Tuesday, 23 January 2018

QotD: On haranguing dissenters [updated]

"This interview [below] between Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson and UK Channel 4 interviewer Cathy Newman] is truly a work of art, and while one could probably write a treatise analysing it, one important [point], which I blogged about recently, is the phenomenon of the conceptual versus the anti-conceptual mind...
...."Newman demonstrates [the] anti-conceptual mentality by refusing to grasp the method that Peterson follows. Essentially, she continually ignores or evades his reasoning, mindlessly attaching herself to one word or fragment of his statement which she then tangentially relates to some PC cliche... This is a recurring theme. Peterson tries to explain the causes of an observable fact before jumping to any conclusions or evaluating the morality of those causes, while she wishes to take the fact alone as prima facie evidence of her own preconceived judgment: 'There is a pay gap, therefore men are oppressing women.' ...

...."This anti-conceptual method is endemic to the left and accounts for most of their own political positions.... Why is this? To the left, seeking causes is irrelevant because causes are preordained... These days, that means people are determined by their class, gender, and ethnicity... Consequently, the leftist mind is stunted at birth as it were, leaving its zombie disciples in a position not to have a reasoned discussion nor to debate in the pursuit of truth (causes), but only to harangue and attack dissenters."
~ from the Rational Capitalist's post: "Important 'Takeaway' from the Peterson Interview: The Anti-Conceptual Left"


History teacher Scott Powell agrees that the problem here is conceptual.
For what it's worth, and this is for all you educators and activists out there mainly: the real significance of this interview is that it shows how difficult it is for someone who operates at a higher level of abstraction to talk to someone who refuses to, and why the real battle for freedom is in education.
....The interviewer insists on reframing all issues at a lower level of abstraction (to "simplify," to reduce to soundbites--by stripping away key elements of the truth) and Peterson keeps trying to elevate the discussion to the plain on which it belongs by maintaining the full context. Because modern education has failed so utterly, he can't do it. He stays patient and benevolent throughout, and he does "overpower" her intellectually in the end, especially during that one moment where the truth breaks through.
....But in a perfectly tragic twist befitting our modern world, Peterson's own uneducated "supporters" then attacked her on-line, which fundamentally undercut the intellectual effort he undertook.
....To make the world a better place requires nothing less than increasing the level of abstraction of the culture. Nothing less.



  1. What I liked was that when she stumbled over the truth about why we need free speech toward the end, she just paused, looked completely bewildered and even shut up briefly before carrying on as though nothing had happened. The lights went on but her circuit breaker immediately popped or something to deny her a lingering look at reality. I think Peterson even said, "Gotcha" but I watched it a couple of days ago and can't recall for certain. I like that Peterson seems to have that barely contained anger when people start to talk rubbish around him or put words in his mouth. I also like that he is quite precise with his language so can defend his position because he always knows what he actually said rather than what the offended inferred he said.


  2. Another interesting analysis re cognitive dissonance


    1. oops - better link


  3. Her political bias and unattractive/aggressive personality is clearly on display here, but something more than that could only explain this women's inability to think beyond the concrete. Anti-conceptual to be sure, but I'm also wondering if she's just plain thick. The telling point for me was when Peterson said something without any obvious political implications - pointing out the sensitivity to social hierarchy and related neurological effects that is common to both humans and crayfish (from which our evolutionary paths split 300m years ago). Her response? "So you're saying we should organize our societys along the lines of the lobsters"!

    I think Peterson handled it very well and deserves a medal for putting up with these repeated attempts over 1/2 hour to misrepresent what he said.

    1. Just plain thick? "Newman graduated with a first from Oxford University, where she read English..." Sadly, I suspect it's more a function of what she was taught at OU, rather than what she failed to grasp while there.

    2. Alas you must be right then. In that case it's an extraordinary example of how someone with a likely high IQ can be rendered stupid (and to me it seemed almost mentally retarded) when they reject a proper thinking method, and let preconceived abstractions override the reality in front of them.

  4. A surprisingly good account of that interview was in the Dom Post:


    1. It seems to have been removed...

    2. Yes, you're right. Funny that. I suspect the it was a automatic feed from the Times, and was removed when the Dom's editor read it and realized didn't meet their standards for ideological conformity. The same piece can be found in links below.




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