Oh, the pain: I sort of listened to this new interview of Jordan Peterson by Helen Lewis. I skipped around a bit, because there is only so much Peterson I can stomach, but I saw enough to get the gist.
He talks about lobsters at around 40 minutes. He hasn’t learned a thing. He’s still babbling about how lobster hierarchies refute the idea that much of human behavior, including hierarchies, can be socially constructed. That there is so much variation in animal behavior says that you can’t accept a single fundamental principle regulating behavior; that we use serotonin in our brains just means that there is an ancient signaling pathway that has been liberally repurposed by evolution multiple times.
He also uses his strawman argument that those damn social constructionists believe humans are infinitely malleable. I don’t believe that, but I also believe Peterson is full of shit.
He talks about gender roles, too, and how girls ought to be raised to look forward to making babies, and boys ought to be raised to have careers. Lewis mentions the obvious problem there: careers are the only thing you get paid for under capitalism. Peterson laughs condescendingly about an hour in.
How can you say something like that? It’s so cliched.
It’s not capitalism, for god’s sake. You have to invest into a child for 18 years before they have any economic utility. t’s a consequence of delayed economic utility. We don’t know to monetize it. It’s not a consequence of capitalism! It’s a consequence of the fact that humans have an 18 year dependency. How do you monetize that?
It’s not capitalism, he sneers, and then his defense of that claim is entirely about the “economic utility” of children and how difficult it is to monetize kids. That’s about the most capitalistic argument ever: he’s only able to see the world through the lens of capitalism. It was kind of amazing how little he’s able to examine his own premises.
Then, shortly after that he goes full-blown psychopath. He sees other people with different views as not fully human — as robots or NPCs who’ve been narrowly programmed by their ideology. It’s creepy how he dismisses Lewis.
I’m not hearing what you think. I’m hearing how you are able to represent the ideology you were taught. And it’s not that interesting because I don’t know anything about you. I can replace you with someone else who thinks the same way, and that means you’re not here. That’s what it means. It’s not pleasant. You’re not integrating the specifics of your personal experience with what you’ve been taught, to synthesize something that’s genuine and surprising and engaging in a narrative sense as a consequence. That’s the pathology of ideological possession. It’s not good. And it’s not good that I know where you stand on things once I know a few things. It’s like, why have a conversation? I already know where you stand on things.
You know, I could say the same thing about Peterson fans: they’re ideologically obsessed and extraordinarily predictable. I’d say the same thing about Peterson himself — he’s a thoughtless ideologue.
He also says that climate change is probably happening, and that he’s got no opinion on it, but then he goes on to say he read 200 books on ecology and that climate change has been hyped, and that he really admires that fraud, Bjorn Lomborg.
The conversation turns to Count Dankula, that loon who trained a pug to give a Nazi salute. Peterson thinks that’s fine, because it was just a joke (oh, god, the “just a joke” excuse is so tiresome). Lewis disagrees.
I don’t fundamentally believe that it was a joke. I believe it was camouflaged as a joke, and it comes across as…
Peterson:Well, that’s exactly what you would believe if you were inclined to persecute comedians.
OK, I was done at that point. What a dishonest sleaze. Fuck him.
Why are people still interviewing that loon?