Jordan Peterson and friends


Oh, shut up, Jordan Peterson. He was at this ghastly Turning Point USA conference last week, and he gets to meet Charlie Kirk, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Donald Trump Jr, so he takes the opportunity to lecture them about the wicked left. It’s a bizarre one-sided conversation in which he Petersonsplains to them about the nature of the Left, the Left, the Left, laying all blame on them, and never bothers to consider the oppressive nature of the Right. Bonus: continuous weird hand gestures throughout. Double bonus: Charlie, Kimberly, and Junior look excruciatingly bored throughout. What? You want us to have a serious discussion?

His basic point is that the Left is just as uptight about sex as the Right, so maybe that is a productive avenue for a meeting of the minds. But he doesn’t seem to recognize the differences, that the Right wants to control who you have sex with, and how you do it, while the Left doesn’t care about what individuals do in the privacy of their own home, but are very concerned about individual freedom and autonomy, and that consent is paramount.

The radical leftist types, their basic claim is that anything goes. But at the same time they’re putting forward these affirmative consent regulations and laws in many states, and they’re insisting that we live in the middle of a rape culture and they’re acting as if sex is a very volatile and dangerous enterprise, which actually happens to be the case. And so there’s…even though this issue is extraordinarily tense, partly because people on the left, I would say, would like to let a thousand flowers bloom, let’s say, there is an accruing agreement that there is some deep discussion that has to be had about sexual morality.

There isn’t a middle ground there. What is the compromise? Peterson doesn’t have a clue. He just says They’re upset on the left, they’re upset on the right, therefore they’re comparable, without noticing that they’re upset about radically different things: the Right is upset that they can’t control sexual behaviors, and the Left is upset that some people (including some on the left) still want to control sexual behaviors, and especially control women. That’s the key difference. There is no compromise to be made, no discussion to be had.

His explanation is that it’s all about birth control.

We haven’t adapted to the birth control pill yet. You know it was a major technological revolution, the birth control pill. It’s only been fifty years, and we haven’t figured out what it means for women to have control over the reproductive function and what the consequences of that should be socially. The leftist types, especially in the Sixties, thought you could just blow sexual morality up completely, because now people were free to do what they want but that isn’t working. There’s a backlash against that, on the left, as well, so it would be fun and necessary to think…fun, it would be engaging and necessary to think that through, ’cause maybe there’s room for some real discussion about that.

First, about the Sixties — there was a lot of exploitive crap going on, and there still is. There are always people who think freedom from consequences means freedom for them, but not for you, and that blowing up sexual morality was an opportunity to get more sex, rather than an opportunity for their partners to be liberated. I also don’t think there’s much to figure out about the consequences of ‘allowing’ women to control their own bodies — did we ever have that conversation about allowing men to have the freedom to control their own lives?

But again, he only rails against the sinister Left. I think for the most part the Left is on the same wavelength here: consent is essential, both women and men get to decide what sexual behaviors are rewarding, and that Charlie Kirk isn’t the reasonable, tolerant guy we should have a conversation with.

And Jesus, is Peterson so oblivious he doesn’t realize who he’s openly aligning with here?

Comments

  1. raven says

    Peterson being wrong again:
    We haven’t adapted to the birth control pill yet. You know it was a major technological revolution, the birth control pill. It’s only been fifty years, and we haven’t figured out what it means for women to have control over the reproductive function and what the consequences of that should be socially.

    FFS, Peterson is being cosmically stupid and wrong here.
    Yes, we have adapted to the birth control pill!!!

    Maybe not all of us, but the vast majority of us.

    Peterson is making a claim without any proof or data.
    And it is completely wrong.
    Here is some data on that.
    Acceptance of birth control among women in relevant cohorts in the USA is 99%.
    For members of the medieval cult that opposes birth control, the Catholic church, it is…98%.

  2. raven says

    FWIW, humans have always regulated their fertility in various ways as far back as we have records.
    .1. In Roman times, a very popular drug was the seeds of a plant with phyto-estrogens that acted exactly like birth control pills.

    In Ancient Times, Flowers and Fennel For Family Planning – The New …
    https://www.nytimes.com/…/in-ancient-times-flowers-and-fennel-for-family-planning.ht…
    Mar 8, 1994 – Silphium, now extinct, was a plant used for birth control, says Dr. John … Women in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome married shortly after they …

    .2. Phyto-estrogens are common and often were used for birth control (and still are in places), fennel and the seeds of Queen Ann’s Lace. The latter is wild carrot, the ancestor of store carrots, and a common weed growing among other places, in my yard.
    .3. During the middle ages, fertility was controlled in common social ways.
    The law of primogeniture meant only the oldest son inherited the land.
    So only men with land got married. There were a whole lot of unmarried men shipped off to the monasteries.
    .4. In times up until the early 20th century, there were always the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
    Women and young children just died a lot.
    .5. Abortion was and is common.
    Infanticide was common even in Europe up until recently.
    We even have an English word for it, foundlings. People would put out there surplus children and hope someone picked them up.
    .6. Pennyroyal is an ancient abortion drug. You can buy it from Amazon .com.
    (I don’t recommend it. It is toxic and modern drugs are much safer.)

    The point I’m making here is that the birth control pill wasn’t some sort of modern earth shaking technological revolution.
    It was an incremental advance, an important one to be sure.
    Followed by other methods of birth control such as the IUD and tubal ligation as well.
    As usual, Peterson is an idiot, a liar, and wrong about his facts!!!

  3. drew says

    The hand gestures aren’t just weird. They often contradict what he’s saying, like when he says how people are divided and accentuates it by bringing his hands together in almost “see all the people” finger waggling.
    Does that mean he’s opposed to what he’s saying in some way? Is it some kind of weird tell for his own cognitive dissonance? I’d rather not think about him or I’d have more questions.

  4. nomdeplume says

    Astonishing how the less someone knows about a topic the more they speak with apparent authority. And louder. Does Peterson have no friends who could take him aside for a quiet chat and a word of advice?

  5. hemidactylus says

    @1-Akira
    But it works for Saturday afternoon Creature Feature B-movie horror fare, to be followed by more intellectually edifying Championship Wrestling, where the peroxide blonde guy yells at the mysterious man in the mask before the latter applies his scientific moves in the ring.

  6. says

    Right-wing nutjobs need to believe that they’re heroes, somehow protecting society from the intelligent, compassionate, people who believe in equal rights for everyone.

    Every crazy thing they say and do is centered around maintaining that delusion, so they don’t have to see that they’ve made themselves the bad guys.

  7. hemidactylus says

    At around 1:27 is he gesturing tense conversation by wringing out a wet towel or simulating riding a moped? Strange body language.

  8. chrislawson says

    nomdeplume@5:

    “Does Peterson have no friends who could take him aside for a quiet chat and a word of advice?”

    I get the feeling that Peterson is the kind of person for whom friend and someone who takes me aside for a quiet word when I’ve made a mistake are mutually contradictory.

  9. chrislawson says

    He just says “They’re upset on the left, they’re upset on the right”, therefore they’re comparable, without noticing that they’re upset about radically different things

    Ah yes, the old “both sides fought hard, therefore slavery and emancipation are much the same” argument. Substitute in other risible comparisons as needed.

  10. colinday says

    But again, he only rails against the sinister Left.

    C’mon PZ, the left is sinister (the right is dexter).

  11. mrquotidian says

    So unbearable to watch.. only thing that makes it slightly tolerable is how uncomfortable everyone looks. It must be so tedious to “hang out” with a pompous windbag like Peterson, even when they supposedly “agree” with him. At this point, Peterson seems to just be scraping at the bottom of the barrel trying to perform his role as a “public intellectual.” He talks and talks, but it’s just hateful, childish drivel disguised by college-textbook diction. It’s like watching someone bullshit their way though a conversation where they have nothing to actually say on the topic, or are just trying to hide their true feelings on the matter…

  12. says

    We haven’t adapted to the birth control pill yet. You know it was a major technological revolution, the birth control pill. It’s only been fifty years, and we haven’t figured out what it means for women to have control over the reproductive function and what the consequences of that should be socially.

    When Peterson says “we”, he only means straight cis dudes. Us women pretty much have figured it out already.

  13. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    When Peterson says “we”, he only means straight cis dudes. Us women pretty much have figured it out already.

    Why do i keep getting the feeling JP is scared shitless about competing with women who are his equals…

  14. lotharloo says

    JP’s “We haven’t adapted to the birth control pill yet” is basically similar to Trump’s “Nobody knew health care was so complicated” as in they just reveal their own ignorance. Both of them also make grand underestimation of other people’s knowledge/capabilities. Both of them also think they have amazing brains while the truth is the complete opposite.

  15. says

    @Giliell:

    When Peterson says “we”, he only means straight cis dudes.

    Well, them and the cis women in the Quiverfull and other ridiculously conservative, mostly highly religious movements. I doubt Schlafly ever got the hang of the modern world.

    @lotharloo:

    JP’s “We haven’t adapted to the birth control pill yet” is basically similar to Trump’s “Nobody knew health care was so complicated” as in they just reveal their own ignorance.

    Yep.

  16. colinday says

    @ Nerd of Redhead
    #15

    Peterson isn’t worried about the few women who might be his equals. He’s worried about the multitudes of women who are his superiors.

  17. Akira MacKenzie says

    hemidactlyus @ y

    But it works for Saturday afternoon Creature Feature B-movie horror fare…

    I LOVE those shows! When I was a kid I’d watch Milwaukee’s Shock Theater with Tolouse NoNeck. These days, I don’t miss a chance to watch Svengoolie on MeTv.

    Professional wrestling? Never my thing.

  18. militantagnostic says

    mrquotidian @13

    So unbearable to watch

    It’s not bad if you watch it with the sound turned off so you don’t have to listen to his whiny voice. I noticed a lot of people leaving while he was bloviating.

  19. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    And Jesus, is Peterson so oblivious he doesn’t realize who he’s openly aligning with here?

    Oh, he knows, he just doesn’t care. Grifting right-wing shitlords is big money these days, dontchaknow?

  20. says

    CD

    Well, them and the cis women in the Quiverfull and other ridiculously conservative, mostly highly religious movements. I doubt Schlafly ever got the hang of the modern world.

    Obviously.
    Though on of my core hypotheses these days is that on average, women have changed a lot during the last 100 years, and men, on average, have changed only very little. That’s where this fundamental clash between many heterosexual people occurs.
    Recently I read a (very one sided) German study about “left men” (left as in “having been left”). The methodological issue was that the authors took everything the men said as true, instead of taking it as an indicator of how the men perceived the situation. This led them to the conclusion that those poor men had been left out of the blue by some horrible women. I am very sure those men feel about it like that. I am also very sure the women feel very different about it.

    +++
    Also, funny how Peterson isn’t worrying about how we’re adapting to many other thing we only had for 50 years. How about many vaccines or antibiotics? Chemotherapy? Central heating?

  21. says

    The whole “left/right” divide is coinage only for the politically naive; we are not dealing with the issues of the Assemblée Nationale in 1779 – the divide between the Girondins and the Jacobins. It’s a bit of an irrelevant distinction, and nowadays serves as a useful label for sloppy thinkers like Jordan who want to argue by broadly stereotyping their opposition. When he is saying he’s antagonizing “the left” I wonder if he really thinks he’d annoy Robespierre for very long. And I doubt he realizes that “the right” was riddled with outright monarchists. Perhaps he sees himself intellectually aligned with monarchists?

    I know “left/right” has taken on a meaning in popular usage, so it has become something of a hobby of mine to dig into the beliefs of anyone who talks about “the left.” Just for fun. The first move is, naturally, “you refer to ‘the left’ as if it is a bad thing – can I infer that you therefore associate yourself with ‘the right’?” “Are you a monarchist, then, monsieur?” “Do you believe that ‘the left’ want to guillotine the nobility?”

    Here’s a fun counter-move: “you may have noticed that calling someone a ‘socialist’ doesn’t make them run and hide anymore because American politics have grown more sophisticated and now we realize that labelling someone as ‘socialist’ does not automatically mean that they are evil and bad. So please don’t try to argue by labeling things ‘left’ or ‘right’ because I suspect you don’t actually understand the politics behind the label – you’re just using that label to invoke ‘bad’ to your ignorant listeners. If you have specific elements of what you might perceive as a ‘left agenda’ that you wish to rail against, by all means, be specific.”
    If you do that, they will almost certainly throw down the “political correctness” card, following in suit with the ‘left’ label. That is when you get to sink the hook by pointing out that political orthodoxy (‘correctness’) is more typically authoritarian – so if they want to claim that as a ‘left’ behavior Mao and Stalin and Hitler would all disagree with them.

    I need to do a posting someday about Peterson’s use of Psychology tropes. I am not a professor of Psychology, as Peterson is, but I’m a student and a Psychology-apostate, so I keep tabs on what ideas are part of the “Psychology mainstream” versus “pseudo science and pop Psychology.” Defenders of Psychology often argue that certain tropes such as IQ testing have been acknowledged to be pseudo-science and therefore ought not be taught as part of the science. Yet, Peterson talks about IQ tests. Imagine if you heard a popularizer of Physics talking about Phlogiston as if it were an active theory in the field! I’ve also heard Peterson refer to other studies (broadly – I will get to that) that may be studies which have been debunked. What is a Professor of Psychology pulling if he’s talking about IQ or the Stanford Prison Experiment without mentioning that the former has been debunked and the latter never reached a defensible conclusion about anything? It’s as if he’s ignorant of the history of Psychology and its longtime service to bullshitting. Hmm.

    What I meant about studies is this: if you listen to Peterson, he is fond of saying “there are studies that show…” which is a red alert condition for incoming pop Psychology bullshit. A professor of Psychology would be expected to be able to refer to important studies by name. The reason Peterson might now do that are suspicious: option a) he is making things up, option b) he knows he is referring to debunked research, option c) he assumes that his listeners never include a Psychologist, option d) ??? I wish some of his questioners would ask him “when you said ‘studies show blah blah’ could you please say which studies you are referring to?’ As most of you should alredy know, a huge amount of Psychology studies are junk science, because they historically measure self-selected reward-oriented samples of American college undergraduates. That has been a huge problem for the field and if you review the methodologies of many studies, they are crap. Again, one would like to assume a Professor of Psychology would know this and would be careful to reference studies that have survived methodological challenge. Of course, if a Psychologist were to restrict themselves to only talking about the parts of Psychology that are good science, they’re not going to have much to say.

    In other words, I think Peterson’s a bullshit artist about the field he Professes in. That’s … unsound.

  22. says

    UnknownEric:
    Oh, he knows, he just doesn’t care. Grifting right-wing shitlords is big money these days, dontchaknow?

    It’s sneakier than that. By attacking the vaguely-labeled ‘left’ he is implicitly but not explicitly supporting the shitlords. So they are happy with his performance because they are stupid and equate attacking their enemies as being their friend. Peterson would immediately whip around and bite the hand that feeds him, if it’ll get him attention – but they don’t realize it because they think he is theirs.

    (See also: Christopher Hitchens)

  23. susans says

    @#3, What do you mean only men with land got married? By extension, are you saying they were the only men who fathered children?
    Most families did not own land, but lots of people married and had children, or did not marry (because there was not always a priest available to perform the rite) and had children.

  24. raven says

    Susan, I can’t completely answer your comment without a few pages and some references from the library.
    This isn’t the subject of PZ’s post anyway.
    Wikipedia has a little bit here in Medieval Demography.
    Basically, in an Agrarian society, males without access to enough farmland aren’t going to be desirable mates and aren’t going to be feeding their families.
    They didn’t have food stamps back then.
    The summary is the next sentence in bold.

    As a result, on account of the social and economic system, the size of Europe’s population was limited; the existing agricultural system and technology could not support a population beyond a certain size.

    Wikipedia Medieval Demography
    The Brenner Debate
    Still yet another theory, as introduced by Robert Brenner in a 1976 paper, is that the economic system of the High Middle Ages limited population growth. Feudal lords and landlords controlled most of Europe’s land; they could charge high enough rents or demand a large enough percentage of peasants’ profit that peasants on these lands were forced to survive at subsistence levels. With any surplus of food, labor, and income absorbed by the landowners, the peasants did not have enough capital to invest in their farms or enough incentive to increase the productivity of their land.

    In addition, the small size of most peasants’ farms inhibited centralized and more efficient cultivation of land on larger fields. In regions of Europe where primogeniture was less widely practiced, peasant lands were subdivided and re-subdivided with each generation of heirs; Brenner writes that consequently: “This too naturally reduced the general level of peasant income, the surplus available for potential investment in agriculture, and the slim hope of agricultural innovation.”

    As a result, on account of the social and economic system, the size of Europe’s population was limited; the existing agricultural system and technology could not support a population beyond a certain size.
    When the population of Europe surpassed the threshold that the existing economic structure permitted: population loss, social instability, and famine could result. Only through modifying the existing social structure of land ownership and distribution could Europe’s population surpass early 14th century levels.

    The above paragraphs are a synopsis of Brenner’s argument, consult the 1976 article for the full text of his original argument: Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe or read the book that ensued after the publication of this article: The Brenner Debate

    Regardless of the cause, populations continued to fall into the 15th century and remained low into the 16th. However, the fact that population continued to fall after the one-time catastrophes of the Black Death (ca.1317) and the Great Plague (ca.1348) is evidence that plague and famine alone cannot explain population loss.

  25. imback says

    @Marcus in #24 wrote, “Perhaps he sees himself intellectually aligned with monarchists?”

    I would say yes. Although I agree with you that the right/left dichotomy is quite overused, there is indeed a tenuous thread linking the monarchists of yore. After all, in your next comment you mention the shitlords, the gentry of the so-called right of today.

  26. Dunc says

    It would be more effective if he held a flashlight under his chin whilst delivering his camp-fire stories…

  27. KG says

    Marcus Ranum@24

    The whole “left/right” divide is coinage only for the politically naive; we are not dealing with the issues of the Assemblée Nationale in 1779 – the divide between the Girondins and the Jacobins. It’s a bit of an irrelevant distinction, and nowadays serves as a useful label for sloppy thinkers like Jordan who want to argue by broadly stereotyping their opposition.

    The left/right distinction is still fundamental in politics, and its central feature (and the link back to 1789 – not 1779, but I guess that was a typo) is the attitude to socio-economic inequality: the right – whether traditional conservative, “libertarian” or fascist – favour it; the left, whether social democratic (in the modern sense), democratic socialist, Leninist or anarchist. oppose it, or at least aim to ameliorate it. It’s most often dismissed by rightists who want to dismiss the significance of the issue.

    I am not a professor of Psychology, as Peterson is, but I’m a student and a Psychology-apostate, so I keep tabs on what ideas are part of the “Psychology mainstream” versus “pseudo science and pop Psychology.” Defenders of Psychology often argue that certain tropes such as IQ testing have been acknowledged to be pseudo-science and therefore ought not be taught as part of the science.

    You show your usual ignorance of psychology (which, incidentally, does not require an initial upper-case “P”). No, IQ testing has not been “acknowledged to be pseudo-science”. IQ tests at an individual level show reasonably good reliability – i.e. if you re-test an adult, under most circumstances you will get similar scores. They can be useful in identifying specific cognitive problems (which was what Binet designed the first such tests for), or individuals who are particularly far from reaching their potential through lack of educational opportunity. The pseudo-science comes in treating IQ as a measure of a fixed, unitary, innate property of individuals and even more so, of population groups.

  28. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    What I continue to find hilarious is that people will defend him as if he’s apolitical, just offering centrist insights. He then has the gall to talk about disunity, conflict, etc. while he’s sharing space with overtly odious people who deliberately stir up partisan conflict.

    @31: While I agree with you, there are actually quite informed people who think IQ is in fact so utterly useless as to be worth chucking in the bin. The psychometrics literature is one of those places that loudly touts their consensus while ignoring those outside the psychometric literature in psychology (as well as related fields like sociology) who aren’t impressed. Still, I do agree that IQ itself isn’t the problem. As many in the debate have noted, it says something, the debate is what it says

  29. leerudolph says

    Raven @3: Your Brief History of Woman-Controlled Birth Control, from sylphium to the IUD, is excellent but I have some addenda. (1) I think tubal ligation is misplaced on that list, both chronologically and because it’s more or less permanent (from the point of view of the woman—obviously abortion and infanticide are permanent from the point of view of literally controlling one birth), though certainly more reversible than hysterectomy or removal of the ovaries. (2) There’s a gap before The Pill that only those of us of a certain age may ever have encountered: intravaginal spermicides, with or without a diaphragm or cervical cap. (They tasted awful.)

  30. Owlmirror says

    Maybe I’m overly-cynical but isn’t hand-wringing over birth control a very, very high-pitched dogwhistle for “. . . and the wrong sort of people, who don’t use birth control, might outbreed us?”

    And similar class- and race- based animus and resentment.

  31. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Owlmirror #35, we have a winner. Bigotry and paranoia all the way down.

  32. says

    Kg:
    IQ tests at an individual level show reasonably good reliability – i.e. if you re-test an adult, under most circumstances you will get similar scores.

    Which is not how Peterson is talking about their being used. But, nice try. There are plenty of examples where Peterson (including the one I was thinking of) references IQ as comparative between individuals – exactly in the most pseudo-scientific sense. I.e:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EebRtIK4o7c

    Yes, promoters of IQ have tried to salvage their bullshit theory by subdividing what is purported to be measured into sub-fields but the same critique applies: IQ tests measure performance on IQ tests and the degree to which they measure intelligence (as opposed to experience or education) is still problematic.

    As far as your accusing me of ignorance, etc. it’s odd you’d do that in the context of cherry-picking a counter-argument. I’d rather be ignorant than intellectually dishonest, if I had to choose, but in your case why not be both? And piss on your silly nitpicking; I’ll capitalize “Psychology” if I feel like it. Is that the best you can do?

  33. John Morales says

    Marcus vs KG:

    […] but the same critique applies: IQ tests measure performance on IQ tests and the degree to which they measure intelligence (as opposed to experience or education) is still problematic.

    Intelligence has many facets, IMO, and IQ tests “measure” certain ones, like the ability to comprehend natural language and abstraction. And the ability to comply, of course.

    So, what they measure, they do measure (in a relative way), but there’s a shitload that they don’t measure. For example, social intelligence.

  34. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    It would be more effective if he held a flashlight under his chin whilst delivering his camp-fire stories…

    “…and when he awoke in the morning, the hook of feminine chaos was hanging from his car door handle!!!”

  35. Rob Grigjanis says

    Marcus @37:

    I’d rather be ignorant than intellectually dishonest

    You’re both. You @24:

    Defenders of Psychology often argue that certain tropes such as IQ testing have been acknowledged to be pseudo-science and therefore ought not be taught as part of the science. Yet, Peterson talks about IQ tests. Imagine if you heard a popularizer of Physics talking about Phlogiston as if it were an active theory in the field!

    Here, you’re not talking about how Peterson is using IQ, just that he is referring to it, and that it (not just certain uses of it) has been “debunked”. That is what KG was addressing, but your response was about “how Peterson is talking about their being used”.

    Do you always accuse people of “cherry-picking” when they point out your bullshit?

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