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 quote, 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 of mine 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 I had was way worse, my friend describes him as someone who encourages – one 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 virtue of 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 people. In that they also believe the values I believe, so what really bothers me is why do 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 are 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 a lot about 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 in 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 a lot of hate about him in the internet, he was just one of those obscure professors out of the other millions around the world.
But what really catapulted him to internet stardom wasn’t really his lectures, debates or discussions.
I would like 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 mostly 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 am able to 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 because how that person lives his/her life with integrity and responsibility reflects around his personality and work.
The third dimension is how that person spent his life before and what are the 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 up on each other.
JBP say’s a lot of 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 is that JBP can back up his claims with scientific data.
- On discussing on the myth of gender pay gap, he provided scientific data.
- On discussing the differences of men and women, he provided scientific data.
- On discussing his stance on gay marriage, he provided scientific data.
- On discussing about 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 to 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 just browse the recommended reading list section in his website and any naysayers would have to contend in debunking everything that 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, Nietszche, Freud, Dostoevsky, Solzhenitysn 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 reason to say that JBP’s a good person and is worthy to be 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 don’t agree with, what is hard is proving to yourself OBJECTIVELY WHY you should.
There are some things I don’t agree with JBP, but that doesn’t mean he is not worth listening to or reading about. 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 really sad is the way Peterson is painted just because people don’t agree with his opinions as if the only ones who can have an opinion are the ones who disagree with him. And that is his foremost issue to ever 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
Last night I watched the late great christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias deliver a sermon at the 1983 Amsterdam Conference with Billy Graham.
One of his astute observations 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 have knowledge of 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 be able to use their own message that they value in laying the foundation for inquiring about the veracity of their own truths.
What Ravi Zacharias meant in his own words was:
“When you are trying to reach someone, please be sensitive to what he holds valuable”
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 being able to provide value through Freedom of Speech. and what she values 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, this again intersects with the
answer given by Ravi Zacharias in a question he expounded his answer upon:
“I think your question goes deeper and I want to be very careful and I may be hit out here badly.
Does one vote for a candidate who belongs say to a faith other than the Christian faith?
Everyone has to vote according to their conscience and what God is prompting them to do because it’s a very privileged role that we are given in this nation my view of the philosophy of history and politics is this.
When you’re choosing between leaders none of whom will give you the groundswell of the Christian faith on which their life is built which may not guarantee that they may be the best leader, either you know but if that’s not there you have to go for a person who will help a nation provide the best moral soil on which the freedom to believe and disbelieve can actually function.
It is on a moral soil that the freedom to believe actually works best and truth can ultimately triumph if you have an immoral soil created then the truth is evicted and you’re not even given the opportunity of voicing your ideas in the marketplace and in the public setting and in the arena.
The Christian faith ought to have a voice in the marketplace it ought to have a voice in the Academy it ought to have a voice in politics it ought to have a voice in business and any leader that’ll create the moral soil to make it possible for us to continue to proclaim that that’s the kind of leader we may have to ultimately work no matter what tag they put on them on the outside.
If you’re choosing between those for whom the Christ is not supreme and salvation you have to choose one who will give you the best moral soil in order to allow you to live for Christ and live out your faith that’s the implication of the answer that I have given.”
For Peterson and Zacharias, Freedom of Speech is as important as the emergence of morality, it is a constant, an 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 and Zacharias wrong?
Is Freedom of Speech True?
Is Freedom of Speech just another form of philosophy and should be far removed from it being true 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 un-initiated 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 its surrounding effects on society and culture.
I can never emphasize more the importance of this book nor the intellectual discourse that it lays on the table as I wrestle with the bigger questions in life and deeper yet on its meaning.
What interests me about Jordan Peterson was how he was able to touch upon closely with the ideas I’ve grappled with for the longest time.
I once worked with an NGO who’s advocacy was to search for the remains of former rebels, who were tortured months or days and under great duress was 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 was 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.
Which 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 a society has to contend with in the event that 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.”