Jordan Peterson is talking out of his ass again

Of course he’s peddling more conspiracy theories. These new COVID variants that require booster shots are apparently the product of convenient whims of Big Pharma.

When is that a variant? How about whenever it’s convenient for the pharmaceutical companies?

The man is firmly in Joe Rogan territory. We recognize variants by their genetics and by their phenotypic effects on their host, things that we can actually measure. The pharmaceutical companies can’t just conjure up new strains of a virus that is already infecting millions of people.

Peterson is a fucking idiot.

By the way, he’s putting on a show in my backyard, at the State Theater in Minneapolis, on my birthday. Tickets are in the $200-$400 (absolutely astonishing), and I want you to know…that would be quite possibly the very worst birthday present I could imagine getting. Fortunately, no one on Earth hates me enough to inflict that on me.


  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    How about whenever it’s convenient for the pharmaceutical companies?

    These shits are supposed to be capitalists. Since when does a business making money—particularly by immoral means—bother them?

  2. PaulBC says

    Quelle surprise. Wake me up (from my medically induced coma) when he says something that makes sense.

  3. PaulBC says

    The man is firmly in Joe Rogan territory.

    Where is that in relation to Alex Jones territory? Glenn Beck territory? Are these all the same place? Or is it a forbidding archipelago lying somewhere between “here be dragons” and the “the land of submarines”? Blue meanies, all of them!

  4. stwriley says

    Hell, I’d buy you one of those tickets myself PZ, but only if you’d promise to go and heckle Peterson the entire time with actual science and fact (and record it for posterity.) Otherwise, of course, it would be a complete waste of money and time and quite likely rot your brain.

  5. says

    Some of the pharma products Peterson has self-reportedly taken:

    SSRIs ‘such as Celexa’ – for decades

    benzodiazepines – for 3 years, after which he quit cold turkey, as geniuses do

    ketamine – twice, immediately after dropping benzodiazepines

    benzodiazepines again, and an unnamed ‘antidepressant’

    whatever he received during his stay at the “American clinic ‘that claimed to specialize in rapid benzodiazepine withdrawal'” in August-November 2019

    whatever he received in the Toronto hospital in late 2019

    whatever he received in January 2020 in the Moscow ICU where he was placed in a medically induced coma, part of ‘a procedure either unknown or regarded as too dangerous in North America’, during which he was also put on what sounds like a ventilator

    whatever this involved: …”A few weeks later, Peterson relocated to Florida, where he ‘attempted to wean off the medication prescribed by the Moscow clinic’. His withdrawal symptoms persisted, however, and ‘about two months later I returned to the dosages initially prescribed in Russia.’ He relocated, once more, this time to a Serbian clinic ‘that practiced a novel approach to the problem of benzodiazepine withdrawal’.”

    That’s…a lot of drugs.

  6. robro says

    I was just reading in Scientific American last night how the pharams are not sure they should rush to develop variant-specific boosters. That takes time and money, and by the time they get a revised vaccine through the approval process, the variant is already on the way out the door (and a new one coming in). On the plus side, the existing vaccines for the original virus are still effective against serious disease so far…with the caveat that one person’s mild can be another person’s serious. So, it’s not clear why the pharmas would want to “discover” new variants to gin up a new vaccine. (And from what I’ve been told by people close to the field, vaccines are not typically a big money engine for pharmaceuticals…benzodiazepines, however.)

  7. birgerjohansson says

    I just read an article based on research at the Karolinska institute.
    The first line of defence are the B cells that are not effective against omricon. The second line are the T cells which are effective.
    This is part of why vaccines do not protect against omricon infection but do protect against serious illness and death.
    This is obviously a much simplified summary.

  8. birgerjohansson says

    Does this count as “disaster capitalism”?
    The richest people in the world have doubled their fortune during covid so it makes sense for other evil men to scramble for a piece of the pie.

  9. nomdeplume says

    So you can get paid $400 to go to a Peterson lecture? Not nearly enough to tempt me, even with ear plugs. What’s that you say? Oh. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ….

  10. says

    The first line of defence are the B cells that are not effective against omricon. The second line are the T cells which are effective.

    Right. And most vaccinated and boosted people may briefly experience cold/flu-like symptoms while their T cells produce antibodies to fight off the virus. The people who are going to get whacked are the unvaccinated, for whom I will now play “sympathy symphony” on xylophone. Yes there are immunocompromised people who will have problems with it and lets hope the monoclonal packages and antivirals help them. But the media is staunchly reporting this as though it’s not largely a problem of choice for most of the people who will get infected, brain damaged, or dead. The media is focusing on “some star got covid for the 4th time but was pretty much fine but OMG breakthru infection!”

    Daniel Griffin says it looks like being up on your shots reduces the chance of a severe response into the range of 1:300,000 and its so small it’s hard to measure.

    I’m sympathetic to the immunocompromised but from their perspective this is also like being immunocompromised and encountering a new flu virus. It’s a problem they already have, it adds 1 more thing to worry about.

    Cheer on those T cells! Anecdote: a fully vaxxed friend of mine thought he had a hangover but it turned out to be COVID and his body killed it in 2 days. Immunity is not an instantaneous state.

    Griffin uses a helpful analogy: the vaccines are like keeping a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. It doesn’t guarantee you won’t ever have a fire but it reduces the chance that any fire you have is catastrophic by a considerable margin. The way the media reports case-counts conceals a lot about what is actually going on with immune response and unequivocally vaccines are good.

  11. hemidactylus says

    @13- Marcus Ranum
    T-cells don’t produce antibodies. Killer Ts among other things tell infected cells to commit suicide by apoptosis. Helper Ts (the follicular kind) might chemically induce B-cells to undergo rounds of affinity maturation by mutation and selection which means the antibodies wind up binding better to target antigens. Many B-cells get culled for this to happen. But it’s the B-cells that actually produce the antibodies.

    I think it’s partly that the viral target antigens for T-cells are less apt to evade as much as is the case with the targets for B-cells. T-cell antigens are chopped up like a cuisinart into shorter linear peptide segments. And they are dependent on the MHC molecules with which they associate. MHC molecules vary quite a bit across individuals so our individual repertoires of T-cell antigen targeting might vary enough to keep pathogens from exploiting that as much.

    The antigens targeted by antibodies produced by B-cells can be linear but also conformational (3-dimensional). Not only can pathogens (eg- viruses) evolve to evade humoral (antibodybased) immunity the amount of antibody itself reduces over the months after a vaccination or booster. Racaniello prefers to call that normal result contraction instead of waning. If you have a high enough titer of antibodies that are a good match for the spike the virus might be neutralized and cleared before it’s a problem. Failing that antibodies could activate the complement system or natural killer cells. Otherwise eventually infected cells become a target of cytotoxic (killer) T cells. The T-cell arm of cellular immunity helps keep you off the ventilator or worse if the humoral arm doesn’t do as well against a variant.

    Ideally those infected with Omicron who were previously vaccinated will have helper T-cells interact with B-cells having some imperfect previous affinity for Omicron spike variations and induce them to mutate toward variant Omicron antigen targets, broadening the response in case of future variants that come along. Plus the resultant better matching antibodies might increase in their levels for several months due to proliferation of Omicron experienced plasma cells.Memory cells will retain response for quite a while. I’d prefer a better targeted booster instead.

    I love the TWiV episodes with Daniel Griffin as they are shorter and he covers COVID relevant recent research.

  12. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    The heuristic: every accusation by a right wing grifter is also a confession.

    Peterson and his ilk should never be anywhere near the control of public health.

  13. raven says

    Jordan Peterson is once again proving he is a complete idiot.
    He has jumped the shark here and vaporized any shreds of credibility he might still have.

    His accusation is simply, easily, provably wrong. It is a flat out lie.

    Peterson babbling:

    When is that a variant? How about whenever it’s convenient for the pharmaceutical companies?

    Pharmaceutical companies don’t name or create viral variants.
    Variant is just another name for mutant.
    Mutant Covid-19 viruses arise by natural evolutionary processes that were understood 1 1/2 centuries ago after Darwin published his theory. We identify them by their phenotype and genomic sequencing. This is high school level biology that Peterson doesn’t seem to even know.

    The US classifies Covid-19 variants into 4 levels, monitored, interest, concern, high consequence. A high consequence variant like Alpha, Delta, or Omicron appear when they appear. It has nothing to do with human intent.

  14. chrislawson says


    Yep. Vaccine development is not a great field to make money. The development costs are enormous, the failure rate of candidate vaccines is huge, and courts (especially in the US) have repeatedly shown they don’t have the faintest idea how to assess risk and culpability in medical torts.

    This could all change with mRNA technology, which means you only need to identify and isolate the DNA sequence of a likely antigen to start making a testable product. But we’ll have to wait and see how it goes as a mature technology before we can really assess its financial impact.

  15. John Morales says

    chrislawson @17, maybe. But this is a specific, not a general case.

    Based on company financial statements, the Alliance estimates that Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna will make pre-tax profits of $34 billion this year between them, which works out as over a thousand dollars a second, $65,000 a minute or $93.5 million a day.

    Published: 16th November 2021)

  16. Matt G says

    I must have missed something. Was there a time when he wasn’t talking out of his ass? It’s an example of when to use “continuous” instead of “continual.”

  17. unclefrogy says

    there is no way I can see to look at that guy that does not show him as bug f’n nuts and dangerous all together