Fight Club: Jordan Peterson vs. Cathy Newman

The first rule of Fight Club is to prepare for Fight Club.

This video, in which journalist Cathy Newman interviews psychologist Jordan B. Peterson on Britain’s Channel 4, is an object lesson in how NOT to do an interview, even though I found the exchange entertaining. Newman didn’t do her homework, and her conversation is motivated not by curiosity or an attempt to draw out the subject, but to attack him—without ammunition. Newman fails because she’s angry and invested in her narrative, leading her to ignore what Peterson says (she makes some of her arguments over and over again) and to constantly mischaracterize his views.

As I’ve said before, I don’t have a well-formed opinion about Peterson, because I haven’t spent a lot of time listening to him. I know he’s religious and doesn’t like New Atheists, which turns me off; but on other issues, like the ones in this discussion, he’s worth listening to. I’m not sure whether his sources are accurate or complete, but the point I’m making is that if you want to attack somebody’s position, you have to do your homework, or you wind up—as Newman did in this interview—looking really bad. It’s the same problem that recurs when irate Leftists or intersectionalist college students face conservative Ben Shapiro.

And this is why we need free speech. For how else will you learn the “best” arguments of your opponents?

 

Despite their rancor in this interview, both have been good sports: Peterson has decried the misogynists who attacked Newman on Twitter, while, according to the Telegraph:

Newman has since been subjected to abuse online, but has defended herself tweeting: “I thoroughly enjoyed my bout with Jordan Peterson as did hundreds of thousands of our viewers. Viva feminism, viva free speech.”

Here’s a tweet by Nicholas Christakis, who you’ll remember from the Halloween fracas at Yale

 

105 Comments

  1. bundorgarden
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Well, according to The Guardian, Channel 4 has had to call in security because the hate mail against Ms Newman has been so extreme after this interview.I guess that is one way to try to save face…

  2. Ed Collins
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    I saw one interview with him about religion and read another.
    In the written one – he says he doesn’t believe in god, but is afraid he might exsist.
    Same with the video interview. He talks a lot about religion, but never seems to actually admit to it.

  3. Mark Reaume
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    sub

  4. DW
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Peterson is super coy about his own religious views. I’m not entirely certain what his position is, though he clearly has a fascination with religion, that is not necessarily the same as believing. I’ve never heard him talk about new atheists, do you have a link?

    My biggest problems with Peterson is that he reads WAY too much into some things (you should hear him go off into some crazy stuff about Disney movies; and he reads the bible the same way) and that he has some MASSIVE blind spots.

    He once related a story of himself as a young man essentially torturing someone until they left the worksite he was at in his words “because he couldn’t take a joke” when Peterson gave him a demeaning nickname and the man was annoyed by it, so Peterson and his friends literally through rocks at him until the guy just left. And Peterson thinks this was an endearing story about how people should learn to take a joke.

    On other things, he thinks quite clearly and has some very good insights, as well as managing to maintain composure far better than I could.

    • sang1ee
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      After hearing him trying to defend his silly definition of truth in a podcast with Sam Harris, I can’t help but view this character with suspicion in everything else. He sounds like he loves to hear himself talk and reasons like a theologian. I’m probably unfairly avoiding him because of bad first impressions but he rubs me the wrong way.

      Sam’s supposed to have an event with this fellow in the near future. He should be an ass and ask him to clarify his definition of truth once again, in front of a live audience.

      • Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the podcast reference. I am going to check it out. Here’s the podcast: https://samharris.org/podcasts/what-is-true/ and here’s Sam Harris’s take on it afterwards: https://samharris.org/speaking-of-truth-with-jordan-b.-peterson/

        • azirahael
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

          JP is very coy about his beliefs.
          One common conjecture is that he’s not religious, but at some point is going to run for office, and doesn’t want to be an ATHEIST when he does it.

          Though he has said that he thinks that a person ‘fully in line with the logos’ could resurrect themselves, so maybe he’s a woowoo pedeler.

          TBH, i think he’s brilliant in the psychological demesne, but is a little crazy when dealing with religion.

          • Martin Levin
            Posted January 23, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

            Actually, being a non-believer doesn’t generally hurt you in running for office in Canada. That said, waht evidence is there that Peterson has any interest in doing so?

            • Mark Reaume
              Posted January 23, 2018 at 10:51 am | Permalink

              I recall in one of his YouTube videos he mentioned that he had some interest in running for office at one point, but for various reasons has ruled it out. I don’t recall if he expanded on it more than that.

              • Travis
                Posted January 23, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

                His reason was that he felt he could be more helpful sticking to his clinical role and outreach outside of political positions. I think this is trivially obvious, too, for someone in his position. Politics is 90% a waste of time

      • Posted January 22, 2018 at 7:23 am | Permalink

        “I’m probably unfairly avoiding him because of bad first impressions but he rubs me the wrong way.”

        Give him a second chance. I had the exact same reaction to you after listening to him on the first Sam Harris podcast. In fact, I found JP to be such a space cadet on that one, I didn’t listen to the second podcast!

        But after searching around on Youtube for a certain topic, one of his videos popped up and I gave him a second chance. I’m glad I did – on several issues he seems quite clear-thinking.

        I still think though that his notion of “Darwinian truth” is utterly bizarre.

        • Posted January 22, 2018 at 7:24 am | Permalink

          I should say “exact same reaction AS you”

    • Posted January 22, 2018 at 6:31 am | Permalink

      Jordan Peterson is not remotely coy about his religious views. He has hours of lectures on them. And–to an atheist like myself who is interested in how 95% of his fellow humans think, they are well worth a look

      These can be viewed independently of the other things he says (as can anyones views)

      • Posted January 22, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

        Agreed. There are were (still are?) good evolutionary biologists that were Marxists. But that didn’t stop me from paying attention to them on evolutionary biology.

    • Brit
      Posted January 28, 2018 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      “Peterson literally through (sic) rocks at him”

      Do you have a reference or link for this accusation?

      I can just about imagine Peterson using it as an example of his own malevolence, but your interpretation – he was using it to show how people should learn to take a joke – just doesn’t fit.

      I’m inclined to think you are either mistaken or malevolent yourself toward Peterson.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    She makes an interview like a bad version of Abbott and Costello (baseball skit)

  6. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been doing a lot reading/viewing about Jordan Peterson’s views recently. My current best explanation (which may change) is that Peterson accepts science facts and theories, particularly evolution and biology, as a ‘true foundation’.

    He then layers the *meanings* of myths, religions, archetypes, historical events, and his own clinical experience on top of the science foundation as a way of illuminating how individuals might improve their lives within their social landscapes. He steers clear of detailing his own beliefs although he often uses myths from the Bible in his presentations because they are a common cultural background to his audiences.

    He has problems with Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins – not because what they say is wrong but because they promote rationality at the expense of helpful guidance about meaning from other sources.

    Not so much NOMA as Discrete Layered Magisteria in my view.

    • Kevin Yancey
      Posted January 25, 2018 at 2:31 am | Permalink

      He absolutely believes in science. He also thinks there is wisdom behind religious mythology that can teach us about our nature, that humans evolved a tendency towards religion belief for a reason (not a terrible accident and Dawkins claims), and that religious belief itself is useful to motivate people to work for the greater good, even if those beliefs aren’t literally true.

      Atheists like to think that people would be less evil to each other if religion didn’t exist. Jordan himself acknowledges “I learned why people wage war – why the desire to maintain, protect and expand the domain of belief motivates even the most incomprehensible acts of group-fostered oppression and cruelty – and what might be done to ameliorate this tendency, despite its universality.” But, Jordan thinks that thinks humans, on average, would be worse to each if religion didn’t exist: that its necessary. He made some great points in one of his interviews (with Dave Rubin, I think) where he talks about why humans evolved dominance hierarchies, how they function among primates to promote the behaviors that promote the well being of the group, and then made the point that god is the ideal at the top of the human dominance hierarchy. My words can’t really do what Peterson said justice, but atheists in the comments were impressed by what he said, even those that disagreed.

  7. garthdaisy
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Peterson is an extremely articulate Jungian Pragmatist. His take on religion seems to be that it is useful and represents “truth” in the pragmatist sense as it reveals our evolved nature for hierarchal societies with classic archetypal heroes.

    As far as I can tell he does not believe in a literal God. He has major disagreements with “new atheists” but I see no evidence that he hates them. Annoyed by them maybe. I would fall into his category of “new atheist” so I disagree with him on those points.

    • Posted January 21, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      He’s criticized Sam Harris but also had some productive and civil conversations with Harris.

    • Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure what a ‘pragmatic’ truth is. There might be pragmatic limits to enquiry but that’s a different matter.

      • Posted January 22, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        Think William James (an underappreciated subjectivist in a lot of ways).

        • Posted January 22, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

          (Oh, in case it isn’t obvious, there is no such thing, but James is to blame for some of the currency in the view that there is.)

  8. Posted January 21, 2018 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    In the video he says we diverged from “lobsters” about 350 million years ago. I suppose he means we share a common ancestor from that time but it’s surely much older than that.

  9. Posted January 21, 2018 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I’ve seen some feminist critics attacking her (male) producer for putting her in this position because any incompetence can’t possibly be placed at her door.

    • Posted January 21, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Radical feminism yet again infantilizes women.

      • Travis
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        Standard example of people, but especially feminists applying hypoagency to women and hyperagency to men

    • Posted January 22, 2018 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      So basically they admit she was poor, but can’t bring themselves to bring her to account for her own performance.

    • Kendall
      Posted January 22, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      I’ve seen that argument, along with people trying to present Peterson as a bully and Newman as his victim. To me it just seems incredibly patronising toward her.

      I wonder if Newman actually appreciates being treated like that by her own “side”?

  10. Posted January 21, 2018 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Peterson is entirely accurate about the causes of the gender wage gap, the bulk of which is due to individual choices, only a tiny fraction left unexplained — possibly due to discrimination but unexplained.

    In response to why so few women are senior executives or in the board room, Peterson notes that very few people at all want that extreme lifestyle, and the few who do tend to be men. He briefly mentions the reason behind this: that while the medians are generally the same, the distribution spreads of male vs. female traits vary, with the male ‘bell curves’ having wider tails.

    All this seemed over Newman’s head, and she reflexively fell back on radical feminist dogma that there are no real sex differences, ergo any observed differences in outcome must be due to The Patriarchy™ holding back women.

    • Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      Imagine an arts programme decided the best person to interview, say, Margaret Atwood, was a statistician. Most of us would think that was absurd.

      Yet news producers think having an English Lit graduate challenge a clinical psychologist on his statistics is a good idea.

      An Oxford degree on an unrelated subject isn’t a qualification in a different specialist field.

      • Posted January 21, 2018 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

        An Oxford degree in any subject should be an indication that you are capable of doing research and of critical thinking.

        • Craw
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

          So should an Arts degree from any good university. Anyone giving odds?

      • Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

        The problem wasn’t her field of study. Any good journalist should be able to conduct a meaningful interview.

        The problem is her blind adherence to SJW / radfem dogma.

    • Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if what Peterson was saying was really over her head or that she was pandering to her audience. She seemed to deliberately misinterpret his statements over and over again in much the same way. If she wasn’t pandering, making real mistakes and learning nothing about Peterson’s arguments, she would have to be quite unintelligent which I doubt.

      • Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

        People who’ve never have to question their beliefs are quite often stupefied when presented with reasonable, persuasive evidence to the contrary.

      • bundorgarden
        Posted January 22, 2018 at 1:04 am | Permalink

        Well if she thought she was pandering to her audience, she made a big mistake. Look how the audience has reacted!!

        • Posted January 22, 2018 at 11:35 am | Permalink

          Sure but don’t you think she loves that? I, for example, didn’t know of either the interviewer or interviewee until reading this post. My guess is both have gained mightily from the exposure generated by this one interview. On the other hand, perhaps she is already well known in the UK. I wouldn’t know.

          Notwithstanding the pandering, I have no problem with either one boosting their careers this way. It might have been even better if she had been more prepared to argue at his level. On the other hand, it might not have been very controversial and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

          • Posted January 22, 2018 at 11:50 am | Permalink

            Paul, Cathy Newman is very well-known in the UK, co-presenter of the generally well-regarded Channel 4 News, and in no particular need of further exposure (unless of course she herself especially seeks it).

            I think the simplest explanation is probably the right one: she under-prepared and did not do her homework on Peterson. The speed with which she inaccurately recapped Peterson’s ideas to a broadly third wave feminist interpretation indicates to me that these are her genuinely-held opinions: and not the journalistic tic of stating contrary ideas in order to draw out an interviewee’s train of thought. It is extremely difficult to recapitulate someone’s ideas to correlate with a philosophy with which one does not agree.

            • Posted January 22, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

              Ok. I withdraw the benefit-of-the-doubt I had offered previously. I now fall back on my hope that at least some of her audience was enlightened by Peterson’s answers.

  11. Christopher
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Interesting that many of the comments here are about Peterson’s religious views rather than the video, but whatever.

    What I found interesting in the video was the inability of Newman to comprehend what Peterson kept saying about equality of outcome vs. equality of opportunity. This is something that shows up often in arguments about gender equality. It seems that there is a disconnect for those on the regressive left wherein they fail to understand that having 50/50 participation in every area of employment or education is not necessarily equal, nor is having any other ratio of participation necessarily an indication of inequality. Forcing people of either gender(or sex) to either pursue or eschew a particular vocation to attain a 50/50 ratio would not be equality. It would be authoritarian control and undermine personal freedom, which to me would be unacceptable. I wish a regressive leftist would explain why forcing individuals to do or not do a particular career is their definition of equality.

    • Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      If people were genuinely interested in equality of outcome they wouldn’t be arguing for a 50/50 split in top jobs, they’d be arguing that the staff on the shop floor were paid as much as the board members.

      You could split the top jobs equally between men and women and make those jobs reflect the exact percentages of ethnic minorities, sexual orientations, religions, disabilities, and whatever, and you’d still make society no more ‘equal’.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Whenever I get involved in debates about sex or gender ratios in employment I always ask: “If there was no unwarranted discrimination what *should* the ratio be?”

      The answer then gives a pointer to the underlying assumptions about ‘equality’.

      • Travis
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        I try making this point but detractors seem incapable of thinking that either it should be 50/50 OR that skewing it artificially towards 50/50 is somehow better…

        This betrays the fact that they think discrimination only goes one direction. Maybe instead of for ex/ 70/30 it should be 75/25 in a particular occupation (if we somehow magically remove culture from the equation)

      • Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        It’s a good question but I suspect the answer is often “equal”. Many don’t seem to be able to get past “Men and women are equal, right?” All nuance is lost.

    • danstarfish
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      I found her incomprehension both interesting and frustrating too. She kept expecting him to be some preconceived stereotype she had in mind and seemed to have great difficulty reacting to what he was actually saying instead of what she expected him to say. She was obviously intelligent, but so close-minded.

    • Ralph
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Well, I don’t think it’s so much a disconnect, as a consequence of the postmodern worldview that virtually everything is an arbitrary social construct. If we have no innate nature, then logically any difference in outcome is entirely attributable to differences in opportunity within the social structure.

  12. Rik Smith
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I was impressed by his calmness as she kept putting words in his mouth; “What you’re saying is…” Most (all?) of the things she declared he was saying were NOT what he was saying or had said. By the end I was laughing out loud each time she said it.

  13. Haris Basit
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    The example given by Peterson of a supposedly independent variable from gender(amicability) seems to not really make his point nor undercut the interviewers point. Especially if amicability is as strongly linked as I (and presumably Peterson) suspect it is to gender or sex. It would be like him arguing that race is not the entire reason African Americans are paid less — skin color is also a partial consideration. While it may be true and this trait is somewhat independent of race (perhaps whites with dark complexions and hair get paid less than whites with light complexion and blonde hair), it hardly seems like a good argument. What next? Will Peterson argue that people with higher pitched voices get paid less even amongst men? One senses that Peterson and his supporters have an agenda to make this pay gap about anything but gender. No point in bringing up secondary variables especially if they are tightly linked to the primary variable and only account for 5% of the variation.

    • Haris Basit
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      The existence of discrimination against males with amicability, high pitched voices or other traditional female characteristics is at best a poor argument against discrimination based on gender.

    • Ralph
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      Well, what conclusions you draw from the data are open to debate, but (your parody notwithstanding) it surely illuminates the situation more clearly to undertake multivariate analysis like this. We can ask to what extent the correlation between agreeableness and gender is innate or cultural. We can ask to what extent the fact that agreeableness is a negative predictor of workplace success is related to the inherent competitive nature of all work, or to the fact that (say) historically dominant males have favored candidates with characteristics similar to themselves. Since having female genitalia per se is not, presumably, what matters, it is surely helpful to understand exactly why being female that predicts lower pay in our society. It’s a complex question.

      • Haris Basit
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

        Sure, we can understand it at a deeper level through multivariate analysis. We can also make the assumption that when someone’s first reaction to reports of gender discrimination or racial discrimination is to point out tertiary variables they have an agenda that is more than just statistical accuracy. There are undoubtedly secondary reasons that might make orthodox Muslims commit violence against non-Muslims but if that is your first reaction to this type of violence I am going to assume you have an agenda of deflecting the conversation and ignoring the primary variable.

        • Travis
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

          “reports of”

          Yes, discrimination exists. Does that mean we have to or should accept that the unattributed disparity is all due to that or that this is a significant issue? It’s already illegal to discriminate as an employer, so is it worth putting in a significant political effort if let’s say it was a 1% difference?

          These kinds of issues are always going to exist, so it’s not like we can stamp it out completely. I’m not saying they aren’t problems. I’m saying that unless we can show it is a significant problem we ought not spread this fear that it is a huge problem, nor should we make “just 1 more” unneeded policy

          • Haris Basit
            Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

            Peterson wasn’t able to say that gender was not the primary source of the 9% difference. Since he seemed to know precisely the contributions from even tertiary variables I can only surmise that his reluctance to point this out was due to gender indeed being a primary contributor.

            In any case I am objecting to the assertion on this forum that somehow Peterson used statistics to invalidate the interviewer’s argument. Peterson, used irrelevant information about tertiary variables to avoid directly addressing the question that the interviewer asked.

            However, he appeared to be through the pitch of his voice, his dress, his face and his demeanor an educated white male. So, despite the fact that his statistical argument was gibberish the people on this forum seem very impressed. Look inwards people.

        • Ralph
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

          Does Peterson really strike you as someone giving a bigoted “first reaction to reports of gender discrimination”? I don’t know much about his work, and I may discover I disagree with him vehemently in all his conclusions; but after seeing that interview I’m certainly going to read his books.

          You seem to be arguing for a safe space into which data that might not support your preconceptions is dismissed without consideration.

          • Haris Basit
            Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

            I am the last person to argue for a safe space. I am saying that his argument was mostly based on superficial attributes of demeanor and looks. We have learned to associate those with authority. In actuality his statistical argument was gibberish and, I believe, purposefully, distracting. I am not saying we can’t consider everything — let’s just not deflect from the main issue using tertiary issues. Why didn’t Peterson just say what contribution gender has in the 9% difference. He seemed to know the contribution of even very small variables. He was evading and most people on this forum fell for it. My theory is it is because of the way he looks and speaks — not the content of his message.

            • Ralph
              Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

              If women are paid 9% less than men, a deeper statistical analysis is not going to contradict that straightforward fact, it’s not a question of either/or. The question that Peterson was getting at is: exactly what is it about being female that is a predictor of low pay? To take a trivial aspect of this, perhaps you’d trust the Economist to present unbiased statistics? See here, look at the green bars for the U.K. on the graph at the top.
              https://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2017/08/daily-chart

              That immediately gives some deeper insight. Women are not being paid less for doing the exact same work. Women are, on average, paid less because they are underrepresented in higher paying jobs.

              That immediately helps in taking things a step further in understanding what’s happening. We don’t need to be going after companies for “ripping women off” in payroll for doing the exact same jobs, we need to understand the social background to why fewer women are in higher paying jobs.

              I haven’t seen Peterson’s data, but it’s perfectly logical to then ask, for example, how much of that phenomenon (women underrepresented in high paying jobs) is explained by personality traits that are correlated with being female. And if the data show that X% of the variance is explained by “agreeableness”, it’s not either-or, that still is not in conflict with the simple original statistic that women are paid 9% less on average. But it gives us greater insight into the etiology. It still doesn’t speak to whether we believe gender differences in agreeableness are socially determined, or to what extent there may be innate gender difference in agreeableness, or whether we believe the correlation between work success and agreeableness holds in any work system, or is a contingent result of historic male dominance.

              • Haris Basit
                Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

                Thank you for patiently explaining how multivariate analysis can be used to understand certain phenomena. I had no idea! Let me repeat my earlier statements. Just talking about “multivariate analysis” and then focussing on minor variables while ignoring the variable in question or other major variables is a form of evasion. It doesn’t matter how deep your voice is and how nattily you are dressed nor how calm you appear to be. Don’t be fooled by superficialities.

                He tried to make a statistical argument by using trivial statistics when he had access to the direct statistical answer. He could have just said that gender accounts for X% of the 9% difference. That would have illuminated everybody. Instead he chose to mansplain (and poorly at that) what multivariate analysis is and chose a particularly poor variable for the explanation.

                I can’t understand why this forum thinks he did such a good job.

              • Travis
                Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

                Haris,

                Why use sexist terms like “mansplain”?

              • Ralph
                Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

                I assume that your first two sentences are sarcastic, but if you keep insisting that “gender accounts for X% of the 9% difference” is a meaningful question that Peterson was avoiding then it kind of undermines your sarcastic implication that you have nothing to learn here.

                The cited 9% was a difference between average pay between men and women from somewhere, possibly the U.K. (see below). It’s a difference in mean pay, it’s not expressed in terms of how much gender contributes to variance in pay. In other words, all of that 9% is attributable to gender; but the critical question is what you choose to control for.

                From the Economist report, If you just add up and average all working men in the UK vs all working women in the UK, i.e. controlling for nothing at all, the the gender pay difference is much larger at 29%. If you control only for job level, the difference is 9%. If you control for job level and company, the difference is 3%. If you control for job level, company and job function the difference is 1%.

                Not so simple, is it?

          • Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

            I agree. I think he was not trying to push a particular analysis but indicating that one needs to look at such analyses rather than assuming that the pay gap is only due to prejudice. He didn’t produce a breakdown of these multivariate statistics but that certainly doesn’t make the argument “gibberish”.

            • Haris Basit
              Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

              Interviewer: Religious texts are the source of terrorist violence.

              Answer: No, there are many sources. I have access to a complete breakdown of contributions and I can tell you that economic situation is a 5% contributor. Left unsaid: I know the precise contribution of the religious texts to this violence but since it doesn’t help my argument I will leave out this data.

              • Ralph
                Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

                It is basic statistics that when looking at correlations, we should try to control for confounding variables.

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confounding

                The correct response to this kind of analysis is not to dismiss it as agenda-driven. If your preconceptions about causation won’t stand up to this kind of analysis, they are wrong.

      • Haris Basit
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

        Note also what Peterson doesn’t say. He doesn’t say that gender is a minor variable though he seems to hope that is what viewers will think. If he wanted to make a statistical argument he should have just stated what contribution gender has to the 9% pay gap. Then we could have all understood whether the interviewer was wrong. Instead, he dredges up some minor variable as if to say that finding one other variable is sufficient to stop the line of questioning. In my view his intention was to discredit her argument with a specious bit of nonsensical statistical trivia that the audience could not grasp. By the overwhelming support on this forum for his argument it seems as if he might have succeeded.

        • Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

          Haris, I am agnostic about Peterson’s ideas but I think I should point out that you mislabel his “independent variable from gender”. It is not “amicability”, but “agreeability”. The latter refers specifically to one’s lack of willingness to argue one’s case for higher wages: the former, if one agrees that it is near-synonym for “positive attitude” which JBP also identified as a predictor of a high performer at work, would predict success.

          We do not have the evidence that JBP’s “first reaction to reports of gender discrimination or racial discrimination is to point out tertiary variables (thereby indicating that he has) an agenda that is more than just statistical accuracy.” One cannot by definition have a first reaction to a sociological datum if one cites statistics: one’s first reaction is a moral one, not the study of its pervasiveness. The discussion of gender and racial discrimination implies statistical evidence. To ascribe the gender pay gap to gender alone is to beg the question.

          You wrote, “Peterson wasn’t able to say that gender was not the primary source of the 9% difference.” That is not true. He said that 5% in the pay gap of 9% was due to the generally feminine trait of agreeableness. I agree with you that one would hope for him to know the relative importance of the 18 psychological traits to which he referred as predicting the pay gap, but that is a big ask in terms of memory and the pressure of a televised interview.

          You wrote, “I am saying that his argument was mostly based on superficial attributes of demeanor and looks.” By which you refer to JBP’s demeanour. I must admit to not liking JBP’s demeanour, seeing in him a suppressed inner rage, a sort of pallid Norman Finkelstein, but this was his most relaxed performance even though he occasionally flared nostrils, defense-mode primate-like, at Ms. Newman. JBP’s argument was not based on demeanour and looks: it rested on the analysis of behaviours and qualities such as intelligence, conscientiousness, health, toughness, agreeability, diligence and smartness.

          Whether JBP is accurate in his telling of the relative weights of the variable I do not know, but I do believe we have to assume his honesty in presenting his case while subjecting it to a statistical check. The consciously fabricating and falsifying academic, despite these tumultuous Haidtian days, is a rare thing indeed.

          • Haris Basit
            Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

            Peterson says that agreeableness accounts for 5% of the variance — not 5% of the 9%. He then goes on to say that leaves 20 other variables to consider. (Presumably he is implying that all variables are at the 5% level.) It is clear in context that he is pointing out a variable that accounts for less than 0.5% out of the 9%. On top of that he is saying that this variable correlates strongly with being a woman. He is going out of his way to not address the primary statistical causes while trying to appear objective.

            • Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

              Yes, Haris, that’s why I wrote “5% in the 9%”, and not 5% of the 9%: although, granted, I could have written it clearer. Let’s be clear: JBP claims that the agreeableness variable accounts for 5% of the difference between male and female salaries.

              May I correct you on the amount of variables which JBP quotes: he talks about 18, not 20, as you have it. Which of course, statistically is a datum in favour of your argument. JBP is claiming that agreeableness accounts for 5% of the variance between male and female wages in the UK, not 0.5%, as you say. I think you’re wrong. Yes, the conversation does lead one to think that JBP correlates agreeability strongly with being a woman, because on average women are more agreeable. I think this is his point: agreeable men earn less and that – agreeableness – is one of the tests of salary differential. Nowhere, I think, does he imply that other variables are at the ca. 5% level, as you averred, and indeed he implies that some may be given more weight.

              I still see no reason to accuse him of statistical manipulation and crypto-sexism.

              • Brian Tucker
                Posted January 25, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

                Indeed. It seems that Haris Basit is engaging in a considerable amount of mind reading regarding Peterson’s methods and motives, and (deliberate or not) misrepresentation of his arguments.

  14. Posted January 21, 2018 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Peterson obviously enjoys the sensation and promotion of cultivating a strong internal locus of control. However, he’s often dismissive of context and the vagaries of circumstance that have allowed him to adopt such a position of proposed “alignment.”

    This observation, however, is mutually exclusive from the topics discussed during the interview.

  15. rickflick
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    It was like watching a professional boxing match in which each boxer has a different style. Very enjoyable.

    • Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      It was like watching a boxing match where one boxer turned up wearing cricketing whites and can’t work out why the other boxer keeps hitting her.

  16. alexandra Moffat
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    she should replay the tape for herself and be embarrassed….

  17. Thanny
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Attacking or criticizing a woman does not make one a misogynist.

    That’s the kind of rhetoric that SJW’s use.

    • Travis
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      No no it makes them nazis these days /s

  18. Eric Grobler
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    “I know he’s religious and doesn’t like New Atheists”

    As a strong atheist and someone who is somewhat familiar with Jung let me try to give a flavor of Peterson’s religious views for those who are not familiar with Jungs ideas.
    (Note my English is mediocre but here we go)

    Jung/Jordan would argue (and I agree) that humans developed cognitive/psychological structures (archetypes) through millions of years of evolution. Some of these “mental insticts” we have in common with other mammals and some are unique to humans.
    From a Jungian perspective humans are religious animals and how these archetypes are actualized depends on the culture and of course if we had a rational and scientific upbringing.

    The point is that whether God exists (obviously she does not) is irrelevant to the unconsious irrational mind.
    You often see very intelligent rational people when suffering periods of psychosis exhibiting very interesting animistic like beliefs.

    If you are a rational stable atheist like most of us on this forum you are still vulnerable to beliefs and behaviour that makes use of this primitive brain circuitry.

    Thus from a sociological point of view, atheists must realize that if you have a society without tradional religions you must construct a secular alternative that satisfy the human instinct in a positive/constructive way.
    Else you risk substitues like communism or facism or a society today where you have hysterical SJW’s running around looking for the modern satan everywhere.

    Thus Jordan argues that Dawkins and Harris do not realize or acknowledge that “religious circuitry” is part of human evolution.
    He argues that religious fables/traditions play an important role in psychological development.
    Note that he does not argue that the stories in religious texts (such as Genesis) has any more value than Greek Myths, hansel and gretel, shakespeare or a good archetypical movie like the Lion King, just that myths/stories survive because they have archeypical value and are part of our “western canon”.

    My main gripe with Peterson is that I personally hate Christianty with a passion.
    Perhaps we should “design” a new secular religion for the masses and take Buddhism as a template! (Harris might be on board)
    I volunteer to be the first prophet if there are enough virgins on offer.

    Anyway, also note that unlike other critics, Peterson has immense respect for both Dawkins and Harris and as far as I can tell appreciate/enjoy their books.

    I think his view on Christianity is a bit romantic but I agree that Dawkins for example do not appreciate the religious instict of the human ape.

    • dd
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      That secular religion is already here and has been here for a while.

      Some people call it “secular fundamentalism” others “therapeutic deism”. Google Rod Dreher at American Conservative to find out more.

  19. Michael Fisher
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    There is a convo in the online Guardian today between Tim Lott & Peterson regarding Peterson’s new book. YOU CAN FIND IT HERE. Below is a quote from the article which gives an idea of his religious views which seems to be New Age Christianity – the best I can put it. Lott claims that:

    “God”, in Peterson’s formulation, stands in for “reality” or “the future” or “the logos” or “being” or “everything that isn’t you and that you don’t know”. And the principal discovery of early mankind is that “God” can be bargained with, through sacrifice – which is no more than saying if you sacrifice the pleasures of the present, reality is likely to reward you in the future. It’s not guaranteed, but it’s the best option you’ve got.

    Having said that, and noting that his lectures are purely about the psychological rather than the theological value of the Bible, Peterson is a devout Christian. “Yes. Which is a form of insanity. The ethical burden is ridiculous. God might swipe you down even though you’re doing the right thing. But it’s your best bet. There is a great level of reality out there which we don’t know and don’t understand. We can bargain with it, but it doesn’t guarantee you anything and God can turn on you. That is the thing about life. There’s no guarantee of success.”

    Does he believe in life after death? “I don’t know that I even believe in death! I’m not sure we understand anything about the role of consciousness in space and time. I don’t think the world is the way we think it is. I’m not a materialist. Whatever is going on down there at the subatomic level of matter is so weird that the people who understand it don’t understand it”

    Make of that what you will. I think Peterson wants the world to be fair & hence the confusing twists & turns he goes through. Earlier in the interview he claims that everyone gets what’s coming to them. To quote Peterson in Lott’s article:

    I’m also saying: ‘Look the hell out because the chickens come home to roost.’ If I’ve learned one thing in 20 years of clinical practice, it’s that. I swear I’ve never seen anyone get away with anything in my whole life.

  20. Craw
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    “So you’re saying we should barbecue puppies alive?”

  21. Travis
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Honestly surprised not to see any comments concerned with her “right to not be offended” comment. Is she insane?

  22. Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  23. Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    It’s also the interviewer jobs to tease out the positions of the guest, and be the stand-in for the audience that doesn’t know much about a topic, or perhaps has wrong assumptions.

    She herself was a good sport about it (at first). Maybe on that grounds, she did quite well. I don’t know how interviews on that show usually go, but she did deliever on that premise.

    At least to some degree this Peterson vs Newman argument (and Peterson won) is narrative. It’s an understandable story in a climate where certain nonsense is shoved down everyone’s throat, but still a story to some degree.

    • improbable
      Posted January 22, 2018 at 1:37 am | Permalink

      Yes exactly. It’s an interview not a debate.

      If there’s a misunderstanding which half the audience is likely to make, then it’s a good thing if she puts it on the table, so that he can reply.

      Did she actually misunderstand all of these points, or did she cleverly see that her audience would do so? My guess is it’s the former, but does it matter? Her job is interviewing people, not discerning truths. That said I agree that it’s painful to watch, and I wish that many of these entirely straightforward statements were not so alien to our pubic culture.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted January 22, 2018 at 5:32 am | Permalink

      I’ve commented elsewhere that One of the powerful aspects of Critical Theory, Postmodernism, or Social Justice movements is that they generate a lot of pre-packaged talking points and catch phrases. People generally do not hold complicated theories or philosophies in their minds, they reduce them to simple mottoes, rules of thumb, or indeed pre-packaged talking points. They often haven’t even thought about the catch phrases.

      ‘Patriarchy’, ‘fairness’, ‘equality’, ‘gender’, ‘gender wage gap’ are nothing more than bullet points on a PowerPoint slide. Trotted out with a condescending or pitying smile, just like ‘God is Love’, ‘God is Good’ or (my favourite) ‘I’ll pray for you’.

      • rickflick
        Posted January 22, 2018 at 8:20 am | Permalink

        Echoes of Orwell?

        • DiscoveredJoys
          Posted January 22, 2018 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

          “If you use the language rules that your ideological opponent demands that you use, you cede the territory to them.” – {youtube – Jordan Peterson @6:12} https://youtu.be/p4obxH2vSms

  24. Posted January 22, 2018 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    Peterson seemed to be interested in genuine dialogue with Newman.

    As he pointed out, temporary domination gives momentary pleasure but is no basis for a long-term relationship.

    Peterson doesn’t want to show up feminists with a ‘Gotcha’. He wants to build a society where they have a long-term place.

  25. Posted January 22, 2018 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    It was her job to ask tough questions, his to answer them. This they both did. Now a lot of us may think that those so called tough questions come from an ideology riddled with inconsitency and denial (I make no secret of thinking exactly this). Therefore we should be pretty happy that a calm, collected, informed responder fielded the questions that would be on th eminds of much of the audience so effectively. I really dont know what all the rancour is about

    • Posted January 22, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      I don’t know about others’ rancor but I found her pretending that he had said things that he hadn’t, deliberately missing his point, to be mildly irritating. However, this did allow Peterson to explain his points more fully and that’s a good thing.

    • Kendall
      Posted January 22, 2018 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think there is a lot of real rancour. Most of what’s labelled “abuse” is simply people making fun of her interview performance – the “so you’re saying…” memes and so on.

      I’m not saying people should be making fun of Newman, but at worst it generally seems to be crude gloating about Peterson “winning” rather than anger towards her.

      That includes not particularly articulate Youtube comments saying things like “RIP Cathy”, which have been interpreted as threats against her by some.

  26. Posted January 22, 2018 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    She constantly repeats the phrase “So you’re saying” and goes on to fully misrepresent what he just said.

  27. Posted January 22, 2018 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on jtveg's Blog and commented:
    She constantly repeats the phrase “So you’re saying” and goes on to fully misrepresent what he just said.

  28. Posted January 22, 2018 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t studied this interview in detail, but two things come to mind:

    1) I’ve seen a twitter thread with the guy. Supposedly he thinks “objective truth” means “truth for an objective”, which is pretty crazy.
    2) A psychologist who takes *Jung* seriously? Acccccck!

    • Posted January 22, 2018 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      So it should been like shooting fish in a barrel, but …

  29. Posted January 22, 2018 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    The interviewer spent too much time trying to prove that he was saying what she wanted him to be saying. I think his argument sounds completely sound and valid based on his statements. What I don’t know is what the counterpoints against what he says is settled research, if any, are because the interviewer didn’t seem to know. As a viewer, I’m left with thinking that he is 100% correct because she failed to produce anything counter to what he said.

    She had two paths here. She could either just ferret out of him a statement of his views or debate him on the merits of his arguments. She ended up doing neither.

  30. Mark Reaume
    Posted January 23, 2018 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Michael Shermer had a conversation with Peterson on Peterson’s YouTube channel, it was posted yesterday although I believe it was recorded several weeks ago.

    The reason I bring this up is that I was surprised by Shermer’s take on free will (around the 1:03:00 mark, they both seem to be a compatibilist. Actually, Shermer claims not to be a determinist. There arguments don’t seem to be very convincing to me. I think Dr. Shermer has been hanging around Chopra to much lately 🙂

  31. Charles Miller
    Posted January 23, 2018 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    You really should listen to JBP a lot more before dismissing him as religious. He may well be, but if so it sure doesn’t come across in any of his talks- including 30 hours of a 12 part series on the psychological significance of the Bible stories. When it comes to evolution, on the other hand, he leaves no doubt. The lobster story used in this interview is but one of many he has used to show how inextricably tied we all are to our ancestors. Ancestors he traces back in some comments even much further than the third of a billion year old lobsters. His view, or at least his view of the bible stories from a psychological perspective, are of a species struggling to comprehend a universe that includes such mind-bending concepts as the reality of potential and the utility of sacrifice in attaining that potential. Few if any on the scene today enrich both religion and science the way he does.

    • Posted January 23, 2018 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      I didn’t dismiss him as religious; I said I heard he was religious and that he criticized New Atheism a lot, and I didn’t like that. But I certainly didn’t dismiss his arguments in that post!

  32. Rupinder Sayal
    Posted January 26, 2018 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this interview! His views are refreshing, as I am learning more about the new (to me) ideas of regressive leftism, radical feminism and such. I am also looking forward to reading his new book.


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