on "post-modernism" - dismissing Peterson on the grounds of "he's a nazi" and "we shouldn't treat his ideas as serious" are going to be wildly ineffective defense mechanisms against the insidious creep of his world view and his vocabulary into mainstream conservative thought.

A serious and complete deconstruction of his entire methodology will be necessary - and hyperbolic pearl clutching that stoop to accusing Peterson of being some sort of Christian Dominionist will only backfire on those who seek to halt his assault of stupidity.
posted by the_querulous_night at 11:42 AM on May 21 [13 favorites]


Why don't you think he be taken down by a serious debate?
Well, for one thing, he's really slippery. He never actually says anything, so when you call him on something, he claims that you were just too stupid to understand his true meaning, which he then explains in terms that are too vague for you to really pin anything down. He's actually pretty hard to debate, because his appeal isn't rooted in logic, and his followers take for granted that he and they are smarter than anyone else, and therefore what he says is smart and true.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:44 AM on May 21 [106 favorites]


pearl clutching

using terms rooted in misogyny doesn't actually help your argument.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:45 AM on May 21 [57 favorites]


...and the pig likes it.
posted by Artw at 11:45 AM on May 21 [16 favorites]


Every time I hear that there’s a “crisis in masculinity,” it turns out that someone is mad that people are insisting that men act like humans and treat women like people.

It’s not so much the beginning of a crisis of masculinity as (one can dream), the death throws of 10s of thousands of years of a crisis of humanity.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:47 AM on May 21 [48 favorites]


"You cannot reason people out of positions they didn’t reason themselves into."

Probably the only effective thing is to just say "You're wrong" over and over again until they either go away OR they re-assess themselves.
posted by FJT at 11:47 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


Why don't you think he be taken down by a serious debate?

Because the point of debate/discussion/actual engagement with actual ideas is to understand stuff, evaluate serious arguments, etc., not "take people down". Since Peterson's ideas are already understood to not be serious, and since there's nothing much there to understand, and since the potential consequences of the popularity of ideas like his (which persists despite their unseriousness) are dangerous, he does need to be "taken down", in the sense that his influence needs to be mitigated. Honest debate/discussion are tools for engaging with serious ideas in order to figure out what's up with them, not political tactics. Since dealing with Peterson and people like him is a question of political tactics, rather than an intellectual question (these have been settled already), debate isn't relevant.
posted by busted_crayons at 11:47 AM on May 21 [30 favorites]


I am amused that today's theme on Feminist Twitter is "Lobsters? Really? That's your plan?" and assorted weird animal kingdom mating behavior trivia.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:48 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


"The New York Times article starts off with his claim that the masculine is order, and the feminine is chaos, but isn't that exactly backwards? Like, if I believed it at all, I'd say that chaos is the masculine. We're the warring gender. We're the exploring gender, we're the inventing gender. We change things, we shake things up. Women? They nurture, they keep the house in order, they heal."

Because men are rational, and therefore build and create, and women have feelings and are therefore illogical and chaotic creatures of unreason.

That's it. That's the whole thing. Basically he's all "the orderly male motive force plants a tiny perfect homunculus in the chaotic female womb, and if you don't control your lady, and she sits in an east wind while pregnant, she wrecks your perfect male homunculus and you get a girl." Only that's obviously ridiculous so he makes it sound pretty and "scientific," but basically he's saying the same thing Aristotle did about how men are perfect and rational and women are lesser and chaotic and disorderly and need controlling.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:49 AM on May 21 [62 favorites]


mondo dentro, the reactionaries were going to push back no matter what the left did. When right wing demagogues are trying to make the basic intelligence or autonomy or humanity of women a matter of debate, there is not a nuanced path to take in opposition to that.

Anyway this guy gives me spooky deja vu vibes. From the article: "I ask him about the retro clothes and phrases. He calls it his prairie populism.
'That’s what happens when you rescue your father from the belly of the whale,' he says. 'You rediscover your tradition.'"

It feels like yet another iteration of Bioshock Infinite. Complete with those hella annoying Motorized Patriots.
posted by xigxag at 11:49 AM on May 21 [13 favorites]


Last year I was researching schools in the vicinity and happened upon the Waldorf (Steiner) variety.

I spent a number of years very tightly involved in Waldorf education and it’s woo woo as hell and I side eyed shit loads of the garbage they believe and I think yes, there are people in the Waldorf communities who probably fall for this shit but it really is a case by case basis and within a single waldorf school you can have people who fall for this shit and still end up with a school where the people who fall for the dumb shit run their mouths but have little effect, all the way to an another entire school community a few miles away from that one being a hard core Waldorf in a weird “new Gilead” way because they got mad at the other more moderate school for allowing such controversial things such as letting kids wear teenage mutant ninja turtles t-shirts to school.

For all the bullshit that adults create at waldorf schools my kids absolutely loved the ever loving fuck out of it so I just held my nose and put up with the inanity of it all.
posted by nikaspark at 11:50 AM on May 21 [10 favorites]


I am amused that today's theme on Feminist Twitter is "Lobsters? Really? That's your plan?" and assorted weird animal kingdom mating behavior trivia

well yeah, marine biology is always going to be more interesting and engaging than yet another white male supremacist who Has Opinions.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:51 AM on May 21 [38 favorites]


I just figure if I'm going to spend my time ~*intellectually*~ debating whether women should be doled out by the state for men's raping desires, then I might as well not do that and instead spend my time learning medical and weapons skills, working out, and accumulating resources.

Peterson's ideas aren't new. The possible responses and outcomes aren't new. You can ration my uterus when you pry it from my cold dead hands; end of debate. That's how most of the world has worked for most of its existence anyway.
posted by melissasaurus at 11:51 AM on May 21 [77 favorites]


I say this as someone who strongly disagrees with Peterson's hazy and conspiratorial thesis on "post-modernism" - dismissing Peterson on the grounds of "he's a nazi" and "we shouldn't treat his ideas as serious" are going to be wildly ineffective defense mechanisms against the insidious creep of his world view and his vocabulary into mainstream conservative thought.

From the halfway point of that CANADALAND podcast I linked to earlier:

So is Jordan Peterson a crypto-Nazi, a closet white power guy, a secret fascist pretending to be calm and rational? No, that's silly. I don't believe that at all. I think that when you hear Jordan Peterson talking and reasoning and exploring ideas and presenting arguments, I think it's very clear that he is genuine. There is no act. What you see it what you get. However …

That's a HOWEVER worth exploring (around the 20 minute point).
posted by philip-random at 11:53 AM on May 21 [5 favorites]


Personally, I believe that one of the best ways to take Peterson down isn't going to be a serious debate of his ideas. It's going to be making him known as an idiot and a laughingstock, to diminish his appeal.

Yeah, I think one thing the Trump era has proved is that mockery alone doesn't really cut it. There are plenty of people out there who are perfectly happy to be mocked by the mainstream; it simultaneously feeds into their persecution complex and lets them feel like they're "triggering" the liberals.

(I'm reminded of that TV interview from way back in July 2015, when Keith Ellison warned that Trump was a serious contender for the Republican nomination, and his co-hosts acted like that was the most hilarious suggestion they'd ever heard. Three years later, and /r/The_Donald still gloats about it.)
posted by teraflop at 11:53 AM on May 21 [26 favorites]


A serious and complete deconstruction of his entire methodology will be necessary

As well as new narratives and visions for the young men searching for meaning in the world and finding him.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:54 AM on May 21 [10 favorites]


hyperbolic pearl clutching that stoop to accusing Peterson of being some sort of Christian Dominionist will only backfire on those who seek to halt his assault of stupidity.

From TFA:
“He was angry at God because women were rejecting him,” Mr. Peterson says of the Toronto killer. “The cure for that is enforced monogamy. That’s actually why monogamy emerges.”

Mr. Peterson does not pause when he says this. Enforced monogamy is, to him, simply a rational solution. Otherwise women will all only go for the most high-status men, he explains, and that couldn’t make either gender happy in the end.

“Half the men fail,” he says, meaning that they don’t procreate. “And no one cares about the men who fail.”

So, in this exchange he's talking about treating women like property, likely with state backing (who's going to do the "enforcing" he calls for?), making women reproduce against their wills (how does he think he's going to address those men who "fail" because women don't currently choose to reproduce with them? ), rewarding threats of violence with the subservience of women (who will then become the approved targets of those violent men), all while sympathizing more with a killer than the women whose lives are reduced purely to reproductive, domestic, & emotional labor functions.

Okay, it's missing some of the specific dogwhistles Dominionists might use, but it clearly shares a similar outcome. From where I am, it doesn't seem hyperbolic at all to compare the two. In fact it sounds like they both want the same thing.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:56 AM on May 21 [66 favorites]


This is certainly helpful, and should be continued, ad infinitum.

If none of the tactics the left has tried have worked, and you despair that no tactic will ever work, why in the world would you make a comment complaining about the left being smug - as if that's the problem?

Why don't you think he be taken down by a serious debate?

I answered this question, but I'll do it again: He isn't appealing to his fans because of the quality of his ideas. He's appealing because he tells entitled men what they want to hear. They aren't interested in serious debate; they're only interested in the veneer of serious debate that Peterson provides. This is why the repeated takedowns of Peterson, who is an intellectual clown, have no impact.

Also, I don't know if you've run into many Peterson fanboys, but they tend to spew the most simplistic soundbites about biology, race, and gender. These are not people who are engaging seriously with biology, anthropology, gender studies, etc - these are people who find a factoid that supports their view of how the word is/should be and don't interrogate any further. A debate with them is basically you trying to teach introductory level concepts to a spoiled kindergartener going "lalalalala I can't hear you, you feminist poopyhead witch."
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:56 AM on May 21 [93 favorites]


I kind of want to just yell "debate isn't real!" and bounce but...

The thing about debate is that it's not really a good test of ideas so much as it is a test of debate skill, and worse, it doesn't work. I mean there's this weird platonic ideal of two people standing at lecterns bringing the strongest arguments and counterarguments, both engaging honestly and in good faith, and then everybody agrees that one or the other side is right and we all go forward on that knowledge, but that's idealist fantasy. Debate is infamously vulnerable to being spoiled by bad faith, fallacious arguments, and malicious tactics, and the outcome is generally that both sides' supporters think their side won.

(Also, spoiler alert: fascist nerds like Peterson's fans have the same idealist "well my ideas are obviously rational and superior and therefore I am eager to debate you because I will easily win" fetish that is super-common among liberals, but it makes more sense for them since they neither give nor expect the good faith and detached intellectual approach liberals fantasize about debate entailing; they know the point is to clown on the other guy and look big, which is why "come on my podcast and debate me" is such a famously popular line for them)
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:57 AM on May 21 [71 favorites]


"Why don't you think he be taken down by a serious debate?"

Also because he isn't capable of having a serious debate, because he's half-educated on a lot of these issues, and isn't interested in learning more. To take an analogy, there was a period when some younger "new atheists" would every now and then want to have a debate about some point of theology with an academic theologian, to show how much better they understood theology than theologians/Christians did, the new atheist would spout some very freshman-level understanding gained from a cursory review of Wikipedia articles, point out a contradiction, and be like "CHECK MATE GOD PEOPLE" and the theologian would be like, "Okay, so, you've misunderstood an important nuance in the argument, and there's 1200 years of development of this idea you've failed to reckon with" and the new atheist would be like "I DON'T NEED TO I ALREADY PROVED YOU WRONG!"

You can't really debate someone who's so uneducated he can't even come to the big-kids table. And the thing is, in a public debate for a general audience, Peterson's simplistic hackery makes for easy soundbites that his foolish, half-educated followers can understand; nuance that relies on careful thought and (worse!) some background knowledge is a very hard sell in that venue.

Peterson's already debunked by academics. That doesn't matter a bit to the popular discourse.

I mean he's funny because he's selling "rationalism" largely by being totally incapable of careful, rational thought and Dunning-Krugering his "expertise" in a broad variety of areas he's too dumb to know he's dumb about. But he's not funny because people are taking his horror show seriously, and it can't really be combated by being right, especially when he's selling this pseudo-rationalism (based on false facts) as if it were actual rational thought derived from careful study of the world.

(Also it is really bugging me that his solution to his imagined problem of a few men fucking all the women is to limit WOMEN'S rights when it seems obvious that the correct solution is to limit the few high-status men to monogamy and let the women do what they want. Much simpler solution! Only a few men to go after, instead of half of humanity! And if the world really operates like a FLDS cult, as he appears to think, where a few men hoard all the nubile women, the solution to that problem actually is to deal with the male leaders who are hoarding women, who are also generally very bad people and very abusive! But I imagine Peterson sees those guys as being on his side, frankly, because at least they're controlling female sexuality, and it seems clear that's Peterson's actual goal. Well, one of them.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:04 PM on May 21 [123 favorites]


and like. once again, as per usual, right here and now women are being forced to explain again and again that we are actually human beings capable of rational thought, and have actually used that rational thought to reach the conclusions we've reached wrt whether or not we are interested in further debating whether or not we are actually human beings capable of rational thought. but it's still somehow proposed as an academically valid debate topic, that we should be required to, or at least feel compelled to, provide citations proving the existence of female human intellect to violent misogynists whose solution to their perceived societal injustices is state sanctioned and enforced rape.

i'm tired
posted by poffin boffin at 12:05 PM on May 21 [118 favorites]


The thing about debate is that it's not really a good test of ideas so much as it is a test of debate skill, and worse, it doesn't work.

I gave some thought to the rise in videos being presented as the only evidence for batshit crazy ideas, and how it's never something written in a reasonable way, and finally summed it up as "Being correct is orthogonal to being persuasive".

This almost certainly applies to debates, as well.
posted by flaterik at 12:08 PM on May 21 [9 favorites]


ContraPoints has an amusing new video on Peterson.

OH MY FUCKING GOD WHERE HAS THIS BEEN ALL MY LIFE
posted by octobersurprise at 12:09 PM on May 21 [33 favorites]


Also it is really bugging me that his solution to his imagined problem of a few men fucking all the women is to limit WOMEN'S rights when it seems obvious that the correct solution is to limit the few high-status men to monogamy and let the women do what they want. Much simpler solution!

You know, I didn't even notice this, and I doubt that most people would notice it. But the blinders are so glaringly obvious when you point them out.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 12:10 PM on May 21 [41 favorites]


I'm minded to think that it is sensible to pour scornful arguments onto Peterson's doctrine, despite the fact that pouring scorn on Trump (and, more in my wheelhouse, Brexit) is counterproductive. Because Peterson is revered by his fans as a public intellectual, so they're at least playing lip service to engaging intellectually.

My gut feeling that debating Peterson's points will actually erode his devotees' belief in him, rather than what it does with the Trump-Brexit types, where debating just confirms Trumpists in their scorn.
posted by ambrosen at 12:12 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


These discussions about the failings of the liberal marketplaces of ideas is why I feel the current path of action is to, with denouncement and debate having been amply provided for the few it may work upon, focus on building our own organisations, securing our own people's understanding of our politics, engage in organising people so that they see there are paths out of and away from these ways of structuring society and discussion.
Essentially I feel that our time is usually better used working on reinforcing our own ideas rather than debating theirs. If you can get one person involved in organising and activism, you've probably done more to combat these ideas than days spent assailing those who are uninterested in listening.
We don't need to win a debate of 'rational' ideas in an open field, we need to build our movements so that the reactionaries can be swept aside as irrelevant and insufficient in number.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 12:15 PM on May 21 [37 favorites]


Well the point isn't actually to rationally solve his made-up sexual inequality problem, it's to cloak the answer that provides the fan with the most emotionally comforting position ("It's not my fault, but if things were fair I'd be getting what I'm entitled to, therefore I don't have to change or reckon with my personality flaws, I just have to get these greater powers to ensure fairness for me") in the language of logic & reason.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 12:15 PM on May 21 [17 favorites]


Also because he isn't capable of having a serious debate, because he's half-educated on a lot of these issues, and isn't interested in learning more.

yeah, dig deep into the Youtube archives and you find the guy talking about absurd amounts of everything (sleep paralysis, breastfeeding, open relationships + overweight girlfriends, universal basic income, suicide + breakfast ... and so on). I wonder if he's best understood as a walking-talking example of Engineers Disease who, unfortunately, seems to have stumbled into the zeitgeist's sweet spot with just enough "street smarts" to overstay his welcome.
posted by philip-random at 12:16 PM on May 21 [12 favorites]


Essentially I feel that our time is usually better used working on reinforcing our own ideas rather than debating theirs. If you can get one person involved in organising and activism, you've probably done more to combat these ideas than days spent assailing those who are uninterested in listening.


YES THIS PRECISELY, which parallels into the whole ridiculous "how can we reach trump voters" question that is such an enormous waste of time when instead the focus should be on "how can we inspire and make allies of people who have never been motivated to vote for anyone before".
posted by poffin boffin at 12:19 PM on May 21 [64 favorites]


It is entirely true that there's a crisis in masculinity. However, it's also true that masculinity per se is in a state of perpetual crisis: to use the language of Agamben, traditionalistic masculinity itself implies a state of exception, because being a man in this toxic sense that Peterson means it is about exercising unilateral discretion over the autonomy of others. Or to put it differently, masculinity is always in crisis because there's no other way to justify the prerogatives that accrue to men in a male supremacist society; masculinity needs crises in order to justify itself.
posted by clockzero at 12:23 PM on May 21 [42 favorites]


OH MY FUCKING GOD WHERE HAS THIS BEEN ALL MY LIFE

"Sargon, you little goose ..."

I am dead. Dead!
posted by octobersurprise at 12:34 PM on May 21 [4 favorites]


Wow, I don't know where I've been but this is my first time encountering this person and holy fucking shit this is insane. The "redistribution of sexuality"!? You'd almost mistake it for a dark Onion headline. This is seriously the most insane shit.

Even if all the analogies about lobsters were true, who the fuck wants to be a lobster? Also, when you find that your best defense for your insane fucking backwards ideas is "just look at lobsters" you ought to have realized that you are way out to sea already.

There is no intelligently debating these people. These are deeply held beliefs which they cobble together a bunch of incoherent 'arguments' to defend it and make it look like something of an empirically sound worldview. These are not people who change their mind when confronted with new information. God I'm sorry men are like this. Fucking insane.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:35 PM on May 21 [14 favorites]


Serious debate with him seems unlikely to work because he’ll just Gish-gallop his way through and his fans will lap it up as intellectual superiority. But eh, if someone’s desperate to try then up to them I suppose.

What I take more issue with is the idea that the only way to deal with him and his ideas and his massive fan club is to ignore them, because discussing them gives them validity. This worries me. “Just ignore the trolls” doesn’t work, it does not make them go away, and I am never buying it again as an actual tactic after some of us tried to raise the alarm about incels back in the early 2000s and got told to just ignore them again and again and again for years.

I can’t be arsed to debate Peterson fans much but they are absolutely worth watching. The tactics, the slavishness, the absolute unshakeable conviction in their leader. (And the video links! Dear God, what the hell kind of a debating tactic is “watch this from 1.47 in and JP will answer that point for you”? Who teaches them this? Oh yeah, right...) It is interesting, in an “oh, shit” sense, and I don’t feel safe to turn my back on it.
posted by Catseye at 12:36 PM on May 21 [21 favorites]


'That’s what happens when you rescue your father from the belly of the whale,' he says. 'You rediscover your tradition.'


That... that’s from Pinocchio. (I’m pretty sure he thinks it’s from the Bible or another ancient epic).

Something about the wooden puppet boy being assigned, in Petersen’s mind, a “tradition” that he “rediscovers” by rescuing his “father” strikes me as deeply, deeply appropriate.
posted by some_kind_of_toaster at 12:36 PM on May 21 [13 favorites]


Also, when you find that your best defense for your insane fucking backwards ideas is "just look at lobsters" you ought to have realized that you are way out to sea already.

Heh. Nice.
posted by clockzero at 12:39 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


That... that’s from Pinocchio. (I’m pretty sure he thinks it’s from the Bible or another ancient epic).

No, he loves Pinocchio and seemingly every other Disney animated movie, and builds some of his lectures around them.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:41 PM on May 21 [9 favorites]


Peterson's responses to his critics is making Pankaj Mishra's opinion in the NYRB more and more measured and balanced. When I read it for the first time, I thought Pankaj was being kinda hyperbolic by claiming the whole Peterson's ouvre to be essentially a Fascist . But it looks like Pankaj had him sussed right. He seems to have spent time reading not just the latest Book, but listened to his youtube vidoes etc,; and come to the conclusion that this is dangerous nonsense.

When I first read that review, I thought Pankaj was being needlessly provocative. But the more I see Peterson's response to his critics; especially those who are actually trying to take him seriously; the more I am convinced this is really frightening. Gamergate all over again; but with more postmodernism thrown in.
posted by indianbadger1 at 12:41 PM on May 21 [16 favorites]


Something about the wooden puppet boy being assigned, in Petersen’s mind, a “tradition” that he “rediscovers” by rescuing his “father” strikes me as deeply, deeply appropriate.

via @corporate_name:
INTERVIEWER: and what do you think is the problem with Marxism?

JORDAN PETERSON: the...the Little Mermaid uses seashells to cover her breasts. And of course, we land dwellers may find that to be a sexual display. But the reality of living under the sea does not allow for shirts.
posted by melissasaurus at 12:42 PM on May 21 [24 favorites]


i'm actually disappointed that it's not him idiotically conflating biblical tales as i was v excited to change my twitter name to dag gadol
posted by poffin boffin at 12:47 PM on May 21 [6 favorites]


Metafilter comment from 2015. Prescient?
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:48 PM on May 21 [20 favorites]


I'm just grateful the NYTimes published such an insightful and precisely pointed piece criticizing the Peterson. He granted access to the author; usually this kind of treatment results in a fawning or at least "both sides of the story" piece. But Bowles is pretty powerful in her takedown. This balances off about 30% of the bad karma from that Intellectual Dark Web piece a couple of weeks ago.
posted by Nelson at 12:49 PM on May 21 [7 favorites]


paper chromatologist, I was suspecting that might be the case but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt for some reason? (to me it is better to be wrong about where you heard a story than to believe Disney movies actually tell us how to live well)
posted by some_kind_of_toaster at 12:49 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


Oh boy, that 2015 thread...

He did get his degree from Harvard, so it isn't like the guy is promoting Bach Flower Therapy or anything like that.
posted by Artw at 12:52 PM on May 21 [12 favorites]


"You know, I didn't even notice this, and I doubt that most people would notice it. But the blinders are so glaringly obvious when you point them out."

It gets more irritating the more you think about it. Like, there's some robust literature out there these days on the lack of adequate male partners for marriage-minded women in the United States, due to many factors that those papers deal with at length, but the long and short of it is that as women surpass men in educational attainment, traditional male employment is hit harder and harder by economic changes, and incarceration stigmatizes more men, many women are simply unable to find romantic partners, even if they are willing to look outside their own social class. In the 25-54 age cohort in the US, where there are about 64 million men and 64 million women, about 7 million men are in prison or on parole -- if we use that for a Q&D proxy for men unsuitable for the dating market, there are SEVEN MILLION EXCESS WOMEN. And actual social science research tells us that in the US, many women, across all social classes, would like to be romantically partnered with a man but find very few acceptable men available (and they're not after Chads, they're after employed, non-abusive, showers regularly).

I also find it really telling that he complains about high-status men hoarding women, and his solution is to SOCIALIZE VAGINA and not to SOCIALIZE THE FUCKING MONEY THROUGH TAXES AND REDISTRIBUTION SO THAT THERE IS NOT SUCH A STATUS DIFFERENTIAL. No, no, socializing women is obviously more palatable than redistributing money. Money is sacred!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:53 PM on May 21 [93 favorites]


INTERVIEWER: and what do you think is the problem with Marxism?

JORDAN PETERSON: the...the Little Mermaid uses seashells to cover her breasts. And of course, we land dwellers may find that to be a sexual display. But the reality of living under the sea does not allow for shirts.


Honestly, you could say this was Zizek or Derrida or Jameson and I would believe you. I loathe this type of writing/speech--I have no idea what the fuck you are saying and I can't pin it down. I can also see the entertainment value of being provocative and absurdist. As a working class kid in academia, it always made me feel dumb. Like is this how the elite talk and I'm just too dumb to get it, or is it all bullshit? Years ago I came to the realization its bullshit and all my time trying to figure it out was a waste.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:57 PM on May 21 [23 favorites]


What I take more issue with is the idea that the only way to deal with him and his ideas and his massive fan club is to ignore them, because discussing them gives them validity.

Good thing that nobody is saying that, then. People are saying not to debate him and his ideas, but this is because debate is a form of discourse that inherently grants legitimacy to his side by its very nature. But there are other forms of discourse, like criticism, that do not confer legitimacy inherently, and we should be using those.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:59 PM on May 21 [20 favorites]


But there are other forms of discourse, like criticism, that do not confer legitimacy inherently, and we should be using those.

Other useful forms of discourse are open mockery, backing away from - indeed, even disliking! or swamp-hexing! - people who espouse his values, and going after his sponsors (because if we must live under capitalism, let's at least use it as the tool it is). There is value to those techniques even if they seem too ethereal or subversive to the debate types.

There's more than one left, as shocking as that might be to a certain segment of it.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:03 PM on May 21 [13 favorites]


Metafilter comment from 2015. Prescient?

Heh, there is in fact a mod-facing note attached to that comment, from a while back, that just says "eerily prescient". So it's prescience all the way down.
posted by cortex at 1:05 PM on May 21 [40 favorites]


No, he loves Pinocchio and seemingly every other Disney animated movie

But not Frozen! He is really annoyed about Frozen, because he didn’t spot the plot twist about the handsome prince coming. Therefore there was no way to spot it and the movie is PROPAGANDA.
posted by Catseye at 1:07 PM on May 21 [28 favorites]


Heh, there is in fact a mod-facing note attached to that comment, from a while back, that just says "eerily prescient". So it's prescience all the way down.
posted by cortex


wait, forget Jordan Peterson, cortex just spilled that we're getting graded behind the scenes, this is bigger than Butterfield revealing the Nixon White House taping system
posted by the phlegmatic king at 1:08 PM on May 21 [64 favorites]


you saw nothing
posted by cortex at 1:12 PM on May 21 [56 favorites]


Probably would not be inclined to debate Zizek or someone really into Zizek on any real world subject since it’s all going to come around to Trump actually being good because accelerationism or some other twaddle.
posted by Artw at 1:13 PM on May 21 [8 favorites]


Good thing that nobody is saying that, then.

Yes, people absolutely are saying this, this comes up alllllll the time in discussions about Peterson and figures like him, I have literally heard it about three times this week already. But thanks for patiently explaining the concept of 'criticism' to me, I guess.
posted by Catseye at 1:21 PM on May 21 [8 favorites]


I haven't seen anyone in this thread say that the only way to deal with him is to ignore him. That is not a thing that people here are advocating as The One True Way.
posted by rtha at 1:26 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


I wish JP would go away, but mostly because I'm sick of reading and thinking about him. Jesus, what a waste of time. But I'm also afraid of his influence.

I think it's true that his critics tend to misinterpret what he says, but only in terms of what he intends to convey. Interestingly, the misinterpretation of his intent turns out to be an accurate representation the concrete effect of his message. This is what I think of the "enforced monogomy" thing. I don't believe he's specifically advocating for the forced assignment of a woman to every man, but that's where his reasoning -- such as it is -- will ultimately take us. He has a responsibility deal to with the concrete implications of his message but it's not clear whether he's even capable of that.

There's a very Trump-like aspect to JP. Before the election, I embarrassed myself by suggesting that maybe Trump is crazy like a fox and could actually be dangerous because of his cunning, rather than the lack of it, but at the time it was difficult to tell. I can't tell if JP has found and deliberately refined a profitable formula and is milking it for all it's worth or if, in his bewilderment, he's just stumbled into something that works and doesn't know why.

For a guy whose fundamental precept is, "be precise in your speech," he can't string a coherent thought together to save his life. But that turns out to be his greatest appeal. Even the simplest of his ideas is obscured by his complete inability to formulate a brief, logical, expository sentence. In the NYT article, it's clear that he wants to talk about archetypes (which are bullshit in any case), but what actually comes out of his mouth is just nonsense, and ripe for ridicule. But it gives his supporters their hook. They point out, correctly, that the critics have missed his point, but they don't engage with the fact that his point is obscure or ridiculous because they don't have to. "Context!" they'll say, or "it's a metaphor!" But the context is never explained, and the metaphor, which to work must be logically consistent with the things it's been deployed to illustrate, isn't.

So what happens -- what always happens -- is that people like JP and his supporters end up arranging "facts" around their prejudices by way of support the way a child arranges blocks around himself in a crib. The reliance on myths, heroes, Disney-fied fairy tales, archetypes, evolutionary psychology isn't an accident, it's just that those are the only products of scholarship flexible enough to give cryptofascists (a term that I use lightly but unironically) the justification they need to defend the status quo. Evo-pysch in particular (which I consider to be a form of formalized question-begging) always follows the same pattern:
observe human characteristic --> presume that all characteristics are selected for and therefor innate, immutable and exclusive --> infer that the status quo is natural and ideal --> opposing the status quo is against nature and against science
It's very tidy but it's 100% bullshit.
posted by klanawa at 1:28 PM on May 21 [60 favorites]


Probably would not be inclined to debate Zizek or someone really into Zizek on any real world subject since it’s all going to come around to Trump actually being good because accelerationism or some other twaddle.

The correct response when someone brings up Zizek is: who?

May also work on a Peterson person (Jordandroid?).
posted by busted_crayons at 1:40 PM on May 21 [18 favorites]


It seems impossible that these men think women are not people and I can’t bear to read much about this topic because it makes me want to rend my garments but I can’t avoid the headlines and I keep thinking they really can’t think women are people because if any single one of them took a minute to do the most simple six year old theory of mind challenge and imagine themselves in a situation where their body had been ‘distributed’ to some other guy to put his dick in their orifices for his sexual satisfaction their head would explode.
posted by bq at 1:51 PM on May 21 [38 favorites]


"Being correct is orthogonal to being persuasive"

is absolutely the right framing to use. like when forced to talk to Petersonians in person I've had luck saying that he's a great speaker with extraordinary charisma, but this doesn't mean much of anything and I think his ideas are mostly unoriginal or wrong.

also compare to other highly charismatic self-help gurus like Tony Robbins and Eckhart Tolle, who basically do the same act on a different set of underlying ideas. (The ideas Peterson draws from are much darker, and worse, I think, than Horatio Alger American self-improvement, or New Age mysticism, but it's still the same kind of thing.)

(also if asked to watch videos, just say you don't have time because of your Real Adult Responsibilities.)
posted by vogon_poet at 2:01 PM on May 21 [16 favorites]


I think this sums up his appeal (from FTA)
“Whenever I listen to him, it’s like he’s telling me something I already knew,” Mr. Logan says. “Learning is remembering.”
posted by spamandkimchi at 2:05 PM on May 21 [13 favorites]


It is such a biased piece with no attempt to really portray his popular appeal ("I laugh, because it is absurd" is the author's response to JP's concern about men who "fail to reproduce").

not the crowd for a Tertullian reference, huh? as always, a woman has to be careful of being too learned and obscure for her audience.

lacrimo quia absurdum, personally. or whatever. but I'm not as tough as she is.
posted by queenofbithynia at 2:06 PM on May 21 [20 favorites]


There are plenty of people out there who are perfectly happy to be mocked by the mainstream; it simultaneously feeds into their persecution complex and lets them feel like they're "triggering" the liberals.

Yes; I've known more than a couple of men who publicly embraced all the excesses of the far right not so much because they actually believed in them as because they enjoyed trolling. It's like when a little child first realizes he can get attention by screaming swear words in a crowded room.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:07 PM on May 21 [17 favorites]


The bottom line for me is that he is giving aid and comfort to terrorists. So that's why we don't debate the guy. Giving legitimacy to organizations that wish to end civilization as we know it, is a bad idea. It's how we got into such a bad situation in the first place.

What we need to do is to elect people who will treat these groups and their enablers not as intellectual exercises, but as actual terrorist groups. Until then, the violence will get worse.
posted by happyroach at 2:12 PM on May 21 [11 favorites]


There isn't actually much difference in being a bigot and pretending to be a bigot for attention.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:14 PM on May 21 [61 favorites]


Yes; I've known more than a couple of men who publicly embraced all the excesses of the far right not so much because they actually believed in them as because they enjoyed trolling.

If you are not a toddler and the thing you decide you like screaming in a crowded room to get attention is that women should all be the property of men, probably that still says some things about how you think of women. You might only be screaming it in a crowded room to get attention, but if you thought women were people, you would have picked something different to be screaming.
posted by Sequence at 2:14 PM on May 21 [27 favorites]


"i'm just pretending to be a nazi/racist/misogynist/lbgt-phobe to hurt people" is not the glorious game-changing rationalization that people seem to think it is.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:15 PM on May 21 [39 favorites]


Also never listen to the audiobook, it's like getting lectured to by a slightly angry headmaster for several hours as it's Peterson himself who reads it. That said, his tone of voice does help you understand what he means.
"Hitler was very difficult to translate," Karl remembers.
"He was a terrible writer and his speeches were unimpressive when you read them in the German but totally different when he spoke. He relied on his oratory."
posted by junco at 2:28 PM on May 21 [4 favorites]


”Whenever I listen to him, it’s like he’s telling me something I already knew,” Mr. Logan says. “Learning is remembering.”
My twenties, too, were a blur of booze, Shoegaze, and a longing for the Platonic anamnesis.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:38 PM on May 21 [14 favorites]


I had to pause for a minute right after "he makes more than $80,000 a month just on donations" and try and get my brain around a) the fact that a 55 year-old guy who has a career as a professor and wrote a book that "has sold more than 1.1 million copies" still asks people to donate money to him and b) the fact that there are people donating money for a total of $80,000 a month to a 55 year-old guy who has a career as a professor and wrote a book that "has sold more than 1.1 million copies". Not sure which of these facts my brain is having more difficulty processing, probably the latter though.
posted by bitteschoen at 2:39 PM on May 21 [17 favorites]


I had an interesting convo with a philosophy student today who seemed to think that despite his alleged hatred of postmodernism, JP is a postmodernist thinker. Perhaps MeFites have a deeper understanding of this than I do

In addition to the Jacobin "how is Peterson like post-modernism" thing, surely he is postmodernist in the incoherent style of his argument and the sort of "decorative" function that ideas serve? I mean, he's like one of those postmodern buildings which is a concrete box with a wavey aqua Miami-esqu facade and a few disconnected roman columns, right, except that that the building is a commentary on architecture and he thinks he's the intellectual equivalent of Chartres?

I'm actually serious in saying that the disconnectedness of his ideas and the way that a lot of them serve a surface/decorative function rather than being part of a coherent argument is a way in which he is stamped by postmodernism, even though you would not confuse his approach with, eg, Derrida's.
posted by Frowner at 2:44 PM on May 21 [15 favorites]


try and get my brain around a) the fact that a 55 year-old guy who has a career as a professor and wrote a book that "has sold more than 1.1 million copies" still asks people to donate money to him

a. he claims somewhere the Patreon thing started when he was afraid he'd get fired, lose tenure etc,
b. the Patreon thing definitely started before the book was published and the sales took off,
c. given that folks in this thread have already mentioned going after his advertisers, I guess he could call that $80,000 per month job security; the guy's definitely well set up

and b) the fact that there are people donating money for a total of $80,000 a month to a 55 year-old guy who has a career as a professor and wrote a book that "has sold more than 1.1 million copies".

can't help you with that part
posted by philip-random at 2:51 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


Heh.
posted by Artw at 2:51 PM on May 21 [9 favorites]


Apparently he had received $400k in grants over five years which he was using to fund his (three, I think?) students. He was denied funding in the next round, so he claims to be using some of the money to pay his students. Even so, that's a tiny fraction of his income. I'm more concerned that someone like him is supervising grad students in the first place...
posted by klanawa at 2:55 PM on May 21 [3 favorites]


I think you're onto something with that, Frowner. I've noticed it in a lot of weird alt-right stuff in the last few years — they don't really take their own stated positions very seriously. The arguments as presented are just... facades? Decorative, definitely.

They, the hardline supporters anyway, know on some level what the real core idea is—owning women as sexual property, or white supremacy, or exterminationist Nazism, or whatever their id desires—and they know their fellow travelers know it too. The intellectual arguments are for external consumption, and getting anyone to engage with them is a victory in some weird way. If you can get a liberal to engage, then it means you've constructed an argument that looked enough like something convincing to get someone to bite.

And through that dialog, they seek to somehow legitimize the core idea that's behind all of that decoration, which are the base feelings that drive them forwards and tell them that they deserve to take from the world.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:55 PM on May 21 [30 favorites]


I have more respect for misogynistic fascists who just come out and say what they mean. Dipshits like this dude who borrow pseudoscience and pseudologic to make arguments that sound scientific to stupid people give me the fucking shits.

Like I would rather this dude just say, I believe women are sexual resources that should be evenly and fairly distributed to men, because I think women are not human beings but rather sets of tits and orifices that we all have dibs on from birth, and furthermore I believe that giving men’s boners a happy should be absolutely central to how we structure society, much like the apes in 2001 with the monolith, so shall our culture be with mens dongs. Because that’s what he means. Don’t even bother with the trappings of the enlightenment man, you obviously want to back to a time before then anyways.
posted by supercrayon at 2:59 PM on May 21 [18 favorites]


the fact that there are people donating money for a total of $80,000 a month to a 55 year-old guy who has a career as a professor and wrote a book that "has sold more than 1.1 million copies".

Consider it tithes to the hate church.
posted by supercrayon at 3:01 PM on May 21 [4 favorites]


Man, I have to work harder and harder lately to avoid learning who Jordan Peterson is lately.
posted by Kwine at 3:08 PM on May 21 [7 favorites]


I'm increasingly appalled by the Cult of Peterson. I never thought some bullshit lightweight UoT professor would reach past the border of Ontario. And yet here we are.
posted by Kitteh at 3:10 PM on May 21 [4 favorites]


Peterson's ideas are noxious and profoundly flawed.

The NY Times profile was facile, sloppy, and vaguely insulting to me as a reader.

I mean, just one example of the shoddy journalism: Peterson, whose ideas I cannot stand, talks about witches etc. because he fancies himself some kind of Jungian for whom archetypes illuminate the workings of human society.

It's a fucking absurd way to apprehend contemporary society -- you and I both know this. Nevertheless, if you're going to mention his remarks about witches, the Jungian shit needs to be included as a context for his remark.

The journalist did not include that crucial context. Either she omitted his Jungian orientation because she couldn't be bothered to do background research about her subject (in which case she's a lazy incompetent who should find a new trade), OR she omitted it because she wanted to make him look like even more of a raving lunatic than he would otherwise (a decision that feels unethical at best).

Either way, it's shit journalism, because it reveals nothing new to any of us. If we already found Peterson noxious, this article simply confirms that he's a half-rabid madman. If we already liked Peterson, this article simply confirms that journalists are disingenuous liars.

If we'd never heard of him... well, I guess then a person would finish the article thinking he's a nonsensical madman who likes to rave about witches, in which case, I bet that person would not only be confused about why he's got so many followers, but also completely unconcerned that his popularity might continue to grow.

As someone who already found Peterson noxious, I'm actually mildly insulted that the journalist felt she needed to misrepresent his ideas in order to feel sure that I, her reader, would draw the proper conclusion about him. Thanks, Nellie, but I actually already found him disturbing and repugnant, based on what he actually believes.

Anyway, this profile conformed perfectly to the genre we might call "Twitter Journalism," i.e., emotionally-charged news items stripped of all the context required to critically understand the causes and broader consequences of said news items.
posted by mylittlepoppet at 3:11 PM on May 21 [20 favorites]


I went through a big phase of somewhat romanticizing the purported virtues of a supposed mythic era or level of thought, under the influence of a college professor. The big sad for me, from following this recent Peterson coverage, is learning how much of a fascist Eliade actually was.
posted by thelonius at 3:14 PM on May 21 [4 favorites]


I don't know if it's because the way the NYT article frames his obsession with order and having a clean space, but it makes JP sound kind of like an evil mirror universe version of Marie Kondo.
posted by FJT at 3:16 PM on May 21 [4 favorites]


I wonder whether his followers could stomach it if it turns out he's having sex with a lot of women and has a big penis.
posted by jamjam at 3:32 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


In the words of poet laureate Lightnin' Hopkins, some of the best wimmins is witches.
posted by rokusan at 3:37 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


"OK, I'm confused. Someone pointed me to this paper which @jordanbpeterson linked on his blog to support the claim that "monogamous pair bonding makes men less violent... But it doesn't actually seem to support that claim?...

What the paper finds, unless I'm misreading, is that violence decreases with number of sexual partners. Men with 6+ sexual partners (highly competitive) are the most violent, followed by 4-5 (mid-competitive), then 2-3 (low-competitive), then 1 (monogamous), then 0 (non-active)..."
posted by JamesBay at 3:45 PM on May 21 [5 favorites]


I hate it so much that so many of my friends struggle to make a living doing good and interesting things, and being decent people, while a bunch of man-babies give this guy tens of thousands of dollars a month to combine warmed-over early-'60s social psychology, garbage science, and strangely literal Jungianism, and tell them what they want to hear, which is mainly that the ones who shoot up high schools or drive vans into crowds are the real victims.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:49 PM on May 21 [32 favorites]


>the Jungian shit needs to be included as a context for his remark.

Generally, whenever I've pointed out how dumb JP is (he's very popular with divorced middle-aged guys who also like 'Hitch', HST and Sam Harris) I get 2 responses:

1) You're taking Jordan Peterson out of context!
2) You need to read all of his writing and watch all of his videos to understand him.

No, thanks.

JP is basically 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' as written by Robert Bly, Marshall McLuhan and Camille Paglia.

God, I miss the days when people used to talk about Jean Baudrillard. At least his writing is enjoyable if you smoke a lot of dope.
posted by JamesBay at 3:52 PM on May 21 [21 favorites]


Americans will devour any bullshit thrown to them if delivered in the voice of Kermit the Frog.
posted by symbioid at 3:55 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


The thing is - there are better academics if you're looking for a right-wing excuseology.

I put it this way: Jordan Peterson is basically like one of those Tool fans who don't get the joke.
posted by symbioid at 3:57 PM on May 21 [5 favorites]


can't help you with that part

too bad that's the only part anyone cares about then
posted by PMdixon at 3:59 PM on May 21


I'm not a psychologist so I'm not going to pretend to be able to interpret that paper correctly, but the intro is hilarious. There'a lot of chin-scratching over the fact that monogamy appears to reduce violence, but a whole bunch of logical contradictions, like the fact that violence tends to decline years before anyone gets married and that violence is plummeting at the same time marriage rates are. The whole thing revolves around the notion that men compete violently for women and that women choose violent men. They even resort to motherfucking Hobbes to justify their assumptions.

But if they reversed the causal arrow, a lot of the contradictions disappear. Maybe, women choose men who are not violent, and that's why non-violent men are married. Hmmmm.

The whole thing reads like a teenaged incel's understanding of how Chads attract Stacys and not the actual experiences of normal everyday men and women who simply meet and like each other without having to kill anyone for the chance to fuck.
posted by klanawa at 4:07 PM on May 21 [32 favorites]


I despair. The other day I ran into a younger male colleague (who teaches in a different department) who was reading Peterson's Twelve Rules book. Now, I like this colleague. He's always struck me as smart, thoughtful, and nice. But wow, did my heart sink when I saw what he was reading. We had a short conversation about it and it turns out he thinks JP has some very insightful things to say. I told him I disagreed and why, but I don't imagine it made much of a dent.

There is literally one man in that department, it turns out, who is NOT into JP, and as you can imagine, there's a divide between the pro-JP guys and the anti-JP guy + the women in the department. Christ. What do you even do? The ringleader of the pro-JP group is a middle class, middle aged, cisgender hetero white man who mocks the use of the word "privilege" because he's "sick and tired of being forced to hear about it."

These are people who are supposedly teach young adults critical thinking skills. The ringleader has his own little fawning cult of students, which drives me batty.

that sound you hear is me, screaming futilely into the void
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:07 PM on May 21 [60 favorites]


I think we're missing a real opportunity, ladies. All those dudes who are on board with the masculine == order, feminine == chaos? Tell them to get their asses in gear and do the laundry and dishes.
posted by Sublimity at 4:08 PM on May 21 [44 favorites]


I’m very glad that I had to Google this guy today and have never encountered his name in my news or social media consumption habits. Apparently he is a very serious person though. The bottom line is that people are predisposed to seek out people who tell them what they want to hear. You can always find a weatherman who doesn’t believe in climate change or a doctor who says cigarettes give you extra vim.
posted by freecellwizard at 4:11 PM on May 21 [3 favorites]


Tell them to get their asses in gear and do the laundry and dishes.
Dude, their ideal woman is agreeable and conscientious, which I'm pretty sure translates directly into "does all the housework and never complains about it." Men demonstrate their orderly natures by thinking deep thoughts about order, not by scrubbing the bathtub or folding the laundry.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:22 PM on May 21 [10 favorites]


and not the actual experiences of normal everyday men and women who simply meet and like each other without having to kill anyone for the chance to fuck.

Going back to the lobster idea, I’d kinda like to watch alt-right guys rip each others’ limbs off to up the chance that a woman will pee on them.

Clarification: I would not like to watch that at all, but, if they want to....
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:25 PM on May 21 [9 favorites]


Nope. If you wanna be a manly man, you get all the housework. That's just how it is. It's like, mythopoetically valid.
posted by Sublimity at 4:25 PM on May 21 [12 favorites]


For reasons far too complicated to go into here, I have a strong personal dislike for Peterson. I always felt that his outrage over personal pronouns was just a smoke-screen for blatant misogyny and every day now I get more proof that I was correct in that judgement. Someday I'd like to write out in detail how and why I am so filled with rage by this pseudo-academic charlatan, but I'm in the middle of moving 1500 miles (I leave tomorrow) and don't have the time to do so right now. But if anyone wants to correspond with me about my personal experiences with his acolytes, please feel free to drop me a line and I'll spill the beans.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 4:28 PM on May 21 [18 favorites]


Nevertheless, if you're going to mention his remarks about witches, the Jungian shit needs to be included as a context for his remark.

But even Jungian witches don’t live in swamps. And the Jungian anima isn’t necessarily a witch (and when she is she’s just as often a wise old crone). Someone on twitter suggested that the swamp-dwelling witches Peterson invokes find their source in Minecraft, not Jung. (Never having played Minecraft, I couldn’t say.)
posted by octobersurprise at 4:39 PM on May 21 [5 favorites]


Wow, the 12 rules are just ... not much. they are a mix of Things Most Mature People Know, Arbitrary Things I've Selected, and Whimsical-seeming Things That Are Actually Very Meaningful. As a white guy just a bit younger than Mr. P., I think it's important for pretty-successful white guys to resist the urge to distill life into a set of rules for other people to live by.

Also:

5. Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
...
11. Do not bother children when they are skateboarding


What if you dislike your children skateboarding? Ah-ha, mister smartypants!
posted by freecellwizard at 4:41 PM on May 21 [6 favorites]


so was Lysistrata based on a longstanding myth? asking for my pal Jordan
posted by the phlegmatic king at 4:45 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]


With regard to the Waldorf Schools question- forget Rudolf Steiner, I think you wouldn't have to dig very far into Peterson's ideas to find some actual Blavatsky there.


With regard to his current good fortunes and prosperity, I would not be in the least bit surprised if he was busted for some sort of sexual offense at some point in the near future.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:54 PM on May 21 [7 favorites]


Already has, three times. But oh, he got the charges dropped, so it's all good.
posted by Yowser at 5:08 PM on May 21 [3 favorites]


He knows witches aren't real

For goodness' sake, Witches sure as heck are real, and they are most definitely in the women-are-people camp.

(I don't know about the swamp-dwelling thing though. It sounds ominously anti-wetland to me.)
posted by heatherlogan at 5:10 PM on May 21 [5 favorites]


My mistake, he's only been accused three times. No actual charges.
posted by Yowser at 5:11 PM on May 21 [9 favorites]


”Whenever I listen to him, it’s like he’s telling me something I already knew,” Mr. Logan says. “Learning is remembering.”

yeah, when you strip off the attribution and the pithy phrasing and the surrounding context, which is surprisingly perceptive for a man who despised women nearly as heartily as JP does, and pass it down in a game of debased idiot's telephone from Samuel Johnson, to Lewis, to whoever earned a place in hell by introducing Lewis to JP, to JP, and thence to JP's rapt disciples, "...that men more frequently require to be reminded than informed" loses a certain something, doesn't it.

that JP doesn't merely pass on his pet aphorisms and concepts -- but then, most of what he thinks are concepts are other people's aphorisms -- pre-digested and ineptly paraphrased and watered-down, he actually receives them the same way, already secondhand, from an intellectual waystation as familiar to those who read books as his ultimate primary source always is, is one of the worse things I can say about a man concerning whom all the things are bad.
posted by queenofbithynia at 5:40 PM on May 21 [10 favorites]


“I am a very serious person,” he often says.

yes, jp is a very serious person - have you ever seen a lobster laugh? that's how you know he's a very serious person

really, anyone who proclaims himself to be a very serious person deserves to be mocked unmercifully just on general principles

i'm thinking someone should do it with a variant of the old chuck norris memes but i'm too tired to think of any that aren't stupid

which is a sure sign we're discussing jp, isn't it?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:52 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


by the way wasn't it socrates who claimed learning was remembering? this is what passes for original thought these days?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:53 PM on May 21 [6 favorites]


Dust in the wind, dude.
posted by Artw at 6:05 PM on May 21 [4 favorites]


Nevertheless, if you're going to mention his remarks about witches, the Jungian shit needs to be included as a context for his remark.

you understand it's actually for him to provide the relevant context for his swamp witch issues, since only he can know for certain what it actually is or what he really means. this applies to all thinkers, writers, and speakers, not only the incompetent ones. Exegesis is for scholars of difficult texts. Prodding a boy to speak up and project his voice to the back of the hall is for mothers of little children. Explaining "of course, what he REALLY means is.." is for embarrassed faculty wives trying to salvage the reputations of their drunk husbands who have just said something horribly career-altering at four in the afternoon.

and presenting a man's remarks at length, to stand as best they can on the foundation he alone has built for them, is for a New York Times reporter exposing a charlatan to the world with wit, honesty, and a remarkable ability to listen unflinchingly for many minutes without sticking her fingers in her ears.

Real scholars, real thinkers, even real psychologists whose main interest is practicing and not publishing -- which means talking clearly and comprehensibly to lay people when they're not listening, is what clinical psychologists do -- don't need the kind of hand-holding and intellectual babying you're hectoring this writer for not swaddling him in. IfJP can't speak coherently, he should restrict himself to presenting serious ideas in writing. If he can't write coherently or has no serious ideas to present (and he can't and doesn't; he can't even coherently present other people's borrowed ideas) he should retreat from the public sphere in shame. If you need a parenthetical ("of course, in Jungian terms I am not at all a dingdong") inserted to save him from himself, TELL HIM. he's the one who left it out.

jordan peterson is what happens when the people thrust power upon a weak man. it could be a play. he is rotten and malicious too, of course, but the weak part is what you could make a tragicomedy out of: too intellectually weak to be anything but a buffoon to the literate world, and too morally weak to refuse a crown his head can't sustain and a coat his shoulders can't fill out. he knows he looks ridiculous, but he doesn't know what jokes are and he can't say no. he should say no, and he can't. he's incapable. literally --not as a sexual metaphor but literally -- impotent: powerless. a man at the mercy of his own vanity, a gasbag who cannot command his own self.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:05 PM on May 21 [91 favorites]


by the way wasn't it socrates who claimed learning was remembering? this is what passes for original thought these days?

it's all kinds of people! and yes, and that's also someone he'd quote to his followers and pretend to have read. but there are particular patterns that suggest particular secondary sources and lines of influence to me. every word he speaks and every word a follower repeats is from somewhere specific and it usually smells like where he got it from. and JP is a man who likes a glib christian gloss on a classical idea.

like I absolutely could be wrong about which person he was thinking of when he said that in this young man's hearing, but I couldn't be wrong that his dragon business is goddamn near RECITED from g.k. chesterton.

[this Chestertonian dragon business is a full half of what he was referring to in that whole mess of a dragonwitch quote, and too up himself to cite: “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed." that is incidentally why he deserves all the laughter he's inspired. Nobody who knows the Chesterton line - even without context! precious context! - can doubt what Chesterton means, or worry that maybe Chesterton has finally let his pomposity and his mustaches drag him beneath the surface of sanity down into the maelstrom of madness where dragons are Real. I hate Chesterton aplenty but it's not fun or funny to pretend to think he thinks dragons are literal live beasts, because he obviously doesn't think that.

but you sure can suspect that of Peterson. he's saying the same thing but he can't say anything. he talks ten times as many words as awful old Chesterton and gets nowhere. he could just swallow his lobster pride, say "hang on a minute, Reporter, let me go grab a book and read you a quote out of it, it says what I mean better than I ever could myself."

I mean he could have. then, nobody would be laughing at him this way, even if they still hated him. but he doesn't have the awareness or the humility or the intelligence to notice that his baggy puffed-out embiggened paraphrase doesn't communicate. and so he very much deserves for everyone who hasn't read that line before to first be confused and then burst out laughing.

(it's not that he's a plagiarist, although if he understood the difference between good and bad style well enough to value the former, he probably would be. it's just that allusions are a very different thing when you're talking to an audience you expect to recognize them than when you're talking to one you expect not to. the noble way to allude is to entertain and remind. the ignoble way is either to take a shortcut when you're not sure you have the stamina for the long way through, or to pretend you have thoughts when all you have is a mind full of half-memories of things you once half-read.)
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:25 PM on May 21 [30 favorites]


The NY Times profile was facile, sloppy, and vaguely insulting to me as a reader.

I agree, it has a very glib tone that I associate more with the NYT Style section, with a lot of winking implications. I personally don't find it necessary to snark at him in this way to point out that his ideas are bad, and the writer could have done a great service to her readers by posing a simple "enforced by whom?" type follow-up to Peterson's ghastly "enforced monogamy" comment - his actual answer to that is hokum, but it isn't "form a Gilead-style theocracy and force them to pair up."

For all the talk in this thread about how it's not worthwhile to debate Peterson's ideas, to my mind the most devastating responses to him have been precisely the ones which did take him seriously and engage with his ideas and his rhetoric. The the ContraPoints video that cichlid ceilidh linked is especially good; it goes to some lengths to explain the inherent contradictions in his (dumb) term "postmodern neo-Marxism" and it also calls out one of his most irritating rhetorical techniques: asserting something incontrovertibly true but pairing it with a lot of vague implications, and then claiming to have been misread if the implications are challenged. (Somebody on a recent episode of The Weeds about Peterson also made this point.)

Likewise, the twitter thread on marine invertebrate social behavior is also engaging with his bad ideas about lobsters and refuting them. This approach is more work than just dismissing him as a cryptonazi or whatever, but I think the effort is worth it.
posted by whir at 6:31 PM on May 21 [10 favorites]


To attract a mate, male lobsters will pee on a female lobster's face.

By way of contrast, the method employed by male goats for this purpose involves pissing on their own beards.

This strikes me as relevant in any discussion about Peterson, though I can't put my finger on exactly why that should be so. Perhaps it's something to do with the hair gel.
posted by flabdablet at 6:39 PM on May 21 [3 favorites]


then claiming to have been misread if the implications are challenged

This is exactly what he's doing when he tries to explain away his "enforced monogamy" comment. But the implications of his comment aren't actually that vague; he's just vague in expressing them. They're a clear reflection of the incel ideology of so many of his fans. Reacting to those implications isn't actually misreading him.

He doesn't have plausible deniability, here, and his actual answer to that is, as you say hokum. First, because he's seriously misrepresenting anthropology, and second because he doesn't actually ameliorate the horror of his statements much. He just changes the authority who will do the enforcing.

I don't personally think that Peterson is smart enough that this is a deliberate rhetorical strategy. He reminds me too much of the undergraduates I've taught who have the same issues with clarity and accuracy (both in thought and writing). It's a really mundane kind of intellectual weakness and I don't need to theorize that he's actually a cunning con man to make sense of him. I think he legitimately believes what he's saying, but when he's called on saying something that's really stupid or goes too far, he tries to think of a way to spin it to save face. Because he's vague, he can usually come up with something that will satisfy people desperate to believe in him, even if it won't satisfy anyone else.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:00 PM on May 21 [25 favorites]


Come to think of it, cherry-picking an article that (he thinks) supports his argument, without questioning the different ways that it can be interpreted, is another real undergraduate move. So there's a third reason it's hokum.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:04 PM on May 21 [6 favorites]


I don't need to theorize that he's actually a cunning con man to make sense of him.

Indeed. Dunning-Kruger pretty much has him covered.
posted by flabdablet at 7:06 PM on May 21


queenofbithynia: too intellectually weak to be anything but a buffoon to the literate world, and too morally weak to refuse a crown his head can't sustain and a coat his shoulders can't fill out. he knows he looks ridiculous, but he doesn't know what jokes are and he can't say no. he should say no, and he can't. he's incapable. literally --not as a sexual metaphor but literally -- impotent: powerless. a man at the mercy of his own vanity, a gasbag who cannot command his own self.

Magnificent.
posted by biogeo at 7:10 PM on May 21 [6 favorites]


...to my mind the most devastating responses to him have been precisely the ones which did take him seriously and engage with his ideas and his rhetoric...

...This approach is more work than just dismissing him as a cryptonazi or whatever, but I think the effort is worth it.


Good for you. Go have fun. I'll be over here not playing a parody of a liberal and considering seriously the logical priors of someone literally defending mass violence targeting women as a class. Here is the fundamental mistake you appear to be making: What you are saying only makes sense if you believe people are being persuaded by Peterson in some logical, rational, framework and then becoming shits. If, in fact, they're coming to Peterson because they are already shits and he's making them feel better about themselves by giving them pseudo-intellectual cover for it, you're doing nothing but demonstrating to yourself how smart you are for entertaining the dangerous ideas but ultimately rejecting them.

People don't get reasoned into not being shits. Mostly, they don't get anythinged into not being shits and remain shits. But no one was ever persuaded not to be a shit by calm analytical reasoned debate.
posted by PMdixon at 7:13 PM on May 21 [33 favorites]


it seemed risible to me to suggest that the terrific NYT piece is at fault for being too clever and too quick, what with all the winking and sprezzatura and not enough methodical harrumphing and galumphing, but then I remembered the only way to take down a lobster is a walrus and a carpenter working together. so maybe there's something in that, why not.

but those who think it is very important to have laborious and well-reasoned point-by-point debate with his every casual utterance better get on it, and quick. time's a-wasting and they surely don't mean other people need to do that so-hard work for them.

this isn't like nation-building or whatever where all the little people really can do is ask the big powerful ones to please be more careful. this is thinking and writing about thinking and writing. any idiot can do it and most of them do. if you want a particular rigorous angle of attack to be taken, fuckin take it already. the one thing I can say for myself, whether I speak well or badly, is I take my own foolish rhetorical advice. any time you start thinking "somebody should say" why not say it. you can, you know. the only person absolutely obligated to argue in a particular manner is the person who's sure it's the right way to win an essential war.
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:14 PM on May 21 [22 favorites]


I liked mister "Actually, lobsters and humans have a common ancestor so it's relevant" as if not every creature on Earth has a common ancestor with humans.

It’s true! The reason we suffer from stress and tension is because of ancestral memories of our distant ancestors, the primordial clams, and the tension between their desire to open and to close their hinge.
posted by acb at 7:19 PM on May 21 [13 favorites]


Why did an obscure Canadian psychology prof suddenly become an international media star? It’s a much better question than “is he right or wrong?”

Good question. I think it has a lot to do with post-religious apologetics, because apologists live like rock stars among the faithful, selling books to people who don't even read (buyers see it as a moral duty, and wish their bookshelves had more than just bible commentary). Post-religion apologia needs to leave theology in order to defend traditional moral superiority, for a number of reasons that include rampant hypocrisy, living victims, and from being totally irrelevant. According to Wikipedia, Peterson apparently removed his association with Christianity from some type of social media account in the last year or so. A clue. Trump can also be seen this way. He attracted throngs of bitterly disillusioned people but his base was always hard-core evangelical. Trump's sins aren't important to them because God gave him money, and because they are raving hypocrites themselves. They use that sinner crap on their enemies for advantage, just like Trump accuses people of his own crimes before they accuse him. Having said that, political correctness looks like a complete replacement religion, and post-modernism has its roots in exegesis and is science-suspicious. My guess is that traditionalists saw through them and isolated a familiar, easy target to bash.
posted by Brian B. at 7:51 PM on May 21 [5 favorites]


Exegesis is for scholars of difficult texts. Prodding a boy to speak up and project his voice to the back of the hall is for mothers of little children. Explaining "of course what he REALLY means is ..." is for embarrassed faculty wives trying to salvage the reputations of their drunken husbands who have just said something horribly career-altering at four in the afternoon.

I regret that I have but one favorite to give to this comment. (queenofbithynia is really killing it in this thread.)
posted by virago at 7:55 PM on May 21 [27 favorites]


Found this to be a thought-provoking read. (Blog // Los Angeles Review of Books)

By the way, AnhydrousLove: the above may be relevant to your postmodernism-related conversation.
posted by mindwarp at 8:07 PM on May 21 [4 favorites]


Sarah Taber had a nice twitter takedown of this goofus, using the biological basis of the female orgasm as the crux. Quite nicely done.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 8:27 PM on May 21 [20 favorites]


Here are some other Peterson things for those who, like me, can’t do enough reading about this dude: The Current Affairs piece was the first that I read that noted that Peterson consistently insists that he’s been misunderstood, so I enjoyed skimming both Peterson’s response to the NYT and Ben Shapiro’s attempt to defend him, both of which took exactly that line.

And, if you are audio-inclined, there is also the recent episode of Today, Explained in which Beauchamp gives a précis of his article and then Sean Rameswaram briefly interviews Peterson. (It goes as well as could be expected.) The adjacent Weeds on the intellectual dark web is also pretty darn good.

The NY Times profile was facile, sloppy, and vaguely insulting to me as a reader.

I agree, it has a very glib tone that I associate more with the NYT Style section, with a lot of winking implications.

While this story was indeed glib, I think it’s helpful to parse that glibness as part of a dialogue with the NYT’s earlier “Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web” op-ed that essentially fawned over the man. (As an Pretty Online Person, I am of course quite happy to imagine the conniptions Bari Weiss has been having over the new article.) It treated Peterson with the seriousness he deserves; if he’s going to always claim that any unflattering profile misunderstands him you might as well go for the throat.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:53 PM on May 21 [14 favorites]


There's a part of me that would like to sit down and have a, uh, man to man chat with him about the logical inconsistencies in his arguments. Like him, I grew up long ago on a farm in Canada where we were taught in school that white men ruled the world because reasons, and like him, I was fascinated by Jung, Nietzsche, and comparative mythology (& Campbell, just Jung for kids).

I used to like him around ten years ago when he appeared on TVO chatting about Jungian concepts in a relaxed manner. Then things changed. I think by random chance he stumbled upon the easy money formula of demagoguery, and he was seduced by a Faustian (or Hiedegarian?) deal with the devil. I think he started to suffer from some form of mental illness.

I think that Peterson is facing a Nietzschean dilemma. He leapt to fame with a stew of half-baked aphorisms, pandering to the rise of fascism while denying it, on the edge of a personal Götterdämmerung.
posted by ovvl at 9:01 PM on May 21 [9 favorites]


He leapt to fame with a stew of half-baked aphorisms, pandering to the rise of fascism while denying it, on the edge of a personal Götterdämmerung.

I mean, I think we should really be clear that Peterson leapt to fame because he self-righteously refused to use the correct pronouns for trans students. He has maintained fame because of a stew of half-baked ideas.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:10 PM on May 21 [41 favorites]


Having said that, political correctness looks like a complete replacement religion

Treating people with kindness and respect, and making an extra effort to do so for the people who usually aren't, is just basic decency. Any good religion will tell you to do that. The sad fact that some people take perverse pride in not doing it doesn't turn that one ethical principle (and decent people's disgust for people who reject it) into a whole religion.
posted by straight at 9:17 PM on May 21 [30 favorites]


[A few comments deleted. "These profound intellectuals are just too bold in their truthtelling, wimps can't handle it, Mefi PC police echo chamber grar" is not a good well to return to repeatedly. If you're trolling, go do it somewhere else.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:19 PM on May 21 [19 favorites]


“It makes sense that a witch lives in a swamp. Yeah,” he says. “Why?”

It’s a hard one.

“Right. That’s right. You don’t know. It’s because those things hang together at a very deep level. Right. Yeah. And it makes sense that an old king lives in a desiccated tower.”

But witches don’t exist, and they don’t live in swamps, I say.

“Yeah, they do. They do exist. They just don’t exist the way you think they exist. They certainly exist. You may say well dragons don’t exist. It’s, like, yes they do — the category predator and the category dragon are the same category. It absolutely exists. It’s a superordinate category. It exists absolutely more than anything else. In fact, it really exists. What exists is not obvious. You say, ‘Well, there’s no such thing as witches.’ Yeah, I know what you mean, but that isn’t what you think when you go see a movie about them. You can’t help but fall into these categories. There’s no escape from them.”


Oh my gods why is this incoherent asshole influential to anyone? He's just yammering on and on like he's fucking high. You introduced this idea about witches and all you've got to explain it is word salad?
posted by desuetude at 9:37 PM on May 21 [29 favorites]


Like him, I grew up long ago on a farm in Canada where we were taught in school that white men ruled the world because reasons

Peterson grew up in the Fairview area, which at the time was the riding of NDP leader Grant Notley. Peterson was active in the Alberta NDP, unsuccessfully seeking a position on the executive when he was 14. The current leader of the Alberta NDP is Grant Notley's daughter Rachel, who is also Premier of Alberta. She and Peterson are about the same age. So, yeah, he was taught otherwise, but decided to go his own way.
posted by No Robots at 9:44 PM on May 21 [3 favorites]


leapt to fame because he self-righteously refused to use the correct pronouns for trans students. He has maintained fame because of a stew of half-baked ideas.

self-righteously? No question

refused to use the correct pronouns for trans students? Hmmm. I wish it was that simple.

He's on the record as saying he'd likely use whatever pronoun an individual requests. What he was refusing was to be impelled to use these pronouns by law. But it's not really that simple. Because it was his extrapolation of the recently passed Bill C-16 that he was really refusing (ie: nobody was impelling him to do anything -- he was however fearing how Bill C-16 might be applied, particularly within academia). And so on. This is probably all moot by now, but I'm making a point of it because it is how this whole Jordan P show got rolling. If the internet hadn't picked up his Bill C-16 PROTEST and run with it (in various directions), I doubt any of us would even recognize his name.

He's maintained his fame because of a stew of half-baked ideas?

I think what he's offering is closer to classic disinformation, a dense stew of genuinely relevant stuff mixed up with all manner of who knows what? That is, if it was all genuinely half-baked, he'd be way easier to just dismiss.

He has also, of course, proven a pretty savvy provocateur, managing to move from outrage to outrage with sufficient frequency to keep the books selling and the Patreons patronizing.
posted by philip-random at 9:45 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


But it was a willful misinterpretation of the proposed law! Every time there's a law barring some kind of discrimination against queer folks some person pops up and says: "this is legally compelling me to not be a bigot to people ergo! reverse discrimination" "This will make me go against my religion so reverse discrimination!" "arrgle-barrgle!"
I mean its a tale as old as time. Or anti-discrimination laws. When in fact the legal stuff doesn't really apply to the micro only to the macro legal stuff that the government does, and every time the law passes and wha-do-ya-know! no ones dragging away the bigots in paddy-wagons.
The only weird thing about this one was a) Canada and b) it wasn't an evangelical but a professor.
SO yeah, he's only famous because he willfully misinterpreted a law in order to further his career as a comforter to the comfortable and an afflictor to the afflicted.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:55 PM on May 21 [40 favorites]


refused to use the correct pronouns for trans students? Hmmm. I wish it was that simple.

He's on the record as saying he'd likely use whatever pronoun an individual requests. What he was refusing was to be impelled to use these pronouns by law. But it's not really that simple. Because it was his extrapolation of the recently passed Bill C-16 that he was really refusing (ie: nobody was impelling him to do anything -- he was however fearing how Bill C-16 might be applied, particularly within academia). And so on. This is probably all moot by now, but I'm making a point of it because it is how this whole Jordan P show got rolling. If the internet hadn't picked up his Bill C-16 PROTEST and run with it (in various directions), I doubt any of us would even recognize his name.

But here is I think a key point and one that we could in fact go down with in many different political directions. Peterson is happy to draw the fine point that yes, he might correctly gender trans students if asked nicely but NO, not on pain of government punishment (that most likely does not exist). But what he got famous for is the youtube video in which he yelled about this at trans kids, and during which he got written up. As you note, he got famous through some combination of putting on a show and getting propped up as both-sides punching bag when he’s actually reasonably quick on his feet with the old arglebargle.

So, to be equally fine I would say he is famous for performatively misgendering trans students, a distinction that I suppose I have come to think no longer really matters and doesn’t in truth matter to Peterson. I do think that if we’d all just ignored him he’d have gone away, but, well, we didn’t and now he is pretty rich and we’re going to be stuck with him until he Milos himself.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:07 PM on May 21 [16 favorites]


we’re going to be stuck with him until he Milos himself.

ohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease...
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:13 PM on May 21 [8 favorites]


That Canadaland episode is another pretty good take, especially since it seems to have been anticipating an even worse news article than this one coming out.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:44 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]


My god, this guy really can’t hold the plot.

“Heirarchies are under attack” and “monogomy is emergent” are two opposing statements.
The whole order versus chaos thing, and applying it to socially constructed (gender based) attributes which have changed dramatically in just the course of the last two centuries alone. I mean, seriously, it’s like he’s anchored the whole of history around his own personal experience and has zero clue about anything else except what he’s seen “on the TeeVee.”

And here’s the freaking kicker. His entire basis is centered around Western culture, and Western culture only. No comparison and contrast to any of the other massive bodies of philosophy, theology, anthropology, or law. And so narrow that you could eliminate almost anything before the 19th century, since he seems to think Campbell and Jung are the “correct” modes of framing psychology (or anything that follows from those). I imagine being one of his students must have been a slog and probably left you wishing to change majors.

And good god, “the left wants to destroy heirarchies”? How fucking facile is that? Marxism was not about destroying heirarchies, since Marx himself described the social heirarchy based upon class and economic worth. At best, Marxist want to change the way in which someones social status with in a heirarchy is based (not upon economic wealth and stratification). Oh wait, but that would mean removing the way in which most white men base their own self-worth (money/power/position/privilege). No wonder his fan base tends to be such completely useless twits.

That whole section on witches? It was practically “Darmok and Jalad” level obscurantism. He’s using culturally charged imagery (which completely changes depending on your culture) to try and evoke an emotional connection to the listener. This definitely makes him a crypto-fascist, especially since he tries to define his thesis by referencing “witches” as an antagonist agent, and that metaphor of the king in the rotting tower, a reference rooted in many radicalized conservative ideologies (the doddering old man, isolated and out of touch, ruling only because he is old... and the king). Why does this remind me of Wagner? Oh, right, because he is trying to elicit in his audience the valorization of the hero protagonist, fighting against (wait for it...) dragons. He fucking mentions dragons and says they are real. No wonder we hate him. We’ve heard this all before. At we know where this story goes. It goes to rationalizing fascism. He’s rationalizing a resurgence of Nazi propagandas core structures. Fuck this guy.
posted by daq at 12:43 AM on May 22 [13 favorites]


via @corporate_name:
INTERVIEWER: and what do you think is the problem with Marxism?
JORDAN PETERSON: the...the Little Mermaid uses seashells to cover her breasts. And of course, we land dwellers may find that to be a sexual display. But the reality of living under the sea does not allow for shirts.


Uh, I'm pretty sure that was a parody of him, not something he actually said.
posted by msalt at 1:06 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


Nevertheless, if you're going to mention his remarks about witches, the Jungian shit needs to be included as a context for his remark.

Eh I dunno. It's clear enough that the witch is an archetype - he says it is - and the author makes it clear that he's drawing on myths and fables. The reason it comes off ridiculous is a.) the meandering way he explains it and b.) it's kind of an out-there idea in the first place. I think she's letting him dangle a bit but if you watch one of his videos - at least without the context of having watched a mind-melting number of Jordan Peterson videos - he's certainly capable of sounding like that. If mentioning Jung by name helps his case it's mostly by reassuring the reader that he's not the first person ever to have these slightly daffy-sounding ideas.
posted by atoxyl at 1:20 AM on May 22 [3 favorites]


I just find it completely absurd that he's selling all these too-smart-for-the-humanities reddit dudes on Carl Fucking Jung (because I guess the've never been exposed to anything like that before, and he's using it as a vehicle to tell that what they want to hear).
posted by atoxyl at 1:29 AM on May 22 [7 favorites]


I think this discussion is missing a couple of key points of context here that are essential to combatting Peterson's schtick.

1) He has a very specific audience, composed of two tranches of loser men: college age male virgins, and "divorced middle-aged guys who also like 'Hitch', HST and Sam Harris" as James Bay so aptly put it. You can't understand his appeal, or craft a response, unless you imagine how all these arguments sound to those two groups.

2) He speaks with (an appearance of) authority yet sounds very reasonable and even (mostly) open-minded. For example, check out this long interview with Russell Brand. If you just call him a Nazi or a fascist or and uninformed idiot, YOU will look like the idiot to his fan base, and simply cement his appeal. He rose to fame via videos of him appearing calm and measured while interviewers or opponents sputtered and raged.

3) He is a for-realz, highly credentialed professor (in psychology). Of course that doesn't give him credentials to discuss politics any more than Noam Chomsky's indisputable linguistic chops qualify him. BUT -- combined with being a college professor for a long time -- his psychological expertise has helped him figure out exactly what part of the college crowd is vulnerable (male virigns) and how to appeal to them (as a substitute father/authority figure).
posted by msalt at 1:38 AM on May 22 [4 favorites]


He has a very specific audience, composed of two tranches of loser men: college age male virgins, and "divorced middle-aged guys who also like 'Hitch', HST and Sam Harris" as James Bay so aptly put it. You can't understand his appeal, or craft a response, unless you imagine how all these arguments sound to those two groups.

I know exactly how his arguments sound to those two groups. They sound like, "you are so smart and wise and Good and it is your right to have what you want, by force if necessary - because anyone who would keep you from what you have a right to is stupid and foolish and Evil."
posted by PMdixon at 3:29 AM on May 22 [18 favorites]


His audience isn't male virgins; it's affluent white men who are already at the top of the social hierarchy, some of whom may be virgins.
posted by Yowser at 3:42 AM on May 22


(age isn't a factor either, nor is being part of the "college crowd")
posted by Yowser at 3:43 AM on May 22


Perhaps, but the core of attendees who were eager to hear him speak at Queen’s this past late winter were a mix of affluent white students and men whose age ranges were late 20s to 40s. The tweets about this event were hysterical with self-righteousness.
posted by Kitteh at 3:48 AM on May 22 [4 favorites]


He rose to fame via videos of him appearing calm and measured while interviewers or opponents sputtered and raged.

Women, in particular, are well aware of how the "I'm a rational logical calm intellectual, and I have won because you get emotional about your humanity being denied to you" argument goes.
posted by threetwentytwo at 3:56 AM on May 22 [50 favorites]


I think what he's offering is closer to classic disinformation

which leads to people getting mad at that whole trans thing, which leads to media coverage and phone calls to representatives which convinces cis politicians on both sides of the aisle that something needs to be done which leads to trans people at traumatic hearings in houses of legislature defending their right to exist which leads to fucking demeaning bathroom bills either getting passed or narrowly failing which leads to more media about the whole thing which leads to more phone calls.

He could just just technically and well actually shut the whole fuck up.
posted by nikaspark at 3:57 AM on May 22 [13 favorites]


So I went into my podcast app to find the I Don't Even Own a Television episode referenced upthread and this guy's podcast is on the "trending" list.

Part of me hopes it showed up because some algorithm detected I'd read the NYT article (creepy in its own right) but I can't assume.

This makes me nauseated. And I was already queasy over Doug Ford's polling numbers.
posted by AV at 4:03 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


This definitely makes him a crypto-fascist, especially since he tries to define his thesis by referencing “witches” as an antagonist agent, and that metaphor of the king in the rotting tower, a reference rooted in many radicalized conservative ideologies (the doddering old man, isolated and out of touch, ruling only because he is old... and the king). Why does this remind me of Wagner? Oh, right, because he is trying to elicit in his audience the valorization of the hero protagonist, fighting against (wait for it...) dragons.
So his whole crackpot crypto-fascist cosmology is basically Dark Souls.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:25 AM on May 22 [5 favorites]


two tranches of loser men: college age male virgins, and "divorced middle-aged guys who also like 'Hitch', HST and Sam Harris" as James Bay so aptly put it. You can't understand his appeal, or craft a response, unless you imagine how all these arguments sound to those two groups.

Can we please just retire the concept of "losers" as a description of male sexual behaviour/opportunity? I have a visceral dislike for the word anyway nowadays--thanks, Trump--but I especially detest its application in this context. The idea that virginity or divorce = failure, for men especially, buys into a terribly toxic and misogynist understanding of what it means to be a successful human being, and it is just this account that the Jordan Petersons of this world tap into for their appeal.

A man is not a failure as a person just because he has not had sex yet, or because his marriage has failed. He may be a virgin or divorced because of underlying moral failures--e.g. selfishness, laziness, hatred, inability to love--but these moral failures may be, and often are, shared by men that are successes on this metric (cf. Trump) and plenty of men may be in this position for other reasons (e.g. they are unlucky, or are pursuing other laudable or morally neutral goals). The belief that a man is contemptible because he has failed to acquire, or keep, a woman leads directly to the lie that women are a kind of resource that ought to be justly distributed according to merit. We can only get away from this stuff if we acknowledge that relationships between free human beings are ultimately rather mysterious and incalculable and that, while it is sad if people--men or women--do not have the relationships they desire, this doesn't mean that they are failed human specimens.

I'm not disagreeing that college age male virgins or divorced middle-aged men may be specially vulnerable to the Jordan Peterson cultism, but this is less because they are losers just by virtue of their status and more because they have bought into the very misogynist worldview that labels them as losers. If they could get out of the misogyny and acknowledge that both men and women share the human condition--in which happiness is not guaranteed to the blameless, and strong and happy relationships depend on a whole bunch of incalculable factors as well as some calculable ones--they would be far less vulnerable to the nonsense, whether or not they also became more successful with women.
posted by Aravis76 at 5:27 AM on May 22 [57 favorites]


Oh Jesus, this thing happened Friday. Click if you want to experience Stephen Fry and Jordan Peterson debating "political correctness", on the same side, against it.
posted by fleacircus at 5:49 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


He is a for-realz, highly credentialed professor (in psychology).

parentheses hide a multitude of sins don't they

and they're just regular old professor credentials at the regular height. people say so many bad things about pointless grad school but I've never been sorry I went and the best thing it did for me was keep me from ever, so long as I live, getting all excited and anxious because someone's a PROFESSOR or has a DEGREE a notch or two above mine. a professor's just some dingdong held out for a year or two longer than I did with a slightly longer attention span. I am no credential elitist and I don't imagine you have to be directly exposed to the academy to be an easy and correct judge of academicians, but it does help some. the people who cannot be deterred from their hushed reverence for a credentialed professor, I blame them less if they've never been in the same room with one before, but a lot of people have and what's their excuse

that really doesn't stand up as a reason for respect after you've heard him talk for two minutes. and if education is supposed to do anything for a person (including a high school education alone, or less than that if it's sound enough -- this is elementary/middle school critical thinking stuff) it is supposed to arm you with the assessment tools and the confidence to discard the for-realz-high-credentials trappings and judge an argument on its merits.
posted by queenofbithynia at 5:53 AM on May 22 [30 favorites]


the core of attendees who were eager to hear him speak at Queen’s this past late winter were a mix of affluent white students...

so they were typical Queen's students.

also: thank you to posters above for the Contrapoints video, it's excellent and the best explanation I've ever seen for post-modernism. (the profanity helps).
posted by jb at 5:54 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


He is a for-realz, highly credentialed professor

lol
no he's not
like, he's fine, i guess, but he's definitely nothing special, and certainly no more 'highly-credentialed' than is average for an academic of his age. he has a BA from University of Alberta and his PhD from McGill; both are fine and serviceable institutions but that's hardly earth-shattering.

he's rather under-published as an academic; pretty much all he had to his name prior to the pablum that was his Twelve Rules For Dudeness Or Whatever is a book that appears to be exactly the kind of half-comprehended quasi-Jungian warmed-over dreck he's pushing now. he published said book in 1999 and apparently it took him THIRTEEN YEARS to write it. that is an absolute eon in academic time. it does not appear to have been worth the labour. i suspect a fair number of people in his department were rolling their eyes over that one.

he also has published some papers, with a middling-to-solid number of citations. checking his citations on Google Scholar is a little misleading because obviously he's been getting tons more since rising to fame and it throws off the metrics. prior to all that, he was a middle-of-the-road psychology prof, nothing more and nothing less, and frankly, given the accelerating demands of the academic marketplace, if he hadn't come up in the early 90s, and if he weren't already tenured, he probably wouldn't have a job, because so many newly-minted PhDs could eat his lunch when it comes to publications and credentials. maybe he'd make it to the first round of skype interviews, but i doubt he'd get much past that.
posted by halation at 6:27 AM on May 22 [31 favorites]


it's almost like the appeal to authority is a fig leaf covering a desparate need for validation of preexisting beliefs
posted by PMdixon at 7:02 AM on May 22 [5 favorites]


that really doesn't stand up as a reason for respect after you've heard him talk for two minutes. and if education is supposed to do anything for a person [...] it is supposed to arm you with the assessment tools and the confidence to discard the for-realz-high-credentials trappings and judge an argument on its merits.

And apropos of that, has Peterson's fondness for wacky far-out woo been noted yet? (Twitter thread.) Such as his belief that the twin-snake motifs found in ancient art is a representation of the double helix structure of DNA? "I think people had intimations of DNA as the cosmic serpent forever ..." Or his reliance on books like Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism? Or his belief in Quantum Mysticism?

Now I confess that this is the side of Peterson I'm most charmed by because I, too, grew up reading John Lilly and Terence McKenna and Teilhard de Chardin. But because I did, I think I have an appreciation of the difference between science and knowledge and entertaining speculation. And those guys didn't harness their speculations to a Victorian-era sexual politics and quasi-fascist social conservatism! (And that's not even to mention that he's about a hacky-sack and a set of dreads away from full-on White Guy Shamanism!)

In conclusion, Jordan Peterson thinks he's Saruman, but is actually Giorgio Tsoukalos.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:15 AM on May 22 [11 favorites]


I'm 51. Full time job. Take care of my aging parents. The people I work with and for think highly of me. I open doors for women. I don't indulge in locker room talk of women. I don't allow men to disrespect women in my presence. I treat women with respect. I believe most of the women I work with are infinitely more qualified than me at just about anything. I look women in the eye when speaking with them.

I think Jordan Peterson is on to something. And most of the comments in this thread only make his point.
posted by Formfactor at 7:27 AM on May 22 [3 favorites]


And what is it you think he's on to?

And what is it about these comments that make you think this?
posted by anem0ne at 7:31 AM on May 22 [32 favorites]


I know exactly how his arguments sound to those two groups. They sound like, "you are so smart and wise and Good and it is your right to have what you want, by force if necessary - because anyone who would keep you from what you have a right to is stupid and foolish and Evil."

This pro-Peterson Esquire profile (author Wesley Yang felt boosted up by his lectures) suggests that there's a fair amount of stick to go along with that carrot, a lot of "Life is suffering" and swearing at people about how they need to tough it out. To the extent that Peterson has lingered for his ideas and not his owning of libs, I think that the stick is perhaps the more key part; it has a critical masculine hardness.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:36 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


I open doors for women.

And? You bang them shut for men? Women never open doors for you? Seriously, and?
posted by threetwentytwo at 7:38 AM on May 22 [38 favorites]


I'm 51. Full time job. Take care of my aging parents. The people I work with and for think highly of me. I open doors for women. I don't indulge in locker room talk of women. I don't allow men to disrespect women in my presence. I treat women with respect. I believe most of the women I work with are infinitely more qualified than me at just about anything. I look women in the eye when speaking with them.
That's all great, I guess. I mean, "I believe most of the women I work with are infinitely more qualified than me at just about anything" doesn't actually give me a ton of confidence that you see women as individuals with their own qualifications and traits and whatnot, but the rest of it is great! But it's not super relevant to this discussion. We're not discussing whether you're a good guy. It's an appeal to authority, the authority being yours as a man who tells us that he has met a not-super-high bar for being a decent human being, which is the kind of lazy thinking that Peterson is being accused of.

So if you want to defend Peterson, you're going to have to expand on this:
I think Jordan Peterson is on to something. And most of the comments in this thread only make his point.
What do you think he's on to? How do the comments in this thread make his point?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:41 AM on May 22 [15 favorites]


> I think Jordan Peterson is on to something.

I'm 51. Don't take care of aging parents because they both died before I was 30. I have worked since I was 14 and expect to keep doing so. I have a partner and friends; I have a job that is fine and co-workers I respect and like. I am a brown-skinned American lesbian, and I think Peterson is on something, like a power trip, but not like he has uncovered some Unknown Truth.

Are you able to be more specific about what you mean? Because you are engaging in the same kind of handwavium that Peterson does, and I feel no desire to engage with a smokescreen - it's boring and pointless and I have way better shit to do.
posted by rtha at 7:43 AM on May 22 [45 favorites]


I think Jordan Peterson is on to something. And most of the comments in this thread only make his point.

To revise my list of "things JP supporters say when it's pointed out his ideas make zero sense":

1. You're taking Jordan Peterson out of context!
2. You need to read all of his writing and watch all of his videos before you can comment.
3. Comments like yours are only proving his point.
posted by JamesBay at 7:46 AM on May 22 [37 favorites]


believe most of the women I work with are infinitely more qualified than me at just about anything.

I can see how this belief, sincerely held, would give a man the kind of crushing inferiority complex that would make him easy pickings for a Peterson type to drop some casual lobster empowerment on. but I assure you that most women are only moderately more qualified than men at their level. infinity is beyond us.

it's easy to be deceived because work is really just as hard for women as it is for men, but we're socialized to be quiet about it and not complain so much.
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:46 AM on May 22 [41 favorites]


Thanks to Prof. Peterson and the electric twitter machine, I discovered Sarah Taber. Therefore, I'm putting this whole kerfuffle into the win column.
posted by whuppy at 7:49 AM on May 22 [5 favorites]


it's also easy, I guess, to believe that women are after transparently false, flowery, and obsequious flattery in lieu of real respect and equality. I don't know if you got this notion from Peterson or long before him, as it is yet another idea he helps keep in currency but did not invent himself. but it's a lie.

Shutting down men who disrespect women is great, though. unlike the door thing and the silly false praise, that's real and good. Thanks for that. you have to balance that against the knowledge that Peterson is a man who disrespects women on the regular, though, and resolve the cognitive dissonance somehow. "Locker room talk" isn't just naughty words for body parts, it's an attitude towards those body parts and the people owning them. Jordan Peterson's attitude.
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:57 AM on May 22 [26 favorites]


I treat women with respect.

The problem with this statement is this:

A huge part of respect is listening to people. I haven't heard that in any of the Peterson quotes I've ever come across. Not once. Not ever. Nothing about 'listen to people and believe them about their own experiences.'

When people cannot do that for me, I do not believe they respect me. I suspect you feel the same: if someone were to respond to you with 'Formfactor's comments just prove Peterson is full of crap' without engaging with your statement, you'd feel disrespected, right?

Taking that a little further: this thread is mostly composed of women expressing fear and dismay because Peterson's ideas have really scary implications for them that Peterson himself either wants or doesn't understand. See the whole back-and-forth about his 'enforced monogamy' comments, which are particularly bad.

You just dismissed them, and everything they had to say, without so much as one word of acknowledgement. Not 'I see why you're concerned, but here's where he fixes it,' or 'oh I don't like that part, I'm only here for [x].'

So here, in this place, in that comment, you have disrespected every woman present whether that was your intention or not.

I'm not saying that to shame you, but in the hope you mean what you say about wanting to do good. If you want to do good, listen to the people around you about what's bothering them and try to understand why that would be. Help if you can.
posted by mordax at 8:00 AM on May 22 [30 favorites]


casual lobster empowerment

brb forming band
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:00 AM on May 22 [16 favorites]


Many, many good comments here. I wanted to make a minor point about this question in particular:

Last year I was researching schools in the vicinity and happened upon the Waldorf (Steiner) variety. What struck me about them was that they also claim that myths contain truth. Do they overlap with Petersen?

I don't think it's a coincidence that in Germany, teachers at Steiner schools have had a longstanding reputation as Nazi or Nazi-adjacent because of their similar fetishization of esoteric ideas about mysticism and mythology. Mishra picks up this point in the NYRB article cited above.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 8:27 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


I'm 51. Full time job. Take care of my aging parents. The people I work with and for think highly of me. I open doors for women. I don't indulge in locker room talk of women. I don't allow men to disrespect women in my presence. I treat women with respect. I believe most of the women I work with are infinitely more qualified than me at just about anything. I look women in the eye when speaking with them.

This is all true of me, except that I am a year younger than you, and I think what Peterson is "on to" is reinforcing profound cliches about gender that are entrenched in a misogynistic system created by two thousand years of patriarchy.

So, I mean, maybe in a year I'll have come around to your extremely vague comment of support, but somehow I think not.
posted by maxsparber at 8:28 AM on May 22 [23 favorites]


I don't indulge in locker room talk of women. I don't allow men to disrespect women in my presence. I treat women with respect. I believe most of the women I work with are infinitely more qualified than me at just about anything. I look women in the eye when speaking with them.

In other words, you have a Madonna/Whore complex.

Look, even though you treat women "better", this still means that you are lumping all women into a different class of humanity than you do other men. And that separation is itself the problem.

We women are people. Just like you. We are not a different class of being, we do not need specially protected status just by virtue of being women. You may be forbidding men to "disrespect women" in your presence, but you're not doing it because "disrespecting PEOPLE isn't cool", you're doing it because "disrespecting WOMEN isn't cool". You may think that the women you work with are "more qualified than you", but I suspect that there is some internal subconscious handicap you're giving them because of their gender, becuase you think women are speshul. You say you "look women in the eye" when you talk to them, but you should be looking everyone in the eye, so there's no reason why you should be claiming this as a brownie point.

You may be thinking that you're all noble because you're "nice to women", but the problem is that you are still seeing women as a separate category of humanity. The fact that you are nice to this separate category does not change the fact that you still see it as separate. We're not interested in "separate but equal."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:32 AM on May 22 [51 favorites]


Here's what I don't get. If all these men are angry and violent because women won't mate with them why don't they be less pathetic so that more women will want to mate with them? Instead of being more pathetic?

There are a lot of beautiful, intelligent, emotionally stable, successful, ambitious women out there who want boyfriends and husbands. But they want men who will at least try to meet them at their level. Who will at least try to be emotionally available, ambitious and/or intelligent. Many women have a much lower bar of what they demand in a mate than these men do...

Many women don't even insist or expect their mate to be great looking or particularly successful if he is a nice, decent person who tries to pull his weight. We just don't want to be stuck with whiny, overgrown man-babies who spend a disproportionate amount of time living in their parents basement playing video games, smoking weed, jerking off and expecting us to be their mommy/porn star. We want men who grow out of that mindset by the time they hit their twenties.

How pathetic is it that women being successful inspires these kind of men to... Give up instead of man up? What is it, sour grapes? Laziness? Spite? Fear of cooties?

I mean sure. I would love to date a man who was my equal or maybe even greater in just about every way. But I don't want to be less in order to make that possible! I want them to be more! step the fuck up!

I mean, who told these guys that whining and being angry would get them women? Are they all teenagers, that this is how they think the world works? No amount of driving your van into crowds of people is going to make women want you. That's just damn stupid. If you are that damn spoiled that you think this is at all a reasonable reaction to not getting laid, it's no wonder nobody wants to mate with you, honestly.

Haven't there been periods of history when celibacy was a glorious virtue that men supposedly strived for, and wiley temptress women tried to snatch it from them? And now witchy dismissive women are forcing celibacy upon them. And yet the men aren't acting any better.

There are tons of women out there who want men to mate with and will put up with a hell of a lot to get one. If you somehow can't find one, change your fucking tactics. Be less pathetic and less self-centered. If we supposedly have a glut of choice and we aren't chosing you, become more choosable. Get a grip.
posted by windykites at 8:32 AM on May 22 [16 favorites]


I treat women with respect... I think Jordan Peterson is on to something.

'I'm polite to women I may at some point force to have sex with me' is not the winning argument you think it is.
posted by chris24 at 8:32 AM on May 22 [18 favorites]


If I could trade men opening doors for me for actual respect, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Men use I open doors for you as a shield against accusations of misogyny: How can I be misogynist if I perform this basic social nicety in public? Surely opening a door for you means that I respect you!

Men also use I open doors for you as a cudgel to beat down women asking for more: Men open doors for you and if we don't you get mad! It's women who are the privileged bitches class!

Coming into a room full of women who are angry about being seen as exploitable resources instead of human beings, declaring that they are all wrong, and trying to prove your non-misogynist bonafides with I open doors for you ... does exactly the opposite of proving your non-misogynist bonafides.

In fact it's a huge fucking red flag, because it illustrates that (a) you don't know what meaningful respect for women actually looks like, and (b) you haven't even talked to enough women to know that our feelings about men opening doors for us are varied and complicated... but definitely turn towards negative when men think it proves something about themselves.

That in turn tells me that either you don't have many close women friends, your women friends don't feel safe discussing these topics with you, or you don't listen to your women friends ... all of which are also red flags.

I'd suggest that you try again, with an actual argument, but I think you'd benefit more from listening.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:33 AM on May 22 [36 favorites]


he published said book in 1999 and apparently it took him THIRTEEN YEARS to write it.

god i bet it was one month to write each "rule" and then a full year after each one to jerk off about how amazing he thinks he is
posted by poffin boffin at 8:34 AM on May 22 [15 favorites]


Jordan Peterson’s point, which he’s proven over and over again beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that you can’t go out in public and spew all kinds of random half-informed bullshit that’s supposed to prove that there’s no oppression without people getting seriously peeved with you.
posted by chrchr at 8:36 AM on May 22 [4 favorites]


god i bet it was one month to write each "rule" and then a full year after each one to jerk off about how amazing he thinks he is

I think my dude would be a happier man if he jerked off that much.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:37 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


If all these men are angry and violent because women won't mate with them why don't they be less pathetic so that more women will want to mate with them? Instead of being more pathetic?

The only answer that makes sense to me is that they don't want an equal partnership and probably can't even conceive of what an equal partnership looks like. Their worldview is that profoundly affected by their sexism.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:39 AM on May 22 [10 favorites]


You can tell they're virgins because they think that mating will solve all their problems and somehow make them happy. Where did they get this idea from? Not from experience.
posted by some loser at 8:42 AM on May 22 [9 favorites]


@tannervolz:
I see we're onto the "mass murderers are the real victims" part of the GOP narrative
posted by Artw at 8:47 AM on May 22 [10 favorites]


How pathetic is it that women being successful inspires these kind of men to... Give up instead of man up? What is it, sour grapes? Laziness? Spite? Fear of cooties?

While the NYT makes worthwhile hay out of Peterson ugly redistribution arguments, the nut of his self-help argument is that you need to man up and be better. Like, that is the central part of the pitch, and the Peterson fans who are cited think that he has helped them be better people. Like, there is a temptation to collapse the space between Peterson's fans and incels, but to do so beyond the level of "buys into misogynistic patriarchal ideas to shape their worldview" is to actually lose what makes their flavors distinctive.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:59 AM on May 22 [3 favorites]


Where did they get this idea from?

You're soaking in it.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:00 AM on May 22 [3 favorites]


You can tell they're virgins because they think that mating will solve all their problems and somehow make them happy.

I don't think it's totally about mating. It's also a control and power thing. That's why the whole thing about forced marriage, arguing that women should know their place, and the refusal to accommodate women in any capacity.
posted by FJT at 9:09 AM on May 22 [8 favorites]


The whole forced mating was only implicit until recently, so apparently Incel terrorism works. Welp.
posted by Yowser at 9:11 AM on May 22 [7 favorites]


Like, that is the central part of the pitch, and the Peterson fans who are cited think that he has helped them be better people.

right, and just look at them. or listen to them, or read them, is more prudent than finding them out up close I guess. We know how they are, and the way they are is what they think is better. than...something. this is horrifying.

or maybe it's the Evelyn Waugh argument, the thing he said about sure he's a monster but you have no idea how much worse he would be if it weren't for Catholicism. and to a person like that you can say nothing, particularly if he has, to graciously understate the case, sub-Waugh levels of perception and intelligence. How do I know he wasn't an actual violent criminal before, as a duck with his eyelids, so he with his nose / Trim[med] his belt and his buttons, and turn[ed] out his toes?

Well, I don't. Peterson fans are dreadful people, but a person can always be worse. and in the end it boils down to an implicit threat, as it always does: leave us be with our lobsterman, or we'll be worse.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:14 AM on May 22 [18 favorites]


Going To Maine, it seems to me his "rules" focus on superficial things like standing up straight and making the bed? Which are nice if you're in kindergarten or never learned any self-discipline, but to me still doesn't even reach the baseline of what is required to be a functional capable adult. Not to say that all capable adults make their bed, etc, but that it's beside the point.

Like we have fundamentally different ideas about what "manning up and being better" means and this isn't even close.

Like yes, have self discipline and take care of yourself and have goals and ambitions and strive hard to reach them and accept that the world doesn't owe you a living and treat people with courtesy and then man up and be better, accept women are humans, etc.
posted by windykites at 9:33 AM on May 22 [4 favorites]


Peterson would sound more credible, if he could just swap voices with Elizabeth Holmes...
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 9:41 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


the nut of his self-help argument is that you need to man up and be better. Like, that is the central part of the pitch, and the Peterson fans who are cited think that he has helped them be better people.

I don't think that's untrue, exactly, but stated that way I think it obscures the degree to which Peterson's advice, at its most innocuous, is nearly indistinguishable from Dale Carnegie's, or the Scout Law's, or your mom's. But Peterson's fans aren't going to those sources for the same advice, they're going to Peterson because he appeals to them. So while it's probably true that some of his advice is innocuous, maybe even good, I think it's important to be aware of the degree to which it's wrapped up in appeals which are (to me) pretty noxious.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:41 AM on May 22 [5 favorites]


The first rule of Fight Club is...
posted by FJT at 9:42 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


I think Jordan Peterson is on to something. And most of the comments in this thread only make his point.
posted by Formfactor at 7:27 AM on May 22 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


And what is it you think he's on to?

And what is it about these comments that make you think this?


There is no sane way on earth to respond to these questions in this thread. Getting on 250 comments as I start writing this and at least two hundred of those firmly contra-Jordan Peterson, very many of those of the "fuck that guy!" variety. It feels akin to walking into a New York Yankees bar and saying Go Red Sox ... and then sticking around to pragmatically explain your thinking. I love many things about Metafilter but one thing you can't really do here is take on what amounts to the entire room. Talk about a hill that you will die on.

No, I'm not a Peterson fan boy. Yes, I have been watching with chilling fascination over the past six months in particular as this whole weird absurdist dramedy (or whatever) has played out. I do sincerely wish this community could rationally discuss this guy and the very real dangers he represents because, as I put it in my first comment, "I wish Peterson was as easy to dismiss as this thread seems to indicate. I don't think he is for a pile of reasons."

And then I linked to this Canadaland podcast, which I do continue to recommend to anyone who cares to seriously take on the threat this guy represents. I'm not saying it's the be-all-end-all of Peterson critique but it does take the substance* of the guy seriously, which is something that I fear way too much of the so-called progressive left is not doing.

* and when I say substance, I'm not speaking of the great value of his ideas, but the way he presents them, how he works a stage (or an interview), how he plays the McLuhanistic third-world-war-is-a-guerilla-information-war game
posted by philip-random at 9:47 AM on May 22 [7 favorites]


Personally as a dragon of chaos/ swamp witch/ redistributable genitals I don't feel like rationally discussing someone who does not think I am a human being. But maybe that's me.
posted by sukeban at 9:53 AM on May 22 [23 favorites]


I do sincerely wish this community could rationally discuss this guy and the very real dangers he represents because, as I put it in my first comment, "I wish Peterson was as easy to dismiss as this thread seems to indicate. I don't think he is for a pile of reasons."

You may think that's what you sincerely wish but all of your behavior looks like you wish people would be more sympathetic to his adherents. I can understand why Triumph of the Will is effective propaganda without taking Nazi race theory as something I have to logically refute before I proceed.
posted by PMdixon at 9:56 AM on May 22 [23 favorites]


I can understand why Triumph of the Will is effective propaganda without taking Nazi race theory as something I have to logically refute before I proceed.

That is a luxury you can afford.
posted by No Robots at 9:57 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


There is nothing rational about saying women are property.
posted by agregoli at 9:58 AM on May 22 [23 favorites]


That is a luxury you can afford.

Yes because as we all know the Nazis were defeated by a concerted campaign pointing out the incoherencies in their ideology. WTF are you talking about?
posted by PMdixon at 10:00 AM on May 22 [14 favorites]


(But like, if "substance" is his flash, then we should be discussing how attractive his comments are that women should be property are? Fuck no. We dismiss him because he's an idiot misogynist - full stop.)
posted by agregoli at 10:01 AM on May 22 [9 favorites]


I really don’t understand why people are choosing Peterson’s academic credentials as the hill to fight on. Nothing that he’s saying is buttressed by his work in clinical psychology, and the fact that he’s constantly simplistic or just wrong on 80% of the stuff he says is a much stronger argument. Better to point out that his psych background taught him how to manipulate his audience, IMHO.

But instead, we get:
like, he's fine, i guess, but he's definitely nothing special, and certainly no more 'highly-credentialed' than is average for an academic of his age. he has a BA from University of Alberta and his PhD from McGill; both are fine and serviceable institutions but that's hardly earth-shattering.

McGill is widely known as “the Harvard of Canada,” which is where he’s from. Also, you leave out the fact that he was a professor at the famous Harvard for several years immediately after that, so his credentials apparently impressed them.

Engineer Disease is a more apt criticism, except I think he’s more sinister than that: an expert on adolescent dysfunctional psychology (specifically substance abuse and ideology) using his knowledge to exploit that market.
posted by msalt at 10:03 AM on May 22 [11 favorites]


I do sincerely wish this community could rationally discuss this guy and the very real dangers he represents

Not to pile on, but this phrasing is part of the problem, because Peterson himself does not present rational arguments. Ever. They're not even arguments, let alone rational ones. They're feelings and wishes dressed up in half-understood language. There is no there, there. If you give him this thing that he wants and does not deserve, if you take seriously an argument that doesn't deserve to be taken seriously, an argument that isn't even an argument, he's already won.
posted by halation at 10:05 AM on May 22 [33 favorites]


they're going to Peterson because he appeals to them

Well, if someone is seeking out self-help and advice, they are probably going through a transitional period in their life and/or they want to change. So they are more receptive to ideas in general.

"I wish Peterson was as easy to dismiss as this thread seems to indicate. I don't think he is for a pile of reasons."

Hmm, I think I have been dismissive of him, and I think it may be because I didn't really know about Peterson or his ideas until recently. But having marinated a little in his videos and readings I realize that his ideas and what they (not very subtly) imply are all too real for a lot of folks here (women) and I don't think they are dismissing him.
posted by FJT at 10:05 AM on May 22 [3 favorites]


I do sincerely wish this community could rationally discuss this guy and the very real dangers he represents

This has been a rational discussion. Because it is not the discussion you want to have doesn't mean it is irrational.
posted by maxsparber at 10:06 AM on May 22 [47 favorites]


> I do sincerely wish this community could rationally discuss this guy and the very real dangers he represents because, as I put it in my first comment, "I wish Peterson was as easy to dismiss as this thread seems to indicate. I don't think he is for a pile of reasons."

You just don't like the *way* we dismiss him - I've seen you do this in previouslies - and you think that our anger and disagreement with his "arguments" mean we don't take seriously the very real dangers they represent.

Rather than hanging around lecturing us about how we're Doing it Rong, will you please take your presumably strong and rational arguments for why he and his arguments are wrong-headed and damaging to his audience?
posted by rtha at 10:08 AM on May 22 [42 favorites]


This has been a rational discussion. Because it is not the discussion you want to have doesn't mean it is irrational.

I see this a lot when women or poc or trans people or etc discuss something that effects them, someone (white cis man usually) will try to steer the discussion in a different way because it's not "rational" enough. Like the man is woke enough to recognize that the topic in question is bad and should be discussed, but because its not dispassionate- "ur doing it wrong".

on preview what rtha said.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:09 AM on May 22 [19 favorites]


Because someone recommended some postapocalyptic feminist bicycle fiction to me, I ran across Unfuck Your Adulting: Give Yourself Permission, Carry Your Own Baggage, Don’t Be a Dick, Make Decisions, & Other Life Skills, which I have not read but seems like a useful comparator to "man up" advice.
posted by clew at 10:10 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


McGill is widely known as “the Harvard of Canada”
As I said, it is a fine school. But its admissions are not enormously competitive, certainly not as competitive as Harvard's, and the psych department, while respectable, isn't top 20, internationally. It's a fine degree. But his credentials are not that impressive and it makes little sense to invoke them.

He never made full professor at Harvard. If I had to guess, his lack of publications was a problem, because he was labouring over a middling book for the whole time he was there. Instead of going for full professor and being humiliated when he got turned down, and instead of dead-ending as an associate professor, he probably decided to bail out, and leverage the shiny flash of "I taught at Harvard!" to sway U of T into bringing him on as a full professor. Harvard has a lot of classes, and someone has to teach them. Plenty of people do this type of career move. It's still not that impressive.
posted by halation at 10:14 AM on May 22 [9 favorites]


On the topic of "how helpful would it be to debate this troglodyte," Nathan Robinson points out that Peterson and his alt-right cronies always say they want leftists to debate them but when leftists try to offer substantive critiques and debate invitations they're simply ignored. They don't engage with actual leftist intellectuals because they know that they're naked emperors.
posted by zeusianfog at 10:15 AM on May 22 [25 favorites]


I do sincerely wish this community could rationally discuss this guy and the very real dangers he represents

What an incredibly dismissive thing to say. You do realize that you're calling this discussion irrational? It's been very rational - it just not the discussion you want on the terms that you think are important.

Maybe we think there are more important things to focus on. Or maybe it means that no one has started the discussion you want. Why don't you share some of your thoughts about "how he plays the McLuhanistic third-world-war-is-a-guerilla-information-war game" instead of snidely implying that all of the women here are incapable of approaching the topic of Jordan Peterson rationally?

I do continue to recommend to anyone who cares to seriously take on the threat this guy represents.

You don't think we take the threat seriously? Why do you think we're so angry?
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:16 AM on May 22 [41 favorites]


For example, check out this long interview with Russell Brand.

Brand met up with Peterson twice, both times looking to discuss issues that aren't the ones Peterson usually gets called out for. Though Brand does touch on issues that divide their thinking, he is so drawn to other concepts to discuss that their conversations stay very civil, shying away from any polemic. Which sucks, because Brand has the stuff to really lampoon bullshit when he senses it...

Considering the wealth, depth and passion of all of Brand's other conversations in that series (Under The Skin), those two episodes are actually pretty significant outliers. And as Seth Abramson notes: "the reason Peterson's deception works—pretending he wants an evolution rather than devolution from postmodernism—is because smart, well-meaning, inquisitive folks like Russell Brand (a metamodernist) are looking for anyone who can articulately discuss post-postmodernism."

Chalk this one up for ContraPoints.
posted by progosk at 10:19 AM on May 22 [3 favorites]


Yes because as we all know the Nazis were defeated by a concerted campaign pointing out the incoherencies in their ideology. WTF are you talking about?

I admire those who, even in the face of physical threat, dare to assault the intellectual underpinnings of oppressive political formations.
posted by No Robots at 10:21 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


I admire those who, even in the face of physical threat, dare to assault the intellectual underpinnings of oppressive political formations.
Which is why it makes sense for you to describe not doing that as a luxury. Oh, wait, no it doesn't.
posted by PMdixon at 10:24 AM on May 22 [3 favorites]


I was raised by Objectivists in a household where "irrational" was the gravest of insults. This whole era of what movement conservatism has become is bonkers to me because it's all utterly and proudly irrational. I was taught that liberals are irrational woo-woo gut-feelings types, and conservatives are hard-boiled, rational, sciencey types. That obviously hasn't been true for a long long time if ever, but reading Peterson and hearing about how popular he is just the icing on the cake because everything he says is a complete asspull from a bunch of woo-woo non-science a-girl-made-me-feel-something-icky-once mumbo-jumbo. You can't have a rational discussion about whether or not women are Chaos. I mean... really? What can you say to that?

I can recognize the extreme threat his popularity represents and feel all appropriately grave and concerned about it without thinking there is One Weird Trick to debunking the existence of girl cooties.
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:26 AM on May 22 [37 favorites]


Which is why it makes sense for you to describe not doing that as a luxury. Oh, wait, no it doesn't.

For those not threatened by the political situation, close scrutiny of its intellectual underpinnings is a kind of luxury that can be afforded. For those under threat, attacking the threat intellectually may be essential to thwarting it.
posted by No Robots at 10:35 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


As I said, it is a fine school. But its admissions are not enormously competitive, certainly not as competitive as Harvard's, and the psych department, while respectable, isn't top 20, internationally. It's a fine degree. But his credentials are not that impressive and it makes little sense to invoke them.

He never made full professor at Harvard. If I had to guess, his lack of publications was a problem, because he was labouring over a middling book for the whole time he was there. Instead of going for full professor and being humiliated when he got turned down, and instead of dead-ending as an associate professor, he probably decided to bail out, and leverage the shiny flash of "I taught at Harvard!" to sway U of T into bringing him on as a full professor. Harvard has a lot of classes, and someone has to teach them. Plenty of people do this type of career move. It's still not that impressive.


There's a couple of things here that make me scratch my head here.

Admissions for PhD programs are done entirely at the department level. So comparisons of the average competitiveness for PhD programs across universities is kinda meaningless. Tenure denials at Harvard are notoriously common, so its no shame to get denied tenure there. Scoring a full professorship at UofT is a huge accomplishment, and a very nice rebound from a clear tenure denial at Harvard. Many people get denied tenure wind up doing far less.

He's a full at an R1. That's mine, and many others' dream job. Few of us will get it.

This seems like a weird line of attack against Peterson.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:37 AM on May 22 [7 favorites]


Good thing attacking it intellectually is easy: Women are not property. Done!
posted by agregoli at 10:38 AM on May 22 [22 favorites]


There is no sane way on earth to respond to these questions in this thread. ... It feels akin to walking into a New York Yankees bar and saying Go Red Sox ... and then sticking around to pragmatically explain your thinking. I love many things about Metafilter but one thing you can't really do here is take on what amounts to the entire room. Talk about a hill that you will die on.

strange, it seems as if many a time poc, trans folk, and women have done that over and over again on mefi. and still do. and they do that in real life. constantly, just trying to exist. because it is a hill that they die on, whether they want to fight it or not.

I do sincerely wish this community could rationally discuss this guy and the very real dangers he represents because, as I put it in my first comment, "I wish Peterson was as easy to dismiss as this thread seems to indicate. I don't think he is for a pile of reasons."

Here's the thing. Lots of people have pointed out, repeatedly, that a) you cannot debate him rationally because he does not put forth rational points, and b) the community is rationally pointing out all of the other problems with things he says and does, and c) just because you are tied up in one specific notion of "rational" thought does not necessarily mean that you are correct about its rationality nor does it mean others are necessarily irrational.

You are so focused on This One True Way to engage with Peterson's bigoted Pied Pipering that you do not take seriously anyone else's engagement. So focused on warm camembert, you ignore all the other things.

* and when I say substance, I'm not speaking of the great value of his ideas, but the way he presents them, how he works a stage (or an interview), how he plays the McLuhanistic third-world-war-is-a-guerilla-information-war game

And if this is what you want people to be talking about, sure. But don't pretend that showmanship is really all that rational, nor is information warfare.
posted by anem0ne at 10:39 AM on May 22 [26 favorites]


He's a full at an R1. That's mine, and many others' dream job. Few of us will get it. This seems like a weird line of attack against Peterson.

basically i'm saying U of T got conned, and ended up with a mediocre hire who should, by rights, not be there, and that to point up his 'credentials' is meaningless, because they in no way prove he is smart. there are many similar mediocre hires in similarly undeserved academic positions all across this great wide world of ours.
posted by halation at 10:40 AM on May 22 [12 favorites]


>Which is why it makes sense for you to describe not doing that as a luxury. Oh, wait, no it doesn't.

For those not threatened by the political situation, close scrutiny of its intellectual underpinnings is a kind of luxury that can be afforded. For those under threat, attacking the threat intellectually may be essential to thwarting it.


Essential things aren't luxuries, so this is hecking confusing and self-contradicting. Close scrutiny is either necessary or it isn't, and its need is contingent on the nature of threat and not on the nature of the person working against the threat, which is what you seem to be asserting. This...isn't what 'a luxury that can be afforded' means?
posted by cjelli at 10:50 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


McGill is widely known as “the Harvard of Canada,” which is where he’s from. Also, you leave out the fact that he was a professor at the famous Harvard for several years immediately after that, so his credentials apparently impressed them.

this is no kind of recommendation of him even were it news, and I'm not well able to understand people who think it is. I do have my own kind of credentials on the topic, in that I have years of documented experience insulting Harvard professors, and will wave them around at the least provocation.

being a professor doesn't spark automatic awe in people who are used to professors. whether by knowing a few socially, going to school with them, getting their coffee order wrong and seeing their capacity for childish irrationality firsthand, or going to college to learn from them. they aren't priests of a fearful mystery cult even if the Jungians among them think that's a pity. they are people who in the best case scenario have read a number of books and proven their ability to write a dissertation-length mess of words that can pass by a committee. Are they also smart and well-read in fields outside their own, or up to date in their own field? to know that, you have to talk to them.

these days, they are also people with a book under contract with at least one academic press who can interview well and be "collegial," but for a man of Peterson's generation this did not necessarily apply. and in his case, clearly didn't.
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:53 AM on May 22 [20 favorites]


I mean, if we're talking about Jordan Peterson, he's awfully similar to many of the "thinkers" and "leaders" on the right: they try to sell you a simple solution to all your problems, rely heavily on sophistry and trickery, and then use their charm to manipulate you.

He's not all that much different from conspiracists like Alex Jones or Glenn Beck, who, for as ridiculous as they sound to many people, hook others in with a simple-sounding solution to all the problems of the world.

He's not all that much different from demagogues like Trump, who, for as uncoordinated as he sounds to many people, hook others in with a simple-sounding solution to all the problems in America.

He, like a lot of the other MRAs, hooks people in with simple-sounding solutions to why there's a crisis of masculinity in modern life.

There is no rational way to argue with them because their beliefs are not founded in rationality; their beliefs are incoherent at best, and often rely on dehumanization of the Other. In the case of Peterson and his type, he posits that to be Human is to be Rational (which is not true, given the evidence) and that Man/Maleness is Order. He immediately casts women, then, as the Other, as Chaos, as not of Order; he takes advantage of millennia of stereotypes against women to subtly buttress that difference, that women are Irrational, Hysterical.

I don't know what more you want. This desire that Peterson is tapping into, that of wrath, that of jealously, of pain that stems from things one feels one deserves (while simultaneously denying that they are ill-gotten) is not a rational desire. The crisis of masculinity he exploits is one that needs to be resolved in lots of ways, but his "simple-sounding solution" is one of regression, not progress.
posted by anem0ne at 10:56 AM on May 22 [25 favorites]


* and when I say substance, I'm not speaking of the great value of his ideas, but the way he presents them, how he works a stage (or an interview), how he plays the McLuhanistic third-world-war-is-a-guerilla-information-war game

And if this is what you want people to be talking about, sure. But don't pretend that showmanship is really all that rational, nor is information warfare.


thanks anemOne --

if I could post that comment again, I'd put the focus on the footnote and chose a better word than "rationally". Apologies to all who took issue with it. I wish I'd thought more before I "spoke". I've always likened a Metafilter to a house party with all manner of rooms. You wander into a particular room, you hopefully read the mood at least slightly accurately, you say stuff. And if you say the wrong stuff, you tend to find out about it, sometimes politely, sometimes not, because whatever you say, however you intend it, you don't get to choose how it lands.
posted by philip-random at 10:59 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


It doesn't matter if he's a good academic or a bad academic when he's talking about things that are not in his field. And mostly what he talks about in his media persona are things that are way outside of his field. When he's not talking about psychology, he's just a cranky old dude.
posted by chrchr at 11:05 AM on May 22 [5 favorites]


So is Jordan Peterson a crypto-Nazi, a closet white power guy, a secret fascist pretending to be calm and rational? No, that's silly

You've linked to that Canadaland podcast three times, but you've not explained why that "however" you point to is important. I mean, the above suggests that fascists aren't calm and rational, which, yeah.
posted by threetwentytwo at 11:08 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


It strikes me that one of Peterson’s more effective tactics is not quite saying his most outrageous or fucked up points. He always leaves himself an out while connecting 9 of the 10 dots around a hateful idea. Our brains naturally finish the outline, both his fans and detractors, but it’s hard to debate him because he can correctly and calmly say “Oh no, I never said that.”

For example, many people here are quoting him as saying “women are property” but I’m pretty sure he never said that. He can scurry back and claim that enforced monogamy simply means social lressure for young marriage without possibility of divorce, even though he clearly implied government-mandated sex partners.

Similarly, Jung, myth and archetypes were fashionable in his generation (I’m one year older than him) and in fact were associated with liberal, even feminist attempts to recreate maculinity in non-toxic forms. But he recognized the inarguability of appeals to myths and co-opted it for his own purposes.
posted by msalt at 11:09 AM on May 22 [20 favorites]


psych professors may be good authorities on psychology, the field of academia; there is no reason to assume or expect them to be good authorities on psychology, the study of the human mind. I don't say Peterson's any good at the former but he is patently and profoundly no good at the latter.

again: you look at a man's resume to decide whether you want to interview him for a position. when you haven't spoken to him yet and are still deciding whether you want to hear what he's got to say. we are well, well past that stage. it is so weird to talk about his degrees and c.v. at a time when he's a public figure giving press interviews and going on book tours, it's like you or me bringing up our high school GPA at a work evaluation. "how can you argue that I put a fish in the percolator, making the breakroom unusable for weeks, when RIGHT HERE it says I was a National Merit Scholar?" we might demand to know. how, indeed.

the problem is not that his detractors don't know what a very special thing it is to be a national merit scholar, or indeed a harvard professor. but those are things that get you in the door of the respectability room so everyone can have a look at you. they don't give you license to stay there once you've shown your quality.
posted by queenofbithynia at 11:11 AM on May 22 [12 favorites]


There is no sane way on earth to respond to these questions in this thread. Getting on 250 comments as I start writing this and at least two hundred of those firmly contra-Jordan Peterson, very many of those of the "fuck that guy!" variety. It feels akin to walking into a New York Yankees bar and saying Go Red Sox ... and then sticking around to pragmatically explain your thinking. I love many things about Metafilter but one thing you can't really do here is take on what amounts to the entire room. Talk about a hill that you will die on.

If you want to talk, talk. Don't slight the entire membership here by saying, "you just won't listen to me." Sure we may have our opinions, but most of us are still able and (to varying degrees) willing to listen to anybody who engages in good faith and doesn't just whine about the fact nobody will listen to him when he hasn't even attempted to state his case.

So you've got a tough room. That's a shame, but it's also the reality that this tough room exists because people experience the real-life consequences of "thinkers" like Peterson. But just because it's a tough room doesn't mean it's an impossible room. If your argument is a strong and rational as you say it is, then you should find people willing to listen to you (I'm willing, and I state that so you can't back down with "but nobody wants to hear me.") and possibly even engage with you through rational, logical discussion.

No, I'm not a Peterson fan boy. Yes, I have been watching with chilling fascination over the past six months in particular as this whole weird absurdist dramedy (or whatever) has played out. I do sincerely wish this community could rationally discuss this guy and the very real dangers he represents because, as I put it in my first comment, "I wish Peterson was as easy to dismiss as this thread seems to indicate. I don't think he is for a pile of reasons."

As I said, if you want rational (for however you define it) give it a shot. Give us a sample of what you think. Don't just tell us you have all these great and deep thoughts. Doing that isn't making a rational argument. Here, I'll even give you one for free: I agree that people like this aren't easy to dismiss because they represent a real-life danger. So there, you've got a person who is willing to listen (see above) and even willing to agree with one of your starting principles. Go ahead, from there the rest should be easy.

And then I linked to this Canadaland podcast, which I do continue to recommend to anyone who cares to seriously take on the threat this guy represents. I'm not saying it's the be-all-end-all of Peterson critique but it does take the substance* of the guy seriously, which is something that I fear way too much of the so-called progressive left is not doing.

Sorry, nope. I don't have the time or the energy to listen to a podcast, especially when I'm working. You should be able to give me quick, easy-to-read (because they're rational) arguments I can digest in a few minutes.

* and when I say substance, I'm not speaking of the great value of his ideas, but the way he presents them, how he works a stage (or an interview), how he plays the McLuhanistic third-world-war-is-a-guerilla-information-war game
posted by philip-random at 9:47 AM on May 22 [2 favorites +]


Again, please cite your work. Examples are always welcomed, especially when they're presented rationally.
posted by sardonyx at 11:12 AM on May 22 [12 favorites]


For example, many people here are quoting him as saying “women are property”

The only time in this thread the word "property" appears in quotes is your comment. People are drawing the obvious inference from "enforced monogamy". You are either not as careful a reader as you think you are or are arguing in bad faith.
posted by PMdixon at 11:19 AM on May 22 [5 favorites]


Our brains naturally finish the outline, both his fans and detractors, but it’s hard to debate him because he can correctly and calmly say “Oh no, I never said that.”

I think it's pretty easy, honestly. but I do know what you mean, and it's why his fans were such raving hypocrites when they got aghast that the NYT article DIDN'T do that. in this very thread it was treated as a vicious and unfair dig at him that the author didn't "finish the outline" of his swamp witch thesis for him: she must have known what he meant (they say); she must be capable of filling in the rough sketch for him (they say), so why else but dishonest winking glibness would she refrain?

well, because of exactly what you say. they're probably right, she probably did know what actual point was lurking somewhere in his unconscious, hidden away on the archetype shelf behind the old wizard tchochkes. But just because you know what he's thinking doesn't mean you have to speak it for him. Doing his thinkwork for him is falling for the trick, if you do it when he's counting on it. and when his betters decline to be chivalrous to the point of falling for it multiple times, oh boy does it make him and his people mad.

so I like to fill in the necessary-implication parts he likes to leave unsaid, but not lift a finger to help with the parts he demands other people say for him. I think that's entirely fair and a good idea.
posted by queenofbithynia at 11:22 AM on May 22 [21 favorites]


Comic by Gretchen Koch: Every conversation with a Jordan Peterson fan
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:25 AM on May 22 [17 favorites]


PMDixon: what a strange, uncharitable reaction. My entire comment was about how he tactically encouraqes inference just beyond what he actually says, for deniability, and I went into detail. What bad faith are you accusing me of, precisely?
posted by msalt at 11:26 AM on May 22 [5 favorites]


It's true that nobody in this thread accuses Peterson of saying that women are property, but there are lot of people saying that Peterson thinks women are not people. I think msalt is right that Peterson is using a rhetorical tactic of stopping just short of saying that and allowing his audience and detractors to draw a conclusion.
posted by chrchr at 11:28 AM on May 22 [2 favorites]


Even that comic has a comment from a guy stating that "enforced monogamy" doesn't mean what everyone thinks it means - and yet doesn't put forth what other mysterious meaning it could have.
posted by agregoli at 11:28 AM on May 22 [1 favorite]


msalt: It strikes me that one of Peterson’s more effective tactics is not quite saying his most outrageous or fucked up points. He always leaves himself an out while connecting 9 of the 10 dots around a hateful idea. Our brains naturally finish the outline, both his fans and detractors, but it’s hard to debate him because he can correctly and calmly say “Oh no, I never said that.”

For example, many people here are quoting him as saying “women are property” but I’m pretty sure he never said that. He can scurry back and claim that enforced monogamy simply means social lressure for young marriage without possibility of divorce, even though he clearly implied government-mandated sex partners.


That's the thing. He can mention "enforced monogamy" to hypothetically solve the fictional problem that so many men don't get to have sex because all the women want the Chads, and then backtrack and say that guys, no, he only suggested ~social pressure~, as if there wasn't already social pressure for monogamy in our society (presumably not enough because in his view women still want to sex only the Chads, those irresponsible sluts), and as if in real life there wasn't a historical memory of scarlet letters and jail and honor murders about what "enforced monogamy" meant for women for reals. He's just doing this "ohoho I never said that" bullshit that we already have seen with other fascists like Theodore Beale and it is so goddamn tiresome.

I really hope some interviewer has the courage to nail him down and make him sit down and explain exactly what he means not because I expect him to be coherent but because at this moment I just want to see him squirm.
posted by sukeban at 11:28 AM on May 22 [18 favorites]


Like, I'm only in my early thirties, but I have parents that are old enough that they "had to get married" when my mum was a pregnant teenager (lucky they turned out to love each other). It's not a fuckin mystery to me what enforced monogamy means, it's not a mystery to my partner, who doesn't have a clue who Jordan Peterson is, and if there's a different non-misogo, non-rape version of what it means, then it's up to Peterson to define it better, in like 2 paragraphs or less.
posted by threetwentytwo at 11:34 AM on May 22 [26 favorites]


> if I could post that comment again, I'd put the focus on the footnote

But you keep arguing that we (here, elsewhere) who are arguing against Peterson are doing it incorrectly because we are not taking him seriously and/or rationally. But then you say that it's not his *ideas* we're not engaging with, but his method of deploying them. Can you understand why people are increasingly annoyed at your inability to acknowledge that there is no "rational" argument to be aimed at psy-ops - whether that psy-ops is deployed by Peterson et al subconsciously or deliberately? The "argument" against it is to point out that it is not an argument.

BUT! All this reminded me of this excellent comment Eyebrows McGee made in a meta a few years back. I'll quote a bit and you'll see why I was reminded of people like Peterson:
You structure your post so it sort-of looks and sounds like an argument, using the same sorts of language and framing you've seen on other, well-received arguments, and pretty it up with some sources of dubious quality, and expect other people to respect it. But then instead of listening and engaging when people say, "Wait, you're making an assumption here," you get upset (seething, even!) and start shouting I MADE A LOGICAL ARGUMENT WHY IS IT NOT WORKING YOU MUST ALL BE BAD PEOPLE! Your arguments have no inside parts. They have no content. They look sort-of like arguments, but they are empty.

Your argument's not working because it's a Cargo Cult Argument. No airplanes are going to land there. You have not built an airport. You have built something that looks sort-of like an airport, but you have missed all the parts that make it an actual airport and achieved only the cosmetic semblance of an airport.
posted by rtha at 11:39 AM on May 22 [41 favorites]


Dude asked women to jump and they didn’t think to ask him how high.
posted by Artw at 11:40 AM on May 22 [5 favorites]


It's true that nobody in this thread accuses Peterson of saying that women are property, but there are lot of people saying that Peterson thinks women are not people. I think msalt is right that Peterson is using a rhetorical tactic of stopping just short of saying that and allowing his audience and detractors to draw a conclusion.

It's Lee Atwater's famous quote.
posted by anem0ne at 11:41 AM on May 22 [8 favorites]


It strikes me that one of Peterson’s more effective tactics is not quite saying his most outrageous or fucked up points. He always leaves himself an out while connecting 9 of the 10 dots around a hateful idea. Our brains naturally finish the outline, both his fans and detractors, but it’s hard to debate him because he can correctly and calmly say “Oh no, I never said that.”


At which point the response needs to be "then you are arguing in bad faith." Not stating the conclusion that you are heavily hinting at is not a get out of condemnation free card, it's a sign that the person isn't being honest, at which point they should be treated as being dishonest.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:50 AM on May 22 [15 favorites]


I think that Peterson's reference to "enforced monogamy" could have been innocently intended* as a reference to social systems that incorporate monogamous pair-bonding and not explicitly a claim that women should be property. It's the classic things-were-better-in-the-(18)50s white male conservative trope.

But I would say all of this advisedly because of the context: recently several men have murdered people because they haven't been able to get sex when they want it on their terms. And there's a broader context of push-back against sexual assault and exploitation, which primarily pushes against men and male-dominated structures. And there's a broader context of the general advancement of the rights of women and people of colour. So if were going to hold forth about something like "enforced monogamy," I'd maybe be careful to frame my arguments and choose my language accordingly.

If I, some random loser, can acknowledge that context, and speak advisedly, why can't Peterson? Here's a guy who's constantly having to shut down anti-semite conspiracy theorists at his talks, yet never asks himself why they're so attracted to him. Here's a guy who is constantly fielding accusations that he wants women to be property, but never considers the fact that maybe it's the words coming out his own mouth -- in context -- that inspire that reaction.

* Yes, I'm being very, very generous for rhetorical purposes.
posted by klanawa at 11:54 AM on May 22 [15 favorites]


Comic by Gretchen Koch: Every conversation with a Jordan Peterson fan

Oh, truth.

‘Out of context’ used to baffle me in these conversations because I could not follow how they were using it. You say “in what way? what’s the context?” and get... links to more videos. Which are not videos which make the context clear, but they are not even presented as videos which will make the context clear, it’s just “here is JP saying other things I agree with.”

I now see it this way: the ‘context’ as they see it is that Jordan is a genius who is right. This is the truth and the only truth and is the only legitimate way to engage with his ideas. So if you point to something where he looks stupid or wrong or too blatantly fascistic, that is you taking him ‘out of context’.

It is not of course what most people mean by ‘out of context’, and using that term in this way is co-opting the language of reason and fact to mask wounded pride and seething resentment, but I guess they learned that trick from the master.
posted by Catseye at 11:58 AM on May 22 [18 favorites]


It's true that nobody in this thread accuses Peterson of saying that women are property, but there are lot of people saying that Peterson thinks women are not people.

It's almost as if women are capable of using language and rhetoric to make their points too, just like Real People.

Peterson is being ~*clever*~ and using his ~*skilled knowledge*~ of ~*psychology*~ to make his point. But we women need to stick to his exact quotes and not stray from the provided text; we're too naturally chaotic to use these high-level top-secret techniques that he learned at ~*Harvard*~.
posted by melissasaurus at 12:01 PM on May 22 [24 favorites]



At which point the response needs to be "then you are arguing in bad faith."


& to the counterargument-in-kind this can easily provoke: a man whose intellect is demonstrably limited both in capacity and integrity should be addressed neither in good faith nor in bad faith: he should be spoken to with no faith at all.

that is to say, he has relinquished the benefit of the doubt and the right to charitable interpretation. and without charity, you must earn your own way, if you can.

and through continually debasing himself he has reached a point in his career where he must do all the work himself. he must open his own doors and not expect to have them held for him any longer, rhetorically speaking.
posted by queenofbithynia at 12:04 PM on May 22 [13 favorites]


as if there wasn't already social pressure for monogamy in our society (presumably not enough because in his view women still want to sex only the Chads, those irresponsible sluts)

Right? Women hate monogomy and that's why there is a multi billion-dollar wedding industry.

I thought the MRA/PUA shtick was that women like monogomy too much and we all want to get our claws into the nearest man to entrap him into a lifetime of baby-making (while refusing to provide sex!), nagging, siphoning his earnings and destroying his precious freedom? So they have to manipulate our overly monogamous urges to trick and coerce and psychologically abuse us into offering them unlimited, no-strings-attached, pornographically performative sex on demand?

WHICH IS IT MY POOR FEMALE BRAIN IS CONFUSED DO I LIKE MONOGOMY OR NOT
posted by windykites at 12:05 PM on May 22 [29 favorites]


I think msalt is right that Peterson is using a rhetorical tactic of stopping just short of saying that and allowing his audience and detractors to draw a conclusion.

given that he's a superstar among the mra/alt-right regressive/retrograde men of the world, this definitely should be underscored.

> I think this sums up his appeal (from FTA)
“Whenever I listen to him, it’s like he’s telling me something I already knew,” Mr. Logan says. “Learning is remembering.”


so again, peterson? his tactics, his philosophies, his flash/showmanship? not rational.
posted by anem0ne at 12:11 PM on May 22 [4 favorites]


So how does one engage against the irrational forces that, with the help of scholastics like Peterson, threaten the body politic? Here help comes precisely from the work of Jews and others combating the rising tide of anti-semitism and race hate a century ago.
posted by No Robots at 12:20 PM on May 22


So how does one engage against the irrational forces that, with the help of scholastics like Peterson, threaten the body politic? Here help comes precisely from the work of Jews and others combating the rising tide of anti-semitism and race hate a century ago.

Namely? Please don't ask everyone in the thread to make your argument for you.
posted by thegears at 12:25 PM on May 22 [8 favorites]


social systems that incorporate monogamous pair-bonding and not explicitly a claim that women should be property. It's the classic things-were-better-in-the-(18)50s white male conservative trope.

This best-version of the Peterson argument is also pretty troubling. In the 1850s, in the US and the US and across much of Europe, married women could not hold property or enter into binding contracts. Monogamy was enforced by women’s legally-mandated economic dependence on men. In the 1950s, a married woman could still be fired because she was married in the US and the UK. Monogamy was enforced by women’s (legally-permitted) socially mandated economic dependence on men. There is actually no coherent way to take the concept of coercion—state-backed or state-licensed—out of the word “enforced”. The distinction between the 1850s version and the Handmaid’s Tale version is of degree, not kind. So there is really no good faith charitable reading of the “enforced monogamy” concept that isn’t horrifying and open to critique on the basis that it demonstrates a fundamental disregard for women’s rights. For a guy who likes to call himself a classical liberal, this is a pretty astonishing mistake to make so very often.
posted by Aravis76 at 12:26 PM on May 22 [32 favorites]


When I was in grad school at U of T, there used to be a psych prof who would constantly write cranky homophobic letters to the school paper. Jordan Peterson reminded me of him, so I did a search and found him: John Furedy. Furedy died in 2016, and his obituary says "He was a founding member and then president of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship (www.safs.ca). He warned against 'velvet totalitarianism' and the 'culture of comfort' and sought to protect the merit principle in hiring, and educational standards in general. He believed that truth was reached through the conflict of ideas and vigorously opposed postmodern trends undermining freedom of expression and individuality."

I wonder if Furedy played a big role in shaping Peterson's worldview, or if that was just the general culture of the department when he was hired. Meanwhile a friend at U of T tells me that there are many lovely people in the psych faculty there today so I promised him I wouldn't disparage the entire department.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 12:27 PM on May 22 [9 favorites]


“Whenever I listen to him, it’s like he’s telling me something I already knew,” Mr. Logan says. “Learning is remembering.”

this does get at so much, because the experience of apprehending a new thought that comes to you like a forgotten dream, like a shaft of sunlight piercing through a window or a dove popping into your ear canal to deliver the Savior to your womb or a pro wrestler hurling himself down from some great height into the ring of your mind headfirst -- the experience of having it arrive in and upon you with no effort on your part and nothing asked of you but recognition, required not to struggle for understanding or hold complex premises in your mind while you follow a thread to a conclusion, but only to consent to be delighted

is a thing. it's the language of poetic experience, of first meetings with certain kinds of art, of religious conversions and divine revelation.

and in the first two instances, it's wonderful. but JP is no poet and no artist. I don't think he even pretends to be. he is trying to give these boys the third thing, and some of them are highly receptive.
posted by queenofbithynia at 12:32 PM on May 22 [12 favorites]


The distinction between the 1850s version and the Handmaid’s Tale version is of degree, not kind.

Black women were enslaved in the 1850s in the US and were literally considered property and used for forced reproduction under brutality that far eclipses the Handmaid's Tale. So, yes, a difference of degree; but it's the book that handled it lightly.
posted by melissasaurus at 12:36 PM on May 22 [25 favorites]


Namely?

Glad you asked:

The Tyranny of Hate: The Roots of Antisemitism : A Translation into English of Memsheleth Sadon / Constantin Brunner

A Program for the Jews, an answer to all anti-semites, a program for humanity / Harry Waton

Caution: that link for Waton is to an ant-semitic website. Anti-semites like to quote Waton as providing proof of their theories. For them, he is the quintessential Jewish-Marxist who does not hesitate to announce the coming defeat of the aryanists.

Brunner was a German-Jewish writer whose first writings against anti-semitism were penned in the 1890s. He died in 1937. His widow and step-daughter perished in Sobibor.
posted by No Robots at 12:38 PM on May 22


[De-linked. Don't link to hate sites, please. We don't want to give them search traffic or googlejuice.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:40 PM on May 22 [10 favorites]


I thought the MRA/PUA shtick was that women like monogomy too much and we all want to get our claws into the nearest man to entrap him into a lifetime of baby-making (while refusing to provide sex!), nagging, siphoning his earnings and destroying his precious freedom? So they have to manipulate our overly monogamous urges to trick and coerce and psychologically abuse us into offering them unlimited, no-strings-attached, pornographically performative sex on demand?

WHICH IS IT MY POOR FEMALE BRAIN IS CONFUSED DO I LIKE MONOGOMY OR NOT


Oh, you forgot the part where, once the she-beast has the poor, innocent Good Guy trussed up in her web with his wallet firmly in her talons, she will inevitably sleep with every milkman, hitchhiker, and delivery boy that crosses her path, filling her virtuous, persecuted husband's home with an endless series of bastard children in every shape and color. These guys are obsessed with cuckoldry and non-paternity.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:45 PM on May 22 [16 favorites]


Namely? Please don't ask everyone in the thread to make your argument for you.

Glad you asked:


So your response is a book we can purchase or an anti-semitic website we can visit? You still are failing to make an actual argument. No one is going to do a book report just to have a conversation. Either you have a point of view you want to get across, which you can share with us here, or you don't. Have you read those resources? Why don't you tell us what you gained from them rather than just presenting us with homework?
posted by melissasaurus at 12:46 PM on May 22 [26 favorites]


Black women were enslaved in the 1850s in the US and were literally considered property and used for forced reproduction under brutality that far eclipses the Handmaid's Tale. So, yes, a difference of degree; but it's the book that handled it lightly.

Yes, absolutely—but I think Peterson (for some reason) centres the experience of upper class white women in his fantasies of how things weren’t so bad back when monogamy was enforced. In general, nostalgic-for-the-1850s conservatives rarely acknowledge how far from their favoured ideal the actual sexual behaviour of privileged men was, what with all the rape and slavery and prostitution; they achieve the result by disregarding the existence of the majority of actual women and focusing on the experiences of Elizabeth Bennet and Scarlett O’Hara as the only relevant case studies.
posted by Aravis76 at 12:47 PM on May 22 [10 favorites]


The distinction between the 1850s version and the Handmaid’s Tale version is of degree, not kind.

And let's be clear -- Jordan Peterson is fully familiar with the Handmaid's Tale (one of the most popular Canadian novels ever) and is deliberately conjuring that world when he says "enforced monogamy" even as he maintains a rhetorical escape route in case he's called on it.

As for opposing him, I wish someone would dig into the facts behind the following comment he made at 8:20 of this video. I think it's very likely that his hard turn into misogyny a couple of years ago is related to his personal experiences.
"Y'know, I've also been accused three times in my career of sexual impropriety. Baseless accusations. And the last one really tangled me up for a whole year. It's not entertaining. So there's plenty to be sorted out, but like I said already, we live in the delusion of a thirteen year old adolescent girl. And so, as long as we maintain that level of sophistication, we're not gonna have a real conversation about what rules should govern men and women in the workplace. So, you can't even open the damn discussion without being jumped on by uh, y'know, uh—a ray of like, rabid harpies."
posted by msalt at 12:47 PM on May 22 [6 favorites]


Why don't you tell us what you gained from them rather than just presenting us with homework?

Thank you for the invitation. The point is that the anti-semites then and Peterson now base their opinions on a view of biology that mandates racism, misogyny and militant heterosexuality. We need a new approach to biology.
posted by No Robots at 12:51 PM on May 22


So there's plenty to be sorted out, but like I said already, we live in the delusion of a thirteen year old adolescent girl. And so, as long as we maintain that level of sophistication, we're not gonna have a real conversation about what rules should govern men and women in the workplace

Is that him stopping just short of the ol' Ephebephilia Distinction so valued by creeps?
posted by rhizome at 12:51 PM on May 22 [3 favorites]


And then I linked to this Canadaland podcast, which I do continue to recommend to anyone who cares to seriously take on the threat this guy represents. [...]

Sorry, nope. I don't have the time or the energy to listen to a podcast, especially when I'm working. You should be able to give me quick, easy-to-read (because they're rational) arguments I can digest in a few minutes.


Okay. Eleven points from the second half of the podcast (some is word-for-word, most is paraphrasing). The first half of the podcast is mostly set up and summary and leaves off with ...

So is Jordan Peterson a crypto-Nazi, a closet white power guy, a secret fascist pretending to be calm and rational? No, that's silly. I don't believe that at all. I think that when you hear Jordan Peterson talking and reasoning and exploring ideas and presenting arguments, I think it's very clear that he is genuine. There is no act. What you see is what you get. However …

1. he's doing what he's doing to sell books (ie: prop up and sell his brand)

2. for a guy who trades in honesty, he's not very honest about #1

3. he says what he really wants is just fair one-on-one discussions with people, yet he continually goes on TV, a medium he's smart enough to know is mostly useless for said discussions. And when he goes on TV, he's ready for war, to trounce anyone who dares take him on, which he generally does handily (certainly as far as his fans are concerned), which keeps him in the spotlight, which spreads the legend, which sells more books.

4. he's genuinely uncomfortable that what's propelled him to this fame is his stance on pronouns as opposed to deeper stuff like his Jungian archetypes.

5. in fact, the one thing he doesn't seem to want analyze at all is his own fame – that it all stems from saying fuck you to a hypothetical trans person who made a hypothetical demand on him. Not big ideas. Just some manufactured drama. And as his fame grows, it's not the big ideas that are influencing it, it's more manufactured drama.

6. Yes, there is probably some positive stuff in his "Oprah-For-Bros" self-help which has actually helped some people with their lives. But (a big but), his followers are taking good one-on-one advice like Don't Be A Victim, Sort Yourself Out etc and projecting it outward, using it against others.

7. In other words, he's preaching a philosophy that excuses you from giving a shit about other people, and he's encouraging you to detest anyone who asks for anything.

8. He says that the answer to oppression is to improve yourself, which is a-historical at best. Most oppressions have been overthrown by mass struggle, by fighting for social justice. Which gets to why Peterson is so profoundly anti-SJW (also Leftists, Feminists, whiners all of them).

9. This is Peterson's true appeal, why he's so famous. He doesn't just excuse you from being a nice guy, he says you need to be afraid, you need to fight back or you will be a victim, a true victim, not a whiney pretend SJW victim. And thus You Need To Shut Them Down. Push Back Or Your Space Will Shrink And Shrink And Shrink.

10. Peterson is probably terrified of what he's started. Having more or less turned his back on academia, he now NEEDS his Patreon, his next Epic Youtube Win. He has cast his lot with his mob. And he does seem to understand that whatever he's unleashed, it's got a mind of its own. Or as he put it himself on CBC Newsworld, "This will go terribly wrong. That's the most likely outcome […] I'm surfing a hundred foot wave and what usually happens when you do that is you drown." Speaking of chaos.

11. In conclusion, for a guy like Jordan Peterson to be feeding the reductive meme machine and providing the intellectual underpinning for a growing international throng of angry young white men is terrifying. His world view is harsh, he invokes the devil and hell frequently, he sneers at his ideological enemies with sheer disgust. More people are listening to him than ever. They take him deadly seriously. It's not going to end well.

the full podcast (last time, I promise)
posted by philip-random at 12:52 PM on May 22 [15 favorites]


A ray of harpies? Is that another collective noun, like a swamp of witches, that occurs only in Peterson’s copy of Jung? This is not the major point, but he is so baffling bad at putting words together—it reminds me of what I’ve read about Hitler’s techniques, repeatedly invoking powerful keywords in no particular order with only lip service being paid to the ordinary rhetorical concepts of argumentation and logic.
posted by Aravis76 at 12:53 PM on May 22 [5 favorites]


Thank you for the invitation. The point is that the anti-semites then and Peterson now base their opinions on a view of biology that mandates racism, misogyny and militant heterosexuality. We need a new approach to biology.

i feel like this point could have been made over 30 comments ago instead of trying to be far too socratic cutesy eye-rolly

and you still haven't made a big point here, given that the field of biology also has multitudes that argue against racism, misogyny, heteronormativity, and cisnormativity.
posted by anem0ne at 12:56 PM on May 22 [8 favorites]


[One deleted; please don't assume people know you're being ironic if you say something that seems to support Peterson, it just causes confusion. Just say the thing you mean.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:58 PM on May 22 [4 favorites]


A ray of harpies? Is that another collective noun, like a swamp of witches, that occurs only in Peterson’s copy of Jung? This is not the major point, but he is so baffling bad at putting words together—it reminds me of what I’ve read about Hitler’s techniques, repeatedly invoking powerful keywords in no particular order with only lip service being paid to the ordinary rhetorical concepts of argumentation and logic.

it's like a murder of crows incels and a parliament of owls gammons
posted by anem0ne at 12:58 PM on May 22 [3 favorites]


5. in fact, the one thing he doesn't seem to want analyze at all is his own fame – that it all stems from saying fuck you to a hypothetical trans person who made a hypothetical demand on him. N

Peterson's antipathy to the trans community at U of T is far from hypothetical. He caused real harm to a lot of people.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 1:01 PM on May 22 [18 favorites]


The point is that the anti-semites then and Peterson now base their opinions on a view of biology that mandates racism, misogyny and militant heterosexuality. We need a new approach to biology.

A new approach to what aspect of biology? Of biology education? Of biology study in academia? In industry?

Could you please just write a paragraph explaining what you mean rather than depending on others to prompt you?
posted by thegears at 1:01 PM on May 22 [14 favorites]


The point is that the anti-semites then and Peterson now base their opinions on a view of biology that mandates racism

These are educators? What form of biology still has room for "race?"

Race is not a thing that exists, racism is just using skin color as a measuring stick by which the hierarchy of society is arranged and enforced. Humans do not have subspecies, which would be required for the entire concept of "race" to be, y'know, valid.
posted by rhizome at 1:02 PM on May 22 [5 favorites]


9. This is Peterson's true appeal, why he's so famous. He doesn't just excuse you from being a nice guy, he says you need to be afraid, you need to fight back or you will be a victim, a true victim, not a whiney pretend SJW victim. And thus You Need To Shut Them Down. Push Back Or Your Space Will Shrink And Shrink And Shrink.

This is one of the things that needs more highlighting I think. People tend to focus on the self-help, the twelve rules or whatever. It's fun to make clean your room bucko jokes.

But Peterson's rhetoric is absolutely loaded with the idea of a fatal, imminent threat to our society (political correctness and SJWs). He's always getting that point in, always leading to it. He's selling a hugely powerful dose of alarmism which is a scary thing to mix with targeting resentful white men and trying to incite them generally to action.
posted by fleacircus at 1:05 PM on May 22 [11 favorites]


I've been trying to read the Waton text... he appears to be a Stalinist who nonetheless recognises that the USSR under Stalin practiced state capitalism, he sees this as a necessary step towards communism. He feels that fascism IS socialism, because he feels a tyrannical state is a necessary step on the path to socialised production.
It's all a little confusing and almost entirely at odds with what I understand of Marxism. He appears to be heavily pro-fascism.
Waton appears to be arguing that fascism will win, we need to accept fascism, not struggle against it.

"It is the irrational opposition to fascism that forces it to become violent, cruel and irrational"

I'll ask some of my coms about this when I get the chance but it seems pretty absurd. I really don't think its offering any sort of alternative way of combatting fascism? If I'm understanding it correctly at all, it's either saying we should embrace fascists or at least think of them as necessary? It seems pretty disgusting, and he appears to love 'family structure' and hate queer people and women too. Also, its 90k words, so yeah I didn't read it all. I'll live.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 1:28 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


he says you need to be afraid, you need to fight back or you will be a victim, a true victim, not a whiney pretend SJW victim. And thus You Need To Shut Them Down. Push Back Or Your Space Will Shrink And Shrink And Shrink.

Selling fear, centuries of history, bad implications, yadda yadda yadda. A short hop to "first they fight you..."
posted by rhizome at 1:29 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


The point is that the anti-semites then and Peterson now base their opinions on a view of biology that mandates racism, misogyny and militant heterosexuality. We need a new approach to biology.

We already have that. It's called "mainstream biology". In fact, it's not a "new" approach to biology, it's been the mainstream approach to biology that's existed for quite some time now, and Peterson's "approach" to it has been the anomoly among most circles.

Which begs the question - why is it that his own outlier approach looms so large in your own mind that you are assuming it is the norm, as opposed to the exception?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:34 PM on May 22 [21 favorites]


it's like a murder of crows incels and a parliament of owls gammons

I believe the preferred collective nouns are "circlejerk of incels" and "sausage party of gammons"

posted by dis_integration at 1:41 PM on May 22 [4 favorites]


Mainstream biology is the problem:
‘Social Darwinism’ is often taken to be something extraneous, an ugly concretion added to the pure Darwinian corpus after the event, tarnishing Darwin’s image. But his notebooks make plain that competition, free trade, imperialism, racial extermination, and sexual inequality were written into the equation from the start—‘Darwinism’ was always intended to explain human society.--Darwin / Adrian Desmond, James Moore, p.xxi
Biology took a wrong turn with its absolute materialism. It needs to be rebuilt on a basis that recognizes all life forms as thinking beings. The route for this rebuilding is through Spinoza (omnia animata) to Hegel, Feuerbach and Marx with their concept of the Gattungswesen [generic essence]. The refusal to acknowledge the inner thought-life of other life forms is the beginning of the refusal to acknowledge it in other people.
posted by No Robots at 1:49 PM on May 22


I don't know about that, but evolutionary biology has been used to justify every regressive social practice as SCIENCE! for as long as I can remember. And Peterson hops right on that bandwagon. Ev Bio needs to go extinct.
posted by msalt at 1:54 PM on May 22 [3 favorites]


No Robots - can you clarify why you are backing up your assertion that "Mainstream biology is the problem" with a quote about Social Darwinism?

Social Darwinism is a different thing from mainstream biology. That is my entire point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:55 PM on May 22 [27 favorites]


Biology took a wrong turn with its absolute materialism. It needs to be rebuilt on a basis that recognizes all life forms as thinking beings.

what

The route for this rebuilding is through Spinoza (omnia animata) to Hegel, Feuerbach and Marx with their concept of the Gattungswesen [generic essence]. The refusal to acknowledge the inner thought-life of other life forms is the beginning of the refusal to acknowledge it in other people.

seriously, what

Why Spinoza instead of Aristotle, really?
posted by sukeban at 1:56 PM on May 22 [5 favorites]


The point is that the anti-semites then and Peterson now base their opinions on a view of biology that mandates racism, misogyny and militant heterosexuality. We need a new approach to biology.

Biology isn't the problem. Biology is awesome and reveals the wonders of the living world, like the behaviour of marine invertebrates (twitter thread, also linked above).

Biology is being abused by ascientific, irrational people like Peterson. (They also have as little understanding of history, culture and myth).
posted by jb at 2:00 PM on May 22 [8 favorites]


Yeah, a little lost on the "rebuilt on a basis that recognizes all life forms as thinking beings." How would this help? Biology should recognize that a mouse is a thinking being before it acknowledges that women have inner thoughts? It does both already.
posted by agregoli at 2:00 PM on May 22 [3 favorites]


Biology took a wrong turn with its absolute materialism. It needs to be rebuilt on a basis that recognizes all life forms as thinking beings. The route for this rebuilding is through Spinoza (omnia animata) to Hegel, Feuerbach and Marx with their concept of the Gattungswesen [generic essence]. The refusal to acknowledge the inner thought-life of other life forms is the beginning of the refusal to acknowledge it in other people.

My god, is there any stronger justification for social scientific methods? Sure we may be measuring the same thing over and over again with our silly regressions but at least we're making some sort of sense. I have no idea WTF you are talking about. Give me a damn hypothesis. Where's your data? Where's your claim? What, exactly, are you saying?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:01 PM on May 22 [12 favorites]


I don't know about that, but evolutionary biology has been used to justify every regressive social practice as SCIENCE! for as long as I can remember. And Peterson hops right on that bandwagon. Ev Bio needs to go extinct.

I think you mean evolutionary psychology, which has been extremely problematic.

Evolutionary biology is just called "biology". There's also evolutionary developmental biology which I don't really get but which is kind of cool (development of eyes!).
posted by jb at 2:02 PM on May 22 [12 favorites]


[A few comments deleted. No Robots, this is really getting pretty far into the weeds of your own idiosyncratic theory. If you want to talk about rebuilding biology, it's better to make a separate FPP about that.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:02 PM on May 22 [5 favorites]


I don't know about that, but evolutionary biology has been used to justify every regressive social practice as SCIENCE! for as long as I can remember. And Peterson hops right on that bandwagon. Ev Bio needs to go extinct.

I'm assuming you mean evolutionary psychology? Evolutionary biology after all *just is* biology, there is no field of biology without evolution.

There are probably legitimate ways to approach psychology from the standpoint of evolution. But yes, most of the time, evopsych seems to go: "here is why evolution explains away present day injustices as natural", or, "I saw a documentary on chimpanzee behavior and it proves that men are like this and women are like this". It's just one naturalistic fallacy after another.
posted by dis_integration at 2:03 PM on May 22 [15 favorites]


what dis_integration said, only more clearly.

Re good psychology with an evolutionary lens: I really enjoyed Stephen Hinshaw's set of lectures on the Origins of the Human Mind - I don't think I would characterize the approach as 'evolutionary psychology' (which makes me think of the not-well-supported just-so stories), but rather as psychology informed by evolutionary thinking. Like: given that there are serious mental health conditions that are (partly) heritable, why haven't they died out? Could there be some evolutionary advantage to traits which could be pathological if too extreme?
posted by jb at 2:09 PM on May 22


Here's a thing that explores what Paulo Freire, author of the "Pedagogy of The Oppressed", has to say about being human, because all this talk of EvoPsych kinda has me bummed out a little and I like the idea of "ontological incompleteness" even though Slavoj Zizek has things to say about that. (I don't remember why Slavoj Zizek skeeves me out? he just does. I should probably revisit that)

/me ponders what Jordan Peterson has to say about Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
posted by nikaspark at 2:23 PM on May 22


Oh, you forgot the part where, once the she-beast has the poor, innocent Good Guy trussed up in her web with his wallet firmly in her talons, she will inevitably sleep with every milkman, hitchhiker, and delivery boy that crosses her path, filling her virtuous, persecuted husband's home with an endless series of bastard children in every shape and color. These guys are obsessed with cuckoldry and non-paternity.

The only thing I can fathom is that this is how they see the world because it's fundamentally how they want to behave, and they assume the objects of their desire are like them?

Like they think that because they have this powerful sexual drive towards women, that women have some corresponding power that deliberately instigates them.

And they think that if they had this intense sexual power, this is the way they'd use it- to siphon material resources and decieve their abused benefactor with multiple infidelities.

That they're essentially morally bankrupt and devoid of empathy, self-control or virtue and think everyone else must be also? And they are frustrated and afraid because they can't comprehend that other people might be different than them?
posted by windykites at 2:26 PM on May 22 [13 favorites]


We don’t need Spinoza via Hegel to refute Peterson’s theory of gender; given Peterson’s insistence that he is a classical liberal in love with liberty, damn it, JS Mill should be good enough. And I do think Peterson’s tiresome politicised-Jungian nonsense has a fair bit in common with all the cod-Hegelian “what is the world spirit up to now??” rubbish that prefigured Nazism. I’ll take Mill every time, thanks.
posted by Aravis76 at 2:27 PM on May 22 [5 favorites]


Yes, I meant evolutionary psychology, “men want to spread sperm so naturally non-momogamous” and all the rest of that crap. Thanks.

they're essentially morally bankrupt and devoid of empathy, self-control or virtue and think everyone else must be also? And they are frustrated and afraid because they can't comprehend that other people might be different than them?

That’s pretty much modern consevatism as a whole. Trump’s Mirror, white fear of discrimination and oppression, etc.
posted by msalt at 2:50 PM on May 22 [3 favorites]


a ray of like, rabid harpies.

aren't harpies birds? birds can't get rabies can they? and what does a ray of rabid harpies mean? is that something like the bat signal when commissioner gordon wants batman, only it's the rabidharpy signal and it's some feminist signaling for rabid harpies when she can't get flying monkeys from oz?

do lobsters fly? what if you set them off against the rabid harpies? who would win? isn't that the real important question of evolutionary biology?

do lobsters scream when you throw them in boiling water? does jordan peterson? or is it too cold in canada to boil water?

i can't debate his ideas, he doesn't have any - but neither do lobsters - neither do i - but i don't charge people money to read or listen to them
posted by pyramid termite at 3:48 PM on May 22 [5 favorites]


Peterson could be very easily demolished in a public debate with a well researched critic possessing some decent rhetorical skills to cut through his evasions. He's been fairly lucky or canny so far to mostly debate with TV journalists who lack these skills. Perhaps one could maybe say something similar about any televised political debate with conservative politicians?
posted by ovvl at 4:40 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


Okay, I read the articles and Twitter threads, and watched that ContraPoints video, and have looked at just about every comment on this post. As a woman who has no desire to marry or bear children, I am deeply uncomfortable with my erasure in Peterson's narrative, but you know what I'm still stuck on?

Witches in swamps.

Yes, sure, Peterson is trying to invoke Jungian archetypes, but he does so by first making an a priori statement, then suggesting that we're all in agreement about that statement (without actually receiving agreement!), and then using the same half-assed and flawed brain fart of idea as the basis for an inscrutable argument.

"It makes sense that a witch lives in a swamp. Yeah. Why? ... Right. That’s right. You don’t know. It’s because those things hang together at a very deep level."

Maybe those things don't "hang together," Jordan. Maybe you're an irredemable nitwit who thinks that Hansel and Gretel took place in the Everglades, and you need to stop confusing your nonstop shower thoughts for deep and universal truths.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:42 PM on May 22 [31 favorites]


The only 'swamp witch' I can think of off the top of my head is Marie Leveau.

And she certainly seems fit to scare Jordan Peterson.
posted by jamjam at 5:14 PM on May 22 [4 favorites]


maybe poke salad annie was a witch
posted by pyramid termite at 5:20 PM on May 22 [3 favorites]


Witches live in dark forests - or on blasted heaths.
posted by jb at 5:21 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


They live on the Chalk, too. Everyone knows that.
posted by rtha at 5:23 PM on May 22 [9 favorites]


Houses made of candy OR balanced on top of giant chicken feet.
posted by bq at 5:26 PM on May 22 [6 favorites]


giant chicken feet with hi heel sneakers

(i'm sorry - i just can't help it)
posted by pyramid termite at 5:30 PM on May 22


Do Megg and Mogg ever end up in Florida? Or D.C.?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 5:45 PM on May 22 [2 favorites]


I think a big part of the problem is I don't believe it would make all that much difference if he was demolished in a big debate comprehensively by a talented and well-informed opponent. Those of us who already don't like JP will rejoice and share it around, and sure a few people who run into that clip before others might be dissuaded, but his supporters will still shout "out of context", will use any trait of the opponent as discrediting (if it was a woman, or someone else who they don't believe should be at the top of their hierarchies, that would be enough for them regardless of anything else) and otherwise find reasons why it doesn't work for them.
Yes a competent opponent might be able to defeat JP in a debate, but he's not going to bow and say, "I was wrong, I am shown to be wrong". His supporters won't take that position. Those who are inclined to change can also be convinced by the myriad articles, threads, videos, podcasts and posts already extant. It wouldn't hurt, but I really don't think it'd help all that much either.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 6:28 PM on May 22 [5 favorites]


Due to changes in work, I've been sort of separated from the group of friends I used to hang out with most often, and have seen them in bits and pieces falling more and more for Peterson. They've tried to get me to watch interviews and listen to podcasts in ways I've heard MLM people try to sell others on vacation schemes, and honestly, I don't have three hours to listen to a podcast or watch a video, especially if I find the dog whistles and twisting of logic to be stomach turning within the first five minutes.

I've seen the bit about how Peterson is a smart person for stupid people, and, well, I'd go with a smart person for people who've never really thought before, or actually examined their life at all.

But, and more insidiously, it just sort of clicked for me. All these men, all these people just now trying to figure out what their place in the world is supposed to be, they're all just longing for a Good Will Hunting moment of catharsis, with a Robin Williams figure to hug them tightly and tell them, again and again, "it's not your fault" until they can start to believe it, and feel like they're absolved of all of their sins.

The problem is, they aren't really being forced into any sort of honest self reflection, and they've ended up with this guy, who after the "it's not your fault" moment, he's whispering "it's theirs!"
posted by Ghidorah at 6:37 PM on May 22 [34 favorites]


Considering his love of Disney movies, isn't the "witches live in swamps" just a thing from Snow White?
posted by ymgve at 6:38 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


In Snow White the witch lives in a castle.

Also, this debate idea could really work. We all saw Hillary Clinton wipe the floor with Donald Trump during the televised debates in 2016, and that was pretty much the last we heard of him, ushering in an unprecedented period of comity and tranquillity in American politics.
posted by chrchr at 6:42 PM on May 22 [18 favorites]


There’s a Berenstein Bears story about a witch who lives in a swamp, if I recall correctly.
posted by chrchr at 6:51 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


isn't the "witches live in swamps" just a thing from Snow White?


Well, you know...he and Walt have some of the same influences.
posted by rhizome at 7:00 PM on May 22 [4 favorites]


Guys I'm sorry I'm so late to this thread today, I found out that if I don't debate the dude on the corner yelling about the lizard people then I'm not using my logic right. :( It took so much time, but man, that guys got some great ideas if you just use your rational logic to logic him and listen to his logic back. I found myself nodding along if I'm being honest, like yeah okay I actually can't disprove that Queen Elizabeth (E-Lizard-beth?!!?) doesn't have a forked tongue, yes a compelling point indeed, I'm so glad I stopped to debate this guy. He'll be waiting on the corner for me every single day so I can spend heaps of time doing it over and over again! I hope he becomes a better listener though. Whenever I was making my points he just kept hissing at me and screaming "Silence, You Horrid Gecko Woman!" but I bet I can wear him down if I just stay cool and rational.
posted by supercrayon at 7:14 PM on May 22 [18 favorites]


Peterson could be very easily demolished in a public debate with a well researched critic possessing some decent rhetorical skills to cut through his evasions.

I think a standup comedian would be best. For example, W. Kamau Bell or Conan O'Brien (who is Peterson's age and would know all his references) or Jon Stewart. He's not as well known but Dwight Slade would be perfect, knows all that Terence McKenna stuff and could throw it right back at him. Dave Attell would be effective in a different way, the blue collar bullshit-cutter.
posted by msalt at 7:29 PM on May 22 [2 favorites]


Waaaaaaay upthread, but...

Some of it's solid sensible advice that people could do with following (Pet cats!

That’s terrible advice! Feral cats are wild animals with unpredictable temperaments and all kinds of crazy diseases. Even professional dumbass Ted Nugent knows that. Wrote a whole dumb song about it.

I’m almost tempted to check IMDb to see if Jordan Peterson created The Littlest Hobo and its egregious message of, “Hey kids, stray German Shepherds (and other animals you might encounter that look, to your untrained eye, an awful lot like stray German Shepherds) are there to be friendly and help you, and definitely won’t maul your fucking face off!”
posted by Sys Rq at 8:05 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


Peterson could be very easily demolished in a public debate with a well researched critic possessing some decent rhetorical skills to cut through his evasions.

I think a standup comedian would be best. For example, W. Kamau Bell or Conan O'Brien (who is Peterson's age and would know all his references) or Jon Stewart. He's not as well known but Dwight Slade would be perfect, knows all that Terence McKenna stuff and could throw it right back at him. Dave Attell would be effective in a different way, the blue collar bullshit-cutter.


Yeah, get Joe Rogan on it! Oh, wait.

Maybe we just stop giving the shithead a platform, yeah?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:10 PM on May 22 [9 favorites]


Two wonderful things from this thread about one of the more embarrassing and destructive Canadians unleashed upon the world:

1 - I learned about ContraPoints! And have watched several of her videos! And have subscribed!
2 - Other people have learned about Sarah Taber, who is not just amazing on Twitter, but has a podcast: "Farm to Taber is a show about the inner guts of the food system, and what it takes to make work sustainably. Wherever that takes us—science, history, tech, culture, policy, marketing, psychology, design, and more— Farm to Taber goes there." (Soundcloud) (RSS feed for your podcast app). Donut Science, Cars and Grassfed Beef is a good place to start.
posted by maudlin at 8:28 PM on May 22 [5 favorites]




isn't the "witches live in swamps" just a thing from Snow White?

The witch in Snow White is the evil stepmother so she had better be living in the castle unless I have missed a trick.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:11 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


W. Kamau Bell, Conan O'Brien, Jon Stewart, Dave Attell? Nah, it should be a woman. I'd pay good money to watch Michelle Wolf go toe to toe with Peterson.
posted by Lyme Drop at 11:22 PM on May 22 [4 favorites]


You know he’d get a cut of that money, right? And a larger audience?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:54 PM on May 22 [4 favorites]


Peterson is a great example what it's like to deal with intelligent and/or educated right-wingers. There's some debate as to whether our differences is because we employ our thinking skills differently or that our world-view shaping sets of experiences are too different. Chomsky has some insight, in that if the two of you can suss out the core disagreement about basic beliefs then the conversation is necessarily over. The additional problem with Petersons' rhetoric is that he's demonstrably not interested in having such a conversation on a public basis despite his voluminous output on YouTube etc., so that dialectic (in the Greek sense) process never matures.

Seeing these articles is like a terrible itch making it worse, because it denies everyone the chance and space to work towards satisfying that communicative resolution. As a media phenomenon, it's pretty harmful in and of itself. But if you have otherwise smart, well-educated people in your family… dealing with their verbal acrobatics fills me with apprehension.
posted by polymodus at 12:41 AM on May 23 [8 favorites]


Peterson is a great example what it's like to deal with intelligent and/or educated right-wingers.

I think that’s pretty unfair on intelligent right-wingers (if by that you mean ordinary conservatives, as opposed to fascists). I’ve talked with many moderately right-wing people, we’ve gone the rounds on the efficiency of free markets, the value of national identity, the state’s role in defining marriage, affirmative action and the relative value of private property etc etc. In general, intelligent conservatives can tell you what they think, why they think it, and what policy consequences should follow. There are many unfortunate things in First Things magazine, for example, but most of the people writing there meet this standard. Peterson’s garbled rambling just doesn’t; it’s all poorly articulated emotionally-driven hints and anecdotes and assertions, none of which hangs together into any belief system that he is willing to openly define and then defend. It’s true that the same problem arises with fascists, who are impossible to argue with, but this is because they deny the value of reason itself. I’m willing to assume that Peterson doesn’t consider himself a fascist and is simply bad at reasoning rather than being ideologically opposed to the practice.
posted by Aravis76 at 1:31 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]


Peterson’s garbled rambling just doesn’t; it’s all poorly articulated emotionally-driven hints and anecdotes and assertions, none of which hangs together into any belief system that he is willing to openly define and then defend.

This is why I think it's unproductive to consider Peterson and others of his ilk and kind, as right or alt-right, or even conservative. He's a crowd-pleaser who plays on right/left labelling in his polemic because it scores easy points in those who don't want to think very hard to feel righteously entitled.
posted by Thella at 1:46 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's unfair because I tend to take the view that there are no conservatives. Simply invert the picture: Peterson's rationalizations is garbled rambling, which makes ordinary, intellectualized right-wing discourse even worse than that. It's hidden garbled rambling under the pretense of reason. That's my opinion. I'm in part referring to Kahan's paper on motivated numeracy.
posted by polymodus at 1:58 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


I actually think it’s useful to characterise Peterson as right-wing, since he seems to want highly conservative and repressive political outcomes. He has right-wing desires, he just doesn’t make conventional—or any—right-wing arguments for them.
posted by Aravis76 at 1:59 AM on May 23 [14 favorites]


It's hidden garbled rambling under the pretense of reason

I haven’t read the paper you cite, but in general I am opposed to assuming bad faith on the part of any interlocutor unless proven in the case of that particular interlocutor. I do think some people genuinely believe, for example, that the welfare state should be abolished because free markets do a better job of redistribution. They’re mistaken but I’m unwilling to believe that they are insincere unless there is actual evidence of that in each particular case. Otherwise we really do have to abandon all hope of using reason as a technique in politics, and reduce everything to power; among other things, this suggests we need to give up the framework of liberal democracy as anything but an elaborate pretence and be skeptical about the possibility of democratic socialism. Since I’ve seen people change their minds about politics as a result of argument (and have had my own mind changed that way), I don’t believe we have to be quite that pessimistic.
posted by Aravis76 at 2:13 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]


To me it's like when a student writes down a bad mathematical proof. It's not an issue of good or bad faith or their sincerity. The mathematical error de facto is what makes it garbled rambling, and if it keeps happening then it's pseudomath. It's not a horrible thing to happen in the abstract, but it is very frustrating if you're trying to survive an actual ideological conflict with your loved ones and not just friends and acquaintances. Remember that one-on-one intervention, whether pedagogical or political, is itself a privilege; not everyone here is able to perform that affective labor.
posted by polymodus at 2:26 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]


Remember that one-on-one intervention, whether pedagogical or political, is itself a privilege; not everyone here is able to perform that affective labor.

Yes, but this is a different point from whether there is any argument there to get to grips with (whether one-to-one or in online comments or newspapers or magazines or academic journals or at the doorstep during an election). Many conservative arguments present the basic structure of a valid argument; that’s why it’s possible to engage with them at the level of challenging their premises or their logic (no one has any obligation to do this, but it’s a thing one can do and is sometimes worth doing in some contexts). The point is that Peterson doesn’t even operate at this level—he doesn’t articulate his arguments in ways that make it possible to identify his premises or understand the connection between his paragraph of speech and the conclusion he suddenly states at the end of it—and so it is actually impossible to engage with his statements as arguments. This is why it is irritating to be repeatedly told not to dismiss him but to take his arguments seriously—they just aren’t there, to take in any way at all. He differs radically from ordinary traditional conservatives in precisely this respect; unfortunately, whether this is deliberate or not, his rhetorical strategy is instead identical to that of the alt-right YouTubers and 4chan denizens of this world, who are equally impossible to reason with.

I think it is overstated and self-defeating to say that leftists (particular left-liberals) can’t engage seriously with any conservative claims or arguments. It is hard to engage seriously with this particular guy and his fans, but this isn’t because leftism is such a closed system that we can’t access any other form of thought; it’s because some minimal standards of logic and clarity are necessary for argument on any subject at all to be possible.
posted by Aravis76 at 2:41 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]


The best thing about Jordan Peterson is watching people discover Contrapoints.
posted by maggiemaggie at 5:02 AM on May 23 [13 favorites]


Could it be... an array of harpies? A sound-alike in the transcript?

no i don’t think harpies fly in organised formations but it’s all I got okay
posted by harriet vane at 6:43 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]


I am opposed to assuming bad faith on the part of any interlocutor unless proven in the case of that particular

This is an extremely gameable policy that invites the rhetorical equivalent of "I'm not touching you" games
posted by PMdixon at 6:46 AM on May 23 [6 favorites]


Channers love that shit.
posted by Artw at 6:48 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]


I'm Trans and I love Jordan Peterson
1 year later - my updated thoughts on Jordan Peterson


the trans experience isn't monolithic. i'm not super surprised that a trans man would be more receptive to jordan peterson talking about how to BE A MAN™.

i'm also not super surprised that someone who reads as a middle- to upper-class white dude thinks that FREE SPEECH™ and being "against Political Correctness™" is the most important thing ever.

it's clear in the second video that he wants to believe the best in jordan peterson, which, that's fine for him, but then keeps trying to find excuses as to why peterson keeps talking to mostly right-wing/alt-right people and his fandom skews alt-right.
posted by anem0ne at 7:03 AM on May 23 [15 favorites]


Like, was highlighting a trans man who supports Jordan Peterson supposed to be a way of arguing against the fact that Jordan Peterson says and does some pretty transphobic things? I'm not sure what the point of that was.

Or more suggesting that he has a broad-based appeal? Because yes, terrible people can have fans even in the groups they help marginalize. Look at Caitlyn Jenner and her support from Trump.
posted by anem0ne at 7:10 AM on May 23 [8 favorites]


i'm also not super surprised that someone who reads as a middle- to upper-class white dude thinks that FREE SPEECH™ and being "against Political Correctness™" is the most important thing ever.


My city has a very active hashtag (its the airport handle) for everything local and it takes all my willpower to not engage with a Peterson fanboy nearby who is exactly this type of person who tweets his Important Thoughts using it, but also considers himself a liberal. I just can't even with that disconnect.
posted by Kitteh at 7:28 AM on May 23


Guys, the witches in swamps thing isn't even as clever as you're making it. Witches live in swamps because swamps are moist, smelly holes. Olds kings live in desiccated towers was part of that same sentence, remember? Because they're old and wrinkly and they can't get it up anymore.

He's literally just talking about penises and vaginas. That's it. He thinks it's clever because it's metaphorical.
posted by Scattercat at 8:14 AM on May 23 [18 favorites]



Like, was highlighting a trans man who supports Jordan Peterson supposed to be a way of arguing against the fact that Jordan Peterson says and does some pretty transphobic things? I'm not sure what the point of that was.

just something I stumbled onto via Youtube's sidelinks that yes does serve as an insight into the strange depth of his fan base. Also, in offering a one-year-later update, I guess it offers an insight into how a young mind can evolve. The guy is still only twenty years old for the second one (I think). I look forward to what he's saying when he's twenty-five. When I was nineteen-twenty, I was just getting introduced to Ayn Rand and Libertarianism. Which made perfect sense for a while. And, for the record, what got me starting to think otherwise wasn't so much persuasive argument as getting tired of my "fellow travelers". The parties were awful.
posted by philip-random at 8:27 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]


Witches live in swamps because swamps are moist, smelly holes. Olds kings live in desiccated towers....He's literally just talking about penises and vaginas.

Or talking about Shrek. Maybe this has been about Shrek this entire time.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 8:40 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


The only 'swamp witch' I can think of off the top of my head is Marie Leveau.

yeah, this was the first thing i thought of as well? the swamp witch archetype is the caribbean voudouisant or conjure woman.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:42 AM on May 23


Maybe this has been about Shrek this entire time.

some BODY once told him
the matriarchy'd roll him
posted by halation at 8:45 AM on May 23 [7 favorites]


And Marie Leveau was more urban than anything else -- born in the French Quarter and lived and died (and probably lived and died again, as she seems to have passed on her identity to her daughter) in New Orleans.

She did have public rituals at Bayou St. John, but that's more of a lake than a swamp.
posted by maxsparber at 8:47 AM on May 23


I doubt Peterson has read Witches Abroad, but Mrs. Gogol is the only witch living in a swamp I've heard of.
posted by sukeban at 9:04 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]


Sheelba Of The Eyeless Face lived in a marsh
posted by thelonius at 9:09 AM on May 23 [7 favorites]


This is an extremely gameable policy

I’m not saying that I need the kind of evidence of good faith that would satisfy a court of law—it’s just an ordinary probabilities thing, based on the tone and context and content of speech. I don’t think anyone writing a lengthy, earnest, carefully-reasoned essay in First Things about virtue ethics and capital punishment is likely to just be bullshitting unless the argument is so stupid that I can’t believe anyone would adopt it in good faith. Trolls in the Breitbart comment section are more likely, given the tone and context and content of their opinions, to be in bad faith. My only point was that I don’t think all conservatives are in bad faith all the time, which is what the conflation between ordinary conservatives and Paterson was implying.
posted by Aravis76 at 9:15 AM on May 23


Here's a guy who's constantly having to shut down anti-semite conspiracy theorists at his talks, yet never asks himself why they're so attracted to him.

As an example (not that we need one), here's a breakdown of Peterson teaching his take on Hitler, WWII and the Jews.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:28 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]


The first swamp witch that came to my mind was Black Water Hattie. And Peterson is almost exactly my age, and this seemed to be all over the radio when I was 12, though we would have been multiple provinces apart at that time. But if he was inspired by this little tale, of course he missed the whole damn point, which was not "ooo, swamp witch yucky creepy bad" but that Hattie just wanted to be left alone yet used her magic to save the town that hated and feared her from a mysterious plague. Which, considering how hamfistedly bad he is at drawing conclusions, may not be so far-fetched as I thought when I first started typing this nonsense.
posted by hangashore at 9:32 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]




Heh, "neomarxist postmodernism". The most famous definition of postmodernism is skepticism towards grand narratives. One of the most widely recognised grand narratives is Marxism. So yes, please tell me more about the evils of square circles and iron made of wood.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 10:33 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]


When I was nineteen-twenty, I was just getting introduced to Ayn Rand and Libertarianism. Which made perfect sense for a while. And, for the record, what got me starting to think otherwise wasn't so much persuasive argument as getting tired of my "fellow travelers". The parties were awful.

When I was 19, I was introduced to the Illuminatus! Trilogy and it's brilliant parody of Ayn Rand - and I became an anarchist Discordian (and Dada) fan. Eventually, I grew out of it, but the parties were terrific.
posted by jb at 10:38 AM on May 23 [9 favorites]


My only point was that I don’t think all conservatives are in bad faith all the time, which is what the conflation between ordinary conservatives and Paterson was implying.

#NotAllConservatives
posted by XtinaS at 11:19 AM on May 23 [7 favorites]


Henry Farrell, Crooked Timber: Neo-Marxism
A couple of days ago, Andrew Sullivan delivered a blast against “neo-Marxism”: [...]

This theory marks a weird and unfortunate alignment that is taking place between a particular strain of center-to-center right opinionating and the “Intellectual Dark Web” crowd. Zack Beauchamp’s description of how Jordan Peterson
elevates battles over political correctness and free speech into existential struggles over Western society. He is very literally arguing that if the “postmodernists” win, if people start using others’ chosen pronouns, we’re one step closer to modern gulags.
could be applied just as aptly to Chait, and likely, with modification, to Sullivan too, (the “hierarchies … imposed by fiat” bit sounds sinister but is notably weaker than gulag rhetoric; Sullivan is clearly angrier about race than he is about gender).

You could, I suppose, treat Sullivan’s, Chait’s and Peterson’s arguments as serious claims to be taken seriously, pointing to the specific situations where campus leftists have indeed behaved like arseholes, and extrapolating this into a general trend of angry, intolerant and indeed totalitarian illiberalism on the march towards possible victory. Frankly, I think that that would be granting unwarranted respect to nonsense. These claims seem to me to instead be rhetorical attacks which illegitimately treat reasonable claims for recognition as if they were steps on a journey towards dictatorship. Contrary to their framing, they are fundamentally illiberal, in the small ‘l’ sense of liberalism, intended to justify existing power relations against people who would reasonably challenge them. [...]

Sullivan, Chait, and, I suspect many other soi-disant centrists and centrist liberals are now converging with Peterson and the whole sorry crew of white men on the Internet shouting out against the oppression of Social Justice Warriors. This allows them to delegitimize – and hence avoid having to seriously confront – hard criticisms of their own positions. If they want, it’s perfectly reasonable for them to push back against what they believe to be excesses. Gender activists and race activists are human too, which means that they surely may be wrong, and may certainly behave stupidly, or badly. But claims that “neo-Marxists” and “campus leftists” are looking in general to build gulags, impose hierarchies by fiat and the like are themselves both bad and stupid rhetoric, which undermine rather than reinforce the commitment to open debate that they claim to hold so deeply.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:22 AM on May 23 [15 favorites]


The swamp witch I thought of was this Kids in the Hall skit (cw blackface). I also had a high school friend who liked wetlands and took "swamp witch" as a nickname. So thanks JP for the nostalgia trip.

There's some comments above trying to argue JP is not a True Conservative or something, but clearly he is a moderate conservative, and it's not productive or useful to try to bend definitions around to say technically he isn't IMHO.
posted by fleacircus at 11:31 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]


One observation I saw on Twitter that does not seem to have been mentioned here yet:

1) Jordan, following Jung, identifies order with masculinity and chaos with femininity (arguably even more stridently than Jung himself).
2) The subtitle of his book 12 Rules for Life is "An Antidote to Chaos"

So, yeah, there's also that.
posted by mhum at 2:44 PM on May 23 [11 favorites]


So the Witches Swamp is the wildlife conservation area of Crone Island for Rabid Harpies, do I have that right?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 4:49 PM on May 23 [7 favorites]


I think it is overstated and self-defeating to say that leftists (particular left-liberals) can’t engage seriously with any conservative claims or arguments. It is hard to engage seriously with this particular guy and his fans, but this isn’t because leftism is such a closed system that we can’t access any other form of thought; it’s because some minimal standards of logic and clarity are necessary for argument on any subject at all to be possible.

Heh, "neomarxist postmodernism". The most famous definition of postmodernism is skepticism towards grand narratives. One of the most widely recognised grand narratives is Marxism. So yes, please tell me more about the evils of square circles and iron made of wood.

I guess where I differ is that I do consider myself a neo-Marxian postmodernist but using specific senses of those terms. It's personally weird, and I believe self-selection is a factor, but my personal story is that my political outlook necessarily came out of the more advanced logic and theory classes that I needed in STEM and philosophy. They were not separate disciplines to me. As a student of logic, I don't reject logic; I think people don't even wield it correctly given all that is actually known about logic.
posted by polymodus at 4:57 PM on May 23


SUPERORDINATE WITCHES is a great band name. Truly this man Peterson is contributing items of value to the culture.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:24 PM on May 23 [6 favorites]


I just came back to this discussion, having missed two days of comments, to thank whoever has recommended the podcast I Don't Even Own a Television. It's giving me life.
posted by seyirci at 5:38 PM on May 23 [5 favorites]


Like: given that there are serious mental health conditions that are (partly) heritable, why haven't they died out? Could there be some evolutionary advantage to traits which could be pathological if too extreme?

Not a biologist, but isn't this just a mild case of the 'evolution as progress' fallacy? Evolution is just things varying genetically which may or may not stick around depending on all kinds of factors. They could be beneficial, but might also be detrimental but not fatal/negative/common enough to die out, or might be paired with less horrible variations that confer an advantage or be just neutral plus/minus a smidgeon for generations until paired with some other thing from a completely different set of mutations that does something horrible or wonderful in combination. Or something else entirely.

The desire to see all extant variations as having beneficial aspects somewhere is why I don't have a great deal of time for evo-psych. I mean, they might be beneficial, but unless you're going deep into genetic analysis as to why they exist, chances are you're speculating wildly and/or begging the question.

1) Jordan, following Jung, identifies order with masculinity and chaos with femininity (arguably even more stridently than Jung himself).
2) The subtitle of his book 12 Rules for Life is "An Antidote to Chaos"


I had noticed that! The conclusion of this syllogism being basically being that 'women are poison'. So classy!
posted by Sparx at 6:30 PM on May 23 [14 favorites]


msalt: It strikes me that one of Peterson’s more effective tactics is not quite saying his most outrageous or fucked up points. He always leaves himself an out while connecting 9 of the 10 dots around a hateful idea. Our brains naturally finish the outline, both his fans and detractors, but it’s hard to debate him because he can correctly and calmly say “Oh no, I never said that.”

This sounded familiar but it took me forever to remember what this reminded me of: Back in 2007, on Crooked Timber, John Holbo identified a method of argumentation that he called "the two-step of terrific triviality", which is very similar to (if not exactly) this. I've also recently learned that this style of bad-faith argumentation is sometimes also called Motte and Bailey.
posted by mhum at 6:50 PM on May 23 [6 favorites]


The most famous definition of postmodernism is skepticism towards grand narratives.

Specifically, meta-narratives.
posted by Brian B. at 8:32 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


SUPERORDINATE WITCHES is a great band name.

Just spitballing potential titles for our debut album.
BOGORHYTHMS
SAME AS A DUCK
MARSH, A MARSH, A MARSH, AH!
YOU GOT A FEN IN ME
IT'S ALL RIGHT BY ME (IF IT'S ALL RIGHT BAYOU)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:28 AM on May 24 [6 favorites]


Jordan, following Jung, identifies order with masculinity and chaos with femininity (arguably even more stridently than Jung himself).

I agree this is what Peterson is doing but, as in so many things, he is misunderstanding or misconstruing Jung. Though he was not without misogyny, writing 100 years ago, Jung didn’t say “women are chaos.” It was the anima that was archetypically seen as “the chaotic urge to life.” And the anima is not women, but men’s own internal, repressed femininity.

In fact, his model of maturation was all about acknowledging and nurturing men’s femininity, allowing their view of actual women to mature through stages from Eve (simple object of desire) through Helen, Mary and finally Sophia (powerful, virtuous and wise). Wiki
posted by msalt at 5:37 AM on May 24 [14 favorites]


Heh.
posted by Artw at 8:28 AM on May 24 [3 favorites]




An article by Petersen's faculty mentor, Bernard Schiff, was published in the Star today.

I was Jordan Peterson’s strongest supporter. Now I think he’s dangerous.

Brave of Schiff to write this, but I wish he had listened to the faculty members on the search committee who objected to Petersen's appointment to begin with.
posted by longdaysjourney at 6:21 AM on May 25 [16 favorites]


Brave of Schiff to write this, but I wish he had listened to the faculty members on the search committee who objected to Petersen's appointment to begin with.

It doesn't strike me as brave, but as apologia for his own lack of action. Look at how he talks about his lack of response to Peterson rejecting the very concept of an IRB, instead of treating it as the warning klaxon it was.

The piece is filled with clear warning signs, that if addressed at the time would have stopped things. But instead, Peterson was given a pass by the people who should have been reading those signs. And now they're asking us for forgiveness for their inaction.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:08 AM on May 25 [11 favorites]


Is there a long pattern of refusal to comply with IRB as a precursor to fascism? I think not.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:14 AM on May 25


Is there a long pattern of refusal to comply with IRB as a precursor to fascism? I think not.

He didn't just refuse to comply, but categorically rejected the very concept of the IRB:
Even though there was nothing contentious about his research, he objected in principle to having it reviewed by the university research ethics committee, whose purpose is to protect the safety and well-being of experiment subjects.

He requested a meeting with the committee. I was not present but was told that he had questioned the authority and expertise of the committee members, had insisted that he alone was in a position to judge whether his research was ethical and that, in any case, he was fully capable of making such decisions himself. He was impervious to the fact that subjects in psychological research had been, on occasion, subjected to bad experiences, and also to the fact that both the Canadian and United States governments had made these reviews mandatory. What was he doing! I managed to make light of this to myself by attributing it to his unbridled energy and fierce independence, which were, in many other ways, virtues. That was a mistake.
And that - the refusal to accept legitimate constraints on oneself in order to protect others - is very much a warning bell.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:22 AM on May 25 [26 favorites]


I pushed for him because he was a divergent thinker, self-educated in the humanities, intellectually flamboyant, bold, energetic and confident, bordering on arrogant. I thought he would bring a new excitement, along with new ideas, to our department.
It's almost like hiring arrogant pushy men who talk more than they listen is not the greatest idea.
posted by lazuli at 7:31 AM on May 25 [29 favorites]


Schiff is really not taking much responsibility for badgering his colleagues into hiring this guy on a rush tenure schedule, and it all comes off like "how dare my friend turn on me". I'd much prefer to hear from his trans daughter who also lived with Peterson for a while.

And Peterson is taking money from the alt-right, speechifying to the alt-right -- he might not want to say he's part of the alt-right, but he is.
posted by jeather at 7:34 AM on May 25 [14 favorites]


Is there a long pattern of refusal to comply with IRB as a precursor to fascism? I think not.

If frustration with IRB's were a precursor to fascism, then all researchers with human/animal subjects would be fascists.

/joking - I complain, but ethics review is super, super important. I do support for very low risk research - anonymous surveys - and we still take privacy and ethics very seriously. People are trusting us with details of their lives, sometimes emotionally difficult things. We have to take that seriously.

just some of the REB nit-picking ... argh.
posted by jb at 8:21 AM on May 25 [5 favorites]


just some of the REB nit-picking ... argh.

To add to that: plenty of people complain about the IRB process. That's totally fine and normal: it can be a lot of work even when done right, and it's not always well integrated or well run. But Peterson's complaint was, apparently, about the IRB in principle: he objected to the very idea of someone else having authority or ethical oversight of his work.

That's not about frustration with IRB's: that's a fundamental disagreement about how research should be done, with a particular emphasis on disregarding the rights of and protections for others.
posted by cjelli at 8:29 AM on May 25 [18 favorites]


cjelli: yes, I did mean frustration with the process - like bad webforms and obsessive box-ticking :)
posted by jb at 8:34 AM on May 25


Is there a long pattern of refusal to comply with IRB as a precursor to fascism? I think not.

It's kind of the other way around? IRB is important because scientific research has a long history of committing violence against people of color, women and the disabled (most famously by actual fascists, you may recall). When you start doing human subjects research, part of the mandated trainings you have to go through (or at least that I had to go through) is basically "a brief history of the awful shit that has been done in the name of science."

Frustration with IRB is normal. Trying to skirt around IRB and lying about it is less normal but not unheard of. Arguing that it shouldn't exist in any form is a massive red flag.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:46 AM on May 25 [26 favorites]


Is there a long pattern of refusal to comply with IRB as a precursor to fascism? I think not.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:14 AM on May 25 [+] [!]


Uh, considering that human research subjects protection was instituted in *direct reaction* to Nazi human experimentation ... I'm going to go with a cautious YES here.
posted by yarly at 9:31 AM on May 25 [25 favorites]


from the Schiff piece:

In Maps of Meaning, Jordan’s first book, he is exercised by the breakdown of the social order and the chaos that he believes would result. Jordan is fighting to maintain the status quo to keep chaos at bay, or so he believes. He is not a free speech warrior. He is a social order warrior.

This alone has made it worth reading for me. Nice to see the flaw in his logic (and its presentation) so succinctly worded.

Also this, from the end of the piece:

“When someone claims to be acting from the highest principles for the good of others, there is no reason to assume that the person’s motives are genuine. People motivated to make things better usually aren’t concerned with changing other people — or if they are they take responsibility for making the same changes to themselves (and first).”

I did not write this, although I might have. It’s taken from 12 Rules for Life. These are Jordan’s words.

I believe that Jordan has not lived up to at least four of his rules.

Rule 7: Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)

Rule 8: Tell the truth — or, at least, don’t lie

Rule 9: Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t

Rule 10: Be precise in your speech

posted by philip-random at 9:55 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


Peterson is doing a Reddit IAmA right now. The questions are a mixed bag, but he is posting a lot of answers.
posted by Nelson at 10:30 AM on May 25


Years ago when he was living in my house, he said children are little monkeys trying to clamber up the dominance hierarchy and need to be kept in their place. I thought he was being ironic. Apparently, not.

This whole article is "I was fine not calling out my friend's horrible ideas and opinions until they were turned against someone in my family". Every time Schiff writes that Peterson is a different person now from the friend he knew I had to roll my eyes.
posted by camyram at 10:38 AM on May 25 [7 favorites]


I was just coming here to mention the AMA. I think we can sum him up pretty completely with just one short paragraph, which was the beginning of his response to a very long and well-written question about some of JBP's erroneous assertions about economics.

I'm not going to retract my claim that the entry of women into the workforce put downward pressure on male wages. I can't see how that could be otherwise (although it may not be something that applies over the medium to long term, which is at the base of your objection, I think).

"I can't see how it would be otherwise" is not a strong stance.
posted by curiousgene at 10:47 AM on May 25 [4 favorites]


It doesn't strike me as brave, but as apologia for his own lack of action. Look at how he talks about his lack of response to Peterson rejecting the very concept of an IRB, instead of treating it as the warning klaxon it was.

I doubt that there's anyone alive who can't look back and say, "I wish I'd done more." Everything is easy in retrospect, and this is a sunk cost. Let's keep our eyes on the prize, which is stopping Jordan Peterson in particular and Fascism in general.
posted by klanawa at 10:58 AM on May 25


But there has always been women in the workforce tho
Also I thought CEOs etc made exponentially more now than they ever had and aren't they all men?
posted by windykites at 10:58 AM on May 25


"I can't see how it would be otherwise" is not a strong stance.

"I am incapable of critical thinking" we know, bro
posted by poffin boffin at 11:01 AM on May 25 [12 favorites]


Also from the Schiff letter:
I pushed for him because he was a divergent thinker, self-educated in the humanities, intellectually flamboyant, bold, energetic and confident, bordering on arrogant.
Ah yes, because what most academic departments are severely lacking are confident-bordering-on-arrogant white men. By all means, bully your colleagues into hiring more of these! There should be an affirmative action program to address this crisis! As an academic support professional, I often find myself complaining about the dearth of arrogant, confrontational, self-important white men in my life.
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:31 AM on May 25 [21 favorites]


Since Schiff wasn't there and is relaying the anecdote about Peterson's IRB objections second-hand, it's not so clear to me if Peterson was objecting to the idea of IRBs altogether or only to the idea of IRBs having authority over him. Both are bad, bad, bad positions (though for slightly different reasons). I guessing he was going for the latter.
posted by mhum at 11:39 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Some gems from that AMA:

JP: Foucault's fundamental implicit (and often explicit) claim is that power relations govern society. That's a rehashing of the Marxist claim of eternal and primary class warfare.

Redditors: If any assertion of power relations governing society could be attributed to marxism, would that not make your views on LGBT+ folk or postmodernists dominating the university, arguably a pillar of modern society, marxist by that association alone?...It basically makes libertarian’s marxists too. If your framework makes anyone interested in talking about political-economical hierarchy a Marxist you might be a shithead...

Also he clarifies his stance on 'enforced monogamy'

JP: If you disapprove of your married son or daughter's extramarital affairs (which I would say is a normative stance), that's enforced monogamy. The fact that polygamy is illegal is enforced monogamy. The fact that you don't want your own romantic partner sleeping around (with very few exceptions) is enforced monogamy.

So, for Peterson, if you want something, thats enforcing it. If you approve of something, thats enforcing it. Enforcement has a meaning for Peterson that is fundamentally different than how everyone else uses the word.

Rule 10: Be precise in your speech

Also, some economists noted how Peterson said in an interview that:

"It does seem that way, but multivariate analysis of the pay gap indicate that it doesn’t exist."

What he means is that after you control for a wide range of factors, the independent effect of gender does not affect ones wage. Which is true in some instances--I saw a paper on Uber drives that indicated that there was no discrimination in male vs female drivers. But Uber driving is an atypical occupation. Regardless, I think nearly everyone agrees that there is very likely discrimination against women based on gender in some instances. Whether that some is 1) infrequent enough to ignore, 2) somewhat common or 3) ubiquitous is where the disagreement lies.

However, in the AMA, Peterson says:
"There are MULTIPLE REASONS for the gap, and the simple-minded observation that women earn less than men and that the reason (the single reason) for that is discrimination is not helpful and is almost purely driven by ideological presumption....So that indicates that a very large proportion of the gap has nothing to do with gender, per se, which is precisely the point I have been making."

Which should be uncontroversial--the gap isn't 100% attributable to gender discrimination. Everyone knows this. Its also the opposite of what he said earlier, in that the gap due to discrimination 'doesn't exist'. So now he's just setting up this strawman and knocking it down. Its also NOT the point he has been making--the point he's making now is trivial, what he was making before is pure bullshit.

Anyway, this is the first thing I've read by him. I was impressed by his presence on stage and his speaking ability. But he sounds like a 20 year old libertarian douche.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:46 AM on May 25 [6 favorites]


I'm not going to retract my claim that the entry of women into the workforce put downward pressure on male wages

You ignorant ninny, if that were true we would have income parity. The entry of women into the workforce put upward pressure on male wages.
posted by desuetude at 11:46 AM on May 25


You ignorant ninny, if that were true we would have income parity. The entry of women into the workforce put upward pressure on male wages.

No, thats not necessarily true. It's perfectly reasonable that the entry of women into the workforce would reduce men's wages. After all, if you drastically increase the labor supply, that by itself reduce wages (aka the price for labor). Its also likely that there's some cases where it would increase wages, some where it would decrease wages. 'What was the impact of women's entry into the workforce on male wages?' is an interesting and important question to ask. But its for economists to answer, not professional trolls and misogynists. (Also note that he says "put downward pressure on wages", not "reduced wages" since the former can't be measured, the latter can.)

You're falling into Peterson's trap. Part of his schtick seems to state half of a relatively uncontroversial thing in the most irritating way possible, and then watch people react, and say that they can't handle the truth. And it works because people on the left keep taking the bait.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:55 AM on May 25 [10 favorites]


>"It does seem that way, but multivariate analysis of the pay gap indicate that it doesn’t exist."

What he means is that after you control for a wide range of factors, the independent effect of gender does not affect ones wage.


That's a charitable reading: what I hear him saying here is 'the pay gap exists because men and women take different kinds of jobs' -- this is really common tactic that attempts to frame the discussion in wage disparity in terms of whether (for example) male and female CEOs are equally paid, and not in terms of whether it's hard for women to become CEOs; or (for example) why certain fields have been dominated by one or other other gender, and why the higher-paying fields have tended to be dominated by men.

Here's the quote in context:
Newman: Okay. Sure. But I want to put to you that here in the UK, for example, let’s take that as an example. The gender pay gap stands at just over 9%. You’ve got women at the BBC recently saying that the broadcaster is illegally paying them less than men to do the same job. You’ve got only seven women running the top FTSE 100 companies!

Peterson: Yeah.

Newman: So it seems to a lot of women, that they are still being “dominated and excluded”, to quote your words back to you.

Peterson: It does seem that way, but multivariate analysis of the pay gap indicate that it doesn’t exist.

Newman: But that is not true, is it? I mean, that nine percent pay gap! That’s a gap between median hourly earnings between men and women!

Peterson: Yeah, but there’s multiple reasons for that. One of them is gender, but it’s not the only reason. If you’re a social scientist worth your salt, you never do a univariate analysis. Like you say, well women in aggregate are paid less than men. Okay, well then we break it down by age, we break it down by occupation, we break it down by interest, we break it down by personality.
Emphasis mine. He's explicitly, here, not actually responding to the question posed to him, which specifically is talking about the pay gap in terms of access to occupations in addition to wage disparities within occupations. He's asked a nuanced question, and rather than answering it he acts as if the interviewed had asked a different question.

He's really not interested in serious debate.
posted by cjelli at 12:02 PM on May 25 [17 favorites]


Also from the Schiff letter:
I pushed for him because he was a divergent thinker, self-educated in the humanities, intellectually flamboyant, bold, energetic and confident, bordering on arrogant.

I was struck by the protege/mentor bromance not uncommonly seem between younger and older male academics. The older looks for someone to groom in return for support, while the younger looks for an ally in return for veneration. I don't doubt that Peterson excelled in the arts of flattery, too. I was also struck by the intimations of mood swings and emotional instability. That's academic politics played at a rougher than usual level.

And it works because people on the left keep taking the bait.

I'm always very skeptical of these kinds of "stop hitting yourself" arguments. If Peterson's shtick "works"—and we'd probably want to be more clear about what "works" means in this context—it's because enough listeners like what they're hearing, not because some "leftists" are responding to him in some inadequate manner.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:52 PM on May 25 [8 favorites]


I'm always very skeptical of these kinds of "stop hitting yourself" arguments. If Peterson's shtick "works"—and we'd probably want to be more clear about what "works" means in this context—it's because enough listeners like what they're hearing, not because some "leftists" are responding to him in some inadequate manner.

Never worry about giving ammunition to somebody who presses their own bullets.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:05 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


And it works because people on the left keep taking the bait.

I'm always very skeptical of these kinds of "stop hitting yourself" arguments. If Peterson's shtick "works"—and we'd probably want to be more clear about what "works" means in this context—it's because enough listeners like what they're hearing, not because some "leftists" are responding to him in some inadequate manner.


But leftists (read: anyone to the left of Mussolini) are taking the bait and booking him for ever more “debates,” which can only possibly serve to expand his audience. The most positive outcome of such a farcical exercise is that the public is notified of the existence of yet another shithead. Well, duly noted, but you’ve just expanded his reach. Great job!
posted by Sys Rq at 1:07 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


If you’re a social scientist worth your salt, you never do a univariate analysis. Like you say, well women in aggregate are paid less than men. Okay, well then we break it down by age, we break it down by occupation, we break it down by interest, we break it down by personality.

If find it shocking that a "social scientist worth [zir] salt" would ever assume that there could not be gender discrimination in factors such as "interest," "occupation," and "personality."

That Uber research someone mentioned upthread showed a 7% paygap between male and female drivers. The researchers attributed the gap to several factors, including that the women chose less lucrative locations; drove more slowly; and had a shorter tenure as drivers. Every one of these factors could have a nexus to gender. Perhaps more importantly, with support and education, these factors could possibly be ameliorated and women could learn how to have the same advantages as men.
posted by yarly at 1:23 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]


PS that's the first time I've ever used ze/zir in writing. Thanks JP!
posted by yarly at 1:24 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


But leftists (read: anyone to the left of Mussolini) are taking the bait and booking him for ever more “debates,” which can only possibly serve to expand his audience

No, this is true. There's no sense in helping him spread his message. I was thinking more narrowly of merely writing or talking about him.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:51 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Also any social scientist worth their salt knows that there is no univariate regression. It’s bivariate or multivariate, you fascist fuck.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 3:09 PM on May 25 [8 favorites]


JP: but multivariate analysis of the pay gap indicate that it doesn’t exist.

Yes other variables besides gender such as you have M or F on your driver's license or whether your kids call you "mommy" or "daddy"
posted by notsnot at 3:14 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Reconsider the lobster

Critiquing these hierarchical structures and finding, when possible, a way to live outside of them in more co-operative ways are obvious alternatives for human beings about which Peterson says little.
posted by Artw at 5:42 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: It’s bivariate or multivariate, you fascist fuck.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:29 AM on May 26 [13 favorites]


And Cathy Young is using Peterson to rehabilitate her usual anti-woman claptrap.

I thought we were done with her when Slate gave her slot to Dan Ortberg.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:35 AM on June 1 [4 favorites]


She was a Gamergate cheerleader so of course.
posted by Artw at 11:37 AM on June 1 [3 favorites]


Just a note that Ortberg goes by Daniel or Danny but never Dan.
posted by Lexica at 1:10 PM on June 1


Sorry - did not know that. I'll keep that in mind in the future.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:51 PM on June 1 [2 favorites]


It’s bivariate or multivariate, you fascist fuck.

Multivariate regression and multiple regression are still different things, aren't they?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 2:20 PM on June 1


Canadaland digs in further looking at a professional misconduct complaint against him adjudicated by the College of Psychologists of Ontario, When Your Psychologist Goes Viral: How Jordan Peterson’s Fame Affected His Private Practice:
Shortly before Jordan Peterson decided he couldn’t be both a media personality and a practicing psychologist at the same time, he cancelled sessions with patients, later claiming illness, while maintaining an appointment to appear on television; he responded to messages from patients with auto-reply emails which brought up the challenges of his burgeoning fame, directing recipients to send argumentative emails to his ideological opponents; he employed his wife to sort through emails from patients without first asking for their consent; he shared potentially identifying information about patients with other patients; and he twice visited the restaurant where [a former patient] worked, returning after she had implored him not to, having seemingly forgotten that she worked there.
posted by peeedro at 3:34 PM on June 1 [13 favorites]


Multivariate regression and multiple regression are still different things, aren't they?

Jordan Peterson prefers multiple repression analysis.
posted by msalt at 4:14 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]




The Peterson articles never stop really - Vice takes on his book in this "critical reading" and he makes an appearance in Anne Thériault's piece in the Guardian which blames Canadian "niceness" for Peterson and the Incel movement.
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:12 PM on June 5




And our "brave" champion of free speech has threatened to sue a female professor over a tweet.

Funny how those who complain of thin skins always wind up having them.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:08 PM on June 15 [9 favorites]


His skin is even thinner than we thought:
University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson is taking legal action against Wilfrid Laurier University after a T.A. was criticized for showing a YouTube clip of him.

Petersen – a psychology professor who’s contentious views have been protested across the country – and his lawyer, Howard Levitt of Levitt LLP, are suing the school and three faculty members for defamation worth $1.5 million.

The claims, which haven’t been proven in court, say comments made in a closed meeting were defamatory and intended to discredit Peterson.

Peterson’s controversial views on the use of gender pronouns for trans-people became the subject of a free speech debate at Laurier after T.A. Lindsay Shepherd showed a video clip of him during a class tutorial. [Note for American readers: “tutorial” is the equivalent of a discussion section at an American university.]
Why is it that the biggest critics of safe spaces wind up being the most desiring of them?
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:04 AM on June 21 [3 favorites]


I don't think Lobsterboy here is thin-skinned as much as he knows he has no clothes. If he's constantly dunked on by people his fans can't defend with the usual excuses, the proud boys will latch to another middle aged dude that tells them to wash their dicks or whatever and the grift is over.
posted by lmfsilva at 8:26 AM on June 21 [3 favorites]


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