Jordan B. Peterson (JBP), a professor at the University of Toronto, became world famous after his free speech protest against Bill C-16 that allegedly forced public servants to use people’s preferred pronouns or face a steep fine and possible jail time. Since then, he has become a respected “public intellectual” and a best-selling author twice over for his academic magnum opus Maps of Meaning and his self-help book 12 Rules for Life, telling young men the world over to “clean [their rooms]” before trying to save the world.
But JBP is dangerously incompetent at best or an unscrupulous hack at worst. Here are 12 reasons (with references) why no one should ever listen to Jordan B. Peterson ever again:
- Let’s start with the event that made him famous: his protest against Bill C-16 – a bill that proposed to add gender identity and orientation to what is colloquially referred to as “protected classes” in the Canadian Human Rights act.“If they fine me, I won’t pay it. If they put me in jail, I’ll go on a hunger strike. I’m not doing this. And that’s that. I’m not using the words that other people require me to use. Especially if they’re made up by radical left-wing ideologues.”
JBP characterized the law as forced speech and formulated his protests as a fight for freedom of expression and against forceful suppression and control of speech.
But the amendment to the law meant that it would become illegal to deny someone a job or a house or discriminate against them in the workplace on the basis of the gender they outwardly express or identify with, just as it is illegal to do so on the basis of religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation etc.. It did also amend the Criminal Code, but that only pertains to hate motivated crimes and hate-speech, not misidentifying someone as JBP was prone to claim (1). To be crystal clear, Canadians cannot be jailed or fined for using the wrong gender pronouns. Since it passed over two years ago, exactly zero people have been jailed or fined because of the law amendment.
JBP’s horrible misrepresentation of Bill C-16 notably contributed to hate and antagonism against (and confusion about) trans- and non-binary people.
I could write this entire article about this point alone, because he’s said a lot more crazy shit about Bill C-16, but suffice it to say that JBP has either not bothered to read the amendment, severely misunderstood its legal implications and/or was intentionally misrepresenting its contents. His reckless and dangerous incompetence (or unscrupulousness) should disqualify him from public discourse alone.
But wait, there’s more!
- If you have paid any attention to JBP, you might have heard him talk about the dangers of “postmodern neo-Marxism”. Not only is he unable to clearly define what he means with this, but as many have pointed out, it’s an inherently self-contradictory term. A huge part of postmodernism was and is critical of the kind of grand-narratives that Marxist theory – with its claim that class struggle and economic inequality shape history – is about (2).It is also dangerously close to the nazi dog-whistle “cultural marxism” that was popularised by Anders Behring Breivik, which itself is a rehash of the literal nazi dog-whistle “kulturbolshewismus” (Cultural Bolshevism) used by the literal fucking nazis in nazi-fucking-Germany (3). Again, he is either incompetent as fuck or uncaring about the implications of his words.
- Although JBP will happily rant away about the evils of postmodernism at any opportunity, he does not understand it at all and severely misrepresents what the most influential postmodernists (Foucault, Derrida, etc) actually thought, meant and wrote (4). This is somewhat ironic considering that his own philosophy can be argued to be postmodern in nature (5).
- Although JBP will happily rant away about the evils of Marxism at any opportunity, he does not understand it at all and severely misrepresents Marxist theory. Which is to be expected from someone who is on record admitting to never having read any Marxist theory ever.
- In a debate against Marxist philosopher, Slavoj Žižek, he only read the Communist Manifesto in preparation (6), which is little more than a call-to-action pamphlet and contains no actual theory. In his 30 minutes opening remark, he laid out problems he claimed to have found in this Communist “Pamphlet” and allegedly thus in Marxism, which is akin to debating a PHD-level subject after only having read the course descriptions of university classes on the issue without ever having attended any of them.
- In his Magnum Opus, Maps of Meaning, a bunch of his own sources directly contradicts the very claims he uses them to make. He also deliberately or unwittingly ignores the historical context of several the examples he uses to argue for his universal archetypes, a context that directly undercuts the point he is trying to make (7).
- In a VICE interview, while discussing women in the workplace, JBP equates wearing makeup (for women) with sexual provocativeness and sexual displays (8), claiming (amongst other things) that the reason women wear red lipstick is because the lips turn red during sexual arousal. While there is certainly a solid anthropological argument here for the cultural origins of makeup, this is insanely reductionistic and is completely removed from the contemporary context, where it is culturally expected of women to wear at least some amount of makeup in public. Women even put on makeup in all-female prisons, and there are reported cases of female inmates exchanging sexual favours for beauty products, the reverse of wearing makeup to get laid.
- In the same interview, he expresses doubt about whether men and women can coexist in the workplace at all.
- JBP is sometimes derogatorily nicknamed the Lobster King, because in his writing he sometimes uses the natural hierarchy emergent in lobsters to argue in favour of hierarchies in humans. In his infamous interview with Cathy Newman (9), he explains “there is this idea that hierarchical structures are a sociological construct of the Western Patriarchy – and that is so untrue that it’s almost unbelievable – and I use the lobster as an example. Because we devolved from lobsters in evolutionary history about 350 million years ago (common ancestor), and lobsters exist in hierarchies and have a nervous system attuned to hierarchies, [a nervous system that is very similar to ours]. And it’s part of my attempt to demonstrate that the idea of hierarchy has absolutely nothing to do with socio-cultural construction.”This is such a massive strawman that it is (almost) funny. No serious academic, politician or intellectual has ever claimed that all hierarchies are socio-cultural constructions. What feminists, SJWs, and even anarchists are railing against aren’t all hierarchies ever, but unjust hierarchies, specifically hierarchies based on race, gender, economics, etc.. As YouTuber ContraPoints points (heh) out in her video on JBP, you can use his argument, “the same way he uses it, to justify literally any hierarchy or authority, no matter how unjust.”
- JBP’s is almost impossible to pin down on any political subject. For all the criticism Cathy Newman got for misrepresenting JBP’s beliefs and for putting words in his mouth, I do feel sympathy with her. Because her interview is a nice case study for JBP’s particular style of intellectually dishonest rhetoric: he will often say something that is uncontroversial and true, while also implying something controversial. But when confronted on this he will retreat or attack you for misrepresenting him. For example, some people might feel I misrepresent his thoughts on women in the workplace from reason 8, because he never explicitly says that women and men cannot work together. But that is what he heavily seems to imply: “we don’t know the rules [for working together]”, “[the relationships between men and women] are deteriorating rapidly”, “we don’t know if men and women can work together successfully in the workplace”.He frequently, heavily seems to imply horrendous shit, and he is either dog-whistling as fuck or to much of a coward to say what he honestly believes.
- JBP uses his platform to actively laud and promote his daughter’s ludicrous all-meat (yes, all-meat and only meat) diet as having cured his depression and her depression and arthritis. This claim that has no scientific basis whatsoever¸ and there is plenty of research that shows that this can lead to severe vitamin deficiencies, such as scurvy. This is not just insanely irresponsible, but very dangerous to boot.I mean, I am glad they feel better-and-all, but keep that shit away from your humongous and very influential public platform, for fuck’s sake!
- There is a YouTube channel called PragerU, an American far-right propaganda channel that lies about and misrepresents everything from feminism, to economics to racial tensions. It has videos with literal white-fucking-nationalists, and I generally use the channel and their guest hosts to know who is not worth listening to.JBP has no less than two videos on this channel. In one of them, he calls universities propaganda tools that “indoctrinate your children” into dangerous “far-left” ideologies, and that you should let your children go there. Which is ironic, because he himself is a university professor.
And with that, I thank you for your attention. I could have gone on even longer, but this has been 12 reasons for why no one should ever listen to JBP ever again.
Written by Emil Olai
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSuEccEYvaE&t=2s (“Defending Postmodernism: An Open Letter to Jordan B. Peterson”)
Same as above, timestamp 47:13.