I’ve made two videos about Jordan Peterson now: in the first, I addressed the basic errors in biology he made in a television interview, and in the second I drilled down into the bad biology in the first chapter of his book, where he would have presumably been more rigorous in his treatment (he wasn’t). The results have been interesting. Note that what I was doing was cutting through the fog of obfuscation he throws up around one simple point, and was actively avoiding any temptation to deal with extraneous issues, like social justice, or mere feminism, or his confusion about whether behaviors are culturally or biologically determined.
It sort of didn’t work.
The comments have been weird. A fair number of his fans are willing to admit that I popped Peterson’s balloon on that one point — he really is making illogical arguments, and you can’t simply announce what ideal human behavior is from the behavior of lobsters, and Peterson is just wallowing in the naturalistic fallacy — but they don’t care. They just move on to something I didn’t address here and announce that he’s still right.
Peterson can be confusing to listen to. I think he makes some excellent points…. but we gotta give PZ the nod with respect to evolutionary biology.
This video has confirmed that we need to be careful when listening to Jordan Peterson. Some of what he says…particularly with respect to religion….seems purposefully obscurantist and unnecessarily confusing.
I’m right there with him on the “pronouns” issue though. There is only XY and XX. Anything else is pretense. (notwithstanding the 1% of people born intersex)
I wonder if this person has even seen his karyotype? Probably not. Very few people have. But the thing is that I did not address Peterson’s gender misconceptions in either of these videos, so why fall back on something that I’d have to make another video to address?
And then there is this sentiment:
Even if ALL of Peterson’s scientific references are incorrect, his greater messages are more important, and that’s why his book is waking the globe.
These are young men who mostly identify as skeptics and atheists and hard-bitten realists (although I don’t know about this specific individual), and look what they’ve sunk to. That’s pure faith-based acceptance of a conclusion while seeing the evidence for it debunked. It’s sad to see. This is where organized skepticism has led us — to a tool you can use as a blunt instrument, without comprehension, to shout down science while waving science as a banner.
Some don’t even bother with argument.
And the thing is … Peterson makes a strong and persuasive case against the SWJ woo that you appear to promote.
PZ, you are a clown. The only reason anybody takes you seriously is that because those who do are brainwashed social justice warriors who will support anybody, no matter what they say, who loudly spouts their rhetoric. Take the SJWs away, and you would just be the laughing stock of everybody.
Nothing in those videos was “SWJ woo” — it was straightforward, basic biology and science. I focused on the narrow point at hand. It doesn’t matter. Any criticism of Peterson will be dealt with by huddling with the ideological tribe and cursing those damned sssjooooos.
If I were to do it again — I do not plan to do it again — I wouldn’t be so restrained. I’d point out that his book is terribly written, relying on a fog of flowery prose and long digressions into irrelevant issues to conceal his central conceits. If he embeds his message in a cloud of noise, you can still see it as a negative space, his readers can imbed it in their brains, but he never has to expose himself to the risk of a direct statement…and when you do catch him saying something specific, he can trust his fans to defend him by saying, “Hist, poltroon, look over there in the mist, a vague outline of something that refutes what Jordan said, therefore he didn’t really say what you caught him saying!” But wink, wink, nudge, nudge, they know exactly what he’s saying, his “greater messages” that are “waking the globe”.
I’ve written about his inanity on gender issues, but you can read far more from Siobhan. His fans sound even worse, but that’s only because they don’t have the political sense to conceal their views behind a cloud of evasion and verbiage.
I recommend this video by Peter Coffin. He takes the opposite approach from what I did — instead of taking a microscope to one narrow point and stabbing it with a micropipette, he steps way back to look at the big picture and expose Peterson’s general strategies. It’s good.
Obviously, the comments are predictable, claiming that he’s strawmanning and taking Peterson out of context. That’s what happens when you try to argue rationally with people who have abandoned all reliance on reason.