Jordan Peterson is notorious for his desire to annihilate a liberal arts education, wanting to throw out the humanities and social sciences (except psychology, apparently) as tainted by post-modernism. We’re supposed to fire all those bad professors who teach bad ideas, false facts, and unacceptable interpretations of the evidence.
I guess that means we can fire Peterson, then.
This article correctly identifies him as The Professor of Piffle. In addition to his intolerance and failure to understand modern literary criticism, it turns out that he, a professor of psychology, doesn’t understand how the brain works.
To fully grasp the depth of Peterson’s belief in power hierarchies, take his commitment to IQ testing: “If you don’t buy IQ research,” he has told his students, “then you might as well throw away all of psychology.” Peterson rejects the theory of multiple intelligences (emotional intelligence, musical intelligence, and so on) and insists that all of human intelligence is biologically determined, essentially unalterable, and expressed in a single number that can be ranked. Your IQ, he says, will govern where you end up in life: with an IQ of 130, you can be an attorney or an editor; at 115, you can be a nurse or a sales manager; at 100, you can be a receptionist or a police officer; at 90, you can be a janitor.
Peterson’s defence of IQ rests on shaky foundations. While he tells students that IQ was empirically established through Charles Spearman’s factor analysis, he does not share the well-known critique of that method: factor analysis supports both of the contradictory causal explanations of intelligence (intelligence as innate versus intelligence as the product of environmental advantage). Peterson then stacks the deck in favour of biology, citing brain size and neural conduction velocity (essentially, the speed at which an electrical pulse moves through tissue) as the determinants of IQ. Again, he does not tell students that both explanations were discredited by later research.
In the tradition of nineteenth-and early twentieth-century pseudo-scientists, phrenologists, quacks, and scientific racists, Peterson’s commitment to IQ is simply the reflection of his commitment to an unalterable hierarchy of human beings. And this is why his dismissal of “unnatural” and “made up” gender pronouns, alongside his casual sexism—his belief that women would be better served by having babies than careers and that male feminists are “creepy”—turns out to be central to his intellectual project, which seeks to resurrect the conventional patriarchal pecking order. For Peterson, transgender people and powerful women upset the “male dominance hierarchy” that forms the centerpiece of his thought. His world view is predicated on the promise of restoring authority to those who feel disempowered by the globalism, feminism, and social-justice movements he derides.
I have to object to the phrase “stacks the deck in favour of biology”, because no sensible biologist would accept that load of crap as in any way valid. It is not good that “the most famous professor in Canada”, as the article calls him, is promoting bad science.