I never really took the hate and vitriol against Dr. Jordan B. Peterson (JBP) seriously until I experienced it firsthand.
My first encounter was when I posted some quotes of him on my FB profile, and despite the beauty of the passage, I found some angry emoji reactions on it from feminists that I know. (it’s still happening now)
The second encounter (albeit not too extreme) I had was with a friend who resides in Canada. After sharing some thoughts about JBP, he immediately informed me that he would like to agree to disagree. When I pressed him more on his reasons, he merely told me that he found JBP’s ideas closely associated with the alt-right.
The third encounter was way worse; my friend describes him as someone who encourages white supremacy, two Christian supremacy, and toxic masculinity.
When I tried to reason with him, he turned defensive and just changed the conversation.
The fourth encounter was when I was blocked in FB by a friend of mine (his reason was that he doesn’t want to be that gay friend that legitimizes my arguments by association) and was demonized by a doctor whom I consider as a best friend of mine (we haven’t talked ever since) after I raised my disagreements regarding transgender Ángela Maria Ponce Camacho, Spain’s entry to the Ms. Universe pageant last 2018. (I have reason to believe that they both consider the arguments I raised as hate speech, ergo I’m automatically a bigot, homophobic, and trans-phobic)
The most recent encounter would perhaps be from the people reading this post and hating me after. (yet hopefully not)
But don’t get me wrong, these people who don’t like JBP are good. They also believe the values, I think, so what bothers me is why they hate JBP so much, and why does he have that kind of effect on people? Why can’t I see what these friends of mine see?
Ironically I feel that the answer to these questions is found with JBP’s Understandmyself.com big five personality traits exam.
Some people are very open to experience and intellectual discourse, while others are not. After taking the exam, I found that I am high in openness, which practically says how I view ideas and people.
My first encounter with JBP was through a video on The psychological significance of the Biblical Stories; after that, I went on to watch more videos of his and then read his famous book 12 Rules For Life, after reading more articles of his on his website and other websites and debates and more videos made by other content creators in Youtube.
My first thought about him was, why does he speak like that? Who is he?
At that time, there wasn’t much hate about him on the internet, and he was just one of those obscure professors out of the other millions around the world.
But what catapulted him to internet stardom wasn’t really his lectures, debates, or discussions.
I want to think that he became famous because he fearlessly criticized what he found to be disdainful in the world of intellectual discourse. And that is mainly about the dangers of extremism both of the left and the right and the chilling effects of secularism and fundamentalism.
But primarily because of his stance on the sanctity of Freedom of Speech and why its erosion could pave the way for the demise of ANY society.
He explains that Freedom of Speech is an evolved ideology brought upon by Judeo-Christian precepts and is now being mired by Post-Modernism vis-a-vis Marxism which is the polar opposite of the evolution of belief and instead founded through rationality while forcibly imposed.
But that is just scratching the surface of JBP’s entire discussion, as his thoughts are more complex than that.
Three Dimensions of Knowing a Person
You see, I try as much as possible to reserve judgment to an individual until I can understand that person based on three dimensions.
- What the person says
- What the person does
- The history of that person.
The first dimension is because you can judge a person by what he says when you are free to determine if that person is lying or not.
The second dimension is that how people live their lives with integrity and responsibility reflects their personality and work.
The third dimension is how that person spent his life before and what things he did that are considered evil or good.
I’m pretty sure that my dimensions aren’t that stringent compared to others, but for me, each single criteria builds upon the other.
JBP says many things, but as far as what I’ve consumed of his content, what he is saying isn’t original.
It is a mix of History, Theology (arguably not his strongest suit though, as he admitted), Philosophy, Psychology, Neuro-Science, and many more. I think of him as a reporter that tries to give his point of view about what he is reporting and then spicing it up with his experience in the realm of clinical psychology.
If there’s one thing that he is not ashamed of, JBP can back up his claims with scientific data.
- On discussing the myth of the gender pay gap, he provided scientific data.
- On examining the differences between men and women, he offered scientific data.
- On discussing his stance on gay marriage, he provided scientific data.
- On discussing political correctness, he provided scientific data.
If there’s anything that anyone could hate about him, it is because he has all the empirical data, and he is practically just parroting them in layman’s terms to everyone. So if anyone has an issue with JBP’s proclamations, all they can do is disprove the scientific data.
Any academic and intellectual worth his salt would try to dig deeper into the evidence instead of attacking a person and committing an Ad Hominem.
With this, I quote Ben Shapiro: “Facts don’t care about your feelings.” (again another intellectual branded as an alt-right)
One can browse the recommended reading list section on his website. Any naysayers would have to contend in debunking everything he recommended because he read all of those books, digested them, and regurgitated them in front of everyone.
JBP also spent most of his time being a psychology professor, discussing intellectual greats such as Jung, Neumann, Rogers, Piaget, Nietzsche, Freud, Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, and more. But most of all, he spent his time being a clinician; if there’s one thing that you could be sure about is that HE KNOWS WHAT HE’S TALKING ABOUT when it comes to human behavior, personality, and psychology.
JBP’s background is also a sort of a hero’s journey; having been a young socialist struggling with depression, it is short of a miracle that he’s still alive. He also had to contend with the struggle of taking care of a child who had idiopathic juvenile arthritis, severe depression (bipolar type II), and chronic fatigue (treated by shifting her diet to lion diet) with the help of his beloved wife and son.
But are those enough reasons to say that JBP’s a good person and is worthy of being listened to?
Honestly, I can’t answer that question for you, but perhaps you can have an idea of the people who hates JBP while not considering everything above.
It is easy to dismiss anyone you disagree with; what is hard is proving yourself OBJECTIVELY WHY you should.
There are some things I can’t entirely agree with JBP, but that doesn’t mean he is not worth listening to or read. And If there’s one thing I learned about life, it is to be mature enough to realize that you can sometimes learn a lot from people you disagree with.
But what I find sad is how Peterson is painted just because people don’t agree with his opinions, as if the only ones who can have an idea are the ones who disagree with him. And that is his foremost issue ever to tackle, again, Freedom of Speech.
He said this bluntly in an interview with Cathy Newman.
“In order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive.”
How Jordan Peterson Reaches Peoples Hearts
One astute observation about the apostle Paul when he was in Athens was that for Paul to reach the hearts of perhaps the most intellectually advanced thinkers of that time, he had to know their famous philosophers and quote their works.
In doing so, he opened a window for them not to be entirely defensive or ambivalent towards his message but to use their message that they value in laying the foundation for inquiring about the integrity of their truths.
What Paul did was to reach people and be sensitive to the values they hold to be true.
Jordan Peterson practiced this brilliantly in his interview with Cathy Newman, as such that it even forced Newman to pause and admit the impeccable logic behind the words of Peterson.
Newman values her work in media, the practice of providing value through Freedom of Speech. And what she loves is what Peterson practically is trying to protect under which the interview is being implicitly framed as Peterson using this value to attack or not recognize the rights of certain groups.
However, the response of Peterson brilliantly highlighted the risk and the price an individual has to pay for standing up for Freedom of Speech, the dangers of political correctness, and the weaponization of the law through compelled speech.
This Freedom of Speech is what Peterson believes to be the bedrock of a thriving moral society, and this again intersects with the
For Peterson, Freedom of Speech is as important as the emergence of morality. It is a constant and ultimately valid presupposition and assumption, an absolute and an inherent human value; to believe otherwise would be to risk the detriment of any civilization.
But is Peterson wrong?
Is Freedom of Speech True?
Is Freedom of Speech just another form of philosophy, and should it be far removed from actual knowledge?
‘The study of philosophy confirms that there is no such thing as neutral knowledge. The evidence is interpreted according to presuppositions and assumptions’
Jordan Peterson is convinced that the evidence rests on the collective experience of the world in the 20th century and the ideologies and philosophies that gave birth to it.
For the uninitiated, Jordan Peterson is a dissector of the nature of beliefs.
He ravenously took great pains in enunciating this axiom through his highly dense book “Maps of Meaning,” carefully weighing each word and laying a case for the metaphysical foundations of beliefs and their surrounding effects on society and culture.
I can never emphasize the importance of this book or the intellectual discourse that it lays on the table as I wrestle with the more significant questions in life and more resounding yet on its meaning.
What interests me about Jordan Peterson was how he touched upon closely the ideas I’ve grappled with for the longest time.
I once worked with an NGO whose advocacy was to search for the remains of former rebels, who were tortured for months or days and under great duress were forced to identify other comrades suspected of being government spies. These campaigns by the Philippine Communist movement were given such names as “Oplan Cadena de Amor, Oplan Olympia, Oplan Missing Link.”
The entire experience was written in a book by one of its survivors Robert Francis Garcia, entitled: “To Suffer Thy Comrades.”
Most of the thinkers mentioned by Peterson were in the book; I even used this book as my prime resource in my college undergraduate thesis, interviewing some of the victims, creating a mini-documentary and a paper.
I ended up under the watch-list of the local communist dissidents, and the cd documentaries I made for my thesis were stolen from the library.
The book discusses the implications of the ideologies espoused by a movement; it enumerates the liberties any member has to sacrifice as a means to achieve its goal. It illustrates the rationalization for the acts of the torturer and the movement that is justified only within its terms.
The book gives a realistic representation of what a movement can achieve when it first sacrifices concepts such as the sanctity of human life and the importance of being innocent until proven guilty, all of which are under Judeo-Christian precepts.
This gives credence to another great thinker often quoted by Peterson:
“If God does not exist, everything is permitted.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Peterson didn’t have to prove that God exists; he only has to discuss the implications of what society has to contend with if objective moral values are relegated to the dustbin of discourse. And the key to doing so is to start with what he describes as the “Logos.”
In ending, why do people hate Jordan Peterson? Surprisingly, one of the people he admired answered it for him:
“Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.”― C.G. Jung
With this I leave you with a quote from C.S. Lewis:
“The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which overarches rulers and ruled alike. Unless we return to the crude and nursery-like belief in objective values, we perish.”