Why We Should Be Cautious of Jordan Peterson

Catholics should hesitate before getting on the Jordan Peterson bandwagon.

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We live in a period of mass deception. We cannot trust politicians, be they establishment or anti-establishment. Even anti-establishment figures such as RFK Jr., Donald Trump, and Javier Milei, all of whom I have praised in the past, have shown inconsistencies with what originally made them appealing and seemingly authentic figures. Here are just a few examples: RFK Jr. chose Nicole Shanahan, who helped finance Event 201, as his running mate; Trump launched the Covid vaccine Warp Speed program, resulting in unprecedented deaths and extremely harmful side effects for an allegedly safe and effective vaccine; and Milei recently instituted a mandatory registry for Bitcoin and all crypto currencies

Another anti-establishment figure, Jordan Peterson, is no exception. As the saying goes, all that glitters is not gold. 

I have met Peterson twice, and both times he was very congenial and open. I have written many articles about him, some published on Crisis, a chapter in an academic book, and elsewhere. I also reviewed 12 Rules for Life quite favorably. I have always tried my best to have a balanced view of Peterson, or any thinker or influencer for that matter. In contrast to some I have introduced to Peterson’s work, including academics who idolize him and place him on a pedestal, I take a balanced approach, offering both praise (as I have done in some of my past articles) and criticism when it’s due.

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Having said that, Peterson is a man who does not handle criticism well. He once threatened journalist Pankaj Mishra with violence, posting, “And you call me a fascist? You sanctimonious prick. If you were in my room at the moment, I’d slap you happily.” Recently, he also tweeted in response to Carlos Perona Calvete’s piece “The Godless Return: Peterson, Tate, and Spengler’s ‘Second Religiosity,’” “It would take a year to explain to you how ill-conceived and also thoroughly not helpful that is,” even though, I would argue, the thrust of Calvete’s criticism is accurate.

Has Johnny Come Lately on Purpose?

In relation to his changed position on Covid, one may ask: Where was Peterson after his addiction treatment? Just the other day, a video went viral where Peterson “puts” a YouTuber by the name of Destiny (a Covid vaccine apologist) in his place over the harmfulness of the Covid vaccine. Although it’s better late than never, it seems all too convenient to act like a hero once most of the serious consequences have disappeared. As a “benevolent” public figure, he should’ve spoken out sooner. He was nowhere to be found when people’s lives were being ripped apart. 

To make things worse, in a video, he asked his followers to “suspend judgement” and “get the damn vaccine.” He also did a “Freedom Tour” in 2022 that required attendees to be fully vaccinated. All of this despite ample evidence that early treatments for Covid, such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, were extremely effective. 

In December 2021, I met a young man whom I invited to write a chapter in my book COVID-19: A Dystopian Delusion. I was intrigued by the fact that he was able to spot the totalitarian response of our government to the Covid situation because of Peterson’s lectures and videos. It is hard for me to stomach that Peterson, someone who studied the psychology of totalitarianism quite extensively, could be totally oblivious to this globalist coup d’état but a young student of his was not.

Evidence of Treachery?

Please note that my skepticism about some of his views and perhaps his authenticity did not spontaneously spring forth out of nowhere. It is something I have been contemplating for years, even before the Covid pseudo-pandemic. It is just that some of the pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together more readily. 

Several years ago, Peterson, a staunch defender of free speech who has persuasively argued that it is not only a principle and a basic human right but also a mechanism that has helped democracies survive over the centuries, contradicted himself by participating in the cancellation of political activist Faith Goldy after the mainstream media falsely portrayed her as a supporter of white supremacy. 

Political philosopher Vox Day, in his 2018 book Jordanetics: A Journey into the Mind of Humanity’s Greatest Thinker, compares Peterson’s cultish following to the scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Amusingly, in a Freudian slip, Peterson misnamed the book “dianetics.” In this book, Day argues and demonstrates that Peterson’s 12 rules resemble Hubbard’s Eight Dynamics of Scientology, but in a nonliteral way. Day describes Peterson in the following way: 

I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jordan Peterson was a charlatan, an intellectual fraud, and a wolf in sheep’s clothing. An honest man, a genuine intellectual, simply does not make errors of that magnitude [in reference to his claims about IQ and race], then promptly proceed [sic] to make even bigger errors after being publicly called out and corrected. That’s what a con man who is attempting to salvage his con does. That’s what someone who is dedicated to deceiving his audience does.

Milo Yiannopoulos, a once popular homosexual turned straight Catholic conservative, said this about Peterson:

But then there is the chameleon who looks and sounds the same all the time, but who adjusts and even completely subverts his own ideology, depending on the audience. Jordan Peterson’s grim, predictable wardrobe, his effete speaking style, his painted expressions and his eternally somber affect give the superficial impression of gravity and consistency. But when you look at what he says, you find a coiled and poisonous serpent beneath the dusty carapace. Asked to define something—anything—Peterson dodges.

Asked to define something—anything—Peterson dodges.

-Milo Yiannopoulos
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Subjectivism Reigns Supreme

Despite much of his protestations against postmodernism, Peterson oftentimes sounds like a postmodernist. Much of the problematic nature of Peterson’s worldview concerns an inability to consistently sustain an objective foundation for his morality, which is necessary for all of his moral proclamations. On Easter Sunday, Peterson even tweeted at well-known atheist Richard Dawkins, “What happens to a plant when the roots die sir?” in response to Dawkins’ preference for Christianity being widespread over Islam, even though he considers himself a nonbelieving cultural Christian. 

Peterson’s question can be reverted right back to him since he does not affirm the objective truth of Christianity and its central claims, either. This is just one of many examples in which Peterson presents himself to the world as a defender of Christianity, when in fact he is not. Peterson often refers to truth being possessive, as “your truth.” Truth, unlike personal experience, cannot be possessive and is not inherently subjective; it just is. Relativism is antithetical to Christianity.  

Peterson insists on linking truth to pragmatism and Darwinism, which largely usurps his conception of it. In a debate titled “What is true?” between Sam Harris and Peterson, there were many clumsy attempts to define what truth is. The laws of logic are the safest place to start; for example, without the validity of the law of noncontradiction, logical thinking would not be possible. Aristotle put it most succinctly: “To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true.” Without it, how would we evaluate and draw conclusions about anything? 

While Peterson occasionally refers to objective meaning, such as in his course lectures based on his book Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief, he appears to utterly ignore it in many other instances. The most basic definition of truth, the correspondence theory of truth, affirms that truth is whatever is in accordance with reality. Even the subjectivist must affirm objective truth to make any claim about reality. The denial of truth is its affirmation; truth is inescapable. 

Nevertheless, Darwinism deals with survivability and pragmatism deals with utility, not truth. In other words, under Darwinism, if something is deemed “true,” it confers a selective advantage, and under pragmatism, a belief is true if it is useful to believe in.

The application of Darwinism to human ethics is problematic for someone who claims to live as though Christianity is true. It inevitably leads to a devaluation of the intrinsic value of human persons. Peterson has often claimed that a man who cannot establish a relationship with a woman (reproduce) is effectively useless in terms of evolution and hence existence for Peterson’s worldview, although “bottom-feeders” are the bulk of his audience he seeks to “transform.” Although some men do indeed manipulate women, building attraction with a woman you would desire and see a future with is not manipulative but a benefit to both the man and woman. God forbid that men take matters into their own hands if dealt a bad card because of their inability to naturally attract the woman they desire. He uncharitably proceeds to label such men as manipulative and psychopathic

His now infamous statement: “Falsehoods have consequences. That’s what makes them false,” should come as no surprise. He’s affirming some bizarre form of consequentialism, but the truth or falsity of something is not dependent on the consequences. This is not a coincidence but, rather, a reflection of his misguided worldview. 

Peterson’s Defense of Israeli Aggression

On October 7, 2023, Peterson tagged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a post on X, “Give ‘em Hell. Enough is Enough.” For an influencer and public intellectual like Peterson, this is highly irresponsible, or, to use one of his favorite terms, “reprehensible,” since he is encouraging violence on a massive scale. These sorts of aggressive tweets are inconsistent with his emotive videos, where he cries and laments over humanity’s division and many conflicts and the burden he carries as a public figure

Peterson always emphasizes that we should do what is meaningful as opposed to expedient. One wonders if he adopts some of his political positions for their expediency and usefulness. This would be in line with his adherence to a pragmatist theory of truth, since he does make a lot of profit from platforms such as The Daily Wire, which has ultra-defenders of the current Israeli military campaign. 

What is coming to light is that Israel’s military effort is in violation of both The Geneva Convention and The Vienna Convention. As global support for Israel fades, why has Peterson remained silent on the violent escalation in Gaza? What is happening in Gaza right now may very well be the best documented genocide in human history. And still, not a peep from Peterson. Even Donald Trump, an ardent supporter of Israel who brokered a number of peace agreements with Israel and other Middle Eastern countries, has broken his silence by saying

You have to finish up your war. You have to finish it up. You’ve got to get it done. We’ve got to get to peace. You can’t have this going on, and I will say Israel has to be very careful because you are losing a lot of the world. You are losing a lot of support.

Denial of God

The source of Peterson’s incoherence and self-contradictions is his denial of God. God is truth. God is the ground of all being. Peterson’s overestimation of Darwinism and pragmatism has led him to believe that something is true if and only if it is useful to believe. It shapes his political views and ethics. Peterson has stated numerous times that he lives as though God exists and Christianity were true. Is this because it is expedient for his ambitions? Aside from the fact that it is much better to live your life according to the truth, his claim seems rather hollow, given his avoidance of the subject. 

In 2017, in an interview with journalist Timothy Lott, when asked if he was a Christian, he initially responded, “Yes. Let’s leave it at yes.” Then Lott pressed him on whether he believed in the literal resurrection of Christ. In response, he paused for close to eight seconds and then fumbled for an answer by asking a rather deceitful question, “What do you mean by Jesus?” Subsequently, he admitted he was agnostic on the issue. 

Disturbingly, Peterson’s ambiguity when it comes to God’s existence, the Resurrection, and truth allows him to play both sides between believer and nonbeliever and everything in between, which can and has exponentially increased his influence, popularity, and hence, wealth. I’m not a fan of Richard Dawkins and have criticized him, but he has accurately referred to Peterson’s nebulous “theology” as “sheer bullsh*t.” Despite hundreds of videos produced, lectures delivered, and pages written, not much has changed over the past seven years in Peterson’s view on philosophy and theology. 

Over a year ago, his daughter, Mikhaila, converted to Christianity. This Easter Vigil, his wife, Tammy, converted to Catholicism. One wonders, why can’t Peterson get on with it? His response in an interview on Easter Sunday with Colm Flynn of EWTN is rather revealing:

Flynn: “You see how ridiculously good it is [the conversion of Peterson’s wife]. What is stopping you from embracing the faith of your wife?”

Peterson: “You mean all those pesky Catholics? I don’t know if anything is stopping me.” 

Flynn: “What’s holding you back?”

Peterson: “I don’t think anything is holding me back. Everybody’s got their own destiny and so.”

Flynn: “Is it in yours?”

Peterson: “Um, is it in mine? I would say it’s unlikely.

Flynn: “Why do you say unlikely?” 

Peterson: “I exist on the border of things. So, why is that? I don’t know but that’s how it is, so.” 

Now, one may be tempted to think that Peterson is hesitant about Catholicism but not Christianity in general, but given everything that’s been discussed, we don’t have good reason to think that. Undoubtedly, there is a reluctance to bend the knee. But why, for someone who presents himself as valuing Christianity so much? Vox Day argues in Jordanetics that this is because Peterson views himself as a prophet and messianic figure of his own Gnostic religion (Jordanetics). Given this, his comment about existing on the border of things makes perfect sense. Peterson exists on the border between truth and falsehood. Isn’t that what Satan does, who occasionally mixes truth with lies to confuse us? Peterson’s worldview is inherently anti-Christian, no matter how we spin it.

After all these years, I have yet to hear Peterson provide a single good reason to not accept Christ as his Lord and Savior. It is quite peculiar to see a man who states that he’s terrified that God may exist constantly evade speaking directly about belief and why he rejects God’s existence and faith in Him. Peterson is playing a dangerous game; he should pay heed to Jesus’ warning:

Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33).

As you can see, he may not be the purveyor of truth and freedom he claims to be. This is why, at the very least, we must be cautious of him. Nonetheless, I will continue to pray for Peterson. I’ll close with Vox Day’s fitting statement: “What shall it profit a man if he shall clean his room and lose his own soul?”


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