“life is suffering”
November 1, 2018 2:22 PM   Subscribe

An interview with Jordan Peterson. [GQ] “As part of our 30th-anniversary dissection of masculinity, Helen Lewis interrogated controversial Canadian academic and bestselling author Jordan Peterson about the patriarchy, #MeToo, the alt-right, gay parenting, fascist ideologies, his all-beef diet and much more...” [YouTube][Full Video of Interview]

• My experience of interviewing Jordan Peterson [GQ]
“I think Peterson has chosen a hard road – his whole appeal is based on intellectual superiority and confrontation, and it doesn’t leave much space for humility and humour. He seems genuinely to love his family, though, and he lit up when he talked about working with kids in a nursery. I don’t think he seems very happy – life on tour is hard (just ask any number of bands who were destroyed by it) even if you’re not on all-beef diet. Still, that diet is doing wonders for his figure, if not his arteries: in the flesh, he looks enviably lean. There was never going to be a moment when we settled our disagreements. Our worldviews are simply too different. Who won? I can’t say. I hope that, whichever of us the audience finds most persuasive, they will appreciate that GQ has given a platform to such a long, in-depth discussion. Jordan Peterson’s ideas are vital to understanding the online conversation about what it means to be a man today.”
• Official Trailer for SHUT HIM DOWN: The Rise of Jordan Peterson (DOCUMENTARY) [YouTube]
This is a behind-the-scenes look at Professor Jordan Peterson as he navigates the biggest controversy of his career. This is the official trailer which illustrates the explosion of polarized opinions that surround his meteoric rise to global fame. *Premiering on CBC Docs POV Fri. Nov. 2 at 9pm EST then streaming in Canada at cbc.ca/watch* For more info visit: bit.ly/JordanPetersondocCBC and shuthimdownfilm.com/
• Up close and personal with University of Toronto’s Jordan Peterson (but not his ideas) [The Globe and Mail]
In a blog post about the film on the CBC website, you write that “hundreds of thousands of news articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, and newscasts have covered [Peterson and his criticism of Bill C-16].” What did you hope to do with this film that hasn’t already been done?

There’s been nothing that looks at these events so intimately as they were happening. It’s very rare to find coverage of this event that actually treats – and I guess I will say “both sides” – with dignity. And I tried very hard, in the process of making this film, to really go into the world of both sides involved and to try to understand what was at stake for people coming at this from different vantage points. My hope is that people can watch this and come out maybe slightly more confused about what they thought. Maybe they can open their minds a little bit more to understanding where the other side is coming from. What I found in making this film is, it’s a lot more complex than simply picking one side or the other.
• Pity Jordan Peterson. Can a giant lobster analogy ever replace a sense of humour? [The Guardian]
“Are you even familiar with Peterson? A University of Toronto psychology professor, his raging stage show involuntarily reminds me of that incredibly moving speech from The South Park Movie: “This is aboot dignity. This is aboot respect. [Laughter] This is aboot – [More laughter] What’s so goddammed funny?” Anyway, you may simply know Jordan as “the lobster guy”, after his most famous proposition/abstraction: the idea that lobsters and their serotonin levels explain why human hierarchies exist and are good. But were better in the 1950s. Put simply, you’re really doing this wrong if your first thought on seeing a lobster is: “I’d like to eat this thing, not surrender my abortion rights to it.” Owing to his sell-out speaking tours, huge YouTube following and multimillion book sales, Peterson is frequently described as a “Pied Piper” of angry and disaffected men – though my understanding of the original Pied Piper was that he took all his followers away into some kind of mountain from which they never returned. Yes please! Except, how come Peterson’s followers continue to wander around our metaphorical Hamelin, explaining stuff like there is no patriarchy because of crustaceans? Can we try DynoPest instead?”
• Please Enjoy Jordan Peterson Talking About Living in a Hell of His Own Making [The Cut]
“Where’s the beef? For University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson, it’s everywhere: Each day brings the excruciating, unyielding monotony of eating exclusively beef for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The right wing’s favorite psychologist first began eating 100 percent beef, 100 percent of the time, thanks to his daughter, Mikhaila, an evangelist of the diet plan. (My ethical and taste-based oppositions to this aside, Mikhaila also says she had diarrhea for the first six weeks she tried this. So.) Anyway, how’s the diet going for Peterson? British GQ recently asked him about it, and— even though he said he’s lost 50 pounds and cleared up some autoimmune conditions — he sounds absolutely miserable about this thing that he’s exclusively done to himself.”
posted by Fizz (185 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
This post would not be complete without ContraPoints on Jordan Peterson.
posted by Nelson at 2:26 PM on November 1, 2018 [74 favorites]


This pairs nicely with the people who don't drink water article linked a bit ago. The all-beef diet is so odd. If you dig in, his daughter and himself talk about what happens if they ever deviate from it. (They get incredibly, incredibly sick for months it sounds like.) I did once on a lark decide to eat nothing but potatoes with salt and pepper for a weekend. It was actually pretty good all things considered... y'know, for a weekend.

I remember the first time I heard him speak, a woman recommended I check out a Joe Rogan podcast he was on and I thought "Huh, okay, sure." to the parts about working on your own mental space, but that was about it. I even tried to listen to his 12 Rules for Life but just found it... so ungodly boring and long. For the life of me, I can't understand why THIS is the guy that a whole group of people listen to and idolize. (To be clear, I'm not a fan of his. I left listening to him with like "what the fuck did he even say really?")

That ContraPoints is one of my favorites and a good primer. Dovetails to her following video on Incels.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:36 PM on November 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


I have helped two people escape the gravity well of Peterson's cargo cult parody of an intellectual. Gently, mind. I didn't condemn them or preach at them, but led them step by step out of the morass of aggrieved misogynistic cymbal-clapping-monkey pseudo-philosophy.

Though I find persuasion crass, I will do it again if I run into another lost soul ensnared by Peterson's destructive malarkey.
posted by Construction Concern at 2:36 PM on November 1, 2018 [47 favorites]


life listening to or engaging with or even being reminded of the existence of Jordan Peterson is suffering”
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 2:37 PM on November 1, 2018 [22 favorites]


MetaFilter: he sounds absolutely miserable about this thing that he’s exclusively done to himself.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:54 PM on November 1, 2018 [33 favorites]


I hope that, whichever of us the audience finds most persuasive, they will appreciate that GQ has given a platform to such a long, in-depth discussion.

God save us from cishet white women who are brave enough to be quippy feminists on Twitter but not brave enough to refuse to legitimize a man like Jordan Peterson in 2018.
posted by Sequence at 2:57 PM on November 1, 2018 [85 favorites]


I'm twenty minutes into the interview and I'm not sure if I have the stamina to watch it all the way through. I guess I shouldn't be shocked at the condescension with which he speaks every word as he answers Helen Lewis. But wow, what an angry angry man.
posted by Fizz at 3:04 PM on November 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


I suppose I am far from the first person to hope he has a replica lobsterphone to take urgent calls in his lobstercave
posted by queenofbithynia at 3:05 PM on November 1, 2018 [9 favorites]


God save us from cishet white women who are brave enough to be quippy feminists on Twitter but not brave enough to refuse to legitimize a man like Jordan Peterson in 2018.

Yeah, pretty tired of so-called liberals treating these matters like mere intellectual exercises as though mainstream promotion of Peterson and his ilk hasn't paved the way for recent, real-world legislative erasure and oppression of trans people.

Easy to pretend you're just the captain of a debate club when your very existence and survival isn't the subject of the debate.
posted by smithsmith at 3:14 PM on November 1, 2018 [67 favorites]


Jordan Peterson, on twitter, May 3 2017: "91% of those who view my videos are male. Why? Why so few women?".
posted by parki at 3:14 PM on November 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


he sounds absolutely miserable about this thing that he’s exclusively done to himself.

Not miserable enough for what he's done to all of us. Why the hell are we still giving this sea lion oxygen?
posted by lumpenprole at 3:22 PM on November 1, 2018 [36 favorites]


Is HLew still on that good good TERF trip? Been a while since I've run into her.
posted by ominous_paws at 3:24 PM on November 1, 2018 [16 favorites]


Why the hell are we still giving this sea lion oxygen?

I thought about that as I made this post and the main reason I went ahead with it is because such as sizeable portion of the online population is listening/watching him. To ignore him and his influence in my opinion seems foolish. These types of individuals need to be scrutinized and challenged. I know that it also gives him a platform from which to speak and that is a bit double-edged but I'd rather be aware of the evil in front of me as opposed to ignoring the evil in the dark and not know what it is doing or saying about me.
posted by Fizz at 3:32 PM on November 1, 2018 [9 favorites]


his all-beef diet

I thought this was hyperbole, but no. He’s that ridiculous all the time. Can’t be healthy, long term.

Good.
posted by schadenfrau at 3:35 PM on November 1, 2018 [15 favorites]


All-beef diet hahahaha. Every time some weird detail about one of these hucksters goes public I wonder whether it's for real, and then I make the decision not to check. I don't think personality cults are good, but I guess it's nice that for once my most sensitive, crystal-buying friends aren't the main target.
posted by grandiloquiet at 3:37 PM on November 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's an all-lobster meat diet.
posted by parki at 3:37 PM on November 1, 2018 [1 favorite]




I like Laurie Penny on Peterson: Peterson's Complaint
The mistake that so many critics and commentators have made is to try to defeat Peterson in formal debate. It’s not that his ideas cannot be defeated — it’s that taking them seriously gives them a credence they do not deserve.

Peterson is not a philosopher of [feminist philosopher Kate] Manne’s caliber. He might most generously be read as a prose poet, or a performance artist trying to express the insipid conundrum of modern masculinity via the medium of YouTube televangelism.

There is nothing morally wrong with recognizing that young white guys are not coping terribly well in this frightening and uncertain world they suddenly find they have to share. The problem comes when you announce, as men like Peterson do, that the way white men feel about things is the way things are. Feelings are not facts. Just because young white men are experiencing hurt feelings does not make those hurt feelings rational, or reasonable, or a sound basis for policy-making. It certainly doesn’t oblige anyone to dignify those hurt feelings with the status of cosmic wisdom.

Peterson, like a lot of angry white men, appears to experience his feelings as facts and his neuroses as truths. Not everyone is quite so obsessed with hierarchy or quite so terrified of powerful women — sorry, of the negative female archetype, the Great Mother, the Dragon — as Professor Jordan Peterson. But in debate after debate he insists that his paranoid fantasies and esoteric anxieties be debated as if they were concrete facts, and in debate after debate he trounces his opponents, because it turns out you can’t really argue someone out of a feeling. Particularly not a feeling of frustration, or anger, or loss.
posted by wemayfreeze at 3:56 PM on November 1, 2018 [101 favorites]


How about don’t gawk at the train wreck of white mediocrity being rewarded with a platform.

This guy is fucking useless at baseline existence, giving him mindshare is violence.
posted by nikaspark at 3:59 PM on November 1, 2018 [38 favorites]


He's the very definition of insufferable.
posted by dobbs at 4:00 PM on November 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Well for all the Peterson haters out there, good news, he'll soon be trapped in his own bed by gout.
posted by GuyZero at 4:04 PM on November 1, 2018 [19 favorites]


giving him mindshare is violence

He's very popular with a lot of angry men, at a time of rising authoritarianism around the world. We ignore him at our peril.

That said, we need to engage properly, and not on his terms.
posted by wemayfreeze at 4:08 PM on November 1, 2018 [15 favorites]


I have "lost" five good friends to Peterson's bullshit, it honestly causes me pain daily, I am going to share who they are as I don't know what else to do anymore.

All are extremely liberal, progressive people, but I find the differences between the male and female fans startling:

1. Male, single and angry but smart and funny. I am least concerned about him, he's smart enough to limit his beliefs.
2. Male, single and extremely angry, an honestly powerful brain but gaping holes in logic and education. One of my oldest friends, a friendship I believe has likely ended this week due to a cultish level Peterson worship that has become harder and harder for his friends to ignore.
3. Male, single and angry, trusting and gullible, inexperienced and extremely impressionable, has also switched to an all beef diet (which has apparently fixed everything).
4. Female, married and a fucking delight, a powerful person whom I admire deeply, a sex educator, a relentless feminist.
5. Female, single and a bit of a mess but also an educator, a deeply caring and sensitive person, also a loud voice for women, someone who has come through for me when I needed help greatly.

Both women are teachers, both dismiss Peterson's hatrid for teachers completely. When Peterson literally refers to Ontario teachers as "fucking pricks" for attempting to keep LGBTQ issues as part of sex education these two educators insist that isn't what he means.

I try and try and try to find common ground between them, some way that I can get a handle on their newfound beliefs but I am lost and I miss my friends.

I have no idea if Peterson is just too stupid to understand his relentless dog-whistling or if it's all a scam he is aware of, or some flavour of both but my god I have never seen a person so constantly seething with such a level of rage.
posted by Cosine at 4:08 PM on November 1, 2018 [29 favorites]


Ugh. So glad the first comment is the ContraPoints video about him.

I've spent the last few minutes trying to find a quote (I saw it on twitter or reddit in the last week or so) that says something like, Jordan Peterson's advice is basically 'do what your mother told you to do' (clean your room, wash your junk, etc.) but it sounds profound because a dude is saying it.
posted by lovecrafty at 4:10 PM on November 1, 2018 [21 favorites]


Helen Lewis is the type of person to know something is bad and then do it anyway.
posted by lilies.lilies at 4:12 PM on November 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


I rushed to post the ContraPoints video partly just because I like it. But also because it's just the right level of engagement with Peterson's nonsense. In parts of the video she goes into detail with the problems of Peterson's philosophical underpinnings, the various logical and factual mistakes he makes in explaining the world as he sees it. She takes him just seriously enough to take him apart on his own terms a few times. Great! But then most of the video is this hilariously arch parody and mockery of Peterson, of his stupid masculine posturing. And what better person to do that?

Peterson's shtick is he's a Very Serious Intellectual. So it's helpful to engage with him a little on an intellectual level, to try to reach the misled young men who take him seriously. But mostly he's just a dumb misogynist fool and should be roundly mocked as such. ContraPoints does both admirably.

(Man, I miss the days when it was Robert Pirsig's brand of mediocre philosophy that ensnared gullible young men. At least he's not as malign.)
posted by Nelson at 4:15 PM on November 1, 2018 [31 favorites]


> When Peterson literally refers to Ontario teachers as "fucking pricks" for attempting to keep LGBTQ issues as part of sex education these two educators insist that isn't what he means.

His views on these issues seem pretty clear and straightforward to me. What do they tell you he "actually" means?
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:18 PM on November 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


I feel lucky not encountering him outside metafilter. When people are “lost” to him, what is it that they are signing up for? I guess being an atheist and not into hierarchies the whole idea of a guy who comes along and brilliantly frames all of life’s problems just ...doesn’t exist for me. If you “follow” this guy seriously how is it different from following Jesus, or landmark, or Donald trump ? It seems like the same patriarchal urge:

1) the world is complex.
2) dad didn’t have all the answers.
3) find a bigger more impressive dad who says he has all the answers.

That’s the root of stuff like this IMO.
posted by freecellwizard at 4:19 PM on November 1, 2018 [40 favorites]


Card Cheat: they won't answer, just weirdly condescending smiles and justifications like "there are actually lots of problems with the new sex ed curriculum".
posted by Cosine at 4:21 PM on November 1, 2018 [8 favorites]


they won't answer, just weirdly condescending smiles and justifications

Yeah, funny how that goes. Especially since "Be precise in your speech" was one of the maxims he espoused in the Quora answer that launched his career in America.

Also, this is your periodic reminder that Peterson's fame in America is (I think) literally due to the popularity of his answer to a Quora question, "What are the most valuable things everyone should know?"
posted by mhum at 5:09 PM on November 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


Never heard of the chap before, but I made myself sit through fifteen minutes of the video.

He seems more like a teenage boy than an adult. His debating style is very much that of the "doesn't like to be told", pointlessly argumentative type of child. So if an interviewer asks "So you believe X?", he'll immediately reply "No, I don't believe X. In fact, just the opposite", because to be understood is to make his arguments intelligible enough to refute. There's something peculiarly fragile about him, too, and you see that in children who will not back down, will not admit any flaw in their argument, and just get angry the more you try to reason with them. There's that tendency to argue the toss, to use weasel-words and definition-lawyering. As a father of a "doesn't like to be told" sort of boy, there's a lot that's familiar. It's just weird to see that behaviour in an adult, and ironic that such a child-man should apparently become some sort of self-identified guru of adult manliness.
posted by pipeski at 5:22 PM on November 1, 2018 [27 favorites]




It's funny how sometimes cranky can come across as smart.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 5:44 PM on November 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


“I think Peterson has chosen a hard road – his whole appeal is based on intellectual superiority and confrontation, and it doesn’t leave much space for humility and humour.

Sooooo if he's chosen the Way of the Asshole, then fuck him. He's preferring to be antagonistic - via his "intellectual superiority" - and at that point I have absolutely no time left for him.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:50 PM on November 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Of COURSE he eats a 100% beef diet. Good lord. There's a metaphor in there somewhere...the only more on-the-nose thing he could be doing would be to say he drinks bile on the regular, for the health benefits.

It's funny how sometimes cranky can come across as smart.

If one is a cranky man, yes.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:54 PM on November 1, 2018 [19 favorites]


That said, we need to engage properly, and not on his terms.

Make FPP's dragging his ass then.
posted by nikaspark at 6:03 PM on November 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


The young twenty-something son of one of my best friends has gotten into this guy via his Filipino girlfriend who is studying in Canada. She is switched on, in a band, and apparently has a great sense of humor. I do NOT get how a young woman can fall for this crap. Particularly not a young woman of color.
posted by frumiousb at 6:03 PM on November 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Also, this is your periodic reminder that Peterson's fame in America is (I think) literally due to the popularity of his answer to a Quora question, "What are the most valuable things everyone should know?"

That goes a long way toward explaining why I get a weird vibe whenever a Google search takes me to a Quora answer. There's something indefinable about that place that just gets my hackles up, even if I'm only there for a moment. It's nothing I can quite explain… just a weird vibe. But it's a weird vibe that clicks really well with the kind of pseudoscientific cultish misogyny that Peterson peddles.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:05 PM on November 1, 2018 [15 favorites]


So wait, is this 100% beef diet really totally 100% beef? No spices, no sauce, no butter or oil, no salt?? My god, he must smell terrible.
posted by lovecrafty at 6:09 PM on November 1, 2018 [11 favorites]


Have we mentioned the poor Reddit schmo whose girlfriend "wanted to see other people" after he introduced her to Peterson and doesn't understand why?
posted by mark k at 6:22 PM on November 1, 2018 [24 favorites]


just weirdly condescending smiles and justifications like "there are actually lots of problems with the new sex ed curriculum".

So... they're TERFs?
posted by Dysk at 7:16 PM on November 1, 2018 [22 favorites]


I may have just spent two hours watching contrapoints videos. So, at least something good has come of this thread.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:10 PM on November 1, 2018 [29 favorites]


The all-beef diet claim is a great way to gain attention, but I don't for a second believe it's true.
posted by nnethercote at 9:41 PM on November 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


All cheese is where it's at. Colons are for weaklings.

Also, Jordan Peterson is the intellectual equivalent of when your cat has a bit of poo it can't get off its unnecessarily hirsute hindquarters, and does little weird magic marker poo butt-plant dragging around the house until it graffitis it off all over the weird muppet-like seventies shag carpet section you bought at a thrift store and vaguely regret, partially because you were worried it might have bedbugs or something and you quarantined it for awhile but maybe not long enough.
posted by aspersioncast at 10:05 PM on November 1, 2018 [13 favorites]


I know this guy is awful on so many levels but I was unaware of his all unseasoned beef, all the time, diet. I just can't wrap my head around it. I mean, I get into food ruts, but the deliberate choice to eat nothing but unseasoned cattle flesh just on 'principle' is so self-defeatingly joyless. No garlic or spuds or rutabagas or greens, no cheese or bread or mushrooms or ONIONS?? Just to spite those womanly vegans?? What sort of man does this? What sort of person torches an avenue of delight in this short life to waggle their gaunt deprived middle aged shell at their opponents like they're a champion of No Fun?
posted by biddeford at 11:35 PM on November 1, 2018 [14 favorites]


To be fair. at least it's salted beef. But... dang, I often say I could eat steak every day but, uh, i don't literally want to eat steak. every. day.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 11:54 PM on November 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised JP doesn't eat lobster just to assert dominance.

I will be forever grateful to ContraPoints for pulling me out of JP's reality distortion field. So many JP YouTube vids are selectively edited to make him sound reasonable and uncontroversial. CP puts him in perspective.

Now when I see JP, I hear Gavin instead.
posted by zaixfeep at 1:50 AM on November 2, 2018 [8 favorites]


"Be precise in your speech" was one of the maxims he espoused in the Quora answer that launched his career in America

Such a shame that he's never displayed as much concern for accuracy as he alleges for precision.
posted by flabdablet at 1:54 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


God I really just don't know what to say about this guy. It's funny to make fun of his ridiculousness, but he's also a real danger to trans people and women, and I'm pretty sure his cult is going to result in some real world violence sooner or later.

The beef thing is bizarre, and like the interviewer I had trouble keeping the horrified laughter under control as this pop demagogue talked solemnly about being a repellent fart monster on international tv, but it's also so weirdly cliched? The uptight, manly man who is afraid of gender variance and gay vegetables and will not tell a lie and only eats beef--- that's such a caricature of Anglo masculinity going back generations, I don't know how it's being seen as something new and exciting by anyone. Wasn't this-- the consequences of an all-beef diet on an already way too uptight man-- literally the premise one of the very first episodes of King of the Hill? It doesn't say great things about where we are culturally that Hank's backwardness in 1997 is being heralded as some incredible new insight on life by not just incels but normal people in 2018.

What gets me is that his personal affect is so disturbing-- I don't understand what his audience thinks is going on, but to me he is clearly mentally unwell. I couldn't make it through most of the "funny" clips of that interview because he looked like he was about to jump out of his seat and strangle the interviewer. I don't know if my stripper senses are leading me wrong, but that is the kind of body language that signals immediate danger to me-- if he was behaving that way in one of my clubs, I would immediately tell security to watch him, and they would tell me they were already keeping an eye on him. I really don't know how else to describe it. When I've met people IRL who had that personal affect, they all either started some kind of violent altercation or were within a week of being put in an involuntary psychiatric hold, I'm not kidding or exaggerating.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 3:35 AM on November 2, 2018 [51 favorites]


I've expended all the thought-energy I'd ever care to on this person already, and am annoyed he hasn't just fucked off yet. My original response was that the top line advice in his book was actually pretty good, if sometimes phrased in an unnecessarily provocative way, and often obviously spoken hypocritically. But the further you drill down into the different chapters the less and less sense it makes.

I mean he had to go quite a long way down the food chain to find an animal that appeared to support his prejudices, even if you do have to squint a bit to see it.

(May I make another plug for the Marina Hyde piece, very funny, and her quote in the piece of this bit from Helen Lewis in the original interview: “Lobsters don’t get depressed. I think you’re anthropomorphising to a ridiculous degree. These are creatures that urinate out of their faces.”)

Of course, the people queuing up to "take Peterson on" are only ever providing validation for him, however hard they try to do otherwise. If you put a gibbon on a post-football-match TV panel week after week, eventually people will automatically look to see what the gibbon thought of the dramatic free kick in the second half. Exactly the same principle was employed on BBC's Question Time to bring Nigel Farage to his current, lamentable prominence.

The lobster thing aside, what I find oddest of all is the assumption (shared very widely but particularly on the right) that because people lived on or near the Mediterranean a couple of thousand years ago, they're inherently and automatically wiser than people who lived more recently, despite the latter's access to a wider range of ideas, experiences and experimental data.

The danger is that if someone does follow the, as I say, unoriginal but basically sound advice, their life may improve and they will associate that improvement with this ... person ... and his rather wackier ideas.

Ultimately this whole edifice - the new right thing - will come crashing down. They're all too delusional, and overambitious and greedy and ... well ... dim ... for anything else to happen, and of course it will come crashing down on top of us, and that won't be nice. But their failure is inevitable.
posted by Grangousier at 3:36 AM on November 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


> I guess being an atheist and not into hierarchies the whole idea of a guy who comes along and brilliantly frames all of life’s problems just ...doesn’t exist for me.

For you no, but he's quite popular among a certain group of atheists/atheistish-ists, especially those who previously glommed on to figures like Sam Harris. The lure of having a patriarchal figure to do all the explaining in an ego-flattering way is just too great for some.

Although JP fans are odd in that they don't actually use much of their guru's explanatory framework to argue their views. It's not "Jordan Peterson has given me a convincing argument here which I will now use myself," it's almost always "Jordan Peterson has convinced me that Jordan Peterson is correct, all dissent can be countered by the appropriate Jordan Peterson book/video/quote." It's like the next generation of that annoying performative internet debate style where everything is about making the right nods to an imagined audience rather than countering your opponent's points, except with even less effort towards even pretending like you're arguing with the actual person in front of you. "No you're utterly wrong about that and Dr Peterson has explained why!" "Okay, where am I wrong?" "Oh you need to watch this video where he explains it himself."
posted by Catseye at 3:40 AM on November 2, 2018 [12 favorites]


In case your life isn't suffering enough, here's almost 90 minutes of Petersen's daughter Mikhaila talking about her all-beef diet.
posted by chavenet at 3:56 AM on November 2, 2018


...he's quite popular among a certain group of atheists/atheistish-ists...
..."Jordan Peterson has convinced me that Jordan Peterson is correct, all dissent can be countered by the appropriate Jordan Peterson book/video/quote."...

Sounds like he takes his cues from evangelical cults. Just replace the first "Jordan Peterson" with "evangelical preacher/man of god", the second "Jordan Peterson" with "evangelical Christianity," and the third "Jordan Peterson" with "our evangelical church."

"Okay, where am I wrong?" "Oh you need to watch this video where he explains it himself."

"Okay, where am I wrong?" "Oh you need to come to church with me and hear it explained."
posted by fraula at 4:21 AM on November 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


I appreciate the need for skepticism when dealing with positives takes on Reddit. With that said, I think the /r/MensLib subreddit sticky does a really good job of explaining the issues with Jordan Peterson from a male perspective that enthusiastically supports intersectional feminism.
posted by IShouldBeStudyingRightNow at 4:36 AM on November 2, 2018 [8 favorites]


I'm really amazed at the number of Jordan Peterson hit pieces that we're seeing emerge right now. This is a good roundup.
posted by phenylphenol at 5:32 AM on November 2, 2018


Some months or years ago, with Peterson being in the news so much, I went to his website to try and get a summary view of what his philosophy was.

That's not something his website seems to be designed to encourage. What writing there is on his website reads like book-jacket blurbs. There come-ons for his books and services. There are video interviews with him that focus on specific subjects. There's a podcast for someone who wants to devote way more time to this project than I do. There is an impenetrable "blog" that might as well be called Indignities and Humiliations That Have Been Visited Upon Me, Parts 1-723.

This strikes me as an odd state of affairs for a self-styled philosopher. It is a particularly odd state of affairs for a self-styled writer to rely so heavily on passively-consumed multimedia instead of, like, writing.

Without some clear position statement of his own, visitors whose interest has been piqued elsewhere are, perhaps, free to read in whatever intentions, urges, or biases they brought with them. The reliance on passively-consumed multimedia may be especially conducive to this.

I don't think you'd have to be a huge cynic to see his media presence as a commercial enterprise first and foremost.
posted by Western Infidels at 5:53 AM on November 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


Chavenet, the 5 monutes I watched of that interview with Mikhaila was so much less excruciating than anything Peterson Sr has ever had to say on the subject. I have friends who stick to meat-heavy paleo or keto style elimination diets for similar autoimmune-related reasons (including joint issues, altho not as severe as hers) that are poorly understood by the medical eatablishment but seem to respond to diet changes. Maybe she becomes super unbearable after I stopped watching, but she seemed like a pretty normal member of that population of folks trying to find lifestyle changes that help manage chronic health issues. Her dad, meanwhile, seems like someone who is using his daughter’s autoimmune issues as an excuse to go off his psych meds while engaging in some kind of bizarre dietary masochism tied into patriarchal ideas about meat eating and masculinity. The difference between the two is... a lot.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 5:59 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


The Jordan Peterson thing is a real reminder that many people are just not that smart, and many smart people have very poor critical thinking skills. Peterson is a loon, and the real question is how his body of work allowed him to teach at all. But it's obvious that many people who are on his bandwagon for whatever reason are unable to recognize the logical holes, not to mention moral depravity, in his arguments. Argument from authority is all Peterson's got, and it defines the response of his true believers when they are challenged on what Peterson says or claims to believe.
posted by OmieWise at 6:17 AM on November 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


I'm in danger of overextending into judgementality, and that usually ends badly for me, but I've found it very useful to make a distinction between what I call cleverness and what I call intelligence - my own arbitrary terminology for two states which I think can be identified in the real world: Cleverness would be a facility for manipulating data and narratives in one's head, while intelligence would be the ability to observe the world, gather data and respond to what has been perceived. A prerequisite for intelligence would be curiosity. It's not as if the latter is heightened above the former - plants who follow the sun exhibit a rudimentary form of intelligence, and you can observe it in animals such as mice, who do not plan (a function of cleverness), what ever Robert Burns might think.

Cleverness is very useful, and if you can harness the power of narrative can be very effective. But it's also dangerous, because the narratives a clever person may construct need not have any relation to reality. Peterson is a very clever man, and Alexander "Boris" Johnson, and Michael Gove, Steve Bannon, etc. These are all clever men. They are also very stupid men. It's possible to be both at the same time. In fact, because society tends to conflate the two states, it seems that a very clever man is unlikely to be an intelligent one, since any curiosity about the world is in danger of negating the carefully constructed stories he has lined up in his head.
posted by Grangousier at 6:33 AM on November 2, 2018 [22 favorites]


Really missed a trick by not titling this thread HOW CAN YOU HAVE YOUR PUDDING IF YOU DON'T EAT YOUR MEAT
posted by octobersurprise at 6:36 AM on November 2, 2018 [15 favorites]


Jordan Peterson's primary observation is that when cultures encourage people to adopt personal responsibility for making things better within their own local environment, things invariably get better for everybody, across the board. The thing he hasn't quite integrated is that this itself is a bit of a utopian vision -- if everybody suddenly dropped everything and just worked to improve whatever was closer to them, we'd definitely be better off. But at the very least, his public admonishments don't have any force of law -- he's recommending this, but if people do not comply, there's no threat whatsoever to their livelihood.

I still think he's fundamentally correct: treating every person as an individual is the same as treating them as equals; he believes this is also the core insight of Judeo-Christian western culture. Peterson is making an argument for the most inclusive worldview possible -- one that celebrates/tolerates every single difference between people, not only those (race, sex, sexual orientation, etc.) that are ripe for Machiavellian divide-and-conquer exploitation. He's encountering pushback because he allows for the possibility that people might tend to make choices for themselves, and these may correspond to inborn differences.

When people demand the creation of large power structures to represent and govern based on characteristics such as race, sex, or lifestyle, I see a regression toward tribalism, an inherent evil within human nature that we all ought to squelch, to the best of our ability. This is the same message as Martin Luther King, his Birmingham Prison equivocation notwithstanding. I have sympathy for the progressive utilitarian position that says something like, "we have to fight racist fire (ie., the existence of prejudicial tendencies) with fire (ie., the creation of legal systems that divide people up by race or criminalize ideas)." I think part of the issue is that people who tend to see people not as individuals, but as exemplars of some superficial characteristics, tend to assume other people do the same; the extreme version of this is the assumption that any difference in outcome for people, sliced across any arbitrary dimension, is the result of unjust prejudice. As a statistician, this simply doesn't make sense to me -- nothing is univariate, the world is complex, and it's simply an unsophisticated view, especially when you're dealing with people with free will, or at least something that looks like it.

Peterson likely sees parallels between the freedom-authoritarian axis we see expressed now, and the primary discoveries of Biblical texts. The reasoning goes: "if it's true now, and it's an expression of human nature, and that human nature was around 2,000 years ago, then we can probably interpret important documents from that period -- the Bible -- as addressing the same core issues." I think that's a reasonable perspective, and I'm certainly not one to believe in a magical sky-man. The church has always been corrupt, but the core tenets of western religion, as well as Buddhism, describe how to navigate the world as a human, given our particular biologically evolved psychological condition.

There's a line to be drawn from the Old Testament through Christianity, though Luther, through British common law, through the American Revolution, through the abolition of slavery, through women's suffrage, and so on through the present moment. This is why I'm an Enlightenment-style progressive. Increasing liberalization of culture -- increasing freedom -- is to be celebrated as a great cultural achievement. The common thread is the understanding that the rights of individuals should be protected, and we all need to respect one another as complete equals, regardless of any possible superficial characteristic.

I suspect JBP sees the rapid emergence of the tendency to categorize people by superficial traits -- race, sex, gender, orientation, etc. -- as enormously regressive, when compared to the gradual cultural liberalization project that has unfolded since ancient times. Personally, I'm not sure whether the complaint is justified; it's hard to tell whether this is a threat to the liberalization process or just the process at work (and ultimately it's just a matter of the timespan you're looking at). Collectivization and activism is often the only way for persecuted minority groups to win social acceptance, and we need that!

But what JBP does celebrate is the primacy of the individual, and that seems to be the core value driving progressive movements today. We can't shake the snowglobe, call out, "stop!" and create the utopia. But as far as I can see, JBP is doing as much as he can to slow our divisive tendencies and instead promote tolerance and cooperation on the basis of individual human rights. This is why I'm so ruffled to see the Blue promoting hit pieces and spending time finger-waggling and giving the raspberry to somebody whose ideas they don't seem to charitably understand.

Ms Lewis was a fantastic, smart, and well-informed interviewer, though I disagree with most of her opinions. Mr Peterson was understandably unnerved by realizing this was a hit piece specifically against him -- it's hard to not appear combative in those terms. As an aside, I'm very amused that most of these current hit pieces end with a question about Peterson's admittedly-ridiculous all-beef diet. But hey, if it works, to each his own.
posted by phenylphenol at 7:08 AM on November 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


Peterson is a loon, and the real question is how his body of work allowed him to teach at all.
I've got some bad news for you, about the way universities work in 2018.

Anyway, thirding ContraPoints "well, someone's got to whip the neckbeards into shape"
posted by eustatic at 7:13 AM on November 2, 2018


As an alum of U of T I am quite ashamed that he continues to teach there.

This isn't some abstract thing. A friend is at the centre of this...brouhaha, to use a more polite term. This affects real humans as many have said above, both as naive acolytes of his crapola and as people who would like to be treated like people, thank you very much.

By the by, if you can learn to use someone's nickname, you can learn to use their correct pronouns.
posted by wellred at 7:13 AM on November 2, 2018 [13 favorites]


But as far as I can see, JBP is doing as much as he can to slow our divisive tendencies and instead promote tolerance and cooperation on the basis of individual human rights.

I'm not sure we're talking about the same Jordan Peterson. I absolutely cannot recognise that at all in any of his positions.
posted by Dysk at 7:15 AM on November 2, 2018 [26 favorites]


But as far as I can see, JBP is doing as much as he can to slow our divisive tendencies and instead promote tolerance and cooperation on the basis of individual human rights.

I've definitely felt this way, and it may even be true. I also think he's failing at it spectacularly.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:16 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


The all-beef diet claim is a great way to gain attention, but I don't for a second believe it's true.

Peterson's looked like a man in physical and mental decline for a year or so now, so I'm willing to take him at his word. He also told Joe Rogan that a glass of apple cider gave him a sense of impending doom so overwhelming that it kept him awake for 25 days. Obviously an exaggeration, if not a gigantic fib, but who says things like that? Maybe he's trying to serve up a FRAIL BUT POWERFUL GURU shtick, but whenever I see him he looks a little more miserable than the last time.

(Man, I miss the days when it was Robert Pirsig's brand of mediocre philosophy that ensnared gullible young men. At least he's not as malign.)

As Joseph Campbell is basically repackaged Carl Jung, Jordan Peterson is repackaged Joseph Campbell.

On the topic of Peterson fans, this twitter thread includes polyamory, heterodox free-thinkers looking to bone other heterodox free-thinkers, a Quillette dating app, and a mission to Mars!
posted by octobersurprise at 7:25 AM on November 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


Peterson's looked like a man in physical and mental decline for a year or so now

Serious concerns about the guy’s mental health included, the entire Jordan Peterson phenomenon seems to me like an incredibly, utterly bog standard midlife crisis/extended mental breakdown being had very publicly by a guy from a specific sociocultural background. I grew up with a bunch of friends whose families were orbiting academia, and multiple dads and uncles went off the deep end in exactly the same way as this guy— during our teenage years, at around Peterson’s age. I remember a family friend’s son and his friends who I rode the schoolbus with talking about dismantling his father’s “office” and having to deal with boxes and boxes full of similar garbage screeds about the dad’s theories of humanity when they were cleaning the house after he finally moved out to the opposite coast to join a Christian cult. Peterson mostly seems remarkable to me because of the amount of media coverage he’s gotten, but I feel like his bad ideas could basically have been (and probably were) written by any of these intellectual breakdown narcissist midlife crisis guys. The belief system and behavior here isn’t visionary, it’s symptomatic.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 7:38 AM on November 2, 2018 [16 favorites]


phenylphenol: But as far as I can see, JBP is doing as much as he can to slow our divisive tendencies and instead promote tolerance and cooperation on the basis of individual human rights.

I don't see that at all.
Interviewer: "Do you feel like a serious woman who does not want sexual harassment in the workplace, do you feel like if she wears makeup in the workplace that she is somewhat being hypocritical?"

Peterson: "Yeah."

Interviewer: "Okay..."

Peterson: "I do think that."
Jordan Peterson can't even slow his own divisive tendencies.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 7:41 AM on November 2, 2018 [24 favorites]


But what JBP does celebrate is the primacy of the individual, and that seems to be the core value driving progressive movements today

For those of us whose progressive movements emerged from class analysis, socialism, and collective action, nah. That's Thatcherism. ('There is no such thing as society, there are individual men and women and there are families.') Although I do think you're right that a focus on the primacy of the individual is popular in self-declared progressive circles right now, which remains endlessly puzzling to many but hey there you go.

The problem with this as a basis for societal analysis is, well, this:

He's encountering pushback because he allows for the possibility that people might tend to make choices for themselves, and these may correspond to inborn differences.

This is always presented as the kind of statement that gets people outraged in its shockingly unorthodox nature. But it's not; it's very, very old. Progressive movements like feminism were developed against the background of this as a widespread assumption, providing a counter-narrative to "well maybe women come lower in the hierarchy because that's just the way they're made", looking in depth at how these hierarchies were shaped historically, and by who, and why; looking at how choices are bound in that framework; looking at how 'inborn differences' are presented, and whose interests they serve at different times, and why societies cling so hard to them in the face of hundreds of years of science and thousands of years of history saying "nope".

Saying, in effect, "but have you considered that maybe this hierarchy is the natural order of things?" is like attempting to counter modern astronomy by saying "but have you considered that maybe the Earth is at the centre of the solar system after all?" If you want people to seriously reconsider it, you'll have to present some better evidence than "well from where I stand, it looks like everything moves around us."
posted by Catseye at 7:55 AM on November 2, 2018 [41 favorites]


But what JBP does celebrate is the primacy of the individual

This is one of the big reasons people have a problem with him, imo. We are at a time where we are finally taking seriously the idea that there are large social factors that influence outcomes, that combatting racism, for instance, is not just a matter of individual choice, not just a matter of "treating everybody like equals". We are social creatures, and no amount of lecturing on individual choice will overcome that.

These laws that you strawman — laws that you say "divide people up by race or criminalize ideas" — are intended to adjust the balance of power to remedy the negative outcomes of these social factors.

He seems to be proposing a new, correct ideology, from which all else should flow, outcomes be damned. We need to move past that. Outcomes are what matter: a good life for all people won't flow naturally from just the right intellectual framework. The real work is messy, and can seem inconsistent when you try to fit it into a particular logical frame. And that's because humans are beautiful and messy social creatures.
posted by wemayfreeze at 7:56 AM on November 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


How on earth does a respect for individualism and “inborn differences” line up with disrespecting and stoking cultural violence against trans women? Or are the only individual choices he respects his own, and the only “inborn differences” that deserve to be taken seriously are cis men’s sexual needs, and I guess his daughter’s dietary needs? Quoting pop versions of MLK to justify someone whose major claim to fame is riding the coattails of transphobia? Friend, if you find yourseld seriously believing this cult leader stuff, you’re in danger.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 8:01 AM on November 2, 2018 [31 favorites]


Yeah, I think his appeals to history and to carefully-selected science, which are fundamental to his arguments, are really where the whole thing falls down. We are at a time when we are starting to imagine truly new things on this earth, worlds free of domination and oppression. The past is useful for understanding the human conditions, but not for describing how things ought to be. Any appeal to how things have been in order to describe how things should be denies the magic of human consciousness and agency.
posted by wemayfreeze at 8:07 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


I suspect JBP sees the rapid emergence of the tendency to categorize people by superficial traits -- race, sex, gender, orientation, etc. -- as enormously regressive, when compared to the gradual cultural liberalization project that has unfolded since ancient times. Personally, I'm not sure whether the complaint is justified; it's hard to tell whether this is a threat to the liberalization process or just the process at work (and ultimately it's just a matter of the timespan you're looking at).

I think he's not wrong that many of the new improvments and changes in society are a challenge to liberalisation, but we're not all working towards that, or all agree on what that means.

Race, gender, orientation, + all make a huge difference to how people are treated and experience life and to say accounting for that is a mistake is to give ammunition straight to bigots. It's playing right into the "reverse racism", MRA crowd's beliefs about anti-racism, sexism etc.

You know, a woman yesterday said all men should die! To my face! I'm so hurt. There's no way that could be a valid expression of her feelings. That Richard Spencer guy who tweets at her is just trying to help open her eyes. Guess feminism has gone too far. Sad, but if only everyone could be as altruistic, rational and even-handed as me. Hamburger.

That is exactly where his rhetoric leads. It's just more pulling the shades over people's eyes, ignoring the reality of the systems and structures of oppression we still live in and declaring it's all about personal responsibility and not being divisive. It sounds good, if you have absolutely no idea of the context, which makes apparent the harmful nonsense that it is.

He is railing against a "corruption" of liberalism, which is the slow injection of modern understandings of liberation into liberal thought. Which is why he goes on about cultural Marxists etc. There has been a significant evolution of liberalism over the past century or so, in order to cordon and dissipate the threats offered by radical alternatives.
Of course, when the tensions created by that process of subsumption causes problems, JBP would rather see fascism than a collapse of liberalism.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 8:07 AM on November 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


To the extent he has a coherent philosophy, it seems to be of a standard Christian Conservative - family values, traditional gender roles, tidying your room, eating lots of beef! But I think his fans seem to most enjoy him as their fantasy underdog, defeating the female feminists and mainstream media through his intellectual might. Hence all the YouTube clips and comments on him "owning interviewers". As said better above, his debate is that of the sulky teen - squabbling over precise words to win points while ignoring any broader point. And his lack of clarity allows his fans to hear the message they like while he can endlessly say no, that's not what I meant - like the enforced monogamy thing playing to the incels.
posted by JonB at 8:08 AM on November 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


In all seriousness, I’m flagging any comments defending this guy as racism/sexism/etc. Peterson is a cult leader who proposes that cis women should be drafted into sex slavery, I don’t think giving his followers a platform to promote that kind of wide-scale sexual violence is within this website’s rules or culture.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 8:08 AM on November 2, 2018 [19 favorites]


Also, sounds odd to say, but I've had a JBP quote as as a banner photo and things for a while now and I still chuckle every time I see it.

"Marxism is resurgent," Mr Peterson says, looking ashen and stricken.

It makes me feel more powerful than I have any right to in reality. I hope my friends and I haunt his dreams.

Checking his website, he's back here in February it seems, so hopefully we can do something he'll remember us for. I know the Women's Collective has already had a few ideas about how his future events might be best attended, and it seems he's really not that popular with the queers or socialists either. Strange, that.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 8:18 AM on November 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


I suspect JBP sees the rapid emergence of the tendency to categorize people by superficial traits -- race, sex, gender, orientation, etc. -- as enormously regressive, when compared to the gradual cultural liberalization project that has unfolded since ancient times.

When did this tendency "rapidly emerge"? I have to say, as a woman of color and a queer person, I've felt categorized by my "superficial traits" my whole life. Also, I don't think my race, gender and sexual orientation are superficial aspects of my life. They are primary to my identity and they are primary to how I am perceived and treated by the world. I only ever hear white dudes talk about how race and gender are such superficial aspects of identity. Have you wondered why that might be?
posted by armadillo1224 at 8:33 AM on November 2, 2018 [53 favorites]


How on earth does a respect for individualism and “inborn differences” line up with disrespecting and stoking cultural violence against trans women?

I am not a Jordan P fan, but accusing him of 'stoking cultural violence against trans women' feels not so much wrong as hyperbolic. Because I'm pretty sure that his position in this regard was (and still is) that he has no problem addressing people with whatever pronoun they prefer, but he objects very strenuously to having his word choice compelled by law*. In other words, taken at his word, he has no particular issue at all with trans women. It just happens to be their concerns that first forced him to confront what he considers bad law.

* Which was (and still is, I'm pretty sure) rather a bullshit position because what he was reacting to was hypothetical, based on an extrapolation of a bill that had recently passed in Canada's parliament and what the province of Ontario's potential adoption of it might do to freedom of expression in academia. Which dovetailed with what I think is the primary flaw in Mr. Peterson's logic -- his rather old school paranoia of what he tends to refer to as a radical feminists pursuing a post modern Marxist agenda (or something like that).
posted by philip-random at 8:48 AM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


philip-random: Because I'm pretty sure that his position in this regard was (and still is) that he has no problem addressing people with whatever pronoun they prefer,

"Peterson has said he would refuse to use gender-neutral pronouns if requested by a non-binary student.", Torontoist, 19 DEC 2016

"He believes the idea of a non-binary gender spectrum is specious and he dismisses as nonsensical the raft of gender-neutral pronouns that transgender people have adopted—ze, vis, hir, and the singular use of they, them and their. “I don’t recognize another person’s right to determine what pronouns I use to address them,”" Toronto Life, 25 Jan 2017

It's important to understand the actual positions, rather than the most-charitable-guess of positions.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:00 AM on November 2, 2018 [48 favorites]


"Peterson has said he would refuse to use gender-neutral pronouns if requested by a non-binary student.", Torontoist, 19 DEC 2016

"He believes the idea of a non-binary gender spectrum is specious and he dismisses as nonsensical the raft of gender-neutral pronouns that transgender people have adopted—ze, vis, hir, and the singular use of they, them and their. “I don’t recognize another person’s right to determine what pronouns I use to address them,”" Toronto Life, 25 Jan 2017


The first two quotes are not a Peterson quotes. The third is Peterson saying he won't be legally compelled (ie: he doesn't recognize a right). I should probably have said "I'm pretty sure that his position in this regard was (and still is) that he has no problem addressing people with whatever pronoun they prefer request." Because I have heard him say stuff like that more than once, probably in discussion with Joe Rogan.
posted by philip-random at 9:11 AM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Going through the references in the Torontoist article which is not a direct quote:

"On non-binary gender identities, Peterson said, “I don’t think that that’s a valid idea. I don’t think there’s any evidence for it.”

In the video, Peterson also laid out a hypothetical situation in which a student asks to be referred to by a non-binary pronoun: “I don’t recognize another person’s right to determine what pronouns I used to address them. I won’t do it.”"

Mm-hmm. Such an unfair characterisation, that not direct quote...
posted by Dysk at 9:30 AM on November 2, 2018 [25 favorites]


I bet he'd get real pissy if people started misgendering him, tho.
posted by lovecrafty at 9:33 AM on November 2, 2018 [16 favorites]


Well, as long as you pretty sure he doesn't say things like:

“I am not going to be a mouthpiece for language that I detest.” and "I'm not saying those goddamn pronouns" and “"It would depend on how you asked.”

Because then the "has no problem" stance you've elucidated would be severely factually deficient, if that were the case.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:40 AM on November 2, 2018 [27 favorites]


Apparently JP has written a new intro to The Gulag Archipelago

To summarise the linked text : Inequality is natural and normal, space is inequal to planets. Wealth comes from the West alone, and to question capitalism and markets is wrong and dangerous.

"Any attempt to attribute the existence of inequality to the functioning of productive institutions... will hurt those who are weakest and most vulnerable first."

I don't think I can quite agree.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 9:40 AM on November 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


"Life is Suffering"...where have I heard that before?

Oh, yeah...the First Noble Truth of the Buddha.

If only there was a method to end the cycle of suffering, Peterson might be a happier guy...
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 9:40 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


Why do we have another goddamn thread about this asshole? He's misogynistic, wants women to be sex slaves, is anti-trans-everything, and a million other hateful and disgusting things. Metafilter knows this. There isn't anything nice to say about the guy. We don't post endless profile pieces about the latest Nazi, and how he should be debated nicely about his positions. Why does this guy get the time of day, and multiple FPPs?
posted by agregoli at 9:44 AM on November 2, 2018 [18 favorites]


In other words, taken at his word, he has no particular issue at all with trans women. It just happens to be their concerns that first forced him to confront what he considers bad law.

Going to highlight again Grace Lavery's "Grad School As Conversion Therapy" because I think it's one of the clearest criticisms of the "I just object to bad law" line of argument—as Lavery asks, "Why [aren't these people] writing manifestos in defense of maiden names?"

It's hard to be charitable to an objection which is, at best, condescension trading as quasi-libertarian pedantry in precisely the same way that "I don't hate gays, I just I have the right to shut them out of the public sphere" is.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:25 AM on November 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


It's like a bizarre game of whack-a-mole tho. If you think he's cool about trans people (which he is demonstrably NOT), what about his other views? There are so many hateful things he's said, how can you make excuses for all of them?
posted by agregoli at 10:30 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


Like, I don't want to make a Metatalk about this one, but I don't think we ever need another thread about this guy.
posted by agregoli at 10:33 AM on November 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


We don't post endless profile pieces about the latest Nazi

well, mutter mutter politics megathread mutter.
posted by Catseye at 10:38 AM on November 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


Why the hell are we still giving this sea lion oxygen?

Because quite apart from saying that we need to understand him - there's not much to understand, he really is bog-standard conservative pseudo-intellectual - there's a lot of otherwise liberal-seeming people who might take issue with one or two of his stances but don't really care about the rest. So even progressive spaces give him attention instead of treating him like the pseudo-fascist he is. It seems pretty unlikely that Helen Lewis has a problem with his transphobia, for example.

I thought this twitter take on it was appropriate - and tallies with Lewis's self-serving account of interviewing him, don't worry he's not boorish guys - with trans/queer/non-binary folks fitting in comfortably alongside POC:

Realistically people like Helen and Laurie know we cant debate these ideas away. Thats why their feminism includes protecting (white) women by law. Their engagement with white supremacy is purely tactful at this point, they think that they can persuade them to protect white women
[...]
Helen Lewis giving Jordan Peterson airtime isn't an accident. Its a way of legitimizing his views. They're legitimate enough to "debate" rather than destroying them where they appear. Its a way of ensuring views like his never ever disappear

posted by ocular shenanigans at 10:43 AM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't share most of MeFi's assessment of Peterson, but for fuck's sake, enough about the man. If his status or social role change appreciably, maybe let's talk about him. But his shtick has remained pretty constant over the last year or so. I don't see a lot of minds changing on this subject.

If you don't like Peterson, please be aware that from my perspective, as someone who has sometimes been seduced be his ideas, this habit of constantly beating the drum about how he's a transphobic Nazi or whatever is one of the main things that makes him look attractive. I mean, obviously a lot of people (myself included) think these are inaccurate, thoughtless characterizations, and that makes him look like a martyr, and the Peterson-haters look kind of sad.

So my friendly advice to y'all who hate or fear his influence is to disregard him. Persuade people of your ideas on their merits. Take down his points by arguing against the ideas. Ignore the personage and icon of Peterson, and certainly drop the shlock about how he has dumb ideas about meat. The present anti-Peterson strategy just isn't working. Every protest, every hit piece, just increases his book sales and twitter/youtube followings. It also contributes to his status as a culture warrior. And that sucks, and is nothing anyone remotely thoughtful should want.
posted by andrewpcone at 10:51 AM on November 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


In other words, taken at his word, he has no particular issue at all with trans women

That's if you cherry pick which of his words you use. As the Torontoist points out, Peterson has a habit of mischaracterising his own position when dealing with mainstream media or when confronted or asked to clarify his views. You look at his "clarifications" - like the one you quoted - vs contrast them with his original statements in context, it's clear they're utter horseshit. But you can win a lot of debates by lying in ways that shift the premises, and make it look to the casual observer like your opponent's are arguing against an unreasonable strawman, not you. Only Peterson is unreasonable, as are his ideas and that's why he needs to constantly pull the "that's not what I said/meant" lies out. It's not debating in good faith. It's gaslighting and manipulation.
posted by Dysk at 10:53 AM on November 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


If you don't like Peterson, please be aware that from my perspective, as someone who has sometimes been seduced be his ideas, this habit of constantly beating the drum about how he's a transphobic Nazi or whatever is one of the main things that makes him look attractive. I mean, obviously a lot of people (myself included) think these are inaccurate, thoughtless characterizations,

Yeah, a lot of people don't think he's transphobic, but a vast majority of trans people do, in my experience. Of course, there's a long and storied history of trans people's perspectives on this kind of thing being seen as unreasonable, shrill, untrustworthy, and inaccurate...
posted by Dysk at 10:56 AM on November 2, 2018 [23 favorites]


this habit of constantly beating the drum about how he's a transphobic Nazi or whatever is one of the main things that makes him look attractive.

Well, I can see how that might be very attractive to some people.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:05 AM on November 2, 2018 [22 favorites]


Disregarding a toxic academic leads to lots more toxic graduates.
posted by wellred at 11:05 AM on November 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


this habit of constantly beating the drum about how he's a transphobic Nazi or whatever is one of the main things that makes him look attractive

If you find trans people "constantly beating the drum" about how he's transphobic an attractive trait, that says a lot about the voices you trust, and if you don't see the problem with trusting the voice of someone who is demonstrably transphobic over the voices of trans people, then that's entirely on you. Blaming his critics, especially those coming with receipts, is just an excuse to not take responsibility for your own prejudice.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:11 AM on November 2, 2018 [39 favorites]


Disregarding a toxic academic leads to lots more toxic graduates.

If you're specifically worried about his continuing academic legacy, I don't think you have much to worry about. Because of his recent celebrity, Peterson is no longer actively doing research at U of T. If he hadn't gotten famous, he'd still be accepting grad students and publishing academic papers. His positions have made him much less credible in most of the academy. I think he has said that himself.

As for his influence more generally, I think with the way Internet works, outrage more often generates fascination and elevates status than it does reduce influence. The alt-right, which is a tiny number of people, has certainly benefitted from this effect, as did the candidacy of Donald Trump. I don't personally associate Peterson with those people, but I think his rise to prominence followed an analogous trajectory.

I guess I don't think trying to purge the influence of Peterson is likely to work. Tenure protections are a double edged sword. We get academic freedom, but we have to put up with a few duds, or even toxic personalities. I don't think that changing that, or otherwise attempting to marginalize or push out undesirable academics, is likely to be effective. It also risks delegitimizing the academy, which I suspect would include its balkanization into more ideologically entrenched and irreconcilable institutions. In this environment, hacks would flourish. Academia, especially science, for the most part enjoys great social authority, and losing that would be a catastrophic blow to society.
posted by andrewpcone at 11:18 AM on November 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


Exactly, we haven't disregarded him and he's been made less credible. BUT time goes by, and academics who are in the news fade out of the news, and go back to mentoring, publishing, etc. My undergraduate institution went through this and the person in question retired there (publishing, though not accepting grad students as it is an almost exclusively undergraduate college).

I'm saying let's not let our guard down.
posted by wellred at 11:21 AM on November 2, 2018


Honestly I just want to bilk these right-wing dudes out of more money. Alex Jones has his supplements, Jordan Peterson has self-help books, what’s next? Beta fish for cucks? How do I jump on these obvious scams?
posted by gucci mane at 11:22 AM on November 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


"I thought about that as I made this post and the main reason I went ahead with it is because such as sizeable portion of the online population is listening/watching him."

By his own admission, women don't even click his YT posts. Who would be considered his fame level contemporaries? I've heard people speak about his following, but I haven't seen it in the wild, even on sites that I consider "angry dude central".
posted by Selena777 at 11:36 AM on November 2, 2018


Persuade people of your ideas on their merits. Take down his points by arguing against the ideas. Ignore the personage and icon of Peterson, and certainly drop the shlock about how he has dumb ideas about meat. The present anti-Peterson strategy just isn't working. Every protest, every hit piece, just increases his book sales and twitter/youtube followings. It also contributes to his status as a culture warrior.

Note that you're making two claims here: One) the bar for discrediting Peterson's claims is high: his ideas must be discredited "on their merits"—tho precisely what those merits are is unclear. Two) the bar for believing Petersons claims are credible is very low: evidence or argument need have nothing to do with establishing the credibility of his claims—merely a belief in his "martyrdom" is enough.

This is the thinking that lies at the core of the Peterson phenomena and it suggests that "the merits" are of very little importance to his readers and fans. More important is his sense of martyrdom and grievance. In fact, looked at this way, Peterson is a champion in the field of "grievance studies."
posted by octobersurprise at 11:46 AM on November 2, 2018 [20 favorites]


Blaming his critics, especially those coming with receipts, is just an excuse to not take responsibility for your own prejudice.

As you might imagine, I find that claim utterly unpersuasive. In general, arguing by presuming (wrongly, in this case) to know what is inside someone else's head may mobilize your base, but it makes the person you are addressing annoyed (as I am, a bit) at best, and angry/heel-digging at worse. It's also a pretty bad look to people who are at all on the fence, and fancy themselves reasonable folks trying to hear everyone out. As small-minded or bigoted as you may believe I am, I don't see how this sort of thing serves your cause. It seems much more likely to bolster his martyr status.

Exactly, we haven't disregarded him and he's been made less credible. BUT time goes by, and academics who are in the news fade out of the news, and go back to mentoring, publishing, etc. My undergraduate institution went through this and the person in question retired there (publishing, though not accepting grad students as it is an almost exclusively undergraduate college).

I'm saying let's not let our guard down.


I think you're right with respect to career academics, most of whom now hold him in low regard. But if I understand correctly, you don't just want to purge him from the academy. You want to restrict/quash his cultural influence more generally. And the narrative that he has been pushed out of academia for ideological heresy, which is at least partially true, bolsters his public credibility like whoa. You can keep up your guard of the academy, and that will continue to work, but I see no reason to believe that will constrain him more broadly.

This is the thinking that lies at the core of the Peterson phenomena and it suggests that "the merits" are of very little importance to his readers and fans. More important is his sense of martyrdom and grievance. In fact, looked at this way, Peterson is a champion in the field of "grievance studies."

But the objective is presumably not to convert his fans to your perspective, but to prevent currently semi-reasonable people from adopting his views. People who are on the fence and open to new ideas generally prefer to be addressed as people who value reason and fact, and who deserve respectful treatment. Maybe you don't see them that way, but if your goal is to get through to them, I think you might adjust this attitude.

Anyway, I'm not sure if you'd call me or others I know who sometimes like him one of his "followers," but I am certainly interested in the "merits," and I have no interest in the more grievance-oriented stuff. And I have in fact rejected his more meritless claims, in part because of their lack of merit, as illustrated in the less hotheaded critiques of his stuff. The martyrdom fascination is more of a marketing advantage than something that most of his fans care about. Maybe people I know are not representative, but this idea of Peterson fans as resentful right-wing moist boys is, from what I can tell, accurate with regard to many of his Twitter boosters, but they are a tiny minority of the ~2 million people who have bought his book. And if y'all insist on this caricatured representation of his readership or lecture attendees, I think your resultant anti-Peterson strategies will continue to flop.
posted by andrewpcone at 12:22 PM on November 2, 2018


Caricatured? We've been representing who is extremely accurately. And who he is, respectfully, is a misogynistic bigot.

I don't care if my "strategy" to be anti this fucking guy "flops." I care that people know who he IS.
posted by agregoli at 12:58 PM on November 2, 2018 [15 favorites]


Also, less "hotheaded?" Why SHOULDN'T anyone be hotheaded about someone who hates women and trans people, and advocates for their degradation? Why would anyone be calm about that?
posted by agregoli at 1:06 PM on November 2, 2018 [15 favorites]


But the objective is presumably not to convert his fans to your perspective, but to prevent currently semi-reasonable people from adopting his views. People who are on the fence and open to new ideas generally prefer to be addressed as people who value reason and fact, and who deserve respectful treatment. Maybe you don't see them that way, but if your goal is to get through to them, I think you might adjust this attitude.

Why doesn't Jordan Peterson address people he disagrees with as deserving of respectful treatment? You're making a claim that Peterson is owed respect that he has not generally showed to others.

I mean, there's definitely room for genuine examination of Peterson's ideas. There was a conference at Boise State called "Responding to Peterson in lieu of a debate" just a couple of weeks ago. Anyone who wants to devote time and thought to it, should get on it, I say.

But it's absurd to insist that everyone must take Peterson seriously enough to engage with; and it's equally absurd to insist that failing to do so will make him "more powerful than we can possibly imagine." That's not an argument "on the merits." That's just somewhere between a threat and special pleading.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:15 PM on November 2, 2018 [16 favorites]


The alt-right, which is a tiny number of people, has certainly benefitted from this effect, as did the candidacy of Donald Trump. I don't personally associate Peterson with those people, but I think his rise to prominence followed an analogous trajectory.

Peterson is basically Trump and MAGAhats for the /r/iamverysmart/ crowd.
posted by Dysk at 1:20 PM on November 2, 2018 [10 favorites]


Wait, are you sure The Lobster wasn't wasn't a movie about the alt-right?
posted by Talkie Toaster at 1:27 PM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


Why would anyone be calm about that?

Peterson and his ilk choose to believe that showing righteous anger about attacks on civil rights and human dignity is uncivilized "hysteria", but that white men self-radicalizing into terrorist cells who want to hunt people of other ethnic groups are "expressing justified displacement" or whatever term they are using for genocidal impulses on that particular day. It is part of the regular game of white men insisting that considering emotion to be part of the human spectrum of existence is failure. They love benefiting from the worst ongoing ravages of Christian patriarchy while mewling about their hothouse atheism.

"Have you ever thought that perhaps it is you who are the bigot?" sneers the wealthy white man whose entire existence is underlined by privilege, in the direction of marginalized people who are literally fighting for their lives and are not enamored of his repeated attempts to say that they do not have the right to exist. It is so very tiresome, as are his even more incoherent stans who eternally believe that shouting "debate me" into metaphorical emergency rooms is somehow a morally justifiable stance. None of the evidence in the world supports their claims, but any time you point this out they change the subject with a smirk. They think their refusal to defend their actual beliefs is charming and iconoclastic. Their self-debasement would be embarrassing to watch if it wasn't so murderous.

Also, the attempts to weaponize the word "grievance" is especially tiresome. The man who has built an industry out of whining that life just isn't FAAAAAAAAAIR somehow thinks people who fight daily for the right to exist are the professional complainers? It would be hilarious if it wasn't so deadly. He is the encapsulation of the banality of evil, and when he ends up with scurvy and/or colon cancer because of his charming meat diet, he will find a way to blame that on women too. "If only our mothers hadn't been so nagging when they told us to eat our vegetables! Yet another horrible example of misandry's power," he'll assure his Patreon supporters. "Click here for subscriber only content about my new discoveries re: lettuce."
posted by a fiendish thingy at 1:30 PM on November 2, 2018 [35 favorites]


And further, I'll note that "Pretend Jordan Peterson is a serious thinker or he'll sell even more books and you won't like that!" is very much akin to Peterson's "I'll respect you, but only the way I want to!"

I'm reminded of one my favorite Citizen Kane lines:
"You used to write an awful lot about the workingman ... He's turning into something called organized labor. You're not going to like that one little bit when you find out it means that your working man expects something as his right, not as your gift! Charlie, when your precious underprivileged really get together, oh boy! That's going to add up to something bigger than your privileges! Then I don't know what you'll do! Sail away to a desert island probably and lord it over the monkeys!
posted by octobersurprise at 1:32 PM on November 2, 2018 [11 favorites]


As you might imagine, I find that claim utterly unpersuasive. In general, arguing by presuming (wrongly, in this case) to know what is inside someone else's head may mobilize your base, but it makes the person you are addressing annoyed (as I am, a bit) at best, and angry/heel-digging at worse.

I'm not guessing, I'm using your own words and presumably actions. And again, if you're getting angry that people are taking the word of a transphobe over that of actual trans people--merely because you've made the decision that what trans people of him think is misguided and therefore less worthy than what he thinks of trans people--and digging in your heels, that's all on you.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:49 PM on November 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


That should read "that people aren't aking the word of a transphobe "
posted by zombieflanders at 1:56 PM on November 2, 2018


As you might imagine, I find that claim utterly unpersuasive. In general, arguing by presuming (wrongly, in this case) to know what is inside someone else's head may mobilize your base, but it makes the person you are addressing annoyed (as I am, a bit) at best, and angry/heel-digging at worse.

So you have the wrong model of how bigotry works.

Most people believe that bigotry is an energetic activity. It's a passionate hatred that leads people to become incels and MAGAhats and Klansmen and Nazis and whatever. Rabies of the soul that turns people into terrorists, possibly passed by vampire bite or vampire pamphlet.

It's true the world has those people, and that they're awful and responsible for a lot of harms most of us couldn't bring ourselves to do. Part of the reason it's easy to think bigotry is only about this is because they're real, they're terrifying and stopping them is important. It's easy to focus there and imagine that's the whole of the problem because it lets most of us off the hook.

However, the bulk of bigotry - speaking as a recipient of enough of it myself - is way more passive. It generally comes from a place of profound indifference: a mix of people being content with a status quo that favors them, and an unwillingness to be emotionally uncomfortable or otherwise inconvenienced in the name of helping the marginalized.

It's oriented around inaction and lack of self-reflection. That's what drives most of the day-to-day harm that accrues to marginalized people. Those are the people that vote for the War on Drugs, or bathroom bills, or just find some excuse not to hire people with the wrong face or name, or think it's appropriate to debate whether other categories of people should have basic human rights, thus moving the needle on public discourse toward bad outcomes.

So it's not all about about passion or violence, it's mostly about being unwilling to help, and it is readily judged by a person's actions rather than requiring special insight into their internal state. The first thing I look for is victim-blaming.

tl;dr:
Nobody needs to read a person's mind to know if they're a bigot. It's pretty obvious from what they're willing or unwilling to do.
posted by mordax at 2:14 PM on November 2, 2018 [42 favorites]


andrewpcone:"but this idea of Peterson fans as resentful right-wing moist boys is, from what I can tell, accurate with regard to many of his Twitter boosters, but they are a tiny minority of the ~2 million people who have bought his book. And if y'all insist on this caricatured representation of his readership or lecture attendees, I think your resultant anti-Peterson strategies will continue to flop."

TIL what a "moist boy" is. But no, young openly-racist unemployed Twitter-user is not my first thought when I think of a Peterson fan.

The Peterson fans of my personal acquaintance are College or University educated White middle class men who work in STEM. They like to make "edgy" jokes (read: sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-semitic, transphobic) but, ha ha, they don't mean it, can't you take a joke? They sometimes use the word "tranny". They've taken their workplace's mandatory anti- harassment workshop, but they don't plan on modifying their behaviour because that wouldn't be any fun. They believe sexism is over, but also that men are just better at math than women and if women are under-represented in STEM fields it's because they're just not interested. They believe the gender pay gap is exaggerated and mostly exists because women wind up in lower paying fields, take time off to have kids, and are more likely to work part-time; but they disregard the social pressure and institutional sexism that lead to these employment patterns. They think women are emotional and nurturing. They think men are rational. They don't think of themselves as sexist (or racist, or homophobic, etc, etc...).
posted by Secret Sparrow at 2:25 PM on November 2, 2018 [44 favorites]


everything I know about Jordan Peterson I learned from MetaFilter

I spend time on Twitter and Reddit and I've seen him mentioned there, but I have certainly learned far more about the man and his ideas here than anywhere else on the internet

aaaanyway
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:30 PM on November 2, 2018


> have certainly learned far more about the man and his ideas here than anywhere else on the internet

Same, but that's true of a lot of human knowledge, for me.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:48 PM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


When people demand the creation of large power structures to represent and govern based on characteristics such as race, sex, or lifestyle, I see a regression toward tribalism, an inherent evil within human nature that we all ought to squelch, to the best of our ability. This is the same message as Martin Luther King, his Birmingham Prison equivocation notwithstanding. I have sympathy for the progressive utilitarian position that says something like, "we have to fight racist fire (ie., the existence of prejudicial tendencies) with fire (ie., the creation of legal systems that divide people up by race or criminalize ideas)."

Complaining that progressives are dividing people up by race is exactly like saying "Gee, we never had so many different kinds of cancer before doctors came along and started diagnosing everybody. Why do doctors have to come up with all these different kinds of cancer?"
posted by straight at 5:41 PM on November 2, 2018 [21 favorites]


If only there was a method to end the cycle of suffering, Peterson might be a happier guy...

littlejohnnyjewel , that’s what Sam Harris is for....
posted by pt68 at 5:50 PM on November 2, 2018


If we’re adding to the canon of good Peterson takedowns, I also want to throw in I Don’t Even Own a Television’s episode on 12 Rules for Life. This one was notable to me because the hosts of the show are nerdy white tech guys (ie one of the prime demographics for Peterson worship), but they immediately see through and tear down the fake intellectual act. More of this from other white men please. Collect your own.
posted by ActionPopulated at 11:19 PM on November 2, 2018 [12 favorites]


So is Peterson against socialism? Social democracies? Is that what this is about? My plate is pretty full, and the way he engages with the broader public as repeatedly shown here does not make me want to watch or read anything he has.

If this were a math or other STEM field, I'd point out that this dude seems to have a lot of answers but isn't good at convincing his opponents and skeptics how he arrived at them.
posted by polymodus at 1:48 AM on November 3, 2018


As one who failed to take IDEOaT's advice on Dan Brown and now regrets it, I strongly endorse listening to and then taking their advice on Jordan Peterson.
posted by flabdablet at 2:30 AM on November 3, 2018


Persuade people of your ideas on their merits. Take down his points by arguing against the ideas. Ignore the personage and icon of Peterson....

Yet you present none of those ideas here to defend him. It is not hard to see why. It's infeasible to present Peterson's ideas or, from the other side, to engage with Peterson's ideas because his entire rhetorical strategy is simply to avoid definitively presenting any ideas; he's vague, primarily uses the language of metaphor, and primarily points to feelings rather than stable propositions.

His work is very much what Lionel Trilling pointed to long ago, an example of the way that "the conservative impulse and the reactionary impulse do not, with some isolated and some ecclesiastical exceptions, express themselves in ideas but only in action or in irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas."

His overall project is basically to express this sort of reactionary nostalgia, with all the incoherence that suggests. His talent is in, for a certain set of people, providing just enough rhetorical cover that this sentiment can be indulged and, where strategically useful, disavowed.

He is little more than a self-cultivated personality, an avatar or a set of sentiments, not a thinker, and one responds to personalities with satire and ridicule, not with "engagement." In such cases there is nothing to engage with beyond the personality.
posted by kewb at 5:49 AM on November 3, 2018 [24 favorites]


Some beautiful critiques of some of Peterson's worse ideas is at https://angry-chef.com/blog
Unsurprisingly at Thermidor - Part 1 and Part 2

The quote that I LOVE

He has even said that he cannot respect a man he is speaking to if there is no chance that things might end in violence. This presumably means that if he had been in conversation with Stephen Hawking, he would have felt no respect for one of the world’s greatest minds. Because although Hawking was a towering genius, who was known to sometimes ‘accidentally’ run over the toes of people he didn’t like, I do not image that he would have been all that handy if it kicked off. And in Peterson’s world, which seems akin to a school playground or prison yard, respect is only possible if there is a potential physical threat. Because lobsters.
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 8:12 AM on November 3, 2018 [8 favorites]


This Peterson thing does bother me, because I can see calls for civility (which we progressives often experience as oppressive rhetoric) mutating into calls for humanity, i.e. the need to recognize the humanity in each person you deal with. The idea that, if I at any point I confront someone who was being a racist asshole, when I might have chosen a different "more inclusive" response, then I'm the one acting inhumanely too by propgating the toxicity. If I "treat them as a whole, equal person" then there's a better outcome for all concerned, is one of the pieces or assumptions to this ideology. Has anyone heard of this stuff? Where did this notion come from? I can think of a few problems with this type of advice, but I want to try and understand it better. It's hard for me to be objective because the person who put this idea for me is my therapist. Maybe contemporary psychologists tend to emphasize the resources of the individual, thus pushing people to adopt this hyper-responsibilized philosophy.
posted by polymodus at 6:31 PM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


What did you all think of the "Shut Him Down" documentary? I thought it was going to be some kind of outlandish hit piece based on the comments on CBC's docs page, but it turns out that the 380+ comments about defunding CBC and "How can they get away with this?" were all based on watching the trailer. The doc was sturdily neutral, and just showed Peterson going through his day, intercut with video from various performances and protests. I don't think he watched it either, even if it (quite sympathetically, I thought) shows him going about his business & being overwhelmed by everything. I went there because someone retweeted him saying something like, "How dare CBC show this kind of crap?!"
posted by sneebler at 7:51 PM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


I think if the video is all about humanizing Peterson then that is at least questionable in terms of the media's neutrality.
posted by polymodus at 8:31 PM on November 3, 2018


what? You don't think he's human?

I watched the doc and would recommend it to anyone who bothers to have an informed opinion on the man. It's probably the only piece of media I've yet come across that doesn't pursue an obvious agenda to either praise or condemn him, but rather engages with the "reality" of what amounts to a very weird story that could only have happened over the past less than two years. Strange times.
posted by philip-random at 11:14 PM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


what? You don't think he's human?

No, I'm just applying his own sort of logic against him. I've read many of the comments upthread. For example, the specific issue here with the documentary is also like the Sam Harris v.s. Vox debate, which I did listen to. I think that Ezra Klein in that debate is worth listening to and the spotlight should be on voices there. In social justice terms we call this the problem of centering on a fragile oppressor, etc. This is where a critique that neutrality is wielded in this way, or as you yourself make a claim for a quoted "reality", is highly problematic. This is stuff that we've consistently talked about on this site, whether or not people agree I would think at least people are roughly cognizant of what meanings are being intended here. Media studies 101 sort of stuff. Obviously, he is a human.
posted by polymodus at 11:25 PM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, and when we talk about dehumanizing / humanizing behaviors what we mean by that is people being deprived of their human rights and related issues there. I'd have thought that was clear what was meant if there was any confusion whatsoever.
posted by polymodus at 11:34 PM on November 3, 2018


it's not neutral, because such is generally impossible, but it tries to be. I felt it should have been longer and given way more time to those opposed to him. It's not didactic at all using no narration, just lets the various moments tell their "truths". But I've made similar docs myself and am well aware of the multitude of potentially biased choices that an director/editor makes as they piece their story together from raw documentation. The story I wish it did a better of job of telling is just how Jordan Peterson went from being effectively a nobody to whatever he's become. I think putting too much of the focus on his particular story (as it does) undermines this, because his current fame/infamy has been hugely driven by the passionate reaction to him and how he's fanned those particular flames (consciously or not) ... with reverberations and eruptions from there.
posted by philip-random at 11:50 PM on November 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


as a fried just put it ...

"Refreshing to see something JP related where neither he nor his foes were in control of the narrative."
posted by philip-random at 11:53 PM on November 3, 2018


Except your friend's notion is performing the thing which I said was problematic. This neoliberal form of both-sidesism is something that's been well discussed before. My remarks do assume this knowledge. The idea of "neutrality is impossible because no quantity can ever logically reach 50-50" is a specious argument to the leftist claim that the media is not neutral. When leftists, I'm sorry, Cultural Marxists, say this, we say media bias exists in the strong ideological sense; neutrality and objectivity are used to obscure and when people don't check themselves they are complicit in such problematic ideas and discourse. We're not talking about the trivially true or philosophical impossibility that subjectivity can't be made objective or anything like that.
posted by polymodus at 2:06 AM on November 4, 2018 [3 favorites]


I said as much in the last thread about Peterson: most of the people I know who adore him (and seriously, I mean adore as in talk about lovingly and consider beyond reproach) are people that, while you might consider them successful, clearly feel they haven’t achieved whatever it is in their lives they feel they were meant to. Rather than take the time to examine where they are at, and how they got there, and actually thinking about what it is that they themselves might have done to end up in the situation they find themselves, they latch onto Peterson as some sort of guru. Clearly their failure isn’t on them, that’s unthinkable, so they lap up talk of cultural Marxism and all the other horse shit. They’re deeply unhappy, but Peterson gives them something to be angry about, and the anger covers up the emptiness.

He’s the lifestyle guru for failed white men who are desperately looking for someone or thing to blame for their life so that they can avoid any sort of self examination.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:10 AM on November 4, 2018 [7 favorites]


He has even said that he cannot respect a man he is speaking to if there is no chance that things might end in violence.

If that’s the same interview where he says that “men cannot control crazy women” because they can’t fight them, then you can watch a clip of it here. Besides his apparent ignorance here of the rates of domestic violence and besides the bone-deep misogyny of his entire spiel, the spectacle of a gray-haired academic blustering about FIGHT ME really is exhibit A of fragile masculinity.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:47 AM on November 4, 2018 [9 favorites]


Just read the first chapter of 12 Rules and MY GOD: he writes just like L. Ron Hubbard. Like you could totally do a "Peterson or Hubbard?" quiz and as long as you avoided giveaways like lobsters and thetans I wouldn't do very well on it.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:00 AM on November 4, 2018


A bit from the I Don’t Even Own a Television podcast linked above that struck me: They say that Peterson seems like someone who was bullied and ended up admiring and identifying with the bullies.

I've noticed something similar with some (not all) gaming communities: It seems like some of them are trying to recreate the conditions in which they were bullied so that they can master the art. I wonder if that explains his popularity in those communities.

It sounds like Peterson noticed some positive things about his bullies, ones that would be worth copying: Have some self-confidence. Keep yourself clean and well-groomed. Scrub your junk with soap so it doesn't stink. Clean your bathroom. These things will make you more attractive.

Now... if only he would realize that you can also combine those things with consideration, respect, and the realization that women aren't from Venus and men aren't from Mars. You don't have to be a bully to clean your bathroom.
posted by clawsoon at 6:12 AM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


OK, so. Between working around busted audio and dealing with drifting a-v sync I've now managed to see the whole thing.

It hasn't changed my impression of Jordan Peterson even slightly. He still strikes me as somebody whose most prominent characteristic is the almost total lack of self-awareness so typical of right-wing "thinkers".

I particularly enjoyed the ending, where he says this:
Well, it's changed my life. It's undoubtedly changed me. I don't know how. I haven't had enough time to think about it, like, so, imagine that something really incomprehensible is happening to you. You can't believe it. You have no place in your conceptual structure to account for that. And so you feel as if it's not real. That's what de-realization means; it means this isn't my life. This isn't real. It's - you're separated from it. It's because you can't comprehend it. Well that's - I - every time I wake up it's like, I wake up and, and, it hits me that this, all this is happening.

I'm not comfortably ensconced in whatever my identity is. I don't even know what it is. And I haven't dealt with that completely because I don't know how, but also because events have been so continual, and continually overwhelming that I have just been operating from one day to the next. And I keep thinking, well, the wave is going to peak and then recede, but that hasn't happened even a little bit. Not even a bit. In fact, I think, quite the contrary. It just leaves me speechless.
The main reason I enjoyed hearing him say that is that I have a cruel streak and take considerable pleasure in watching self-aggrandizing bloviators bear the consequences of the very behaviours they complain about when other people act that way.

For what it's worth, the most comprehensive source of support and wisdom and sympathy and understanding for people struggling with the exact issues affecting him here would have to be be the trans community, and I think it's beyond hilarious that Peterson has so completely and wilfully cut himself off from that resource by his absolute unwillingness to actually be speechless and just listen for a while instead.

Here's a clue, Jordan, if you ever end up reading this: when there is no place in your conceptual structure to account for your experiences, it's not your experiences that are at fault, it's your conceptual structure. Perhaps it's time to start learning to embrace a modicum of chaos instead of trying to shoehorn the glorious wildness of all that exists into your fastidiously tidied little boxes.
posted by flabdablet at 6:24 AM on November 4, 2018 [6 favorites]


clearly feel they haven’t achieved whatever it is in their lives they feel they were meant to. Rather than take the time to examine where they are at, and how they got there, and actually thinking about what it is that they themselves might have done to end up in the situation they find themselves, they latch onto Peterson as some sort of guru.

If you think that Peterson is merely giving people a scapegoat, you're off-base. If there is one thing he gets right, it's getting people to be introspective and to understand where they went wrong, and how. There seems to be very little 'blame the other person/thing' in what he says.

I think the message is pretty simple: life is tough, so prepare yourself so you can better manage the downturns that will inevitably happen.
posted by tgrundke at 6:28 AM on November 4, 2018


If there is one thing he gets right, it's getting people to be introspective and to understand where they went wrong, and how.

Such a shame that he never bothered to set his own house in perfect order before criticizing the world.
posted by flabdablet at 6:31 AM on November 4, 2018 [4 favorites]


octobersurprise: he says that “men cannot control crazy women” because they can’t fight them

He's an Albertan with a Norwegian background. I feel like I know exactly where he's coming from, because I grew up in the same environment. (I'm not Norwegian myself, but I was surrounded by - immersed in, via church - Alberta+Scandinavian culture.) I, too, went through a period when I had zero tools to set healthy boundaries with women, because... hmm... saying no to a woman or doing anything to make a woman angry was just not done. You were always in the wrong. It was putting women - "good" women, anyway - on a pedestal. I'm sure that wasn't just limited to our little subculture, and that probably explains some of the broadness of Peterson's appeal.

There were other subcultures in Alberta in which it was okay not just to say no to a woman but to be violent with them, but those people were considered Not Good People. Those were the people with whom you compared yourself in order to show what a wonderful thing putting women on a pedestal was.

Pedestalization is not a recipe for healthy relationships, and if you're with someone who takes advantage of your pedestalization of them it's a recipe for misery. You have to move beyond it. You have to learn to set healthy boundaries. Instead of learning about healthy boundaries, Peterson moved beyond it by looking to misogynistic bullies, by noticing that they didn't have any problems with being taken advantage of by women.

A lot of PUA people went through the same evolution. A few of them have moved beyond it, and found healthier ways to be in relationships. Hopefully Peterson and some of his followers do, too, though the rush of fame probably won't help. In the meantime, plenty of damage will be done.
posted by clawsoon at 6:51 AM on November 4, 2018 [6 favorites]


tgrundke, honestly, I haven’t given him a lot of my time, if only because I don’t feel like watching the hour long videos that his accolytes keep sending me. These are people I’ve known a long time, people I had thought of as friends, but have become people it makes me very uncomfortable to be around. And trust me, the stuff that they’re taking from Peterson isn’t remotely about cleaning your room. The stuff that they’re bringing up before other people change the subject, realizing I’m about to get up and leave, is the horrible oppression they feel in having to maybe, some day, not be an active dick to someone over a pronoun. The message they’re hearing and loving is the message a lot of people here are alluding to, that everything was better when strong men were in charge, women knew their place, and if they just wish really hard, they can go back to not having to worry about who’s listening when they tell racist/sexist/homophobic jokes, because freedom or some shit.

Honestly, I’m thankful to the people in this thread who have engaged with his output. I barely have time enough to read writers and thinkers that don’t enrage me in the first minute of listening to them. As it is, I have their cliffs notes and the glowing, worshipful words of the people I know who’ve adopted him as their savior. Again, unhappy white men who, rather than accept that they’ve got much, of anything, to do with their unhappiness, are desperate to find someone else at fault. Maybe they’re just bad readers, but that’s what I’m hearing when they gush about Peterson.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:56 AM on November 4, 2018 [6 favorites]


imagine that something really incomprehensible is happening to you. You can't believe it. You have no place in your conceptual structure to account for that. And so you feel as if it's not real. That's what de-realization means; it means this isn't my life. This isn't real. It's - you're separated from it. It's because you can't comprehend it.
“Welcome to the desert of the real.”

Goddamnit, now I feel sorry for Jordan Peterson. I don’t want to feel sorry for Jordan Peterson.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:32 AM on November 4, 2018


Willfully self-inflicted wounds deserve only mockery.
posted by flabdablet at 8:20 AM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have people in my life who are on the edge of the Peterson vortex, so I'm reading "12 Rules" in order to engage with them in good faith. (Don't worry, I didn't give him any money. Thanks, b-ok.org.)

Here's a typical bit:
Naive, harmless people usually guide their perceptions and actions with a few simple axioms: people are basically good; no one really wants to hurt anyone else; the threat (and, certainly, the use) of force, physical or otherwise, is wrong. These axioms collapse, or worse, in the presence of individuals who are genuinely malevolent. Worse means that naive beliefs can become a positive invitation to abuse, because those who aim to harm have become specialized to prey on people who think precisely such things. ... No one likes to be pushed around, but people often put up with it for too long. So, I get them to see their resentment, first, as anger, and then as an indication that something needs to be said, if not done (not least because honest demands it). Then I get them to see such action as part of the force that holds tyranny at bay.
Okay so far. This probably could've been lifted from an AskMe answer telling a woman that it's healthy to be angry at her abusive husband, that anger isn't some horrible sin.

But then:
When the wakening occurs - when once-naive people recognize in themselves the seeds of evil and monstrosity, and see themselves as dangerous (at least potentially) their fear decreases. They develop more self-respect. Then, perhaps, they begin to resist oppression. They see that they have the ability to withstand, because they are terrible too. They see they can and must stand up, because they begin to understand how genuinely monstrous they will become, otherwise, feeding on their resentment, transforming it into the most destructive of wishes. To say it again: There is very little difference between the capacity for mayhem and destruction, integrated, and strength of character.
Bit extreme, there, bud. You can set healthy boundaries without developing your capacity for mayhem and destruction. You can develop self-respect without looking for the seeds of evil and monstrosity inside yourself. Proportionality, bud.

And you can work toward building a world where there are less bullies and less abusers, instead of assuming a world of bullies and trying to adapt yourself to be one. The first thing that Peterson says is that the fundamental fact of nature, deeper than anything else, is dominance hierarchies, and his approach flows from that: It's only bully or be bullied.

I haven't expressed this thought completely or well, but my daughter is dragging me away so it'll have to do as-is. I should stand up to this bullying! I should see in myself the seeds of evil and monstrosity, and resist my daughter! /s
posted by clawsoon at 8:48 AM on November 4, 2018 [3 favorites]


If you think that Peterson is merely giving people a scapegoat, you're off-base.

perhaps. But he sure does stoop to scapegoatism. A lot. I doubt I've ever heard him go on for more than ten minutes before the radical feminist post modern leftists (or whatever) get mentioned as the ones behind it all. It could even be part of a drinking game.

If there is one thing he gets right, it's getting people to be introspective and to understand where they went wrong, and how.

If only he'd stopped here. I mean, I can even get behind the root of his original protest -- not the part where he chose to make it about specific pronouns, but where it was about the very idea of legally compelled speech being a bad one, that he (or I, or you) may conceivably be fined or jailed or otherwise censured for choosing NOT use to certain politically imposed words. All a hypothetical extrapolation, I agree, but one I feel must be explored, because my reading of history tells me we need to be very afraid of situations where such could happen.

And thanks flabdablet for pulling that quote. It tells me that in the end Mr. Peterson has taken on way more than he can deal with. In a CBC interview from a while back, he also spoke of riding a huge wave and then rather bleakly pointed out that people who find themselves on hundred foot waves usually end up drowning.
posted by philip-random at 9:10 AM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


I can even get behind the root of his original protest -- not the part where he chose to make it about specific pronouns, but where it was about the very idea of legally compelled speech being a bad one, that he (or I, or you) may conceivably be fined or jailed or otherwise censured for choosing NOT use to certain politically imposed words.

Just like the rest of his oeuvre, his fear of prosecution for being a dick about pronouns in public is overblown and misguided. Here are the relevant sections of the Canadian Criminal Code:
Hate Propaganda

Marginal note:Advocating genocide

318 (1) Every one who advocates or promotes genocide is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

Definition of genocide

(2) In this section, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part any identifiable group, namely,

(a) killing members of the group; or

(b) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction.

Consent

(3) No proceeding for an offence under this section shall be instituted without the consent of the Attorney General.

Definition of identifiable group

(4) In this section, identifiable group means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability.

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 318; 2004, c. 14, s. 1; 2014, c. 31, s. 12; 2017, c. 13, s. 3.

Public incitement of hatred

319 (1) Every one who, by communicating statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Wilful promotion of hatred

(2) Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Defences

(3) No person shall be convicted of an offence under subsection (2)

(a) if he establishes that the statements communicated were true;

(b) if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text;

(c) if the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds he believed them to be true; or

(d) if, in good faith, he intended to point out, for the purpose of removal, matters producing or tending to produce feelings of hatred toward an identifiable group in Canada.
(the bolded section is the one added by Bill C-16, the one that got his knickers in a twist in the first place).

Being publicly and visibly rude to trans folks in the context of a protest rally where almost everybody is being publicly and visibly rude to everybody they disagree with could not be reasonably interpreted as incitement of hatred under section 319(1), let alone genocide under 318(1).

But even if we take as given the wildly unlikely possibility that 319(1) might conceivably apply, Peterson's entire schtick on refusal to use preferred pronouns is predicated on a strongly held belief that gender as distinct from "biological sex" is not even a thing. And although that belief is not supported by anything vaguely resembling science, either or both of 319(3)(b) and 319(3)(c) would allow it as a defence.

Hell, even the very law he fears might jail him for inappropriate pronouns uses "he" as a pronoun applied to "person" in 319(3)(c).

So I have no doubt at all that his fear of laws like this is genuine. I'm equally sure that if he wasn't such an intellectually lazy, reflexively contrarian hack, he'd find no reason to maintain that fear.
posted by flabdablet at 9:48 AM on November 4, 2018 [4 favorites]


Another quote from "12 Rules":
How do I know that your suffering is not the demand of martyrdom for my resources, so that you can oh-so-momentarily stave off the inevitable? Maybe you have even moved beyond caring about the impending collapse, but don't yet want to admit it. Maybe my help won't rectify anything - can't rectify anything - but it does keep that too-terrible, too-personal realization temporarily at bay. Maybe your misery is a demand placed on me so that I fail too, so that the gap you so painfully feel between us can be reduced, while you degenerate and sink.
Bud... maybe time to take a little break from your clinical psychology practise. Do something relaxing. Take up knitting or golf. Let the seething contempt you're feeling subside a bit before you go back to trying to help people.
posted by clawsoon at 12:24 PM on November 4, 2018 [5 favorites]


Maybe you have even moved beyond caring about the impending collapse, but don't yet want to admit it. Maybe my help won't rectify anything - can't rectify anything - but it does keep that too-terrible, too-personal realization temporarily at bay.
This is a man with demons in his closet or bodies in his basement, one of the two.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:02 PM on November 4, 2018 [5 favorites]


Bud... maybe time to take a little break from your clinical psychology practise

Jesus Christ, he has a clinical practice? Still?
posted by schadenfrau at 1:31 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


There seems to be very little 'blame the other person/thing' in what he says.

Oh, come on. Virtually every piece linked in the FPP plus a bunch of pieces linked in these comments makes it very clear that "blame the other person/thing" is his entire game, once you get past the basic "stand up straight, clean your junk" stuff. No, he may not specifically directly say "Feminism means that women won't fuck you", but there's no way to interpret things like his reaction to Bill C-16 or his bizarre statement about "forced monogamy" as anything other than "white straight cis men don't have it as good as they used to and it's somebody else's fault." The fact that he's vague and hand-wavy and indirect about this stuff is not because there's a deeper or wider context that his critics keep missing, it's because he's (as flabdablet says) intellectually lazy.
posted by soundguy99 at 1:37 PM on November 4, 2018 [7 favorites]


Dare, instead, to be dangerous. Dare to be truthful. Dare to articulate yourself, and express (or at least be aware of) what would really justify your life. If you allowed your dark and unspoken desires for your partner, for example, to manifest themselves - if you were even willing to consider them - you might discover that they were not so dark, given the light of day. You might discover, instead, that you were just afraid and, so, pretending to be moral. You might find that getting what you actually desire would stop you from being tempted and straying. Are you so sure that your partner would be unhappy if more of you rose to the surface? The femme fatale and the anti-hero are sexually attractive for a reason....
Ellipses in the original. I'm afraid that I just got a glimpse into Peterson's home life that I didn't particularly want.

So far, the self-help book is pretty bog-standard in terms of the actual advice given: Think positive thoughts. Surround yourself with positive people. Figure out what your values are. If you don't feel confident, fake it till you make it. Contradict your negative self-talk. If you're feeling bored and resentful of your partner, maybe try to spice it up a little in the bedroom.

The ruination of many self-help books, this one included, is the need to give it an authoritative foundation other than "this works; try it". Sometimes the foundation is "I am rich and famous, therefore you should listen to me." Sometimes it's, "This is what the Bible says," or, "This is what Ghenghis Khan did," or, "This is what evolutionary psychology says," or, "Look at my great dental work in this picture of me on the front of the book."

Peterson combines the Bible and evolutionary psychology as his authoritative foundation. (Maybe his teeth aren't up to the task.) If they both say the same thing, he argues, and they're from such different traditions, then they must be pointing to some deeper immutable truth. The immutable truth of a metaphorical reading of the Bible and the immutable truth of evolutionary psychology clearly lead you to immutable self-help truth.

(It would be useful for him, I think, to trace the intellectual currents of his interpretations of both the Bible and evolutionary psychology. He might find them both being formed in the minds of upper-class white men of Victorian Europe, and then the mystery of how they both come to the same conclusions, especially about Men and Women, might not be so mysterious.)

Peterson keeps coming back to resentment:
Resentment always means one of two things. Either the resentful person is immature, in which case he or she should shut up, quit whining, and get on with it, or there is tyranny afoot - in which case the person subjugated has a moral obligation to speak up.
I suspect that many of us would disagree with Peterson about which side of this equation he is on when it comes to, among other things, trans issues. Perhaps tyranny is afoot and he is speaking truth to power. Perhaps. Or perhaps he needs to - as he puts it - shut up, quit whining, and get on with learning about how his ideas and attitudes have harmed people.
posted by clawsoon at 3:27 PM on November 4, 2018 [11 favorites]


schadenfrau: Jesus Christ, he has a clinical practice? Still?

From his web page: "Dr. Peterson is not providing clinical or consulting services at this time."

At least he's not taking out his resentments one at a time on his patients anymore. So we've got that going for us.
posted by clawsoon at 3:32 PM on November 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


I suspect that many of us would disagree with Peterson about which side of this equation he is on when it comes to, among other things, trans issues. Perhaps tyranny is afoot and he is speaking truth to power. Perhaps.
Not a chance that I'm going to use left-wing authoritarian language to describe anything, ever, period.

...

I can envision a student or a colleague insisting that I call them using gender-neutral pronouns. I'm not doing that. I'm not doing that. I don't recognize another person's right to determine what pronouns I use to address them. I won't do it! Now my decision might be illegal and maybe it's even a decision of hate. But I'm not doing it!
I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli!
posted by flabdablet at 3:48 PM on November 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


I don't recognize another person's right to determine what pronouns I use to address them.

Funny... just a couple of sentences before what I quoted about resentment, he talks about learning how to state what you need:
How do you need to be spoken to? What do you need to take from people? What are you putting up with, or pretending to like, from duty or obligation?
Sounds like advice one could give to a trans student about dealing with an asshole professor.

How do you need to be spoken to?

Well, if you'd use the right pronouns, it'd be a good start.
posted by clawsoon at 4:03 PM on November 4, 2018 [3 favorites]


Well now, Dr. Peterson, I suppose I could respond to you in some other way than letting off a huge blast of undifferentiated noise from this large PA speaker box I'm sitting on. But I honestly don't believe it would be good for you.
posted by flabdablet at 4:13 PM on November 4, 2018


The middle of "12 Rules" has turned into a long, rambling sermon.

I don't mean "sermon" in the general sense. I mean it in the sense of "walk into a small town Alberta church and listen to the preacher talk about the Bible and other stories that can be related to the Bible and how the Bible relates to your life."

There's even that story about catching a monkey by putting a treat inside a small-necked jar, which I'm pretty sure was in the Big Book Of Interesting Anecdotes To Tell Your Congregation In Order To Liven Up Your Sermon.

Having sat through many years of these sermons, I'm not sure if I've got the stomach to continue.
posted by clawsoon at 5:32 AM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


Summary, since I doubt I'll finish the book: 75% of the actual advice is bog-standard and unobjectionable. There are even some bits that I haven't seen elsewhere but I know to be true (e.g. if you don't set appropriate boundaries for your children, you will end up turning into a little monster who lashes out at them inappropriately when their bad behaviour becomes too much for you, even if you do your best to be a kind, loving parent).

The underlying theory, though, is too much, as is the last 25% of advice. And the resentment. Peterson was obviously raised among kind, caring people who steered him into helping professions, and that hasn't been a great fit for him. Here he is working in a daycare:
When I worked in daycare centres, early in my career, the comparatively neglected children would come to me desperately, in their fumbling, half-formed manner, with no sense of proper distance and no attentive playfulness. They would flop, nearby - or directly on my lap, no matter what I was doing - driven inexorably by the powerful desire for adult attention, the necessary catalyst for further development. It was very difficult not to react with annoyance, even disgust, to such children and their too-prolonged infantilism - difficult not to literally push them aside - even though I felt very badly for them, and understood their predicament well. I believe that response, harsh and terrible though it may be, was an almost universally-experienced internal warning signal indicating the comparative danger of establishing a relationship with a poorly socialized child: the likelihood of immediate and inappropriate dependence (which should have been the responsibility of the parent) and the tremendous demand of time and resources that accepting such dependence would necessitate.
Please don't let this man become a special needs aide, ever.

He was deeply resentful of needy clinical patients. He was deeply resentful of needy children. He obviously thinks that helping professions were right for him, but he's overwhelmed by the people who need help. This is not the career he should be in. I wonder how long until he comes to deeply resent the demands of being a self-help author.
posted by clawsoon at 5:57 AM on November 5, 2018 [16 favorites]




I read the dream article - National Post teased it after its Tony Clement article - and one bit jumped out at me:
He had brought a list of pre-prepared questions, “hard questions,” as he considered them, and did not have the confidence in his own desperation and curiosity to pursue the question that was actually guiding him.
I wouldn't be surprised if Peterson has picked up on something real here. It's possible that the reporter has a rigid, narrow understanding of both his own position and that of Peterson's. I worry about people like that sometimes, because they seem most likely to be flipped. If your understanding of your own position is shallow and rigid - thin ice - it sometimes doesn't survive an encounter with a more sophisticated thinker from the other side. If you've been told that everything Peterson says is a lie, and then you notice that Peterson says some things which are true, you might end up a convert. If you don't have a deep grounding in what you're fighting for and why - you're just holding tight to a handful of gotchas, because that's what makes you acceptable to your friends - you may be the sort who wakes up one day saying, "OMG, the scales have fallen from my eyes... my left-wing friends Just Don't Understand the way that Peterson understands..."

Hopefully that won't happen in this case, but it's always possible.
posted by clawsoon at 7:07 AM on November 8, 2018 [2 favorites]


There's something to that, clawsoon, but this: did not have the confidence in his own desperation and curiosity to pursue the question that was actually guiding him is also classic gaslighting. "What you're saying is not what you mean, and only I, the smarter person, knows what's really going on here." It's gross and completely narcissistic.
posted by wemayfreeze at 8:47 AM on November 8, 2018 [2 favorites]


Also this graph is a kind of perfect slice of Peterson, moving quickly from assertion to assertion, building an extreme case on the flimsiest of foundations.
I told him that the dominant narrative in our culture is predicated on the assumption that the West is a tyrannical patriarchy; that all its accomplishments are a consequence of the exploitation of the dispossessed; and that the only true way to a desirable position is through the expression of power. I told him that young men are therefore faced with a Devil’s choice: if they are ambitious and competent (or even not ambitious or competent) then they will be treated, not least by themselves, as if they are expressing precisely the traits that produced this terrible tyranny, and are no better than the infinite oppressors of the past. This happens because it has become acceptable in our time to put forward a version of history, the present and the future that is based on a deep hatred for men (or, even worse, a deep hatred for competence). This is a very enervating, demotivating, discouraging story, as it takes what is best about the best young men — their desire for competence, contribution, cooperation, competition and success — and turns it into something indictable.
posted by wemayfreeze at 8:51 AM on November 8, 2018 [2 favorites]


Another thing that Peterson talks about in the dream article is how it's a bad thing that white males feel guilt. I'm reminded, though it's not a perfect fit, of an AskMe answer - which one, I don't remember, though it's probably buried somewhere in my favourites - which said that no, it's not a good idea to send your abuser to get counseling, because most psychologists see it as their job to reduce the guilt, anxiety and shame of their clients so that their clients can be more confident and bold. They don't see it as their job to make their clients feel guilty for the bad things they're doing. The encouragement provided by the typical psychologist is not what an abuser needs.

Peterson is a psychologist for white males, a psychologist who sees it as his job to reduce our feelings of guilty and anxiety so that we can stride boldly into the world.

Peterson is right that most white men are not abusers who should feel guilty (though perhaps more of us are than want to admit it). Guilt isn't quite the right word, but we should have a related feeling - the feeling that you get when you discover that something you've enjoyed and benefited from was stolen before it was given to you. We may not have committed the crimes, but we're benefitting from the proceeds of crime, and that should make us squirm a bit, it should make us want to make things better for those who were and are harmed by the same acts that helped us.

Or, as Peterson put it, "instead of guilt he could decide to take responsibility for his relative good fortune. He could do good with what he had been granted." Nothing wrong with that - it's part of the 75% of advice from Peterson that's standard and harmless - but I can do that and also recognize all the horrible things that I have benefitted from. I can hear the true and useful things that "cultural Marxists" have shown us about the world, and use them to try to become a better person. That is not a contradiction, though Peterson persists in seeing it that way.
posted by clawsoon at 9:14 AM on November 8, 2018 [6 favorites]


I tried to live according to Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules for Life. Here's what happened
Rule 3 says you should make friends with people who want the best for you, but the chapter is really all about who you shouldn’t be friends with — namely, the people who are going to bring you down.

“Before you help someone, you should find out why that person is in trouble. You shouldn’t merely assume that he or she is a noble victim of unjust circumstance and exploitation,” Peterson writes. “It is far more likely that a given individual has just decided to reject the path upward, because of its difficulty.”

You can’t save people who don’t want to help themselves, he says.

I blew it on Rule 3 because of Sam. That’s not his real name. Sam was a friend of mine who lives in Fort McMurray, working in the oil sands. He stopped getting full-time work after oil prices tanked, not long before his house burned down in the devastating wildfire that swept through the city in 2016. He ended up in his family’s cottage, alone, unemployed. He drank a lot.

Sam used to call me, always at night, almost always drunk. Sometimes it would be fine. Other times he would rant.

I answered more and more infrequently. Occasionally, he would text me belligerently. Get off your high horse.

He stopped calling eventually, months ago, and I was relieved.

But then I read Chapter 3, and all I could think about was Sam. He was the type of friend Jordan Peterson would say you should drop, but I just wanted to talk to him again. Sober, he was one of the people who understood me best, and I’d thrown that away.
posted by clawsoon at 9:18 AM on November 8, 2018 [3 favorites]


Okay, random half-baked theory time: Peterson is for psychology what Tesla is for electric cars. Many men refused both psychological treatment and electric cars because they were Too Girly. In order to get men into both, they had to be served with a side of toxic masculinity.
posted by clawsoon at 10:11 AM on November 8, 2018 [2 favorites]




A long, thoughtful take from Bernard Schiff, who championed Peterson's hiring at the U of T in the late 1990s:

I have been asked by some if I regret my role in bringing Jordan to the University of Toronto. I did not for many years, but I do now.
Jordan has studied and understands authoritarian demagogic leaders. They know how to attract a following. In an interview with Ethan Klein in an H3 Podcast, Jordan describes how such leaders learn to repeat those things which make the crowd roar, and not repeat those things that do not. The crowd roared the first time Jordan opposed the so-called “transgender agenda.” Perhaps they would roar again, whether it made sense or not.

But why “transgender” in the first place? In that same interview, Jordan cites Carl Jung, who talked about the effectiveness of powerful emotional oratorical skills to tap into the collective unconscious of a people, and into their anger, resentment, fear of chaos and need for order. He talked about how those demagogic leaders led by acting out the dark desires of the mob.
"Chaos" and "order" are big themes of "12 Rules". Women, of course, represent chaos, and men represent order. This bit about Peterson reflecting on the use of "chaos" and "order" by authoritarian demagogues is... interesting.
posted by clawsoon at 4:28 PM on November 8, 2018 [1 favorite]


More from Bernard Schiff:
Shortly after Jordan’s rise to notoriety back in 2016, I emailed him to express my upset with his dishonesty and lack of intellectual and social integrity. He called in a conciliatory voice the next morning. I was reiterating my disappointment and upset when he interrupted me, saying more or less the following:

“You don’t understand. I am willing to lose everything, my home, my job etc., because I believe in this.” And then he said, with the intensity he is now famous for, “Bernie. Tammy had a dream, and sometimes her dreams are prophetic. She dreamed that it was five minutes to midnight.”

That was our last conversation. He was playing out the ideas that appeared in his first book. The social order is coming apart. We are on the edge of chaos. He is the prophet, and he would be the martyr. Jordan would be our saviour. I think he believes that.
posted by clawsoon at 4:32 PM on November 8, 2018 [3 favorites]


Jordan Peterson & Fascist Mysticism
It is imperative to ask why and how this obscure Canadian academic, who insists that gender and class hierarchies are ordained by nature and validated by science, has suddenly come to be hailed as the West’s most influential public intellectual. Peterson rails against “softness,” arguing that men have been “pushed too hard to feminize,” like other hyper-masculinist thinkers before him who saw compassion as a vice and urged insecure men to harden their hearts against the weak (women and minorities) on the grounds that the latter were biologically and culturally inferior. Peterson’s ageless insights are, in fact, a typical, if not archetypal, product of our own times: right-wing pieties seductively mythologized for our current lost generations.
posted by homunculus at 8:00 PM on November 8, 2018 [2 favorites]


Schiff:
We disagreed about most things, but I don’t ask of my friends that we agree. What was off-putting was his tendency to be categorical about his positions, reminiscent of his lectures where he presented personal theories as absolute truths. I rarely challenged him. He overwhelmed challenges with volumes of information that were hard to process and evaluate. He was more forceful than I, and had a much quicker mind. Also, again evocative of what I saw in the classroom, he sometimes appeared to be in the thrall of his ideas and would not, or could not, constrain himself and self-monitor what he was saying.
It's been my experience that a mastery of the Gish Gallop, an apparently unshakeable belief in their own horseshit, and a howlingly obvious lack of self-awareness are almost always all readily discernible in the speech and writings of self-styled conservative thinkers.

Ha ha only serious.
posted by flabdablet at 2:02 AM on November 9, 2018 [3 favorites]


I found the longer, more disturbing version of Peterson's Oslo dream article, the one on his website. He approvingly quotes/paraphrases this:
the disciplines dominated by women are irrational, vicious, provocative, and destructive – and purposefully so.
And with that, the subtitle of 12 Rules clicks into place for me, perhaps later than it did for everybody else. Chaos, he says in the text, is feminine. The book is An Antidote to Chaos.
posted by clawsoon at 3:07 AM on November 9, 2018 [5 favorites]


Kali is going to come down and fuck his shit up.
posted by Nelson at 7:48 AM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


I learned a lot about the stupidities of Bitcoin from the snarky world of r/Buttcoin, which someone was kind enough to post to Metafilter. It looks like r/enoughpetersonspam plays a similar role for Jordan Peterson.
posted by clawsoon at 8:06 AM on November 9, 2018 [2 favorites]


I found the longer, more disturbing version of Peterson's Oslo dream article ...

That whole screed is the kind of stuff better written in a journal or shared with one's therapist than put in print. I'm just struck by the anger and misery behind the words, the homophobia, the terror of women, the utter unwillingness to consider—if any of this is even true— that he is the very garrulous, unkempt, and irritating young man of his dream. I mean, c'mon, dude, you're the fuckin' Jungian. What would he say about a passage like this?
But the ignored boys, the Neverland lost boys? They could not be played with properly. They were too awkward. They got upset at the wrong times. They had no physical resilience, no ability to dance, and they were too desperate. Ignored at home, they lacked the skills to attract other children, and they spent their dismal little lives isolated and alone, avoided by potential playmates, and given a wide berth by adults. One in particular sticks in my mind: every time I sat down on the ground, he would come and sit on my lap. But he was too old for that, desperate as he was, and I could not find it within me to provide what it was too late by that early time in his life for anyone to provide.
Between that piece and all the dark hints about catastrophe and too-personal secrets and lines like "It’s the terror young men feel towards attractive women, who are nature itself, ever ready to reject them, intimately, at the deepest possible level," I refuse to believe that Peterson does not live in a state of mortal terror of his own sexuality and/or gender identity. I know it's clichéd as hell to say that, but I just refuse to believe otherwise.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:06 AM on November 9, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'm quite sure a lot of people here would know the theory a lot better than I do, but most everything he says is like academic nails down a chalkboard compared to the understanding of gender and sexuality the cultural Marxists have indoctrinated me with (a willing process of inculcation MeFi has played no small part in).

Isn't the whole nature/culture chaos/order female/male bad/good thing supposed to be dead and buried?
Didn't Donna Haraway, Judith Butler, Foucault and lots more that I'm forgetting shred this stuff decades ago? Are they the postmodernist Marxists or whatever he hates so much?

People who've actually read one of his longer pieces, does he engage with the extensive canon which makes his absurd gender essentialism and adoration of hierarchy seem as transparently archaic as it is?
posted by AnhydrousLove at 11:17 AM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


does he engage with the extensive canon which makes his absurd gender essentialism and adoration of hierarchy seem as transparently archaic as it is?

A college philosophy professor talks about having Jordan Peterson fans as students:
The very idea that someone could even propose the idea that there is a conceptual difference between sex and gender leads to angry denunciations entirely based on the irresponsible misrepresentations of these online anger-mongers. Some students in their exams write that these ideas are "entitled liberal bullshit," actual quote, rather than simply describe an idea they disagree with in neutral terms. And it's not like I'm out there defending every dumb thing ever posted on Tumblr! It's Simone de fucking Beauvoir!

It's not the disagreement. That I'm used to dealing with; it's the bread and butter of philosophy. No, it's the anger, hostility and complete fabrications.

They come in with the most bizarre idea of what 'post-modernism' is, and to even get to a real discussion of actual texts it takes half the time to just deprogram some of them.

...

Honestly, the hostility and derailment makes me miss my young-earth creationist students.
So I'm guessing the answer to your question is "no".
posted by clawsoon at 11:55 AM on November 9, 2018 [9 favorites]


and lines like "It’s the terror young men feel towards attractive women, who are nature itself, ever ready to reject them, intimately, at the deepest possible level," I refuse to believe that Peterson does not live in a state of mortal terror of his own sexuality and/or gender identity.

I don't make the same assumption, since I've felt the same terror and know what he's talking about - maybe it's something in the water in Alberta? - but I do see, as you do, a whole lot of Peterson in the Portrait Of A Loser Young Man that he is constantly drawing. He wants young men who have felt the way that he has to learn the things that he has, but he doesn't want to come right out and say, "I, too, used to be a loser."
posted by clawsoon at 12:12 PM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


I refuse to believe that Peterson does not live in a state of mortal terror of his own sexuality and/or gender identity. I know it's clichéd as hell to say that

It’s cliché for a reason. Because there’s really only one reason, in the end, to think that much about trans people, or gay people. And when paired with the bone-deep misogyny...

It’s not really all that mysterious, tbh. He’s queer, to some degree, in some way, shape or form, and he is too fragile and cowardly to face it. So instead we get this prophet of misogyny bullshit.

He’s really not the first queer man to blame women for his feelings, and he won’t be the last. But he might end up killing a bunch of us, stochastically, because of his platform.
posted by schadenfrau at 12:46 PM on November 9, 2018 [2 favorites]


Because there’s really only one reason, in the end, to think that much about trans people, or gay people.

I'll suggest a second idea: When he semi-randomly said something about trans people, it made him famous and brought him income. The more he talked about it, the more money he made. He's now making $1 million per year just on Patreon. I imagine that got his Jungian creative juices flowing.

I could be wrong; I don't know enough about his history to know whether he's been babbling about this stuff for a long time or not. But I'm sure that the money has got him babbling about it more.
posted by clawsoon at 12:52 PM on November 9, 2018 [4 favorites]


Jordan Peterson is a misogynist with a poor relationship to his sexuality, so he's automatically queer?

People can have shitty relationships to their sexuality and be straight.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 12:58 PM on November 9, 2018 [10 favorites]


Yeah I think the fact that he engages in a lot of projection is pretty obvious, but we really can't say anything specific about his gender identity or sexuality. Nor, ultimately, does it matter: whether he is or is not queer has no bearing on the shittiness of his views.
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:12 PM on November 9, 2018


Does queerness extend to relatively fragile, timid men who feel sexually inadequate next to their big strong male friends who punch people? (That's a sincere question, BTW; I don't know nearly enough about queer and gender studies to know whether it's a laughable question or an interesting one.)

Peterson seems to have built a lot of theory on that one time a big strong friend of his punched another friend who was being really irritating.
posted by clawsoon at 1:13 PM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


I don't make the same assumption, since I've felt the same terror and know what he's talking about ...

Yeah, if it was simply an observation that young straight men are often nervous around young women and often over-invested in their own ideas about young women, I'd be less certain. But the hyperbole of language, the obsessive mythologizing of women as "chaos," the obvious emotional distress when he speaks about this in person, the way a 56 year old returns again and again to his anxieties over masculinity all suggest something more than a straight man's (more or less) normal nervousness with women, even more than a "normal neurotic" apprehension around women.

But, yeah, I'm not the psychiatrist, he is. He could be fucked up in some entirely different way! Or maybe all of this really is just an act for the grift. I'm not going to insist that "Jordan Peterson is a self-hating queer person" is the only possibility here, but, it's hard not to leap to that conclusion.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:38 PM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


I was looking up whether Peterson had anything to say about the Holodomor, because Alberta reasons, and what I found was a video in which a nervous man asks him a very long anti-Semitic question.

Peterson says he'll read the book the man gave him (something by Solzhenitsyn), paces around the stage for, I dunno, 20 seconds or so, and says, "I can't do it." And that's it. Next question.

Can't do what?
posted by clawsoon at 4:36 PM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


Peterson's most interesting personal experience lately has surely been tweeting that Brett Kavanaugh should step down, then being forced by the overwhelming negative response from his fan base to equivocate and walk some of it back. I wonder how he feels to have his free expression suddenly constrained by a mob of his own making.
posted by clawsoon at 5:41 AM on November 11, 2018 [5 favorites]


I wonder how he feels to have his free expression suddenly constrained by a mob of his own making.

Wealthier.
posted by kewb at 11:23 AM on November 12, 2018 [2 favorites]


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