Jordan Peterson

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Spend half an hour on his website, sit through a few of his interminable videos, and you realize that what he has going for him, the niche he has found—he never seems to say “know” where he could instead say “cognizant of”—is that Jordan Peterson is the stupid man’s smart person.

Jordan Bernt Peterson (1962–), sometimes called JBP, is a Canadian clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. He is the author or coauthor of more than 90 peer-reviewed articles on clinical psychology, social psychology, and personality theory.[note 1] However, Peterson is better known because of his conservative, often problematic views. His views are exacerbated by the vagueness and ambiguity of his arguments, which allows him to say that his critics are just misrepresenting his views.[2]

As of January 2018, Peterson had over 723 thousand subscribers and 38 million views on YouTube,[3] 407 thousand followers on Twitter,[4] 160 thousand likes on Facebook,[5] and over 7,500 donors on Patreon[6] (generating an estimated $81,900 per month or $982,800 per year gross).[note 2]

Trans issues and rise to prominence

Bill C-16

jordan peterson would be like Target 1A for the anti-free speech cultural marxist thought police & thus far the full extent of their villainous persecution of him has been a letter telling him to knock it off

Peterson rose to popularity largely due to his public opposition to the Canadian government's Bill C-16[8], which added gender expression and gender identity to the list of protected groups in the Canadian Human Rights Act.[9][10][11] Peterson opposed the bill because he believes it mandates compelled speech and thus violates freedom of speech.[12] René J. Basque, head of the Canadian Bar Association, does not agree with this interpretation of the bill.[13]

At the Canadian senate hearing of Bill C-16, Senator Ratna Omidvar asked Peterson how the bill's proponents could reconcile his objection to the bill and opposing gender-based discrimination. Peterson's response was:

I oppose discrimination against gender identity and gender expression, that's not the point. The point is the specifics of the legislation that surrounds it and the insistence that people have to use compelled speech. That's what I'm objecting to. I've dealt with all sorts of people in my life. People who don't fit in in all sorts of different ways. I'm not a discriminatory person...but I think this legislation is reprehensible and I do not believe for a moment that it will do what it intends to do.[14]

Brenda Cossman, professor of law at the University of Toronto, has said Jordan Peterson is "fundamentally mischaracterizing" Bill C-16. Cossman asserts that C-16 is "not about criminalizing pronoun misuse" but instead an extension of Canada's human rights laws to trans status.[15]

Federal funding denial

In April 2017, Peterson's grant application for $399,625 over five years for the salary and tuition of his three graduate students, payments for research subjects, and travel expenses was rejected by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Peterson alleged that this denial is a retaliation for his statements against Bill C-16: "I think that [the controversy about Bill C-16] provided someone with a convenient opportunity to make their displeasure with what I’m doing known." In 2012, when Peterson's grant was approved for the last time by SSHRC, it was for the largest amount ever awarded to a psychologist.[16] In response, Ezra Levant spearheaded an Indiegogo campaign to raise $73,325, the first year's worth of funding within a 30-day period. The campaign reached its goal in one day.[17]

Reactionary fans

Given that his objections to C-16 resonate with many people, including transphobic individuals, it is unsurprising that a lot of Peterson's fans are reactionaries. Such fans like and support Peterson for his opposition stance to the bill but also due to his views on the psychological differences between men and women[18] (which the sexist reactionaries all love), sympathetic views towards conservative values,[19] being against "postmodernist neo-Marxism"[20][21] and for defending Christianity.[22][23][24] On more than one occasion, Peterson has retweeted fans of his who were discovered to be alt-right or neo-Nazis.[25][26][27][28] Peterson has lectured extensively, often speaking to conservatives, on the need to reject both far left and far right views and in particular on the need to dismantle political tribalism,[29] on the problems with the alt-right[30], and on his claim that liberals and conservatives need each other.[31]

Peterson's comments and the reaction to them (which often labeled Peterson transphobic and sought his no platforming) sparked controversy that earned him significant media coverage.[32] Additionally, Peterson is a self-described anti-social-justice-warrior. In an interview with Joe Rogan, he congratulated himself for "monetizing SJW's", and brags that the more he is attacked by them, the more money he is given through Patreon.[33]

His popularity with the right has led him to be interviewed by a whole slew of famous anti-leftist stars, including Tara McCarthy,[34] Sargon of Akkad,[35] Stefan Molyneux,[36] Dave Rubin,[37] and Theryn Meyer.[38] Peterson has also appeared on the H3 Podcast.[39] Richard Spencer has said that he respects Peterson's work, and that they "share a lot of common ground and philosophical starting points."[40]

Lindsay Shepherd censure

In November 2017, a brief clip featuring Peterson's views on the use of gender-neutral pronouns during a classroom debate was used by Wilfrid Laurier University graduate student and teaching assistant Lindsay Shepherd in a seminar. This led her to be censured by the university for staying neutral and not "denouncing" Peterson's ideas, acting "transphobic" and creating a "toxic climate", while Peterson himself was compared to Hitler.[41][42] The university's actions were heavily criticized.[43][44][45] In light of this, the professor and administration both apologized for their actions.[45]

Social conservatism

Peterson explaining that atheism causes mass murder

Peterson holds socially conservative views on fundamental topics including religion and marriage.

Religion provides meaning, atheism provides totalitarianism

See the main article on this topic: Belief in belief

Peterson was a Christian in the past, but as of 2018, has stated that he no longer believes in God. However, he continues to present himself as a Cultural Christian who believes that atheism leads to meaningless societies. For example, in a 2011 debate with various atheists, Peterson argued that Stalin's atheism and alleged pessimistic outlook motivated his mass-murders:[46][47]

Peterson: No, he [Stalin] was killing people because, as a rational man, his conclusion [was] that life was so unbearable that it should be wiped out. Uh, you know, you guys who –

Robert Buckman: Jordan, [incomprehensible] he was a rational man?

Peterson: Hang on a second! You know, you guys are into, you know, rational thinking, forget all the time[s] that – rational thinking can go in a variety of directions. It depends on your initial presuppositions. If you believe that life is worth living – which, by the way, under some conditions, is highly debatable – you're gonna come up with a pretty optimistic conclusion. But if you've looked at life and you think that the suffering of most people is unbearable and life is evil, which is what Stalin thought, you have no problems whatsoever mobilizing everything you can to kill as many people as you can. And if you don't have any faith, like any faith, in an ultimate authority that says, essentially, that life is sacred, what's to stop you from stopping that? The fact that you have good –

Buckman: It's called morality.

Peterson: Yeah, where does that come from?

Buckman: Well, Stalin and I differed in terms of morality.

In 2013, Peterson supported presuppositionalism:[note 3]

Proof itself, of any sort, is impossible, without an axiom (as Godel proved[note 4]). Thus faith in God is a prerequisite for all proof.[48]
To say "I believe in God" is equivalent, in some sense, to say "my thought is ultimately coherent, but predicated on an axiom (as my thought is also incomplete, so I must take something on faith)."

To say "I don't believe in God" is therefore to say "no axiom outside my thought is necessary" or "the necessary axiom outside my thought is not real." The consequence of this statement is that God himself unravels, then the state unravels, then the family unravels, and then the self itself unravels.

To stem this unraveling with false certainty: that is totalitarianism. To speed it along is nihilism. We experimented with totalitarianism in the twentieth century, as alternative to the ultimate axiom of faith in the unknowable and unspeakable. Totalitarianism failed. Now we will have to experiment to [sic] nihilism. This experiment, led by the resentful, will also fail and it is as doubtful that we can survive it as it was that we could survive totalitarianism.[49]

In 2013, among his 32 answers to the question, "If you could write a rule book for being a man, what 'man law' would you write," Peterson included the following dictates:

3: Keep the sacred fire burning.

9: Offer your sons up as a sacrifice to God.

12: Consult the ancestral spirits.

16: Make a worthy temple for the Lord.

27: Bring heaven to earth.

28: Take on the sins of the world.[50]

In 2016, Peterson supported a link between atheism and the decline of meaningful lives:

I have lectured and written for the last thirty years, working on ideas originally laid out by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and the novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky. In the late 1800's, these two thinkers began to contend with the "death of God" -- the disruption of traditional religious and cultural belief by rationality and science. If God dies, Dostoevsky said, "everything will then be permitted." This is a very frightening idea. As you move forward through time and history from the 19th century and contemplate National Socialism and the horrors of totalitarian communism, Dostoevsky looks positively prophetic.

The same is true of Nietzsche. In the aftermath of God's death, he believed humanity, would become entranced, even possessed, by utopian political ideas, such as those of Marx. Nietzsche believed that such possession would kill millions in the twentieth century, as it did. The great German thinker also posited that human beings would have to create their own values, to fill the void left by God's demise. However, it is not clear that we can create values, voluntarily. Individuals who have forced themselves to manifest interest in something that just didn't interest them know the limits of our value-creating capacity. We also don't live particularly long. It's impossibly difficult to self-generate a complete model for being in the span of a single short life.

Dostoevsky, for his part, recommended a conscious revisiting of Russian Orthodox Christian ideas. But it is also not clear that we can return safely to past certainties, real or imagined. There may be much we have to rescue from our damaged traditions, but all of it will have to be viewed in a new light, if it is going to function and live.

I have been working, instead, on the belief that transcendent values genuinely exist; that they are in fact the most tangible realities of being. Such values have to be discovered, as much as invented, during the dance of the individual with society and nature. Then they have to be carefully integrated and united into something powerful and stable. This is in part something that Carl Jung discovered, during his forays into the deep past of ideas.[51]

In 2017, Peterson reiterated this idea:

The worship of the rational mind makes you prone to totalitarian ideology. The Catholic Church always warned against this. The warning was that the rational mind always falls in love with its own creations. The intellect is raised to the status of highest god. The highest ideal that a person holds - consciously or unconsciously - that's their god. It functions precisely in that manner. It exists forever, it exists in all people, it takes them over and exists in their behavior. That's a god. We have to think about that idea functionally.
If religion was the opium of the masses, then communism was the methamphetamine of the masses.[52]

In 2017, Peterson described the "Kingdom of God" as a goal to reach in a poem titled "Wisdom":[53]

Life is suffering.[54]

Love is the desire to see unnecessary suffering ameliorated.[55]
Truth is the handmaiden of love.[56]
Dialogue is the pathway to truth.[57]
Humility is recognition of personal insufficiency and the willingness to learn.[58]
To learn is to die voluntarily and be born again, in great ways and small.[59]
So speech must be untrammeled, so that dialogue can take place.[60]
So that we can all humbly learn.[61]
So that truth can serve love.[62]
So that suffering can be ameliorated.[63]

So that we can all stumble forward to the Kingdom of God.[64]

In 2017, Peterson described music as filling the spiritual void in atheistic society:

One of the things that struck me as near miraculous about music, especially in a rather nihilistic and atheistic society, is that it really does fill the void which was left by the death of God - and its because you cannot rationally critique music. It speaks to you, it speaks of meaning, and no matter what you say about it, no matter how cynical you are, you cannot put a crowbar underneath that and toss it aside.[65]

In 2018, Peterson asserted that he was now an unbeliever, but supported Pascal's Wager:

Are you a Christian? Do you believe in God? I think the proper response to that is[, "]No, but I’m afraid He might exist["].[66]

In short: Peterson appears, for the past decade, to be wholly on board with the idea that religion is essential for a functioning society, sometimes called belief in belief.

Support for binding marriage agreements

Peterson is very pro-marriage. Indeed, he describes marriage as "a process of mutual spoken and enacted truth" that allegedly "produces a spiritual transformation - that of maturity".[67] Peterson describes the benefits of marriage primarily in terms of mutual co-improvement -- working on each other's flaws because neither partner can escape. This leads into worrying implications in terms of divorce:[68]

And it's the same thing when you're living together with someone. You know that people who live together before they get married are more likely to get divorced, not less likely. And the reason for that is: What exactly are you saying to one another when you live with each other? Just think about it. "Well, for now, you're better than anything else I can trick -- but I'd like to reserve the right to trade you in, conveniently, if someone better happens to stumble into me." Well how could someone not be insulted to their core by an offer like that? Now they're willing to play along with it, because they're gonna do the same thing with you. Well that's exactly it. It's like "Yeah, yeah, I know you're not gonna commit to me, so that means you don't value me or our relationship above everything else, but as long as I get to escape if I need to, then I'm willing to put up with that." It's like -- that's a hell of a th[ing] -- I mean, you might think, "How stupid is it to shackle yourself to someone?" It's stupid, man, there's no doubt about that. But compared to the alternatives, it's pretty damn good. Because without that shackling, there are things you will never, ever learn, because you'll avoid them. You can always leave, and if you can leave you don't have to tell each other the truth. It's as simple as that, cuz you can just leave, and then you don't have anyone you can tell the truth to.

When discussing the 2017 #MeToo wave of sexual assault allegations, Peterson offered the following insights on sexual assault, marriage, and consent:

Peterson: With all the accusations of sex assault emerging (eg Louis CK) we are going to soon remember why sex was traditionally enshrined in marriage...[69]

Mae: Wait...what does consensual sex outside marriage have to do with sexual harassment? They are not even linked.[70]

Peterson: How, precisely, exactly, do you know when there is consent? Does it need to occur at each step (as it now does in Canada)? What, precisely, is a step?[71]
Peterson: With all the accusations of sex assault emerging (eg Louis CK) we are going to soon remember why sex was traditionally enshrined in marriage...[72]

balls2thewall: He is eluding to the fact of when you continue to stretch the boundaries of what the original intent of sex was in terms of the foundation of western culture. In this case Christianity; where sex was meant for the confines of marriage as a gift from God.[73]

Mae: 'The original intent of sex'? Based on primitive standards that don't apply to modern society? There is literally no difference between consensual sex in a marriage and outside one.[74]

Peterson: Except for the marriage part.[75]

Support for stricter gender roles and antifeminism

Peterson wearing a fedora, for reasons as yet undetermined[76]
The idea that women were oppressed throughout history is an appalling theory.
—Jordan Peterson, history understander[77]

Peterson has made a number of controversial statements about the role of women, which suggest he favors a traditionalist view of gender roles in line with conservative Christianity. He also believes that systemic sexism against women, in the West, has ended years ago.

Peterson thinks the primary desire of professional women is to be mothers by age 30. Peterson has stated that "there is something that isn't quite right" with women who don't make having children their primary desire by age 30[78] and that women who don't have children are "isolated" and "miserable" in the latter half of their lives.[79] Peterson, on Twitter, JAQed off on this point:

Peterson: Is it possible that young women are so outraged because they are craving infant contact in a society that makes that very difficult?[80]

Mitchell: I think so. We're not allowed to be just mothers and we don't have many role models to look up to.[81]

Peterson: So why don't women who feel that way speak up? Are the more maternal inclined to be more silent?[82]

Given his belief that women should be mothers, it makes sense that Peterson believes that current "gender antipathy" may be due to the birth control pill:[83]

There was no equality for women before the birth control pill. It’s completely insane to assume that anything like that could’ve possibly occurred. And the feminists think they produced a revolution in the 1960s that freed women. What freed women was the pill, and we’ll see how that works out. There’s some evidence that women on the pill don’t like masculine men because of changes in hormonal balance. You can test a woman’s preference in men. You can show them pictures of men and change the jaw width, and what you find is that women who aren’t on the pill like wide-jawed men when they’re ovulating, and they like narrow-jawed men when they’re not, and the narrow-jawed men are less aggressive. Well all women on the pill are as if they’re not ovulating, so it’s possible that a lot of the antipathy that exists right now between women and men exists because of the birth control pill. The idea that women were discriminated against across the course of history is appalling.

Of course, Peterson may not see a need for birth control pills because he appears to believe that men and women cannot work together. For example, in an interview with Vice News, Peterson JAQed off about whether it's possible for men and women can work together in the workplace[84] and asserted that women who don't want to be sexually harassed but wear makeup are "hypocritical".[85] By his own admission, Peterson himself refuses to abide by his employer's guidelines for preventing sexual harassment (such as not having one-on-one discussions with the door closed), and has been accused of sexual misconduct three times during his career as a professor. Peterson claims these accusations were "baseless".[86]

Peterson has claimed that that men can't control "crazy women" because using physical violence against women is socially unacceptable.[87] He also believes that that feminists don't speak out against human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia due to an "unconscious wish for brutal male domination".[88] Apparently, feminists in the West so urgently desire male domination that they have made violence against women socially unacceptable. Right. (Peterson went on to denounce the role of femininity in society more generally, claiming that "terrible femininity ... is undermining the masculine power of the culture in a way that's, I think, fatal."[89])

Peterson also believes that women aren't systemically held back. He states that it's wrong to ask why women are underrepresented in the C-suite compared to asking why men are dominating that field. According to him, men dominate the field, despite more women graduating from university, because they're more obsessed with their career and are willing to work harder.[90] From his interview with Cathy Newman, however, his claim underlies the thought that men seem to have more capacity and willingness to enter an extremely competitive field, at men's partial expense, while women are more involved with seeking a higher quality life than devoting their life to such a draining career. This argument is rather simplistic and does not contradict the factor of entrenched gender roles.

Would you suggest that trying to give a bigger voice to minorities and to women who feel they have been systemically held back...
First, I don't think there is any evidence that women are systemically held back. Not in the West. I think we're past that by a decade.
Except that we have many more women than men graduating from every level of university and yet they rarely get to the C-suit or the boards. What is going on there?
I know exactly what's going on there. If you want to occupy the C-suit or the top 1% in any organization, you have to be obsessively devoted to your career at the expense of everything else. And women look at that and they think, No.[sic] So you actually have to reverse that the question. The question isn't why aren't there more women in the C-suite. The question is, Why[sic] are there any men? Because it's the men who are willing to be obsessive about their careers and work 80 hours a week nonstop and hyperefficiently. The hyper-productivity of a minority characterized the domain where there's creative production. And almost all of the hyperproductive people are men.

Peterson notoriously criticized the Disney animated film Frozen as being "reprehensible propaganda" for challenging traditional gender roles.[91] In 2017, he wrote:[92]

Frozen served a political purpose: to demonstrate that a woman did not need a man to be successful. Anything written to serve a political purpose (rather than to explore and create) is propaganda, not art.[note 5] Frozen was propaganda, pure and simple. Beauty and the Beast (the animated version) was not.

An academic review of his first book, Maps of Meaning noted Peterson's uncritical interpretation of a Jungian (and explicitly patriarchal) mythological framework, which portrays men through the archetypes like "the Hero" or the "Great Father" but portrays women as passive damsels in distress or through the archetype of the "Great and Terrible Mother". As the book does speak of heroines or the archetype of the "Terrible Father", this was seen as a double standard. Professor Maxine Sheets-Johnstone writes:[93]

It is notable, furthermore, that while there is a Great and Terrible Mother, there is only a Great Father, even though this Great Father is tyrannical in the extreme as well as orderly, i.e., even though he, like Great Mother, has a powerful negative as well as powerful positive side. Why his negative side is not so designated in his label is peculiar--Terrible Father appears only once (p. 379). The lack of balance is particularly striking--and troubling--in light of the fact that men make war, men make concentration camps, men make prison camps, men dismember men, men rape women, and so on, and so on. Although Peterson chronicles the horrors of concentration and prison camps at length, recounting experiences described by Frankl at Auschwitz and by Solzhenitsyn at the Gulag Archipelago; although he specifically states that "Man can torture his brother and dance on his grave," that "Man exults in agony, delights in pain, worships destruction and pathology,... and constantly works to lay waste, to undermine, to destroy, to torment, to abuse and devour," that "Man chooses evil, for the sake of the evil," and that Man tortures and exults and chooses as he does out of "slavish adherence to the forces of socialization" (p. 347); although Peterson chronicles all these horrors and designates "Man" as their author, he does not seem to realize that it is specifically, universally, and virtually only males in "the society of men" who make war, who "torture," "massacre," butcher," "rape," "devour," and so on (p. 347). In short, that Peterson draws our attention to the horrors of "Man," all the while not questioning the patriarchal system itself in which Man's brutalities take place is an astonishing and puzzling omission, all the more so in light of his desire to discover the "human motivation for evil" (p. 460) and the way in which we humans might recognize "our infinite capacity for good" (p. 456); all the more so too in light of the absolute and central binary opposition he draws between male and female throughout.

Sexual morality

Intelligence and semen quality: listen up, girls....
—Jordan Peterson on Twitter[94]

Jordan Peterson has spoken out against pornography, labeling it an "untrammeled social evil" even though by his own admission its introduction has been linked with a decrease in violent rape,[95] and suggested that people should not masturbate to pornography because it is not a "noble pursuit".[96] Additionally, Peterson has criticized casual sex, claiming that it "is simply not commensurate with the demands of an advanced civilization".[97] He has even JAQed off about whether casual sex could "necessitate state tyrrany", claiming that "The missing responsibility has to be enforced somehow".[98]

Jordan Peterson opposed a proposed sex education program in Ontario, claiming that a social constructionist view of gender identity was being "foisted on children"[99] and that it is "a form of indoctrination"[100] being pushed by radical leftists.

Opposition to gay marriage

Peterson has also made a case against legalizing gay marriage, stating that he would be against legalization if was backed by "cultural Marxists" and that he's concerned it is "undermining of traditional modes of being, including marriage".[101] In 2018, Peterson asserted that "the social norm should be husband, wife, children" (note that this relationship is both heterosexual and that the woman has had children) to a group called Parents As First Educators, which claims that sex education leads to "HIV/AIDS, abortion and emotional distress".[102]


Peterson does not like postmodernism, judging from the very reasonable number of videos he has produced on the subject.[103][104][105][106][107][108][109][110][111][112][113][114][115][116][117][118][119][120] (In his book, Peterson praises Heidegger, who is sometimes described as the first postmodernist philosopher, which would therefore be ironic, sometimes.[121])

Peterson believes that postmodernism is a serious threat to academic life. In this regard, he shares company with Richard Dawkins who warned about the influence of postmodernism in academia in 1998,[122] and Steven Pinker who considers it as part of an anti-intellectual trend, and that "the humanities have yet to recover from the disaster of postmodernism, with its defiant obscurantism, dogmatic relativism, and suffocating political correctness".[123][124]

In contrast, other criticism of postmodernismWikipedia's W.svg tends to focus on its obscurity, rather than its omnipresence. For example, Noam Chomsky writes with frustration about the impregnability of the works of the French School of postmodernism:

...I'm just incapable of understanding...There are lots of things I don't understand -- say, the latest debates over whether neutrinos have mass or the way that Fermat's last theorem was...proven recently. But from 50 years in this game, I have learned two things: (1) I can ask friends who work in these areas to explain it to me at a level that I can understand, and they can do so, without particular difficulty; (2) if I'm interested, I can proceed to learn more so that I will come to understand it. Now Derrida, Lacan, Lyotard, Kristeva, etc. --- even Foucault, whom I knew and liked, and who was somewhat different from the rest --- write things that I also don't understand, but (1) and (2) don't hold: no one who says they do understand can explain it to me and I haven't a clue as to how to proceed to overcome my failures. That leaves one of two possibilities: (a) some new advance in intellectual life has been made, perhaps some sudden genetic mutation, which has created a form of "theory" that is beyond quantum theory, topology, etc., in depth and profundity; or (b) ... I won't spell it out."[125]


Peterson presents himself as a defender of science and criticizes poor methodology in fields like sociology. However, Peterson himself is not above non-scientific speculation, such as using mythology in his counselling practice and presentations when they suit his point and retweeting remarks of global warming deniers.

Molecule-reading shamans and other DNA woo

After reading The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of KnowledgeWikipedia's W.svg by Jeremy Narby (a book that hypothesizes that shamans may be able to access information at the molecular level through the ingestion of ayahuasca), Peterson came to believe that the double helix structure of the DNA molecule was being represented in the twin-snake motifs in ancient Egyptian, Chinese[126] and Hindu art[127] as well as in the symbol of the caduceus from ancient Greek mythology (which he mistakenly equated with the rod of Asclepius[128]). Peterson's claims are not accepted by mainstream archaeologists; indeed, Peterson utterly fails to present a method through which humans could possess knowledge about molecular processes.[note 6] When confronted about it, Peterson speculated that people might be able to have mysterious unexplained perceptions under certain conditions.[129]

Peterson also stated in a lecture that the theory of evolution's reliance on copying errors to produce mutations is where the theory is "weak"[130]. In the same lecture, he stated that he thinks that "DNA is a very, very complex microcomputer...maybe it's a quantum computer"[131]. This claim is an old creationist canard, and is considered by actual biologists to be a misrepresentation of how it actually works.[132]

Quantum woo

Jordan Peterson has also dabbled in quantum mysticism. For example, in a debate with philosopher Ronald de SousaWikipedia's W.svg, Peterson displayed both a tenuous grasp of quantum theory (which one might expect from a social scientist) and a willingness to knit buzzwords foreign to his subject into the fabric of an academic presentation (which one would not). In particular, Peterson claimed that quantum physics affirms his spiritual view of the world:

Now you may know that there's an interpretation in quantum physics, for example, called the Copenhagen interpretation, and not everybody agrees with it, but according to the Copenhagen interpretation no event is an actualized event until it's perceived. And the person who formulated that hypothesis, John Wheeler[note 7], is one of the most renowned physicists of the 20th century and he believed, before he died, quite firmly that whatever consciousness is played an integral role in Being. Now it seems to me after studying this for a very long period of time that the entirety of Western civilization is predicated on the idea that there's something divine about individual consciousness and after studying that for such a lengthy period of time and trying to figure out what it meant, I think I found out what it meant. I think I found out that the reason that our archaic stories say that human beings, men and women, are made in the image of God is because consciousness plays a central role in Being itself. Modern people think the world is somehow simply made out of objects and then they look at the world and then they think about the world and then they evaluate it and then they act, but let me tell you as a neuroscientist [...] that is wrong. There's no debate about it, it's just wrong. [...] The facts of the matter seem to be something more like this: the world is actually made of potential, and that potential is actualized by consciousness.[133]

Quantum mechanics is only useful for explaining mechanics of the universe at atomic or subatomic levels. As such, it cannot help a psychologist like Peterson explain literally anything about their field.

Misunderstanding myths

The story of Adam and Eve represents the fruit as producing a psychological transformation. So the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is an abstraction across trees, and it's trying to say: "Here's something that's common across trees, it's a fruit that's common across trees. The fruit that's common across trees is something that you might call food, fair enough. But here's something that's even more cool; food that's stable across the entire domain of food, isn't food, it's information. We use the same bloody circuits in our brain to forage for information that animals use to forage for information. Why is that? Because we figured out knowing where the food is, is more important than having the food. ... That's why we're information foragers.[134]

In attempting to co-ordinate various mythologies into a common narrative, Peterson runs the risk of baseless syncretism, especially as his primary concern is Christianity. For example, when describing Buddhist concepts in Maps of Meaning: the Architecture of Belief[135], he describes nirvana as "perfection" and equates it with the Christian idea of heaven in order to draw parallels between the two belief systems.[citation needed] Some claim this reflects a common misconception of Buddhist concepts but may be a problem of interpretation and conflicting theology.[136][137][138]

Global warming "skepticism"

Human emissions of carbon dioxide have saved life on Earth from inevitable starvation & extinction due to C02 [sic]
—Jordan Peterson, quoting, without properly putting quotes or at least specifying it's a quote, from a denialist article[139]

While Peterson has made retweets (his retweets aren't endorsements) to global warming deniers including like Anthony Watts,[140][141][142] Bjorn Lomborg,[143] and the Daily Mail,[144] Peterson's tweets tend to downplay global warming. For example, one of his tweets links to a blog called "NoTricksZone" (a reference to the "trick" word in Climategate).[145]. On occasion, he supports the "global cooling"[142][146] as well as the "carbon-dioxide-is-good-for-plants" talking points.[139] It may be that Peterson has been using references to climate change as a right-wing dog whistle to increase his following. He is, after all, attractive to people associated with politics of the right. This would be sinister instead of the commonly supposed, just plain ignorant.

Non-expert witness status

Peterson has put himself forward as an expert witness in psychology. Courts aren't so keen on him in child-related cases, chiefly because he is not a child psychologist and has no experience in custody management (if you ever wondered why Peterson is so down on law as an area of study.) In Sordi v. Sordi, 2009 CanLII 80104 (ON SC), the whole document is clear and worth reading, but Justice D. Roger Timms, though not a psychologist himself, notes in particular:[147]

I will deal next with Dr. Peterson’s report entitled “Multiple rater response to play assessment description From Kawartha Family Court Assessment Service Report”. It is dated May 4, 2009. This is perhaps the most interesting of all of the reports that counsel for the respondent wishes the court to consider. It comes as close to “junk science” as anything that I have ever been asked to consider.
That title is somewhat misleading in that it contains less than two pages of references to articles that Dr. Peterson found by doing an on-line search of on-line material on that topic. Dr. Peterson has no expertise in that area. If he had, then he might have known that the proposition that fathers play a key role in proper development of children in both intact and non-intact families, and that mothers have no legal “leg-up” when it comes to deciding custody cases, have long since been accepted by our courts here in Canada. I do not need to consider any of the articles referred to by Dr. Peterson to accept that.
The apparent but unfounded arrogance of Dr. Peterson found throughout this report [and for that matter in some of the other reports] is troubling and give rise to the question of whether his reports are not biased in more than one fashion. That there can be more than one type of bias when it comes to experts is explored by Professor David Paciocco in his article “Taking a ‘Goudge’ out of Bluster and Blarney: an ‘Evidence-Based Approach’ to Expert Testimony”.[9] On page 18 of his paper, Professor Paciocco lists and defines many possible types of bias, including: lack of independence bias; adversarial bias; selection bias; team bias; professional interest bias; association bias; and noble cause distortion bias. I venture the opinion that Dr. Peterson suffers from at least two, if not three, of those.

In R. v. Pearce (M.L.), 2014 MBCA 70 (CanLII), Peterson failed to quite sell the court (Justices Barbara M. Hamilton, Marc M. Monnin and Christopher J. Mainella) on his "Unfakeable Big Five" personality test as a forensic tool — "The appellant proposed to call two psychologists (Drs. Jordan B. Peterson and Timothy E. Moore) as expert witnesses to support his false confession defence":[148]

[88] The situation here is even more remote. It is difficult to see how Dr. Peterson’s technique of assessing the personality of a person for his private consulting business satisfies the Daubert factors to make it admissible for a forensic purpose. Dr. Peterson provided no evidence that his technique of personality assessment has been properly tested for the purpose it is being used for here, detecting when an agreeable person may falsely confess to the police. All Dr. Peterson could say is he hired university students to try and fake the personality assessment and they couldn’t do it. That is not scientific validation. There has been no peer review of the technique of the Unfakeable Big Five. Dr. Peterson provided no rate of error or accepted deviations. In fact, he claimed, without any proof, that his assessment tool cannot be deceived while other personality assessment techniques can be. Finally, there is no evidence that the Unfakeable Big Five is generally accepted as a forensic tool. It was designed and is used for Dr. Peterson’s private consulting clients to hire employees.
[90] While not necessary to decide this appeal, I would close discussion of the judge’s ruling on Dr. Peterson’s proposed expert evidence by expressing concern about the decision to attempt to proffer Dr. Peterson as an expert witness on areas that he was clearly not qualified as he had no background whatsoever regarding police interrogations. This decision unnecessarily complicated and delayed this trial and is proof positive of the concern expressed in D.D. (at para. 56) of the detrimental impact on the justice system of attempting to use dubious expert opinion.


On January 2018, during an interview with British journalist Cathy Newman to promote his self-help book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Peterson argued that hierarchies are not a social construct, but biological to some extent. To prove his point, Peterson famously compared the tendency for humans to form social hierarchies to that of lobsters which occasionally display hierarchical behavior [149] [150]

Jungian psychology

Collective unconscious

Peterson uses speculative Jungian constructs such as mythical archetypes[151] and the "collective unconsciousWikipedia's W.svg" in his books and lectures. The "collective consciousness" asserts that all humans have an "unconscious mind" which is derived from ancestral memory that is common to all humankind.[citation needed] The idea of unconscious mind is one of the oldest ideas in the field of psychology, and is still generally in use.[152] For example, Jung's view on mythology holds that similarities in myths and narratives across cultures and "strongly points to an underlying commonality of structure and purpose" – ie, that all mythologies come from a shared subconscious experience.[153]


Carl Jung also developed the principle of "synchronicity", which purports that apparently meaningful coincidences may have a deeper psychological interpretation even when there is no apparent causal link. Jung proposed synchronicity has a possible connection with alleged ESP phenomena, and it is often misidentified as paranormal pseudoscience. In Jungian theory, astrology, the I Ching, and paranormal events are all products of synchronicity. It is the causal psychological principle from which they originate.[154] [155][156]

As a Jungian, Peterson has repeatedly cited synchronicity to explain coincidences that he notices,[157][158] including the apparent likeness between Pepe the Frog and Kek, the Frog-headed ancient Egyptian deity.[159][160] While it's unclear if this was in jest, Peterson has made a few other paranormal claims (see above section).

External links


  1. It is sometimes claimed that Peterson is not "the author of any lasting work of scholarship, the originator of any important idea, or a public intellectual of any scientific credibility or moral seriousness". However, in November 2017, he had 4510 citations with an h-indexWikipedia's W.svg of 38 (see Jordan B Peterson - Scopus preview). An h-index of 20 is considered "successful", and 40 "outstanding".
  2. Peterson hid his income on his Patreon. When it was last public, on October 21, 2017, Peterson made $66,636.40 per month with 6099 patrons. Let us assume that Peterson's patrons have continued paying the same per-capita amounts. If so, then Peterson's 7,500 patrons should net him $81,900 per month.
  3. Peterson's idea is not new. That axioms are required for proof is ancient knowledge, known to EuclidWikipedia's W.svg and his contemporaries.
  4. As an aside, this is not what Gödel's incompleteness theoremsWikipedia's W.svg proved.
  5. As noted in the thread, this definition would make Pablo Picasso's GuernicaWikipedia's W.svg "not art".
  6. Contrast Deepak Chopra, who explains this problem with "quantum".
  7. Peterson is confusing the Copenhagen interpretationWikipedia's W.svg with the participatory anthropic principleWikipedia's W.svg


  2. Robinson, N. (March 14, 2018). The Intellectual We Deserve. Current Affairs. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  3. About JordanPetersonVideos [a w], YouTube
  4. jordanbpeterson [a w], Twitter
  5. drjordanpeterson [a w], Facebook
  6. jordanbpeterson [a w], Patreon
  7. Twitter [a w]
  16. Christie Blatchford (April 3, 2017). "'An opportunity to make their displeasure known': Pronoun professor denied government grant". National Post. 
  17. Sophia Savva (May 2017). "Jordan Peterson’s federal funding denied, Rebel Media picks up the tab". 
  45. 45.0 45.1
  46. Advertising Atheism [a w], YouTube
  47. Twitter [a w]
  48. Twitter (deleted)
  49. Screenshot of Facebook post
  50. If you could write a rule book for being a man, what "man law" would you write? What are the qualities of a good husband, father, or brother? What one thing would you want to see in your daughter's boyfriend or husband? Why? [a w], Quora}}
  51. From Jordan Peterson's Patreon description as of February 2018.
  52. Biblical Series III: God and the Hierarchy of Authority [a w]
  53. 2017/04/24: Banned lecture at Linfield College: Ethics and Free Speech [a w]
  54. Twitter [a w]
  55. Twitter [a w]
  56. Twitter [a w]
  57. Twitter [a w]
  58. Twitter [a w]
  59. Twitter [a w]
  60. Twitter [a w]
  61. Twitter [a w]
  62. Twitter [a w]
  63. Twitter [a w]
  64. Twitter [a w]
  65. Drinking from the Firehose with Howard Bloom [a w], YouTube
  67. Twitter [a w]
  68. Jordan Peterson - Why Shackle Yourself in Marriage? [a w]
  69. Twitter [a w]
  70. Twitter [a w]
  71. Twitter [a w]
  72. Twitter [a w]
  73. Twitter [a w]
  74. Twitter [a w]
  75. Twitter [a w]
  80. Twitter [a w]
  81. Twitter [a w]
  82. Twitter [a w]
  83. ‘We’re teaching university students lies’ – An interview with Dr Jordan Peterson [a w], C2C Journal
  89. Why Is Monsanto Inviting This Alt-Right Hero to a Fireside Chat on Farming? [a w], Slate
  90. Luscombe, B. (March 19, 2018). "7 Questions". Time. Vol.191, No 11. p. 76.
  92. Reddit [a w]
  94. Twitter [a w]
  121. Screenshot from Peterson's book
  123. Science Is Not Your Enemy
  124. Englightenment Now by Steven Pinker - Kirkus Review
  125. Chomsky on Postmodernism
  128. See the Wikipedia article on Caduceus as a symbol of medicine.
  134. Biblical Series IV: Adam and Eve: Self-Consciousness, Evil, and Death [a w]
  139. 139.0 139.1 Twitter [a w]
  140. Twitter [a w]
  141. Twitter [a w]
  142. 142.0 142.1 Twitter [a w]
  143. Twitter [a w]
  144. Twitter [a w]
  145. Twitter [a w]: "So it turns out that it was scientists who were sensitive to atmospheric CO2 level increases?"
  146. Twitter [a w]
  153. Jordan B. Peterson (1999). Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief. Psychology Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-415-92222-7. 
  156. Michael Shermer (2002). The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience, Volume One. ABC-CLIO, Inc.. p. 240-242. ISBN 979-1576076537.