Dear god, Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson are such pompous know-nothings

Behold, two idiots talking.

There is no such thing as climate. Climate and everything are the same word. That’s what bothers me about the climate change types. It’s like — this is something that bothers me about technically, it’s like climate is about everything. OK. But your models aren’t based on everything. Your models are based on a set number of variables. That means you reduce the variables, which are everything, to that set. Well, how did you decide which set of variables to include in the equation if it’s about everything? That’s not just a criticism, if it’s about everything, your models aren’t right. Because your models do not and cannot model everything.

  • Climate is not about “everything”. Let’s look it up on Wikipedia, since Peterson didn’t even do that much.

    Climate is the long-term pattern of weather in an area, typically averaged over a period of 30 years. More rigorously, it is the mean and variability of meteorological variables over a time spanning from months to millions of years. Some of the meteorological variables that are commonly measured are temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, and precipitation. In a broader sense, climate is the state of the components of the climate system, which includes the ocean, land, and ice on Earth.

    So not “everything”.

  • Yes, climate is modeled. The relevant variables are assessed by knowledgeable experts, not muscle-bound blatherers or disgraced freaky Jungian psychologists.
  • Models are constantly assessed against ongoing observations and measurements. Predictions are made and tested. That’s what we use to measure their validity.
  • No model can include “everything”. That’s why it is a model. You can’t just make a blanket dismissal of all models solely because they’re models. That’s like throwing out psychology because it doesn’t account for every neuron and every variable in physiology.

Remember: Spotify paid Joe Rogan $100 fucking million dollars to broadcast on their network. Peterson was getting paid $200 fucking thousand per month for just his clinical practice, which I presume he gave up because he’s earning more from his speeches and books.

Fuck both of these guys.


  1. raven says

    Peterson is now a global warming denialist?
    No surprise.

    He long ago learned that he can just sell people’s hate and lies back to them for money.
    He isn’t even a fraud anymore. Just a conperson.

  2. nomdeplume says

    Reminds me of creationists like Hovind and Ham. It is not just the mindless ignorant drivel they are spouting that gets you down, it’s the absolute confidence with which they say it.

  3. robro says

    In the interest of equal time, Joe should get a climate scientist on to debunk Jungian psychology, or psychology in general, which might actually be easier.

  4. nomadiq says

    Don’t you just love it when someone who knows nothing about someone else’s field feels like they can just romp in, make some uninformed trash judgements, take a shit on the floor, and then leave?

    I for one will not be educating Peterson what it is like to abuse anti-anxiolytic drugs, what addiction is like, nor the effectiveness of crank Eastern European doctors. I’ll listen to what he has to say about all that. He should stick to what he knows.

  5. says

    There is no such thing as climate. Climate and everything are the same word. That’s what bothers me about the climate change types. It’s like — this is something that bothers me about technically, it’s like climate is about everything. …Well, how did you decide which set of variables to include in the equation if it’s about everything? That’s not just a criticism, if it’s about everything, your models aren’t right. Because your models do not and cannot model everything.

    I generally try to work backwards with these things – where did this loopy notion come from? In this case, I’m at a loss. Where did he come up with the idea that climate scientists (or “climate change types” – ?) contend that climate is “about everything”? Is it the distinction people have made between climate and short-term local weather? Can I find out without having to watch another second of this?

  6. bcw bcw says

    Wow, Peterson is demonstrating how easy it is to talk authoritatively about something if both you and your listener are completely unencumbered by any understanding whatsoever of the subject you are talking about.

    The common subject behind a huge fraction of physics is how to reliably and provably represent complex continuous variables with a discrete variable subset. Examples include electronic structure and chemistry modeling, thermodynamics, fluctuations, flow theories and of course finite element models of all types. The mathematics behind these subjects is enormous. Even basic mechanics relies on replacing particle motion with center of mass concepts.

    What’s especially rich is that this is coming from a guy who believes he can represent all of human psychology and interactions with a five “personality” variables.

  7. says

    How Peterson/Rogan get away with it: they’ve got a fawning audience of idiots. See this clip, for instance. Peterson says a bunch of stupid things: the Bible was the first and only book, his brother-in-law has made a chip even more powerful than the human brain, and “The bible is the precondition for the manifestation of truth.” You have to gawp in stunned disbelief that he can so confidently say these absurd things, but then you look at the comments. Over 8000 comments, almost all praising the brilliant mind of Jordan Peterson, talking about what a saint Rogan is. It’s terrifying.

  8. bcw bcw says

    @9 I guess with that title anyone with any sense whatsoever clicks “don’t show me anymore from this channel” immediately.

  9. PaulBC says

    Maybe he can find a Russian hospital that will “upload” him into his brother-in-law’s chip.

  10. says

    Neil Young send Spotify a demand saying that they either need to stop broadcasting Joe Rogan’s lies, or they can take down all the Neil Young music. Simple choice.

  11. says

    An author named Jim Proser has written a book called Savage Messiah: How Dr. Jordan Peterson is Saving Western Civilization. It’s the kind of book that might be very embarrassing for the author a few years down the road, when some new “guru” replaces Peterson.

  12. says

    It’s interesting that Proser’s book shares a title with a 2002 Canadian film about Roch Theriault, a Canadian cult leader convicted of murder in 1993. I’m guessing Proser pulled the name out of a hat, and didn’t consider what it might have been used for previously..

  13. dragon hunter says

    Somebody should tell Peterson that airplane pilots learn how to fly on a simulator. That simulator is based on a model that does not include all possible variables involves in flying a plane. Even worse, modern physics hasn’t even completely understood how wings work. I mean, according to modern physics, bumblebees shouldn’t even be able to fly.

    He’ll never get on an airplane again, and therefore will never go the the Joe Rogan show again.

  14. dragon hunter says

    @9 Watched this clip, and it seems to me that he is describing research that looks into word usage patterns in texts. The basics of that type of research is that some words are universally common in texts due to grammatical rules. For examples, the words “the”, “a”, “for”, “and” are very common in all English texts. Therefore, to identify individual patterns, those words need to be discounted somehow, and the look at how the less common words are used. Because texts have many many words, this involves some sort of heuristics, which involves sub-sampling. Any way, once you do that, researchers have realized that individual authors tend to have patterns that can be identified, and therefore you can, for example, identify the real author behind a pseudonym with relative accuracy*. But you can also then trace the level of influence of those authors, and see who else was inspired by them in their own writings (for example, Hemingway had a really strong influence in how English speakers write text, mostly in the transition from long complicated sentences, to short to the point sentences). And you can do this not only with words, but also themes, story arc structures, etc.

    In this sense, what he is saying is accurate, in that the bible was the first book to be printed and widely available in Western Society, and therefore the themes and writing style on that original printed book had a disproportionate influence in the printed books that followed, and can still be seen today. Famously, one author identified that famous modern stories like Star Wars and Harry Potter, all share key thematic traits with the story of Jesus in the bible (good vs evil, the reluctant messiah/hero, the supernatural like skills that are just there and never acquired or honed, the self sacrifice for a greater good, etc.).

    Where he gets really weird (and this is a Peterson trait) is where he takes that perfectly reasonable piece of information, and turns it into some fundamental truth about how the bible is more true than true (even though it’s not right), and that it is the only bedrock of agreement in our culture, and without it culture will collapse. It really brings home the notion of information is not knowledge, and knowledge is not wisdom, I think.

  15. =8)-DX says

    @John Morales #7
    Interesting link, although clearly different usages. “Climate change is a story about everything” is just another way of saying “the impacts of climate change will influence all aspects of human society in some way” or “all parts of society are involved with climate change”, while Peterson seems to be saying either “climate = the universe” or more charitably “climate is affected by all the physics going on in the universe”, which is almost the inverse of that, causally.

    But then that’s just like Peterson, he loves to strawman: he reads something somewhere, takes the most shallow surface interpretation of that which confirms his biases and then presents it in some warped farm within his own conceptual framework.

  16. dragon hunter says

    John Morales: Well, it was a joke obviously, but I think it;s obvious :) . Regarding that one argument though, as much as we can tell, that argument traces back to German aero-engineers in the 1930s, and the purpose of it was precisely to make the point that models can fail, if you use incorrect parameters and/or assumptions. Interestingly though, it was only relatively recently that a paper described the physics of bumblebee flight with reasonable accuracy. The issue is, that although insects, birds and planes all fly through the use of structures that are apparently similar (that we call wings), they actually function in very different ways. One key difference relates to the rigidity of them, with planes being rigid, but insect and birds are not. There are also other key differences, such as the muscles that control the wing flapping in insects are not connected directly to the wings themselves, but to the insides of the thorax. Wings flap due to the deformation of the exoskeleton which causes them to move up and down. The muscles that are attached to insect wings, mostly control the orientation of the wing.

    So I’d say this is not hoary old silliness, but rather a very useful argument to take into account. As long as you understand enough about the subject to understand what it is really telling us. :)

  17. dragon hunter says

    @ =8)-DX #22: You got the nail in the head with that description of Petterson. Interestingly, I know quite a few (pseudo)intellectuals who are like that. I knew one (lovely chap by the way) who would start reading a book, and after the preface, would close it and start discussing the book and their wider implications at lengths. He could go on for hours, and it always ended up in some metaphysical discussion, or some grand political conclusion (always revolutionary). I just goes to show that reasoning and rationalising are fundamentally the same mental process. What distinguishes them is something else entirely.

  18. says

    Peterson’s Bible comments might be of the “The rubes need religion to keep them in line” sort, because I’ve seen comments that indicate he’s probably agnostic.

  19. says

    Peterson was getting paid $200 fucking thousand per month for just his clinical practice, which I presume he gave up because he’s earning more from his speeches and books.

    I thought he gave it up because he didn’t want to listen to listen to other people, and sucked at it; so he got hisself a “job” that was more talking and less listening.

  20. raven says

    …because I’ve seen comments that indicate he’s probably agnostic.

    Peterson hates atheists
    Well no surprise.
    Peterson hates everyone who isn’t a cis white het male xian right wingnut.

    Rational Wiki Peterson babbling:

    But if you’ve looked at life and you think that the suffering of most people is unbearable and life is evil, which is what Stalin thought, you have no problems whatsoever mobilizing everything you can to kill as many people as you can. And if you don’t have any faith, like any faith, in an ultimate authority that says, essentially, that life is sacred, what’s to stop you from stopping that? The fact that you have good…

    Peterson just makes stuff up as he goes along without a single thought if it has anything to do with reality.
    Here he is blaming Stalin’s purges and famines on Stalin’s atheism. That is just stupid. It was a mix of politics and incompetence.

    Rational Wiki Peterson

    Question:] Dr. Peterson you’ve claimed that the atrocities of Nazi Germany came out of a loss of belief in God. However only about 1.5% of Germans in 1939 claimed to lack a religious belief, and many of the anti-semitic beliefs propagated by the Nazis were inspired by those of Christian figures like Martin Luther. How can you explain the populist spread of Nazism in Germany as the result of atheism when the historical facts do not suggest such a conclusion?
    [Answer:] Nazism was an atheist doctrine. So was Marxism.[202]

    Peterson is always wrong when he makes (supposedly) factual statements. When he actually might know a simple fact, he just lies.

    The millions of willing followers of the Nazis were all Catholics and Lutherans. The Holocaust was a xian production start to finish with the original plans published by Martin Luther.
    Marxism isn’t an atheist doctrine. It is a theory about economics.

    Peterson is a fraud and conperson who is simply selling hate and lies back to right wingnuts for money. He is no different from Ralph Limbrain, Glenn Beck, or Ann Coulter.

  21. R. L. Foster says

    All I know about Peterson is what I’ve read here, on PZ’s blog. So, when the clip showed up in my YouTube feed (who the hell knows why) I thought I’d give it a try. I made it about 4 minutes in. I felt my mind churning when he said something about the Bible being the ‘only’ book, the book on which everything is based, or words to that effect. What about The Iliad, The Odyssey, Sappho’s poems, Tacitus’s histories, Plato, Socrates, Gilgamesh and every other notable and influential book of the last 2000 years? Not to mention scientific treatises from Newton to Einstein. I knew at once I was dealing with a religious crank and was wasting my time.

  22. quotetheunquote says

    RE: #12 & #14.
    Heard about this on the good ol’ CBC last night – been a fan of Mr. Young for decades, I think I’m even more of one now. Yes, there are good people in (okay, from) Canada!*
    Not that I expect much from an organization like Spotify, but who knows, if enough big names have the guts to join him, maybe they will see the way the cash is blowing…

    (Edit: just did a search, I see the story is getting a bit of traction in other outlets, like Rolling Stone and CNN)

    *(#SweetHomeAlabama #SouthernMan)

  23. rblackadar says

    To be fair, I think his “only one book” remark was not meant literally — he was asserting that the Bible was the only book that most people owned or read or were influenced by.

    Of course even that is absurdly ahistorical, though it may have been more or less true in certain regions of the U.S. and Canada in bygone times (~early 1800’s). Peterson’s ideal place and time, I would venture to guess.

  24. stroppy says

    Or that the Bible is the basis for all the morality and jurisprudence for western civilization and its manifest destiny, blah blah, enshrine the Ten Commandments on every court house.
    A lot of propaganda relies on a distortion of a deliberately superficial reading taken from the form of the issue, not the content (as alluded elsewhere in this thread). But I think the schtick about climate change being about everything and nothing comes from the kind of genuine, first-order stupidity you’d expect from a melted brain.

  25. PaulBC says

    My take on Peterson (which I hadn’t thought of this way before, but is probably supported by “12 rules”) is that he’s a stuffy old conservative with phenomenally uninteresting views in favor of traditional patriarchy and sex roles, along with the Christianity as the source of ethics, but his gig is to recast this in incoherent and idiosyncratic terms in an attempt to fool the audience into thinking he’s said something new and deep.

    I mean, I don’t have time for him, and don’t think about him except when he comes up in threads like this and occasionally news stories. It’s distressing that so many people are hoodwinked.

  26. Susan Montgomery says

    @32. Repeating a point I’ve made previously, why is it so hard to believe people are so easily duped after everything we’ve seen? We wouldn’t still be killing each other over sky fairies 80 years after splitting the atom if people were generally competent about telling fact from fiction.

  27. PaulBC says

    Susan Montgomery@33 Well I assume his audience isn’t susceptible to “Booga! Booga! Do what I say or you’re going to hell.” Maybe what I find distressing is that he can succeed just by adding a layer of needless mystification on top of it.

  28. stroppy says

    It’s not hard to believe. On a scientist’s site it’s natural to ask questions why. These are not trivial questions for inquiring minds, though some of the hypotheses may be trivial, wide of the mark, or straight out of the backside: All part of the sorting process — except maybe for people who already know all the answers, or at least think they do.

  29. says

    LiveNation is now advertizing JP’s “Beyond Order” tour. He really is trying to be a rock star, big-honkin’ stadium venues and all.

  30. Walter Solomon says

    You didn’t even mention the part where they claim Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson isn’t really Black. They’re reasoning — he’s not in Africa walking around naked to build up enough melanin.

    Rogan doesn’t deserve this attention. Another great man named Neil — Neil Young — has made an ultimatum for Spotify. They either have to drop Rogan or drop his music.

  31. Susan Montgomery says

    @34. When is mystification needful?

    I haven’t got the time to go into detail here, but you needn’t look too hard or too long to see how easily people can be duped. Check out Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World Revisited” essay for some interesting insights in the matter.

  32. unclefrogy says

    It is not just the mindless ignorant drivel they are spouting that gets you down, it’s the absolute confidence with which they say it.

    it is that confidence precisely that is the selling point with all of the irrational wackaloons posers liers and con-men
    that confidence sold Reagan as president, it is the reason faith is so pernicious. Most people know that they do not understand things and respond to that confident assertion about things they do not understand, and will hang on to those beliefs in the face of evidence to the contrary and the uncertainty and precarious, temporary nature of life
    That confidence is more attractive then the honesty and humility of admitting not knowing everything is just so and following the evidence regardless

  33. PaulBC says

    Susan Montgomery@38

    When is mystification needful?

    Ask Jordan Peterson. He’s the one doing it. There’s nothing original in any of his advice, but I’ll concede there’s something original in the performance he puts on to make it appear new.

  34. says

    Right models do leave some variables out in the name of simplicity but they can be factored in later to test how important they are. In the case of climate a model will give you best and worst case scenarios. However the problem with climate models is that as you refine them by bringing in extra variables, including things you didn’t even consider like the breakdown of methane clathrates as the ocean warms or the emission of methane from tundra exposed as ice melts the scenario is inevitably worse. It gets even worse when you factor in self opinionated egotists like Peterson

  35. tuatara says

    @43 SC (Salty Current)
    This is what I suspected would be the outcome of Neil Young’s protest.
    Tech giant goes where the money is by supporting a loud-mouthed lump of excrement.
    Spotify have probably calculated that amplifying the bullshit spouted by their $100 million investment (fuck-face [g]Rogan) will give them a better return than streaming Neil Young’s life’s work.
    They are amoral arseholes. I am glad I don’t do Spotify. I will be encouraging everyone that I know that does have a Spotify account to dump them.

  36. mandrake says

    It’s well known that HVAC engineers spent decades modeling what would eventually become the modern home refrigerator but to this day they still can’t absolutely verify that the light goes out when you shut the door. So maybe Peterson is right.

  37. says

    Neil Young told Spotify to take his music down because he didn’t want to be associated with them and Joe Rogan.

    Spotify did as asked. I think I’m going to go listen to some Neil Young. For reasons.

  38. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    IMO, Peterson is some kind of presuppositions who says that all truth and meaning is true because of the truth of the bible, and that it cannot logically be any other way. You can’t make sense of that kind of worldview because it’s so utterly alien and foreign and ridiculous.

    In the old discussion between Sam Harris and Peterson (no love from me for either of those people), Sam Harris does try to nail him to the wall on this. Peterson says that truth is by definition beliefs that help human survival and flourishing. Sam Harris tries to counter that. IIRC two examples. One is the engineer of nuclear weapons. That kind of knowledge may be extremely dangerous for human survival, but it doesn’t make it false. The second example is if a husband learns that his wife is cheating on him, and chooses to commit suicide because of it. That doesn’t make the fact that his wife cheated on him false. Peterson would not consent to either counter example and Peterson stuck to his position that they cannot be “ultimately true” or some such nonsense because they don’t aid human flourishing.

    He’s a crank, but he’s a crank with a very well developed world view AFAICT. The world view is insane though. I don’t think he makes it up as he goes along. I do think that he purposefully tries to hide these embarrassing details of his worldview in most lectures behind needless obfuscation because he is trying to persuade, or trick, people to come to his worldview.

  39. Walter Solomon says

    Fact: In the late 60s, Neil Young was in a band called The Mynah Birds with none other than Rick James of Super Freak fame.

  40. says

    He’s a crank, but he’s a crank with a very well developed world view AFAICT. The world view is insane though.

    That seems to be a common characteristic of cranks: they have worldviews that have been developed in their own minds, kept safe and separate from contact with reality, evolving without check from reality, over many many years. And their worldviews are insane for exactly the same reason.

  41. says

    @9 It sure looks like they’re deleting any critical comments. Not that that makes any difference. The level of idolation by some many idiots is nauseating and unfuriating.

    I’m deleting my Spotify account. I didn’t want to pay them anything for listening to music I already own anyway, but still.

  42. quotetheunquote says

    @45, @47, @55 (and others):
    Never understood the draw of Spotify, but now I kinda wish I’d bought a subscription just so I could cancel it. It’d be like trying to drain the Pacific will a bucket, I know, but it’d still feel good.

  43. says

    Gerrard: No problem. To be clear, though, from what I’ve heard others say about JP, I don’t think that’s what he’s doing. While a crank would nurse his own ideas and build them up into a structure all his own, in near-total isolation from other ideas or real-world verification* (and yes, AFAICT most cranks tend to be male), JP seems to be taking whatever ideas come his way from others and repackaging them as his own old-authentic/new-shiny manly wisdom. In the process, however, all those other people’s ideas would likely tend to get mashed together in JP’s mind to form a structure of his own; but they’re not his own ideas and he’s not really controlling the construction process the way most alienated cranks seem to do.

    *For an extreme example of this, see “VALIS” by Philip K. Dick.

  44. says

    (I should note re #59 that people are pointing out that tech stocks and stocks as a whole have been trending downward this month; that said, it looks like a pretty steep drop today.)

  45. PaulBC says

    Raging Bee@58 I’m inclined to agree. JP is winging it and practices the “deep thinker” look in the mirror to fool followers into believing there is something behind it all. I suppose I could be wrong about his methodology and he has a carefully formulated crackpot theory. I would need more evidence to reach that conclusion though.

    I spent a little time looking at “12 rules” and came away unimpressed. Why 12? Why these ones?

  46. PaulBC says

    Raging Bee@58

    For an extreme example of this, see “VALIS” by Philip K. Dick.

    I also want to address this, since I’m a PKD fan, though it doesn’t contradict your point. One thing about Philip K. Dick is that he was constantly aware that much of his thought process may have been the result of mental problems, and always left that option open. The same can’t be said of Peterson (who seems ready to burst out with “I’m the only sane person here.” at any moment). Dick also expressed his “revelations” with the humility of a vessel very fortunate to receiving all these visions from some higher benevolent power. He never tried to bully anyone else into going along with it, at least as far as I know. Finally, Dick’s delusions served as a basis for engaging and highly imaginative fiction, and he definitely published VALIS as fiction.

    There is nothing about Peterson that strikes me as remotely imaginative. His job appears to be to pose as a wise old counselor whose message, when you cut through the “Jungian” bullshit and everything else, is just that the most conventional, conservative viewpoints from 70 years ago or more are what you should be aiming at, and all this newfangled “postmodernism” and “moral relativism” have led us astray. Basically just your standard old fart conservative (see e.g. Bill Bennet) masquerading as a brilliant academic. His only “value add” is the deep thought look and the obfuscating frame of reference.

  47. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Oh. Sure. I could be wrong about that. I haven’t cared enough to decipher Peterson beyond learning that he’s a very very weird kind of – maybe agnostic – Biblical presuppositionalist