An invitation to Jordan B Peterson

A screen grab from Channel 4’s upcoming spectacular ‘The Top 100,000 Greatest Academic Minds’

It’s coming up to the anniversary of the first mention of Jordan Peterson at Cliscep, just as the UK mainstream media start catching on*. Readers will also be wondering ‘what kept you?’ because it was obvious to climate sceptics a year ago that Dr Peterson was someone to watch. Here was someone not only willing to get bloody in the culture wars, but bloody good at it too—and the climate debate is as much a part of the culture war as gender, race and sexuality.

What’s noticeable, though, is that climate has an inconsistent appeal amongst the new warrior stars in the conflict. Those that have taken to describing themselves as ‘classical liberals’ shy away from it; self-confessed conservatives (as the description must go) are braver and include it in the identity politics merry-go-round. So, Sargon of Akkad (‘classical liberal’) hardly touches climate; Steven Crowder (conservative) – check.

This is why the following video is so encouraging. For the first time, we see Dr Peterson—the foremost ‘classical liberal’ (ignore the silly accusations of alt-right affiliation by wanker journalists)—get a bit bloody with someone who wants to bore everyone about climate change.

But he could get a lot bloodier. Here, then, is an invitation to JP: if ever you feel you’re treading the same identity-politics ground and want new areas to explore, there is, as per this encounter, a vast continent of muddled thinking in the climate debate. For an overview of it all read the sceptic blogosphere who’ve been on this for a good while.

Otherwise, just keep up the good work, eh?

*to be fair, the Spectator did do a profile a few months back



  1. I found the first part of the discussion a bit dull, where he’s talking in detail about interpreting his own dream.

    It livens up just before 16 minutes, when Rowson introduces Peterson’s rule 6:
    “Make sure your own house is in perfect order before you criticise the world”
    and says he doesn’t agree with it, and introduces climate. Here are some snippets:

    JR: “My fear is that we’re going to be inundated with climate change”.

    JR: “Humility doesn’t preclude activism”
    JP: “Generally it does, yes… It’s not the first thing you should be taught to do when you’re 18 … and don’t know a damn thing.”

    JR: “there is a slight derision in the tone, about people who care about bigger-than-self issues”
    JP: “Not slight…” (laughter)
    “They don’t care about them. They just act like they care … delusion that they care”

    “I’m saying something simple: if you can’t make your damn bed, quit waving placards at corporations!” (more laughter)

    “I’m more concerned with the professors than their students, because they’ve completely corrupted the humanities.”

    JR brings up climate change again at 25 min, leading to more derision of people who think they are taking climate change seriously by going on a protest.

    JP: “it’s compassion masking uselessness most of the time”

    A bit later when JR brings up climate yet again, he says
    JP: “I’m also very sceptical of the models that are used to predict climate change.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yep, I watched the Cathy Newman interview first. Very enjoyable.

    JP: “I’m also very sceptical of the models that are used to predict climate change.”

    Welcome to the club. But there is much else here of interest. For strange example, I had a striking dream the night before last, and in the car to London yesterday was thinking “I really need to interpret this one seriously.” That happens to me maybe once a decade.

    I read the piece in the Spectator when it came out (again, unusual) and was unsurprised to see Peterson called one of the key intellectuals of our generation. An expert who seems to have some grasp of the limits of his knowledge, as comes across nicely in the climate case – though of course that doesn’t make him right where he does express an opinion. I like the way he relishes being challenged in both videos.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ‘What the hell makes them think they know how to make a complex
    situation work?’ Oh he’s good. Listen up you utopianists!

    Sometimes when I’m feeling blue, I put on a Jordon Peterson video,
    or Richard Feynman or a Brandenburg Concerto and then, like in the
    song, I don’t feeel so bad!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. ‘I’m also very sceptical of the models that are used to predict climate change.’

    I groaned when Peterson said that. It was totally unnecessary – tangential to what he was talking about and, as he had already said, beyond his competence – and it’ll brand him as a ‘denier’ in certain quarters.

    Did anyone manage to work out what he said immediately after that? I played it several times but couldn’t make anything of it.

    But an interesting interview. Not sure how much I buy all this ‘clean your bedroom’ stuff but it’s refreshing to hear people say things like that.

    The Newman interview is also worth watching.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Vinny,
    JP: ‘I’m also very sceptical of the models that are used to predict climate change.’
    JR: ‘that’s also fine’
    JP: ‘and necessary’.


  6. I’ve been watching with interest as he battles with the “ideologically possessed” academics in the social sciences and thinking how similar the corruption and sheer idiocy he has exposed there has parallels with climate science.

    Just because he’s been accused of being ‘literally Hitler’ it doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll start fighting on a second front though :’)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What I particularly enjoyed in Cathy Newman’s failed attempt to browbeat him was his statement that, as a social scientist you have to do multivariate analysis and that univariate analyses are misleading. Newman appeared not to understand those words. Would Lew? His analyses are zero variate as far as anyone can tell. With luck the Konsensus will now be along to defend Lew – he’s right but only in a highly mathematical way that climate alarmists can understand. Ordinary maths is always unequal to the task, unlike climate maths

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for this. If like me you’re not a fan of Youtube philosophers, go straight to the last minute, which is a fine bit of spontaneous stand-up (or rather sit down) comedy. In fact, he’s a brilliant comedian throughout.

    The digs at climate change activism were only a side issue to his savage and very funny critique of student activism in general. (“I tell my eighteen year old students: You don’t know anything. Hell, six years ago you were twelve..” )

    I’ve mentioned before the weirdness of climate wrinklies like professor Rapley musing publicly about the state of the world in fifty years time, when their grandchildren will be as wrinkly as they are now. It’s even weirder it seems to me when they try to persuade young people to project themselves forward to a time when their parents will be no more. We all project our own frustrated ambitions on to our children, but “kill the father and embrace mother earth” is a bit obvious. Or is the climate message: “If you don’t get your act together, in 50 years there’ll be no more coral, no more polar bears, and we won’t be around to help you out either.”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Geoff… Are you dissing the great and virtuous Jeff Harvey and Eli Rabett who want to leave a pristine Earth, such as we now live on, to their grand – children? Admit it, we live in a perfect world now.


  10. As usual, I should have paused for thought. As a thought experiment, imagine a meeting between Jordan Peterson and James Annan where they discuss the idea that the less certain you are about the impact of global warming the more you should do to avert it.


  11. Geoff,

    “Hell, six years ago you were twelve” is a great comedy line. Completely off-topic, but it’s the number twelve that’s funny for some reason. Reminds me of the calculations that went into deciding the funniest number is 42.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. “I tell my eighteen year old students: You don’t know anything. Hell, six years ago you were twelve..”

    The guy is obviously an idiot who should be ignored. Unless you think 18 is too young to know, for example, that you want to be free to study and work in Europe, to breathe clean air and drink clean water, to eat food that didn’t involve cruelty to animals or exploitation of workers, to get contraception and health care when you need them and to be able to enjoy a good life. The idiot thinks an 18 year-old can’t know any of this for some inexplicable reason. Don’t be so stupid as to agree with him.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. 12 is irrelevant. The difference between 12 and 18 is between child and adult. And children can know things better than adults: it’s adults who teach children to become racist, not the other way round, after all. It’s youngsters who have nothing to lose who can afford to overthrow oppressive regimes, not their parents who have too much to lose or who ‘know’ better than to challenge authority. Your hero is a vacuous fool.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. And what I mean by that is: lighten up, Len.

    I agree the boiling desire to change the world reaches its first peak in adolescence. But it’s the first peak with more to follow.


  15. Len have you not read “Lord of the flies”, or, better still watched those programmes of children interacting with themselves without adult supervision? I’ll give you racism, small children appear to be colour blind, but they can segregate upon other characteristics (I saw one group separate on hair colour and length). Many of our “worst” characteristics are inherent (but also some of our best).

    BTW. I think eleven would be funnier than twelve. Eleven is indeed funny (you’re not even a teen) but ELEVEN! Come on.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. One thing that Peterson didn’t get, and which Rowson tried to express in his bumbling fashion, is the importance of ritual in human activity, which is odd, given Peterson’s interest in mythology. Peterson’s advice to first tidy your room, and only then march to save the world, is fine if you want to indulge in the god-like activity of changing the world, but most people don’t. They want to join a cult and follow the god in procession. It’s a good excuse for not having time to tidy your room.

    Jane Harrison expressed this well in about 1900, before she’d read Freud, when she said, talking of the myth of Perseus and the Gorgon’s head: First comes the dance, then the mask, then lastly the myth of the hero who slays the monster to explain the mask. Or, in modern terms, first comes the march to save the world, then the Cause, then the peer-reviewed science to justify the Cause.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Beth. In Mann’s Hockeystick Revolution no one was safe from the attacks of
    The Green Guard Brigade – no safe spaces at Queen Mary University or
    anywhere else.


  18. The ol’ perversion of the institutions trick, Alan, equality in law, protection –
    of – free -speech – in – L – A – W for all. Oh Gramsci, oh man!


  19. Len, you know the point and now hope to keep everyone from seeing it.
    You are usually better at sounding sincere.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Paul
    I don’t know quite how to take that. At least I wouldn’t make Rowson’s mistake of continually insisting on Peterson’s intellectual superiority, and then continually interrupting him. I know nothing about Peterson. People talk about him as if he’s a figurehead of the new right, but does he have to be? From the little I’ve seen on Youtube, he’s a scientist with an infectious way of demonstrating his own intellectual curiosity. That’s a talent, but you have to have the intellectual curiosity in the first place. He has. I can think of a few who haven’t.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Geoff:

    People talk about him as if he’s a figurehead of the new right, but does he have to be?

    Not at all. I much prefer your “scientist with an infectious way of demonstrating his own intellectual curiosity.”

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Anyone who doesn’t think 18 year olds are idiots is either yet to be 18, or probably reached their intellectual ceiling at 6.

    Freedom to travel and work is only any good as an aspiration if there are the means to travel — i.e. money and fossil fuels — and not Eurozone counties with youth unemployment rising to 43% (Greece). they might as well want for 100% employment. All well and good as far as wants divorced from means is concerned. But it turns out that wants are easier to produce than means.

    It also turns out that, as noble as the 18 year old’s desire for food that didn’t involve ‘exploitation of workers’ is, the only thing worse than being exploited is not being exploited. That’s a lesson that’s not on the 18 year old’s curriculum until the second or third year of his or her degree, the full meaning of which will not be obvious to him for a few years thereafter, unless he or she decides not to go to uni, in which case the lesson is likely more of a shock. Especially if he is Greek (43% youth unemployment), Spanish (39%), Italian (35%), Portuguese (27%)…

    What goes for workers goes for clean air. All the clean air and water in the world isn’t going to do you much good against the cold, disease, discomfort and desire self determination to overcome boredom, if there are no factories, power stations, farms, and laws, borders and social conventions and laws to keep the whole thing in motion… As ugly as those things are, and as offensive as those things are to a new adult’s sensibilities, experience shows they are ultimately the worthwhile trade-off of nativity for reality. Which is why those insulated from reality — including the young, but also the wealthy — are more likely to be among the green tendency. They are in fact further divorced from the reality of nature they claim to speak for, than their browner counterparts.

    In fact, though JBP points out an exception: the young chap who seems to have devised a way of removing plastic from the oceans, at a profit, and has promoted the idea. We’ll see if it works out, or if it was TedX hype.

    I’m not sure about Peterson yet. I’ve always had an aversion (probably a hang over from being 18 once, and on the left) to ev.psych. But the alternative seems to be bullshit, naive piety like “it’s adults who teach children to become racist”. It’s probably true, only to the extent that, multiculturalism being the left’s racism, it is such moron leftism (rather than, in decades past, the NF recruiting alienated young men) which conjures the racial imagination in contemporary youth, rather than seeks to transcend it. That being the choice, my money is on Peterson.

    Being an idiot is the luxury of being 18. What’s Len’s excuse, I wonder.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Historically 18 year olds were only considered full adults by going to Court and convincing the judge they were mature enough to be considered adults before the age of 21.
    Watching college underclassmen over many years convinces one that there was wisdom in the 21 year old threshold.
    Medically 18 year olds are still developing.
    But Len likes the mobs, supports the mobs, and vicariously likes mob assaults. So he of course supports the anti-science nonsense thst 18 year olds are full adults.
    Heck, the way he posts he coukd easily pass for 18.


  24. Geoff,
    Great post, thanks.
    I doubt if Peterson is any sort if left v right thinker, but is rather a true classical liberal: hungry intellect, well expressed.
    No wonder Len and ilk run away or seek to shout him down.


  25. Heh 18-year old, you can die for my country and it’s been a year since you’ve been able to threaten me on the road; alcohol can now be in your shopping basket. Yet only six years ago you were only twelve but already I can recognize a few of you as my intellectual but inexperienced superiors. Ignore Canadian academics who would disparage you.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Alan, he does not disparage them. he urges them to make more of themselves, as he believes them capable.


  27. Benpile. I could be wrong but
    “I tell my eighteen year old students: You don’t know anything. Hell, six years ago you were twelve..”
    to me, although accurate, does not sound very supportive. Perhaps 18year olds have changed in the last decade, but I found most of them needed encouragement, not to be told they knew nothing. One might characterize first year undergraduate teaching as an endless task of dragging out of them an acknowledgement that they actually do know information (from A-levels or equivalents) which they can use.


  28. The good old days of blogging… from WUWT comments 6 years ago…

    it wasn’t you was it Alan 😉

    “Dr Kendall kept his integrity while his colleagues all lost theirs, as the emails reveal. This means, of course, that Dr Kendall is an excellent candidate for whistleblower – though I still favour the “miracle” hypothesis – but if he were the whistleblower, then I would like to see this man rewarded for services rendered to humankind.”

    high praise

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Twas me, but not as whistleblower. My computer skills are as they were then – virtually non-existent. My granddaughter sorts me out when I screw my ancient Kindle up.


  30. Barry just been revisiting that old WUWT post of yours – revisiting old times (although I cannot remember reading that particular one). I wish to thank you for your measured words about the BBC. It was not often we received such advice to help moderate the outright attacks then being made (and are still being made unabated) against the BBC and the whole of UEA, regardless of how disconnected they were.
    I had not heard of the story of Hazza and Gore. I privately rant and rail against Hazza’s climate bias but on other environmental topics I think he shows how good he could be.


  31. Like Paul, I found the first half waffly. It’s amusing that for the first part the interviewer understood what Peterson was saying (or thought he did), it was the second more meaty half that left him confused. I’m not sure that Peterson entirely understands the full implications of what he observes, especially the men/women thing. He needs to spend less time on the dream tripe and more on bouncing his ideas off people like Geoff, Paul and Jaime:-) And all the other denizens of Cliscep.

    He talks in the Cathy Newman interview, of men needing to grow up to be competent but then talks about how women might not want the high flying jobs and may be more happy being in a traditional role. Women aren’t doing to top end jobs for many reasons (as he says) but it primarily starts when they’re young. Girls are often let off doing the hard subjects. Subconsciously many parents and teachers don’t push girls to do technical courses. They are encouraged to aim low from the get go. Only single sex schools and rare mixed ones curb that tendency. When it comes to choosing a career path, many jobs are still frowned upon, when the ‘wrong’ sex chooses them.

    In the drive for equality and our new touchy feely society however, instead of women rising to meet the bar that men set, men are increasingly taking the lower path. Teachers are failing to push boys too, in a mistaken kindness. In the short term it is nicer to take the easy path but in the long run both sexes are disappointed by their career progress. Both sexes feel thwarted and under appreciated. The myth of ‘get a degree, get a high paying career’ is all pervasive and obviously wrong.

    As a society we haven’t thought about the career, kids balance properly but we are reaching the point where neither sex is grown up enough to breed, even if they had time between their job and their entertainments. Neither sex wants to do the housework or the nappy changing. And who in their right mind wants to spend hours with the dumb little dribblers? Neither sex wants to work all hours going, at a stressful job so that someone else can skive off raising the kids. And neither wants to surrender their future to looking after kids when the other partner might just dump them once the heirs have been delivered. Now all that is fine if those people can be happy with less (including kids). The problem for the individual is when their work ethic is lower than their ambition. The problem for society is more complex.

    Peterson taps into the ‘poor me’ attitude of some men, who having failed to climb the career ladder, blame feminists for their lack of adoring girlfriend and high paid job. They may be too late to ‘grow up’ and should have heeded the words at 12.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Alan, is “Lord of the flies” about 18 year-olds? I don’t remember that being so. If not it has no relevance. I should point out that a 12 year old could probably have fixed your Kindle, though again 12 year-olds are irrelevant.

    Ben, “Anyone who doesn’t think 18 year olds are idiots…”

    We weren’t talking about idiots. Getting to 21 or 71 doesn’t change people from being idiots – for the latter age it probably increases the chances.

    “Freedom to travel and work is only any good as an aspiration if there are the means to travel…”

    But there are, so young people complaining about restrictions on their ability to travel and work in the EU are quite justified. They know enough to know that.

    “…the only thing worse than being exploited is not being exploited.”

    Try being boiled in Marmite, being skinned alive or being starved in a Soviet or Chinese gulag. Or for more normal examples try growing up with violent parents or getting an incurable disease or being paralyzed in an accident. You imagination is poor if you think exploitation is the worst.

    “What goes for workers goes for clean air. …”

    We know how to keep the air and water clean. It doesn’t take magic and it doesn’t put at risk any of the benefits of modern society or technology. It just needs the application of appropriate technology and regulation.

    “…bullshit, naive piety like “it’s adults who teach children to become racist”…”

    Racism is taught by children’s nearest and dearest and is reinforced by wider family and their local society. Instilling it in children has little to do with politics.

    You seem to have as little idea as JBP on anything to do with why protest by youngsters is not about ignorance on their part.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Len I was responding to your highly debatable claim that children learn racism (and similar traits) from adults. “Lord of the Flies” argues it is inherent. This is also shown on those TV programmes I mentioned (forgotten the argument?)
    I’m prepared to accept that some 12 year olds could reset my Kindle. I also feel sure that when I was 12 I had skills and abilities that present-day 12 year olds mostly lack.


  34. You do realize that “Lord of the Flies” was fiction? A rotten book too – we read it for O’Level English Lit and I hated it.


  35. “But there are, so young people complaining about restrictions on their ability to travel and work in the EU are quite justified. They know enough to know that.”

    My daughter inter-railed round Eastern Europe with a group of her friends. She was the only one who could speak a foreign language. I find it amusing that so many of these people who complain about being shut off from Europe cannot speak another language and have no knowledge of other cultures.They want to talk English in other countries. That used to be called Imperialism and frowned upon.

    Keep dancing, clown.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Usually, because they’re so strident, aggressive, self-righteous and fluent — the same fluency Marxists used to have when spouting their Dialectical Materialism — high-level Social Justice Warriors like Cathy Newman are able to bully their opponents into compliance and give onlookers the impression of being cleverer and better informed than they actually are.

    But it just didn’t work with Peterson: he knows his field (clinical psychology) too well, and he has debated Social Justice Warriors too many times to fall into any of their traps. Also, he’s very patient and polite and coy — so despite the numerous points he scored off Newman, he never looked like a bully.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Late to this as usual. Peterson comes across better in the Cathy Newman interview and effectively demolishes a fair few tenets of PC left wing wisdom. I think C4 will live to regret giving him so much air time and publicity. In the interview above, I found this interesting:

    JP: “You cannot fix a complex system unless you understand it”
    JR: “It’s not a mechanical problem, it’s a social, cultural, ecological, political problem”

    Clearly, Peterson is talking about the extremely complex climate system which purportedly needs ‘fixing’. Naturally, in order to fix it, one needs to understand how it works. The fix proposed by climate alarmists for 30 years is patently, unarguably mechanical, based on an extremely simple premise: reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels in order to reduce the impact of said emissions upon future warming of the atmosphere and oceans. The ‘fix’ proposed for an extremely complex system whose workings we do not understand at all well is devastatingly simple. The IMPLEMENTATION of that fix has become a social, cultural, political and ecological quagmire through which we all wade daily, BUT, the essence of the problem is still mechanical. JR apparently fails to see that or else he intentionally adds layers of complexity onto the ‘problem’ which actually arise only through implementation of the solution to the problem and/or through philosophical/sociological – not scientific – contemplation of what ‘climate change’ may mean for different human communities rather than the physical environment. JR goes on to criticise Peterson for being out of his area of expertise when it comes to the sociological, political, cultural aspects of climate change – which is a change from the usual ‘you’re not a climate scientist, therefore you’re not qualified to comment’ criticism we hear so often from the defenders of warmism. But his criticism appears to be wholly misdirected because Peterson admits to being sceptical only of the mechanical attempt to fix a complex system which we don’t fully understand and of the climate models which scientists tell us adequately model the response of that system to anthropogenic CO2 forcing.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Paul,
    You might find Jordan Peterson’s interviews of other people the more enlightening of his many youtube videos. His discussions with Camille Paglia and Jonathon Haidt are two of the more interesting IMHO.


  39. Len. If you think Lord of the Flies unrealistic, I suggest you look into “Realistic conflict theory” to find different, and especially experiments done with 12 year old groups of boys in the The Robbers Cave Experiment.

    Incidentally, the The Robbers Cave Experiment is a near perfect example of experimenters inadvertently contaminating results.


  40. Len truncates what he responds to. Half a brain can only respond to half a sentence, never mind a paragraph. Therefore we can know he is an idiot — he thinks we won’t notice his intellectual cowardice. This leaves hanging also the question: “what is his excuse?”. Don’t bother replying, Len, it won’t be an interesting answer.


    There’s been some discussion on Twitter via Guido on a related point to this thread: the quiet shuffling away from Newsnight of leftoid bigmouth, James O’Brien (JOB). JOB’s interviewing technique was not dissimilar to Newman’s. The implication that it was simply too much for even the producers.

    Like many, I have found interviews on most UK broadcasting media increasingly tedious, to the point that I no longer bother. Indeed, the only point in listening at all to the clips that emerge for the BBC & CH4 etc on social media is to note how terrible news media has become. JOB was perhaps the epitome of it…

    As I pointed out on Twitter, bias is a red herring. it’s not that good news/politics presenters don’t have an opinion… They surely do. But they are knowledgeable enough not to have make their interviews about themselves. JoB is a terrible presenter because he is both thick and ignorant, even if he is fluent and seemingly articulate (in the case of JOB, as is so often the case, this talent speaks to the wonders of the British public school system that can make such mediocre minds as JOB’s, Monbiot’s, Poritt’s… so confident). He cannot understand any other perspective, nor that any other perspective can be legitimate. So he has to invent it as a story of goodies vs baddies, casting himself as good.

    Meanwhile, and in spite of my broader dislike for the monolithic BBC, The Daily Politics is an entirely different show. It has presenters left and right of centre (mainly Andrew Neal and Jo Cockburn, respectively), but who are far better at getting to the substance of debate rather than, per Ch4 News hacks and JOB, trying to humiliate their interviewees. In short, Neal’s vast experience and knowledge allows his interviewees to hang themselves without the graceless hectoring that we see from the likes of CN and JOB.

    Another dimension is added in the wake of the Newman/Peterson interview by Uri Harris.

    It was as though she had never heard arguments like Peterson’s before, and was taken aback to discover they existed. As a presumably well-read person, why had she not been exposed to arguments like this before? The answer, I think, is that these arguments have largely been banished from contemporary mainstream news media and entertainment. Only because of Peterson’s immense grassroots success has he forced his way into the conversation, which makes it all the more awkward when an interviewer looking to put him in place ends up bewildered.

    Harris goes on to illustrate the same evacuation of debate from the campus.

    Peterson brings into focus the extent to which public institutions have settled into a particular configuration, with a concomitant ideology — one that dresses itself in notions of heterodoxy and tolerance, but which more precisely and explicitly produces the opposite. He is also perhaps the first to have emerged from the wreckage of the culture wars to attempt a coherent explanation of how this malaise is transmitted, to have bearing on the formation of character (particularly in the case of young men).

    (This is why I think we can call Len a lost cause, and why I’m not troubled in the slightest by Alan’s criticism that JP’s message is ‘unsupportive’.)

    JP even ventures into metaphysics. Which is to stick his neck out in an outrageous gambit — (i.e. he’s betting on the prevailing orthodoxy, and its adherents being as medicore as I suspect it is) — in his attempt to tell a more meaningful story about life than the anthology of sick notes that comprise the extant contemporary equivalent. The fact that he meets almost zero intellectual resistance until he lands at the RSA suggests he has much more momentum left in him. I don’t need to agree with him to see that he is tearing through a vapid establishment’s hollow orthodoxies, not just a crowd of angry, blue-haired SJWs.

    Noteworthy, though, is the fact that, per Lewandowsky, he is operating more or less from within the ‘proper channels’. I.e. he is starting out from the campus, albeit while simultaneously being a ‘Youtube philosopher’ — a denigration that is surely the evolution of Andrew Marr’s putdown of bloggers in underpants, “socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother’s basements”. (Well, I’ll admit to three out of eight, Andrew, if you’ll admit that ain’t an impressive score for one in such a plum job as yours).

    Broadcasting media has been threatened by the upstarts who can transmit to the world using equipment worth just a few hundred £, just as print media and academia has been threatened by people who can think, access data, and offer analyses, without needing the institutional apparatus of a university or newspaper. Youtube philosophers, whether based on the campus (Peterson) or not (Sargon), they have managed to find an audience in ways that tired old institutions have not, and have engaged that audience in the process of developing their ideas, and shaping a shared outlook. The likes of Lew, however, maintain the walls of the academy as a defensive structure. Again, I’m not down with JP’s entire worldview. And I find Sargon a little too shouty and hasty. Nonetheless, what look at first glance like the culture war’s mere sideshows seem to have wider consequences. Not least, they demonstrate just how flimsy establishment institutions can be, and how fragile the worldview they proffer really is. You don’t have to agree with them to understand their success.

    Liked by 3 people

  41. Benpile. Not really a criticism of Peterson. I feel sure that in another situation Peterson would argue as I have – ” look you 18 year olds, you already know much, so use it”. This is not being inconsistent if you think about it.


  42. It is besides the point, Alan… Anyone arriving at the campus needing ‘support’, should do a 180. Think of JPs comments as less of a criticism of 18 year olds, and more a criticism of what universities have become.


  43. I’ve always liked:

    “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could
    hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be
    twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in
    seven years.”

    Having two adult children, this resonated with me.

    Ben Pile. Fully agree on JOB. I’ve never heard anyone with such a
    high opinion of themselves. Someone should inform David Dunning
    and Justin Kruger. If you want to ruin your day, listen to his opening
    monologues on his LBC show. Generally 15 minutes of how everyone
    who has a different opinion to him are morons/idiots/’baddies’


  44. Ben. You perhaps have forgotten what the first year of university is like. It is the great transition between where you are taught by teachers to a situation where you have learned to teach yourself. For many this is extremely difficult and the first year of university is where the greatest rate of dropout occurs. The fact that this huge change in learning is accompanied in many by huge changes in lifestyle means that this transitions year is highly stressful. Universities do much in terms of counselling to support students who might otherwise fall by the wayside. Sure many students need help. In some classes of a hundred or more, individuals can get lost or overlooked. Some students need all the help they can get.

    What have universities become? They have had to adapt from catering for 5% in the UK to now dealing with 45%+ of the population and have had to make changes accordingly. Throwing money at universities does little to maintain teaching standards especially when it gets diverted into research.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. As I said, Alan, it is beside the point. As for having forgotten it, I suspect my first year at uni was more recent than yours… I graduated in 2010. I was a mature student when I started, in 2007. I remember it very clearly. Sadly, the rest seems to be excuses, though I think we agree that having nearly half of all school leavers go to ‘university’ undermines it. Either universities discriminate on the ability of ability and attitude — which includes the implication that students must be ready for it — or they are not worth having.

    I think you are rather too hung up on JP’s point.


  46. Ben, a spot on description of what’s going on. I’d add Peterson seems alert enough to the pitfalls of ego and popularity to be nervous about his growing guru status which would also suggest there’s more to come, not just the usual bursting bubble. I saw on Facebook someone going to see him in Australia also wondering if he, as a fan, wasn’t getting a bit cult-minded. A healthy self-awareness. I’m trying to keep the Peterson worship down by remembering it was Ray Tallis’s ‘Enemies of Hope’ that smashed postmodernism for me. Plus, as you say, there’s the evolutionary psychology stuff.


  47. Ben:

    I don’t need to agree with him to see that he is tearing through a vapid establishment’s hollow orthodoxies, not just a crowd of angry, blue-haired SJWs.

    I totally agree about not needing to agree with everything the guy says. What one admires is the courage as well as the clarity.

    I liked Jaime’s comment a lot because to my mind Peterson really nailed the climate problem. (The reason I didn’t understand Vinny’s groan earlier at all.) Mega-complex system. Beware the gateway drug pushers that tell you, at eighteen, that you are already smart enough to scoff at the deniers and thus (by sleight of rhetoric) that you understand the system.

    Peterson nails the climate problem even though it’s really only an aside. That’s impressive.

    I don’t know enough of evolutionary psychology to know what I don’t buy of it. But, again, I admire Peterson because he won’t let people ignore really basic findings of 21st century psychology relating to men and women. And for his steely-eyed studies in 20th century Russian history and thus his recognition of what Marxism has now mutated into, in identity politics and language police. All good.

    Then there’s the dream tripe, as Tiny put it – and I don’t think she was talking food.

    It’s quite a striking example of how persons A, B and C may not get anything from one area of person P’s thought but person D may have a different story. Here’s D for Drake’s take.

    I’ve always been sceptical of dream interpretation methods but fascinated, for example, by Jung’s terrible dream of blood-filled fields in advance of the First World War. (The psychologist was so disturbed by this that by all accounts – well, Andrew Boyle’s account in 1967 – he gave horrible counsel to a desperate Montagu Norman, soon to be governor of the Bank of England for a tumultuous 24 years. That stuff may just have mattered.)

    So I was thinking more about dreams that I believe were significant in my own life. A series of two or three in 1990. One in around 2010. And one early this Tuesday. Of those only the third, which had adventure, danger, tenderness and loss, seemed crying out for interpretation. The others were simply great encouragement – what I saw then and see now as God’s love speaking. This was more difficult.

    When I watched the Rowson interview on Wednesday I, like everyone, I guess, was struck by how much time Peterson spent on the dream of being suspended high over a cathedral. It seemed excessive – but I like to think of myself as a tolerant, empathetic soul and I simply clocked that this experience had had a deep and lasting influence on the guy. He saw the cross as central to the message and that too I could not find too much fault with.

    He also nailed the climate problem, as Jaime brought out so well. Isn’t that all very strange?

    Liked by 3 people

  48. Ian, good point about heroes. I think those that needed The One probably headed to Milo’s gigs. As cathartic he might have been, however, it’s hard not to wish the show is over. (Especially since that nauseating show with Katie Hopkins).

    Thanks for the tip about Tallis’ book. I’ve not read it, but will add it to the list. I did read James Heartfield’s The ‘Death of the Subject’ Explained, though – brief extract from which is at – which is well worth a read.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. Ben. With the greatest of respect, your experiences as a mature student would have been totally different from that of a spotty 18 old. As a mature student you knew exactly why you taking your degree. Many undergraduates haven’t a clue – it’s just something to do.

    I was only discussing Peterson’s comment because Len did, and relative to what they might learn, 18 year olds do know (relatively) nothing.

    For a time I looked after admissions for my School, and I prized every mature student we could recruit. They knew the potential value of the education they sought and we hoped that rubbed off. Commonly it did.


  50. Barrel, speaking foreign languages is entirely optional for study or work in many parts of Europe.

    Ben, I’ve yet to find something of substance from you that is true so lack of a reply is a plus.

    Jaime, your JP quote, “You cannot fix a complex system unless you understand it”, is more high-sounding bullshit that seems to impress readers here. People thinking it is deep is like non-swimmers contemplating a swimming pool.


  51. Alan – your experiences as a mature student would have been totally different from that of a spotty 18 old.

    On the contrary… One of my friends I met in our student digs was an extremely bright 17 year old evangelical Christian — a year ahead of her peers. Poles apart from me, too, but we used to walk back from lectures and seminars together, wondering when the course was actually going to start, and if we had been ripped off.. Expectations seem very low indeed, in spite of the course & Uni’s ranking. And some of the tutors not capable. The frustration did wear off eventually, partly as a realisation that it is what you make of the opportunity. And the following years were mostly what I had hoped, or better.

    The question I’ve been trying to address though, Alan, is whether or not a spotty 18 year old should be there, if he does not know why he is there. Moreover, as you say ‘Many undergraduates haven’t a clue – it’s just something to do’… In which case, JP is surely right that they know nothing. I understand why you might want to be sympathetic to them – they are, after all, doing what they understand to be the right thing. Any other 18 year old, to which that statement does not apply, would take the utterance as the challenge it is intended to be: to develop intellectually, and to relish the experience. That is surely the value of a seemingly antagonistic, and very critical relationship between a student and a professor (or whatever title). The academics I admired the most, and got most from, pulled no punches at all. He’s certainly not saying “no tutorials and ban office hours”.


  52. I really enjoy all these people who claim that they love to travel and feel threatened that Brexit will somehow take travel away from them when they make no effort at all to understand foreign cultures. In other words, they are exhibiting false consciousness. They probably are unaware of the purpose of a passport.

    Liked by 1 person

  53. Ben
    “The question I’ve been trying to address …, is whether or not a spotty 18 year old should be there, if he does not know why he is there. Moreover … ‘Many undergraduates haven’t a clue – it’s just something to do’… In which case, JP is surely right that they know nothing.

    As someone whose task was to attract as many 18 year olds as possible (and mature students as a bonus) I thought much about why people came to university. Clearly it was for reasons very different from those that impelled me back in the early 1960s to go. Furthermore this was before North Sea oil when job opportunities in geology were minimal. I was at university because of a pure love of the subject. On the other hand I had all the advantages – small classes (6 in my year), staff who were able to take an interest in individuals, no fees and a decent grant. Later I got another (even more substantial) grant to do a doctorate and later still a post-doc. I promptly repaid this generosity by leaving for North America
    When I came back to the UK 17 years later, the university scene had changed mightily. The percentage of eligible people going to university had changed enormously but so had methods of teaching. Modular teaching, no scary final exams, in my subject no practical examinations, enormous choice leading to tailor made degrees, but everything watered down. Whereas my undergraduate degree gave you enough knowledge to practice your subject (two of my fellow undergraduates went straight into jobs overseas) it is generally understood that today you need much more training.

    That 5% is still with us, perhaps supplemented by an additional 5-10% who should have gone on to higher education. My father should have gone – he had a mind that would have blossomed. I’m not certain if the remaining 25-30% benefit significantly from the experience. However, the state benefits 25-30% of the population are kept away from the workplace. This academic year the tranch of 16-18 year olds are also removed.

    Did you come across an insidious practice whereby students wishing to take full advantage of their opportunities were branded swots and ostracized by their peers? I recall giving shelter to one student who wished to work (reading scientific papers) because he would be mocked by his peer group. This was perhaps the most insidious development of opening up universities to those with little interest in being there.

    Liked by 1 person

  54. Alan – Did you come across an insidious practice whereby students wishing to take full advantage of their opportunities were branded swots and ostracized by their peers?

    Absolutely not. Though I was not in any peer group, I would be very surprised if it happened in my class. I would also be surprised if anyone on the receiving end of it had not told their peers to get lost. I would say the average student took his or her work very seriously — probably more seriously than me(!) — even the ones who clearly would prefer to have been at the pub. I don’t think anyone with attitude that would mock or exclude someone for taking the course seriously would have got there.

    I don’t think that it counts, in all cases, as love of subject for my fellow arts classmates — mostly it seemed to be understood as a means to an end (a good job, which most people got — only I was stupid enough to think I could make a living as an independent writer/researcher). It must have been love, though, for students on sci/eng courses, as their curriculum seemed to require at the minimum an effort equivalent to a 9-5 job (lab and lectures), not including private studying. Students also seemed to get more conscientious, too, in the second and third years.

    Regarding JPs comments.. There were only a few students who I did wonder about, ‘WTF are you doing here’? A couple were clearly not equipped. A few more were not really remotely interested. But there were also probably a few who clearly thought ‘what’s weird this old{sic} man doing in my class’ — mature students were rare, and i was often older than the tutors in the first year. So as difficult as interactions were (albeit not equivalent to the bullying you describe), they did not affect anyone, either way. I would certainly do it again… Or if I had the choice to start from scratch I would do an Eng degree, and probably be much less fussy about where I did it.


  55. “Therefore we can know he is an idiot — he thinks we won’t notice his intellectual cowardice.”

    In the first place, Martinez is entirely unaware of the concept of intellectual cowardice.

    In the second, he believes his sallies onto these threads to posture, sneer and insult demonstrate what a big brave intellectually superior being he is.

    Liked by 1 person

  56. Ben. Thank you for your recollections. You seem to have had an exceptionally rewarding experience.
    The example I gave was the most extreme that I ever came across. However my wife did a second degree (Art History) when she was sixty, alongside a couple of similarly aged people and a host of teenagers. Their attitude to lecturers not turning up, or essentially repeating material was instructive. Most teens welcomed the opportunity to skive, whereas the mature students grumbled and complained. But then they paid their part time fees directly and were doing it out of love.
    I have heard people comment that universities should be restricted to those who had spent some time at work, so that they appreciated what they had.
    Finally most science degrees have only 15-18 contact hours per week.


  57. When I was in India, I applied to college as ‘backup’ (I was trying to get into med school and I knew I would get in). My application was rejected but the pre-university period before probably the best two years. I was mostly by myself, focused on studies, and spent a lot of free time at the British Library.

    Liked by 1 person

  58. I graduated same year as Ben and doing a similar subject (but starting out as a spotty 18 yr old).

    I def don’t recognise Alan’s ‘great transition’ to first year. In my (I reckon fairly normal for arts/humanities) experience you come out of reasonably high pressure A level period into a challengeless just-turn-up essentially unfailable year of how best to pass the time socially. I remember most of my peers considering it to be structured as a bit of joke but they sensibly used it as practice for 2nd and 3rd yrs.

    Unlike Ben my experience was bland to the end though. I can’t even remember any of my tutors names or recall any level of influence they had over my degree. I’d have killed for at least the chance to have that antagonistic, critical relationship, if only to feel like I had ultimately earned my certificate.

    Liked by 2 people

  59. Ben:

    Ian, good point about heroes. I think those that needed The One probably headed to Milo’s gigs. As cathartic he might have been, however, it’s hard not to wish the show is over. (Especially since that nauseating show with Katie Hopkins).

    I never saw the nauseating show but I agree anyway. It matters greatly whom we follow – and that we do so without worship. (I’d make one exception among human beings. A very strange thing.) So what should we be looking for?

    Those who have dealt with their difficult dreams well.

    Jung hadn’t, suggests Andrew Boyle in his biography of Montagu Norman, when he met the ex-Brown Brothers banker, and this led him to tell Norman that there was no hope for him.

    I love the ignorance of the biggest dream expert going there. Norman in desperation then found help from a ‘quack’ of some sort. That’s funny too.

    Peterson values Jung, maybe as some kind of hero, but seems to be more sorted at this point to dispense good advice, including to young men. And women. The story he tells Cathy Newman about the three-times salary increase for one woman he helped with assertiveness is the kind of bottom line one doesn’t often see in climate.

    To be fair, it seems Jung had foreseen the bloodbath of the Great War, just as Ravel’s La Valse seems to presage the coming agonies of Vienna. Not so easy to cope with.


  60. Apparently Newman has been on the receiving end of some abuse following the interview…

    The Guardian has more detail. Sort of

    I hope Newman isn’t on the receiving end of ‘vicious misogynistic abuse’. She got all that she needed from the interview. I also hope this is not an attempt to spin an extremely embarrassing episode for both Newman and Ch4. As for it being a “terrible indictment of the times we live in” – I doubt it. After all, we know that this is an era of easily-triggered snowflakes and safe spaces, much of which has been indulged by Ch4 more than any other. We also know, thanks in part to the interview, that the recognition of ‘abuse’ only works when it flows in one direction.


  61. Clamps: “I can’t even remember any of my tutors names or recall any level of influence they had over my degree. I’d have killed for at least the chance to have that antagonistic, critical relationship, if only to feel like I had ultimately earned my certificate.”

    That’s a shame. But I don’t want to give the wrong impression. There were some really weak tutors, especially in the first year. Some should not have been teaching. I do remember the names of my second and third year tutors, though, good and bad.

    The antagonistic and critical aspects were not routine, either. I was in the main speaking about ‘support’, either in tutorials, or office hours, or casually, after the seminar/lecture. I simply got far more out of tutors who did not pull their punches — rather than were ‘supportive’ in the more conventional sense. (However, Alan might be right in that I was significantly older, had experience of very high pressure workplaces, and probably don’t come across as sensitive).


  62. The sheer amount of commentary on the interview has to be taken into account. Already there are between ten and twenty commentary videos dissecting the interview with their own 10s even 100s of thousands of views and subsequent comment. I’ve read there are 500 odd tweets using the word bitch. As dull-minded and nasty as they are, this is a minute fraction of the commentary. Don’t we all know what the internet is like by now?

    Liked by 1 person

  63. Richard – I never saw the nauseating show but I agree anyway.

    Have a peek. Milo has robbed the face from Larry Grason’s corpse, and Liberace’s wardrobe (and his piano keys, too, it seems). It’s right wing low camp, comprising only in-jokes and daring each other to shock, rather than, as has at times been in their ability, to provoke. Or perhaps (as others have told me) I was giving them to much credit for, for example, intervening in and popularising debates about free speech and so on. I wouldn’t demand or expect from them po-faced treatment of the issues they speak of, but this did strike me as merely distasteful, often needlessly vulgar. James Delingpole does a *much* better job of exploring ideas with people from within his milieu on his podcasts, and is not at all needy of the listener. Horses for courses, perhaps.

    Liked by 2 people

  64. Clamps. I am pleased you had a pleasant time at university, but for some the combination of living away from home, newfound freedom and a change in teaching style is just too much. A small minority of those who dropout do so for other reasons, but where you might expect stresses to be highest (underprivileged, racial minority) rates are highest. Britain has particularly high dropout rates compared with other countries, including some who send a higher proportion of their population to university.

    “Six per cent of first degree entrants aged under 21 who enrolled in 2013-14 did not continue their studies beyond their first year, according to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.”


  65. Ben, Ian, as is the nature of people, given the sheer volume of public interest this interview created, I don’t doubt that there were some abusive comments. But I wonder, like Ben, if Channel 4 is not using this to distract the public from the car crash interview itself and to try to garner some sympathy for Newman, whilst painting her opponents in a bad light.

    From my point of view, I can’t see why many of her opponents (mainly on the right) would want to abuse and even threaten her when she has gifted them such a highly significant victory for common sense and logic over snowflakery and ‘social justice’. The right is in celebratory mood, so why would they be vindictive and threatening? On the other hand, I can see why a fair few extreme left wing fanatics would be very upset by her performance against the formidable Peterson.

    Liked by 1 person

  66. Ben. I think we may be at cross purposes about our treatment of the word “supportive” . I don’t mean some wishy-washy faux attempt to be friendly by those teaching undergraduates. I’ve watched some of my colleagues try this. It never works. No I was meaning the various institutions and devices installed to catch students before they slip too far, or to give help and advice when required or genuine encouragement when deserved.

    At my (infamous) School of Environmental Science the system we adopted was to return all written work via a member of staff who acted as an advisor. Because the returned work was probably not in the advisor’s subject area the advice and discussions were on more general matters and the advisor acted as a route into other support services within the university. It also provided a major contact that could be exploited much later when providing references.

    If I have any major criticism of the system it was that we advisors weren’t given training. In my time I had to deal with a student who had obvious mental problems, several who suffered bereavement, and, most difficult two students who came to me, seperately, in tears because they found themselves pregnant. I can tell you a specialist knowledge of sedimentary rocks doesn’t prepare you for that. But you did your best, you pointed them in the direction of more expert advice. But most of all you were supportive.


  67. Peterson has the long needed right of centre view of things psychological and sees through the left media’s puff but in many ways he lacks a decent opposition to hone some of his ideas. I don’t know if the psychologist mumbo jumbo is to mollify his field or if he genuinely believes it. The dream interpretation was total tosh, but he has the guts and insight to see that the majority of his field are on the wrong track on many issues.

    As Ben writes, social media is allowing new voices to rise to the surface and (I agree) with the exception of the Daily Politics, there is very little discussion that isn’t heavily slanted to the left on the traditional tv media. I’ve only watched the first half of the Newman interview but she was rubbish. She couldn’t articulate her points and wasn’t listening to his. Like much of the feminist movement she has no real grasp of the goal, let alone how to get there. He wasn’t wrong in thinking few women have what it takes to get to the top of the business tree but then neither do most men. Feminism is a tool that women are using to get to the top, whether they deserve to be there or not and despite not liking feminism, I can’t say it’s not a legitimate tool to use.

    In my opinion a lot of top jobs are full of men and women who are both confident and incompetent. They have the gift of persuading others that they’re brilliant, despite evidence to the contrary. Pay rises and job advancement has long been slanted on the pushy nature of the individual, not on their ability to do the job. Sure, some jobs need pushy people but not all of them. It’s a well known idea that to advance in your career you have to move companies regularly. Employers regularly fall for the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. So they take on a confident person who is unfamiliar with the company and the job and will in all probability move to a new job before they’re actually adding value.

    Would women have done a worse job than the men at the top of Carillion? Talking to someone who has worked on shared jobs with Carillion and their competition, the companies are competing each other to death. The men at the top are gambling that they’ll be the last company standing. Undercut the others too much and their companies run out of money. Boom, they drop out of the game. Don’t undercut and you don’t get the jobs. Boom you’re out of the game. That kind of brinkmanship is failing everyone. Those very clever, competent men are unable to admit to the government and their other customers ‘you’re just not paying enough for the job’. At the same time they’re making those gambles they award themselves massive salaries ‘because I’m worth it’. Those gamblers also use the profit from jobs to impress the shareholders when in truth they need it to tide them over to the next job. But if they time things right, they’re retired or on to another directorship before the previous ‘ship’ founders on the rocks.

    Of course the customers (eg the government) are sure that they’re overpaying for jobs so instead of choosing the most competent, they choose the cheapest and are stung by every little add on that the winning company can squeeze in. At the same time the companies are trying to cut costs by sourcing cheaper materials and labour. Which means immigration for the low paid jobs and outsourcing to another country for the skilled jobs. Wahay, we have globalisation… and a country that is secretly going bust.

    We need a new model for estimating how much someone or some company is worth than whichever sells itself the best. Peterson is all about selling, not so much about actual competence.

    Liked by 2 people

  68. One of the reasons Newman was a poor interviewer on equality is that she’s too close to the problem. In the back of her mind was the Gracie, Sopel thing. Does anyone doubt that Gracie should have been on the same pay as Sopel? There’s a goofy looking guy with no special skills at presenting and the remit of the US editor job. Is that such a difficult job when the BBC has a standard policy of fawning over the Democrats and sneering at the Republicans? While the China editor job doesn’t involve as many stories, they must be much harder to interpret and having the right language skills and contacts would be very rare. She wasn’t even demanding more money, she was saying Sopel and the other male editor were on too much. For what they do, most of us think the BBC news staff are on too much. BBC sports fans think Lineker is waaay over paid. Now are they paid that much because they’re worth it or because the suposedly competent senior staff are too cowardly to say, ‘you’re not worth it’? Are they too wrapped up in blokey comeradery or do they need the Linekers to justify their own inflated salaries?


  69. Perhaps it’s just that the quality of long-term news presenters on channel 4 News is very variable. Of those who have been presenting for more than a couple of years, the only dependable ones IMHO are Jon Snow and Matt Frei; Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Cathy Newman can, on occasion be abysmal.

    On occasion Channel 4 News can be outstanding. I still shiver recollecting Jon Snow’s report after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, with a plaintive Beetle’s record playing over the abandoned city (very apocalyptic) calling children to school. BBC, ITV and Sky sent news teams, but only Channel 4 broadcast the weirdness and commented upon it.


  70. Non of them are outstanding. It doesn’t take a genius to get the response to tragedy right. All of the TV media are playing at being insightful news outlets. Their idea of journalism is usually to badger someone who is already on the rocks. It doesn’t matter how insolvable a problem, they cut the victim no slack. How often do they see stuff before it breaks? That’s why Brexit and Trump caught them unawares. The ‘better’ interviewers are just more aggressive but don’t necessarily inform the public. We face massive issues that nobody will discuss rationally because those same interviewers made people too wary to say what they think and/or are going to do. That’s not good journalism.

    The top TV interviewers are on very high salaries, often comparable to top business people. Are they comparable? Business people have to generate money through trade, balance budgets and employ people. Interviewers just have to ask questions they’ve invariably had junior researchers investigate. Do those TV journalists bring outstanding insight into their discussions? Not on any subject I’ve been knowledgeable in.

    Liked by 2 people

  71. Alan, you have to be kidding!?

    Jon Snow is one of the worst news broadcasters, ever. Utterly self-absorbed, determined to put himself at the centre of the story, mawkish, over-emotional, condescending, moralising, crass, and self-congratulatory. Laurie Penny trapped in an old man’s body.

    His recent speech was the epitome of news anchor as campaigner. Zero self-awareness, yet astonishing self regard.

    I have to say, I am surprised. He’s also completely unhinged on climate change. This being one of his worst performances…

    It’s ‘outstanding’, only if you prefer your current affairs pre-chewed – bland and lacking any dimensionality or nuance whatsoever.

    I had to look up his comments on Fukushima. It was f***ing terrible. Shameful, in fact.


  72. LOL.
    2011/12 – dry winters are the ‘new normal’ because of shrinking Arctic ice caused by climate change. 2014/15 – extremely wet winters are caused by climate change and Jon Snow ‘likes that answer’.
    These flipping (literally) ‘new normals’ change so quickly it’s difficult to keep up sometimes!


  73. I was not joking. I don’t always agree with him but as an interviewer I think there are few better. He is one of the few that pulls no punches, gets annoyed when he thinks he’s being duped or lied to and, most importantly, has a go. I have no idea what his politics are and have seen him go after labour, tory, UKIP and liberal with equal ferocity. He’s probably lost count of the industry awards he has received.
    We must agree to differ.
    You didn’t get to Jon Snow’s commentary at Fukushima and your link is to comments made after he returned from Japan. I cannot be sure but I believe Channel 4 News won that year’s documentary news reporting award for its coverage of Fukushima.
    For much of the news I am perfectly happy with current affairs being pre-chewed because I’m not that interested in most of it. If it’s on topics that do interest me, then I search for comment on sites such as this. I only rarely seek out unchewed information and it’s very hard to find and evaluate. I think the last time I did this concerned Grenfell Tower, and then only because I disbelieved news reports which didn’t match videos, and I have an ex firefighter neighbour with whom I could discuss matters.
    Why do you, and many others, seem to base judgements of people so much upon their views on climate change? It’s important granted, but I don’t make it the primary factor.


  74. Alan, I don’t base my views on Snow on climate change, I base it on his general demeanor.

    ” He is one of the few that pulls no punches, gets annoyed when he thinks he’s being duped or lied to and, most importantly, has a go. I have no idea what his politics are and have seen him go after labour, tory, UKIP and liberal with equal ferocity.”

    Well you must be the only one. He wears his politics on his sleeve. Yes, he has a go, which isn’t the best way to get information out of people. He has no experience outside of media so his views are simplistic at best and hiddeously biased at worst. He doesn’t have an idea or care what pressures people have in other fields. It’s people like him that has placed the West on a track to destruction. They demand standards we can’t afford. They pour scorn on business people and politicians and turn a blind eye to infinitely worse behaviour in other countries. They have a twisted sense of racism against the sh!tholes of the world, where they think that the sh1t must be our fault. The inhabitants can’t be responsible because they shouldn’t be held to the same standards. Why not? Are they inferior? Are we superior such that we should be held to impossibly high standards?

    When someone starts winning in an interview with Snow he gets agressive. He’d say it was passion, I’d say it was bullying. Why would anyone be interviewed by him? People like Peterson are circumventing the Snows of the media. They’re presenting their arguments without the constant interruotions and shouty outrage that the TV brigade confect. They might be as biased as the TV people but there is no neutral territory for both sides to be moderated. The TV news are bitching themselves out of a job. Even you admit you look elsewhere for in depth information.

    Liked by 2 people

  75. Alan – Why do you, and many others, seem to base judgements of people so much upon their views on climate change? It’s important granted, but I don’t make it the primary factor.

    I don’t. I base it on my broader knowledge of politics. And on their treatment of issues like climate change and Fukushima (which I have written about from the perspective of criticising news broadcasters, if you care to read it). And that’s how I know, also, he was deeply wrong about Grenfell (to which there is also a climate change angle), and used it to elevate himself gratuitously by getting far too involved in the story.

    In fact, I’m not particularly interested in climate change ‘science’. It is the political perspective which yields the most insight into alarmism, and which does not exist in a vacuum. Pre-chewed news does not help to form a perspective, only second hand dogma. For the same reason, I am extremely unimpressed by industry gongs. Consensus is toxic in many places.


  76. Alan – “I have no idea what his politics are…”

    Extraordinary. Snow’s politics as stark as the Channel 4 logo.


  77. “I am extremely unimpressed by industry gongs.” DITTO.

    It has been interesting to hear the complaints from the civil service how the demands of negotiating Brexit are way beyond their abilities. Funny, they never hinted how lowly their skills were when they gave themselves high salaries and gongs just to rubber stamp EU legislation. I suppose Peterson would say that they were worth it…


  78. benpile

    “Alan – Why do you, and many others, seem to base judgements of people so much upon their views on climate change? It’s important granted, but I don’t make it the primary factor.

    I don’t.”

    Extraordinary. Your bias is as stark as the Cliscep masthead.


  79. Alan, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You admit ignorance — deep ignorance, as it happens — but plough on regardless.


  80. We can dislike people for far more things than climate change Alan, and like others in spite of their climate views. Politics scores far more highly with me than AGW opinion. I disliked many of the climate idiots long before I’d ever thought of CO2 as anything other than a gas liked by plants and pop drinkers. They were often EUrophiles (relating to thr EU and not the citizens of Europe) eg John Gummer. I dislike everything about Tony Blair and the least of his sins is climate policy.

    Liked by 1 person

  81. Has it ever occurred to you that Jon Snow’s present antipathy to the Tories is in reality antipathy to the government? If they are still available, watch his interviews of Labour when they were in power. My recollections are that some were savage. Jon Snow’s politics are opaque – currently they are decidedly anti government but can you be sure that means he leans to the left?. I don’t recall him currently giving Corbyn’s Labour an easy time (nor should he).

    “Alan, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You admit ignorance ” Try not to be TOO arrogant. The only ignorance I admit to is not knowing Jon Snow’s politics. You profess to know, well done.


  82. TINYCO2 (20 Jan 18 at 11:20 am)

    Peterson has the long needed right of centre view of things psychological and sees through the left media’s puff but in many ways he lacks a decent opposition to hone some of his ideas.

    It’s not that a decent opposition doesn’t exist, but Peterson doesn’t seem to go out of his way to seek it. Spending fifteen years obsessively exploring ideas outside his specialist field from sheer intellectual curiosity marks him as an academic pariah. You’re supposed to get the BBC Popular Taking Head contract first, then start spouting off, not the other way round

    The dream interpretation was total tosh

    It was bog standard Jungian analysis. “I’m the centre of the universe, but so is everyone else” is a good starting point for developing a world view, but hardly world-shattering. And we didn’t need to hear about him hanging crucified from the chandelier in a cathedral, I agree. A review somewhere says he’s been “influenced by Freud and Jung.” Which is like saying of an evolutionary biologist that he’s influenced by Darwin and Teilhard de Chardin.

    In my opinion a lot of top jobs are full of men and women who are both confident and incompetent. They have the gift of persuading others that they’re brilliant, despite evidence to the contrary.

    Peterson articulates with great competence and confidence the qualities that get you to the top, or nearly, but once you’re there, you find 255 other top people just as competent, confident and hardworking as yourself. And if 256 people all bet eight times on the roulette wheel in the capitalis casino, chances are one of them will win eight times straight and start believing he’s a genius.

    …the companies are competing each other to death… Undercut the others too much and their companies run out of money… Don’t undercut and you don’t get the jobs… Of course the customers (e.g. the government) are sure that they’re overpaying for jobs so instead of choosing the most competent, they choose the cheapest..

    This is the good Old Labour argument for nationalisation. Cut throat capitalism is a fine way to encourage entrepreneurs to devise a better mousetrap, or at least a mousetrap that makes the customer feel better, but not for doing the essential things in life, like treating the sick, educating the young, or running the transport and energy systems in a complex society.

    Liked by 1 person

  83. Jon Snows politics are not ‘opaque’. And it is laughable to suggest they are.

    No doubt Jon Snow was critical of the Labour Government and its wars. Me too. But that doesn’t make me sympathetic either to his broader outlook, much less his style, even less his self-indulgence. Indeed, it was possible to have been critical of both the anti-war movement and the government, in 2003. There is more than one dimension to these issues… The point is not that we can detect his politics because of who he appears to slightly favour in his treatment of Labour vs Tory interviewees, or is pro or anti-government. Nor even would it be that, if he did bend to the left that would influence my judgement of him — if you care to look further up the thread, for example, I point out in the case of Daily Politics presenters, I don’t believe their individual politics interferes with their work.

    That is to say, again, that ‘bias is a red herring’. I don’t claim that news broadcasters should not be allowed to have a political preference. I say it is their failure when they fail to overcome it. As Cathy Newman does. As Jon Snow does. Indeed, Jon Snow’s latest intervention is the principle that it is responsibility to bring his bias to bear. Which is why I say your comment that his politics is ‘opaque’ is laughable. It is like saying you’re not sure what Donald Trump’s politics are.

    You say “Try not to be TOO arrogant”, but I’m faced with some quite startling ignorance. You admitted to not taking much interest in current affairs, stating your preference for ‘pre-chewed’ news. You have admitted not being able to detect Jon Snow’s politics. You want to have, and to express a strong opinion, in spite of having expressed your ignorance, and indeed your general disinterest… I think it is you that needs to be sure you’re not being arrogant.


  84. Oh I agree, almost all of the TV people are anti government, no matter what government. Which means that they’re always against the necessary balance of real life. They are handy with the words ‘too little too late’ no matter how much money or time is spent on an issue. For them the magic money tree is real. It’s helped create a greedy society far more surely than capitalism because everyone thinks they deserve the best. Whenever the UK is judged on an issue, the media (paper too) will trot out a list of countries that are doing better. It doesn’t matter that we might be doing better in many other things, we are always found wanting. Even if we’re the best, it’s evidence we aren’t helping others enough.

    This is the politics of the far left. It isn’t about a political party. The TV staff are in equal parts delighted and horrified by Corbyn. They recognise that his politics would bankrupt the country but TV people are so anti business (specifically heavy industry) that they would see everyone a millionaire, even if it the millions were worthless. They would of course demand to be paid in another currency.


  85. Ben Your arrogance knows no bounds. When referring to Snow’s treatment of Labour my recollections were not actually about war but Brown’s cowardice in calling elections and about “boom and bust” but I’m sure you knew this.
    We have not clashed before and I have no wish to continue this occasion or indulge in future. I don’t believe I’ll learn much of substance, just prejudice.


  86. Well you will never know, will you, Alan. Which is as good a definition of arrogance as any.

    I’m glad you won’t be seeking to ‘indulge’ in future, given that I had to point out on at least half a dozen occasions that your continued indulgence was, in fact, ‘besides the point’.


  87. Tiny – almost all of the TV people are anti government, no matter what government. Which means that they’re always against the necessary balance of real life.

    It’s a curious ‘anti-government’ tendency though, isn’t it. It’s ‘anti-government’ in a similar sense to its leftyness… There’s no risk attached to their ‘socialism’ for them. No fear of losing their jobs, homes, or school fees. As soon as the working classes stopped being Jon Snow’s mascots, and really started threatening to cut off the cocaine supply fund, I’m sure the execs would would run a mile, followed by the producers. I only half jest. Media socialism is mostly a fashion accessory. Their grasp of the politics is generally no firmer than Alan’s.

    More seriously, the anti-government stuff doesn’t ever amount to actually being anti government. New media has been key in the run ups to war, if not quite supplying the casus belli, doing the waiting invading forces’ PR, all the same. And then gleefully embedding itself. And on climate… Only ‘anti-government’ in the sense of wanting more government. Appointments to the BBC and CH4 are essentially political. They are defacto state broadcasters, no matter how much they protest otherwise, they are. And they recruit in their own image. Their criticism of the government is hollow. It’s an act.


  88. Geoff “This is the good Old Labour argument for nationalisation.”

    There seems to be an argument for nationalisation but only because we have unrealistic expectations, fuelled by the TV media. Many people, including Conservatives would say that the NHS is struggling compared to the past but not ask why. Oh they trot out stuff about more elderly and not enough money but that’s a smokescreen. We’re fixing a lot of conditions now that were untreatable in the past and those treatments are astronomically expensive. If there was a need to nationalise, I’d say the pharmaceutical business would be better drawn in house than the remnants of Carillion. We can’t have all those bells and whistles we’ve bolted onto society, without something giving. Grenfell was a good example of too many priorities. Sure, you could argue that the very rich council should have spent more money… so what about the poor councils? Should the people living there (often having waited longer on the list) be less well looked after than those in Kensington and Chelsea? How much can the country afford to spend on (often free) council accomodation? Would a government department have done better over Grenfell? Or would it have been harder to blame the employees involved and not the greedy capitalist company? The local government staff didn’t ask the right questions after the two Dubai fires.

    Media should be helping the nation decide how to spend the money available, not just endlessly demanding more money. We just haven’t got it and as we continue to compete on an international stage, we won’t be amongst the richest any more and yet we expect to be the best. We have to give the most money away. We have to have the most rapid CO2 reduction. The media is greedily complicit in bankrupting the country.

    PFI for hospitals and schools was bonkers. It was long term pain for short term gain. The money sloshing about meant that PFI schemes were luxury developments, not a meeting of need with the least amount of money expended. A lot of those schemes won architecture awards! Tony Blair got to play Lady Bountiful with money we hadn’t earned, let alone the money from selling assets. Are the Tories to blame that they get the role of balancing the books every time Labour go on a spending spree? Is the parent who lets their kids have everything they want, the ‘nice’ parent?

    Look at all the things we ask of private industry and public departments and compare them to the golden years of the NHS. Legislation has been heaped upon legislation. It costs. Nurses and doctors can’t do their job for filling out forms. Care homes are scrapped because the conditions that were fine yesterday are now below standard. Almost the last thing on any task list now, is doing the basic job we want done and that includes private companies. All the time the media are telling us that we deserve the very best and beat our politicians on our behalf when inevitably we don’t get it.

    We can’t go on spending at this rate. Companies can’t do the jobs for a pittance, pay shareholders, compete on a world stage and pay massive taxes to fund the merry-go-round. The solution is not more government, it’s a sensible discussion on where our priorities are. I’m bemused that with all the top flight men and women in government and business and media, nobody is calling for a rethink.

    Liked by 2 people

  89. Ben the government that the media want is one with bottomless pockets. There is no such government. As such they are anti.


  90. The media is certainly limited and thereby limiting. I think that’s possibly more a broader dynamic that politicians are also victims of. ‘Bubbles’ might be one way of at least describing, if not explaining it. E.g., Newman not having a clue what she was facing. Such naivity… How could it possibly get to the bottom of PFI, or for that matter, the rights and wrongs of the Nationalisation of Everything. And I don’t think MPs had a much better grasp either. They sense something was up… That, post Brexit, the chasm between politicians and the public became real to them. Reaching back to the policies of 1970s (or earlier) seems like reaching across that gulf. But even Labour hacks admit it could mean going bust. It’s a gable, too politically, because it looks like a desperate attempt to reach the voter. So, I’m suggesting that many news broadcasters, being no less aimless, can only think in the dimensions supplied to them. It’s not that they believe passionately in redistribution. It’s more that they don’t believe in very much at all.


  91. It’s great that Geoff is here to remind us of the good old days of nationalised industries : when the techies got into power and were allowed to develop a nuclear reactor design that has never been adopted elsewhere, the phone company spent its money trying to develop digital exchanges rather than supplying telephone lines, when railway engineers cut tracks so as to be able to run nice shiny high speed trains, and the boss of British Gas seemed to be more interested in keeping the price of gas as high as possible. The good old days


  92. Benpile. Read your essay on the aftermath of the Fukushima accident. What I find interesting about this phase is the AFAIK absence of any mention of the four reactors of the Fukushima Daini that shut down automatically. These were only 12 km from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Again AFAIK this was subjected to the same earthquake magnitude and Tsunami. It’s survival and successful cold shutdown could have been used to support nuclear power, but apparently wasn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  93. I don’t doubt that C4 are taking the chance to try and sweep Newman’s poor performance under the rug but the bile being directed her way is indefensible. There is a large mysonginist movement out there directed at any woman who takes a strong minded position (even if she fails but especially if she succeeds). It’s as vile as any left wing gang. Being treated as a denier is a walk in the park by comparison. Peterson is either seriously out of touch or pretending if he portrays this is as just C4 making a fuss over nothing. Either way, not a ringing endorsement for his skills as a psychologist.

    Accident or not, Peterson attracts a lot of failed males who think that their lack of success can be pinned on the increasing numbers of women and minorities getting preferential treatment. Peterson suggests that there is a difference in men and women that mean women are less likely to make it to the top and there is some truth in that. What Peterson’s dumb followers will interpret that as meaning that they should be doing better than the women around them, which isn’t a given. Men make up a lot of the best and the worst of society.

    I dislike feminism because it has always tried to define what women should want and ruined a lot of lives in the process. It pretends that you can have it all, and you can’t. At the same time, men have gained advantages and lost others but all they see are the losses. Equality is supposed to make things better but at the moment, men and women seem to be adopting the worst attributes of the other sex, not the best.

    Liked by 3 people

  94. Man in a Barrel
    The fact that successive governments of left and right weren’t particularly good at managing the commanding heights of the economy doesn’t prove that it’s a bad idea. The French did a rather better job, giving us high speed trains, Ariadne rockets, and the EDF which, despite bad decisions on nuclear design, still gives us electricity cheaper than yours. Why Christian Democrats in Germany and de Gaulle in alliance with the communists in France should have made a better job of creating a socialist economy than the British Labour Party is an interesting question, but not immediately relevant to the urgent problem of keeping our transport and energy systems out of the hands of the likes of Carrillion.

    There’s something weird about the English that means they prefer having their trains run by a bloke who lives on a private tropical island, rather than have the people’s elected leaders mess them up. You’ll soon have a head of state who lives on another planet. Yet the country muddles through.

    Liked by 1 person

  95. Tiny, where is the evidence for this “large misogynist movement” consisting primarily of “failed males”? Rabid left wingers are conspicuous, their machinations equally so. Why is the failed male misogynist movement so silent – except when it comes to supposedly directing mass abuse at a person who, in her failure to defend her ideological stance against a polite and patient opponent, laid bare the catastrophic failings of the modern feminist movement and the left wing establishment? Where is the evidence that the majority of the abuse Ms Newman is getting comes from Peterson’s admirers?


  96. I ‘liked’ Tiny’s comment because I like it the most of the last few. But this part:

    Peterson is either seriously out of touch or pretending if he portrays this is as just C4 making a fuss over nothing.

    is only right “if he portrays this is as just C4 making a fuss over nothing” which he certainly doesn’t:

    How many admirers of the man retweeted that?

    If you look through this thread you’ll see that I don’t make one critical remark about Newman. It has been a highly interesting exercise to watch her interview with Peterson before seeing any commentary on it.

    The key sentences for me in the Daily Mail report are:

    Ms Newman tweeted that she had enjoyed her clash with Dr Peterson and posted: ‘Viva feminism, viva free speech.’

    Dr Peterson … also later said he enjoyed the encounter.

    That’s the spin the man wants applied, surely.

    Good on both of them. The way I then saw Douglas Murray, James Delingpole and others write about the clash was in line with the phrase “culture war” but I was amazed by. I won’t name names on this thread 🙂


  97. Geoff, logic suggests that socialism is the right avenue but practice says otherwise. Socialism requires a lot of nice people to follow the rules. Everyone needs to work hard, contribute and only take out what they need. The more northerly the population, the more it seems to work but the balance can be blown by adding a lot of people who were brought up under the every man for himself system. The UK just isn’t that full of rule followers and nice people.


  98. God knows, I never watch C4 News, I never even heard of Cathy Newman or Jordan Peterson before I watched that interview and read this article. I have no reason or want to ‘admire’ or despise either of them. I ‘know’ Newman only because of what she represents. I have no idea what Jordan ‘represents’ other than what I have witnessed thus far – which is very little, but mostly positive. So if anybody has something which connects him to any misogynist movement, I’m open to be convinced. Otherwise I shall just have to poodle along, collecting evidence on the way.

    Liked by 2 people

  99. Jaime, I read the comments at the DM regularly and the women haters are there in plenty. It doesn’t take much to set them off. I don’t say that Peterson deliberately tries to attract failed males, he just does. That also doesn’t mean that they are his only supporters. The failed males interpret what Peterson says in their own way. They see his words as a natural endorsement of their innate superiority. They don’t hear the rest, where he talks about where they’re going wrong. Peterson can’t be entirely out of touch with that or he shouldn’t be. Some of what Peterson says is quite vague so can be interpreted by the consumer, which is part of the appeal. Someone with his abilities should be very careful how he weilds that power. I know, I know, the left wouldn’t but then I regularly criticise them too.

    Richard, one wishy, washy tweet isn’t enough to stop the tide. Hopefully he will do something more substantial.


  100. It was a good interview, from both sides, except

    a) Cathy Newman truly believes what she believes as Delingpole states (which is odd, considering her level of achievement and this reduces the effectiveness of the interview)
    b) Newman’s interview technique limitations start to be grating, about one min into the interview (aren’t there rhetorical devices other than paraphrases?). It’s as if Newman couldn’t decide or doesn’t know the difference between a slanted paraphrase and an explicit reductio ad absurdum.

    As many pointed out in Youtube comments and on Twitter, Newman’s method consisting of an uncharitable paraphrase or summary of Peterson’s argument/s which in turn elicits a clarification or exposition from Peterson. This works really well with tongue-tied interviewees or in 4 minute formats for moralizing interviewers (on the left or right) but Peterson had neither of the handicaps and as a result, the hollowness of the technique becomes apparent. I do not agree that Newman alone should be bashed for what she did – her method is not unique and rather common on American TV.

    you can bet, internally at Channel 4 and at other TV venues, there is a code that says never allow the interviewee to dominate the conversation. Under ordinary circumstances Cathy Newman or somebody like her, would be in trouble after such an interview (and I don’t even think it was bad at all but I’ll defer to the judgement of Channel 4 leadership on this, they seem to believe their shitty moral perch has been compromised). The fact that only way Channel 4 leadership can rescue Newman by resorting to claims of ‘online abuse’ tells us her position is rather precarious inside. She’s probably not well-networked within the system there.

    Liked by 1 person

  101. Just what a confusing mess all this is… Peter Hitchens in the MoS, no less, manages to agree with Geoff and with Tiny. (I think). But not with MIAB.

    What PH doesn’t let on is that when they bring the nationalised steam trains (and hanging, and the rest) back, he doesn’t want there to be any cars. Because they make the streets messy, and it was better for society when people organised their lives around bus and train timetables. He’s not a big fan of freedom, whoever’s conception of freedom it is.

    I know this, because I once had an argument with him about it. I quite like the utility and the freedom that the car creates. And I quite dislike the ordered society that PH desires. He said that I am selfish for wanting to inflict my car on him – its smells, noises, and its obstruction of the street. And I said that he was controlling and nostalgic. We left it there.

    It gets more complicated though. Further down in the article, PH notes that the film account of Deborah Lipstadt vs David Irving depicts the defendant equating holocaust and climate change denial. PH goes to find the origin of the comparison. Lipstadt was not it. It was invented by the script writer, but presented by the film as historical fact. It’s a pastiche, written in the present, to serve the purposes of the present, beyond the putative scope of the film.

    From this, we can see that i) Hitchens is no Nazi, nor a holocaust denier, nor even is he such a defender of the orthodoxy that he isn’t critical of libel law, or the facts brought by the plaintiff in that case, nor the challenges to those facts published by the defendant… (which puts to bed many of the things said about PH). ii) Here’s a climate change sceptic, who also happens to be an authoritarian, which -ism is my main beef with greens and their leftoid coreligionists, contra the view offered by Alan, about one or two if us here, that we triangulate our affinities from the climate issue. iii) Truth does matter, but it is is a judgement, not a fact.

    So, a choice (for me) between Hitchens and the greens is no choice at all. I lose my car, and much else besides, either way. But furthermore, I disagree intensely with him, and agree with them greens on matters like drug policy. However, I really enjoy PH’s articles and debates, whereas I find almost all green literature awful, and the thinking behind it entirely vapid. I think it turns out that what matters less is attachment to policies (nationalisation; the role of dubious legal/commercial corporate entities in late British capitalist society; drugs, and so on)… it is less about any policy itself, and more how it was arrived at. I disagree intensely with PH about individual autonomy, but his ability to articulate a position in favour of broadly patrician social institutions is admirable, and lays out the landscape with precision and clarity. Greens, contemporary leftoids, and for that matter, quite a number of climate sceptics, can have extremely messy understanding of their own position. As we see with the entire of Channel 4 News’s confrontations, for instance: the presuppositions are pre-cooked, and the discussion turns into a mess when the logic of those presuppositions is exposed.

    This is why Peterson is appealing. It’s not enough to have strong positions if they are divorced from the reasoning that produced them. Hence Newman goes on a tour of all the things seemingly associated with Peterson’s position: you’re right wing, you’re transphobic; you’re misogynistic… It’s like a word-association game, in which the map of bad nouns is explored, but never the possibility that Peterson’s outlook might have transcended that stale framework. I used to call it ‘arguing with nouns’, or ‘arguing with ghosts’. Because it would seem that many discussions would explode into chaos the moment someone had the opportunity to say “but that’s right wing!”, or similarly, “but that’s communism” (which, some on Peterson’s camp are still inclined to, with their expositions of the mostly imagined ‘cultural marxism’ and its failings). Meanwhile, it seems obvious to anyone of the erstwhile left, who now finds themselves removed from it, that the aim of anti-racism, of earlier feminism, and of any campaign against prejudice was to transcend race, gender, etc, in public life, whereas the contemporary left is preoccupied by them, and wants to cement them, not only into their political outlook, but in everyday private interactions between individuals as manifestly as apartheid.

    Labour’s searching through the past for policies – in this case nationalisation is just a pastiche, like the left’s search for racism and patriarchy and the film’s invention of the dialogue against holocaust and climate change denial. It hasn’t emerged out of any real conversation with the public. It is a thin gloop, intended to service the immediate present needs. Ditto, what gets discussed by the news media is invariably little more than the preoccupations of a narrow section of society and Westminster wonks as they struggle to overcome their crises. Think of the Guardian, with its plummeting readership, struggling to define itself in the face of its own demise. It grasps what it can to sustain its ‘relevance’. Or think of Virgin Rail, which thought that to better sell itself to the public as a right-thinking business, it should ban the Daily Mail from its carriages. Or its boss, Richard Branson, championing Remain. (And championing climate change, while running an airline, and soon, trips to space for millionaires). It’s not enough to run the trains efficiently! And so no wonder people want to nationalise rail! No part of the establishment, in its broadest sense, seems able to articulate its purpose or position, much less its privilege. Least of all, contemporary media. No doubt trains are crap (it’s why I drive). But the debate about nationalisation, so far as it is constituted now, will not yield any improvement. We need more Petersonian depth.

    I begrudge the news media for that reason. And also the dominance of two ossified political parties — which nobody outside them would fail to identify as a problem requiring remedy more urgently than the rail system. The interview brings it into focus, for a moment. Partly because Peterson is articulate, even if we don’t agree with him. And also, partly, because Ch4 made the decision to publish the entire exchange — a decision which is noble, and it is unfortunate that it has exposed itself into the bargain.

    Liked by 1 person

  102. Tiny – “Jaime, I read the comments at the DM regularly and the women haters are there in plenty.

    Why would anyone read below-the-line on *any* newspaper website? Why, on the same reason, would anyone try to form an understanding of other people’s minds from those comments?

    Think, also.. who would chose to express themselves on such a site? Are they truly representative of any part of society, JP’s adherents or not? Of course people write ugly things on the Internet – they always have. As Ian says above… “Don’t we all know what the internet is like by now?”

    By way of comparison… On this site, we have a frequent visitor who is a middle aged professor of physics, who posts in the manner of an 11 year old. The Internet does that to people, somehow. Another academic occasionally posts in the style of a rodent, and speaks about himself in the third person. The Internet is at least a great leveler.


  103. Tiny, I’d be a little cautious in inferring some sort of cultural misogynistic base from DM comments. There is undoubtedly a cultural war raging in this country and across the west at the moment. Misogynists do exist, as do misandrists. I’m less convinced that there is a gender war, except as an expression perhaps of one aspect of that cultural war. I just don’t buy into much of the sexism narrative peddled by both sides of the argument. Men and women are fundamentally different and this does affect their respective abilities and aspirations, which is not to say that gender bias does not exist and also has played its part in reinforcing those perceived differences, but that has been working its way out naturally as society progresses, instigated by the efforts of traditional feminists. There are ‘failed males’ on both the left and right of the political spectrum, as indeed there are failed females and failed non binary persons, transgenders, and God knows what other incarnations of bipedal gender orientation there exist nowadays. It’s a sad fact that there are failed human beings everywhere, who will look to jump on any cause or cultural bandwagon to try and shift the blame for their personal failure onto society as a whole, or part thereof. If Peterson attracts some of those people to his camp, then that’s unfortunate, but the ‘progressive left’ is attracting many, many more I feel.

    Liked by 1 person

  104. Ben:

    Just what a confusing mess all this is… Peter Hitchens in the MoS, no less, manages to agree with Geoff and with Tiny. (I think). But not with MIAB.

    Haha. Hitchens also takes a conciliatory, Chris Booker-ish line on Brexit ie the Norway model is fine. It’s the desire not to exacerbate strife when it’s not strictly needed in the country he loves that I admire. (Peter North, though broadly in agreement, may not always apply!)

    In line with which, here are the two tweets that I most agreed with on Newman v Peterson

    But facing a possible and significant victory the vitriol merchants semed determined to kick the ball into their own net. And that thought made me kick my own ball into touch for a while:

    As for Cliscep, who knows what may be possible? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  105. Aren’t the failed males more likely to end up at Prison Planet?

    A long time ago, they used to rip my blog posts off. And below the line, they would be turned into some kind of latter-day revision of the Elders of the Protocols of Zion, or to prove than the Jews instigated both world wars. No, I am not kidding.

    I told them that if they didn’t stop stealing, I would sue. (Also some more besides).

    It’s got better since then. Alex Jones now talks about chemical pollution making gay frogs.

    The Internet is amazing, but it nearly turned me into a pro-holocaust nazi by implication.



    As for Cliscep, who knows what may be possible?

    Who indeed? If Ben could just be persuaded to turn each of his comments into three or four above the line articles we’d have one of the internet’s top discussion forums.


  107. Richard, I agree. It does seem undignified to crow about such a self-fisking as Newman’s. And it is. She was, after all, agreeable enough to admit to being stumped, rather than, as is typically the case, doubling down.

    But OTOH, she can wear it. Ch4 is a big enterprise, and with the BBC enjoys more of the share of the audience than they deserve. (Notwithstanding the Daily Politics, as discussed above). It is one thing to be magnanimous, it is another to reflect and act on it. It would be too much to expect a revision of either broadcasters’ charter. But it is surely Delingpole’s and Murray’s contention that those are really the stakes of the culture war, such as it is – this interview epitomising its excess. And I would include myself in that tendency who think the dominance of a single perspective, with its close ties to the state, is an anachronism.

    Conflicts aren’t pretty. And the dominance of a particularly stale orthodoxy has claimed directly and indirectly enough cash, livelihoods and perhaps even lives. Can we call it ‘collateral damage’ and move on? Nobody spared a thought for the scientist in a sexist shirt, the mid-flight tweeter, the nazi-pug owner, the other scientist who worried about making girls cry… when in each case, all that was needed was a quiet word.

    Geoff… Apologies for the long comment. I was trying to tie together the many loose ends of the discussion.


  108. Underestimating the power below the line is what lost Remain and the Democrats the elections. My responses are as a result of some (maybe not here) suggesting that C4 was making too much of the hate comments aimed at Newman who as Jaime pointed out, lost the debate. Since the right IS better than the left, I would like to see no tolerance of such behaviour. Thanks Ian for posting Peterson’s suitable response. Let’s hope that the right wing papers repeat it. The left has dominated the public debate by shouting down all other ideas. As Shub points out, it’s a classic TV interviewer technique to dominate the conversation. Peterson rightly wants more debate, not less but failing to quell the below line haters would shut discussion down and allow the left to claim the moral high ground. The right is wrong when they try to rise above abuse. It’s a silent protest nobody but the converted hear.


  109. If we’re looking below the line, I suggest we start with responses to Peterson’s tweet. I can’t see much evidence there for unreconstructed misogynist male followers. Most of them seem pretty reasonable, fair-minded and intelligent men and women, and few seem entirely convinced by Channel 4’s claims of death threats and misogynist abuse, some professing to have read many comments. They seem to me to be a representative sample of people who tend to follow those who have publicly aligned themselves against the progressive left and their divisive policies. No doubt the nutters are there, but they’re not in the majority, nor do they even appear to be a significant minority, but as I say, I’m open to persuasion on this point.


  110. Tiny, did you ever hear Tim Stanley’s discussion on right vs left?

    It punctures many of the notions of historical, binary-opposing categories, and shows their co-development.

    I like in particular Eagleton’s observation that Marx was in fact a huge fan of capitalism. It’s a point that is completely lost on today’s misnomered ‘cultural Marxists’ and their anti-SJW counterparts.

    I have to admit, too, that it was broadcast on the BBC.


  111. Delingpole cites Peterson on Twitter. Was this before or after he made the statements to the Guardian?

    My own view is that the sewer of the Internet contains pretty much anything. There are death threats available for hire and real assassins for hire. They tend not to use their real names. But you can be sure they are there. I also agree with TinyCO2 that forceful women get worse treatment than men. As Thatcher once said to Shirley Williams. That really hasn’t changed but the sewer that passes for public debate has.

    I’m all for ‘below the line’ but the evil that pseudonymity allows is seldom faced up to, including fomenting strife when it’s unnecessary. It’s not just Russian trolls who use this technique to steer debate away from productive directions.


  112. There’s an interesting video of Newman telling Peterson what he’s (not) saying.

    This is familiar:

    “So you’re saying that there’s no such thing as climate change”.


    “So you’re saying CO2 is not a greenhouse gas”.

    Or even:

    “So you’re saying climate change is not a problem”.

    This is what the climate ‘debate’ has amounted to, at best. And it’s no better in academia than it is online.

    There must be more going on here than the dull-minded intransigence of so many Kens and Lens. It’s something of an epiphenomenon.

    Liked by 1 person

  113. This is an insightful discussion re Islam, the Medina politique
    and western engagement. Also, re post modernist feminist
    ideology and avoidance of equality predicaments of multicultural

    Liked by 1 person

  114. Peterson seems to be taking up Ian’s invitation. He recently retweeted (how do you link to someone retweeting something?) two tweets about the new paper saying that high climate sensitivity is unlikely.

    Ben, I love this one near the end:
    “Let me just get this straight. You’re saying that we should organise our societies along the lines of the lobsters.”
    And you’re right, it’s just like the climate “debate”.

    Liked by 1 person

  115. Andrew Doyle (the off-camera half of Jonathan Pie) suggests some reasons why contemporary debates lack the dimensions that earlier debates had, and why the left is increasingly hostile to debate, over at Spiked

    it has become a standard tactic among so-called progressives – those we might best describe as liberal-left identitarians – to dismiss an opponent’s viewpoint if he happens to be heterosexual, white and male. This is based on the assumption that such qualities imply inherent privilege, which automatically debars the individual concerned from participating in certain debates.

    There is an analogy here, perhaps even a foreshadowing of the SJWs in the climate debate: the conspiracy theory that all us deniers have money beamed into our swollen bank accounts by Exxon.

    In my early days of blogging, I went to a climate event at the Town Hall. I had been gently quizzing a council official. Or trying to. “I can’t believe I’m talking to a denier! Disgusting!”. He walked away, after all but spitting at me… unable to answer. Regressive political movements need demonologies. Lord Bob May (who had recently finished his stint at the Royal Soc) was there, with pre-epiphany Mark Lynas. May’s comments were no more measured, accusing Martin Durkin (director of TGGWS) of having produced a film ‘denying the link between HIV and AIDS’. It wasn’t even remotely true. May, of course, was responsible for giving the official seal of approval to the Exxon conspiracy theory, and allowing Bob Ward to use the resources of the RS to promote it.

    Liked by 1 person

  116. I forgot the final point of the last. It is this:

    What May shows us is that the hollowing out of public debates happens from the top.


  117. Lots of interesting stuff here, thanks Ben and others. I read the Douglas Murray, which is mostly very good. I still don’t agree with the framing of Newman v Peterson by Murray and Delingpole. Putting the unedited interview onto YouTube was something that Channel 4 and Newman herself should be applauded for in every single comment on it. The regressive left element within Channel 4, and outside, is trying to smear Peterson so that never again will such a decision be made. Think about this. Grace wins, demonisation doesn’t.

    There is a parallel with climate and climate trolls, pseudonymous and otherwise, but there are also crucial differences. How many times have ATTP’s blog or the Conversation removed comments so as to make the full debate unavailable to those coming later? On this occasion Channel 4 and Cathy Newman did the opposite.

    On the other hand, Ben:

    There is an analogy here, perhaps even a foreshadowing of the SJWs in the climate debate: the conspiracy theory that all us deniers have money beamed into our swollen bank accounts by Exxon.

    100% agree. Climate as gateway drug. Which is sad, bad and, potentially, very encouraging for Cliscep. I will try and explain this view as it emerges 🙂


  118. Richard, though it pains me… I would not put blogs like ATTP in the same category as The Conversation or a newspaper. ATTP is a personal project. I remark above that bloggers frequently punch far above their weight WRT newspaper columns. However, blogs lack resources. (Not to let any denizens there off the hook for their intellectual and moral cowardice…) The conversation aims, OTOH, to be something that its authors are not equal to. They have overestimated themselves in today’s world. As has, indeed, the Graun. And they have trouble reinventing themselves past their irrelevance. Which is why the Graun, and then the T’graph sought to reinvent blogging — to capture the energy and dynamism of blogging. They failed: CiF merely became a shouting match. And the T’graph blogs are no more.

    I don’t know how much of CH4’s decision to put the unedited interview up was anything new. They do that occasionally. I don’t think they were expecting it to be quite what it has become. Like you, Matthew d’Ancona argues int he Guardian — — that they should be congratulated for it, and that there should more more of that sort of thing. Maybe. But as Pete North points out — — the interview is not in and of itself quite the amazing thing, when considered alongside the great interviewers of yesteryear… To say that we should congratulate Ch4 for publishing an unwittingly insightful interview would be like saying Tesco deserve some kind of award for selling tins of baked beans: it is the minimum we can expect of a broadcaster that exists by statute.

    I don’t believe they did the opposite. I believed they tripped over themselves and lost control of the story. Be that as it may, it *would* be interesting, nonetheless, if Ch4 News decided that what it had stumbled over was precious, and worth championing, even at the risk of the reputations of its interviewers. For that reason, I don’t think Ch4 will be able to. Watching Newman et al humiliate themselves can only be interesting once or twice. For them to change the script, and to become interviewers rather than interrogators will mean familiarising themselves with what they seem to find too offensive to countenance. “What you’re saying is…” will have to be replaced with an actual understanding of what was actually said.


  119. “The Guardian yesterday published an astoundingly reprehensible article” (presumably this one)

    “The Channel 4 people claim that Cathy has been targeted with threats”

    “It was the beginning of the attempt to twist the story around.”

    He also says that his “If you are threatening her, stop” tweet (shown by Richard above) was used as confirmation that threats had occurred.

    I guess this Guardian article is an example of what he means. Note the misleading headline and the misquote of what JP actually said, buried in the main text.


  120. Ben – “I believed they tripped over themselves and lost control of the story.”

    I’m not so sure, and I wonder Ch4 isn’t getting exactly what it wants: attention, clicks. I don’t think it cares where the clicks come from, outrage in either direction works perfectly fine. Even better, have the outrage running in both directions – hence the outrageous interview and then the inevitable playing the victim post-interview.


  121. Clicks alone are only exciting to nascent Youtubers and bloggers. Clickbait more generally is intended to make cash. I don’t see how Ch4 has made much…


  122. Very good write up in the Times.

    “Much of the reaction, though, consisted merely of fierce criticism of her perceived hostility and bias, while some of her supporters targeted Peterson for violent abuse.

    Unfortunately, threats and vilification on social media are now routine for anyone putting their head above the parapet. It is typical of ideologues, however, that they inflate such victimisation as a form of emotional blackmail to silence criticism.

    The issue, however, is not Newman but what she represents: the culturally dominant dogma that certain ideological beliefs are indisputably true. When the evidence shows they are wrong it is therefore the evidence, not the beliefs, which must be knocked down.”

    “Peterson has now become a cult figure among young men. Partly, this is because he champions them against oppressive militant feminism. He entrances them by demonstrating how intelligence and reason can overturn the dominance of emotion and feelings which are holding public discourse hostage.

    His appeal, though, is surely rather deeper still. He has become a kind of secular prophet who, in an era of lobotomised conformism, thinks out of the box. His restless and creative intelligence uses the story of Pinocchio or fables about dragons to deliver his core message to the young: that they’re not who they could be, what’s holding them back and how they could be so much better than they are.”

    I would argue that his appeal extends further still, to all those who are aghast at the rise of the profoundly illiberal, censorious neo-Marxist, alt feminist, multicultural, multi-sexual doctrine which has taken over much of public life and which demands compliance on pain of prosecution or ostracisation and loss of career.


  123. Ben, I have noted (perhaps with my jaundiced eye) that companies and news outlets both are in the habit of courting conservative (or liberal) readership by throwing out rage-click red meat, almost deliberately, followed by a pretentious ‘statement’ with claims of ‘abuse’ (or apologies for insensitivity) for a second round of attention. Money is certainly made in the process, although I am sure it is not the primary objective. Rather, the above is a successful flow of narrative control pathway that I see being repeatedly employed. (yet another agency released an ad which rubs some political group or affiliation the wrong way, really?) Which brings us to the next question: if money is not important, exactly what benefits does being a flag-bearer in the present political correctness/purity zeitgeist bring to a broadcaster?


  124. Shub, the purpose of clickbait for any enterprise other than a ‘shitlord’ — who, if I understand it correctly, do it for the ‘lulz’ — is the bottom line.

    CiF being the model you describe, which depended on controversial opinion to drive advertising revenue for ‘red meat’ to help the dead tree version of the newspaper cope with its spectacular losses.

    Have a look at Ch4’s Youtube channel. It is deeply unimpressive. It has a fraction of the subscribers that, for e.g. Sargon has. And very few of those videos (about a dozen) have had over a million views. It has been going since 2014, but it would hard to imagine that the income it has generated has been much more than a few tens of £thousands. Meanwhile, the terrestrial channel enjoys 5% of the audience share.

    I think light is more likely shed on the affair by the stories of other Youtubers crossing over into conventional news media. As other have noted, the fact that an individual can, with extremely limited resources, challenge both the constellation of -isms that comprise today’s orthodoxy and major media organisations simulataneously represents a grave threat to them. And so much has been made of these Youtube stars’ transgressions when the opportunity has arisen.

    That is to say, for instance, ‘Count Dankula’, who taught his girlfriend’s dog to do a Nazi salute, has close to half the number of subscribers as Ch4. The infamous Pewdiepie (who didn’t really set out to challenge any contemporary mores) found himself similarly presented by the media as an evil, online nazi menace to today’s youth.

    With views that the state-backed broadcaster can only dream of — and rising — this was CH4’s attempt to do the same: to undermine the platform and its stars by attempting to ridicule one of them, and belittle the audience as so many alienated saddos. It simply backfired, as many such attempts fail.

    The Guardian are the closest thing to what you describe — of seeking to intervene in debates without an obvious commercial interest. But that’s more because it is commercially incompetent — Rusbridger famously sneering at commercial enterprises — not because it had merely loftier aims. It saw itself as ‘more than a newspaper’, but others did not. Time will tell if the best part of a £billion it has spent trying to further its reach across the globe was wasted. Meanwhile, it looks like the (literal) tabloidisation of the Graun may be the death spasm of its print edition. When it joins the Independent as a mere website, it will face competition from anyone with an internet connection.

    Channel 4 has had always had a high opinion of itself, too. For much of its history, this meant ‘challenging’ societal norms. But ‘challenging’ soon gave way to seeking mere sensation as a second best . Avant garde tits and bums gave way to simply tits and bums, and the broadcaster sought ever more desperate means to elevate itself in an increasingly competitive space: stunts. Reality TV is about all that the broadcasters have left. It is hard to overstate how dire the situation is for them — the BBC included. Meanwhile, today Netflix’s market cap is said to have exceeded $100bn. Massive cuts are coming to the BBC, and Ch4 news can see which way the wind is blowing, but no way out of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  125. I do not understand what you deem the ideological goal that climate change is supposedly serving?

    Please explain.

    Also, could you point me to articles of yours that outline your specific position on climate change, to ensure that I get the right idea? Thank you.

    Further, do you acknowledge that humans do have an impact on their biological environment? Where do you draw the line then to argue that climate change is either not happening or not a problem?


  126. TPG, welcome to the blog.

    Q1 Does the post say that climate is serving an ideological goal? Not explicitly. But yes, in some ways this is true. The climate change scare story is used used to promote authoritarian “Big Government” attitudes, and to promote individual politicians (“I saved the planet by signing this piece of paper”) and to promote the anti-capitalist, anti-west worldview of the modern left.

    Q2: Please read our about page. We do not have a specific position on climate change. The people that run this blog do not all have identical opinions.

    Q3a yes. Q3b see Q2, but most of us would probably agree with Richard Drake when he says climate change is not that important. I’d say it is not something we should be very worried about.

    Liked by 2 people

  127. “Further, do you acknowledge that humans do have an impact on their biological environment?”

    Oh, absolutely!

    Global environmental change is rapidly altering the dynamics of terrestrial vegetation, with consequences for the functioning of the Earth system and provision of ecosystem services1,2. Yet how global vegetation is responding to the changing environment is not well established. Here we use three long-term satellite leaf area index (LAI) records and ten global ecosystem models to investigate four key drivers of LAI trends during 1982–2009. We show a persistent and widespread increase of growing season integrated LAI (greening) over 25% to 50% of the global vegetated area, whereas less than 4% of the globe shows decreasing LAI (browning). Factorial simulations with multiple global ecosystem models suggest that CO2 fertilization effects explain 70% of the observed greening trend, followed by nitrogen deposition (9%), climate change (8%) and land cover change (LCC) (4%). CO2 fertilization effects explain most of the greening trends in the tropics, whereas climate change resulted in greening of the high latitudes and the Tibetan Plateau. LCC contributed most to the regional greening observed in southeast China and the eastern United States. The regional effects of unexplained factors suggest that the next generation of ecosystem models will need to explore the impacts of forest demography, differences in regional management intensities for cropland and pastures, and other emerging productivity constraints such as phosphorus availability.

    Liked by 1 person

  128. And yet another:

    Scientists confirm that slight global warming is GREENING the Antarctic Peninsula with new life, dramatically boosting ecology

    Climate alarmists such as Al Gore have long claimed that climate change is man-made and likely will destroy the world if we don’t curb carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Since these statements are based on calculations from computer models, there is no actual evidence that CO2 will harm all life on Earth in any way.

    In fact, higher CO2 levels and temperatures are turning the world into a lusher, greener place bursting with new life, according to a team of scientists from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. The new study, published in the journal Current Biology, found that over the past 50 years increases in temperature have boosted the growth of moss and microbes in Antarctica.


  129. So thepoliticalgrow, it would seem that the slight increase from 0.03% to 0.04% of the atmosphere of the vital trace gas CO2 and the small increase of ~0.8°C – 1.0°C in global temperature over the last century and a half have brought practically unmitigated improvements to the Earth’s biosphere, suggesting that a degree or two of temperature increase is likely to be major benefit, whjereas an equal decrease in temperature would be an utter catastrophe and be responsible for the death of billions.
    I suggest you might find these links enlightening also.

    I suggest you try to acquire your information from peer reviewed science publications by reputable climate scientists, not politically motivated climate terror porn publications such as the Guardian. Puffington Host and the like.


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