Contrasting impressions of Jordan Peterson sermon

The visit of Jordan Peterson to new Zealand has been remarkably non-controversial. There doesn’t seem to have been any great protests or attempts to shut him up. On the contrary, journalists have flocked to him, with a lot being written about him.

One of Peterson’s shows was at Christchurch. Martin van Beynen and Cecile Meier have written contrasting impressions.

Martin van Beynen:  Jordan Peterson and the meaning of life

If you hadn’t read a thing about Jordan Peterson before turning up at the Isaac Theatre Royal in Christchurch to listen to a two hour, non-stop monologue from the Toronto academic, you would have come away without an inkling of the controversy he has generated around the world.

You would have left the venue thinking the Canadian was obviously an intelligent, well-read and reflective individual whose practice as a clinical psychologist had given him some insights into how people could live more meaningful and successful lives.

Which was disappointing because I had turned up with a free ticket with my colleague and fellow columnist Cecile Meier. The idea was that we would both write about our evening at Peterson’s talk with sparks flying due to our contrasting pre-conceptions and views on life.

In fact Peterson, who at times came across as a television evangelist in the American style, said little to create any sort of headline.

Both van Beynen and Meier mention what looks like an attempt by Peterson to dish out a controversial sound bite but didn’t get it headlined.

Anyway most of his life tips were actually pretty much common sense and fell into the category of life lessons that we know but need to be constantly reminded of, especially now.

What makes him so effective, I suspect, is that unlike most of the self-help gurus, he is an erudite, deep-thinking academic whose expertise in human psychology gives him an unusual insight into how life can be improved for individuals and therefore communities.

He underpins his arguments with what he regards as the unalterable truths encapsulated by the ancient stories in texts like the Bible. And those truths are based on our hard wiring and the nature of nature.

I am, of course, aware Peterson propounds some highly debatable notions and that he is hated by some on the left and many feminists.

So what did I learn from two hours of Peterson’s rambling sermon?

I like Peterson’s theory of Chaos and Order and how we need to walk a fine line with one foot firmly in Order and yet pushing ourselves by getting a bit of Chaos as well.

It struck me that I could have used a talk like this as a mixed-up young man. Although Peterson cops a lot of flak for saying Chaos is symbolised by the feminine, he is not saying women are more chaotic than men. Young men are probably far more disordered than young women and do far more damage.

I also liked his take on routine and mundanity. He argues we should work hard on making daily tasks and routine as “right” as possible, partly because we spend so much time on them and secondly because any routine or order is important.

He talked about clients who came to him at age 40 complaining their ideas about how their lives should go had turned to dust. He reminded us that it takes much hard work to be precise and clear about aims and goals and nothing is achieved by a haphazard, unmethodical approach.

In a non-religious age, it was also useful to hear him talk about prayer. One suggestion he had was thinking each night about the stupid things you did that day and how, just by not doing just one of those stupid things the next day, the compounding effect would soon amount to a much more meaningful and productive life.

Van Beynen  sounds like a bit of a fan.

Cecile Meier:  I went to see Jordan Peterson and it was equal parts boring and terrifying

How much would I have to pay you to sit through a two-hour self-help sermon, peppered with relentless biblical references, delivered by a misogynist?

A lot of young men, some older men and a baffling number of women paid between $70 and $270 to experience such torture.

I am talking about the drab monologue burped out by celebrity pop psychologist Jordan Peterson on Wednesday at his sold-out Theatre Royal show in Christchurch.

I understand why men turned up – Peterson has said things like “the masculine spirit is under assault”; The patriarchy makes sense because men are naturally more competent; Violent attacks are what happens when men do not have partners, and monogamy is the answer for that.

But why were the women there? Peterson’s theory is that order is masculine and chaos is feminine. His latest book is subtitled An Antidote to Chaos. This hardly needs Google Translate, but let’s spell it out. The subtitle to his book is “an antidote to feminism”. What kind of woman thinks we need less female power in the world?

Spoiler alert: not me.

Considering Peterson’s wild popularity, his political ambitions and his evangelical tendencies, his beliefs are not just outlandish, but deeply worrying.

I was expecting sensational insights, or at least controversial thoughts, but most of what we are getting is self-help gibberish. Maybe Peterson is not so such a threat to humankind after all.

He says you need a majority of positive interactions and a few negative interactions for a good relationship. “It kinda looks like for every 11 smiles you have to deliver one slap,” (the crowd laughs) “now I’m sure that will be the headline in some New Zealand newspaper” (the crowd goes wild). “Dr Peterson recommends slapping your wife and husband every 11 interactions – that’s the problem with not really understanding metaphors” (more clapping).

Sure, Jordan, it’s hilarious to joke about domestic violence in a country grappling with the issue. Ironically, later on he talks about one of the rules he had for his son: “Funny is good, but don’t push it. It’s a really tight line.”

But the audience loves it. They laugh and hoot. During the show, they frequently break into applause when he dishes out cliches like “cathedrals are built brick by brick”.

They adore him.

When it’s finally over, my bum hurts and my head spins. I wonder what the show was all about. Mostly I think it was about bringing old values back, revisiting the Bible, and making sure you have kids in your twenties or you’ll be infertile and miserable.

My conclusion? Peterson is indeed dangerous because he uses common sense self-help advice and tales of ancient wisdom to subjugate crowds of insecure people. When they are suitably hypnotised, he slowly lets his Handmaid’s Tale-style ideas slip in. Or maybe my inferior female brain is just not able to grasp the brilliance of his metaphors.

So there are people who like Peterson and people who don’t.  People (apart from journalists) pay a substantial amount to go and listen to him so he is playing to a market.

I empathise more with Meier’s account. I’m not into commercial sermonisers repeating common sense laced with biblical references with the odd controversial bone thrown in.

I’ve never enjoyed sitting through an hour of church (that’s way back in my past) so paying $140 to listen to two hours without the musical interludes is not something I would be interested in. And I’m not wanting to be saved by Peterson or anyone, I am happy with myself and my own abilities to work things out.

Different strokes for different folks.

At least free speech doesn’t seem to have been compromised.

Rachel Stewart on Jordan Peterson and free speech

I really done care much about Jordan Peterson, but free speech issues that he ignites are important.

Peterson has a lot of supporters (almost cult like), seems to do good for some people, but also says some crappy things, either because he has crappy ideas (in my opinion) or is being deliberately provocative. Much of the publicity he gets is thanks to people trying to shut him up.

Media might see it as click bait fodder, but at kleast they are promoting understanding and discussion.

Peterson obliged with some provocative stuff:

Jordan Peterson, the Canadian celebrity psychologist and author currently on tour in New Zealand, has a thing for shock pronouncements. “The idea that men have been preferentially treated as a group across history is an absurd idea,” he told me in a half-hour interview this morning.

“Diversity, inclusivity, equity, all of those things together make up a very toxic brew.”
And: feminists have an “unconscious wish for brutal male domination”.

He’s said several times it’s wrong to believe the victim in rape cases. I asked him if he accepts the need to treat rape victims in a way that avoids revictimising them. As the video clip, taken from the full interview, reveals, he doesn’t think we need to do that.

In his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos,, Peterson argues that the problem with the world is we have fallen prey to Chaos, so we need to restore Order. Order, by the way, is masculine and Chaos is feminine.


Simon Wilson’s full video interview with Jordan Peterson will appear on the NZ Herald website on Saturday, February 23. His feature article on the interview and Peterson’s town hall speaking tour will appear in the newspaper and online the same day.

Why hold it back until Saturday?

I don’t understand why so many people flock after Peterson, and especially pay to hear him talk when he is easy to find online. NZ tickets are $140-170 a pop. Youtube is free.

I understand why some people take offence at some of what he says – I think that some of what he says is offensive.

But jumping up and down and trying to shut him down is doing the opposite, giving him the publicity and revenue he seeks.


Jordan Peterson, author and Steph Dryberg,Wellingtonian of the Year

Controversial Canadian psychologist, professor of psychology and author is coming to New Zealand to speak.

NZ Herald:  Canadian psychologist and ’12 Rules of Life’ author Jordan Peterson visiting New Zealand

A Canadian professor who became an internet sensation almost overnight and with a cult-like following is touching down in Auckland to speak about his book, 12 Rules of Life: The Antidote To Chaos.

People say the life lessons in Dr Jordan Peterson’s self-help style book can’t be argued with. They include things like standing up straight with your shoulders back, making friends with those who want the best for you and not bothering children while they are skateboarding.

However, the clinical psychologist’s views on gender politics and his opposition to the recent Canadian law making it illegal not to use preferred pronouns for transgender people have been greeted with a strong backlash.

Backlashes seem to be common these days against people that other people disagree with. Or in the current case, forward lashes.

Activist group Auckland Peace Action has accused Peterson of homophobia and racism.

“In the lead-up to Jordan Peterson’s visit to New Zealand we have a duty to condemn his sexist, queerphobic, racist and deeply reactionary views,” Iris Krzyzosiak, of Auckland Peace Action, said.

Newshub:  Jordan Peterson labels New Zealand activist interview ‘more painful’ than other ridiculed videos

On Wednesday, Auckland Peace Action activist Iris Krzyzosiak was interviewed by Magic Talk’s afternoon host Sean Plunket on a statement the group released criticising his views as threatening “everything of value in society”.

A video of the interview has now gone viral, with many criticising Ms Krzyzosiak for her inability to provide examples to back up claims the group were providing to oppose Prof Peterson’s views ahead of his tour of New Zealand next week.

On several occasions Ms Krzyzosiak didn’t answer Plunket’s questions, and once murmured “oh dear lord” as she tried to respond.

On Friday evening, Prof Peterson tweeted the “catastrophic” interview was “more painful” than other notable debates and interviews by journalists attempting to discuss his views.

“Arguably more painful than either the relatively recent GQ interview with Helen Lewis or the Channel 4 Cathy Newman debacle,” he said.

There will be more interviews and free publicity:


Peterson turned the opposition into an opportunity for ticket sales and took to Twitter: “Apparently my ‘presence in New Zealand is worrying as it threatens many of the basic values of our society’.”

One of the basic values of new Zealand society is free speech, but with the advent of social media there are growing moves to shut down speech some people don’t agree with or approve of.

Wellingtonian of the Year

Steph Dryberg describes herself on her Twitter profile as ‘Wellingtonian of the year 2018’.

Stuff:  Wellington employment lawyer Steph Dyhrberg named Wellingtonian of the Year

A woman instrumental in the fight against a culture of sexual harassment within the legal profession has been recognised as the 2018 Wellingtonian of the Year.

Steph Dyhrberg was crowned the supreme winner at the 2018 Dominion Post ‘Welly’ awards held at Te Papa on Thursday night.

Dyhrberg, a leading Wellington employment lawyer, also won the Community Service category.

She has been vocal in condemning law firm culture following sexual misconduct complaints by law students, and hasn’t shied away from criticising the “absent” New Zealand Law Society on the matter.

“This year has really been about standing up for people who have been powerless, young women in particular, but all of the people who have been in my profession and who don’t feel safe at work.

“I dedicate this award to the five young women from Russell McVeagh, and to the people that supported them, because this is for them and about them and everyone like them.

“Their courage is what this is for.”

​Dominion Post editor Eric Janssen said Dyhrberg​ was a standout winner amid a very strong lineup.

“Her voice and actions have already had a huge effect, and will give women and interns the confidence that they will be treated fairly and respectfully at law firms – the way it should have been in the first place.”

Sounds like a deserved award.

On Saturday she tweeted:

She has blocked someone who follows someone she disagrees with. I follow people I sometimes disagree with. And I’m  sure there are people following me who follow people I sometimes disagree with. I don’t check things like that out.

It quickly got complicated.

Her choice who she blocks. Also her choice to publicise the fact that she blocked someone who follows Peterson, it seems to win applause for being some sort of anti-Peterson hero.

Free speech in politics and in an open democratic society is important.

Dhyrberg’s blocking may win a few pats on the back, but it won’t shut Peterson up (it adds to the publicity about his visit).

As of now there have been 309,975 views of this video on Youtube:

A couple of days ago (Feb 12, 2019) a group calling itself the Auckland Peace Action, objecting to my slated arrival in New Zealand in a couple of days ( for my 12 Rules for Life Tour, produced a “press release” claiming that “Jordan Peterson Threatens Everything of Value in Our Society.”

I thought that was a bit of an overstatement and so, apparently, did journalist Sean Plunket of New Zealand’s Magic Talk (, who interviewed the writer/spokesperson for the Auckland Peace Action group, Iris Krzyzosiak . I think it is rather charitable to describe the results as distinctly unhelpful for the Peace Action group.

In this video compilation, I read part of the original press release, then present Sean’s interview with Ms. Kryzosiak, so you can make up your own minds about the opinions of her group, and follow that with an extended interview, with an audience Q and A that I conducted with Sean a day later.


Hope to see you in New Zealand: See for tickets remaining in the New Zealand venues: Wellington and Auckland, as well as Australia, later: Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

It is going to be difficult to avoid seeing stuff about Peterson this week – including for Steph Dhyrberg.

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 –

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