Jordan Peterson’s antidote to chaos

Click on this for a full review of Jordon Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life

Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist and a professor at the University of Toronto whom I never heard of until last week, but who evidently has millions of followers on YouTube.

Below are his 12 Rules for Living, the title of a book that will be published later this year.  Based on the video above and on a couple of articles I’ve read about him, he is a free spirit who says things that are important and true, things that are important if true and some other things that I can’t make head nor tail of.

  1.  Stand up straight with your shoulders back.
  2.  Treat yourself like you would treat someone you are responsible for helping.
  3.  Make friends with people who want the best for you.
  4.  Compare yourself with who you were yesterday, not with who somebody else is today.
  5.  Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.
  6.  Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.
  7.  Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
  8.  Tell the truth—or at least don’t lie.
  9.  Assume the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.
  10.  Be precise in your speech.
  11.  Do not bother children when they are skateboarding.
  12.  Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.

The 12 rules are true and important.  I remember, when I was a small boy, my mother telling me to stand with my shoulders back and my neck straight.   I think of this when I’m feeling down, and adopting good posture does change my attitude.  It makes me wiling to meet the challenges of the day.

He is right to object to silly rules about gendered pronouns, which regulate how you can refer to people who consider themselves neither men nor women.  I do believe in good manners—referring to people (within reason) as they would wish to be called.   But I wouldn’t try to enforce my idea of good manners through the criminal law.

In the interview, he claims to be able to understand all the reasons, expressed in precise percentage terms, as to why women are underrepresented in certain professions.

I think there is a strong possibility that one reason there are few women surgeons and a great many women pediatricians is that many women prefer taking care of babies to cutting people up.

But times are changing.  We in the Western world are living in the middle of a great social experiment, to see if traditional gender roles are the result of nurture rather than nature.   Maybe in a generation or two, there will be lot more women surgeons and a lot more male pediatricians.   Or maybe not.  I’m not brave enough to guess.

Toward the end of the interview above, he says that human beings and all other animals are hard-wired for hierarchy.  What could this possibly mean?  Dogs follow the lead of the top dog, while cats follow no-one.  Human beings come together in all kinds of ways.  So what is he getting at?  Probably there is some missing bit of information that would make this make sense.


Dr. Jordan B. Peterson website.

What’s So Dangerous about Jordan Peterson? by Tom Bartlett for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Jordan Peterson: Self-Help Guru and Father Figure by Christian Chensvold for National Review.

Jordan Peterson: “The pursuit of happiness is a pointless goal” by Tim Lott for The Guardian.

[Headline changed 7/21/2018]


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One Response to “Jordan Peterson’s antidote to chaos”

  1. Tony Says:

    Jordan Peterson is indeed a very thoughtful and sentimental man. I very much appreciate that he takes things to heart and sees the enormous power and potential in ideals and how greatly they can change each and every one of us in ways we’d never imagine, if only we’d take the time to notice what is and isn’t worth our time and effort. This video really showcases how important being impactful to others is to him.


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