Quillette Podcast 1 – Jordan Peterson on the Dreadful Attraction of Utopian Ideas

In Quillette‘s first official podcast, associate editor Toby Young talks to Dr Jordan Peterson about The Coddling of the American Mind, his plans to set up a new university, and the baffling resilience of hard Left ideology.


  1. Neil Lyndon says

    Disappointing sound quality makes this trying to listen to, unfortunately

  2. Disappointed by the sound quality. You can buy a good microphone for a few dollars on Amazon…..

    • Peter Sparks says

      Sounds like the conversation was via mobile. That’s fine the information espoused, the knowledge gained is what’s more important.

  3. diotimatwo says

    Can’t listen to this because of the sound quality JP’s end. Sorry.

    • With as many remote interviews as Jordan Peterson seems to give–as well as the money he is making–I’m amazed he hasn’t invested in a studio mike for his home/office.

      Time to get a Sennheiser, Jordy!

      • Alan D White says

        The microphone quality is irrelevant if the transmission line quality is poor. Which is usually the case in long haul transmission.

  4. Sandra Goth says

    I agree with the audio quality but the content is well worth the effort.

  5. Robin Whittle says

    I am only partly familiar with Jordan’s Peterson’s now vast output. Perhaps people who are keeping up with him wouldn’t find his thoughts and expression so fresh and interesting as I did.

    The sound quality at his end appears to result from the use of a very low bit-rate Internet-based Skype or VoIP call, perhaps with JP talking into a laptop, rather than using a proper microphone or even a phone handset. Perhaps Quillette can get a phone line recording interface and call the interviewee with a real phone call. Landline phone calls may also be going through moderate bit-rate compression and TCP-IP networks, but generally the sound quality is much better than this. A Compucessory CCS55252 would probably work well.

    I found it tricky to rewind 20 seconds or so, since the 44 minutes is represented by a timeline only 414 pixels wide. The 90 or so bars are pretty meaningless and there is no clearly moving precise cursor. Rewinding a little is a common need if the listener can’t at first discern the words.

    A transcript would make great reading for those who can’t discern all the words, and would be Internet searchable and quotable. Its all great stuff – drop the needle anywhere on the platter:

    “The blindness to ignorance problem: If you don’t know about biology then you have no idea how much you don’t know about biology – and its a lot. And then there’s the competing epistemological plane, which ‘well, biology is just another methodology’ and its no more useful than, lets say sociological speculation, or gender theory.

    “Then there’s actual hatred for the data. And no wonder . . . If you are an evolutionary biologist or psychologist and what you learned didn’t make you shudder, then you obviously didn’t understand it.

    “You know, one literature I know extremely well is the literature on IQ. Because I am also a practicing clinician and have dealt with people across the entire cognitive spectrum, from barely cognitively able to function independently, to genius level cognitive ability, I have some sense of the actual differences between people – and they are absolutely massive.

    “Who wants that??!

    “I mean, its necessary. Everyone can’t have ever gift. If we are going to have gifts at all, that means some people are going to have them and some people aren’t. A fair bit of that is very uncomfortably rooted in our biology. And no-one can be *happy* about that, because it contributes to that arbitrary unfairness we were talking about earlier.

    “Now if you are somewhat sophisticated about such things, then you understand that nothing good comes without a cost, and the cost of talent might be inequality, just like the cost of wealth itself might be inequality. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t make your heart hurt. And if you are a compassionate person, in a technical sense – so high in empathy – then any data that indicates the existence of profound inequality – and all the data which exists indicates precisely that, the inequality of ability as well as outcome – its going to produce tremendous resistance.”

    “People want to have their cake and eat it too. Not only am I a high status person and benefit differentially from my status, I also want to be seen as a powerful advocate for the dispossessed, so I can share in that status as well – which I think is a rather crooked game.

    “I also think there is some real guilt, some of which is warranted and some of which isn’t. So lets say you do have differential access to financial resources, my sense is that what you should be doing with that money – something so good that you feel no guilt about the fact that you have it. And I think you have a social responsibility to do that.

    “To the degree that you are acting improperly with your money, spending it on the impulse of pleasures – which have their place by the way, but which shouldn’t be the central focus of your life – to the degree that you are not bearing the responsibility that is attendant on the possession of that wealth, then maybe you might be guilty for your position of relative privilege, and perhaps you should be.”

  6. Shane Brtyanton says

    A technical suggestion. Have the interviewee record their half of the conversation to their computer or laptop. After the interview have the guest dropbox their half of the conversation to Quiltette so it can be cut into the interview in place of the original garbled lo-res live feed.

    • Nik Mills says

      Exactly what I was thinking. This is easy and would have made a big difference.

  7. I was able to make out the conversation although the sound quality wasn’t very good.

    Interesting as always. The problems are so serious now that I’m a bit pessimistic about solutions, but JBP does a great of summarizing those problems.

    It’s discouraging to me that so many elite universitie, newspapers and so on have lost their way and fallen into the trap of blaming everything on hierarchies. They collectively possess enormous resources in contrast to us.

    I have not studied the literature as Peterson has. But I have done a lot of reading on 1917 Revolution in Russia and its consequences.

    It matches Peterson’s evaluation perfectly. The hierarchies simply return with a different set of people. In the process, immense damage is done and there is extensive suffering on the part of dispossessed, in whose name the entire revolution was meant to benefit,

  8. I’m confused….this is your first podcast, but on Castbox app I see a Quillette podcast that already has 93 episodes, and this one is not included?

    Is this a second Quillette channel, and will it show up on Castbox?

    • Bob Daye says

      “Quillette” has 93 episodes.
      “Quillette Podcast” has this one to date.
      Seems like a reboot as the 93 are all over the map on run length.

    • I think the old one is articles being read from the site, not a real podcast. You want the new one.

  9. I’m trying for a few days to spot Peterson,s foreword to the Gulagarchipelago of last week, with that long, hilarious list of comments on it. To no avail, OOPS, it says, it seems like the page has gone, with the wind? Or what? Please explain! Because I can’t remember this happened earlier with other essays.

    • Here you go Meneer:


      It’s from October 31 and, like you, I’m surprised Quillette seems to have lost its institutional memory. I swear Quillette use to have a searchable archive.

      You might like this from American Mind, a new pro-Trump site for people with a classic anglo-american constitutional democratic-republican orientation.

      According to us, the divide is between the nationalists and internationalists; or it may simply be a recurrence of the struggle between the anglo-american Levellers and Whigs that dates back to the 1630s. Now argue the struggle is between the collectivists and the atomizers or between the regulators and de-regulators (but these last two contrast have a very technical and purely American context).


      You start with the “Opening” by the editors and then read the “Responses”. They are talking about the same things as JP and J Kay.

      In the audio of this Quillette piece, I really enjoyed the tour of colonial English accents; Clare from OZ, JP from Western Canada and May from Montreal; but May’s accent seemed to have much of the old BBC received pronunciation about it.

      • Thanks EK, but not what I was looking for: “The Gulag Archipelago: a new foreword by J.Peterson”. Anybody who can help me to find copies, and where, I would be grateful. It was not so much the foreword itself (as is so often the case at Quillette), but rather the many interesting comments that I miss, firsthand memories of the Holodomor of some, critics of Solzhenitsyn’s claims, the uniqueness of the camps, the long history of similar camps in Russia, lacking knowledge of Peterson on the matter that I miss so much. So , everybody who can help me to find a copy: many thanks in advance!!

        • I see what you mean; the “Opps” message and all that. Perhaps there is some kind of copyright problem.

          • Maybe, EK, but I remember,the piece said explicitly that copyrights were OK. Or something with this podcast? No doubles?

          • Hurrah! The problem is solved, and Peterson back in town! After being off stage for about a week! For some reason.

  10. I would Love to help you all with the editing for this. I edit podcasts for a living in Gainesville Florida.

    Glad to help Quillette.

  11. Allan Jensen says

    A fan of Quiletre and Dr. Peterson but after 3 minutes, I had to stop and delete the podcast due to the awful sound quality. Sorry but that just won’t fly in late 2018

  12. Martin Tapsfield says

    The sound quality of this podcast is so poor it was a labour of love just to listen to it. JP does so many interviews over the web you’d think he’d invest in some decent equipment to do it with !

    Not withstanding that point he is still the best. I saw him twice in the UK, in Oxford and Birmingham, and he is the real deal …

    • Peterson said in his latest Q&A that they are setting up a ‘home studio’ acknowledging the iPhone mic is just not up to the task. Hopefully they will oil the squeaky chairs too.

  13. Alan D White says

    I would MUCH rather read (and print out) a discussion of these issues. One needs time to think and reflect on these matters and for that one needs text, not a sound track. The podcast needs to be transcribed and I hope that will be done eventually.

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  15. Eric Rhein says

    By far the scariest problem identified by Peterson is the war on competence itself.

  16. michael farr says

    the quality of the sound made it difficult to listen to the podcast. difficult enough that i stopped listening. surely you can do better. a good idea but a more competent production is required.

  17. Bob Daye says

    Great podcast , bad audio aside.
    A lot seem to be pretty spoiled when it comes to audio.
    Understood every word.

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  19. dutch says

    Unable to download via iTunes, though it’s ostensibly available there and you can subscribe to it. It just down’t download. Please post (or point me to) a direct link to your RSS feed.

  20. Poor sound quality, very amateurish; could barely hear JP. I love the idea, but please next time invest in better equipment.

  21. Grant Erickson says

    I found the Podcast a little troubling. I had no particular problem with the points raised by Dr. Peterson but rather the fashion in which Toby Young addressed his questions to Dr. Peterson. Mr Young clearly has a fully formed bias with regard to the subject matter. (That’s not wrong but a sermon preached to choir is always boring.) You can hear this in the long strings of adjectives Mr Young uses to define the position he espouses verses the ones of the purported opposition.

    Mr Young repeatedly uses the motif of adult and child in his description the opposing means of addressing arguments and the tone of voice he uses when he spits out the word “progressive” turns it into an epithet. The irony of this sort of verbal diminution of “progressives” was astounding given the topics of conversation surrounding the concepts of merit and competence. One would assume that the most prominent voices amoung the “progressives” got to be prominent through some sort of competence.

    Dr. Peterson spoke of the Tower of Babel as a metaphor for man’s infatuation with his own intellect and reason. In fact he repeated this theme several times in the 40 minute run-time podcast. Yet each time Young would follow up with another leading question that either extolled the virtues, reason, maturity of his side or insulted the banality, fatuousness and childishness of the his view of the opposition. He all but called them a “basket of delporables”. Dr. Peterson’s discussion of his own experience of ad hominem attacks that were followed by tacitly dehumanizing language addressed towards “progressives” was a particular cause of cognitive dissonance. You cannot purport to be a place of open discussion to all with one breath and dehumanize a straw man in the other.

    If Quillete is truly going to be a forum of heterodox discussion then its moderators need to learn to control their own voices so as not to speak solely from their biases. There is plenty of genuine ground to challenge “progressives” from, there is no need to insult them. And, as Dr. Peterson repeatedly stated many of their motives are neither evil nor misplaced.

    The best interviewers have either been open sounding boards that drew their guests out without aping them (think Larry King) or did their research and pushed hard thereby forcing their guests to think on the fly and back up their assertions (think BBC’s Hard Talk).

    For the record I really enjoy Dr Peterson’s talks. I particularly enjoy it when he engages in discussion with someone he doesn’t entirely agree with. (Sam Harris comes to mind.) I was disappointed in this interview in that I did not feel that Dr. Perterson was truly challenged and he is at his best when challenged.

    I look forward to another installment of the podcast. Hopefully it will be better.

    • Young’s assertion that poor people are poor because of low IQ, with absolutely no data to support it, is particularly jarring. Young then goes on to propose free in utero IQ screening for the poor as the solution to poverty and even complains that he has received criticism for his proposal. Peterson handled him with the patience of a saint giving all sorts of indicators that correlate with poverty and their relative weights. I would have just called him a moron.

  22. Stewart Ware says

    If Quillette is to produce podcasts then there are some basic technical issues to satisfy: ensure that at the arranged time of the interview, a quality connection can be established. This may be tested well in advance. It may be a Skype connection over a superfast broadband connection or at a pinch an enhanced landline connection (I’m not technically proficient in this area but see other comments for details). If it is not possible to obtain a clear connection this way, then a sound studio with an ISDN line should be hired close to the interviewee.

    Sam Harris manages to produce podcasts with remote interviewees with mostly good and at least tolerable audio quality.

    If a podcast cannot be produced with clear audio, then the project will fail.

  23. Dean Orfa says

    Don’t quit on these podcasts Quillete. Your first podcast didn’t turn out as you had expected however the beginning of anything worthwhile is difficult. You will solve the sound quality problems and bring us more brilliant minds such as Dr Jordan Peterson. I’m in….your basic concept is admirable and refreshing….good luck.

  24. zrgflx says

    Quite strange. Unlike many of the above listeners, I had little or no difficulty listening intelligibly to the podcast (did so with simple headphones on small, inexpensive tablet and do not seem to have a missed a word), although Dr. Peterson’s voice admittedly did sound tinny from time to time. I agree that a transcript would be welcome.

  25. I think the interviewer should relax a bit. It sounded like this was done at 20:00 on a major news channel.( Started to miss Cathy Newman.) The good thing about all the podcasts today is that they let people talk and think, so I would find it strange if Quillette did otherwise.

  26. Tom Welsh says

    Dreadful quality due to transmission medium, not equipment. Not worth listening to, as interested in Dr. Peterson’s viewpoints as I continue to be. Hope this will prove to an anomaly in this new series. Cheers.

  27. Marianne says

    Sound quality needs improving but also the means to navigate the recording i.e. pause, rewind, forward. Maybe I left it too long after pausing to try to resume listening – my place was lost.
    Brilliant content as ever JPB.

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