Jordan Peterson - why do practitioners not like him?

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Re: Jordan Peterson - why do practitioners not like him?

Post by maven » Fri May 24, 2019 3:01 pm

Likewise the paradox of tolerance:
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Re: Jordan Peterson - why do practitioners not like him?

Post by lingua_franca » Fri May 24, 2019 4:40 pm

Spatch wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 10:53 am
Instead of smearing his name, I would like to see him go head-to-head with someone with the same cool head, precision in their words and sniper-like debate style... a CP version of Sam Harris perhaps?
Me too. I sometimes reflect on why this hasn't happened already as somone could probably build a good career doing what you have just said.
Do neither of you see the implicit bias and misogyny here? As Miriam pointed out in the other thread, this plays into the 'irrational emotive woman' versus 'cool-headed logical man' trope. So many intelligent, articulate women have made a case against what Peterson has written, but it gets dismissed as "smearing". Meanwhile Peterson can deny that Islamophobia or white privilege exist and he's not emoting or irrational, he's just demonstrating what an enormously clever chap he is.
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Re: Jordan Peterson - why do practitioners not like him?

Post by Spatch » Fri May 24, 2019 6:09 pm

Do neither of you see the implicit bias and misogyny here? As Miriam pointed out in the other thread, this plays into the 'irrational emotive woman' versus 'cool-headed logical man' trope. So many intelligent, articulate women have made a case against what Peterson has written, but it gets dismissed as "smearing". Meanwhile Peterson can deny that Islamophobia or white privilege exist and he's not emoting or irrational, he's just demonstrating what an enormously clever chap he is.
Maybe I am missing something, but I am not aware of any counter examples who have had the same impact of Peterson. I agree that there are intelligent and articulate men and women who have made a case against his views, but they haven't got hold of the popular imagination or had the same resonance. I know that the far right/idealogues like JP fear humour and satire but nothing I have seen really works.

Maybe it is misogynistic or biased, but many people, myself included do value logic and rhetoric and don't necessarily equate it to a particular gender. Maybe we just have to agree to disagree with this. My position is that I think we need to be aware of the tools of the far right/alt-right (which I hope my "quiz" served to highlight at least some of) and be able to disarm their rhetoric, with precision and without alienating centrists. I am struggling to think how that "cool sniper" counter to JP would hurt? I guess what I am really interested in is what people would think constitutes a good defence against people like JP in the current political climate.
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Re: Jordan Peterson - why do practitioners not like him?

Post by Spatch » Fri May 24, 2019 6:15 pm

Likewise the paradox of tolerance
I agree with this, but if I recall correctly Popper does mention that rational arguments are a big part of that shutting down intolerance, and not suppressing intolerant utterings without taking into account the public concensus. However, he does also state that you need to use force sometimes to set boundaries and limits if your opponent is not using rational argument and I am not sure if JP is there yet (especially in comparison to the likes of Farage, Trump and others).

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Re: Jordan Peterson - why do practitioners not like him?

Post by lingua_franca » Fri May 24, 2019 8:22 pm

Spatch wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 6:09 pm

Maybe I am missing something, but I am not aware of any counter examples who have had the same impact of Peterson. I agree that there are intelligent and articulate men and women who have made a case against his views, but they haven't got hold of the popular imagination or had the same resonance. I know that the far right/idealogues like JP fear humour and satire but nothing I have seen really works.

Maybe it is misogynistic or biased, but many people, myself included do value logic and rhetoric and don't necessarily equate it to a particular gender...
There are no counter examples who have had the same impact as Peterson, but there are counter examples who are much more logical in their thinking than he is. Peterson doesn't owe his success to logic. Most crowd-pleasing demagogues don't. His rhetorical flourishes? Yes. The bias lies in treating his rhetorical gift as a sign of a great analytical mind (and in seeing Sam Harris style machismo and militaristic 'sniper' debating styles as the hallmark of persuasive argument). I value logic too, but I don't see it in Peterson's arguments.

Logic also tells me that it's a mistake to assume that people can be argued out of deeply entrenched ideological positions. The literature on conspiracy theories would indicate that this is far from the case. And the idea that Peterson peddles - that of the poor disenfranchised white man - has more in common with conspiracy theories than it does with actual scholarly argument. His target audience laps it up for all the reasons Miriam gives. Emotionally they need that rhetoric and cold hard logic would give them no incentive to change their minds, just as cold hard logic couldn't compete with Hitler's rabble-rousing. It wasn't that there were no rational thinkers and talented writers in Weimar Germany who could rouse a counter-argument. It was that large sections of the public had no taste for what they were offering.

I wouldn't expect a centre for Holocaust research to invite David Irving to debate, because it would legitimise his view ("This is something that must be worth debating. There are two sides") and feed an increasingly febrile and dangerous political atmosphere. I wouldn't expect the Royal Geographical Society to fund a climate change-denier's research. Rather than acting as though people whose views actively harm others deserve airtime, I would rather uplift voices that might not have a following of thousands on YouTube, but who say things that make life kinder for everyone. Rather than debating about why practitioners 'dislike' Peterson (I don't think this is about likes and dislikes - it isn't that he's just not our cup of tea), we could be talking about psychologists who aren't in the public arena but whose work might make it a less cruel and hostile place if it were to be amplified there. And I don't think we should wait for them to become like Sam Harris in how they speak and act - the idea that this sort of bullish confrontational style is somehow a prerequisite for successful public engagement is part of the whole problem. Culturally we receive that as a sign of intellect and rigor. It isn't.
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Re: Jordan Peterson - why do practitioners not like him?

Post by miriam » Sun May 26, 2019 12:09 am

Spatch wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 6:09 pm
Maybe I am missing something, but I am not aware of any counter examples who have had the same impact of Peterson. I agree that there are intelligent and articulate men and women who have made a case against his views, but they haven't got hold of the popular imagination or had the same resonance. I know that the far right/idealogues like JP fear humour and satire but nothing I have seen really works.

Maybe it is misogynistic or biased, but many people, myself included do value logic and rhetoric and don't necessarily equate it to a particular gender. Maybe we just have to agree to disagree with this. My position is that I think we need to be aware of the tools of the far right/alt-right (which I hope my "quiz" served to highlight at least some of) and be able to disarm their rhetoric, with precision and without alienating centrists. I am struggling to think how that "cool sniper" counter to JP would hurt? I guess what I am really interested in is what people would think constitutes a good defence against people like JP in the current political climate.
Sorry to say it, but you are missing the confident white man presenting it, and the baying audience of disenfranchised white men who feel progress is disempowering them. Seeing either as "impressive" or "hard to defeat" just shows the power that evil but charismatic people can wield if they come from the right demographic and push the right buttons. Logic (or a pretence of it that people find more accessible, coupled with criticism of people who actually do have expertise on the topic) and rhetoric of this kind really are the tools of the white male intellectual, and to think that countering him requires beating him at his own game is like thinking we should don boxing gloves to dismiss the repugnant views of a boxer.

I'm worried about the rise of the hard right, and the middle-aged-male-white-millionaire that pretends to be a man-of-the-people and how they can turn many frightened and disenfranchised people to act in ways that ultimately harm themselves for the benefit of those self same millionaires. However, the best defence is to laugh at these people and dismiss them for the ridiculous, regressive and biased viewpoint they present, not give them the platform and the serious responses they think they deserve. I mean really, Peterson should have been laughed out the room for suggesting lobsters or ancient carvings show us how modern human society should function.
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Re: Jordan Peterson - why do practitioners not like him?

Post by Spatch » Tue May 28, 2019 10:26 am

I share some of those fears too, especially around the rise of the populist right wing, and the disenfranchised. My view is still that we need to adopt a range of approaches to tackle this, and I think breaking down what is happening does help (me and others) with this. I really like this article that deconstructs JP's rhetorical approach:

https://medium.com/@Corax/argue-like-jo ... 5e4c11b235

I was struck by this paragraph (particularly in light of Lingua's good point about why don't we focus on other more constructive psychologists), which may give some context to why the attention may be focussed on him.
Modern psychologists generally fall on the center-left spectrum, thus it took a reactionary Peterson to stand out from his peers, and it took an individualist psychologist to become a household name. A “sociological” Peterson figure is an impossibility, for he would have to acknowledge a world of multiple complexities and causes, of individual pathologies colliding with structural injustices; a sociological Peterson could not Peterslam his way out of all the predicaments put to him. Indeed, a Peterson figure who acted in good faith would need a dialectic between real and imagined oppression, between systems and individuals. Instead, our heroic tautologist offers little more than a theme and variations: the dominance hierarchy “is what it is,” which is to say: you should accept the world as it is.

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Re: Jordan Peterson - why do practitioners not like him?

Post by miriam » Tue May 28, 2019 4:11 pm

Yes, I'd agree with that. Certainty and simplicity are persuasive. Just look at how Corbyn has struggled to communicate something other than "Brexit" or "Remain" as a political position recently.
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Re: Jordan Peterson - why do practitioners not like him?

Post by buenosaires » Tue May 28, 2019 5:24 pm

miriam wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 11:20 am
It takes knowledge and critical thinking to see the problems in Peterson's rhetoric, and this thread proves that even people with an interest in psychology often lack that.
Sorry I have to say that I find this kind of commentary really quite unhelpful. I don't know how you intend on engaging people with differing opinions when you boil down their stance to being demonstrative of a lack of "knowledge and critical thinking". Elevating yourself above others is surely a quick fire way to shut down all productive discussions?
lingua_franca wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 4:40 pm
Spatch wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 10:53 am
Instead of smearing his name, I would like to see him go head-to-head with someone with the same cool head, precision in their words and sniper-like debate style... a CP version of Sam Harris perhaps?
Me too. I sometimes reflect on why this hasn't happened already as somone could probably build a good career doing what you have just said.
Do neither of you see the implicit bias and misogyny here? As Miriam pointed out in the other thread, this plays into the 'irrational emotive woman' versus 'cool-headed logical man' trope. So many intelligent, articulate women have made a case against what Peterson has written, but it gets dismissed as "smearing". Meanwhile Peterson can deny that Islamophobia or white privilege exist and he's not emoting or irrational, he's just demonstrating what an enormously clever chap he is.
Hi LinguaFranca - I appreciate your comments but I think you have misunderstood what I am trying to say in that parting sentence, hopefully I can explain myself better -

When I say "smearing" I am making reference to the great volumes of people who opt for labels or name-calling (I understand JP has been likened to Hitler, been called a white supremacist etc. etc.!), which I imagine on their side to be an attempt to disengage with or silence a person that they find to be completely contemptible. I certainly do not apply this term (i.e. smearing) to people, especially intelligent articulate women, who have taken the time to listen to his position and communicate theirs. I appreciate I may be in the minority - but I personally don't find JP so reprehensible that I don't want there to be a dialogue with him.

Regarding his debate style, JP is famed for being very exacting with his words and resistant to getting antagonised. By virtue of these qualities, it seems he often comes across as the victor in the debates he engages in - irrespective of the content of his arguments. The vast majority of the debates (this is excluding written responses, I refer only to the real-time back and forth drama!) are with other men, which is why I don't feel its fair to say that I am playing into the emotional woman vs. cool-headed man nonsense. There are plenty of men on the left who have an issue with him - I don't think he creates a purely male/female divide.

From the debates I have watched and listened to I don't think that he has met his match in terms of someone with a similar debate style (except here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1oaSt60b0o with Sam Harris). I think this is a CRYING SHAME, as as I've said before he seems to "win" this conversations more because of his approach than the validity of his arguments. If all were equal in the rhetoric realm, I think JP would really struggle to uphold a lot of his views, which I personally think would be a very cool thing to see! Indeed, in that YouTube video where he goes against Sam Harris, I think its fair to say that SH does away with him :)

I have read your later responses in that rhetoric doesn't equate to academic rigor, which is totally right. My thought is just that it has done a huge amount to engage the public and it would be nice to have a representative on our side too.

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Re: Jordan Peterson - why do practitioners not like him?

Post by buenosaires » Tue May 28, 2019 5:53 pm

Spatch wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 10:53 am
Really thoughtful post Miranda.
For me, taking the time to really listen to his rationale (and RESISTING the temptation to immediately get offended) has been a useful exercise. I realised that I didn't actually have much of a rebuttle for - or even really considered - many of his points (i.e. the dangers of compelled speech, the relative contribution of gender vs other factors to the pay gap). These didn't change my opinions, but it did lead me to think more carefully about my position and encourage me to better express my reasoning - something that JP does exceptionally well. So, with all his faults, I don't think it is a bad thing to have someone out there who can spur on some intellectual gymnastics.
This really resonates for me, and it was what I was (clumsily) trying to allude to in the other thread about diversity. I do my best to engage with views/people I find offensive to sharpen my own justification/reasoning/rhetoric, but I also realise that I am in a good place where I can do that, and not everyone is.
Instead of smearing his name, I would like to see him go head-to-head with someone with the same cool head, precision in their words and sniper-like debate style... a CP version of Sam Harris perhaps?
Me too. I sometimes reflect on why this hasn't happened already as somone could probably build a good career doing what you have just said. Personally if I am being candid, I would dread going toe-to-toe in open debate with this guy. For starters, I accept he is more intelligent than I am and accomplished more on most objectively measurable indices of sucess in clinical psychology and/or writing. I am aware that a lot of his strengths are also my areas of weakness such as maintaining presense in front of media, not falling into traps like over explaining or losing patience. He also has a real skill of giving information in a way that makes his audience feel smart and validated (even if that information is incorrect) without threatening their world view or challenging their beliefs, which I recognise is really potent.

For others maybe it is more motivational and that they would rather spend time providing therapy, research or doing the things they are trained to do rather than face off against people like him?

Also I am struggling to think of many others who would do well when put up against him. I have no real evidence of this, but I feel he would quickly take apart people like Tanya Byron and come across better to a general audience than intellectual heavy hitters like Paul Salkovskis or Paul Gilbert. That said, I think someone like Ben Goldacre, possibly could.
Thank you for your comments Spatch! Must say I agree with a great deal of what you have contributed to the discussion thus far. Particularly, Maybe it is misogynistic or biased, but many people, myself included do value logic and rhetoric and don't necessarily equate it to a particular gender... My position is that I think we need to be aware of the tools of the far right/alt-right (which I hope my "quiz" served to highlight at least some of) and be able to disarm their rhetoric, with precision and without alienating centrists.!

My thoughts exactly! I think its so important to avoid rubbishing your opponent completely and be able to recognise what they are doing effectively - hopefully to then be able to use that your advantage. I think anecdotally we can all appreciate that it so often isn't "what you said but how you said it" that's important, which seems to be working wonders for JP. I know rhetoric shouldn't have primacy over actual content, but I do worry that views (however right or helpful they are) are rendered useless if a person isn't able to successfully engage their audience.

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Re: Jordan Peterson - why do practitioners not like him?

Post by lakeland » Wed May 29, 2019 10:19 am

Am I allowed to just think he's an arrogant prick or do I need a more nuanced argument than that?

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Re: Jordan Peterson - why do practitioners not like him?

Post by lingua_franca » Wed May 29, 2019 11:51 am

lakeland wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 10:19 am
Am I allowed to just think he's an arrogant prick or do I need a more nuanced argument than that?
Yours is what we call a concise argument. :) Why expend two hundred words when you can say it in two?
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
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Re: Jordan Peterson - why do practitioners not like him?

Post by Geishawife » Wed May 29, 2019 12:05 pm

lingua_franca wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 11:51 am
lakeland wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 10:19 am
Am I allowed to just think he's an arrogant prick or do I need a more nuanced argument than that?
Yours is what we call a concise argument. :) Why expend two hundred words when you can say it in two?
LOL!!! :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: Sometimes I guess we just have to say what we see!!

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Re: Jordan Peterson - why do practitioners not like him?

Post by miriam » Wed May 29, 2019 9:23 pm

buenosaires wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 5:24 pm
Sorry I have to say that I find this kind of commentary really quite unhelpful. I don't know how you intend on engaging people with differing opinions when you boil down their stance to being demonstrative of a lack of "knowledge and critical thinking". Elevating yourself above others is surely a quick fire way to shut down all productive discussions?
I think that's a pernicious argument from the alt right that aims to legitimise illegitimate views. We don't say that we need to hear out people who believe in eugenics and persuade them otherwise through endless logic and proof, we just say that they are wrong. We don't say that we need to hear out people who believe that jews are secretly pulling all the strings and need to be exterminated, and engage them and bring them round. We need to state they are wrong and their views are unacceptable. We don't need to legitimise those who call for the legalising of child sexual abuse. Likewise we don't need to legitimise those who say that there are only two genders and that trans people don't deserve basic human rights, that the family can only be a nuclear family and believe women belong in the home looking pretty, where they can produce and raise children according to the rules determined by men, and that they shouldn't be allowed to be picky about partners, and that women's liberation is responsible for men who become mass shooters.
buenosaires wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 5:24 pm
When I say "smearing" I am making reference to the great volumes of people who opt for labels or name-calling (I understand JP has been likened to Hitler, been called a white supremacist etc. etc.!), which I imagine on their side to be an attempt to disengage with or silence a person that they find to be completely contemptible. I certainly do not apply this term (i.e. smearing) to people, especially intelligent articulate women, who have taken the time to listen to his position and communicate theirs. I appreciate I may be in the minority - but I personally don't find JP so reprehensible that I don't want there to be a dialogue with him.
Again, right out of the alt right playbook. Suddenly the powerful white men earning millions of dollars a year pedaling hate are the ones hard done by and silenced, and deserving to be protected from name-calling. Whilst they can out and threaten trans individuals without repercussion, stalk and harrass women without repercussion, because that's free speech!
buenosaires wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 5:24 pm
Regarding his debate style, JP is famed for being very exacting with his words and resistant to getting antagonised.
Quite the opposite. He is famed for weasel words that he changes the meaning of when challenged, and steamrollering through evidenced counter arguments with opinion stated more forcibly.
buenosaires wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 5:24 pm
By virtue of these qualities, it seems he often comes across as the victor in the debates he engages in - irrespective of the content of his arguments. The vast majority of the debates (this is excluding written responses, I refer only to the real-time back and forth drama!) are with other men, which is why I don't feel its fair to say that I am playing into the emotional woman vs. cool-headed man nonsense. There are plenty of men on the left who have an issue with him - I don't think he creates a purely male/female divide.
He is proclaimed victor by himself and the baying mob he gathers around him, not by anyone with actual knowledge of the topics on which he opines.
buenosaires wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 5:24 pm
I have read your later responses in that rhetoric doesn't equate to academic rigor, which is totally right. My thought is just that it has done a huge amount to engage the public and it would be nice to have a representative on our side too.
JBP has done nothing to engage the public in anything of substance or meaning or related to evidence. He has simply engaged an ugly demographic of insecure white men, who share his opinions and added to the rising alt right tide in the world, the oppression of minorities and polarised the debate. He is a repugnant man, and is rightly being compared to other charismatic hatemongers.
Miriam

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Re: Jordan Peterson - why do practitioners not like him?

Post by miriam » Wed May 29, 2019 9:32 pm

lakeland wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 10:19 am
Am I allowed to just think he's an arrogant prick or do I need a more nuanced argument than that?
Yup, and that.
Miriam

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