About Jordan Peterson

What I don’t like about Jordan Peterson is that he can’t coherently deliver even a very good and reasonable argument. He starts speaking, and it’s great, but only up to a point. Then, something clicks and he brusquely veers off into exhibiting his neuroses that have absolutely nothing to do with the point he was trying to make.

To give an example, I saw a clip of him talking about childhood aggression. He started saying that all children are aggressive at the age of 2. By the age of 4, most get socialized out of it (meaning that they learn socially acceptable ways of exhibiting aggression). Those who don’t get socialized out of it by 4, will behave anti-socially until 27-8, which marks the next stage of when they can move out of the anti-socially aggressive behavior. This is all good, useful stuff.

But then, all of a sudden, he switches into a completely irrelevant and, frankly, idiotic point that adult women are more aggressive on social media because they are into reputation destruction, etc. This is, obviously, his way of complaining that women are mean to him online. And a good, useful narrative that he started with and that people really need to hear is lost. It’s such a pity because many people would find it useful to hear about childhood aggression and how normal it is.

This is why everything Peterson says or writes sounds like verbal soup. He simply can’t stay on point. Such a shame because he does have useful things to communicate.

29 thoughts on “About Jordan Peterson

  1. I saw the same video and disagree with you. What Jordan said was that both sexes exhibit aggression but that it was expressed differently by each. Boys, from memory, according to him, were more likely to punch, kick, bite and steal to express aggression before socialisation by age 4, and then if they didn’t learn it by 4, then they don’t learn it until the behaviour self resolves by age 27, which from memory he called a “rage circuit”.

    Following that he mentioned that women express aggression through reputation destruction before talking about toxic feminism, followed by talking about some female interviewer who he had a bad interview with.

    Even though his explanation was a bit overly verbal (which you’d expect in that conversational format anyway) the distinction he was making was pretty clear, which is that boys express aggression by attacking your body or stealing your stuff, while women express aggression by attacking your reputation and stealing your standing in the community.

    Now what I want to know is whether Google has grouped all of our email addresses for logging onto this blog and is sending us the same Youtube recommendations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s exactly the same for girls between 2 and 4. Mine just turned 5, and let me tell you, it was an identical process that he describes for boys.

      It’s not a new insight. I took my courses in early childhood psychology 25 years ago, and we learned all that back then. It’s very basic.

      As for stealing reputations as a way of exhibiting aggression, neither Zuckerberg nor Dorsey are female, and they are world champions in this activity.

      That Peterson himself gets more attacked by women is something he should be discussing with his psychoanalyst, together with his addiction troubles. Which very obviously stem from the same source within his individual psyche.

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      1. “It’s exactly the same for girls between 2 and 4. Mine just turned 5, and let me tell you, it was an identical process that he describes for boys.”

        This is not my area of expertise, though I do find the idea of Jordan making something like that up without being able to back it with science difficult to accept.

        “As for stealing reputations as a way of exhibiting aggression, neither Zuckerberg nor Dorsey are female, and they are world champions in this activity.”

        Sure, but I get the sense that Jordan was talking about expression of aggression in aggregate, not about specific individuals.

        “That Peterson himself gets more attacked by women is something he should be discussing with his psychoanalyst, together with his addiction troubles. Which very obviously stem from the same source within his individual psyche.”

        No. This is my area now. The benzodiazepines are physiologically addictive as well as being psychologically addictive. It is very unfair and wrong to say that a person who is physiologically addicted to a prescribed anti anxiety or anxiolytic medication is guilty of some kind of psychological or character defect because of the inevitable physiological addiction that results from that.

        Accepting that idea is akin to watching someone be strapped to a chair, be injected with an increasing dose of heroin daily for months, having the heroin suddenly withdrawn, and then when they go into convulsions or start scratching their skin off saying that they are psychologically weak people.

        Anyway on a separate topic here, watch this comic with a bullhorn try to be funny about vaccines. Excitement is at the 3 minute mark:

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        1. People who work with a psychoanalyst are neither weak nor defective. It takes enormous strength of character to want to work through your problems instead of guzzling benzos. Anxiety is easily resolved through psychoanalysis with no need for prescription meds. That Peterson chose to go the easy route of seeking meds is absolutely a sign of weakness while getting addicted, of course, isn’t.

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          1. “That Peterson chose to go the easy route of seeking meds is absolutely a sign of weakness …”

            No. Anxiety is often caused by a pathology. Strength of character does not overcome a pathology any more than being stubborn makes AIDS or cancer go away. For example, people who are infected by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic are coming down with anxiety disorders resulting from viral infection around the limbic system. In otehr cases, anxiety disorders may result from physical trauma, as after a traffic accident.

            Also to my understanding Jordan didn’t accept a prescription for whichever benzo he was on in a 10 minute doctors visit, but after prolonged therapy. He didn’t do anything bad or weak, since all he did was accept the professional opinion of his prescriber.

            Please don’t take this badly Clarissa but I think that you may unknowingly hold a bit of prejudice against the man.

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            1. No, i’m actually completely pro what he’s doing and very angry at those who hound him. I have a very soft spot for anybody who stands up against pronoun madness. I’m upset with him because I think he has a crucial message for an important audience but he lacks self-discipline to deliver it like it should be.

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              1. It’s not him, it’s the benzos. Check back with him in another five or ten years? I don’t know how or why he got on them to begin with, and at this point it’s irrelevant. But I’ve seen the wreckage up close: My dad was given benzos as part of a study to see if they were useful for controlling seizures. He was on them for years. Finding a doc who’d help him get off was… difficult. In the end it was like “I’ll tell you how to do it, but if anyone asks I deny everything because I’d lose my license”– that sort of thing. He says the meds took away his ability to stand up for himself and say “no” to people (IMO this is why they like them in institutional settings: compliance!). They nearly obliterated his short-term memory: like, he’d drive up to a stop sign, look to the left, look to the right… and by that time he couldn’t remember if there were any cars coming from the left. He might sit there for five or ten minutes no cars anywhere, waiting to see a car in the distance that he could pull in front of: because he could remember if a car had been there, but he couldn’t remember if a car hadn’t been there. He could read words in text, but he could not read sentences, because once he got to the end of the sentence, he had no recollection of how it began. Paragraphs? Forget it. It sucked all the joy out of life. Nothing seemed real. Like living in a movie that never ends.

                I’ve been tracking Peterson’s progress out of personal interest and sort of comparing notes with Dad. JP’s doing great, IMO. We are cheering for him 🙂 It’s amazing that he was still able to function as much as he did, while on the meds. Our experience is that recovery is a long, slow process, and it’s a lot of work: it doesn’t just happen. Dad’s case was also complicated by a head injury and a second seizure medication. But a lot of the problems gradually resolved after getting off the meds, so… we are inclined to think that by that time it was the meds more than the injury. Hasn’t had a seizure in decades.

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              2. Clarissa, the man was close to death in the past 12 months or so and suffered COVID as well. In the video that we’re talking about, which is only days old, take a close look at how he looks. In particular, look at the colour and suppleness of his cheeks. It isn’t fair to be so demanding of a man who is still recuperating.

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              3. I tried reading his first book. It had the same problem. Starts a paragraph well but then crashes into incoherence by the end.

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              4. I’m a fan of Peterson’s, but he’s gone as a figure of relevance. There are people who can get problems with side effects of a prescribed drug rand remain credible as public intellectuals, but it gets a lot harder if their major area of expertise, real or professed, is precisely about navigating modern bio-psycho difficulties well. For him to be in the state he is now, under his own standards, he has to be horrifically wrong or simply weak. You can judge him valuable for your own reasons, of course, but part of him being a figure of relevance was that you could safely use his standards to evaluate the world. That is gone.

                And anyway, the bit about women going for reputational damage as opposed to physical is definitely part of his long-term beliefs rather than some bizarre benzo blurt. From where he stands, every social phenomenon has a relatively close proximity biopsychological cause. The social and political are not merely ‘ultimately’ caused by our features as evolved biological creatures, the link is tight and immediate. The fact that you’re disgusted by dirty living conditions has immediate and overwhelming influence over your political orientation, and so on.

                Similarly, for him, modern leftism is roughly maternal instinct gone awry – the weak babies need to be protected, now, at any cost, and those who threaten them destroyed. This can manifest in males and females both, but is both most clearly present and most prevalent in females. And so, to understand modern leftism, you need to understand the multitude of ways in which this maternal instinct manifests, one of which is typical forms of female aggression.

                That line of thought can be wrong, even embarrassingly so, but it’s been his long before he became a public figure, nevermind getting hooked on benzos.

                (Myself, I part ways in that I think that the social is loosely rather than tightly coupled with the biological – human recorded history is too short a time for significant biological change to register, but is nevertheless home to a dizzying variety of forms of social organization. Still typically more interesting to listen to people that hold to a strong rather than a weak version of an argument, though.)

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              5. I’m with DWeird on this. A psychologist who has an addiction to benzos is like an English teacher who doesn’t know the difference between there and their. It’s basic professional incompetence.

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              6. @ DWeird: “I’m a fan of Peterson’s, but he’s gone as a figure of relevance. There are people who can get problems with side effects of a prescribed drug rand remain credible as public intellectuals, but it gets a lot harder if their major area of expertise, real or professed, is precisely about navigating modern bio-psycho difficulties well.”

                I think that he will always be relevant to people who already like him and the people who come across his material as they need it (since some of what he says is very useful to a lot of people), but his hospitalisation for anything to do with a drug will undermine him for life because it exposes him to ad hominic attack.

                “And anyway, the bit about women going for reputational damage as opposed to physical is definitely part of his long-term beliefs rather than some bizarre benzo blurt.”

                Yes I have seen him repackage core aspects of evolutionary psychology when talking to someone several times across his various interviews. His interpretation seemed a little superficial to me sometimes but it isn’t my area of expertise.

                “Similarly, for him, modern leftism is roughly maternal instinct gone awry – the weak babies need to be protected, now, at any cost, and those who threaten them destroyed. This can manifest in males and females both, but is both most clearly present and most prevalent in females. And so, to understand modern leftism, you need to understand the multitude of ways in which this maternal instinct manifests, one of which is typical forms of female aggression.”

                May I ask where you found him saying anything like that so that I can view it? It sounds interesting, even if I am immediately repelled by the argument since I think that American leftism among the leadership is based in psychopathy.

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              7. @Just George: It’s not just an issue of his recovery from addiction exposing him to ad hominem attacks. I already like him, there was a time where I thoroughly listened to every thing he said, and it deeply resonated with me. However, he’s not part of a group of people who think that ideas, ethics and behaviour are easily decoupled. For him, the value of a belief system is about the long-term outcomes for its adherents (and the people around them). What he offers is not a “point of view” in the liberal sense, where you freely share information from your perspective and are hopeful but not particularly invested on whether it’s useful to the people you’re talking to. His offering is a way of life, a set of insights and dictums that are supposed to directly and within a reasonable timeframe help you and the people around you flourish. The clear fact that he’s not flourishing now isn’t an external, easily weaponizable dig at his system of thought, it’s an internal problem.

                I think I may have overstated how important the “maternal instinct” theory is to him, and it may be more on the exploratory rather than developed and confidently asserted side of thought for him – anything I can easily find is on the “postmodernism + Marxism are corrupting western thought” side of things, which I’m sure you’re already familiar with. If I happen upon whichever one of his pieces that mentioned this idea again, I’ll be sure to link you.

                That said, I mostly just wanted to say that there isn’t really a point in protecting his ideas due to his currently reduced state – he had most of his ideas when he was fully capable and none of them have changed very much since.

                Unlike Clarissa, I haven’t really found him difficult to follow or even particularly scattered – he likes his tangents, sure, but like rain in a valley, it all goes, rather repetitively, into the same topics he’s interested in. If there’s a disagreement, it’s probably about what the world is actually like rather than about Peterson merely expressing himself poorly.

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              8. @DWeird: “The clear fact that he’s not flourishing now isn’t an external, easily weaponizable dig at his system of thought, it’s an internal problem.”

                It could be an external problem though, because Jordan is a public figure who has endured literally years of hideous treatment from many people across the board who disagreed with him in some way.

                It may well be, for instance, that whoever prescribed those benzodiazepines to him misdiagnosed vexation or burnout for anxiety, which meant that he was taking drugs instead of taking a break from the environment that promoted the use of that exact kind of drug.

                “That said, I mostly just wanted to say that there isn’t really a point in protecting his ideas due to his currently reduced state – he had most of his ideas when he was fully capable and none of them have changed very much since.”

                May I ask – and this doesn’t sound nice in text at all, so please do not misinterpret an honest well intentioned question – why would anyone protect ideas that ought to be tested, and further, why would the ideas of a person in a reduced state be valued any less than when the person was hale, apart from, obviously, in the case where a flawed idea lead directly to a worsening of health?

                Unlike Clarissa, I haven’t really found him difficult to follow or even particularly scattered – he likes his tangents, sure, but like rain in a valley, it all goes, rather repetitively, into the same topics he’s interested in. If there’s a disagreement, it’s probably about what the world is actually like rather than about Peterson merely expressing himself poorly.”

                I think so as well.

                Liked by 1 person

  2. // Those who don’t get socialized out of it by 4, will behave anti-socially until 27-8, which marks the next stage of when they can move out of the anti-socially aggressive behavior.

    Is it 7-8 years old or 27-28 years old? A typo?

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    1. 27-28, not a typo. If you ever need tips on how to socialize a child out of early aggression between 2 and 4, I’m always here to help. It’s actually quite easy. Also, if your child has sensory issues, I can help with that. The trick is to start early.

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        1. Which one? Sensory issues? As a lifelong sufferer of sensory issues, I do have insight. Klara clearly inherited them from my side of the family but by this age we have them firmly under control.

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          1. I would love to see a post on this, actually. I’ve always had sensory issues, and one of my kids seems to have inherited that nasty bucket of worms from me, though not as bad. I appreciate anybody’s insight on it.

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            1. I’d like to read about sensory issues as well. I have 12 year old who is “drowning.” And I read this post with interest because I didn’t know what benzodiazepines did and I wanted to make sure I never put him on them. I have many people insisting I medicate and I refuse to do so. We use holistic and homeopathic treatments instead. But since this doesn’t work well in the traditional school environment, I am fighting a losing battle with the administrators. It’s all very difficult. And I feel like we have tried most everything the traditional medical establishment recommended BEFORE the holistic/homeopathic approach.

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  3. “it was an identical process that he describes for boys.”

    Without watching the video… I think maybe he was referring to the idea that after 4 girls that didn’t learn how to deal with aggression are more likely to channel that into the verbal sphere for a variety of reasons.
    Since girls, on average, don’t have the same kind of muscle strength as boys (especially after puberty) they have fewer potential targets for physical aggression but verbal aggression doesn’t depend on physical strength and it’s not hard for a physically unimposing person to demolish a much bigger and stronger opponent verbally.

    Usually physical violence is aimed at smaller, weaker victims – the same way that most female serial killers target children or the sick or those who are elderly and physically frail (angels of death).
    Physically frailer males might also channel aggression verbally rather than physically.

    I agree that Peterson’s delivery is often kind of scattershot (unless he’s held tightly on subject). His recorded university lectures (I listened to some several years ago) were also pretty free form depending on what students react to (and what questions they come up with).

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  4. Please don’t take this badly Clarissa but I think that you may unknowingly hold a bit of prejudice against the man.
    Can’t speak for Clarissa, but my prejudice is knowing and not a little bit, lol. I saw the apple cider video and a couple of other clips.

    He’s the type of person you smile and nod at and back away from while slowly finding the exits.

    I would not trust this twitchy weirdo or his odd daughter to tell me anything about the human psyche or physiology. This is separate from any ideological disagreements, since I’ve seen videos of people I vehemently disagree with but seem to be in their right minds.

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    1. “He’s the type of person you smile and nod at and back away from while slowly finding the exits.”

      Really? I think that he would be quite nice to talk to. He seems harmless overall and seems the sort who would respond well to genuine interest.

      Then again, I know a lot of politicians, so the standard of polite company that I am willing to accept is fairly low 🙂

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      1. This is pretty much my take on him. He seems like a genuinely decent person, intelligent, and probably would be fun to talk to, even though I don’t agree with all he says (and really, what fun would that be?). But then, I had a lot of chatty older relatives with whom I spent a lot of time as a kid, and I miss them. They had the best stories.

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  5. ” under his own standards, he has to be horrifically wrong or simply weak”

    I have the idea (no proof because I hadn’t thought about it) that he’s being pushed back into doing public appearances by managers when he clearly still needs to be healing….

    I have no interest whatsoever in anything his daughter says or does….

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