Ideas and concepts that he and his guests have brought up
Higher education in the US is basically a pyramid scheme for wealth transfer from the Gen-Xers, Millenials, and younger generations, to the Boomers and Builders: the economic model of our higher education system is based on growth – eg, PhD candidates are training to become professors, but obviously there can never be enough professorships unless the education system is growing; true growth in the education system ended a long time ago, and so in order to preserve the system, institutions have grown in administrative positions, leading to cost inflation that exceeds even that of healthcare, and along with it, massive debt.
Real economic growth has ended for the US and perhaps much of the rest of the world, but institutions that depend on the growth paradigm are obscuring this reality.
A thought: a lot of people talk about the Clinton email scandal and the Trump-Russia scandal as though they are alternatives, which is probably due both to the human tendencies toward both tribalism and binary thinking fallacy.
Report alleges that Washington FBI office gave only a cursory look at Clinton emails on Weiner laptop in rush to end that investigation.
Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist (no longer practicing), professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, author, and speaker. He has gained popularity and notoriety for criticizing the leftist/progressive ideology pervasive in education as well as political correctness, and for proposing views of meaning, identity, human development, among other things, that have resonated with many people on the right of the political spectrum and angered many on the left. He presents his views as being grounded in both evolutionary and Jungian theory, along with research findings from psychology, neurology, and anthropology. He is currently on a speaking tour based on his popular book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.
My personal take:
Activists and journalists operating from left of center, politically, have tended to portray him as a misogynist, racist, and anti-LGBTQ by taking his questions and statements out of context.
The political swirl around Jordan Peterson has lifted him to prominence but also obscured what he has to say about living well.
One of JP’s frequent assertions is that the the current leftist ideology is repackaged Marxism, where race has replaced class as the basis for group identity; he then goes on to say that Marxism ultimately led to the deaths of millions. He seems to be implying that the current leftist ideology will eventually lead to millions of deaths, and to my mind, that sounds like a slippery slope argument. These arguments are pretty lazy, and based on fear. They tend to skip a lot of the explaining that is needed between the connections they are making.
People on the right have tended to idealize him, perhaps to an extent that is unwise. “Ah, look, JP said something that I agree with. I was right all along.” Rather than interacting critically with his ideas. Not a complete sentence.
When I read / listen to his actual words, in context, I find his ideas subtle, difficult, and thought-provoking, though I’m not sure whether I’ll ultimately agree with him.
Fav quote so far from 12 Rules: “You can only find out what you actually believe (rather than what you think you believe) by watching how you act.” p.103
A podcast episode in which McRaney interviews Lilliana Mason and Dan Kahan about motivated reasoning.
Basic point: Once an issue becomes politicized, our brains work subconsciously to maintain the beliefs that will preserve our relationships, group belonging, and identity.
Related: McRaney’s series on “The Backfire Effect”, episodes 93, 94, 95, and 120.
My personal take:
As noted by both Kahan and Klein, because motivated reasoning occurs outside of our conscious awareness and control, it is difficult to know when one is impacted by it. There is a natural tendency to try to make a special case for the objectivity of oneself or one’s own domain. McRaney, even as he’s describing the phenomenon, demonstrates this behavior when he writes, “In a professional domain like medicine, science, academia, or journalism, people are trained to pursue accuracy, to operate within a framework that helps them overcome other motivations.” He’s right that these domains include a framework that helps achieve greater objectivity, but I don’t believe he adequately acknowledges the degree to which even these “professional” domains can be impacted by motivated reasoning. (At least, not in that specific spot; he may, elsewhere.)
McRaney’s “You Are Not So Smart” podcast provides a great education the many ways our brains work against objectivity and reason.
Catholic exorcism protocol attempts to rule out possibility of psychiatric disorders as well as the less-serious condition of “demonic oppression” before diagnosing “demonic possession” and performing exorcisms.
Most cases turn out to be something other than demonic possession (but a handful do not).
Even some in the psychiatric community acknowledge cases that seem to have no “natural” explanation.