Who is Jordan Peterson?

Canadian Jordan Peterson is getting an increasing amount of attention in New Zealand. I see his name coming up more frequently, but know little about him.

From a brief look he seems to be quite different to Molyneux and Southern, but Peterson still seems despised by some, particularly on the left. But he seems to be growing quite a but of a fan base.

This from The Atlantic is getting mentions locally on Twitter: Why the Left Is So Afraid of Jordan Peterson

The Canadian psychology professor’s stardom is evidence that leftism is on the decline—and deeply vulnerable.

The young men voted for Hillary, they called home in shock when Trump won, they talked about flipping the House, and they followed Peterson to other podcasts—to Sam Harris and Dave Rubin and Joe Rogan. What they were getting from these lectures and discussions, often lengthy and often on arcane subjects, was perhaps the only sustained argument against identity politics they had heard in their lives.

That might seem like a small thing, but it’s not. With identity politics off the table, it was possible to talk about all kinds of things—religion, philosophy, history, myth—in a different way. They could have a direct experience with ideas, not one mediated by ideology. All of these young people, without quite realizing it, were joining a huge group of American college students who were pursuing a parallel curriculum, right under the noses of the people who were delivering their official educations.

Because all of this was happening silently, called down from satellites and poured in through earbuds—and not on campus free-speech zones where it could be monitored, shouted down, and reported to the appropriate authorities—the left was late in realizing what an enormous problem it was becoming for it. It was like the 1960s, when kids were getting radicalized before their parents realized they’d quit glee club. And it was not just college students. Not by a long shot.

Around the country, all sorts of people were listening to these podcasts. Joe Rogan’s sui generis show, with its surpassingly eclectic mix of guests and subjects, was a frequent locus of Peterson’s ideas, whether advanced by the man himself, or by the thinkers with whom he is loosely affiliated. Rogan’s podcast is downloaded many millions of times each month. Whatever was happening, it was happening on a scale and with a rapidity that was beyond the ability of the traditional culture keepers to grasp. When the left finally realized what was happening, all it could do was try to bail out the Pacific Ocean with a spoon.

There are plenty of reasons for individual readers to dislike Jordan Peterson. He’s a Jungian and that isn’t your cup of tea; he is, by his own admission, a very serious person and you think he should lighten up now and then; you find him boring; you’re not interested in either identity politics or in the arguments against it. There are many legitimate reasons to disagree with him on a number of subjects, and many people of good will do. But there is no coherent reason for the left’s obliterating and irrational hatred of Jordan Peterson. What, then, accounts for it?

It is because the left, while it currently seems ascendant in our houses of culture and art, has in fact entered its decadent late phase, and it is deeply vulnerable. The left is afraid not of Peterson, but of the ideas he promotes, which are completely inconsistent with identity politics of any kind.

All across the country, there are people as repelled by the current White House as they are by the countless and increasingly baroque expressions of identity politics that dominate so much of the culture. These are people who aren’t looking for an ideology; they are looking for ideas. And many of them are getting much better at discerning the good from the bad. The Democratic Party reviles them at its peril; the Republican Party takes them for granted in folly.

Perhaps, then, the most dangerous piece of “common sense” in Peterson’s new book comes at the very beginning, when he imparts the essential piece of wisdom for anyone interested in fighting a powerful, existing order. “Stand up straight,” begins Rule No. 1, “with your shoulders back.”

Peterson has started getting attention in New Zealand media.

Newshub: Who is Jordan Peterson? A guide to the next controversial Canadian to grace our shores

His name is Jordan B Peterson, and over the last several years he’s built up an online cult following, primarily among white men in their 20s and 30s.

Born in Alberta in 1962, Peterson earned a PhD in clinical psychology before going on to work as an associate professor at Harvard. He moved back to Canada in 1998 to become a professor at the University of Toronto, where he enjoyed a respected but fairly conventional career until 2016.

His ‘big break’ came when he posted a series of YouTube videos about how he’d refuse to use the preferred pronouns of some of his students and fellow faculty members. Those videos went viral, propelling Dr Peterson to internet stardom.

He recently posted on Twitter (where he has more than 800,000 followers) that he’ll be gracing our shores in February 2019.

That item was strongly criticised for content not repeated here.

NZH: Jordan Peterson is preaching to a generation desperate to grow up

For the uninitiated, Dr Peterson is a psychology professor at the University of Toronto who has developed a cult following online. His YouTube channel has amassed almost 1 million subscribers and more than 44 million views.

Type his name into YouTube and you’ll find videos of him ranting against feminism, postmodernism and ‘social justice warriors’. But that’s just one side of him. He recently wrote self-help book 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote To Chaos. That Dr Peterson would write a self-help book isn’t surprising. He’s not just a political bomb thrower, he’s been a clinical psychologist for over two decades.

After its release, the book sat at the top of both Amazon’s “most read” and “most sold” lists. After being restricted to the confines of his YouTube channel, Dr Peterson has broken into the mainstream to become one of the most well-known public intellectuals in the world.

In an interview with 3AW’s Neil Mitchell, Dr Peterson admitted that at a speaking event the previous day, six young men told him he’d saved their lives. “It breaks me up. It’s sad that there are so many people in that state of crisis … it’s overwhelming,” he said with tears in his eyes.

“There are a lot of lost people in the world,” he said. But the controversial psychologist seems to be finding them.

RNZ:  Jordan Peterson: His 12 rules for a chaotic world

Two years ago few people knew Jordan Peterson’s name. Now he’s either, depending on your stance, the public intellectual de jour or the acceptable face of alt-right cultural warriors.

The clinical psychologist and University of Toronto professor made a name for himself in 2016 after posting a series of controversial YouTube videos, one of which railed against the idea the government might force him to use certain pronouns for transgender people – he called it the “neologism of politically correct authoritarians”.

His latest is12 Rules for Life.

“The rules are things people already know to be true, but in our politically polarised and topsy-turvy relativistic times a lot of what was once self-evident needs to be properly rationalised and defended”, Peterson says.

He says the book is an attempt to “go down into the sub-structure of belief and find where the bedrock is with regards to what we might agree on.”

All humans face three serious problems, he says.

“We have to put up with ourselves and our fragility and proclivity for malevolence and then we have to put up with other people for better or for worse … and then we have to set ourselves up against the natural world, its beauties and opportunities, but also its horrors and catastrophes, and that’s the fundamental existential landscape.”

His book is an aid in a world where we need to “constantly negotiate our peace with other people,” he says.

I don’t know enough about him and what he says to have much of an opinion about Peterson.

Some here at YourNZ have mentioned him and seem to be fans. I’d like to collate some of that.

If you know something about Peterson and are interested in putting your views on him out there email me a guest post – YourNZContact@gmail.com

Or summarise your views ion comments here and I’ll collate them.

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47 Comments

  1. Trevors_elbow

     /  August 11, 2018

    Pete…

    Firstly Peterson doesn’t rant. He is very controlled, measured, no baited by strawman arguments nor does he allow people to invent quotes or misquote him.

    Secondly, He is not alt right. That is

    Reply
    • Trevors_elbow

       /  August 11, 2018

      Smear of who he is which is a classic conservative

      Thirdly… he is successful because he talks to core hero Male issues on identity and purpose. . You know it’s ok to be a man… men NEED to take responsibility (not control but to be men not boys reliant on mummy)…be strong role models for their kids. Which of course hard core feminists hate

      I’ve listen to some of his stuff. The reason the left are scared of him is he dissects their views and exposes their lack of depth as well as their disguised hatred of western ideals and makes role in society..

      Google his interview with Channel four and YouTube search Sam Harris and Peterson.. they have some good chats….

      Reply
  2. David

     /  August 11, 2018

    Joe Rogan is a leftie Democrat who climbs into Trump but also thought Clinton was awful, bit hard to put a label on him.
    Joe Rogan has a podcast with Peterson which covers a lot of his thinking, he details the total misconception of his position which made him famous, he is a leftie, he has some odd health issues some he shares with his daughter. Its well worth a listen but its long and everyone can get something out of it regardless of which way you lean.

    Reply
  3. -D

     /  August 11, 2018

    As an ‘early adopter’ of Jordan Peterson it’s been interesting to see his rise to prominence which was kick-started by his standing up to the Canadian ‘C16’ law which tried to legislate use of preferred pronouns for trans-gender/gender-indeterminate people, i.e. his students, at the University of Toronto.

    He is a clinical psychologist and tenured professor who early on began posting his psychology lectures on YouTube. For those who are really interested those lectures provide a wealth of insight into where he is coming from. He spends a lot of time explaining the five statistically prominent personality characteristics (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Five_personality_traits ) plus IQ as predictors of success in life. This overlaps with various other current controversies such as the James Damore kerfuffle and subsequent class action lawsuit at google. Because so much of his material was already online he was well poised when the Sam Harris, Eric Weinstein, Joe Rogan, Dave Rubin, and now a host of others, rose collectively to form what has come to be known tongue-in-cheek as ‘the intellectual dark web’. This movement has quietly amassed a huge following of many people who are increasingly dissatisfied by the objectivity-bereft nature of today’s media. They are now demonstrating this up-swell of demand for long-form discussion and debate and are regularly filling 2-3000 seat auditoriums and getting standing ovations from grateful fans. Many of these voices are actually from the left but individually and collectively they have become independent intellectual rock stars without parallel on the post-modern left. They come from different disciplines and a variety of special interests with free-speech and orderly discourse as probably the one common denominator. Jordan Peterson is a good fit and a serious voice in this community. There is a big confab of these guys (though not including Jordan) in Sydney this weekend…sadly the concurrently scheduled appearance here in Auckland was cancelled for some reason having been originally shoehorned in on top of the bigger Sydney event. Auckland tickets are currently being refunded.

    Jordan Peterson has a number of dimensions beyond the theme of his currently best-selling book but is basically anti-postmodern PC-ism and vehemently against left wing brain-washing by university social science ‘studies’ departments. His criticism of university humanities departments and their left-wing dogma are quite recognizable and pertinent here in New Zealand with the latest Massey free-speech furore a classic example.

    Reply
  4. sorethumb

     /  August 11, 2018

    At the moment I’m following Professor Robert Sapolsky’s series of lectures on behavioural evolution. He looks at the subject from all angles: an alpha baboon rashes at a lower ranking baboon and the lower ranking picks up a baby baboon. Whose? The alpha baboons baby. We develop behaviours which are encoded in our genes – but that is where I’m up to now (molecular genetics – can it be determined in the genes). Ed Wilson started sociobiology in 1975 and there was instant rage. It was pointed out that the three people prominent at the time were whites from the Southern US.
    [1:30]

    Reply
  5. David

     /  August 11, 2018

    Peterson tours with Dave Rubin to huge audiences and they do a shorter podcast and explore intolerance together. Rubin is an interesting character, former leftie Democrat who became increasingly disillusioned with the lefts intolerance and their labelling of everyone into groups rather than treating people as individuals. Dave is gay and married.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  August 11, 2018

      ‘ Dave is gay and married.’…and Petesie?

      Reply
      • David

         /  August 11, 2018

        Married to his wife with a son and a daughter. The reference to Rubins personal life is something he oft mentions in terms of the intolerance he faces is from the left.

        Reply
        • Missy

           /  August 11, 2018

          I am not surprised he faces intolerance from the left. Those that are so caught up in their identity politics don’t like it when someone from a minority identity doesn’t think or behave the way they think, I see it regularly in the UK against minority ethnics and gays who are Conservative – the left believe that they are betraying their identity. There are certain groups in society that the left believe they ‘own’ as such they can’t deal with it when members of those identified groups don’t behave as they think they should.

          In my experience the more someone proclaims themselves as being tolerant of people’s identities the less tolerant they actually are of different views, and their intolerance becomes personal.

          Reply
  6. artcroft

     /  August 11, 2018

    I’ve listen to a lot of Petersen’s stuff and found it very good.

    Reply
  7. Jay3

     /  August 11, 2018

    The Newshub article “Who is Jordan Peterson” is a breathtaking mischaracterisation of the ideas expressed by Peterson. It is little more than an infantile hit job on the guy by what appears to be a deeply biased reporter with an axe to grind.

    Reply
    • FarmerPete

       /  August 11, 2018

      Agreed. The author clearly had watched or read any of Peterson’s material.

      Reply
  8. sorethumb

     /  August 11, 2018

    Peterson gets put through a fine net (fairly)

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqZMgLgGlYAWvSU8lZ9xiVg

    Reply
    • -D

       /  August 11, 2018

      I find this recent interview a better summary of where Jordan Peterson is coming from…in his own words.

      http://www.pbs.org/wnet/firing-line/video/jordan-peterson-hreb9p/

      I concede he plays it a bit coy on the religion bit (and I have a theory why) but he does reserve a place in the human psyche for a ‘spiritual’ element and believes that, in any case, religious myths (from all religions) are important repositories of basic human ‘truth’.

      Read into that what you may.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  August 11, 2018

        I think that Summary PG posted from the Atlantic article gives a fairly good overall picture of the man. His messaging might start getting a bit tiresome eventually & the famous lobster hierchy comparison was an indication that he can be a nut who shouldn’t be taken as an expert on whatever he wants to talk about (something he and some his more adoring, less discerning fans might think from time to time) – but he makes good points & argues them well on many matters where the current illiberal liberal narrative is actually very debatable.

        He sells a lot of personal opinion & interpretation among his lectures – but that’s fine – he runs rings around interviewers who misrepresent him or have no idea nor any actual research facts on what they’re talking about. To debate this guy you need to know what other research data he’s ignoring or whether there even is any.

        I’ve seen a gender fluid professor attempt to argue with him on the basis of “facts” that seemed to simply be a collection of the feelings of gender fluid students from surveys. There’s nothing wrong with that but it just wasn’t particularly germane to the issue of why someone should have histrionics about their sexual identity or proclivities not being acknowledged in an academic lecture that might not have anything whatsoever to do with it. It’s just grandstanding. Nobody’s putting them down. Nobody thinks it’s relevant. Then all hell breaks loose. Nuts.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  August 11, 2018

          *hierarchy

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  August 12, 2018

            the template of competition instilled in children is the root cause of anxiety in adults.
            Being defined as a ‘winner’ or a loser’ by accepting, or not, the pressures to conform results in varied action and reaction.

            Kipling summed it up….excerpt…

            ‘If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
            If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
            If you can meet with triumph and disaster
            And treat those two impostors just the same;
            If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
            Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
            Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
            And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools’

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 12, 2018

              We are complicated creatures that need love, skills, values and confidence. Not all get them.

            • Blazer

               /  August 12, 2018

              or are we really quite simple,with simple,basic needs and emotions,that get suppressed or contorted?A conundrum…

      • Gezza

         /  August 11, 2018

        I concede he plays it a bit coy on the religion bit (and I have a theory why)

        What’s your theory?

        Reply
        • -D

           /  August 11, 2018

          Well he probably explained it well enough in this latest video…i.e. that he won’t let himself be dragged into a debate to which there is no empirical answer. I’m sure he knows there is no ‘god’ and if you got him started the first thing he would say is that “are you a Christian?” is a stupid question… as would be the following plethora of “well then, are you an X, Y, or Z ?” questions. But he also doesn’t want to be seen as a confirmed atheist which is territory well staked out by Sam Harris, Michael Shermer, and so many of the others in the current crop. Assuming he genuinely believes mythology, including religious mythology, is a true repository of manifest human spirit, it is only a small step for him to keep that psychological niche ambiguous by alluding to it as ‘divinity’.

          It’s all a bit of a stretch for me (his original book, ‘Maps of Meaning’, treats all the mythical symbolism in great detail… according to his interpretation) but it’s not too hard to accept that ancient myths are a repository of very basic human nature, experience, and instinct. In many ways the “Is there a god?” debate has been beaten to death. Jordan’s main answer lies in defining and pursuing a ‘meaningful’ life and he wants to concentrate on that message.

          In the end he admits he does not, and cannot, know the ultimate answer.

          Reply
  9. FarmerPete

     /  August 11, 2018

    I think he is the closest we have to a real intellectual, who is accessible to a large audience, and who analyses current societal issues and puts them in a perspective that is rational and understandable.
    He is incredibly precise in his word choice. I like that he is generally unflappable and doesn’t rise to the normal trash talk. His advice to Harvard students was completely inspiring. My 18 yr old son follows him and so do I.
    if he comes to NZ we will be there.

    Reply
  10. Corky

     /  August 11, 2018

    The young guy critiquing Jordan Peterson in Thumbs link is very bright. I call them nth degree’ers. They deconstruct an argument until they start chasing shadows. Then they start on each other ( see the first post in comments section).

    Personally, I’m prepared to accommodate a man with flawed intellectual arguments if the bulk of his work is helpful to mankind.

    I think that’s what the young man misses. If he tried relating his opening address with his critique, he may gain insight as to why he’s a little know YouTuber, while Peterson has made a big impact globally.

    Accepting or rejecting Peterson will be a personal experience for most people. It will be more emotional than intellectual. Possible black and white fallacies in Peterson’s argument will have little bearing on what most people ultimately think of him.

    Reply
  11. phantom snowflake

     /  August 11, 2018

    Who is Jordan Peterson??

    Jordan Peterson is a “Gateway Drug” to the Alt-Right/White Nationalism/White Supremacism/Neo-Fascism etc etc. So many Far Right sites use his videos as a recruiting tool. He sounds so Reasonable and Rational and so “Un PC!”
    https://yournz.org/2018/03/05/neanderthal-art-pre-dates-humans-in-europe/#comment-257116

    Reply
    • Trevors_elbow

       /  August 11, 2018

      And you sound so unreasonable and very PC… and use the Alt Right smear like a typical Cmd Cntrl Leftie or maybe just a nihilistic anarchist with too much intellectual capacity and self loathing…

      Reply
      • phantom snowflake

         /  August 11, 2018

        We’ve long since reached the point where “Politically Incorrect” became the new “Politically Correct” with so many Righties falling into line to prove their credentials by being obnoxious about Muslims, Feminists, or hell, any minority group. You’re a symptom of peak ‘Old White Man’ being reached on this blog; things can only get better from here.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  August 11, 2018

          It tends to be worse when Muslims are obnoxious to feminists, phantom:
          https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=12104695

          They take obnoxiousness to new levels, even more so in places like Saudi and Iran.

          Reply
          • phantom snowflake

             /  August 11, 2018

            Oh, so all women are feminists now? That’s great news!

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 11, 2018

              A lady who runs her own dental practice and stands up to men like that probably ranks high on the real life scale, phantom. Do you disagree?

            • phantom snowflake

               /  August 11, 2018

              Strangely enough I have no idea what is this ‘real life scale’ of which you speak!

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 12, 2018

              Well, just add it to the pile of topics you have no idea on then, phantom.

        • sorethumb

           /  August 11, 2018

          Petersons audience are mainly 20 to 30 year old white men?

          Reply
          • phantom snowflake

             /  August 11, 2018

            Oh that’s tragic! Young white boys are soooo vulnerable and suggestible!

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  August 11, 2018

              I think a lot of them are lost & useless, many still living at home in their 30’s with no g/f or partner & no direction. Suicide rate in the US is nearly 4 times that of females in the same age range I think. A lifetime of struggling to deal with the feelings that come naturally to a normal typical heterosexual male growing up in an environment that’s been telling them they’re likely to be violent selfish misogynists from since they were little unless they behave more like females. They’ve got no self-esteem or understanding from a good father or other male role model that knows men & women are different, psychologically – and how to behave as typical, mature, responsible, loving, self-respecting young man & how to become independent.

            • phantom snowflake

               /  August 11, 2018

              I wish I had the skills to debate that with you Gezza. The best I can manage at present is to refer back to my first ever comment on this site which is, at least tangentially, relevant, if somewhat imperfect.

              Here’s a possible explanation for one large group of our nation’s suicides, oversimplified to keep it brief: We physically, psychologically and sexually abuse large numbers of our children. We teach our boys that above all they must be masculine and manly, and we prohibit them from processing their trauma and abuse because this would involve dealing with feelings which we have labelled as girly or feminine. Although abused males are thus put in a near-impossible position, there is, however, an “out”. We have decreed that anger is manly and masculine. So, we shouldn’t be surprised that abused males may explode outwardly in anger (e.g. assaults and rapes) or act angrily against themselves. (self-harm or suicide) Yeah I know this isn’t the whole story. I said it was oversimplified…
              https://yournz.org/2017/07/14/nz-teen-suicide-problem-on-al-jazeera/#comment-201822

            • Gezza

               /  August 11, 2018

              I don’t see us having any essential difference there. What do you want to debate? You don’t need debating skills to discuss anything. Plenty of people here disagree with what I say. I don’t care if they out-debate me. Sometimes they can change my mind.

              We teach our boys that above all they must be masculine and manly, and we prohibit them from processing their trauma and abuse because this would involve dealing with feelings which we have labelled as girly or feminine

              But they’re not. They’re perfectly normal for a man. We’re not cardboard cutout All Blacks. Not even most All Blacks are cardboard cutouts. And a good father or other male role model knows that. And teaches them how to handle that emotional vulnerable side too. In ways a female can’t. I struggled with this sensitive side when I had a typical aggressive side too – until I learnt how to just accept it & work with it.

              Fark, who wants to be one of those endlessly agressive morons who want to have a punch up any time anyone says something that hurts their feelings?

        • Trevors_elbow

           /  August 12, 2018

          Ahhhhhh look isn’t that sweet Old White Men….are they the problem if they all went away snowflakes would be happy?????

          So much hate for a group that does some much to provide the structures you and every other OWM hate rely on….

          Keep ducking on the pipe of anarchist thought… you’ll eventual find it leds nowhere

          Reply
    • FarmerPete

       /  August 11, 2018

      This is just crud. Petersons lectures are online and anyone can read/watch them. You should try it! He has repeatedly through his lectures warned about both the alt right and the far left. This sort of contamination by association argument is unworthy and also pathetic. Try arguing his ideas rather than fallaciously going after the man.

      Reply
  12. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  August 11, 2018

    He’s being interviewed on BBC channel – Hard Talk at the moment 7:30-8pm

    Reply
  1. Who is Jordan Peterson? — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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