This tweet came across my feed this morning, and after pondering how generous of a word “confused” was, I felt inspired to take some time to address some of the misinformation in detail.
With over 11M views, I’m surprised that anyone covering Jordan Peterson wouldn't have watched the Cathy Newman interview yet, but here’s the excerpt where this is addressed, nonetheless:
At best, this is a rather uncharitable reduction of what Peterson said. Let's compare Peterson's original quote, it's summary in the referenced NYT article, and finally this claim.
"The people who hold that our culture is an oppressive patriarchy, they don’t want to admit that the current hierarchy might be predicated on competence."
“The left, he believes, refuses to admit that men might be in charge because they are better at it.”
And here I want to strike a balance between not glossing over a legitimate question, while also not writing a book. Let's begin with 2 foundational premises:
Premise 2: Observing and describing these norms isn’t the same as the prescribing or safeguarding them.
Not to controversial yet, I hope.
The first is an abstract truism for nearly any population, while the second is a basic differentiation between "is" and "ought".
On to an example, now:
1. The psychological trait "agreeableness" is negatively correlated with success in competitive markets.
2. ON AVERAGE, women are more agreeable than men.
1. Women SHOULD be more agreeable than men.
2. Agreeableness SHOULD be negatively correlated with success.
3. Some women aren't LESS agreeable than some men.
They're only well-studied norms.
If your aim is pay equality in the marketplace, shouldn't we endeavor to start with an honest assessment of how, in general, both it and we currently behave?
At a minimum, however, don’t rely on 3rd-degree mutations of one-liners coming out of the NYT. Fair?
As we continue, let's inject a quick reminder: observing things about group behavior ISN'T defending or endorsing that behavior. It's just observing. Good? Good.
1. Some % of the population act like impulsive, highly evolved primates.
2. Some % of harassment stems from a failure to curb inappropriate sexual impulses.
3. Makeup generally increases attractiveness; it’s not called the Beauty Industry for nothing.
1. Men are incapable of controlling their impulses.
2. Wearing makeup is "asking for it".
3. If women stop wearing makeup, harassment will stop.
4. This would actually be good office policy.
• are sexual
• variably engage their sexuality in that environment
• may (contextually) experience the same action as a welcome advance OR harassment
And within all that, some stuff is correlated to other stuff.
Yes. Guilty. And I honestly wish Peterson was more clear here. But please, keep reading. 🙏
So, there's that.
He routinely and publicly engages in thought experiments around human social behavior. He's not lobbying to expunge Urban Decay from the workplace. I mean, really?!
Of the four claims we've looked at, this is the one on which I have the hardest time imagining any possible sincerity. At best, this is a criminal lack of homework.
Conspicuously missing from Valenti's piece, however, are Peterson's OWN words describing what he actually meant.
But to write about it now, and completely fail to mention his clarifications, is irresponsible.
You can read the whole thing here (jordanbpeterson.com/media/on-the-n…), but I've included his summary remarks below:
• It’s ok to disagree with Peterson on stuff.
• I personally disagree with Peterson on stuff.
• But where we are to disagree, let's aim to disagree with stuff he actually said.
In fact things tend to be notably better when multiple views are represented.
I’m not here to bludgeon journalists into recanting their views, but I do hope this thread manages to act as a little counterbalance.