The case against Jordan Peterson

Image result for dr. oz jordan peterson

What do these two have in common anyway?

Jordan Peterson is selling a lie and it could potentially destroy your life.

This statement alone will definitely put his die-hard fans on the defensive, and I understand why it would.

He walked people through some of the darkest periods of their lives (yet. Seeing most of his fans are either in their late teens or early 20s), and such suggestion could invoke strong feelings because to many, this is more than just a mental exercise. It hits close to home.

This is an experience I can connect to, as I also had my share of role-models in my early 20s.

Elliot Hulse was one of the more influential names that come to mind. I used to binge-watch all his videos, listen to his tips on just about everything. Diet, relationships, and how to become a so-called alpha male.

Needless to say, he is someone who I happen to strongly disagree with on just about everything today.

With that said, I’d like to express that it’s perfectly OK to disagree with role-models and other positive influences in our lives while still appreciating the good things they’ve said and done, just as many of us already do with a lot of family members anyway.

If you’re one of those people, I invite you to be open to criticisms of his work.

The gist of this article is the following:

Jordan Peterson is professionally indoctrinating young people with pseudoscience, and whatever positive effects they may be experiencing are likely to fade. At best.

The overall concern is the overall damage it can lead to, and if it can be undone.

This is not exclusive to Jordan Peterson’s work, but with the overall concern of interpreting life through the scopes of pseudoscience.

Particularly in relation to the following:

Diet, relationships, and their perceptions on natural hierarchies.

In terms of diet, a lot of fans are already aware of his commitment to an all-meat-diet, and his testimony on how this lifestyle effectively treated his depression.

They also insist that he is merely speaking in regards to his own personal experience and that by no means is he attempting to advocate the same lifestyle to any of his viewers. In fact, they even claim that he advises against it.

On one hand, this is true. He did advice against it, as presented in the video linked earlier.

However, this is where things get interesting.

The following summarizes his approach to most of his positions. All of which – he is in fact – trying to sell (and generally succeeding).

In the video linked, he did start off by stating it is “a horrible diet to follow” only because (listen carefully) “it’s hard on your social life, makes traveling hard, and it’s dull as hell”.

He then said it practically treated his depression, while also adding that most dietitians don’t know what they are talking about.

Here is what he did not say:

That a meat diet is horrible because it can have negative effects on your health and body on the long-term, as backed by the research of most dietitians.

These are two very different statements. The implication that something is “incredibly effective at treating depression, but it’s dull and hard on your social life” is to still state that it’s incredibly effective and that it’s mostly a good thing.

That’s the dominant point, and the one that still stands.

This tactic is referred to as misdirection, and it is where viewers are deliberately distracted from picking on the conclusion they are ultimately being driven towards; This is most often used when someone is trying to persuade listeners into a less acceptable, and more controversial viewpoints.

Jordan Peterson is a trained psychologist and an effective communicator. He knows what he’s doing.

It’s as if a Ph.D. holder in clinical psychology stated the following:
“Snorting burnt charcoal has been an effective treatment against my depression, but I wouldn’t recommend it because it can be bland and tough on your social life. All these dietitians don’t know what they are talking about, though”.
Hopefully, you would be able to read between the lines.

There is more where that came from, as he often uses the same method to make naturalist arguments in regards to other positions, such as “Monogamous marriages as a pathway towards happiness”, despite 18 different studies against this claim.

Just as the positive effects of Jordan Peterson’s advice are likely to fade, the same can be said about marriage in relation to happiness.

Jordan Person is also keen on highlighting the differences between the genders in relation to wealth and so-called natural hierarchies while disregarding the actual counter-arguments that challenge these notions.

Including this response by History and Economics professor, Richard D. Wolff.

With the more interesting claim being the following:

The Capitalist Hierarchy is a byproduct of Human Nature.

The following segment is about a socioeconomic system that existed for the past 300 years, it is referred to as Capitalism. For more perspectives on the functions of that system, you may refer to my previous article on Capitalism here.

Appeal to nature is an old trope that has been present to justify Capitalism, Feudalism, and Slavery for as long as they existed. Aristotle and Plato believed that the division of slaves and Masters were characteristics inherent within “human nature”, which not only meant that slavery was permissible but necessary to maintain order in our world; anything out of line would be complete chaos.

Today, this is laughable. Ultimately, with all the negative traits that may be present within humanity, we wouldn’t cite those traits as justification to restore such economic systems; having already witnessed that negative traits in humanity do not inevitably lead to equally negative human errors in every other system.

It turns out that some economic systems lead to overall greater satisfaction and outcomes than others, regardless of what human nature is or isn’t.

Rejecting change on the premise that “it will inevitably be destroyed by human nature” is fallacious even if we were to assume that humanity is downright sociopathic, since working to advance our socioeconomic conditions (By abandoning Feudalism) already proved to be worthy regardless of all human flaws.

Even if we were to assume hierarchies are naturally inevitable, it would precisely bring upon a need to remove injustice from hierarchy as much as possible; as we once have. Anything less could also be an argument for the restoration fascism, feudalism or slavery on the premise that “hierarchy is inevitable” as well.

Assuming that human behavior under Capitalism is rooted in the natural characteristics of human beings by observing human behavior – specifically under Capitalism, would be fallacious in and of itself.

It is the equivalent of drawing conclusions on human nature from social behaviors under Feudalism, and to assume their behaviors are responses to “Human Nature”; rather than to Feudalism itself, or to “human nature” rather than the economics of slavery that preceded it; both of which were also arguments made to justify the presence of the dominant structures of their time.

This is why appeal to nature is generally regarded as a logical fallacy in our day and age. Capitalism is not a byproduct of philosophers and biologists who met in a boardroom to discuss the most favorable system for humanity. Like feudalism, it is the byproduct of an oligarchy that persists to maintain their position.

If we were to insist on discussing socioeconomics from a naturalist perspective, the odds are not in favor of Capitalism either. Likewise, alternatives are also justified with naturalist arguments.

An overwhelming majority of biologists perceive cooperation and Mutualism to be the essence of growth and survivability and argue that is far more vital for our survival than the hoarding of resources and competition. Starting with Charles Darwin, who first noted that cooperation was a potential error in his observation of Natural Selection, then concluded that natural selection favor species which display cooperative behaviors (dogs, elephants, baboons, pelicans, etc) over non-cooperating species in the “Descent of Man (1871)”.

“it hardly seems probable that the number of men gifted with such virtues [as bravery and sympathy] … could be increased through natural selection, that is, by the survival of the fittest.”. “Those communities which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members would flourish best and rear the greatest number of offspring.”

This position was later supported by other scientists, such as Peter Kroptokin, who rejected Capitalism and argued for cooperative functions among humans on the basis that “it was an evolutionary emphasis on cooperation instead of competition in the Darwinian sense that made for the success of species, including the human” in “Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution (1902)”. These observations came from the study of ants, birds, mammals, and humans alike. More recent studies concluded that cooperation is both more likely and favorable to humans than competition.

These observations came from the study of ants, birds, mammals, and humans alike. More recent studies concluded that cooperation is both more likely and favorable to humans than competition.

These observations still live on today. For example: A 2016 empirical experiment that confirmed “that cooperation, not struggle for survival (Free market Capitalism) is the driving force to evolution, and 2017 paper titled “Why to cooperate is better than to compete” with the same conclusion.

Similar results were shown in a joint study by Harvard and Yale in 2012, on whether humans instinctively act selfishly or cooperatively concluded that cooperative behavior is more in line with our “natural instinct” than competitiveness (Source: Scientific American).

These could all be proposed as arguments to why Workers’ Cooperatives are in fact “more natural” than Capitalist enterprises.

The bottom line is that “naturalist” arguments are 100% logically fallacious, and to employ naturalist arguments in favor of Free-market Capitalism instead of a worker’s cooperative economy would be to walk on thin ice.
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