How dangerous is Jordan B Peterson, the rightwing professor who 'hit a hornets' nest'? (2022)

The Canadian psychology professor and culture warrior Jordan B Peterson could not have hoped for better publicity than his recent encounter with Cathy Newman on Channel 4 News. The more Newman inaccurately paraphrased his beliefs and betrayed her irritation, the better Peterson came across. The whole performance, which has since been viewed more than 6m times on YouTube and was described by excitable Fox News host Tucker Carlson as “one of the great interviews of all time”, bolstered Peterson’s preferred image as the coolly rational man of science facing down the hysteria of political correctness. As he told Newman in his distinctive, constricted voice, which he has compared to that of Kermit the Frog: “I choose my words very, very carefully.”

The confrontation has worked wonders for Peterson. His new book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos has become a runaway bestseller in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Germany and France, making him the public intellectual du jour. Peterson is not just another troll, narcissist or blowhard whose arguments are fatally compromised by bad faith, petulance, intellectual laziness and blatant bigotry. It is harder to argue with someone who believes what he says and knows what he is talking about – or at least conveys that impression. No wonder every scourge of political correctness, from the Spectator to InfoWars, is aflutter over the 55-year-old professor who appears to bring heavyweight intellectual armature to standard complaints about “social-justice warriors” and “snowflakes”. They think he could be the culture war’s Weapon X.

(Video) The Flawed Logic of Jordan Peterson Hit Pieces

Despite his appetite for self-promotion, Peterson claims to be a reluctant star. “In a sensible world, I would have got my 15 minutes of fame,” he told the Ottawa Citizen last year. “I feel like I’m surfing a giant wave … and it could come crashing down and wipe me out, or I could ride it and continue. All of those options are equally possible.”

Two years ago, he was a popular professor at the University of Toronto and a practising clinical psychologist who offered self-improvement exercises on YouTube. He published his first book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief, in 1999 and appeared in Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller David and Goliath, talking about the character traits of successful entrepreneurs. The tough-love, stern-dad strand of his work is represented in 12 Rules for Life, which fetes strength, discipline and honour.

His ballooning celebrity and wealth, however, began elsewhere, with a three-part YouTube series in September 2016 called Professor Against Political Correctness. Peterson was troubled by two developments: a federal amendment to add gender identity and expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act; and his university’s plans for mandatory anti-bias training. Starting from there, he railed against Marxism, human rights organisations, HR departments and “an underground apparatus of radical left political motivations” forcing gender-neutral pronouns on him.

This more verbose, distinctly Canadian version of Howard Beale’s “mad as hell” monologue in Network had an explosive effect. A few days later, a video of student protesters disrupting one of Peterson’s lectures enhanced his reputation as a doughty truth-teller. “I hit a hornets’ nest at the most propitious time,” he later reflected.

Indeed he did. Camille Paglia anointed him “the most important and influential Canadian thinker since Marshall McLuhan”. Economist Tyler Cowen said Peterson is currently the most influential public intellectual in the western world. For rightwing commentator Melanie Phillips, he is “a kind of secular prophet … in an era of lobotomised conformism”. He is also adored by figures on the so-called alt-light (basically the “alt-right” without the sieg heils and the white ethnostate), including Mike Cernovich, Gavin McInnes and Paul Joseph Watson. His earnings from crowdfunding drives on Patreon and YouTube hits (his lectures and debates have been viewed almost 40m times), now dwarf his academic salary.

(Video) Jordan Peterson Is Every Fox News Grandpa

Not everybody is persuaded that Peterson is a thinker of substance, however. Last November, fellow University of Toronto professor Ira Wells called him “the professor of piffle” – a YouTube star rather than a credible intellectual. Tabatha Southey, a columnist for the Canadian magazine Macleans, designated him “the stupid man’s smart person”.

“Peterson’s secret sauce is to provide an academic veneer to a lot of old-school rightwing cant, including the notion that most academia is corrupt and evil, and banal self-help patter,” says Southey. “He’s very much a cult thing, in every regard. I think he’s a goof, which does not mean he’s not dangerous.”

So, what does Peterson actually believe? He bills himself as “a classic British liberal” whose focus is the psychology of belief. Much of what he says is familiar: marginalised groups are infantilised by a culture of victimhood and offence-taking; political correctness threatens freedom of thought and speech; ideological orthodoxy undermines individual responsibility. You can read this stuff any day of the week and perhaps agree with some of it. However, Peterson goes further, into its most paranoid territory. His bete noire is what he calls “postmodern neo-Marxism” or “cultural Marxism”. In a nutshell: having failed to win the economic argument, Marxists decided to infiltrate the education system and undermine western values with “vicious, untenable and anti-human ideas”, such as identity politics, that will pave the road to totalitarianism.

Peterson studied political science and psychology, but he weaves several more disciplines – evolutionary biology, anthropology, sociology, history, literature, religious studies – into his grand theory. Rather than promoting blatant bigotry, like the far right, he claims that concepts fundamental to social-justice movements, such as the existence of patriarchy and other forms of structural oppression, are treacherous illusions, and that he can prove this with science. Hence: “The idea that women were oppressed throughout history is an appalling theory.” Islamophobia is “a word created by fascists and used by cowards to manipulate morons”. White privilege is “a Marxist lie”. Believing that gender identity is subjective is “as bad as claiming that the world is flat”. Unsurprisingly, he was an early supporter of James Damore, the engineer fired by Google for his memo Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.

Cathy Newman was wrong to call Peterson a “provocateur”, as if he were just Milo Yiannopoulos with a PhD. He is a true believer. Peterson is old enough to remember the political correctness wars of the early 90s, when conservatives such as Allan Bloom and Roger Kimball warned that campus speech codes and demands to diversify the canon were putting the US on the slippery slope to Maoism, and mainstream journalists found the counterintuitive twist – what if progressives are the real fascists? – too juicy to resist. Their alarmist rhetoric now seems ridiculous. Those campus battles did not lead to the Gulag. But Peterson’s theories hark back to that episode.

(Video) Is Jordan Peterson Alt Right?

How dangerous is Jordan B Peterson, the rightwing professor who 'hit a hornets' nest'? (1)

Peterson was also shaped by the cold war; he was obsessed as a young man with the power of rigid ideology to make ordinary people do terrible things. He collects Soviet realist paintings, in a know-your-enemy way, and named his first child Mikhaila, after Mikhail Gorbachev. In Professor Against Political Correctness, he says: “I know something about the way authoritarian and totalitarian states develop and I can’t help but think that I am seeing a fair bit of that right now.”

In many ways, Peterson is an old-fashioned conservative who mourns the decline of religious faith and the traditional family, but he uses of-the-moment tactics. His YouTube gospel resonates with young white men who feel alienated by the jargon of social-justice discourse and crave an empowering theory of the world in which they are not the designated oppressors. Many are intellectually curious. On Amazon, Peterson’s readers seek out his favourite thinkers: Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Solzhenitsyn, Jung. His long, dense video lectures require commitment. He combines the roles of erudite professor, self-help guru and street-fighting scourge of the social-justice warrior: the missing link between Steven Pinker, Dale Carnegie and Gamergate. On Reddit, fans testify that Peterson changed, or even saved, their lives. His recent sold-out lectures in London had the atmosphere of revival meetings.

Such intense adoration can turn nasty. His more extreme supporters have abused, harassed and doxxed (maliciously published the personal information of) several of his critics. One person who has crossed swords with Peterson politely declined my request for an interview, having experienced floods of hatemail, including physical threats. Newman received so much abuse that Peterson asked his fans to “back off”, albeit while suggesting the scale had been exaggerated. “His fans are relentless,” says Southey. “They have contacted me, repeatedly, on just about every platform possible.”

While Peterson does not endorse such attacks, his intellectual machismo does not exactly deter them. He calls ideas he disagrees with silly, ridiculous, absurd, insane. He describes debate as “combat” on the “battleground” of ideas and hints at physical violence, too. “If you’re talking to a man who wouldn’t fight with you under any circumstances whatsoever, then you’re talking to someone for whom you have absolutely no respect,” he told Paglia last year, adding that it is harder to deal with “crazy women” because he cannot hit them. His fans post videos with titles such as “Jordan Peterson DESTROY [sic] Transgender Professor” and “Those 7 Times Jordan Peterson Went Beast Mode”. In debate, as in life, Peterson believes in winners and losers.

(Video) Analysing a Jordan Peterson Hitpiece

“How does one effectively debate a man who seems obsessed with telling his adoring followers that there is a secret cabal of postmodern neo-Marxists hellbent on destroying western civilisation and that their campus LGBTQ group is part of it?” says Southey. “There’s never going to be a point where he says: ‘You know what? You’re right, I was talking out of my ass back there.’ It’s very much about him attempting to dominate the conversation.”

Peterson’s constellation of beliefs attracts a heterogeneous audience that includes Christian conservatives, atheist libertarians, centrist pundits and neo-Nazis. This staunch anti-authoritarian also has a striking habit of demonising the left while downplaying dangers from the right. After the 2016 US election, Peterson described Trump as a “liberal” and a “moderate”, no more of a demagogue than Reagan. In as much as Trump voters are intolerant, Peterson claims, it is the left’s fault for sacrificing the working class on the altar of identity politics. Because his contempt for identity politics includes what he calls “the pathology of racial pride”, he does not fully endorse the far right, but he flirts with their memes and overlaps with them on many issues.

How dangerous is Jordan B Peterson, the rightwing professor who 'hit a hornets' nest'? (2)

“It’s true that he’s not a white nationalist,” says David Neiwert, the Pacific Northwest correspondent for the Southern Poverty Law Center and the author of Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump. “But he’s buttressing his narrative with pseudo-facts, many of them created for the explicit purpose of promoting white nationalism, especially the whole notion of ‘cultural Marxism’. The arc of radicalisation often passes through these more ‘moderate’ ideologues.”

“The difference is that this individual has a title and profession that lend a certain illusory credibility,” says Cara Tierney, an artist and part-time professor who protested against Peterson’s appearance at Ottawa’s National Gallery last year. “It’s very theatrical and shrewdly exploits platforms that thrive on spectacle, controversy, fear and prejudice. The threat is not so much what [Peterson’s] beliefs are, but how they detract from more critical, informed and, frankly, interesting conversations.”

(Video) #265: Vaccines, Matt Gaetz, and Jordan Peterson Oh My

Consider the media firestorm last November over Lindsay Shepherd, a teaching assistant at Ontario’s Wilfrid Laurier University, who was reprimanded for showing students a clip of Peterson debating gender pronouns. Her supervising professor compared it to “neutrally playing a speech by Hitler”, before backing down and apologising publicly. The widely reported controversy sent 12 Rules for Life racing back up the Amazon charts, leading Peterson to tweet: “Apparently being compared to Hitler now constitutes publicity.

Yet Peterson’s commitment to unfettered free speech is questionable. Once you believe in a powerful and malign conspiracy, you start to justify extreme measures. Last July, he announced plans to launch a website that would help students and parents identify and avoid “corrupt” courses with “postmodern content”. Within five years, he hoped, this would starve “postmodern neo-Marxist cult classes” into oblivion. Peterson shelved the plan after a backlash, acknowledging that it “might add excessively to current polarisation”. Who could have predicted that blacklisting fellow professors might exacerbate polarisation? Apparently not “the most influential public intellectual in the western world”.

The key to Peterson’s appeal is also his greatest weakness. He wants to be the man who knows everything and can explain everything, without qualification or error. On Channel 4 News, he posed as an impregnable rock of hard evidence and common sense. But his arguments are riddled with conspiracy theories and crude distortions of subjects, including postmodernism, gender identity and Canadian law, that lie outside his field of expertise. Therefore, there is no need to caricature his ideas in order to challenge them. Even so, his critics will have their work cut out: Peterson’s wave is unlikely to come crashing down any time soon.

FAQs

How much is Jordan Peterson worth? ›

According to sites like Celebrity Net Worth, Jordan Peterson's net worth is $8 million. Jordan claimed in 2019 that he was earning $80,000 per month from his Patreon account, in addition to $35,000 per share and approximately $200,000 per month from his consulting/clinical practice.

How much is a session with Jordan Peterson? ›

Dr. Jordan Peterson ticket prices range from $83.00 - $241.00.

How does Jordan Peterson deal with depression? ›

How to fight depression | Powerful Jordan Peterson's Advice - YouTube

What is the 1st rule of life? ›

Rule 1: Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back. The poor and stressed always die first, and in greater numbers. They are also much more susceptible to non-infectious diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

What is Jordan Petersons personality type? ›

Jordan Peterson is an INFJ personality type. When making decisions, Jordan places a great emphasis on his emotions and other people's feelings. Jordan is a high achiever and excels in his field of clinical psychology.

How many hours does Jordan Peterson work? ›

As a clinical psychologist, Jordan is well-read, with thousands of books under his belt and a lifetime of reading ahead. Typically, Jordan says he'll work around 14-hours a day, giving him a 100+ hour workweek.

How much does Jordan Peterson charge for a speech? ›

One example fee to book Jordan Peterson is in the starting range of $75,000-$149,999. Also, their speaking fee might be different than the fee shown for the cost to perform or to just appear. Popularity, career stage, along with current demand will cause fluctuations in their speaking price too.

What is a clinical psychologist? ›

Psychologists who provide clinical or counseling services assess and treat mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. They use the science of psychology to treat complex human problems and promote change. They also promote resilience and help people discover their strengths.

How does Jordan Peterson treat anxiety? ›

Can anxiety work in your favor? | Jordan B Peterson - YouTube

How do I get rid of Jordan Peterson social anxiety? ›

How to Overcome Social Anxiety | Jordan Peterson - YouTube

Why did Jordan Peterson have anxiety? ›

According to Mikhaila's update from Russia, he was prescribed the sedative clonazepam, a benzodiazepine, by his family doctor in 2017 for anxiety stemming from a “severe autoimmune reaction to food.” Peterson's doctor allegedly increased his dose after Peterson's wife was diagnosed with kidney cancer in April 2019.

What are the rules of life? ›

The 7 Cardinal Rules of Life.
  • Make peace with your past so it won't mess with your present. ...
  • Time heals everything, so give it time. ...
  • What others think of you is none of your business. ...
  • Don't compare your life to others, and don't judge them. ...
  • Stop thinking so much, it's alright not to know the answers.
Dec 7, 2019

What are the two best take away you get from the 12 rules of life? ›

10 Impactful Takeaways From “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to...
  • Introduction. ...
  • Section 01 — Compare Yourself To Yesterday's You. ...
  • Section 02 — Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back. ...
  • Section 03 — Dreams Go Where Reality Does Not. ...
  • Section 04 — Become Friends With Those Who Want The Best For You.
Sep 20, 2018

Why does Jordan Peterson say clean your room? ›

Jordan Peterson believes that only by taking care of your immediate environment can you then move onto bigger challenges. The idea stems from millennials who want to change capitalist economic structures though can be applied broadly.

What is Elon Musk personality type? ›

As an INTJ, Elon tends to be confident, analytical, and ambitious. Elon is likely an independent thinker focused on solving the world's problems.

What is the 4 personality types? ›

A study published in Nature Human Behaviour reveals that there are four personality types — average, reserved, role-model and self-centered — and these findings might change the thinking about personality in general.

What is the rarest Myers Briggs Type? ›

INFJ is the rarest personality type across the population, occurring in just 2% of the population. It is also the rarest personality type among men. INFJ stands for Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Judging. This unique combination is hard to find in most people.

How can I improve my focus by Jordan Peterson? ›

How To Improve Focus and Concentration | Jordan Peterson

How do Jordan Peterson stay focused? ›

How To Stay Focused Longer - Jordan Peterson Tips For Personal Growth ...

How do you become articulate like Jordan Peterson? ›

Jordan Peterson's Ultimate Advice- How to Become More Articulate

How is Jordan Peterson so rich? ›

Jordan Peterson's Professional Income

In the past decade, Jordan Peterson has earned over $4 million dollars income through his psychology sessions and services to celebrities. From early 2017, funding for projects dramatically increased through his use of Patreon.

How much does Jordan Peterson make on Patreon? ›

In five years, online membership service Patreon has attracted two million patrons supporting 100,000 'creators' to the tune of $350m – including nearly $1m a year for rightwing psychologist Jordan Peterson.

Who is Jordan Petersons wife? ›

How many copies sold 12 Rules life? ›

The book topped bestseller lists in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, and has sold over five million copies worldwide.

How much was the Wolf of Wall Street worth? ›

The estimated net worth of Jordan Belfort is minus $100 million.

What does Jordan Peterson invest in? ›

Bitcoin is a “natural fit to anybody who wants to save their value into the future” and that is why Jordan Peterson invested more in it.

What is net worth capital? ›

Net worth is the value of the assets a person or corporation owns, minus the liabilities they owe. It is an important metric to gauge a company's health, providing a useful snapshot of its current financial position.

Do you pay taxes on Patreon? ›

Does Patreon withhold any taxes from my payments? No – Patreon doesn't withhold anything (aside from our fees) from your funds earned on Patreon. We are obligated to add, collect, and remit sales tax and VAT on top of some pledge, but those funds are not calculated anywhere as 'earnings'.

Who are the top earners on Patreon? ›

These are some of the highest-paid Patreon accounts that earn more than $50,000 a year:
  • True Crime Obsessed.
  • Chapo Trap House.
  • DarkCookie – Summertime Saga.
  • Jeff Wittek.
  • You're Wrong About.
  • The Tim Dillon Show.
  • DankPods.
  • Flagrant 2.
Jun 16, 2022

How much can I make on Patreon? ›

Now, let's say that creator has reward tiers that are valued at $2, $5, $10, $25, and $100. If most patrons pledge $2-10, it's likely the average patron will pay roughly $7.
...
How to get an estimate of how much you could make on Patreon.
Size of following30,000
Total monthly earnings$315 – $1575
4 more rows
May 31, 2018

What does Jordan Peterson think of MBTI? ›

He makes the claim in many of his videos that MBTI as a psychological concept is archaic and lacks applicability. At the very least, one could reasonably claim that there is a high level of correlation between the attributes measured by the Big Five and those measured by MBTI.

How is Jordan Peterson's wife now? ›

Who is Jordan Peterson's son? ›

Why you should always pet a cat when you meet one on the street? ›

Jordan Peterson reflects upon in his final chapter of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. Petting a cat unless you suffer from ailurophobia, the fear of cats, can be a soothing touchpoint amidst the inevitable suffering and unexplainable tragedies of life.

Is the 12 rules of life religious? ›

This religious language is not metaphorical. Peterson does not like to be asked if he believes in God, complaining to an interviewer that the question is intended to “box him in”, but 12 Rules for Life is saturated with Christian theology.

What is forced monogamy? ›

“Enforced monogamy” means socially-promoted, culturally-inculcated monogamy, as opposed to genetic monogamy – evolutionarily-dictated monogamy, which does exist in some species (but does not exist in humans). This distinction has been present in anthropological and scientific literature for decades.”

Videos

1. Critical Junction - Episode 40: Jordan Peterson
(Critical Junction)
2. Joe Rogan Calmly Obliterates Jordan Peterson
(The Majority Report w/ Sam Seder)
3. Jordan Peterson's Countdown To Total Meltdown Begins On Fox and Friends
(The Majority Report w/ Sam Seder)
4. Steven Crowder Owned By His Alexa
(The Majority Report w/ Sam Seder)
5. Jordan Peterson on the Archetypal Propagandas of Racial Purity
(AWESOME WANG)
6. Comedians, canaries and coalmines
(Jordan B Peterson)

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