О Джордане Питерсоне

Re: О Джордане Питерсоне

by Евгений Волков -
Number of replies: 0
Ash Wilson-Smith

In short, no.

Peterson’s style of debate is one that aligns closely with reductionism. He narrows down on topics further and further until the source of its existence is made clear. In the absence of something to reduce to its core, he poses a lot of questions that, by and large, people have not taken the time to actually consider for themselves.

A reductionistic model for analysis

I personally find this approach immensely satisfying, as it gives you a level of appreciation (not understanding, because that is inherently subjective) of the overwhelming complexity of relationships between systems.

But let’s look at a number of Peterson’s points that have been raised in recent times (and in the Newman interview):

  1. Can men and women effectively work together in the workplace, in the absence of sexual tension/intimacy?
    1. The data on this are limited, given we have only been working in close proximity to each other for less than a century in the professional realm. How do we go about measuring this into the future, in such a way that is rational and sensible?
    2. If we impose legislation that acts on a presumption of “guilty until proven innocent”, will further degradations to the fundamental principles of law continue (presupposing that they have in the first place)?
      1. What role does “trial by public opinion” play in all of this, given we know how that often tends to go?
    3. If sexual tension and intimacy are indeed critical to the functioning of a healthy, non-repressive workplace, is the presence of sexual harassment surprising?
      1. How can we expect individuals to engage in something so inherently risky as the courting process, without expecting extremes of outcome to occur (i.e. sexual harassment)?
      2. What can we do in order to minimise sexual harassment in the workplace? Do we set policies where colleagues cannot interact on that level with one another? Do we make employees wear a uniform? Do we reconsider the role of makeup?
  2. Why is there a gap in the median earnings between men and women?
    1. Yes, gender is one factor that plays a role, but why does it play a role? Further, why aren’t the economists of the world coming forth with the overwhelming evidence of gender being the only contributing factor to this gap?
      1. Univariate analysis is trash, folks (NB: that’s my personal view). Try being a fast trader on the stock exchange or an investment banker looking at funds using a model that analyses only one variate, and see how well you go. Hint: You won’t be working as a fast trader/IB for very long. I am also training as a doctor whilst working as a medical researcher in my spare time, and from that experience, univariate approaches often yield worthless results. Life is more complex than that, and if you try to hyper-simplify it, good luck being taken seriously.
  3. Why does someone’s capacity to be offended restrict me from questioning their worldview or ideas?
    1. If one is able to impose restrictions on my words and behaviour, why can I not question that within the confines of the democratic process?
  4. If I am unable to question someone due to their perceived offence at my line of inquiry, what happens when that is applied to a societal level?
    1. Will this lead us down a road that we have gone before? Why/why not?
    2. What are the punishments to be levied against someone for being offensive (hate speech/freedom of speech laws considered)? Do we imprison people? Do we destroy their reputations?

Note that none of these questions is an opinion or statement of support in either direction (minus my authorial intrusion); they are merely questions that have to be asked. I think this is why Peterson is so disliked by a lot of people - he asks questions that people assume reflect his opinion, or that offend them because it gets them thinking about what their actual motivations are. He is a psychologist, for God’s sake. His job is to ask uncomfortable questions. However, no one wants to hear that the very actions and behaviours that they are manifesting are the same that caused the persecution and death of millions less than a century before. On both sides of the political spectrum. Hence, people assumed that the person making those claims is an alarmist, or, on a more primitive level, they are an enemy to the very foundations of their being.

Listen to the words and actions of these people, and make up your own mind.

It is entirely unsurprising that arguments and debates activate the same regions of the brain that are responsible for the “fight or flight” response. Why else is politics so utterly polarising? Hell, put a democrat and a republican in the same room and get them to come to an agreement on gun control, and see what the outcome is (hint: we have and it’s painful). Anger, torment, frustration - all are fundamental aspects of the political process. How we manage them, however, distinguishes a dictatorial body politic from a democratic one.

I prefer the body politic where we sit and debate ideas and come to a slow, painful resolution, not the one where the doors of your house are kicked by death as the clock chimes midnight.

All of these phenomena tie back to one’s underlying psychology, which then merges and interacts with the psychology of the community, which then merges and interacts with the psychology of the society. Traversing this maelstrom is Peterson’s forte. Let the man question the Hell out of society.


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About the Author

Ash Wilson-Smith

Ash Wilson-Smith

Aspiring neurosurgeon, musician, human.
Research affiliate at Collaborative Research Group
MD from University of New South WalesExpected 2020
Lives in Sydney, Australia
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