The power of the ellipsis

I’ve pointed out before how creationists like to butcher quotes from scientists to completely change their meaning, in a practice called quote mining. Guess who else does this?

Jordan Peterson. Tell me you’re surprised.

He and his publisher spattered the back cover of his latest book, Beyond Order, with blurbs from reviewers that praised it highly…or did they?

Another objection came from The Times reviewer James Marriott, because the blurb included from his review quoted him calling the book “A philosophy of the meaning of life… the most lucid and touching prose Peterson has ever written.”

In a now-deleted X post, Marriott noted that the ellipse covered up that his full sentence was “A philosophy of the meaning of life which is bonkers.”

“My review of this mad book was probably the most negative thing I have ever written,” Marriott said. He later added that he was amused by the situation, “Though my amusement is tinged with annoyance at being misrepresented to the tens of thousands of people who will buy that book in paperback.

Oh man, you can’t trust Jordan Peterson? Shocking.


  1. Doc Bill says

    I saw these guys all the time in my corporate life. Some average Joe gets a nickname, like “T-Bone,” or some undeserved accolade and it sticks with him for a long, long time. I remember some clueless manager giving me the what for after I scoffed at one of these “Golden Boys” being told, “Joe is the best programmer in the company and possibly the World.” Yeah, like Cincinnati is the Chili Capital of the Woild! ** No, actually Joe was pretty bad and a lot of people cleaned up his messes and got no credit.

    Peterson reminds me of Carlos Castaneda back in the day, all mystical and hippy-dippy, but less substantial than cotton candy, but, srsly, dude, have you ever REALLY looked at your hand, man?

    ** Ron White comedy routine.

  2. raven says

    This isn’t a new book.
    It came out in 2021 and I never heard of it or cared.

    Jordan Peterson is a minor conperson with nothing worthwhile to say.

  3. robro says

    That scam wasn’t Peterson per se, but his publisher. Looks like the original was published by Random House Canada. Did Random House publish the paperback version?

    Here’s a interesting bit about that book from the Wikipedia article on it:

    In November 2020, shortly after the book’s announcement, multiple staff at the Canadian division of Penguin Random House protested against the publication of the book. At least 70 anonymous messages were made to the publisher’s diversity and inclusion committee, with “a couple” in favour of publishing.

    Here’s the ellipsis version: “At least 70 anonymous messages were made to the publisher…in favour of publishing”

  4. Erp says

    Thou shalt…commit adultery

    You can drop the ellipse in that case as long as you cite the Barker & Lewis 1631 printing. The printers were subsequently fined 300 pounds (this was probably several times their annual income) and lost their license to print.

  5. StevoR says

    Seems apt to quote mine a book that ‘s by a toxic waste like Jordan Peterson.

    After all Peterson’s own wikipage notes :

    Jordan Bernt Peterson (born 12 June 1962) is ..a criminal …ill-informed, ignorant and ideologically-addled ..misogynistic ..weak-minded .. incel.”

    Hey, the words are all there in that order! ;-)

  6. StevoR says

    @8. mordred & #9 Erp : Yup. The Wicked Bible :

    The Wicked Bible, sometimes called the Adulterous Bible or the Sinners’ Bible, is an edition of the Bible published in 1631 by Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the royal printers in London, meant to be a reprint of the King James Bible. The name is derived from a mistake made by the compositors: in the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:14, the word “not” was omitted from the sentence “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” causing the verse to instead read “Thou shalt commit adultery.”

    Source :

  7. Matthew Currie says

    Bad review ellipsis has been a joke for years. I seem to recall Mad or some other magazine, among others, riffing on it many decades ago.

    But I am reminded of an also very old custom – the New York Times daily edition used to include a TV listing for NY stations and networks, and for movies, often a single sentence review. A review from a now forgotten late night movie became a catch-phrase in my family for years: “Rock bottom bad.”

    Certain reviewers of this kind of stuff should have that put on a rubber stamp.

  8. hemidactylus says

    That Jordan Peterson…is still taken seriously by anybody…is testament to how brain addled and desperate…for validation and…a father figure people can become. Sad…really…steak…vodka…constipation…muppet voice…jokeass douchebro. Jung cried…the squeaky voice was too much to take from beyond the grave.

    Joe Rogan…has no merit…harbinger of our doom as a species…Fear Factor and 2nd gen Man Show…really! Asteroid…please now!

  9. StevoR says

    PS. There’s some other good Bible typo stuff up’s in various versions including :

    “More Sea Bible”, from 1641: “…the first heaven and the first earth were passed away and there was more sea”, rather than “…the first heaven and the first earth were passed away and there was no more sea”, from Revelation 21:1

    … (snip)..

    “Sin On Bible”, from 1716: Jeremiah 31:34[36][37] reads “sin on more” rather than “sin no more”.


    “The Fools Bible”, from 1763: Psalm 14:1[39] reads “the fool hath said in his heart there is a God”, rather than “there is no God”. The printers were fined £3,000 and all copies ordered destroyed.

    .. (Snip)..

    “Standing Fishes Bible”, from 1806: “Fishes” replaced “fishers” making Ezekiel 47:10[44] read “And it shall come to pass, that the fishes shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many.”

    … (Snip – one more funny one)..

    “Owl Bible”, from 1944: “Owl” replaces “own”, making 1 Peter 3:5[50] read, “For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their owl husbands.” The error was caused by a printing plate with a damaged letter n.

    Among others -and then there are the fictional ones..

  10. Doc Bill says

    My favorite quote miner is Disco Tooter Stevie Meyer and his fellow colluder Attack Gerbil Luskin. (Darwin’s Doubt) Apparently, Luskin does all the legwork and Meyer gets the credit, er, infamy. It became quite the game to come across an ellipsis and track down the source. One of my favorites spanned something like 15 pages of text in the original source. Man, that is some serious mining! It might have been that book a reviewer summarized as a “systematic failure of scholarship.”

  11. says

    Another objection came from The Times reviewer James Marriott, because [. . .] the ellipse covered up that his full sentence was “A philosophy of the meaning of life which is bonkers.”

    That’s how you do an ellipsis.

    Clowns like Peterson believe “an ellipsis justifies my circular reasoning!”

  12. Pierce R. Butler says

    Nobody here has dealt with the second part of the mined quote, so I had to go look it up.

    Apparently Mrs. Peterson’s errant little boy did snag a morsel of praise from Marriott:

    Rule VIII: Try to Make One Room in Your Home as Beautiful as Possible (in my opinion one of the most sensitive and lucid passages of prose he has written) concerns art and interior design.

    Which shows some blurbist at the publisher’s office changed the wording, so the reviewer has an even stronger case (though one likely never to go to court).

    More examples of pro-Peterson perversities at the link.

  13. xohjoh2n says


    Really? I heard they were omitted from the final chapter because they didn’t do well in the focus groups.