Guest Post: Dr. Peterson’s Disciples

You can tell just how dangerous our gatekeeping media mandarins think Dr. Jordan Peterson is by the number of hit pieces in establishment media organs on the man and his new book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. NBC called him part of the “alt-right” even though he explicitly denounces identitarian politics and has counseled young men away from that particular abyss. “The Stupid Person’s Smart Person”, he’s been called, taking a swipe at both Peterson and the people he disclaims are his “fans”.

To be honest, students or maybe even disciples would be more accurate, as Peterson’s message is fundamentally a moral one, telling people that they’re best off being as honest and responsible as possible.

I was thinking of going to hear him on the Detroit stop of his current lecture tour, but it sold old before I pulled the trigger, in part because I’m already pretty familiar with his work and 12 Rules and wasn’t sure I’d hear anything new, but also in part because I’m lazy and I procrastinate, something for which I’ve found Dr. Peterson’s advice helpful. I tried getting media access, but I’m not high enough in the media pecking order.

As I said, I wasn’t sure I’d hear anything new, but I did want to check out Dr. Peterson as a phenomenon. Why does his message resonate so much with young men? To find out, I drove down Woodward to the Fillmore and hung out with the folks waiting to get in the event.

It is hard to express just how optimistic it made me to see hundreds of people lined up around the block to be told to be more responsible.

Also, it was clear that Dr. Peterson’s appeal is far broader than just young men. By my estimation, about 30% of the crowd was female and the ages of the people of both sexes skewed mid to late 20s but also included people of a variety of generations, including some folks older than me and I’m in my 60s. There were couples (and lest you think that Dr. Peterson appeals just to incels, the ladies looked pretty good) and families. Mothers were there with there sons and there even were some unaccompanied single women. One woman, l’m guessing she was in her late 40s or so, told me she flew in from the United Kingdom and bought VIP tickets to the lecture because it was her only chance to see Peterson talk (his tour has had only a single stop scheduled in Old Blighty). When I asked her what his appeal to her personally was, she said, “I voted for Brexit. Women voted 80/20 against it. Dr. Peterson is in the vanguard of the fight for free speech.”

Most people were not political, though. I asked two questions. What do they think Dr. Peterson’s appeal is to his broader audience, and what is it about him that appeals to them personally? Almost all responded “his honesty” to the first question. Some said, “the truth.” More than a few said they could point to tangible improvements in their lives and relationships with others after following Dr. Peterson’s advice. Perhaps surprisingly, most said they had fathers in their lives growing up, though a couple alluded to having less than stellar father figures. One young black woman told me that Dr. Peterson has an ability to articulate things that she already knew were true. She was not the only one to say something like that.

There were some beggars camped out on the sidewalk, hoping for handouts from the folks lined up. As the late arrivals straggled into the theater, the mendicants decamped and I noticed that one was using an Apple iPhone as she walked down the street. At first I thought that the most generous thing anyone in line could have done would have been to give her a copy of 12 Rules. Then I realized that she’s got a hustle going and she likely would have just sold it to a Peterson fan for the cash money.

Nicholas Nassim Taleb says that you have to have some skin in the game. As I drove home I realized that the kindest thing someone could have done for the beggar lady would have been to try to sell her a copy, if only for $1. Then she might have actually read it and maybe absorbed some of Dr. Peterson’s age-old wisdoms.

I’d say more but I have a room that needs cleaning.

29 Replies to “Guest Post: Dr. Peterson’s Disciples”

  1. Opaddington

    Now how would Cathy Newman tackle your comments? “So what you’re saying is that you’re a bitter, old, Islamophobic, racist who desires to enjoy the experience of being in an echo chamber that is under the direction of Jordan Peterson. A misogynist who shares your deplorable views and whose opinions should be censored from the public.”

  2. E. Bryant

    “One young black woman told me that Dr. Peterson has an ability to articulate things that she already knew were true.”

    I strongly agree with this statement. In reading “12 Rules” and listening to Dr. Peterson’s non-strip tour of the podcast circuit, I don’t know that I’ve heard him say anything truly new. Much of his work seems to be the same things I’ve heard from parents and grandparents and bosses and Scout leaders and judges and clergy, albeit perhaps stated more elegantly (and by this, I mostly mean that he’s using fewer cuss words and not threatening me with jail time or an eternity in Hell). But yet he has still affected the way I approach certain situations, and so there is obviously a need for the service that he’s providing. I’m delighted to hear that people from other walks of life also find value in his words. And isn’t that great – that there exists advice that simply works, regardless of race, gender, and social status? This warms my heart.

  3. DrSmith

    Interesting take, Ronnie – however, several in the Alt Right & Manosphere think Herr Dr. is just a member of the approved “Fake” opposition. In other words, he is not a fan:

    based on your description of the people there Ronnie, I would say Vox is more correct than wrong….he is not really trying to help in the war on Men, rather a useful tool of the Establishment.

  4. Spud Boy

    Peterson’s appeal is that he’s able to put forth a moral framework for living without appeals to supernatural authority or 2000 year old texts. He frames religion as collection of stories that represent man’s collective wisdom that should not be thrown away just because the supernatural elements of religion can’t be proven scientifically.

    His displays of wisdom and common sense directly conflict with the views of the Regressive Left, which has increasingly taken over the humanities departments of Western universities, where they proselytize a religion of their own–a religion of “structural racism”, “oppressive patriarchy”, “gender fluidity”, “equity”, “diversity” and “inclusion.” Peterson’s has displayed tremendous courage in taking on these forces of ignorance, putting his own personal safety and reputation on the line in the process.

    Peterson is also quite humble and willing to recognize that he might be wrong–something refreshing in this era of arrogant YouTube personalities, many of whom are all sizzle and no steak.

  5. Nick D

    I saw him the day before in Chicago and echo your assessment. My wife, who hadn’t really heard of him or read any of his books, generally liked it but thought he rambled a bit.

  6. -Nate

    ? Any chance of these 12 rules being shared here ? .

    I too believe in honesty and think it makes for a good life .


    • Ronnie Schreiber

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

  7. Eric H

    That interviewer was a mental lightweight. I would love to hear him interviewed by someone competent who can formulate a thought.

    • Orenwolf

      This, right here, is the problem with the idea of “The media” to begin with.

      Any subject, any speaker, will have a bad day, or a softball question from a neophyte reporter. Because all of these “days” receive equal weight, anyone talking about these speakers can just trot out whatever video makes their point for them and suggest that this view is the “truth” of the matter.

      On the flipside, if the majority disagrees with your position, you can simply declare that position “the establishment” and that these outliers are, in fact, the truth.

      Media, science, special interests, take your pick. Everyone has used the “fair and balanced” idea that one dissenter is as important, if not moreso, than the majority to literally twist *any* narrative to match their bias. It’s why dissenting information has actually shown to *strengthen* peoples resolve, not the opposite.

      Ignore what the media or these videos, or even what Ronnie here, says. Completely ignore it. Instead, use articles like this to help *you* decide if this person deserves attention, then *you*, yourself, research the person, position, or whatever and make up your own opinion.

      • Rob

        Orenwolf, I completely agree with you. Our current online culture has somehow placed equal importance on actual subject matter experts and the 15 year old who tweets in response- and gives equal voice to them as well.

      • DrSmith

        Agree Orenwolf. However, issue is since many perceive the media itself is slanting the narrative in one direction, some people will reach a conclusion they might not have come across if the reporting was more balanced in the first place. It is natural for a person to reach a certain conclusion if they see or hear only one side of that story to start to wonder if the side they are hearing is “right”.

  8. tyates

    Interesting read. I think if you compared Jordan Peterson to, say, Neil deGrasse Tyson, for example, both are intelligent and mainstream thinkers who, in my view, even if they aren’t saying anything incredibly profound are still offering their viewers / readers an intelligent problem-solving positive mindset. I like them both for somewhat the same reasons.

    But the big difference between the two is that while NGT tried more or less to stay apolitical by just staying out of issues for the most part (although occasionally he flubbed it and was too conciliatory or compromising to the left), JP does not shy away from issues associated with political correctness and instead just confronts them head on and doesn’t cede an inch of ground. The result is that he comes across as both more brave and more honest and makes others around him – like NGT – look like intellectual cowards for not facing those issues.

  9. Luke

    The entire debate over Dr. Peterson’s message and belief system is the entire problem we have in our society right now. The second someone captures part of the cultural zeitgeist he must immediately be put into a tribe. “Are you with the Trump Tribe or the Anti-Trump Tribe?” “Are you with the Progressive Tribe or the Conservative Tribe?”

    God forbid you get selected into a tribe but hold different opinions! You get ejected, ostracized, and torn apart. And don’t say for a second that one tribe is more guilty than another…for every attempt to shut down a conservative voice at the NYT or The Atlantic, you have places like Red State and The National Review firing their anti-Trump writers.

    It is still possible for a person to have a set of beliefs and opinions that one wishes to defend and not be part of one tribe or another. Dr. Peterson has traditional beliefs that resonate with people and are, in many ways, just good advice. Why can’t the substance of his beliefs or the rigor of his work be the things that are discussed?

    We used to appreciate artists, writers, musicians, and intellectuals for what they had to say and how they forced us, sometimes uncomfortably, to consider our own opinions. Now if they don’t fit into a perfect tribal narrative we just tear them down and discard them.

    • DrSmith

      Actually, Luke, Dr. Peterson doesn’t…he just comes across that way. Look at what is at this link if you care to:

      it is not about which tribe one belongs to or not; it really is about is Dr. Peterson really who he claims to be, and is he really for helping disenfranchised young men or is more a globalist packaging their message in a way that is more able to be sold to same young men. It matters because these same globalist are the ones responsible for the disenfranchisement in the first place.

    • Christian Pelletier

      A member of no tribe, I ride alone. I abhor voters who choose a party over a single issue be it abortion, gun control, immigration whatever. I do my research and vote for the individual that I think will best represent me.

      I lean left on social issues, right on fiscal issues and am a foreign policy hawk, not chickenhawk, I served 27 years in the Army.

      • -Nate

        Jeezo-peezo ~ when the trolls begin correcting my errors there won’t be space for anything else .


        • sabotenfighter

          Nate, you are the natural enemy of the Grammar Nazi, but that doesn’t make you any less likeable.

          • -Nate

            Thanx, I think =8-) .

            FWIW, although I obviously failed third grade English class, I do love the English language, it’s so full of oddities .


  10. Joel


    I actually came back to this post to thank you for introducing me to this professor. I don’t get around Youtube often, save for guitar tutorials every now and then. I have listened to 10+ hours of his discussions with Joe Rogan and a few other individuals, and I think I have a good handle on his message.

    I actually find his debates and discussions very well reasoned, respectful and straight forward. I can see where people would consider his delivery blunt, but I just don’t see it that way. There is a precision in his arguments that could only come from a man who questions his own morality and intellect more than any external source ever could.

    I watched the full 30 minute interview referenced in this post. The worst parts of the interview aren’t even included. I don’t know where his patience comes from. The mentality that all individuals deserve to be heard (and challenged) is something I really don’t see often.

    I do see that some of his interviews show a man who is completely exhausted from over-extending himself. Watching his interviews with Joe Rogan show a man who is willing to use every ounce of energy in his being to explain, explore and learn the human condition. After 2.5-3 hours you see the exhaustion, but the passion props him up to explore ideas and flesh out his own understandings of historical events.

    This man refuses to compromise his integrity, and he will listen and debate anyone. That is something to truly respect.

    • Christian Pelletier

      You are right about not compromising his integrity. He took a lot of flack in Canada for refusing to use the new transgender forms of address. He is right, he is blunt and he is brilliant.


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