Jordan Peterson’s ‘The 12 Rules For Life’ – First Chapter

Jordan Peterson’s ‘The 12 Rules For Life’ – First Chapter June 21, 2018

Here we are! As many of you may know I’m reading through Jordan Peterson’s  12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. I’ve already written about the Introduction and the Overture. And if you’re interested you can hear everything wrong about Jordan Peterson on this episode of the Naked Diner podcast.

For those of you who may not know, I’ve been tweeting my reactions to the material as I’m reading. It’s been a lot of fun, Disbelievers. What follows are the tweets (and maybe a few memes) from chapter one, Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back. As per usual, the original tweet is in bold with possibly some bonus material after it in standard text. The tweets have been edited. No one wants to read I’m reading through Peterson’s blah blah blah over and over again. You can see the original tweets here.

Enjoy!

  • A few pages in and I’m wondering if Peterson went to the Grandpa Simpson school of telling stories. There was once a lobster named Manny. The problem with Manny is he didn’t have enough pickles to last him through the Spanish Flu. Lucky for him he had a powerful tail.

 

  • I love how Peterson plays a slight of hand game. He writes about lobsters and wrens. Their species play a winner take all system in terms of social hierarchy.
    He says human society is like the lobsters. The top 1% get the goods. Peterson then shifts to academic/creative output. A vast majority of great work is done by a minority. The implication, of course, is that the 1% really do deserve all that money and wealth. All hail the oligarchy! Maybe this meme is apt?

 

 

  • Peterson implies the 1% should be getting all that money ‘cuz that’s how lobsters do it. He then quotes Jesus who said “Hey, those that have the cash will get more. Those without will have to suck it.” (Mathew 25:29) OK, this is a joke, but it’s a joke with kernel, no, a whole corn field of truth. Allow me to quote the book. “Sometimes it is known as the Matthew Principle (Matthew 25: 29), derived from what might be the harshest statement ever attributed to Christ: “to those who have everything, more will be given; from those who have nothing, everything will be taken.”

 

  • Peterson commends women on their ability to fixate on high ranking males. It’s a bold statement. We may as well continue with the quotapalooza. “The female lobsters (who also fight hard for territory during the explicitly maternal stages of their existence) identify the top guy quickly, and become irresistibly attracted to him. This is brilliant strategy, in my estimation.” Well done, ladies. Well done.

 

  • From the first chapter of Peterson’s 12 Rules of Life: “Eco-activists, even more idealistic in their viewpoint, envision nature as harmoniously balanced and perfect, absent the disruptions and depredations of mankind.”   Peterson loves strawmanning. Take note: If you want to save the whales, then you must be a delusional hippy.

 

  • Peterson argues for the virtues of the dominance hierarchy. He mentions being empathic is important because the behavior is needed in cognitively complex hiearchies.
    Teaching kids “Be nice because it pays off” is crappy parenting. It creates a sociopath’s society. Well, in his defense he is a Christian conservative.  :p

 

  • The reason why Bolshevism took hold of Russia wasn’t because of the Death of God or people didn’t read Faust. Rather, Russia didn’t have democratic institutions (like England had, for example) that take centuries to create. And there’s a meme for that!

 

  • Reading through the first chapter of Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. He’s making a gosh darn good case for winning being good and losing being bad.

 

  • Peterson argues we are, in effect, slaves of the reptilian brain (referring to dominance hierarchies). His lobster metaphor paints a stark dysfunctional winner take all world.

 

  • And now Peterson argues that not only is winning good and losing bad, but habits are important.I can see why his people think this is brilliant if they were raised by negligent parents.

 

  • And here is something nice I’m going to say about Peterson as a clinician — Every therapist should start with asking the client about physical habits (sleeping and eating). A person who is presenting symptoms of depression/anxiety may be helped if they get consistent sleep. I put this in italics because it’s an important point whether or not you agree with my take on the 12 Rules. Many therapists jump to psychological factors for symptoms rooted in physical causes. Nicely done, Professor Peterson.

 

  • The more I read of Peterson’s 12 Rules the more I realize he’s a conservative self-help guru with a better vocabulary.“Here’s some solid advice and guess what? I’m wrapping it up in some theological mumbo-jumbo.” And here’s something to illustrate my point.

 

  • Jordan Peterson states that in adulthood the physical size difference doesn’t matter too much. Incorrect. A vast majority of Fortune 500 CEOs are well over 6 feet tall. Height privilege is a thing. (A quick Google search will confirm this.)

 

  • It’s funny. Jordan Peterson is a Christian and explains why some people refuse to fight bullies. At no point does he claim Jesus’ teaching could be a factor. As a child I took seriously the teaching of turning the other cheek.

 

  • Peterson makes the case a person with a domineering father may become meek and not stand up for themselves. Is this the reason why Jesus allowed himself to be crucified? Yahweh was a jerk and Jesus couldn’t spread his own developmental wings? 

 

  • Oh my fictitious fracking God. Peterson is blaming helicopter parenting for the PTSD some new soldiers get. Wow, how freaking off base is that? To quote:

When naive people discover the capacity for anger within themselves, they are shocked, sometimes severely. A profound example of that can be found in the susceptibility of new soldiers to post-traumatic stress disorder, which often occurs because of something they watch themselves doing, rather than because of something that has happened to them. They react like the monsters they can truly be in extreme battlefield conditions, and the revelation of that capacity undoes their world. And no wonder. Perhaps they assumed that all of history’s terrible perpetrators were people totally unlike themselves. Perhaps they were never able to see within themselves the capacity for oppression and bullying (and perhaps not their capacity for assertion and success, as well). I have had clients who were terrified into literally years of daily hysterical convulsions by the sheer look of malevolence on their attackers’ faces. Such individuals typically come from hyper-sheltered families, where nothing terrible is allowed to exist, and everything is fairyland wonderful (or else).

That’s extraordinary claim. Professor Peterson’s clinical experience isn’t good enough to support it. His own opinions (and emotions) may very well skew what he observes.

 

  • Jordan Peterson sometimes uses the word “Being” when the word “adult” is appropriate. Example: Standing up means voluntarily accepting the burden of Being. Standing up means voluntarily accepting the burden of being an adult. Professor P. loves making things complicated when it’s time to throw his own brand of snake oil into a simple concept.

 

  • Jordan Peterson loves to put God drivel in the 12 Rules:“It means willingly undertaking the sacrifices necessary to generate a productive and meaningful reality (it means acting to please God, in the ancient language).” Note: Pleasing God means pleasing your imaginary friend. (BTW, you atheists really believe in God. You just don’t know it!)

And lastly…

Dear Professor Jordan Peterson,

Rambling on about the morality behind the Great Flood shows how emotionally attached you are to Christian myth.

Signed,

An Atheist Who Is Standing Up Straight


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