Most media criticism of clinical psychology professor Dr. Jordan Peterson has been of such low quality that even those who have never heard of him can spot a hit piece when they see it. Recently, however, his adversaries have become more sophisticated.
The New York Times published an opinion article Jordan Peterson: Custodian of the Patriarchy based on spending two days with him. It is cleverly written – although describing it as intelligent would be to go too far. To the untrained eye, it could easily be mistaken for journalism.
Another hit piece
However, make no mistake: It is a hit piece seething with malevolence in every syllable. Author Nellie Bowles sets the tone from the very start: “He says there’s a crisis in masculinity. Why won’t women — all these wives and witches — just behave?”
The article is short on substance but brimming with subtle verbal attacks on Peterson. Bowles insists on referring to him as “Mr.” throughout the article, whereas common courtesy is to use the professional title “Dr.” whenever a title is used. Using linguistic manipulation, she cunningly avoids the academic authority Peterson holds as a Ph.D. and a well-respected professor and scholar in his field.
Throughout the article, she continues this manipulation to set up the image of Peterson as a con man. She points out that he makes a lot of money on Patreon and makes a point about how he has changed his dress code recently to appear more conservative.
At one point in the article Bowles cleverly describes him as inhuman:
“He has written about dogs being closest in behavior to humans, but there is something extremely feline about him. He always wears a suit.”
So, he is not human like them dogs. He is a calculating predator that hides behind a suit.
The linguistic kill-shot
Although her words are mostly maneuverings of this kind, there is one powerful and intelligently designed linguistic kill-shot in the article, which she borrows from a recent NBC hit piece on Peterson. In mythology, order is masculine, and chaos is feminine. The subtitle of his book is “an antidote to chaos.” Therefore, it is an antidote to the feminine. Ergo, misogyny. Case closed, Peterson is the custodian of the patriarchy.
Peterson tries to explain to Ms. Bowles that order and chaos in and of themselves are neutral and that they only become a negative when they are out of balance. The good is the right balance between order and chaos, between the masculine and the feminine.
In nature, biologists posit that male power is based on violence whereas female power is based on manipulation. When used correctly these powers make life better for everyone, but they can also turn malevolent. Where a malevolent man would turn to physical abuse and murder, a malevolent woman – a witch – would concoct a manipulative brew of words to poison their target.
At one point in the article, we catch a glimpse of the dark and distorted corners of Bowles’ mind. She refers to so-called “incels” as a male supremacist group. “Incel” is short for involuntary celibate, and it is a label of self-identified losers. They are classifying themselves as the bottom of the heap, the exact opposite of supreme.
Peterson tries to explain to her that it is a big problem that men are falling behind:
“Half the men fail,” he says, meaning that they don’t procreate. “And no one cares about the men who fail.”
I laugh, because it is absurd.
“You’re laughing about them,” he says, giving me a disappointed look. “That’s because you’re female.”
Although the article is cleverly written, at one point Ms. Bowles reveals her bias and ignorance:
“When Mr. Peterson talks about good women — the sort a man would want to marry — he often uses these words: conscientious and agreeable.”
Yes, that is because he is an academic and he uses technical terms. These are two of the Big Five personality traits that are among the first things an undergraduate in psychology learns. However, in her article, she reveals that she has no idea that they are professional terms used by scientists.
She spent two days with one of the world’s leading academics in clinical psychology, and yet she failed to learn even the basics. Hundreds of thousands of people around the globe would pay an arm and a leg to be able to spend that amount of time talking to and learning from a man like Jordan Peterson.
Not only did she not learn; she used his trust to connive a nasty and manipulative piece of unscrupulous journalism behind his back, data-mining every sentence or linguistic tick that she could use to create a toxic potion intended to poison his reputation.
As so many dark souls have discovered before her, however, Jordan Peterson tends to emerge from such venomous attacks stronger and more resilient.