Education, Hypothesis, Politics, Social Science

A Deep Dive into Jordan Peterson’s Channel 4 Interview

When Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson was interviewed on Britain’s Channel 4 last month, gender was the main topic of discussion. The first question set the tone for the rest of the interview: “Jordan Peterson, you’ve said that men need to, quote, ‘grow the hell up.’ Tell me why.” This led to questions about the percentage of men among Peterson’s followers, about whether parts of academia are hostile to men, about the gender pay gap, about the number of women running FTSE 100 companies, about an underlying threat of physicality in discussions between men, about whether the market is driven by men, about whether companies should adopt more female traits, and about why free speech rights should trump transgender people’s rights to not be offended. Even the last few minutes’ talk about lobsters related indirectly to the gender issues they had discussed previously.

The interviewer, Cathy Newman, had clearly picked out the parts of Peterson’s new book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, that could form the basis for a discussion on gender, despite it being a general self-help book. The reason for this, I presume, is that Peterson’s views on gender were considered especially controversial by Newman and her producers and therefore of special interest. Channel 4’s description of the video on YouTube suggests as much:

Channel 4 News’ full, fiery interview with clinical psychologist and professor Jordan B Peterson, whose views on gender have amassed great controversy – and a huge online following. He discusses the pay gap, patriarchy and his new book “12 Rules for Life.”

Newman quickly homed in on the controversies. She asked whether it was divisive that Peterson’s followers are mainly male, and when Peterson suggested that YouTube is mainly male and Tumblr mainly female, she asked whether that was divisive. She was clearly dissatisfied with Peterson’s explanation that the pay gap and relatively low number of women executives was due to differences in interests between men and women, suggesting that he was trying to put hurdles in women’s way. And she took issue with generalisations about men and women, remarking that all women are different.

The interview was very awkward, for several reasons. Most importantly, I think, was that Newman didn’t approach it the way interviewers typically approach an interview: asking questions and—if necessary—playing devil’s advocate to draw out the interviewee’s opinions for the benefit of the audience. Instead, she turned it into a debate, trying to defeat Peterson’s opinions with her own. This failed badly, because—as I wrote in a previous article—she appeared to have never heard Peterson’s arguments before and was taken aback to discover they existed. Had she tried to work with Peterson in drawing out his opinions instead of setting up a debate-like situation, the interview would have proceeded better. Even worse, after her debate strategy failed, she began moralising to him, for example telling him that his comparison of transactivists’ underlying ideology to Chairman Mao’s was “grossly insensitive”.

Newman’s approach reflects a trend towards more overt activism in the news media in recent years, increasingly rejecting neutrality even as a goal to strive for. Not that long ago, I think most news people would have said that Newman’s task as an interviewer was to draw out Peterson’s views as fully as possible, and then leave it to the audience to form their own judgements. That was clearly not how Newman approached it. She seemed intent on refuting Peterson’s arguments, as well as making sure everyone watching knew they were morally deficient. Hence her repeatedly interjecting that she “takes issue” with his answers to her questions, or similar qualifiers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an interviewer do that to the degree she did.

*   *   *

So what are Peterson’s views, and why did Newman consider them so controversial? He laid them out in part towards the end of the interview, when they were discussing lobsters:

Peterson: “[T]he reason that I write about lobsters is because there’s this idea that hierarchical structures are a sociological construct of the Western patriarchy. And that is so untrue that it’s almost unbelievable. And I use the lobster as an example, because we diverged from lobsters in evolutionary history about 350 million years ago, common ancestor. And lobsters exist in hierarchies, and they have a nervous system attuned to the hierarchy, and that nervous system runs on serotonin, just like our nervous systems do. And the nervous system of the lobster and the human being is so similar that anti-depressants work on lobsters. And it’s part of my attempt to demonstrate that the idea of hierarchy has absolutely nothing to do with sociocultural construction, which it doesn’t.”

Newman: “Let me just get this straight. You’re saying we should organise our societies along the lines of the lobsters?”

Peterson: “I’m saying that it’s inevitable that there will be continuity in the way that animals and human beings organise their structures. It’s absolutely inevitable, and there’s one third of a billion years of evolutionary history behind that. That’s so long, that a third of a billion years ago, there weren’t even trees. It’s a long time. You have a mechanism in your brain that runs on serotonin that’s similar to the lobster mechanism that tracks your status, and the higher your status the better your emotions are regulated. So as your serotonin levels increase, you feel more positive emotion and less negative emotion.”

Newman: “So you’re saying like the lobsters, we’re hardwired as men and women to do certain things, to sort of run along tramlines and there’s nothing we can do about it?”

Peterson: “No, I’m not saying there’s nothing we can do about it, because it’s like in a chess game, right, there’s lots of things you can do, although you can’t break the rules of the chess game and continue to play chess. Your biological nature is somewhat like that, it sets the rules of the game, but within those rules you have a lot of leeway. But one thing we can’t do is say that hierarchical organisation is a consequence of the capitalist patriarchy, it’s like that’s patently absurd. It’s wrong. It’s not a matter of opinion, it’s seriously wrong.”

Newman interprets Peterson as suggesting we should use lobsters as a model for human society, but that’s not what he’s doing. Rather, he’s searching for the origins of our social hierarchies. Several thinkers—from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Herbert Marcuse—have argued that modern human civilization, especially capitalism, has made humans competitive and status-seeking, causing them to form systems of domination against their true nature. These ideas are popular with parts of the political left, but Peterson argues they’re false; human hierarchies rely on similar biological mechanisms to lobsters, which we diverged from hundreds of millions of years ago, so they can’t possibly be the result of something that began a few hundred years ago. To truly understand our social hierarchies, we need to understand our biology, which forms the basis for our culture.

And it’s not just hierarchies. Earlier in the interview, Peterson argues that men and women on average exhibit distinct personality differences, and that these become most clear in places like Scandinavia where people are most free to choose their occupation. Here also it’s clear Peterson is referring to biology, although he doesn’t say so directly. This brings us to the core of the disagreement between Peterson and Newman: the role biology plays in human society, and the constraints it sets on it. Peterson’s views—as he lays out in the interview—are well-known: he believes that biology plays an important role in human behaviour, not just with respect to hierarchies, but also how men and women differ in their interests, and he believes that attempts to force equality of outcomes are harmful to men, women, and society. It’s these views, quite clearly, that Newman finds problematic.

Newman’s view—and the general attitude towards Peterson—demonstrates what psychologist Steven Pinker wrote about in The Blank Slate fifteen years ago, where he argued that any suggestion that biology plays a role in human social behaviour is often met with derision and hostility, despite the abundant evidence that biology and culture each play a role. As Pinker wrote in the introduction:

My goal in this book is not to argue that genes are everything and culture is nothing—no one believes that—but to explore why the extreme position (that culture is everything) is so often seen as moderate, and the moderate position is seen as extreme.

Peterson is considered ‘controversial’ because he suggests that human social behaviour, including career choices, are determined by a combination of biology and culture, and that the biological differences between men and women influence their choices. The view he’s opposing, which Newman appeared to hold, is that human social behaviour is determined entirely by culture, and that any differences in outcomes between men and women are due to culturally-imposed barriers.

To be fair, I think it’s important to emphasise that—while left-leaning thinkers have attempted to identify the causes of gender and other societal elements—they’re generally far more interested in changing society than in describing it. So what really matters to them is not whether biology influences human social behaviour, but whether it stands in the way of changing it. Hence, views like Peterson’s are typically not deemed false, but morally deficient. The assumption is that society should be changed to become more egalitarian, and anyone who objects—for example by pointing to human nature—is viewed as standing in the way of progress, expressed in phrases such as ‘defending the status quo’ or ‘justifying oppression’ or ‘reactionary’.

Newman seems to do just this when she accuses Peterson of “putting hurdles in their way” when he argues that women are paid less than men on average due to different interests and less disagreeableness. She also exclaims: “a lot of people listening to you will say, I mean, are we going back to the dark ages?” The underlying assumption is that there’s a moral arc pointing towards equality, and that anyone objecting to this, regardless of their arguments, is on the wrong side of history.

*   *   *

It’s clear why people who want to change society are drawn to the belief that culture is the sole cause of our behaviour: culture is much easier to change than biology. Pass a few laws, make some adjustments to the language, introduce a new set of schoolbooks, and people will no longer resist the push towards equality. If bad culture is leading people to resist equality, then all one has to do is replace it with good culture. But how do we determine what’s good culture and what’s bad culture? The assumption is that ‘equality’ is the value we use to evaluate the culture. But wait a minute. If our values are determined by the culture, how can they be used to evaluate it? The price one pays for rejecting causes from outside the culture is that one no longer can evaluate it from the outside.

People realise that this applies to other cultures, hence people holding the ‘culture is everything’ belief tend to be very reluctant to criticise other cultures, believing their values are shaped by their own culture and therefore don’t apply to other cultures. But the same thing must apply to what they loosely consider their own culture as well. For example, if conservatives behave differently than liberals, and culture shapes our behaviour entirely, it must be because conservatives are in a different culture than liberals. (We might call them subcultures, but the principle’s the same.) The same applies to men and women. It makes no sense from the ‘culture is everything’ perspective to declare male culture toxic, any more than it makes sense to declare Inuit culture toxic. And, of course, this applies indefinitely. If culture determines behaviour entirely, then anyone who behaves differently must be in a different culture, by definition.

What quickly becomes apparent is that the term culture isn’t much help in determining the cause of human behaviour. It’s just a vague term that we use to describe complex interactions between people in simple terms. But it can’t cause biological entities’ behaviour; it’s at a different level of abstraction. Any attempt to look too closely, and it breaks down. Once one accepts that the term culture is a simplification of interactions between biological entities, the problem goes away. Biological mechanisms have evolved over millions of years, as Peterson points out, so they easily qualify as being ‘outside’ any given culture. Hence the many cross-cultural similarities between human societies.

Which brings us to equality. People promoting the ‘culture is everything’ perspective tend to combine it with equality as a normative element. They want the malleability of social behaviour that goes with a ‘culture is everything’ perspective, but they also want a normative element with which they can criticise their culture. But you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Psychological research suggests that the former, at least, is almost certainly false. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt has demonstrated that moral intuitions—including a desire for equality—differ from person to person. He has also argued that they are products of biological evolution, which cultures operate on top of.

This resolves the problem: values are partly biologically determined, and that includes equality, which is one of many values in the human value system. Trying to suppress all other values in pursuit of equality is bound to have negative repercussions. For example, trying to impose equality of outcome culturally (through laws, cultural indoctrination, etc.) takes away people’s ability to pursue values related to status-seeking and competitiveness, which is especially harmful to men, as Peterson has argued, because these values are deeply embedded through hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Life becomes meaningless without the ability to pursue one’s values.

 

Uri Harris is a freelance writer with a MSc in Business and Economics. He can be followed on Twitter @safeortrue

57 Comments

  1. CentristGal says

    Lobsters! I can understand why JP used it, but really, it’s a pretty basic way to illustrate an incredibly complex question. If CN had any nous about her she could have turned JP’s point right back on to him (does she play chess?) to argue that the lobster hierarchy only supports the case for culturally imposed ‘equality’.

    “..and the higher your status the better your emotions are regulated. So as your serotonin levels increase, you feel more positive emotion and less negative emotion”

    So there, JP, is the source of the dreaded resentment for those lobsters that get stuck at the bottom, and which the entire left project is (supposedly) about remedying!

    • CentristGal says

      In other words, I see using others as an external reference point (one’s position in the social hierarchy) to be running counter to JP’s other advice to ‘sort yourself out’ and to seek truth. I think ditching both the lobster AND equality might be in order.

      • Very astute point, there.

        Though, to be fair to Peterson, he’s not arguing that we should be lobsters, but pointing out that a lot of human interaction can be explained by the lobsters. What we do about that, well, that’s another matter; just that we can’t propose to remedy society by ignoring millions of years of evolution.

        I like to combine the lobster observation with the rat observation (and chimps): that if a rat always wins – ie keeps other rats down permanently – then no one will want to play with him. So, from a social standpoint, it’s a matter of finding a balance between competitiveness AND making sure no one is at the bottom permanently.

        • CentristGal says

          That’s more like it. I see a lobster with ears, whiskers and a long rubbery tail, sharing a cheese platter with another lobster.

      • “I see using others as an external reference point (one’s position in the social hierarchy) to be running counter to JP’s other advice to ‘sort yourself out’ and to seek truth. I think ditching both the lobster AND equality might be in order.”

        I think he’s one step ahead of you. First, the lobster can’t be ditched, because as JP explains, the dominance hierarchy is engraved in our biology by millions of years of evolution. Note it’s not any particular manifestation of the dominance hierarchy that is engraved it’s the archetype. The particular form it takes in humans is obviously dependent on culture and experience, and varies from time to time. There weren’t professional basketball hierarchies until quite recently.

        So if you can’t get rid of the dominance hierarchy, and a low position on it is bad for you, what can be done ? Well one answer is anti-depressants, which JP certainly believes in. Another answer, if you’re a low status male, is to beat up your girlfriend and your kids. That’s a battle you can win. And then there’s Peterson’s ingenious suggestion – battle against yesterday’s version of yourself. You can win that one too. Not only does this route – self improvement – actually hold out some hope of moving you up the real dominance hierarchy – but even if it doesn’t, dominating yesterday’s version of yourself may be good enough to persuade your brain that you’re moving up.

        En passant I’ll note that because humans have lots of different manifestations of the dominance – or as JP sometimes prefers competence – hierarchy, lots more men have the opportunity to be dominant in some version of it. And second, I’m sure we’ll soon be able to manage a more PC version of the beating up women and children solution. You can dominate your house robots and that’ll probably give you a nice serotonin kick.

        • CentristGal says

          @ Lee Moore

          So the key is really the limitations/definitions placed around ‘hierarchy’ and how you measure your status in it. So you can have your own internal hierarchy of competence (eg. how well you clean your room), and externally measured hierarchies which expand ever outwards and upwards (measured via your school, your sports team, your work, your socioeconomic status in your street, your neighbourhood, your country, the world). I believe he is saying focus on addressing your self-defined and ‘proximal’ hierarchies of competence and don’t worry too much about where you sit in the bigger hierarchy at least until you have mastered those, because this will only cause resentment. It’s a fascinating tension between the self and the other. I am trying to reconcile lobsters with Buddhist thought, and am having trouble doing so. Wouldn’t success in an internal hierarchy of seeking enlightenment mean greater success in ignoring external hierarchies? Also in the Christian sense of “the meek shall inherit the earth”?

          “Not only does this route – self improvement – actually hold out some hope of moving you up the real dominance hierarchy but even if it doesn’t, dominating yesterday’s version of yourself may be good enough to persuade your brain that you’re moving up”.

          I suppose that last line is the sticking point. For those who master the ‘real’ dominance hierarchy (achieving the pinnacle of economic or political power), it appears that often that position must be maintained or improved upon by accumulating ever more wealth and power,creating actual systemic barriers to people moving up the hierarchy. Therefore placing the focus on self-improvement is never going to address structural issues, but it might make people feel better about themselves. I suppose radical leftists want to tear the hierarchy down and would say that feeling better about yourself equates to complacency and acceptance of being shafted by the rich and the powerful, and they could equally lay claim to embracing their inner lobster when they protest and rail against the existing hierarchy, wanting to destroy it and/or change the rules.

          • So you can have your own internal hierarchy of competence (eg. how well you clean your room)……Wouldn’t success in an internal hierarchy of seeking enlightenment mean greater success in ignoring external hierarchies?

            I don’t think it’s right to say that in trying to get yourself together you’re using an internal hierarchy of competence separate from the external one. Assume there are 100 men and you’re currently number 78 in the hierarchy. Suppose you can’t read, and you then learn to read. That’s a purely internal activity, involving no victories against other men. But now you can read that may mean that you get to move up to number 70. Because you’re now an externally more impressive beast. So self improvement may actually move you up against other men.

            But suppose it doesn’t, you’re still at number 78. But internally you have four more people that aren’t (currently) real. You yesterday, you a month ago, you a year ago, and you five years ago. And suppose you now thinks that you now is better than all four of these other yous. Your brain may now log you in at number 78 in a field of 104, rather than number 78 in a field of 100. Which is better. It’s not that you’re running in separate internal and external hierarchy races, it’s that your ability to beat a number of phantom yous may persuade you that the hierarchy has more players than you originally thought, and you’re beating all the new guys (the phantoms.)

            “Also in the Christian sense of “the meek shall inherit the earth”?”

            Peterson is not convinced that “meek” is a good translation :

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v52DkzGWlrQ

            For those who master the ‘real’ dominance hierarchy (achieving the pinnacle of economic or political power), it appears that often that position must be maintained or improved upon by accumulating ever more wealth and power, creating actual systemic barriers to people moving up the hierarchy.

            Sure. Once you’ve scrabbled to the top, you want to stay there. You don’t put your feet up and relax when you’re top of the heap – there’s loads of horribly competent challengers trying to knock you off.

            Therefore placing the focus on self-improvement is never going to address structural issues, but it might make people feel better about themselves.

            Well as mentioned above, it might not be limited to just making you feel better. It may actually make you a more competent competitor, But it’s never going to address “structural issues” in the sense of getting rid of the whole dominance hierarchy.

            Note that getting rid of the dominance hierarchy would, even if it were possible, have ghastly consequences. The beneficial effect of the DH is the avoidance of permanent all against all war. If you’re number 45 and you come across number 3, you know to back down. If you didn’t back down, you’d be killed and number 3 might get injured. So knowing who is a higher ranking lobster than you allows you to live, perhaps to fight another day. The top twenty lobsters might all be scooped up by fishermen, and hey presto you’re suddenly up to number 25 ! You might be swept by currents to a spot where you happen to be the local top lobster ! It’s worth staying alive, even if you’re a lowlife. Because who knows what tomorrow may bring. Unless you’re already dead, in which case tomorrow won’t be bringing very much.

          • CentristGal says

            @ Lee Moore

            Thanks, that was helpful, but you didn’t address the main question (which may not have been clear), and which I have considered a bit more. Spiritual enlightenment and self-improvement in terms of overcoming dukkha (suffering constituted by eternal dissatisfaction and the insatiability of wants and desires) seems to be the opposite of making hierarchical comparisons with and striving against ‘the other’ for increased status. And in Christianity, it’s the same. Christ was humble, not competitive. The diversity of people’s wants and desires and the infinite dimensions along which they can be measured creates infinite complexity in measuring one’s status against others in a hierarchy, whether your goal is to be higher in it, or to be ‘equal’ with others. This could create endless dissatisfaction and resentment if you hitch your sense of worth to others. I suppose what I am trying to reconcile is how religion or transcendence fits with Peterson’s simultaneous reliance on nature as a model for human behaviour. Because he does talk about transcendence. Does Christianity and Buddhism actually fit into the lobster model at all, unless the effort towards improvement is inwardly directed? Isn’t the entire point of the higher values JP espouses to overcome the need for lobster hierarchies? I guess he is simultaneously proposing a positive realization and tempering of our lobster natures with higher values, as we have to pragmatically survive in the world, whilst doing so nobly? Could it be argued though that it’s actually Christian-like values of empathy, compassion, humility and self-sacrifice that motivate the SJWs in their crusade for equality, even if most of them are atheists? There is certainly a sense of the social justice movement being like a religion, and there is certainly a lot of moralising associated with it. I know JP calls this the mask of compassion, but many no doubt genuinely think they are crusaders for the good and the true and protectors of the weak.

          • CentristGal says

            @ Jim Curry

            Very good point, that could be one way of looking at it. It still means that attaching importance to earthly lobster hierarchies is to be avoided in the pursuit of transcendent lobster status.

        • CentristGal says

          @ Lee Moore

          Yes, I know that JP “doesn’t suggest that a competitive hierarchy is a solution to resentment and serotonin deficiency.” He suggests that SUCCEEDING in a competitive hierarchy will give you a serotonin hit.

          “You have a mechanism in your brain that runs on serotonin that’s similar to the lobster mechanism that tracks your status, and the higher your status the better your emotions are regulated” which implies that NOT succeeding in it will have the opposite effect.

          Sorry for the caps but I don’t know how to do italics here. I think the more interesting discussion is the contradiction I pointed to previously re the concept of the divine, truth- seeking individual overcoming (transcending) a slavish genetic drive to attain material or social status. That is a message in various religions (eg Christianity: it is harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, the meek shall inherit the earth*), which suggests not only that nature can be overcome, but from a religious perspective, it SHOULD be overcome. Which is exactly what the social constructionists would argue, in line with their religion of equality.

          *I’m not a theologian, but JP’s interpretation about the ‘meek shall inherit the earth’ seems like a convenient way to sidestep where the literal interpretation points us to, and that is certainly away from competitive hierarchies.

          • “I’m not a theologian, but JP’s interpretation about the ‘meek shall inherit the earth’ seems like a convenient way to sidestep where the literal interpretation points us to”

            I’m not a theologian either which is why I’m not engaging with your “more interesting discussion is the contradiction I pointed to previously re the concept of the divine, truth- seeking individual overcoming (transcending) a slavish genetic drive to attain material or social status” which is well beyond my pay grade.

            I am also not a Hebrew or Greek scholar (though I did study Greek at school, accruing remarkably little scholastic glory along the way) I doubt JP is a Hebrew or Greek scholar either, but I suspect he would doubt your “literal interpretation.” And, despite being a miserable Hebrew and Greek scholar myself, I also doubt it, as I have google. Which advises me thus :

            http://biblehub.com/greek/4239.htm

            “This difficult-to-translate root (pra-) means more than “meek.” Biblical meekness is not weakness but rather refers to exercising God’s strength under His control – i.e. demonstrating power without undue harshness.”

            No doubt those with a deep understanding of Hebrew and Ancient Greek can advise us further.

          • http://biblehub.com/greek/4239.htm

            One further thought – the translation from the Greek is shown as “meek, gentle.”
            Perhaps gentle might be better than meek, in the English sense of “gentleman” which implies someone who knows how to behave, without implying any hint of wussiness.

          • CentristGal says

            @ Lee Moore

            Thanks for that. Moore food for thought? I think he’s answered that via a video he posted wherein he places ‘truth’ above expediency, which I suppose could suggest that where higher values conflict with ‘earthly’ lobster ones, the higher ones are the most important.

          • CentristGal says

            @ Lee Moore

            The crux of course, being whether placing others, or the collective, before the individual, is a higher Christian value. Which loops right back to lobster hierarchies, so we won’t go there!

      • “The lobster hierarchy only supports the case for culturally imposed ‘equality’”..You miss the point. Peterson doesnt believe in culturally imposed equality regardless of whether you accept his evolutionary explanation of hierarchy or not. As for the lobster at the bottom of the heap so what? no matter what kind of equality you force on people there will always be many left at the bottom that is a fact of life. The difference between the two opposing ideologies is whether you are prepared to sacrifice a large part of a dynamic motivated entrepreneurial and creative society in order to save everyone from poverty or whether you want to encourage a successful innovative and dynamic economy which creates wealth and freedom and happiness for most of the people even though many will slip between the rails and hit the bottom.

        • CentristGal says

          @ Kris Barton

          “Peterson doesn’t believe in culturally imposed equality regardless of whether you accept his evolutionary explanation of hierarchy or not”

          I understand that, and nor do I. The comment related not to that, but to the interview and JP’s use of the lobster to support his point. All I was suggesting was that CN could have pointed to a competitive hierarchy (nature) being the very source of, not the solution to (as JP suggests), the resentment and serotonin deficiency that ‘equality’ warriors are seeking to overcome (nurture). Fundamentally it gets back to the degree each ‘side’ believes human nature is mutable.

          • JP doesn’t suggest that a competitive hierarchy is a solution to resentment and serotonin deficiency. He simply makes the point that it (the meta dominance hierarchy, rather than the particular details of its current manifestation) is deeply rooted in biology and not deliberate construct of “the patriarchy” which could be removed by political action.

            He quite accepts that losers may suffer from resentment and serotonin deficiency, and advises them to improve their situation by struggling against their own problems instead of trying to upend society in the vain hope of achieving the impossible – equality. But he also points out that there’s a statistically significant correlation between high income inequality and male violence. Which he basically explains thus – in a society where most men have some chance of doing OK and getting a girl, only the most aggressive males will be violent criminals. But as you tweak up the differentials and more men begin to feel that there’s no hope of advancement, the next most aggressive loser males will turn to crime and violence. And so on.

        • Erle S Bowman says

          Someone referred to Jesus, and rightly so, as being humble, so why not say “The humble shall inherit the world”. I sort of like that but actually I would prefer the original in that it could appear to mean that the adventurous dreamers with a kick ass attitude will go forth and inhabit other worlds at their peril, while leaving behind the meak. This of course may appear to be the opposite of what the Dr. is suggesting. I really don’t want to go there but what the heck. This is apparently what happens when I stand up as tall as I can, straighten my shoulders and speak the truth the best I can

        • Erle S Bowman says

          I would like to insert a comment if you don’t mind.
          This is about something the Dr. hasn’t mentioned, as far as I know and that is partly, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should”. In this case I am talking about the big fish in the little pond as opposed to the small fish in the big pond. With a larger population living in larger cities these days the idea of small ponds rarely come up but they are always nearby, especially if you look for them. I can’t be sure that you can make the wrong choice but will argue that timing may come into play.
          Any time I can make a reference to a baseball axiom(timing) can’t be all bad.
          Again I apologize for the insertion of my remarks and thanks.

          • CentristGal says

            Don’t apologize. I think the “adventurous dreamers with kick ass attitudes will go forth and inhabit other worlds” is a really interesting interpretation. Intergalactic lobsters! Very timely too in a literal sense, given Elon Musk’s adventures.

      • Gordy says

        His point is that we can’t ditch the lobster. The same hierarchical tracking system that they have is hardwired into our nervous system.

        Position in a dominance hierarchy is not fixed, however. Sorting oneself out might yield some improvement.

  2. Nathan says

    “she could have turned JP’s point right back on to him (does she play chess?) to argue that the lobster hierarchy only supports the case for culturally imposed ‘equality’”

    I think the point is that ‘equality’ cannot be imposed culturally precisely because of the evolutionary ‘rules’ exemplified by the lobster. JP’s point here is compelling and completely pulls the rug from under the social constructionists’ argument to the contrary. CN had enough nous to realise this but was at a complete loss for anything else.

    • CentristGal says

      Equality is a nonsense. His point isn’t compelling at all. It’s quite a banal point. There are hierarchical structures in nature…so what? Lions kill the young of other male lions. Chimpanzees go on territorial killing rampages. There are also cooperative structures in nature…so what? His more compelling argument is ‘walking the tightrope between chaos and order’ or between competition and cooperation, or between self-fulfilment and self-sacrifice, or between the individual and the collective..

      • Nathan says

        “so what?”

        If nervous systems have evolved to track individuals’ positions within hierarchies, social constructivists can’t claim that hierarchies are completely (or even mostly) social constructs, and therefore possible to alter with social/political action.

        Granted it’s simple, but I wouldn’t say banal.

        I’m not comparing which of his points are more compelling. I’m just disagreeing with you that CN, had she argued as you suggested on this point, would have fared any better than she did in the event.

        • CentristGal says

          It’s quite obvious how she could have fared better. If hierarchies and Darwinian competition favour the strongest and leave the weak lobsters behind, their serotonin deficits provide a good analogy with economic or cultural feedback loops that lessen the chances of lobsters (or humans) of ever succeeding in the hierarchy. In other words a serotonin deficit is analogous to inherited social or economic or genetic differential starting points that require a circuit breaker in order to put the lobster back in the game. This is the challenge of capitalism, to continually provide the circuit breaker. Unless this is done, historically, the weak lobsters en masse have proved to be not so weak (French revolution for example). So hierarchies can be torn down. Or she could have argued that JP’s assumption that the ‘rules of chess’ are set in stone for humans in the same way they are for lobsters, is flawed. Even if a hierarchical system were maintained, who’s to say that the rules cannot be changed? There are many different sets of rules governing many different forms of hierarchy and the required competencies within different systems are evaluated differently. It goes back to the infernal postmodern question: what is competency and who defines it? The other assumption is that status does indeed bring happiness. Depression in high status individuals would seem to undermine the serotonin argument, as would the happiness of quite low status people (say Tibetan Buddhists). There are three options for the hierarchy problem: promote lobster-eat-lobster competition whilst consoling those on the bottom to take their low status on the chin if they can’t compete (life is suffering); maintain the competitiveness but moderate its effects (through welfare, equal opportunity) so that the relative differences of status between individuals are lessened; or eschew competition and status differences altogether. This roughly equates to the right, centrist and left political positions. The lobster analogy provides fuel for the critics of JP to associate him with the right. “So you’re saying sort yourself out, play hard by the established rules of the game which are set by natural law, you’ll feel good if you succeed, but if you fail, then suck it up sunshine, that’s just the way it is. A lobster told me so”.

          • Emblem14 says

            Those are all really good questions – and a good example of how postmodernist critique is a tool to deconstruct basic assumptive frameworks for the purpose of holding them to account for their (often hidden and potentially unjustified) a priori commitments.

            I don’t think the point of the lobster comparison is to suggest an absolute fatalism about human nature such that we’re stuck with ruthless status competition so we might as well get used to it, stop complaining and stop deluding ourselves that we can change it. Those are a bunch of normative assertions strung together – and would constitute a harsh quasi social darwinian ethos. Nevermind that there’s a ridiculous leap in making the argument that because lobsters act a certain way, it’s not only appropriate, but desirable for humans to emulate them, because we share some of the same neuro-chemical processes. Talk about a non-sequitur.

            The point is to use evolution as evidence that human beings have a nature, and that the process of natural selection resulted in our brains forming to encourage certain social configurations, such as caring about social status being ingrained in us as both a survival and sexual selection mechanism. Lobsters are used to illustrate that, despite the gap of hundreds of millions of years from common ancestry, some of the same processes that influence our behavior are biologically ingrained in us at an incredibly deep and ancient level, it makes theories that all human behavior is socially constructed utterly ridiculous.

            This is to suggest that the effective malleability of human beings through social engineering is going to be limited by our natural “programming”, unless we genetically re-engineer ourselves to be biologically different than what we are. This is also to imply how reckless it is to impose social engineering schemes on people without fully understanding and appreciating any biological origins of behavior. It reveals a dangerous disregard for truth if it conflicts with an ideological objective.

            Since overriding people’s voluntary behavior and preferences by force is pretty much the definition of authoritarianism, it’s useful to point out that a purely social constructivist outlook, being willfully ignorant of biological causes, is very likely to propose things that run counter to deeply ingrained drivers of behavior and therefore require severe amounts of coercion to enforce compliance, while making everyone miserable from the discordance of what people feel like doing vs. what they’re forced to do.

          • “So hierarchies can be torn down”

            Peterson wouldn’t dispute that for a moment. Particular manifestations of the dominance hierarchy are developed by culture and they can certainly be torn down. But you can’t tear down the meta dominance hierarchy. All you can do is exchange one manifestation for another. See for example the French Revolution. So “eschew competition and status differences altogether” is a complete non starter. The male dominance hierarchy dd not disappear in Revolutionary France, Bolshevik Russia and Mao’s China. It just continued with modified rules. And as those experiments showed, the predictable result of pursuing policies which deny human nature at the point of a gun, is a lot of corpses.

            “what is competency and who defines it?”

            Well there’s two answers to that. In species where females don’t get a choice about whether to mate and who to mate with, competence is objectively determined by victory. if you drive off the other males, you’ve won. You’re the most competent.

            In species where females do get a choice, competence is defined by women. There are lots of manifestations of the male dominance hierarchy and if women don’t rate any particular manifestation – say being a top notch video game performer – competence in that field of endeavour will net you no extra girls.

          • “The other assumption is that status does indeed bring happiness.”

            No. Status brings nookie, which brings more descendants. There’s no promise of happiness.

            A side effect of success in the male dominance hierarchy is that on you will actually be less threatened, and consequently you will have a higher serotonin level, on average, than you would if you were lower on the totem pole.

          • I suspect your analysis of hierarchies is naïve and assumes we all can be what ever we imagine could be with just a little help from a government willing to put its thumb on the scale.

            It doesn’t work that way.

            Think of all the good, intelligent and talented people you know. How many of them would be good leaders? How many of them would want to be leaders? How many of them would find it easy to organize and command a following of disparate individuals with talents and abilities that span the entire range of the population in question in order to attain a common objective? How many of them would you follow in a challenging situation where losing had severe and unpleasant consequences?

            Not many, I think. And certainly not many in my experience.

            Some of us are leaders; most of us are not. Some of us are only happy outside the tribe. Most of us are only happy in the embrace of the tribe.

            I think that is the context in which the notion of hierarchy should be analyzed. Primitive hierarchy has more to do with the ability to organize a following and provide leadership in the face of a selection pressure than it does with oppression or dominance. It is a trait that is randomly distributed. Some have it some don’t.

          • @EK “I suspect your analysis of hierarchies is naïve and assumes we all can be what ever we imagine could be with just a little help from a government willing to put its thumb on the scale”

            I don’t know how you reached that conclusion. I think no such thing.

          • Jim Curry says

            “…the happiness of quite low status people (say Tibetan Buddhists)”

            Isn’t part of the allure of religion that it bypasses human hierarchies and connects directly to the divine? Given that God is by definition the top of all possible hierarchies, and that everyone is putatively equal in the eyes of said God, everyone gets to be equal second.

            Highly speculative, but perhaps the ‘rapture’ reported by transcendentalists (like Buddha, for example) is in fact the ultimate surge of serotonin triggered by the perception that one has finally got as high as it’s possible to get.

            Personally, I just keep taking the Zoloft…

          • Nathan says

            “In other words a serotonin deficit is analogous to inherited social or economic or genetic differential starting points”

            Genetic differentials, maybe. Inherited social or economic, not so much. Remember we’re talking about the distinction between factors that can be readily addressed politically/socially vs. those that are biologically rooted. If CN had tried to box in JP by pursuing this ‘but biological determinism’ line of argument, I’m pretty sure he’d have agreed with her to the extent that the goal of an enlightened society should be to work toward minimising misery for those at the bottom in spite of the biological/evolutionary hand they’ve been dealt. These ideas aren’t mutually exclusive.

            “JP’s assumption that the ‘rules of chess’ are set in stone for humans in the same way they are for lobsters, is flawed. Even if a hierarchical system were maintained, who’s to say that the rules cannot be changed?”

            But social/political projects can only mitigate, rather than eradicate, the negative impacts of biology. Provision of healthcare isn’t likely to make a dent in evolved differential levels of susceptibility to diseases between ethnicities, but it can leverage the knowledge available in this regard to best target resources to minimise suffering.

            We can’t eradicate the physical impairments inflicted by e.g. congenital disease simply by deciding to differently evaluate the competencies of individuals with deformities, but we can socially construct an environment that tries to level the playing field as much as possible.

            JP’s complaint is that this impulse has become distorted and corrupted by the neo-Marxist / postmodern drive to pit groups against each other in a constant zero-sum battle for power, each justifying its excesses by claiming its right as a victim to fight its oppressor.

            “There are many different sets of rules governing many different forms of hierarchy and the required competencies within different systems are evaluated differently”

            JP is only saying that we have evolved what is now a biologically hard-wired mechanism that modulates brain chemistry in response to position within a hierarchy. If you’re making the claim that this evolved neurochemistry response can be re-mapped from the evolved measures of success and failure (mating rights, territorial control, etc.) to new socially constructed hierarchies, I guess I’d just need to see some evidence before signing up.

        • Erle S Bowman says

          By Dr. Peterson’s own argument they both won due to the simple fact that he did not stray from the truth, including the “Gotcha”.

  3. Centristgal the point of hierarchicies in lobsters is just mates. In humans it’s civilisation, which is of value even to the lowliest, never mind the meaning derived from being in the competition at all. Resentment at being asked to take part is the stick CN is wielding

  4. Emblem14 says

    I don’t think it’s an accident that the chord Peterson has struck most loudly concerns this exact issue of normative values. His questioning of the basic premises of Leftism has opened up a huge pressure differential that’s sucking in the attention of millions of people who haven’t heard a compelling critique of the orthodox progressivism that’s become the cultural consensus in their lifetime – but which crucially contains an intellectual and philosophical foundation, along with due respect for empiricism, that is necessary to appeal to educated political orphans who have no interest in jettisoning the knowledge gains of modernity for retrograde nonsense or the cheap self-indulgence of reactionary narratives

    During the cold war, there were voices like Petersons’ who emphasized the terrible flaws of left-wing ideology and its predilection to spawn authoritarian nightmares. They had the benefit of being able to point to the clear and present threat of various “Socialist” governments that were explicitly hostile to the western societies that actively fostered concepts like human rights and individual liberty. Despite a great deal of hypocrisy and empty sloganeering by “free” countries, there was still a real, meaningful qualitative difference in how ideologically different states treated their citizens.

    But for several decades after the collapse of the USSR, that threat receded into history, and with the Christian Conservatives filling the domestic void of authoritarian menace to individual liberty and self-expression in the 90s and early 2000s, average people lost sight that unchecked leftism can be just as dangerous to the maintenance of basic freedoms we take for granted.

    When progressives were underdogs fighting for the freedom of marginalized people against Jerry Falwell and his intolerance, they were seen as picking up the banner for individual rights. They were protecting art, media, literature, self-expression, personal authenticity and political freedom from the censorious urges of right wing religious tyrants. Over time, they won most of the important battles in courts of law and public opinion – progressive values gradually became culturally dominant, and a paradigm shift took place especially among younger generations who had never encountered a threat from the left in their lifetime.

    With the winning cultural narrative, we now see that leftist commitment to individual liberty was a tactical, contingent and expedient position. Now it’s the left that wants to censor art, entertainment, literature, educational material, commercial activity while imposing their own rigid doctrines on society through bullying, intimidation, and coercion. They are merely the flip side of the Moral Majority coin, using the same rationale for their authoritarianism as their Christian counterparts before them – defending innocent, vulnerable victims from the damage of corrupting cultural influences. They are the new vanguards of decency and moral propriety – justified to protect and advance their sacred mission by any means – making our society one big “safe space” for them and them alone. The lexicon and players may have changed but the game remains the same.

    And now a new group of “free thinkers” are pushing back, sometimes along with unfortunate bedfellows. To be against the radical left in any capacity puts you in partisan proximity to other people who share that antipathy, which is an ongoing risk to any respectable defense of the ethics of liberty. (See the conflation of supporting free speech with being in the alt-right – having an “enemy” in the far left doesn’t automatically make an ally of enlightenment values. People selectively forget this fact for expediency’s sake, at their peril).

    Peterson, along with a growing group of heterodox intellectuals, are finally bringing back the discourse to where it belongs – a serious discussion about the comparative difference between different normative value systems. It has been a while since there was public interest in a deep analysis of the principles that underlie everything we say and do when we use moral language and undertake moral projects, or an interest in questioning what is “good” for both individuals and society, or our basis for making those determinations.

    The modern progressive movement is not used to having its fundamental premises questioned from this particular standpoint, and it’s left them alternatively discombobulated or lashing out with dismissive invective. As Uri points out, their own assumptions on how individuals, societies and cultures work are rife with jumps in logic and scattered with contradictions – mainly as a result of not ever having to address serious critique due to their safe ensconcement inside carefully regulated echo chambers.

    That is finally changing. It’s clear that defenders of the status quo are ill equipped to defend their ideas argumentatively, or we would see champions of the left clamoring for their chance to expose and embarrass these dangerous charlatans. Instead, all they can muster are noisy protests, which if ineffective, move to ad hominem smear campaigns, which if ineffective, move to playing the traumatized victim card.

    Serious adversarial engagement is nowhere to be found – yet. Hopefully that will change soon.

    • Shugtastic says

      Excellent comment. I enjoyed reading this as much as the article. Thanks!

    • CentristGal says

      @ Emblem 14

      That was a great analysis, thank you.

      “The modern progressive movement is not used to having its fundamental premises questioned from this particular standpoint, and it’s left them alternatively discombobulated or lashing out with dismissive invective.”

      “You cannot reason somebody out of position they weren’t reasoned into”. Swift. Contrary to JP’s Marxist conspiracy, (although it’s quite evident that Marxism is still alive and kicking in academia, government, education) I think what we are seeing is really a cultural meme that became established and is being passed down through the generations almost unthinkingly. We are so mired in the ‘progressive’ value system (I know I was) that, until something really unsettles us, we don’t take the time to step outside of it and really analyse it. I was sceptical about my own and JP’s conclusions, (was he being overly dramatic, is it really such a problem?) but evidence of some truly disturbing events and trends keeps stacking up. The good thing is that people who were complacent are starting to sit up and take notice. JP is providing a focus for a cultural stocktake of where we’re at, how we got here, and where we should go. It’s great that people are discussing value systems at a far deeper level than the usual superficial, political level. What’s also interesting is the effect he is having on younger people, hopefully acting as a brake on the next generation unquestioningly accepting the orthodoxy, and thereby slowing the momentum (literally in the UK?).

    • Rinny says

      This comment is worthy of its on Quillet article. Just perfect! Thank you.

  5. Uri – I liked the way you used level of abstraction to explore the this discussion, as well as identifying culture as a fairly meaningless explanatory factor. It deepened my understanding, so thank you.

    This ‘culture clash’ has also been a great demonstration of how an analogy can explain concepts (for those open to hearing them), but is a terrible way to persuade!

  6. “And she took issue with generalisations about men and women, remarking that all women are different.”

    Which was quite amusing after all her banging on about the median pay gap between men and women.

  7. Uri,

    I very much value your writings and the insights you bring to the gender debate. However, this is perhaps your weakest piece, as the relationship between culture and biology is treated quite superficially and the role of biology mischaracterized.

    Your “what quickly becomes apparent is that the term culture isn’t much help in determining the cause of human behavior” is a non-sequitur. It doesn’t follow from anything you’ve stated before and is also unwarranted by itself. The same goes for why culture shouldn’t be able to “cause biological entities’ behavior”. The claim that it’s on a different level of abstraction is not actually argued for, and neither is the claim that something on one level of abstraction can’t cause something on another (e.g. lower) level of abstraction (an argument against downward causation, for example, could achieve that).

    While it may be true that some biological mechanisms can be seen as lying outside of culture, this is especially implausible for mechanisms we’re talking about here: social and cultural behavior. Social and biological mechanisms interact in the formation of human behavior, including culture. Culture also evolves (partly) according to the same principles of Darwinian evolution as does biology. They co-evolve. Cultures can be similar not only because of ancient biological mechanisms shared by common ancestors, they could also show independent, convergent evolution to similar norms and practices for other reasons.

    An adequately modern theory of human culture will not be based on the assumption that there must be some ancient, biologically hard-wired behaviors – like the dominance hierarchies of lobsters – that have remained unchanged for millions/billions of years and uninfluenced by human social evolution, serving as a kind of a immutable fund of basic biological building blocks that constrain culture from day one of development.

    It’s just as simplistic to believe, as you do, that there are “values… deeply embedded through hundreds of millions of years of evolution”. To claim that you’d have to show that there is some realistic explanation for how something like the values of “status-seeking” and “competitiveness” could have been represented in the minds of creatures like lobsters (do lobsters have minds? consciousness?), that a lobster’s representation of these values is anything like a human being’s representation of them, and that all the millions of years of independent evolution of Homo sapiens, which is assumed to be strongly socially/culturally based, has not in any way changed the representation of these values. Basically, you have to believe some mental traits have been put into our ancestors’ brains millions of years ago and have simply not changed in any relevant way since.

    • “It’s just as simplistic to believe, as you do, that there are “values… deeply embedded through hundreds of millions of years of evolution”. To claim that you’d have to show that there is some realistic explanation for how something like the values of “status-seeking” and “competitiveness” could have been represented in the minds of creatures like lobsters (do lobsters have minds? consciousness?), that a lobster’s representation of these values is anything like a human being’s representation of them, and that all the millions of years of independent evolution of Homo sapiens, which is assumed to be strongly socially/culturally based, has not in any way changed the representation of these values. Basically, you have to believe some mental traits have been put into our ancestors’ brains millions of years ago and have simply not changed in any relevant way since.”

      I sincerely hope I’m missing your point. Are you suggesting that for a creature to value something, the creature has to be consciously aware that it values it, has to understand the concept of value and has to understand the concepts standing abstractly for the things it values ?

      Animals seek food and sex, and avoid pain. They “value” food, sex and {minus pain.} To say that an animal values something means no more than that the animal is motivated to seek it out (or avoid it.) It doesn’t need to be able to write an essay about its values.

      Animals like lobsters are not good essay writers but they do have serotonin regulated status monitoring machinery, as do all other animals with more sophisticated brains than them, all the way to the animal with the most sophisticated brain – us. And we like lobsters also value food, sex and the avoidance of pain. Sure millions of years of evolution, and a spot of cultural development, have given us all sorts of refinements to our values. We don’t share lobsters views of what a good meal is. But we still value food.

      The suggestion that the particular somethings that we value haven’t changed for millions of years is obviously a straw suggestion. And the brain systems we use to track our pursuit of things we value have also developed. But even so, we still share important features of brain regulation with creatures as evolutionarily distant as lobsters. And that’s the point – the brain systems regulating status with serotonin are so ancient that even lobsters have them. The fact that lobsters don’t know why they fight for status, and can’t spell serotonin, and we do and can is completely irrelevant. Besides which well over 99% of men fighting for status don’t know why they are motivated to do so and a goodly fraction can’t spell serotonin any better than the average lobster.

  8. given the biological differences/drives/urges between the sexes, I’m constantly amazed that 99.9% of women in ‘civilized’ societies can walk down the street without being physically taken advantage of… We’ve come a long long way.

  9. Nicholas Conrad says

    I don’t find this a particularly new phenomenon, I had to stop listening to NPR through the entire bush administration, and again with the election of trump. While bending pretty hard left under clinton and obama, they at least were respectful of differing views and seem open to nuance, but under a republican president they throw all reason to the side and actively posture for ‘the resistance’. Had to unsubscribe from several podcasts in the last year as well that turned almost comically partisan.

  10. augustine says

    It may be worth reiterating that human positions within hierarchies are not fixed. Individuals are more adaptable than the social schemes they inhabit. Even if most people don’t move much from their beginning class status (or even geography), it seems probable that mobility of individuals itself is crucial in maintaining any hierarchical systems over time.

    I am reminded of the argument repudiating the standard liberal claim that fast food industry wages are too low to live on. This emotional appeal ignores the fact that the vast majority of those workers move on, and up the food chain, after a short period. The ideas and institutions that progressives fight are more regenerative rather than fixed. Some are very persistent.

  11. Newman- “So you’re saying that I am going to spend the rest of my career as a Meme?”

  12. Dave J says

    Very good as usual from Uri Harris, especially the second half of the article.

    He writes: “But wait a minute. If our values are determined by the culture, how can they be used to evaluate it? The price one pays for rejecting causes from outside the culture is that one no longer can evaluate it from the outside.”

    But progressives do indeed evaluate it ‘from the outside’, i.e. as if they are making objective statements. Relativism does not really exist, in the sense that, in the final analysis, everyone makes a judgment they believe to be objectively true with regard to all cultures. They do not, psychologically, need to seek a grounding for their statements in say biology, but believe in an abstract, over-arching moral system, Universalism. This way of thinking enables them to believe they are in possession of the truth about the world – and while they claim all is relative, they do not in fact adhere to that principle, and can’t adhere to it, as no one can. In essence, their silent rule is: all values are relative except our own. That they don’t know this themselves is really the whole point, and why they are as they are.

    Uri Harris continues: “People realise that this applies to other cultures, hence people holding the ‘culture is everything’ belief tend to be very reluctant to criticise other cultures, believing their values are shaped by their own culture and therefore don’t apply to other cultures.”

    They are able to withold criticism of other cultures only because they regard them sociologically. For progressives, the beliefs and convictions of other cultures are subtracted from the larger equation of life, and are considered mere artefacts. Their worldview, rather than being one of understanding and genuine tolerance of disparate views, is one of spiritual conquest and tempering of others’ views, faiths and ways of life. They drain the life from all they attempt to bring under their wing.

    I’m currently reading Pinker’s The Blank Slate. I tend more towards conservatism in my views, but I have immense respect for Pinker. He’s a seriously talented, intelligent and honest individual.

    • CentristGal says

      @ Dave J

      “but believe in an abstract, over-arching moral system, Universalism. This way of thinking enables them to believe they are in possession of the truth about the world”

      JP argues from the same position, only he references biology to support that assertion. As progressives either believe that biological determinism does not exist, or can be overwritten by culture, essentially all we have is clash over two value systems. The evidence from history would suggest that human nature is not so easy to change.

  13. Aylwin says

    “Life becomes meaningless without the ability to pursue one’s values.” Well, yes, but what if commonly found, biologically determined values are damaging, on the whole. We really do, and should, culturally overcome such values. There’s a basket of such values: my tribe over yours, my reputation over being right, my desire for sex with as many people as possible (regardless of the emotional damage), my welfare over that of others, etc. You can make a valid argument about equality of outcome not being possible, or even desirable, without a preposterous position of defending ugly values such as status. I really am a better person and can enjoy a more deeply fulfilling life if I become wise about my base instincts.

    I don’t think you’re representing Peterson well here. Don’t put words into his mouth.

  14. nicky says

    As said, Newman did a bad job as an interviewer there, and went into a debate. A nincompoop debating a seasoned psychologist, that never ends well. As it did: not well. Despite possibly having some minor argument, after that interview/debate it became difficult not to endorse Peterson on virtually all points.
    Note that Peterson was at least 250 million years wrong with his lobsters (sorry to be pedantic), the split between arthropods and chordates, basically the split between deuterostomes and protostomes, occurred at least 600 million years ago, if not much earlier.
    I’d like to draw attention to the lobster-human hierarchy: we eat lobsters, serotonin and all, with relish. It enhances our own serotonin levels 🙂

          • Hence “it’s not the winning but the taking part that counts” and “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game”!

    • So why couldn’t I post all that together in reply to Daniel John Grady’s post of February 3, 2018, or several times as a stand alone new post without getting an invalid security token message?!

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