Ep 502 – Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, and Truth – Part 1

Panel Discussion

Posted July 14th, 2018

What is truth?  Is there a difference between truth and fact?  And where can real truth be found after rejecting the one-time source of One-True-Truth that is the Mormon Church?  Glenn, Tom, Bob, and Jake discuss the infamous January 2017 “Truth” debate between Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris.

Bob

Glenn

Jake

Tom

  • Brett Williams

    Hey guys, Canadian here.
    Canada did not pass a law that criminalized using the wrong pronoun.
    Canada added “Gender Identity and Expression” to the list of protected classes in our long-running civil rights legislation.

    You can read the full version of the bill here.
    https://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/bill/C-16/royal-assent

    This is the paragraph Peterson believes will subject him to being jailed for using the wrong pronouns
    __
    For all purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.
    __
    Jordan Peterson’s read of adding gender identity to our long-running civil rights legislation leading to him being jailed for making a mistake with a student’s gender pronouns is much like Mormon’s reading finding the bones of a Pleistocene horse in the La Brea Tar Pits as proof of the Book of Mormon horses.

    I also read quite a substantial amount of Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario cases as a part of my job, and there is a track record of cases being referred to the HRTO over the harassment of trans folks.

    Here’s a few examples of what an HRTO decision that resulted in a fine to a large industrial employer looks like.
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onhrt/doc/2012/2012hrto1977/2012hrto1977.html?searchUrlHash=AAAAAQALdHJhbnNnZW5kZXIAAAAAAQ&resultIndex=3

    Here’s an example of harassment by a landlord
    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onhrt/doc/2015/2015hrto1019/2015hrto1019.html?searchUrlHash=AAAAAQALdHJhbnNnZW5kZXIAAAAAAQ&resultIndex=6

    You’ll notice that both show a long-standing pattern of harassment.

    Here’s an example of one that was dismissed, and you’ll notice that 1) the respondent didn’t even show up and 2) it was a single incident and the complaint was dismissed

    https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onhrt/doc/2016/2016hrto1630/2016hrto1630.html?searchUrlHash=AAAAAQALdHJhbnNnZW5kZXIAAAAAAQ&resultIndex=10

    There’s a kicker here too. The HRTO… is a civil proceeding. There are no jail sentences. The only penalty possible is a fine (and for large employers they can be directed to develop harassment and other policies)

    Peterson wasn’t just wrong on this, he was maliciously wrong (He’s smart enough and in a place at the U of T where he could understand this in-depth if he wanted to) and during this time he was advocating *actually registering his fellow faculty on a website as ‘leftists’. That’s why a lot of folks are annoyed with him.

    • I don’t think it’s so simple as to say he’s wrong, and this is a non-issue. He’s been accused of over-selling this being a problem in the first place, that’s true. But his larger philosophical point stands unanswered (at least, convincingly): “Gender Identity and Expression” as a protected “class” is tricky due to the fluidity of said identity and expression as defined by those seeking this protection. He fears the slippery slope of government intervention/punishment being enacted on something with so much subjectivity/fluidity from the offender.

      • Brett Williams

        Let me flip this a little bit

        “Religion as a protected class is tricky due to the fluidity of said identity and expression is defined by those seeking this protection”

        I really don’t think it’s that tricky to respect a person’s chosen name, and there was already a long history of case law from the HRTO establishing that the protection already existed by virtue of protection from sex discrimination.

        • Nice, since it’s established that the protection already exists, then no need for this. 😉

          As for religion being a protected class, well, it still is tricky since an absence of religion is ironically not protected…

          • Brett Williams

            Atheism is protected under ‘creed’ in the human rights code. That’s been settled law for decades.

            The protection existed in Ontario. It didn’t exist across Canada. The federal law change in C16 applied the law across Canada.

          • Brett Williams

            @bobcaswell:disqus I’m going to be a bit of an asshole and poke you on this. Peterson’s understanding of Bill C16 was factually wrong. You repeated that factually wrong assertion without any qualification in the podcast. In defending your perception of his words, you’ve made two factual mistakes, 1) misunderstanding Canadian federalism in the difference between provincial and federal human rights law and 2) misunderstanding Canadian religious freedom legislation.

            Can you guys get John Hamer on the next time to discuss this? He’s familiar enough with the environment in Ontario to discuss this with some accuracy.

          • Hi Brett, no worries. I find the gravity with which you want to claim my “factually wrong assertions” a bit misplaced and ironic. For one thing, you just accused me of something that I never did. It was actually Glenn who brought up the point that you are so adamantly wanting to correct. But I think you are really making a mountain out of a mole hill. In the context of the podcast, it was a quick recap of how Peterson came to prominence as described by him at the beginning of the Waking Up podcast episode we were discussing. Glenn was just recapping another conversation. The majority of our podcast was spent discussing and critiquing the philosophical differences between Harris and Peterson.

            Independent of all that, you and I are trying to have a conversation here on Canadian law, which I’m not particularly familiar with. But I am intrigued by the concept of dozens of made up pronouns that may or may not be mandated as part of government legislation in the name of protection. That doesn’t sit well with me, but I’m not sure how exactly it works either because of any conversation about it devolving quickly into prioritizing discrediting Peterson above all else. That said, I can understand why you might feel compelled to approach it that way, but I’m not really any closer to understanding your government’s approach to mandating pronoun usage, if that’s even a thing.

          • Brett Williams

            Well, let’s start with the basics. There is nowhere in any Canadian legislation that would mandate ‘dozens of made-up pronouns’. That is completely fictional. There is nowhere in Canadian legislation that would mandate criminal penalties for ‘dozens of made-up pronouns’. Structurally, that’s just impossible as the HRTO is a civil proceeding, and all of the decisions are reviewable by higher courts.

            Bill C16 added “Gender Identity and Expression” to a long-settled Human Rights law (The Canadian Human Rights Act) that dates from the 1970’s.

            I’m pretty familiar with CanLII and the history of HRTO decisions, so I’m happy to talk through any hypothetical situations.

          • Can you clarify the relationship of said made-up pronouns and Canadian legislation more broadly? I still feel like I’m not getting the full story. I’m happy to concede ignorance here.

            On the one hand, I’ve already explained that I believe Peterson is probably over-stating his case. On the other hand, I get the impression that you are playing word games with me too. That is, your insertion of the word “criminal” in your phrasing of how this is nowhere in Canadian legislation… feels like a way for you to dismiss discussing these made-up pronouns in terms of their use in government legislation. What’s still missing (for me) is how exactly these made-up pronouns are part of government legislation at all, even if not in a criminal context.

            But perhaps I need to do more research on my own, as I understand your perspective and am not sure I’ll get at what I’m looking for, much like I don’t think Peterson’s version of this is complete either…

          • Brett Williams

            Nope, not playing word games. Just clarifying because Peterson claims that his behavior contravenes the Ontario Human Rights Code and is “on the way to being a hate crime” in this video.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvPgjg201w0

            It’s not, and I’ve had his fans deny he’s said this. So I’m trying to be excruciatingly clear.

            As for gender neutral pronouns in Canadian law. There’s nothing. Literally nothing specifically about gender neutral pronouns.

            There is a body of criminal and civil law around harassment, but that’s neutral and generally applicable There’s a body of law around hate speech (which is defined as specifically calling for genocide), but that’s neutral and generally applicable.

            Unless Peterson plans to call for all trans folks to be killed, he’s quite safe criminally.,

            On the civil front, it’s a little more nebulous. The civil rights tribunals are at the lowest level of the courts, below small claims. They are designed to minimize the impact on the higher courts. There’s no jury, no criminal penalties, and can be appealed to the higher courts. The judge works with all parties to work through the procedures and formalities in the procedures. Because of that, it’s relatively easy to bring complaints (but most of them are dismissed).

            The law’s public, and the history of decisions by the tribunal and courts are public. What evidence do you have that Peterson would face (either civil or criminal) liability, and what does that scenario look like?

          • Brett Williams

            One more resource. AW Peet is one of Peterson’s colleagues, and is a physics professor at the U of T. Peet has this collection of resources on Peterson that is generally difficult to track down on their own, dating all the way back to 2016. http://ap.io/pet/12/

          • Brett Williams

            As to the “mountain out of a molehill” comment. I’ll cop to being pretty persistent and pedantic with regards to Peterson. I was working at the U of T during 2015-2017. His behavior was pretty wild during this time, including doxxing two students at a nearby university and the creation of a “registration website” for leftist professors (that was killed when the faculty union got involved). I find him distressingly close to Joseph Smith in behavior, especially with the revelations from Bernard Schiff about Peterson’s protest of IRB review of his psychology studies. https://www.thestar.com/opinion/2018/05/25/i-was-jordan-petersons-strongest-supporter-now-i-think-hes-dangerous.html

          • So now anti-discrimination laws are problematic? All social categories are “fluid” – even race isnt always clear cut. These are all longstanding conservative/libertarian objections to anti-discrimination laws – in fact, christians use these very claims to undermine gay rights and very well may succeed once Kennedy is replaced with 5 justices using this first amendment/free speech rationale that Peterson and you seem to find compelling.

          • Bob you misunderstand the very nature of these laws – categories are protected not just minorities so white people, men, heterosexuals, etc. are covered as well. Odd to hear repeating these right wing talking points…

          • You’ve got me figured out, anonymous commenter, I must be right wing because I disagree with you.

    • Funny how Randy admits he doesn’t know anything about Canadian law so he just accepts Peterson’s caricature because it fits this new Infants consensus that left wing social justice warriors are the real threat in Trumps america. Think these guys have lost the plot…

      • Funny how Randy isn’t in this episode but it doesn’t matter because your point is no more or less compelling either way… Left wing social justice warriors often do have problematic positions even if good intentions. And Trump is a pretty big disaster for America in his own right. It’s called chewing gum and walking at the same time. I grant you that it’s a more complicated plot that’s harder to follow as compared to subscribing to a team.

        • As if you aren’t exhibiting the very behaviour you are condemning – the anti-SJWs are just as, if not more, tribal than those they condemn. Your gloating about how you are so reflective listening to hours and hours of Peterson’s drivel as opposed to those smug leftists who you assume condemn him out of ignorance says alot and none of it good. Used to love this podcast but listening to a bunch of straight white guys whine about trans people and their pronouns – as if that was the only problem they face – is not what I ever expected this place to become. You had a very thoughtful Canadian commenter lay out the facts for you to rebut Peterson’s straw man attack on a statute he barely understood himself and you just changed the subject to a general critique of trans identity. Plenty of tribalism to go around…

          • Ah, the classic, “I know you are but what am I” tribalism play. The “we’re all tribal, so it’s a moot point” rebuttal… not quite. There is quite the spectrum here, which isn’t best described as a binary. The anti-SJW crowd, as you call them, is a pretty eclectic group that disagrees with each other vehemently on fundamental/controversial topics in a way that is precisely the opposite of what most of the left can’t discuss lest they are kicked out of the tribe. That’s a massive difference that speaks volumes.

            The team that prioritizes inclusivity at the top… also has fine print that states, except/until you disagree with me on something where I’m certain I have the moral high ground. This is kind of what you’re trying to do with me here in this discussion, in fact, while the intellectual dark web crowd are having open discussions and sometimes changing their positions after further reflection, learning, and interaction.

    • Thanks for that context, Brett. I haven’t followed this at all, so I’m in the dark about this. I hope the baggage of Peterson’s past and our ignorance about it didn’t eclipse the conversation too much.

      • Andrew Brock

        Brother Jake, frankly, it did. It was very disappointing. Love your videos.

        • surewhatever

          Totally agree and signed up for disqus just to comment on this post. And it’s not just the baggage of Peterson’s past. As gocd said below, Peterson so highly qualifies his arguments that he can duck behind a veneer of plausible deniability whenever called on his racism and sexism. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t dog whistling all the way to the bank, and it really detracts from the conversation I think you wanted to have.

        • This feels like a lose-lose situation to me. Based on your comments here, the fact that we didn’t spend the first 30 minutes outlining all of Peterson’s shortcomings as a hero of conservative pseudo-intellectuals tainted the conversation about the definition of “truth” beyond repair. The way you’re approaching the topic makes it impossible to have a discussion about a conversation involving Peterson without it becoming a discussion about Peterson himself. Is there any version of this episode we could have recorded where we could just talk about the content of the “truth” discussion with Sam Harris, or is Peterson’s presence just too big an elephant to get around? How would you have preferred the conversation have gone?

          • Andrew Brock

            Basically, yes, he’s too big of an elephant to get around. I hope you understand what makes him to toxic to people here. Since you’re admittedly ignorant about him, it’s fine, I imagine if you didn’t know anything else about him then it must seem confusing to get the reactions you’re getting here. If you didn’t talk about how he’s so “misunderstood” or didn’t even get into the C-16 Bill or pronouns, but instead just said, “We understand this guy is extremely controversial, we just want to go over this truth discussion that interests us”, I think it’d be fine. But since a few of you seem to be ardent fans of him, it’s troubling to some of us.

          • Well, that’s disappointing. You seem like a thoughtful guy, so I’d like to hear your reaction to the 80% of the conversation that isn’t about the thing you’re honing in on. But I do appreciate your honesty, and I think I get where you’re coming from.

          • Andrew Brock

            If you guys want more interesting debates on truth, there is over 100 years of philosophy to pull from that debate the same thing Peterson is and on the same terms but without the baggage. John Dewey and William James would be great philosophers to discuss. Richard Rorty would be a great one because of his relationship to American pragmatists and French post-modernists, who ironically are the best for these discussions, which makes Peterson so hilarious because he’s trying to steal their stuff while antagonizing them as evil frauds. Why not go to the real deal instead of some YouTube careerist?

          • Glenn

            Why not go to the “real deals’ on YouTube instead of Peterson? Do you really want to know the answer to that question, Andrew, or is it just a rhetorical device you are using to suggest that we are stupid for even considering Peterson in the first place?

            Maybe we will do what you are suggesting. But look brother… you’re just going to have to accept the fact (Truth?) that we Infants on this episode are all admitedly still pretty new to Peterson and have not come to the same conclusions that you have (and maybe never will).

            Why is it that we are discussing Peterson on Infants on Thrones in the first place? It is because a listener, like yourself, mentioned Peterson and his discussion with Sam Harris in a listener essay. What that listener said was interesting and compelling enough that it made Tom and I want to discuss it more ourselves. We asked Bob and Jake if they wanted to join us, and they did. That’s it, man. That’s the big mystery.

            So look… if there are other people besides Peterson and other topics that you want to hear discussed on this podcast, take advantage of the opportunity you have to do a listener essay yourself and introduce us to these other people. Be the conversation that you want to hear. That’s what we do here. It’s what we have always done. Exploring. Thinking. Debating. So jump in. Help us out. What’s stopping you? It isn’t me.

          • Because the entire tone of IoT from the beginning has been casual. It’s been a bunch of amateurs trying to process their Mormon experience by discussing topics and reacting to content that’s easy to access both for the panelists and for the audience. If your solution is “brush up on 100 years of pragmatist and post-modernist philosophy literature,” that’s not a good solution. There are dozens of other podcasts that are better equipped to do that. Also, I’m now confused–I thought the issue was that Peterson has too much baggage to sidestep. Now you’re implying the conversation about the nature of truth was uninteresting because Peterson is a poser. Was Peterson’s invocation of those ideas lacking in a fundamental way? Is his misunderstanding them, or is he just being a hypocrite?

      • Brett Williams

        It doesn’t eclipse the convo, but the reality distortion field around Peterson often leaves me feeling like I feel when someone quotes the boilerplate “polygamy ended in 1890” propaganda from the Mormons.
        The dude makes a lot of people mad because he’s a transparent charlatan grifting on dumb young men with half-baked Jung and Disney movies. Then it takes thousands of words to just lay the groundwork for why that is.
        It’s especially frustrating because the entire legislative history of bill c16 is on the House of Commons site in Hansard, but everyone still “knows” that Canada is “criminalizing pronoun mistakes”

        • Is there any version of this conversation we could have had where we could just focus on the content of the Sam Harris podcast, or is it impossible to get around the JP landmines? Based on the response to the episode, it doesn’t really seem possible to have him be an element of a conversation without being the subject of the conversation. I speak primarily from laziness–coming into this podcast I had a vague notion of who he was, but I had never read anything he’s written or even heard his voice. I wasn’t (and still am not) particularly interested in spending the time to get a broader view of his arguments, but it seems like (for many listeners, at least) tabling that baggage to focus on the content of a particular conversation is a no-go. Is there any way to square the circle?

          • Brett Williams

            Yeah, there’s absolutely a way to discuss this reasonably. But I think this particular group of the Infants was ill-suited to it.

            Peterson is a kind of conservative you see in Canada and the UK called a ‘High Tory’. High Tories are usually men, patrician, in upper-middle-class and aristocratic professions who think that tradition and common sense leads to the inescapable conclusion that they are the proper leaders of society. The closest thing would be Romney-like politicians in Utah, but that’s a bit of a stretch.

            I’ve been watching High Tories pull this shit for years in politics, so when Peterson starts spreading $5 words in the service of defending the existing hierarchies (all of which place him very comfortably at the top) it’s pretty obvious.

            Dillahunty accurately nails Peterson down as a more sophisticated apologist. My own mental model of Peterson is something like Hugh Nibley halfway between the nastiness of No Ma’am that’s not History and the jazz-archaeology riffing of Temple and Cosmos. Absolutely smart, absolutely containing some good ideas, but there’s a fundamental assumption that inexorably leads to a conclusion that the author pre-selected.

            My annoyance with Peterson is partially *because* I feel the draw towards that same gnosis feeling I had with Hugh Nibley. It’s an immediate bullshit warning now.

            That’s the advantage of having Heather or John Hamer on. When the core assumptions don’t lead to you being on top, it’s easier to see through the bullshit.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LjYovTo4uc

          • I mean, that’s interesting, but I still don’t see the connection between any of this and the topic of this podcast. What does being a High Tory have to do with how Harris and Peterson disagreed over the definition of truth? You’re bringing in a mountain of irrelevant information and arguing that because none of it was brought up in the outset, the discussion about the actual topic is lacking. It seems silly to say that every conversation about another conversation involving a controversial figure has to include a giant rehash of the backlog of all their controversies, but that’s what you seem to be saying.

          • Brett Williams

            Peterson has a context. He consistently describes ‘truth’ in a way that tilts the arch to his pre-selected destination.

          • Of course he does. So does Harris. In fact, Harris has his own history of controversy. Is that a relevant piece of the discussion? Is it an oversight that we didn’t talk about the ways in which he’s mischaracterized Islam before we got into the content of their conversation?

          • Brett Williams

            I would say that the controversy over Harris is over choice of evidence. The controversy over Peterson is over the nature of reality. You can create an evidence set and convince Harris. What Harris (and Dillahunty) pull out in their conversations with Peterson is a disagreement over what constitutes the nature of reality. Truth -> sum of evidence vs truth -> utility to survival (as defined by Peterson, not proposing an alternative sum of evidence)

          • Right, and I would say that the difference between those two approaches was represented perfectly well in the content of their podcast already, irrespective of Peterson’s history with Canadian law. However, you’ve been arguing that we needed to address the specifics of Peterson’s misinterpretation of Canadian law and his political affiliation in order to even discuss their discussion, and I disagree. I understand that Peterson has a context, but I don’t think it understanding or discussing that context in depth would’ve added at all to the topic we intended to tackle. Which piece of his “context” specifically should have influenced the way have interpreted his arguments in the podcast with Harris?

          • Brett Williams

            Oh, I didn’t expect you guys to address in-podcast Peterson’s history with Canadian law. That’s the whole reason I posted what I did.

            I just did a quick scan over my comments wrt the Canadian Human Rights code. I’m arguing that I’m right in my interpretation of it with Bob, sure. But that’s the extent. There’s no need to pre-study that for the podcast

            I’d characterize my attitude as more surprised that nobody caught on to the religious-charlatan patter that seems so obvious to me from Peterson, as it was picked up by Bernard Schiff (Peterson’s former mentor) and Matt Dillihunty.

          • Brett, thanks for expounding. I can see what you’re getting at with the Hugh Nibley comparison, although I find Peterson’s musings much more useful and interesting.

            I take issue with your Heather and Hamer point, though. It’s a bit condescending. The advantage of having Hamer or Heather on is because they both have great perspectives independent of their gender or sexual orientation. You are implying that we hetero white men discussing Peterson are ill-equipped and at a disadvantage for this discussion — even though we were simply discussing the nature of truth — because we are hetero white men. And that Heather or John automatically would be oracles of wisdom on the topic.

            Incidentally, we talked to John last night about this briefly. And he was like, Jordan who? Hadn’t heard much of anything about him, let alone read his book. If I can be snarky for a second: What I’m trying to say, Brett, is that any points you think you are making here would be a lot stronger if you’d find a woman or a gay person to make them for you. 😉

          • Brett Williams

            Ha! I’ll be fair, you all did catch a lot of this in the second episode. I felt much more optimistic about the whole series after the second part dropped.

            No, I think your group was particularly ill equipped not because you were talking about the meaning of truth, but because you accepted some of Peterson’s assumptions uncritically. Heather and John Hamer tend to have a more clear-eyed view.

            *whispers* I also prefer Heather and John Hamer’s contributions because I can tell who’s speaking. /whisper

          • That’s totally fine, just wanted to help you clarify what you really meant: you are speculating that Heather and John are more likely to agree with you and then calling that “clear-eyed” and then saying that you also like that you can tell them apart from the others.

            But again, that’s your preference, bias, and projection. It has little to do with who is equipped here as well as who is what gender or sexual orientation.

          • Which assumptions are those?

    • josh

      thanks for the info. Do you feel JP reaction is more understandable if he sees this as the first step toward a chinese inspired cultural revolution because of his post modernist paranoia? Also if the law is not such a big deal why has the fallout with the university been such a topic. I ask because in the more recent Aspen interview Q&A Gender Pronouns of Student was a topic where other Professors not just peterson are concerned of being played. That there are many students misusing the pronoun adressage to empower themselves against professors ect. In point im asking is it possibly ‘true’ what he presents that there are more nefarious motives behind cloaked leftists? It is so difficult to try and build a honest opiniion of something when there is such a cacaphony of information…… From your comment s i recognize an honest abled view point and would appreciate more insight….

      • Brett

        “It is so difficult to try and build a honest opiniion of something when there is such a cacaphony of information”

        This really stood out to me in your comment, so if you’ll excuse a little bit of length, I’d like to walk you through some of the evaluative steps that I teach undergraduates to help them evaluate claims, opinions and scientific papers.

        The model I use is “Everything you need to know about research you learned in 7th grade”. That’s the essay model: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.

        Hhere’s how I’d break down your question

        “in the more recent Aspen interview Q&A Gender Pronouns of Student was a topic where other Professors not just peterson are concerned of being played. That there are many students misusing the pronoun adressage to empower themselves against professors ect. In point im asking is it possibly ‘true’ what he presents that there are more nefarious motives behind cloaked leftists?”

        Who:
        Students
        Jordan Peterson
        Brett Weinstein
        Cloaked Leftist (?do these exist?)

        What:
        Bill C16
        Pronouns, specifically gender neutral pronouns such as they, zir, zem, etc

        When:
        2016-present

        Why:
        Concern over disruption of power balance between students and faculty
        Concern over “chinese-inspired cultural revolution” (Is this a reasonable historical analogy?)
        Concern over “nefarious motives of cloaked leftists” (Do ‘cloaked leftists’ exist?)

        How:
        Scientific Method

        One of the benefits of breaking it down this way is it lays out a set of questions that we can then plug into the basic way we do scholarship, the scientific method. Very generally, the scientific method involves creating a question, then thinking up tests that would prove or disprove that question. Once the tests are devised and performed and the data is collected, you communicate your findings. That step-by-step process applies to everything in the academy.

        Let’s take one question that we can test

        Is concern for a Chinese-style Cultural Revolution reasonable?

        We can test a couple of pieces of this.
        What was the historical context of the Cultural Revolution?
        Are there similar dynamics happening in North America? What are they?
        Why do you believe these incidents compare to the Cultural Revolution?

        I’d recommend a couple of books The Chinese Cultural Revolution as History by Joseph W. Esherick and Paul G. Pickowicz (eds) for an overview of the Cultural Revolution and Fractured Rebellion by Andrew Walder for a micro-history of the Red Guard movement.

        I hope this helps with understanding the framework that I both use and teach my students to use when evaluating claims. It’s the same tool I applied to Peterson: take a claim, look for evidence, evaluate the evidence and communicate your findings. That’s the pattern I used in my first comment to evaluate his claim about Bill C16. The scientific method has flaws, but it’s the best tool we have to arriving at the closest thing to a mutual understanding of truth.

        Long way around, to answer your questions.

        No, I don’t think that Peterson is reasonable and basing his conclusion on evidence if he believes we’re nearing a Cultural Revolution on the Chinese model.

        I believe the evidence shows that the fallout from the University of Toronto for Peterson has been almost entirely social.

        I do believe that some aspects of the pronoun debate have turned into a power-struggle between students and professors, but I expect students to challenge their professors. I view that as a learning opportunity on both sides.

        I do not believe ‘cloaked leftists’ exist. Generally, I’ve found that people intend to do the things they say they are going to do, not what others say they ‘intend’. This is especially true among politicians and academics. They cannot stop talking about what they intend to do.

  • Really disturbed that Bob has bought into Peterson’s obscurantism – as much as Peterson rants against postmodernism/cultural marxism for sacrificing truth for politics, his reliance of Jungian archetypes filtered through lazy evolutionary psychology is just psuedoscientific cover for some very reactionary justification for “natural” gender and race hierarchies. When did you guys turn alt-right?

    • We turned alt-right to you in the moment you decided to label us that.

      • Odd that you get so upset over people supposedly unfairly attacking Peterson but you don’t seem that disturbed by his philosophical defense of naturalized hierarchies of race and gender. If it walks like a duck…

        • Not upset, intrigued by the misrepresentation typically in play and equally intrigued by the flustered nature of the anti-Peterson crowd, present company included. Peterson chooses his words and messaging carefully. It seems to me that it’s you who needs to extrapolate/misread/misquote to make him the racist or sexist he needs to be for the outrage to be justified. Meanwhile, actual racism and sexism, of which there is plenty, is diluted because we’re too busy trying to find a way to make it include Peterson.

          • Andrew Brock

            Bob, do you think that women who wear makeup but complain about sexual harassment are hyprocrites?

          • No, I do not think that. I understand that you are referencing the Vice interview Jordan Peterson did, rephrasing a soundbite for outrageous effect, and then attributing some association of all that to me since I’m the only one here not disgusted enough by Peterson. It’s certainly a tactic for engaging in conversation, but not one I’m particularly interested in.

          • Andrew Brock

            I’m genuinely curious about what appeals to you about Jordan Peterson. It honestly makes no sense to me for someone to leave Mormonism but then go to bat for someone like Jordan Peterson. Can you please explain? If people like me or etseq are “misrepresenting” him by literally repeating what he says, can you inform us on the correct reading of his views? How else does one interpret that Vice interview? Do you not find it curious that his views on women and feminism are indistinguishable from that of a radical Islamic cleric? Again, if I’m misrepresenting his views, please correct me.

          • You are not literally repeating what he says. Do your homework. If you want to literally repeat his exact words, go find the Vice interview, copy them down, and put them here exactly as they are. Then we can compare what you said to what he said.

            And I have many issues with Peterson, incidentally, even if I found parts of his book intriguing. In the context you are bringing up, Peterson is interested in “equality of opportunity” and is very nervous about the world wanting to fix inequality via the tactic referred to as “equality of outcome.” He doesn’t deny gender discrimination being a real thing, but he questions if we are ignoring several other variables.

          • Andrew Brock

            https://youtu.be/blTglME9rvQ?t=7m13s

            “Do you feel like, a serious woman who does not want sexual harassment in the workplace, do you feel like if she wears makeup in the workplace, that she is somewhat being hypocritical?”

            “Yeah”

            “OK”

            “I do think that”

            So, do we just have different definitions of what “yeah” and “I do think that” mean? How is this any different from the modesty culture and victim blaming that the LDS Church teaches?

          • Andrew Brock

            And even Jordan Peterson believes in equality of outcome. But only for incels getting laid. https://youtu.be/9Xc7DN-noAc?t=1h38m57s

          • Fair questions. Here’s the deal: I do find a difference in him responding to a question like that as compared to him stating those thoughts directly in his own words. You may not, but I’m glad we have the purest form of what actually happened as a basis for discussing it.

            Now, as to where this fits in to modesty culture and victim blaming, that’s complicated (in my opinion). I don’t necessarily agree with Jordan’s answer here and would have responded quite differently. But I also don’t think this is the “gotcha” you might think it is. I don’t have the time right now to map it all out, but let me just say, I disagree with this simplistic characterization that Jordan has setup for himself in his short response here. But at the same time, I’ve heard him expound on this and know plenty about the topic myself to know it’s not best addressed with a yes or no question.

          • Andrew Brock

            Whatever difference there is between agreeing with a statement vs. stating the statement yourself is pedantic and meaningless.

            I don’t think it’s that complicated at all. The idea of women being in any way responsible for men harassing them is unambiguously repugnant. Not to mention the obvious hypocrisy of saying this while espousing a philosophy of “personal responsibility”.

            If you think it’s worthwhile to do this much work to salvage the value out of Peterson, that’s fine; but I’d personally prefer to read and listen to people who don’t embed so much problematic ideology into their work.

            What do you actually like about the guy since you’ve conceded a couple of times in these comments that you “have many issues” with him? I suspect it’s just that you’re aligned with him on being anti-SJW.

          • Andrew, I’ll let you listen to the second half of the discussion when it comes out. I think more of what’s to like comes out, but then again, not that much, really. All these comments here are proving my point: I’m amused that it’s so perplexing that one might find value with some ideas from another person even if one does not agree with many other things from said person.

          • Andrew Brock

            That’s not what anyone here is saying. So nice strawman. You still haven’t said which issues you actually agree with on him. If Part 2 is more discussion about truth and pragmatism I doubt there’ll be much else that I couldn’t have heard in Part 1.

            So you think “he overvalues religion”, and you don’t like “his take on medicine and health”, and you say you’re “quite a bit more left-leaning than he is”. So again, on what issues do you agree with? Do you think leftists are organizing a postmodern neo-Marxist plot to destroy Western civilization? Do you think Frozen is feminist propaganda? Do you think enforced monogamy is a good idea? What issues are you more left on than him?

            I’m honestly trying to understand what is so appealing about him. I find many ex-mormons (mostly male, mostly white) drawn to him.

            And I’m amused you think Peterson chooses his words and messaging carefully considering how much backpedaling he and his followers, including you, engage in when anyone pushes back on what he says. If his speech was so precise, why does there appear to be so much confusion about he actually means?

          • If only articulation were a leading indicator for uniform interpretation, your last question would make sense!

            I’m not sure what you think my strawman is. But no worries, I understand that you really want to know what, specifically, I find appealing about Jordan Peterson. Each time you ask this question, you then rattle off a few more of his controversial moments to see if I’ll bite and defend perhaps? I don’t endorse all (or even the majority of) this man’s opinions, but I find some of his philosophical points intriguing.

            Here are a few examples of what I like, albeit out of context but still something for you to chew on:

            “Every bit of learning is a little death. Every bit of new information challenges a pervious conception, forcing it to dissolve into chaos before it can be reborn as something better.”

            “We live within a framework that defines the present as eternally lacking and the future as eternally better.”

            “Stop the discussion for a moment, and institute this rule: ‘Each person can speak up for himself only after he has first restated the ideas and feelings of the previous speaker accurately, and to that speaker’s satisfaction.'”

            “It is far better to render Beings in your care competent than to protect them.”

            “loss of group-centred belief renders life chaotic, miserable, intolerable; presence of group-centred belief makes conflict with other groups inevitable.”

            “There is very little difference between the capacity for mayhem and destruction, integrated, and strength of character. This is one of the most difficult lessons of life.”

            “Before the dawn of scientific worldview, reality was construed differently. Being was understood as a place of action, not a place of things. It was understood as something akin to story or drama.”

            “There are so many ways that things can fall apart, or fail to work altogether, and it is always wounded people who are holding it together. They deserve some genuine and heartfelt admiration for that. It’s an ongoing miracle of fortitude and perseverance.”

            “Nonetheless, people will often accept or even amplify their own suffering, as well as that of others, if they can brandish it as evidence of the world’s injustice.”

            “How much can you sacrifice to your partner before generosity turns to resentment?”

          • Andrew Brock

            Dude, you’re confusing. You seem to want it all ways. You basically concede all the criticisms here in the comments including not knowing enough about the Canada bill that made him famous in the first place. You reject all the obvious problematic issues while clinging to the trite, flowery statements that ultimately say nothing other than “Life is hard. Be strong. Be kind. Appreciate the present.” Um, alright? Like he ever applies these lessons to anybody on the left, let alone assume the most charitable interpretation for why anyone would dare speak out against racism or misogyny or wealth inequality or any of the world’s problems. No, it’s only because they’re totalitarians. Unless, of course, he’s addressing the grievances of disenfranchised white men. Then he’s a brilliant philosopher.

            Why did you even leave Mormonism in the first place? If the apostles all turned into Mormon Deepak Chopras, would that somehow negate all the problems of the LDS Church? If not, what makes Jordan Peterson any different? Because you agree with him about gender pronouns? If Peterson’s your jam, fine. I can get my banal self-help insights elsewhere without the dog-whistling, pseudoscientific, antifeminist, reactionary, religious baggage.

          • Hi Andrew, I’m not sure what you are hoping for me to say here. I know I don’t have the outrage expected of me, and I don’t feel the need to disown Peterson completely.

            Truthfully, I’m not surprised by much of the reaction here. Again, it proves my point made on the podcast. Here we are not having a conversation about the real conversation on the podcast… Peterson creates side shows like this wherein people like me, who simply engage with some of his ideas (as we did on the podcast), seemingly come across, to people like you, as giving him a blank check endorsement as our new lord and savior.

            All I can say is that I find some of his work compelling and disagree with him plenty, as I do with many other intellectuals of our day. And, to you, that means I want it “all ways.” And I’m ok with that.

          • Gabriel von Himmel

            The phrase, “Life is hard” is an Inuit statement after the family leader has set his mother out on the ice to freeze; the weakened clan will starve without sacrificing an elder to for the greater good.
            Neither Snow-Flakes nor Coal-Hunks will deal with this narrative similarly. Who would be the best survivor?

            dog-whistling, pseudoscientific, antifeminist, reactionary, religious baggage has nothing to do with tribe survival, rehotorical flourishes or succss of the genetic streign. the tribe will carry on.
            This is a cultural choice and it has been done millions of times through time.
            This is the paradox of the human condition.

          • surewhatever

            Andrew, you said much of what I came here to say, so thanks for your comments. I was talking the other day with some friends about something similar, although not discussing Peterson specifically, and I too am trying to understand what it is about this misogynistic faux intellectualism that draw in exmo men.

          • Andrew Brock

            Among other things, I think it’s mainly the result of internalizing the church’s harmful messaging about gender and sex for years. It’s difficult to shake off.

          • gocd

            Bob, as someone who read most of JP’s book and has listened to his lectures/interviews extensively, I’m going to push back on your claim that he is unfairly “misrepresented” by the generalized detractors. Peterson is usually pretty carefully to situate his arguments within highly-qualified language that serve to communicate genuinely sexist/racist ideas to his fanbase while maintaining plenty of wiggle room and nebulous equivocation he can immediately pivot to as soon as it’s more auspicious.

            Rarely does he refine his ideas to shed their initial reactionary baggage, he merely shifts the nature of his declarativeness so that he can never be fully pinned down and therefore criticized; it’s no longer about the ideas themselves (as they become as vague as he needs them to be) but about his credibility as an “impartial” messenger. The fact that most of his fanbase is running with the least favorable interpretations of his ideas and that he is eager to profit off of exactly this shouldn’t exactly lend itself to the benefit of the doubt either.

            His whole approach is to present reactionary ideas as largely biologically based so that progressive projects can be cast as quixotic and futile revolutions against our inner wiring; silly ideas about society are reframed as uncomfortable truths rooted in biology we need to accommodate rather than deny. It externalizes everything problematic away from an ideology and into some vague idea of nature. The scientism could perhaps be forgivable if it wasn’t based on misappropriated pop-science and (usually) spurious sociobiology.

            The cherry on top is he layers jungian mimetics and a clumsy adaption of pragmatist epistemology on top of all this in a way that perfectly resembles the obscurantist post-modern boogeymen he is so fixated on. He’s the mirror image of what he imagines his opponents on the left are. He’s a self-parody with a messianic complex at this point and not very impressive one at that, even if he’s a bit smarter than the left will usually admit.

          • I disagree with your assessment, gocd, and I think it’s the least charitable read of Jordan Peterson’s work. That said, I understand your comment here and don’t think it’s unreasonable. We share similar frustrations with some of his musings.

            Thanks for sharing.

          • surewhatever

            Thanks for this comment, gocd. Perfectly encapsulates everything I came here to say. To say it’s the least charitable read, Bob, is frankly bizarre to me as his psuedo-scientific justifications for racism and sexism seem like they’re barely even subtext.

          • surewhatever, gocd’s comment is interesting precisely because it doesn’t mention racism or sexism. You, on the other hand, can’t help yourself: assuming racism and sexism are Peterson’s goals, with the man simply looking for convincing and devious justifications to fulfill that blatant presupposed agenda you have assigned to him… that’s not a less charitable read, it’s simply lazy virtue signaling. We weren’t sure before, but now we know that you don’t like racism and sexism. Glad you cleared that up.

          • surewhatever

            It doesn’t?

            “Peterson is usually pretty carefully to situate his arguments within
            highly-qualified language that serve to communicate genuinely
            sexist/racist ideas to his fanbase while maintaining plenty of wiggle
            room and nebulous equivocation he can immediately pivot to as soon as
            it’s more auspicious.”

          • My bad, yes the words are there. The difference is that gocd’s position posits that Peterson is communicating sexist/racist ideas. I’ve already stated that I disagree with this assessment generally, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t put it past Peterson to communicate sexist/racist ideas sometimes.

            You, on the other hand, went the “evil genius” route and assigned motivation/intention to Peterson as if sexism/racism is his favorite thing in the whole world. That’s a big difference to me.

          • Gabriel von Himmel

            Ah the hamster-wheel between the Snow-Flakes and Coal-Hunks misses the point; they both are running in adjacent wheels in opposite directions.
            May the winner take all Bob.

          • Please leave some Bob for me. That’s what ol’ Elon Musk needs to get on next: harvesting the immense energy generated by counter-rotating hamster wheels. You could blast Fox and Friends at them through one speaker and Rachel Maddow through another and the hamsters would run themselves to death for free.

          • Gabriel von Himmel

            Yes –– hamsters have no free will. Ralph this is sounding like a parable.

            When traveling in India, on the road unwashed and unkempt very old, wise, sadhu once spoke as we traveled together. In his tangled hair and wrinkled features he said, “I used to believe in the truth till I found out what it was.”

            Those were the few words he spoke other than how empty his begging bowl is and how hungry he was.

          • Haha, Saint Ralph and Gabriel von Himmel, nice recap of the comment thread here… The crazy thing is, I’m not even sure how I became a Peterson apologist, since I think he overvalues religion, and don’t get me started on my dislike of his take on medicine and health… And I’m quite a bit more left-leaning than he is. But when it comes time to defend not hating everything and anything coming from a single person, I’m there!

          • Gabriel von Himmel

            Yes –– hamsters have no free will. Ralph this is sounding like a parable.

            When traveling in India, on the road unwashed and unkempt a very old, wise, sadhu once spoke as we traveled together. In his tangled hair and wrinkled features he said, “I used to believe in the truth till I found out what it was.”

            Those were the few words he spoke other than how empty his begging bowl is and how hungry he was.

            I did meet other gurus that used no begging bowl at all.

            http://www.scari.org/dali_l

            pax

          • Yes, the Parable of the Counter-Rotating Hamster Wheels. There’s one for the ages. So, what did the sadhu find out? People up to their eyeballs in Jordan B. Peterson would probably like to know. Or am I being incredibly dense?

          • Gabriel von Himmel

            Ralph, I have never accused you of being dense.

            Google search image or text: “so many swamis so little time”

            It deals with my personal experience with the Dali Lama.
            The Sadhu was the hunger artist and Swamis will carry on dispensing “wisdom” to we the unwashed like Jordan B. Peterson while ignoring Sam Harris insight.

            You must remember the counter rotating hampster wheels, as they spin wildly, must be lubricated else the rotations will grind to a halt ––– that’s where the tension begins.

            Both hamsters and lemming rely on the smug comfort of rectitude while the lemmings carry on believing what they will –– willfully, freely with confidant satifaction that only ignorance can afford.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5c8c11c81fdf02a1c897af554aea37a19108adf58dabb0353109b91e3d11b67f.png

  • Andrew Brock
    • Hi Andrew, thanks for sharing, an interesting perspective.

  • Christian Braithwaite

    Loved this episode! I hope I can take at least a small part of the credit for this episode happening 🙂

    As I would expect, you were all thoughtful and articulate – and I’m super glad to hear your thoughts on this discussion as it’s something that I have listened to numerous times, and thought that it was chock-full of insights as it relates to Mormonism and what it means to say that Mormonism is “True” or isn’t “True”.

    Like all of you, I had a difficult time with Jordan’s re-definition of Truth; because I felt like he was doing so at the expense of having a meaningful conversation about facts and reality as far as we understand them to exist. I don’t think that the fact that we don’t know what we don’t know should preclude our ability to talk about what we think we know to the best of our current ability. I think that’s actually how we continue to learn. Often times those facts don’t fit within a moral framework, but that’s why we continue to learn and evolve and develop our facts and moral frameworks simultaneously.

    Also, if Pragmatism can simply be defined as something that is “true enough” so as to be useful, and contextualized within a moral framework; at what point does a pragmatic worldview cease to be useful if it obfuscates our ability to have an objective conversation about facts and reality?

    For example – we should not have to accept that the Book of Mormon is a historical record in order for it to be useful and beneficial. That seems to be in line with the pragmatic stance. However, the Book of Mormon clearly presents itself as historical – and as Jake says “There aren’t any Horses”. It seems that in Mormonism, because the Book of Mormon is useful, then it follows that there were Horses in ancient Mesoamerica. Which ends up looking, to me, very un-pragmatic.

    That being said – something about Peterson’s worldview is compelling. It makes me think that there might be a baby in that bathwater; but I can’t figure out ,for the life of me, where the hell it is.

    Great work!

    • Brett Williams

      Peterson does genuinely good work on Big 5 Personality traits, alcoholism and high-achieving populations. His papers are very well received. Maps of Meaning is a bit of a dud of a book, but in general he is a very competent psychologist. That’s the ‘baby’ in the bathwater.

      • Appreciate you stating your thoughts here, Brett.

    • Yes, you should take some credit! Maybe I’m biased because I’m a fellow Timpanogos Timberwolve. 🙂

      • Christian Braithwaite

        Thanks Bob, and Go Timberwolves! Haha!

    • Thanks for making this happen, Christian! Sounds like you enjoyed listening as we did recording. I really like your example of the limits of Pragmatism vis a vis horses in the Americas, but I do feel like Peterson’s onto something by saying that facts can’t really be divorced from their moral implications, and I think that’s one of Sam Harris’s weaknesses–he’s overly rosy in characterizing science as a discipline that exists in a bubble free of bias. However, redefining “truth” to fit that definition seems like a misstep.

      Anyway, hope you enjoy part 2! I’ll check out those Radiolab podcasts you mentioned. Thanks again!

      • Gabriel von Himmel

        Brother Jake, are we gas lighting?
        Harris’s reliance on science is a model that requires of self-correction, i,e, change while the alturnative is immutable.
        Which is the the paradigm that seeks truth?
        That is a rhetorical question that is answerable, refer to my statement below Jake.
        I’m in neither camp: Pop being the ongoing effort to scratch an unlocatable itch ––
        a profound reason for the same old thing to be new; it’s to wrestle with a serpent who’s head you will never see –– by the time you reach to grab it, the serpent has slithered past and you are dragged through the weeds by its tail.
        The transitory nature of pop will live forever, existential inquiry will carry on indifferent to the sturm und drang of the petty currents of POP

      • Christian Braithwaite

        Thanks Jake! I loved both parts of this podcast; some of the best thoughtful dialogue I’ve heard in quite some time. Keep up the good work!

  • Christian Braithwaite

    Also – another fantastic Podcast that really opened my eyes to the “Pragmatism vs. Realism” debate was “Hidden Truths” by Radiolab. It’s a compilation of 3 stories that dovetail incredibly well with this conversation.

    https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/308404-hidden-truths/

    Incredible how a transition from orthodox, fundamentalism leads us to ponder such questions as “what does it mean to say something is true?” Despite the painful aspects of such a transition, I for one, feel more enriched for having pondered such things.

  • Brenton Swenson

    I don’t think I’m ever going to understand Peterson’s insistence on redefining the word “truth”, since the word “wisdom” pretty much conveys exactly what he’s trying to get across. It seems moronic, and makes me wonder what other liberties he’s taking with the definition of words in his monologues.

    I’m sort of baffled why Peterson has become so popular. Half the time he speaks it’s in tangents off of tangents like you could ask him what he had for breakfast yesterday and after 3 minutes of rambling he’s deep into his thoughts on Jungian archetypes. The other half of the time is pretty standard center-right talking points. I don’t get it.

    • Glenn

      “I don’t think I am ever going to understand….”

      Is it really “understanding” that you are struggling with? Is that something that you even want? Or instead of “understand” do you mean that you don’t think you will ever “accept” what he is saying? There is a big difference. If you admit that you don’t understand, then you are admitting ignorance — that you don’t really know what he is talking about or why he is talking about it (or how he is talking about it, I.e. tangents upon tangents that you can’t make any sense of). If that is TRUE, then on what grounds can you so adamantly reject Peterson? You are admittedly doing so from a place of ignorance. So maybe you don’t really mean “understand” even though that was the word that you used when you could have used something more accurate.

      See, even this small example of using “understand” when you really mean “accept” (possibly… I am speculating, of course) illustrates the slipperiness of words in general. Could “wisdom” be better than “truth” for what Peterson wants to accomplish? Maybe. But Peterson still is sticking with “Truth.” And there must be discoverable, understandable reasons for that. I think Peterson explains fairly well why “truth” is too complicated to mean a simple binary “yes” or “no.” And it is pretty clear to me from your other comments here that there are other reasons why you (and so many others along with you) find Peterson so distasteful. And why you (and others) have such a hard time accepting that some of us Infants haven’t come to the same conclusion as you.

      Whether it is baffling to you or not that he has become popular, the fact is that he has. So we’re looking into this as well. I’m still getting to know Peterson and his ideas. And so far, I like a lot more than I find distasteful. That could change. But it’s the things he is saying that I am more interested in — less about Peterson himself. And it baffles me that intelligent, thoughtful ex-mormons who have seen very plainly the peril of ad hominem attacks that ignore the substance of specific ideas and focus instead on the character of the speaker would get all ad hominem on Peterson — which seems apparent to me from many of the comments on this episode.

      To reference The Righteous Mind, there are a lot of stampeding elephants on here. I find that fascinating and informative. Just not convincing enough to make my elephant stampede along with you. (which, honestly, makes it all the more fascinating to me)

      Thanks again for your comments Brenton. Very thought provoking.

      • Brenton Swenson

        I didn’t reject him in my comments, I think you may have read that into it mine after reading comments from others. And I entirely admit my confusion on this subject, as in I don’t understand at all why he has become so popular. I’ve listened to probably 10-20 hours of talking on various podcasts and videos. There might be some really interesting new philosophy that Peterson has to share, and I just haven’t glimpsed yet. I’m trying to see it and am happy to continue to do so, but I’m not yet convinced that it’s there yet.

        Really there’s two different topics that the conversation touches on and could use a bit of clarifying. 1) The is-ought problem or Hume’s law, which is an interesting topic and 2) A mostly semantic definition of the word truth where Harris wants to define truth as what “is” and Peterson wants to define truth as what “is” and what we “ought” do to about it, which is fairly tedious.

        As far as topic 1 goes, to me it seems like Peterson is saying science only gets you so far, but it doesn’t tell you how you should act morally, it only tells you what exists. This is Hume’s law that you can’t get an ought from an is, and Peterson references it explicitly in his conversation with Harris. In other words, you need a philosophy to tell you what you should actually do. Peterson then talks about the Bible and story and how this has filled in the role for instructing people on what they should do. Harris actually rejects Hume’s law, and has done so in several podcasts with other people and thinks that humanity doesn’t need an outside rule to tell us that we should reduce suffering in the world, that this is just plainly evident to most people. All of this follows well worn ground which has been debated for hundreds of years, but it is still a perfectly interesting thing to talk about. But the two couldn’t talk about it for what seems like the dumbest of reasons to me.

        Where things turn weird and get bogged down is topic 2 where Harris wants to define “truth” as what “is” and Peterson wants to define “truth” as “is plus ought”. This mainly just becomes a point of confusion, and is a mostly semantic debate which doesn’t actually help prove anything about whether or not Hume’s law is correct. Peterson admits there are facts during the conversation, he just wants to define truth more expansively to include the concept of what we ought to do. Harris tries to indulge him on this and start talking about facts rather than the truth, and to clearly talk about the concepts while walking through examples, but Peterson just kicks up a bunch of sand and won’t play along for some reason.

        To me Peterson hasn’t added anything here to the philosophical discourse that I can see. Like I said, Hume’s law has been debated for hundreds of years. Peterson mainly just muddied the waters with semantics. The entire point of language is to get across ideas so we can understand each other, and Peterson’s personal word definitions become a barrier to that.

        Honestly my personal opinion is Peterson owes much of his popularity to his stance against using new gender pronouns, and after that people started following his other work. When I say I don’t understand his popularity as an intellectual, I’m not saying he’s an idiot. I’m saying he’s not adding anything new to the table, and all his positions have been FAR better articulated elsewhere, so it’s confusing why he became the spokesman. But if he does have more to say than what I’ve laid out here, I’m happy to keep listening.

        • Glenn

          Yep, I confused you with Brett, who made the comment about Canadian Law (and multiple subsequent comments). My bad. I love the way you broke it down here. Bravo.

      • Brenton Swenson

        I wrote out a long reply and Disqus now says it was “marked as spam” and deleted. I don’t know if there is a way to restore it right now. If not, oh well.

      • Brenton Swenson

        Appreciate the response. I wrote out a long response, but it got “flagged as spam” for some reason and deleted. Trying to get it restored through Disqus, but I’m not sure if that’s something you need to do on your end.

        Also you seem to be attributing some thoughts to me that weren’t my own, because I didn’t have other comments on here. I really do have difficulty understanding his positions and popularity, and I don’t think I used ad hominem.

        Thanks

        • Andrew Brock

          Same here, one of my responses got flagged as spam and deleted. That’s annoying.

          • I’m not sure how or why you were labeled spam, but I was able to bring both of your comments back. Sorry about that.

          • Brenton Swenson

            Thanks!

          • Andrew Brock

            No worries, thanks, Bob

  • Andrew Brock

    Glenn, Jake, Bob, I think the main point of contention here is whether or not Jordan Peterson’s ideas are worthy of discussion even though a listener essay brought him up. The point that me and other listeners here are trying to make is twofold: 1) He has too much reactionary, misogynist, pseudoscientific baggage that inevitable eclipses anything else. I actually agree with Bob that we can’t talk about Peterson’s ideas without talking about Peterson himself. Except, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It’s like talking about church history without talking about polygamy. 2) Peterson is not worth discussing because the only ideas you can defend as discussable are not ‘his’ ideas, they’re appropriated from major currents/debates in modern philosophy that he misunderstands. I don’t think you need to talk about them through his lens when there are better alternatives.

    • That’s fine that you don’t like discussing content from people with baggage when there are better alternatives for you. But you are projecting and wanting to have a meta-discussion on what’s worthy of discussion according to you. Uh, case closed, we’ve chosen to discuss it already. You should know that we may yet choose to discuss Peterson again at some point in the future. Those episodes will be clearly labeled each time (as these are), so you can just skip them, no need for all of us to discuss your contention of what’s worthy of discussing. We already have a solution for you. 🙂

    • Glenn

      Andrew, you provided several links to videos and articles and have clearly invested far more time into this “unworthy” person’s ideas than we have. Shame on you.

      (seriously though — don’t you see the irony in that? It’s kind of hilarious)

      • Andrew Brock

        Well, there’s an important private/public distinction here. Investigating Peterson’s material and ideas on my own is one thing versus platforming them on a podcast. It takes time to rebut and back up claims you make about people. I posted the Vice video because Bob asked for it and the Current Affairs article provides excellent background for anyone curious about makes Peterson a controversial figure. Even Bob said it was an interesting perspective. I’d be curious on your thoughts if you read it.

        • This is like those times when I wondered, but who watches the Rated R movies in order to edit out the bad parts for audiences at BYU?! And then the editor could answer, well, with the Spirit of discernment and my righteousness keeping me in check, don’t worry, padowan, just worry about what you should do if/when you see this without my help in the big bad world.

        • Glenn

          But only privately, right? 😉

          • Andrew Brock

            Believe it or not, you can think something is silly and be informed on it at the same time. I’m sure plenty of our nevermo friends can relate.

          • Glenn

            Here you go, Andrew. I did a brief mini smackdown of the article you linked to that I included with some other things I wanted to say about these two IOT Peterson episodes to our Patreon supporters. Here’s the link if you are curious on my thoughts:

            https://www.patreon.com/posts/sharing-time-07-20131704

          • Andrew Brock

            Wow, I definitely did not expect a mini smackdown, nor a bonus episode about all of this. Thanks for that. Unfortunately, you stopped reading just when Robinson starts digging into Peterson’s work. I should’ve told you that huge chunks of it are excerpts from Peterson’s lectures and books. That’s partly why it’s so long. It’s also long because it takes time to deconstruct someone’s ideas. Since you missed all of Robinson directly engaging with Peterson’s work, the last sections you did read probably seem a little confusing since you don’t know exactly what Robinson’s referencing, especially about the politics. I can understand if you don’t like Robinson’s take since Current Affairs is unabashedly leftist but I hope you go back and read the rest of it. I don’t need a smackdown of it, though. 😉

            I want to walk back a couple of things I’ve said in the comments after reflecting a little bit. For lack of a better word, Peterson is triggering for me because I’ve personally seen a few young, male, exmormons like myself become radicalized to the right. Like, full on protect-the-white-race radicalized, and for them it all started with Jordan Peterson talking about the “postmodern cultural Marxists”. That’s why I said it’s not worth it to discuss him on the podcast. My antagonism in the comments is mainly me reacting to what I perceived in you guys not caring about any of the problematic things Peterson has said. I know you weren’t talking about cultural Marxism or any of the inflammatory topics, you just wanted to talk about truth and pragmatism. I don’t think you guys are going to turn alt-right. I don’t think you guys are misogynist racists. I’m just sensitive, possibly oversensitive, to anyone in the exmormon community who is just starting to explore his work. I can be aggressive in sharing conclusions that I built up to instead of giving people room to explore and reach their own conclusions. Also, since I’m an extremely online person, I’ll hear on Twitter or Reddit about every little thing he says or writes so I forget that some people often know little about him outside of Joe Rogan or a few passages from his books.

            For the record, I’ve been listening to the podcast for the last 4 years, it helped me deconstruct my entire Mormon experience. It was extremely helpful to my transition out of religion. And I enjoyed the discussions in Part 2; the discussions about where to go after you leave the church, what to do with the Bible, etc; that’s the classic IoT content that keeps me listening.

          • Andrew Brock

            I posted a long reply to you Glenn, and it was “Detected as Spam” and deleted for some reason. I saw that you upvoted it though, so at least I know I got my point across.

  • Delaney Darco

    Woweeeeeee. Spent my afternoon reading the comments. I feel like I get what you guys were trying to do: explore a topic, and see where it goes. Is there something to this dreadful conversation Peterson and Harris had? You looked at P’s perspective, you looked at H’s perspective, and gave thought to why P is gaining a following. I am actually really glad for this episode because I had a light bulb moment when someone said Peterson is a bridge or a place for religious people to make sense of a lot of things, people who aren’t at the point of ditching religion altogether. My beleiving husband keeps bringing up JP, and now I know why he gravitates to him. He provides people with a philosophy that lets them have their intellectual cake and eat their faith too. Imaging that you are LDS and you listen to The Intellectual Dark Web. Who is going to speak to your soul the most? The guy who leaves room for your universe to function intact.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Delaney Darco, and that was me with the bridge point. 🙂