Jordan Peterson | Cambridge Union

(Andrew Downing) #1

So this guy came up in another thread recently.
He’s often touted as being a controversial figure.
I don’t see it that way.

Mostly, he’s not coming from a political perspective, though political pundits keep trying to put him one box or another. He claims for himself to be a classic liberal (much of which influences Pirate economic policy incidentally), he’s a strong free speech advocate (another Pirate value), describing it as the foundational right that we need protected just to be able to think clearly as a group, like we actually speak our beliefs into reality, and transparency (“Tell the truth, or at least don’t lie”).

He’s a psychologist first, but his insights into the human condition tend to address foundational political questions. I haven’t heard him suggest any actual political policies. He’s quite critical of the “radical left”, by which he means the emerging ideology of politically correct identity politics, who in turn cast him as the “darling of the alt-right”, but there’s nobody over there buying into him either, because they too are playing identity politics, and he’s against it, so he cops it from both extremes of politics, but the MSM is mostly left-leaning so you tend to see more of that. Some of media outlets have tried some quite remarkable hatchet jobs on the guy, but nothing sticks, because basically he’s an open book and that seems to protect him.

Incidentally, I have also heard him make a strong case for the left side of politics, and why it must exist. It’s like the left and right in politics need each other. Navigating our civilisation forward requires that we constantly explore diverse new possibilities (that mostly won’t work) and represent the large number of people that naturally accumulate at the bottom end of our hierarchies of cooperation (just because of the geometry of hierarchies ). This is the role of the progressive left. It’s right there in the name. The right are there to represent the legacy of everything we have already found to work. Again it’s right there in the name “conservative” - to conserve the traditions and institutions that work, even if they’re not perfect. These two groups are supposed to work together to navigate our way forward, not changing so rapidly that it all falls apart, and not clinging so tightly to tradition that we can’t adapt to change or improve our lot in life.
Thinking of politics this way, just imagine how well this doesn’t work out if we act as though these two sides are fighting some kind of ideological war?

Some of his work has drawn from Christian religious history and mythology, but he’s not actually religious in any conventional sense that most people would recognise. It’s more like a study of the value systems that were encoded into religions, and analysing from a psychological perspective why they worked, though if people really push on the question of his religion, his answer is that he advocates “living as if god exists”. His reasons for this are complex, and if you really care, you can probably find video of the many hours of him publicly debating the professional atheist philosopher Sam Harris on stage.

There’s a lot of people listening to him. His new book (12 Rules for Life) has sold over 2 million copies since January, and translated into 45 languages. He’s been touring the world, talking to sold-out concert halls in hundreds of cities, each with many thousands of people coming along to just sit quietly and listen as some old Canadian Professor talks about life, purpose and meaning.
At one level, it’s reads like simple self-help, but the core message is about how we establish meaning. It’s derived from his original academic tome “Maps of meaning”.

So, here he is addressing the Cambridge Union:

Make up your own mind.
Seriously, think for your self.

(Steven) #2

Well, usually when you criticize the radical-left for being radical, you get the “you’re an alt-right”, and when you criticize the alt-right of being radical right, you get the “you’re a radical-left”, lol.
That’s almost too funny to stop doing it :smiley:
#noborders #nonations #noreligions #nosjw #nomoralauthority #pleasegettriggerednow #lol #getalife

Thing is, @AndrewDowning, it’s kinda crystal clear that Pirates are very egalitarian when it’s about differences between humans, which is actually a leftist feature.
The difference between us and those lefties is that we don’t force upon people, we act and educate, not just talk about it. We’re not really politicians, we just created Free & Open Knowledge that will educate people to understand the fact that it really doesn’t matter what differences exist between humans.

A lot of radical lefts are against Free&Open Knowledge, they prefer spending their time burning Mein Kampf-style books, just like the alt-right prefer burning science books.

He’s being realistic. The left and right will always exist, be it cultural or economical. Enforcing each bring us closer to hell, and anti-democracy.

I dunno the guy, never watched his stuff. I can’t watch a guy that criticizes the Left / Radical Left too much, I haven’t seen him criticize the Right in such equal manner. But he’s good to have, anyway. Only problem is that nowadays the balance is not the Radical Left ( yet ), but it’s clearly being pushed by a lot of big corporations ( Apple, Microsoft, etc. ) and the new capitalist big elites. They prefer to create favoritism in the law due to the fact that it’s easier to control the majority. It’s a bold move, imho.
They know that by promoting extreme social progressive agenda, while keeping their taxes down, is the best way to create division, conquer and rule.
I.e. a political party would support such corporations and their tax reduction, their power enhancement & destruction of privacy. Why would you vote for such political party? It’s easy, it can create moral authority very easily. It’s not really a conspiracy to know that a lot of laws have the devil in the details.
For example what’s happening right now in Europe with the new Copyright Directive in the Single Digital Market ( Articles 11 and 13 )

It’s also very easy for someone to create division within a political party with such social agenda enforcement. You just pop the ball with I don’t feel safe in this place and just leave, you don’t need to say anything or explain your lack of safety, you don’t even have to make any specific claim. It’s more than enough to create division. And just enough for some to feel offended and start criticizing, going full-defense mode.

That agenda usually comes with “sacrifices”, and part of those sacrifices are privacy, freedom to choose your software from more than a few options, whistleblowers - like Julian Assange, which people mark him as a favorite of the Russians because he leaked too much american hidden stuff -, cancellation of democratic participation @ laws, administration - of course they wouldn’t want people to participate, they don’t make laws for more individual freedom, as always -
I’m actually very curious what happens when you protest against the enforcement of respect and kindness with the help of law and moral authority. What will happen with protests, where you usually shout and be frustrated?

Of course we’re at a threshold, but the radical left will view Pirates as alt-right because we stand firm for
-> whistleblowers like J.A. ( whistleblowers don’t have political colors, btw ),
-> internet freedom and free speech / no censorship ( some radical hacktivists - which become pirates in core - stand for full uncensored websites ),
-> net neutrality ( Trump, a alt-righter, killed this one because he’s a extreme capitalist ),
-> direct democracy / participative democracy, even though the kurdish people, also LGBT-friendly, helped us out in making a point here, because a lot of radical-lefts are batshit scared of Direct Democracy
-> Govnt. transparency / Open Budget / Transparent Budget system, which no other political party on earth promoted this [of course, generalization, but point is Pirates clearly came out with this from their mouth]

And let’s be sincere on how the alt-right always viewed us: “You Pirates are like communists with your Copyright reform! You take from the rich and give to the poor and hope to become heroes! Also, LGBT whores! You want to destroy our nation, borders and traditions! You atheists!

Professor Bret Weinstein explains on youtube why libertarian left and libertarian right should unite in efforts, and had a really bad experience recently with Evergreen social experiment, in which the college is effectively empty, devoid of students due to protests in schools to push the so called identity politics and political struggle. You can check on YouTube what happened there.

We’ve passed through that, we’ll pass through the other critics. Pirate ideology will always be about true Freedom, not restrictions :slight_smile:
Radical-Left&Right are for restrictions, we’re not :slight_smile:

(Andrew Downing) #3

Yeah, a bunch of us did this test a while back to see where we sat on the political quadrant map of left-right, libertarian-authoritarian.

(Please let’s not have that discussion again though)

We pretty much all turned out libertarian-left.
Some people claim that’s a contradiction, but I’m quite happy with the concept.

(Steven) #4

Bwhahaha, that quadrant map is so funny!

Because I answered the fact that I would support some economical corporate freedoms and zero taxes for corporations, it automatically pushed me on the center way down the line ( as typically Pirate )
My logic in answering that was: If the corporation is either Green utility-builders or Free/Open Source oriented, they clearly deserve, under certain employee-work conditions, to have zero taxes. FOSS/Green-oriented businesses clearly want the best for their consumers, that’s a highly logical thing, and one of the questions was if they want our good - I evidently said Strongly Agree. But my social quadrant was hugely to the left, because I basically don’t mind others’ style of existence.

Those are not extremely capable questions from the political compass site, they’re just informative good
I support it as informative, nonetheless, it’s interesting :slight_smile:

Later edit, same result again, lol:


Probably mostly by the left. He has been adopted by the alt-right, as he sings from the same song sheet on many similar themes. I’ve listened to Jordan Peterson for a few years now and find him very articulate, eloquent and knowledgeable. He has helped a lot of people. There are various things I disagree with him over, but I think it’s important to find common ground. I find Peterson more libertarian than anything.

He might claim that, but so does Sargon of Akkad and their audience is nearly entirely alt-right. And they use various conservative dog whistling terms like “family values” and “traditional values” very often. I don’t have a problem with that, as I’m a centrist and I draw from the left and right narratives. But when they claim they are a classical liberal, I struggle to find too many values they share.

So am I. But I really struggle with many on the left and right who say this, because really, they want free speech for themselves and not the other side.

Maybe being an atheist I am more sensitive to it. But, I’ve watched numerous debates with Peterson and Sam Harris, or Dave Ruben over religion.

Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris debate

Sam Harris on Ruben report on Peterson’s religious beliefs.

And it was funny to watch him wrestle with cognitive dissonance over his Christian beliefs and libertarian values over the Australian gay marriage issue:

Peterson on Australian gay marriage vote

The only other thing I disagree with the guy over and vociferously, is climate change.

Other than that. I like the guy.


Probably only since 2016 due to his intervention in an election. Before that they liked him. I have a long list of reservations over JA, but despite those reservations, I feel JA and WL are working towards a similar personal goal.

I didn’t realise that was unique to the right. I haven’t seen a concerted effort of the left trying to restrict internet freedom and free speech. The left wants the right to shut up and not have free speech over white nationalism, identity politics, virtue signaling. And the right want the left to shut up and don’t want the left having free speech over migrants, multiculturalism, political correctness, identity politics, virtue signaling, and cultural Marxism. They both want to prevent the voice of each other in my mind.

I would have thought this was a left ideal and not a right.

I would have thought polls show that all sides mistrust the major parties now, want more of a say and are suspicious of their motives.

IMO, the left and right have a lot of common ground, but are held back by the minor nuances.

(Steven) #7

@Mobius2011 I have a lot of “yes” there for your observations, but I was referring to the social radical left on internet freedom, no censorship, free speech, net neutrality, direct democracy topics
The direct democratic far-left clearly support them, like communists in Austria - where they allied with the Pirates to form a election-group exactly because of those ideas


I find the majority on the extremes of the left and right are hurting for whatever reason, are disenfranchised, confused, see so many contradictions and hypocrisy, that they gravitate towards some extreme form that closely matches their ideology. And most are followers, with no clear idea of what they are doing, the impacts, the consequences if their beliefs were to prevail or dominate. They know that they just have to rail against their perceived antagonists when if all their gripes were unpacked, they might find they are fighting the wrong people.

But I have a clearer idea of what you mean now. Thanks for the clarification Stefan.

(Joe Fury) #9

Strange, I just finnished listening to his audio book, Maps of Meaning ( It comes with a pdf download.

(Andrew Downing) #10

He doesn’t seem to be denying that climate change is an issue, more that:

  1. The error bars on future predictions are so large that we couldn’t tell if we were actually successful.
  2. We don’t appear to have actual workable solutions that we could just go do, so we’re spinning our wheels a lot and making it worse.
  3. It’s too politicised, so achieving anything has become too hard even if we had solutions.

That’s different than climate change denial.
He’s pointing out things that could be addressed.

(Steven) #11

He should start complaining more. Meh. We’re all trying here, and he’s just talking over it.
We can’t force him, but that kind of laissez-faire is not really good in these times on climate change, imho.


Yes, it’s the whole, I don’t doubt the climate changes. It has always changed. It’s just not anthropogenic etc. He uses some of the well-worn sceptic arguments that have come directly from fossil fuel lobby groups, think tanks and fronts. It’s no coincidence that the countries that oppose the science the most, are countries and people where the largest fossil fuel reserves are or relied on. Conservatives and progressives alike don’t have a problem with the science in countries with no large fossil fuel reserves.

For the think tanks and front groups that represent the fossil fuel industry, doubt is their product. The same product defence was used with tobacco to hold up legislation for 40 years. Or asbestos. casting doubt over the models is simply a delaying tactic to maintain the status quo…fossil fuel profits. I’d be curious if people who are suspicious of the models are also suspicious of weather modelling, construction modelling, astrophysics, urban planning, demographics, animal, plant and population movements, or aeronautics. Somehow for this one use of modelling, there is distrust, when people literally have put their lives in the hands of modelling for decades.

Another delaying tactic. Casting doubt. I totally agree that we might have it wrong with mitigation strategies that include a carbon tax, cap and dividend, or ETS, as these have the potential for massive financial abuse and gaming. It still doesn’t change the fact that the science is correct, robust and draws on empirical evidence from multiple disciplines and countries, not aligned with each other. I have no idea how he believes we could be making it worse. Anything that lessens carbon being converted to CO2 is a good thing in my books.

I agree with him there. It is too politicised. But it’s hard not to involve politics, when the mitigation strategy is so dependent on and inextricably linked to politics. It’s hard not to make it an us vs them. And Peterson doesn’t help matters by dog whistling and encouraging the political divide with statements such as "doubts climate change is man-made. “His book is scathing about environmentalists, whom he accuses of wanting fewer humans on the planet.”. The population argument is used by both sides and is totally ignorant of the facts of the matter.

Population is a problem. It impacts the environment, depletes resources and contributes to massive pollution. But it’s not the main cause of anthropogenic climate change.It’s CO2 per capita imo… We have a CO2 per capita use in Australia of roughly 16. Indonesia has roughly 2. So to achieve the same removal of CO2 usage, we could either remove 1 Australian, or 8 Indonesians.

(Andrew Downing) #13

Yeah, OK, his position on this is pretty sucky.
I don’t really know why anybody was asking him about it anyway.

The example he threw up of doing more harm was Germany, where they went max-solar, but it’s hardly ever sunny there, so the result is that they spent a lot and emitted masses of CO2 in the construction of new power systems, but they still have to run the coal plants at night (stop/start that wrecks them). So now they’ve emitted more co2 and the price of power is much higher.

To me that’s an argument for letting the engineers decide how/what to implement rather than the politicians.

(Alex Jago) #14

To which you will get the response: “nuclear, lol”.


Those against the science or with vested interests will always cherry pick things that have gone wrong with a new technology. I’m sure the whale oil execs of the day cherry picked incidents where fossil fuel had failures, in an attempt to devalue competitors products and cast doubt. You are right about solar in Germany though. Personally, I think that was a stupid move and thinking with their hearts and not heads. Germany has enormous geothermal potential for inland , wind for the coast and I don’t know how this is viewed in the PP_AU, but they could have gone nuclear also. Horses for courses in the application sense.

Australia, on the other hand, is blessed with massive solar potential, wind, geothermal, wave and even nuclear potential. Getting people off coal though is a political landmine with vested interests willing to throw millions at it to convince the public to vote for vested interest and not the public interest.

Couldn’t agree more. Although, while the right complains that humanities and various other disciplines at university have been hijacked by the left, as well as the whole education system, the left complain that disciplines such as engineering, geology and economics are dominated by the right. So either way, we would want to have assurances that these things are being looked at objectively and not subjectively, with the science and the publics preference for energy mix, not corporates. The last thing we would need is an Ian Plimer, Bob Carter, Joanne Nova or David Evans deciding.

(Andrew Downing) #16

What’s your take-away from that line of reasoning?
Are you volunteering to exit?
Asking others to do so?
Against immigration, because anybody that comes here will multiply their co2 output by 8?
Just anti-human?


Woah, what the? Hey?! Looks like I’ve stepped on some toes here by having a differing opinion, apologies.

No. But wow, suggesting I commit suicide for daring to have an opinion on the matter.

Definitely not.

Immigration is another matter completely and one with it’s own dilemmas. And no, I’m not against immigration. You miss my point about Peterson and well-used skeptic arguments, of which population is one delaying tactic or red herring. As i quoted from Peterson, he insinuated that the left is anti-population and want to have us regress back to Neanderthal times. And many on the right have said cliamte change is not a CO2 problem, is a population problem and only if we focus on the impossible to solve the problem of population will we fix climate change. Both are distractions imo.

It’s CO2 that is causing global warming and climate change. So if all of our energy needs were through zero or low CO2 sources, it wouldn’t matter if the population was double what it is now. Global warming most likely wouldn’t be a problem. If we hadn’t sorted out sustainability, I’m sure there be other problems generated by 15 Billion people. Had I realised a strawman would be built out of me mentioning Australia, i would have used another high CO2 per capita country, like the USA.

Projection much? I’ve got 2 kids. Hardly anti-human.

Not sure what I did to piss you off Andrew, but that was not my intention. I’m probably over pationate about climate change action and have spent over 10 years discussing it on various forums. I assumed the PP believed in this stuff:

(Andrew Downing) #18

Not pissed off at all.
Just checking.

I helped write that policy.


Perhaps I have come across with too much rhetoric, too opinionated or pontificating. Not my intention. It’s hard to help. It’s a passionate topic for me, as you can see from the last 320 days on other forums:

And I’ve tried to tone it down from 7 years ago when I first started on that site and forum:

Looks like I’ve got further to go :wink:

(Laura) #20


Engineer who is vehemently opposed to nuclear energy here.
I will vehemently oppose any nuclear power plant until the nuclear waste has a place to go (unlike now) with non-coerced agreement of the local population, all non-consensual uranium mining has been stopped, other uranium mining does not pollute the water and poison (often Indigenous) people in it’s vicinity, and all people who have become victim to ionising radiation, such as power plant workers and local inhabitants, have been sufficiently compensated, and the consequences of a breakdown, failure, mistake, cutting back of risk management, budget cuts, etc are nil. The last point seems impossible so there you have it.