Tag: Lobsters

Jordan Peterson Manipulates Language to Appear Smarter

Ellie McFarland | United States

Dr. Jordan B. Peterson rose to prominence after a video of him defending free speech against the Canadian human rights bill C-16 surfaced online. This bill, among other things, would make it a crime to misgender a trans person. Dr. Peterson’s assertions in the original video were clear and admirable, but further, it was a direct deviation from the current common discourse. He was rocketed into public intellectual stardom after the episode at The University of Toronto; booking speaking event after guest lecture after television appearance. He was, and still very much is, the freshest philosopher in the free marketplace of ideas.

However, with closer examination, it seems his transparency and edge are inconsistent in his current work. Specifically, in the now infamous Cathy Newman interview, Dr. Peterson jumped from hard-hitting clear claims about the nature of political correctness to vague and meaningless facts about lobster dominance hierarchies.

The Bridge Between Lobsters and Humans

Dr. Peterson’s constant metaphors involving lobsters are actually very important to the way he manipulates language. For instance, he might say something about how dominance hierarchies are inherent in human beings and then go on a tirade about shellfish serotonin levels. While both statements are correct, but they don’t inform each other in any relevant way. This is called a non sequitur and means “it does not follow” in Latin. When someone uses a non sequitur, the premises do not logically inform the conclusion, even though all parts of the argument may be correct. Even though it is true that humans naturally fall into hierarchies, and lobsters do have very similar endocrine systems to humans, those facts do nothing to prop each other up, or to prop up his point, which usually amounts the differences between men and women being biological rather than social.

All of these declarations are technically correct according to everything we know about both human and lobster biology. However, neither of them does anything to prove whether or not there are actual differences between men and women beyond the social sphere. There is astounding evidence that he does frequently bring up to prove men and women, our masculine and feminine strengths and weaknesses, are biological. But he very rarely brings them up alongside that specific issue. Instead, he uses them in conversations surrounding crime and antisocial behavior. When these facts, however rarely, are brought up in the context of the conversation they actually belong in, they are cheapened and sandwiched between lobster-talk and dominance hierarchies.

This is actually a spin-off of a well-known debate technique called Gish Galloping, where a debater will try and overwhelm their opponents with as many arguments as possible in the shortest time possible. Dr. Peterson tweaks this idea. Instead of overwhelming his opponent with a lot of arguments all at once, he opens into an explanation of something that has very little to do with his real point in hopes that his opponent won’t bother to address it. The truth is, lobsters have nothing to do masculinity or femininity. But that sort of niche diatribe does impress people even though, critically, it carries no real value.

Redefining the Words We Know

The second way Dr. Peterson manipulates language is through the changing of definitions. The most atrocious example of this definition hopscotch is when he speaks on the topic of religion. He has said consistently that he believes all people are religious because religion is “what you act out.” This is just an unhelpful shifting of meaning. According to this definition, prayer, martyrdom, and communion are all religious acts in the same way driving, making a salad, watching TV, or participating in Punk Rock are religious acts. After all, “you can’t be a disbeliever in your actions”. This is an intentionally blunt definition that detracts from conversational productivity. Sam Harris explained this best when he said,

“People have traditionally believed in ghosts, it’s an archetype you might say– the ghost: survival of death is certainly an archetype. And we know what most people most of the time mean when they say they believe in ghosts. And I say I don’t believe in ghosts, and you say ‘No no, you do believe in ghosts. Ghosts are your relationship to the unseen. That’s a ghost.’ So you have a new definition of ghost that you’re putting in the place provided, to which I have to say of course I have a relationship to the unseen. So yeah I guess I do believe in ghosts. You win that argument. But that simply isn’t what most people mean by a ghost.”

Peterson Manipulates Words for Conclusions

Redefining words is not always such a slimy debate strategy. In many instances, it can be very helpful in coming to a conclusion about rather nebulous words such as “good”, “evil”, or even “god” in order to further some sort of discourse and continue the conversation. Dr. Peterson’s redefinition of religion, though, is all-encompassing by design. This basically boils down to an equivocation fallacy. Dr. Peterson’s definition of religion is clearly not the same as the average religious person’s definition. Therefore, it’s meaningless within any conversation about its impact.

This is not to say that Dr. Jordan B. Peterson is not intelligent, that he doesn’t have anything important to say, or that his philosophies outlined in 12 Rules for Life are immoral or fundamentally wrong. This is to say that not all of his proclamations are valid and we shouldn’t ignore his metaphorical talk-arounds of legitimate criticism. It is fine, even good, to admire Jordan Peterson. It is intellectually dishonest, however, to pretend he is flawless or doesn’t use manipulative language. In doing so, he makes himself seem more intelligent and convinces good-hearted people of positions with little merit.

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Don’t Be a Jordan Peterson NPC

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

Jordan Peterson is attempting to use Jungian psychoanalysis to make your life better. His position in society is somewhat akin to that of a rockstar. His book, 12 Rules for Life, is an international bestseller. And it’s a pretty good book, too. I find it both enjoyable and helpful. It fills itself with practical steps that the reader can apply to his or her life and make it one worth living. I regard myself as a fan of Jordan Peterson because of this. But the problem comes in when one takes Peterson as the arbiter of truth. This is particularly problematic in the case of Postmodernism.

Peterson identifies the problem with Postmodernism as its apparent cover-up for Marxist philosophy. He explains that once Marxism became taboo because of the failure of the Soviet project, postmodernists swept in to save the day. They hid Marxism behind a complicated and convoluted veil that meant it would be able to further progress. But this is an incorrect proposition. Postmodernism centers itself around the idea that grand narratives are incorrect and critique them.

Marxism teaches us that history is somewhat determined and that historical forces are pushing forward so as to bring forth a new epoch of the worker. The forces of historical materialism drive this trend. This is obviously a grand narrative that many postmodernists would reject. And many Marxists reject facets of Postmodernism as well.

One of my favorite Postmodern thinkers, Todd McGowan, explains in his book Enjoying What We Don’t Have some of the problems with the Marxist goal. The idea of progress is inherently problematic to him. As an adherent to Lacanian Psychoanalysis, he realizes that moves towards a beneficial end goal will only be frustrated because they don’t embrace what Freud called the Death Drive. McGowan’s critique of Marxism is one of the many Postmodernist critiques.

Postmodernism is not even an inherently leftist way of thought. Some, if only a few, right-wingers I know have begun to adopt this Postmodernist philosophy for their own individual ends. In my interview with Cody Wilson, he explains that his primary influence for creating the ghost gun was the French thinker Jean Baudrillard. Cody Wilson is not a left winger at all.

In addition, the Youtube creator Truediltom has made many videos concerning various postmodernists, primarily focusing on Deleuze. In his video titled “The Metaphysics of War“, he explains his reasoning for looking into authors that are very far out of the mainstream. He does this because even though we may disagree with their conclusions, they are usually capable of identifying problems that are more difficult to spot through a mainstream lens.

Jordan Peterson groups all Postmodern thinkers together, usually only referring to Foucault and Derrida. This is dangerous because it takes away our ability to judge each thinker on his or her own individual merits. Peterson realizes that when we analyze race or class in this way, it leads to negative societal consequences. But he has no problem grouping all Postmodernists together and using Foucault and Derrida as a representative sample.

I was a Jordan Peterson NPC. I let him dictate the code in my mind. One code that I let him implant was “POSTMODERNISM = BAD”. But this isn’t necessarily true. I think Peterson would agree with me that we shouldn’t accept everything someone says as true just because we like some of the things that they say. I was doing this with Peterson, but thankfully I have stopped and begun reading many Postmodern books. Don’t be a Jordan Peterson NPC because there is a lot of valuable knowledge to be gained from those we disagree with.

71 Republic is the Third Voice in media. We pride ourselves on distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon.