The Peterson Challenge

I am a little late to talk about Jordan Peterson, but he does not seem like he is going anywhere and his popularity is growing.  I have been analyzing him for months now, and he most definitely poses a challenge to liberals.  Here are just a few thoughts I have.

On Liking Jordan Peterson

If you like Jordan Peterson, then this means that you are more concerned about “getting ahead” than “getting along”.  This is my conclusion after listening to him for about a year now.  Since he is a religious conservative, can we conclude that he is not friendly to the interests of minorities, the poor, and the LBGTQA+ community?  I do not think that he denies that gender differences exist nor that  LBGTQA+’s interests have been unfairly represented if at all in our culture**, but he believes that we should not subvert categorization.  He talks about how there is variation in personalities and temperaments within sexes.  For example, a female can vary in her masculinity-femininity to the point of appearing “masculine”.  But this is the exception and not the rule, so we should not be too concerned about this.  In other words, we have no need to recategorize or cater to their interests.

On the other hand, if we are more concerned about competing and being successful, then Peterson does have some good advice. He believes that we need to be articulate to fight this “war”, which is what life is to him.  Being articulate is our weapon and means for becoming formidable.  If we are not strong, then we are weak.  And who wants to be weak. It is hard to argue with these types of arguments if we are concerned about striving and status.  He does seem to be a genuinely compassionate*** person.  Most people within the field of clinical psychology are.  Despite how knowledgeable he is on religious matters and his ability to relate biblical truths to our everyday struggles, he is nevertheless mistaken on the big issues.  I am curious what take others have on Peterson.

I know many on ftb have written about him, but I haven’t had the chance to read them.  I will do some searching and get updated.

What Does Peterson Challenge?

There are a few challenges that he poses. If we are interested in status striving, like being successful in this world, then his advice is not that bad. So one challenge would be to like him enough to listen to his advice.  Another challenge is that he legitimizes the conservative worldview.  People believe that he, like a typical pundit, is uncovering the veneer that hides the truth.  There are also a lot of people that don’t like the “woke*” culture, and he offers an alternative.  These are not his only appeal though.  A lot of people strive to achieve a certain status in life and have been blocked, for whatever reasons.  Peterson whacks them over the head with a sense of urgency that speaks to them.  Hey, “you have to be tough in this world and that means being a realist, formidable, dogged, and smart.”  In other words, self-interested.  Many will be persuaded by this kind of talk, liberals and conservatives because it appeals to the “tough guy/gal/them” in all of us.  We all have this side in us because we all need to compete and survive.

The core of liberalism, however, is about empathy or putting oneself in the shoes of another.  Everything Peterson is about is the exact opposite.  Of course, he will claim that empathy is still utilized in his teachings, but he calls this “tough love”.  We are preparing our children to be “warriors” not “snowflakes”, and we won’t let people take advantage of us.  Take a look at what “formidable” means.  If we break it down, it boils down to intimidating others.  This implies that we must be “better” than others.  We no longer intimidate people by our physical strength but by our capabilities and accomplishments, i.e., our status and prestige.  To me, this is a realist approach that works well for our capitalistic and overly competitive society, but it is only reinforcing a culture of self-interest.

If everyone believes and practices this stuff, then this only increases competition and ups the ante.  Think it through.  There will be inevitable losers to the game.  A person-to-person face-off, which is what he is acknowledging and promoting, cannot have two winners.  Either one defers and submits to the other with inferiority or dominates with superiority.  Where is the empathy and assistance to these people?  Put aside his refusal to help or acknowledge the oppressed with any empathy, my personal opinion is that his approach is too aggressive and his references to the Bible annoy me.  But that is exactly why most people like him.

* This of course is a dysphemism for having a heightened concern about others that most had little concern for in the past.

** I am not one-hundred percent positive on this one.

*** Is his compassion feigned or real is anyone’s guess.  But his compassion is exclusive to those “hardworking” folks that are trying to compete in this world.


  • a year’s worth of listening to him on Facebook and Instagram.


  1. sonofrojblake says

    I am a little late to talk about Jordan Peterson,

    I’d say about four to five years.

    he does not seem like he is going anywhere

    Apart from Russia, Serbia and an intensive care unit.

    his popularity is growing

    This has a pretty bold-type “citation needed” over it. I’d say his popularity began in 2016, peaked about 2018 around the time Cathy Newman made an absolute fool of herself trying and failing to catch him out in a TV interview, and fell off a cliff a couple of years later when we all had more important things to worry about. He’s got nowhere near his previous profile, unless I’m unwittingly in a cave.

    he most definitely poses a challenge to liberals

    He does. A challenge relatively few seem equipped to address. I like him because he makes me feel uncomfortable, because I have a gut feeling he’s wrong on big issues, but his positions are often not amenable to the usual SJW knee-jerk dismissals – see the disastrous Newman interview for someone woefully unprepared to deal with someone who had actually thought hard about their position, rather than their usual fodder of politicians simply regurgitating prepared soundbites. Newman was clearly completely out of her depth. Note that I don’t think this make Peterson right, it just makes Newman and her bosses look bad for not preparing better. I don’t blame Newman per se, I blame whoever put her in a room with Peterson. They might as well have put in a ring with Conor McGregor, although it’s possible that if they’d tried she wouldn’t have been arrogant or clueless enough to think she was ready for that.

    • musing says

      I like the aside from an “ICU”.

      Yes, I have heard about his troubles with addiction and know a little history about him. I have no objective way though to measure his popularity other than noticing he has come out with new material and that he still seems to be talked about a lot.

      As far as taking his advice, if we want to be formidable, then his advice is not bad. But as I discuss, this kind of doesn’t leave a lot of room for the purpose of liberalism. I will definitely have to watch that interview though.

      • sonofrojblake says

        I will definitely have to watch that interview though.

        Can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s right up there with Prince Andrew’s interview with Emily Maitlis, except in that situation it was the interviewee, rather than the interviewer, who was irritatingly self-satisfied, massively overconfident, woefully clueless and underprepared, and bafflingly thought it had gone well after it was over.

        As for objective ways to measure his popularity – four or five years back he filled my youtube feed appearing in things like the Munk Debate, address the Oxford Union, was interviewed on major TV and radio channels and was top of the bestseller list. Today… lately most of the news stories concerning him seem to be about the fact that one of the characters in “Don’t Worry Darling” – a sinister cult leader (no spoilers) – is based on him. He’s yesterday’s news… or is that just my wishful thinking? To me he just seems so four years ago, a bit like Donald Trump.

  2. says

    Dude first came to prominence lying about what Canadian law has to say about pronoun usage. More recently, dude has literally argued that it’s totes natural for human beings to behave like lobsters, cuz Serotonin. Dude is at best not worth paying attention to on account of unreliability, at worst a card-carrying member of the so-called Intellectual Dark Web.

    • musing says

      I heard something about the lobster debacle, but I do not know exactly what he said. Lobsters’ dominance/submission hierarchies have been well studied and when they experience a “win” in life, then their serotonin goes up. Humans, on the other hand, experience an increase in dopamine over a “win”. But it is well known that dominant human individuals have higher serotonin and more dense receptor sites for them. Supposedly, this translates to calm, cool, and collective.

  3. StevoR says

    Wait, what is the actual challenge here?

    JP is a douchebag who became famous for beimg a jerk and attacking trans people for being themsleves. He gained his non-martydom & fame for boasting how he’d be a douche to thm. Also boasted about how he thinks violence beats thought and Feminism and how he’d bash up wome if he was allowed to bash up women & thinks its unfair that men can’t bash up women even though many men do bash up women..

    Since he is a religious conservative, can we conclude that he is not friendly to the interests of minorities, the poor, and the LBGTQA+ community?

    To quote Obama : Yes we can.

    I am curious what take others have on Peterson.

    To be blunt, he’s an evil, bigoted pile of excrement in human form that I’d scape off my metaphorical shoe if I metaphorically stepped in him and his vomitings have no value & are best avoided like a rotting pile of puked out meat.

    Sorry, if a bit too subtle & understated here!

    • musing says

      Wait, what is the actual challenge here?

      You are right. I was not explicit about this, so I will insert this into the main post. I guess I wanted people to infer it?

      “Yes, we can.’ Obama

      I agree with you on this one. As far as your opinion about him, mine is not quite that vivid. I will post this above too.

  4. says

    Two of the biggest problems with Peterson’s shtick (IMHO) are: a) his advice is nothing but old standard “always gotta be strong and dominant” rhetoric with almost nothing new or unusually helpful added; and b) he doesn’t seem to understand (or admit) that there’s different kinds of “strength” and “superiority,” all of which have their places in a complete and fully-functioning society, along with most forms of what he probably calls “weakness” or “submission.” (Pop quiz: which is “stronger,” the dedicated public-school teacher who works all hours and even spends some of her (insultingly low) salary to get her students the best possible education she can provide, or the gun-toting macho-man calling her a “groomer” and threatening to kill her?) Basically he’s not really offering any new insights, with any intent to help anyone to deal with any particular set of problems; he’s just repeating what he knows people have already been long conditioned to expect.

    Of course, a truly tough, dominant or superior person COULD show compassion toward “the weak;” but JP’s simpleminded rhetoric kind of discourages that, by insisting that EVERYONE has to be “tough” and “competitive” and “losers” don’t deserve any breaks or handouts.

  5. friedfish2718 says

    Seeing no actual JB Peterson quotes in this essay, I doubt the author has read or listened to JB Peterson. There are citations from people who opined about JB Peterson but no citations of JB Peterson himself.
    The books and lectures of JB Peterson cover a very wide array of subjects and the author demonstrates a deep and fundamental misunderstanding of JB Peterson’s philosophy.
    I will cover a topic covered by JB Peterson: play.
    Play. JB Peterson advocates the necessity of play as an essential process of socialization. He advocates parent-child play, child-child play, adult-adult play. Through play children learn about rules, sportsmanship, and fairness. Socialization through play brings about not only sportsmanship but also chivalry by allowing others to win. JB Peterson cited several times studies involving rats and play. The large rat allows the smaller rats to win 1 out of 4 wrestling matches, even when it is obvious the large rat can win 100% of the matches. Who does the invitation to play? Answer: the smaller rats, not the large rat. The large rat CANNOT intimidate the smaller rats to invite him to play. All rats feel the urge and need to socialize. Humans are no different. Humans, strong and weak, hunger for socialization which is often developed by play.
    Evidently the author is ignorant about JB Peterson’s work on play. The author claims that Peterson’s advice “boils down to intimidating others”. The author is just being prejudicial.
    According to the dictionary, FORMIDABLE = inspiring fear or respect through being impressively large, powerful, intense, or capable. Fear (aka intimidation) versus Respect. Fear is not Respect. Fear is a reaction; respect is a decision. Going back to the subject of play, no one gets invited to play through intimidation. Peterson definitely advocates people to strive to be capable, competent, and (IMPORTANTLY) playful. Formidable and playful inspires much more respect than fear. Fear and Respect are functions of the beholder more than of said formidable person.
    According to the dictionary, RESPECT = a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. Respect opens one to improve oneself, to educate oneself. Fear closes one to improvement and education. Leftism encourages fear, not respect. Leftism encourages J.E.A.R. (Jealousy, Envy, Anger, Resentment). The Left fears the competent. The Left resents the competent.
    The author confuses JB Peterson with Andrew Tate who stated that the main goal of the alpha male is status.

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