Sorry Jordan Peterson

I’ve tried with Jordan Peterson. I’ve really tried.

First, I assumed he’s just too massively brilliant. But I did graduate at the top of my class in medical school and I can communicate with reasonable facility in several languages.

Sorry, Jordan Peterson, it’s not me, it’s you.

What distresses me the most about Jordan Peterson, and what appeals to young men, is likely his authoritarian character. He exhibits complete certainty in everything that he claims. There’s not a hint of humility about his “findings” or the process that led him to conclude anything about their truth. Instead, Peterson belts out his opinions with fervor and something bordering on anger when it comes to university students and climate change protestors.

I will grant that I’ve given Peterson only two extended hearings on two different podcasts. At the RSA, he was nearly incoherent. On another, podcast, with a friendlier, less probing host, he was folksy but no less cocksure of his opinions on a range of subjects.

On the subject of religion, Jordan Peterson seems to claim that everything stripped of a religious context reduces to ideology because it lacks a narrative tale to weave it all together. Of course, humans are story-tellers but that fact alone and the fact that it survived years of evolutionary refinement, doesn’t make the stories they tell actually true. In the Abrahamic religions, children are taught the literal truth of Noah and the flood, despite the absolute impossibility of such an event. Nothing about the narrative makes any deeper truth in it more or less true.

There’s a countless other subjects, climate change for example, where Peterson constantly drops hints about his skepticisms that the predictive models are flawed. On what basis can he claim any expertise whatsoever in the discipline of climate science. And therein he reveals what he’s really up to. He’s not any more of a scientist than I am. So what is he?

Jordan Peterson is an entertainer.

His audience is young men awed by his vocabulary and the forcefulness of his opinions. Donald Trump wows the same audiences with his presentation.

Sorry, Jordan Peterson. I’m sure you’ll keep “doing you” as they say. But beyond a few self-evident “rules” for living, most of which seem pretty reasonable, I can’t find much of merit in your pontifications.

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About Alan Duncan
Ertswhile physician. Musician. Polymath. Language geek. French C2. Russian B2. Contact me here if you must.