Richard Poplak sets Jordan B Peterson’s house in order: a (scorching) review of 12 Rules For Life

Richard Poplak reviews 12 Rules For Life by Jordan B Peterson, ‘the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now’.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
Jordan B Peterson
Allen Lane, 2018

This is just the fucking worst.

Imagine a self-help book written by the Darth Maul of tenured campus bad boys, an act of trahison des clercs so severe that it calls into question the entire five-thousand-year academic project—a book that seeks to make accessible to a general audience a mélange of mysticism, philosophy, psychology and dietary recommendations, assembled into a package so intellectually low-cal that it would be hilarious were it not basically a to-do list for a generation of tiki torch-wielding neo-Klansmen.

I speak here, of course, of 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos, by Jordan B Peterson, the once-obscure University of Toronto Psychology professor who acquired a legion of super-fans after posting a series of self-help talks on YouTube. Peterson’s profile went supernova after he put his stamp on the identity politics debate with a lecture called ‘Identity Politics & The Marxist Lie of White Privilege’, which would be note-perfect as a Key & Peele sketch, but is incomprehensible as anything else. His YouTube channel, as the new book’s Introduction reminds us, has many millions of views; and the Publisher of this publication [Publisher’s note: Poplak means The JRB] reckons his sales figures are comparable to that of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century [Publisher’s note: they’re probably better on a year-on-year basis], which makes Peterson that rarest of things in our Age of Idiocracy: one of precisely two bonafide intellectual superstars.

And what sort of intellectual does the Idiocracene usher forth? The kind that writes a self-help book for assholes, basically. 12 Rules for Life is a Gladwellian shotgun blast of childhood anecdotes, Bowdlerized mythology, common sense behavioural techniques, grossly undercooked philosophical concepts (Heidegger’s ideas get a proper reaming here), along with a soupçon of mystical Christianity, a dash of Eastern religious-type stuff—oh, and emoticons. (¯\_(ツ)_/¯) It’s all ready-made for the Trump era, where resentment of ‘postmodern’ campus lefties and their intersectional, Black Lives Matter, materialist tendencies have become fodder for prime-time alt-right outrage.

Peterson honed his persona on television, so it’s not entirely ad hominem to say that the author photo on the jacket offers a stark warning. The Professor is depicted with his chin sinisterly raised as he gazes up at what I imagine to be a classical sculpture he has never before encountered—as if that were even possible. The pretension is ramped up over the course of the Foreword, which is written by Dr Norman Doidge, author of the bestselling [Publisher’s note: yup] The Brain That Changes Itself, who offers an encomium of Peterson so effusive that the book instantly takes on the air of a self-published manuscript written by a lay intellectual who once audited a Phil 101 class at the Winnipeg Technical Institute, circa 1983. But how’s this for some insight into the man the New York Times describes as ‘the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now’:

‘They had art,’ says Doidge of Peterson and his wife’s middle-class Toronto home:

[B]ut they were overwhelmed by a huge collection of original Socialist Realist paintings of Lenin and the early Communists commissioned by the USSR. Not long after the Soviet Union fell, and most of the world breathed a sigh of relief, Peterson began buying this propaganda for a song online. Paintings lionizing the Soviet revolutionary spirit completely filled every single wall, the ceilings, and even the bathrooms. The paintings were not there because Peterson had any totalitarian sympathies, but because he wanted to remind himself of something he knew he and everyone would rather forget: that over a hundred million people were murdered in the name of utopia.

Yeeeaah, I’m not so sure about that line of reasoning. While I’m no shrink, Peterson actually is—a shrink, I mean. And I wonder whether he’d buy that nonsense from a patient. Why not just ask Siri to send a daily ‘Lenin was bad news’ reminder? Or—even better—why not just remember it inside your own head, along with a decent banana bread recipe and your wedding anniversary?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Indeed, a staunch Tyrannophilia runs through the book like a fugue—the tyranny of the Self, the tyranny of the Ideal Individual, who must take his place at the centre of Being (as per Heidegger, thank you very much) and at the centre of the mystical sign of the cross (Peterson experiences this motif in a dream), which represents ‘suffering and transformation’.

‘How could the world be freed from the terrible burden of conflict, on the one hand, and psychological and social dissolution, on the other?’ asks the Professor. ‘The answer is this: through the elevation and development of the individual, and through the willingness of everyone to shoulder the burden of Being and to take the heroic path.’

This sounds like a man who has to walk through snow to get to his university office.

How did Peterson become such an effective Iron John bromide machine? He is a clinical psychologist, a professor of psychology, and a renaissance-style polymath, which in his case means cinching seven or eight basket-weaving disciplines together into one spectacular black hole of knowledge, a negation of the very principles of rigorous scholarship. Peterson appears to have read widely, which is to say: not deeply. Many academic bullshit merchants have done queasy work jamming thinly understood Big Concepts into stocking-stuffer books, but never have they tried to force Charles Darwin, Carl Jung, Jesus Christ, Goethe, Dante, Erich Neumann, Yeats, and literally hundreds of others into a fucking Huffington Post listicle.

The book, if you hadn’t picked this up from its title, is divided into twelve chapters, each concerned with a Rule for Life, such as Rule 6: Set Your House in Order Before You Criticize the World, or Rule 11: Do Not Bother Children When They are Skateboarding. It has a self consciously old-timey feel about it, like a hipster barbershop or a cocktail list at a TripAdvisor-approved speakeasy. This serves as a major clue concerning Peterson’s politics: nostalgia is the gateway drug to hyper-conservativism. ‘Hopes can be disappointed,’ noted the conservative intellectual Mark Lilla. ‘Nostalgia is irrefutable.’

And it’s dangerous. The obsession with archetypal masculinity, and ancient (inherently conservative) social structures, is perhaps the most unwelcome feature of the new right: it quickly takes on the contours of a death cult. But to have truly lived in this terrible age—to have properly grasped the mendacious insanity of the identity politics double negative—you really have to read Jordan Peterson in South Africa. Come ye faithful scorned North American males, come and shoot an elephant in one of our many hunting lodges, your trigger hand steadied by the musky-smelling game ranger in his khaki kortbroek as the shot rings out over the savannah. Then read Peterson with a gin and tonic in hand, watching as the sun sets over Aafrikah.

Somewhat disappointingly, Peterson’s views are less ecstatically or mystically repressed-homoerotic than you’d think. They’re simply misogynistic: his empathy, for women in particular, regarding women in particular, stops at the tip of his pen. But he does believe men are under threat, and that this poses existential civilisational difficulties. Order in the archetypal narratives, he reminds us, is represented by the male; chaos by the female. (It is literally too painful to quote him on this.) Nature—which he defines, per Darwin, as that which selects—picked the traditional family structure for mammals over two-hundred million years ago. It worked for sabre-toothed tigers in 75,000 BCE; it must work for Homo sapiens in 2018.

Should we not question some of these verities? Do we need to live like cave-folk in order to find happiness? Peterson doesn’t seem to believe such interrogations are necessary, mostly because of something called ‘dominance hierarchies’, which are the primary ‘facts’ of nature. ‘The dominance hierarchy is not capitalism. It’s not communism, either, for that matter,’ asserts Peterson.

It’s not the military-industrial complex. It’s not the patriarchy—that disposable, malleable, arbitrary cultural artifact. It’s not even human creation; not in the most profound sense. It is instead a near-eternal aspect of the environment, and much of what is blamed on these more ephemeral manifestations is a consequence of its unchanging existence.

Well. If, like me, you get the sense that this shit runs jauntily alongside National Socialism, fear not, because remember!—Peterson disdains ideology. He’s far more interested in the mystical proto-scientific guff that, hey, if you’re up for it, provides the scaffolding behind toxic ideologies.

One way to sum up Peterson is to call him Hobbesian, which is an insult to Hobbes, so let’s not. That said, without rules—his rules, to be specific—the world is a hard zero-summy type of place, with alphas and betas and gammas all vying for the same hot chicks, the alphas coming out on top, so to speak, every time. He and his acolytes tend to characterise empathy, both in the social and political realms, as a form of moral relativism—one of the great bugaboos of the nineteen-eighties neo-conservative movement, resuscitated here as a negation of the absolute virtues that are inherent in the hero narrative and other archetypal ‘maps of meaning’ (to borrow the title of Peterson’s first book). The intellectual bear trap here should be obvious: that in the social and political realms, absolute virtues are not applied absolutely. Peterson steps into the trap and keeps on walking.

It’s worth noting, though, that the interrogation of the ‘power relations’ inherent in functioning societies—i.e., not mythical or archetypal fan fiction-created societies—tends to be a necessary endeavour, largely because it steers us towards virtuousness, not away from it. Virtue is not hardwired into us and then ignored by Millennials who are on their phones all the time; nor is virtue some latent human power waiting to be uncovered by the application of twelve pithy rules. In the real world, virtue is encoded into our societies through both custom and its political extension, laws—which in turn take their power from precedent, and which in most cases, due to various and manifold inequities, are not applied equally, and not with equal rigour. In other words, our social systems, along with our mores, evolve; they are also fallible.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

In Peterson’s construction, moral relativism—along with its handmaidens, ideology and nihilism (and by extension despair)—take root because we ignore these fundamentals, and are thus constantly forgetting archetypal notions of virtue. Owing to the complexities of our modern social relations, all sorts of weird people have got it into their heads that they can circumvent the natural order—hence transgender bathrooms and black woman playing presidents on the telly. Viewed this way, such acts of social chutzpah do not represent transformation or progress, but an upending of and an assault on Nature.

I’ll spare you the pseudoscience that follows, but perhaps the most risible aspect of Peterson’s outlook is that social relations can’t be governed by kindness, nor can they be tweaked for fairness. It’s been proven that serotonin can be self-administered by a simple change in attitude, he tells us, so stop complaining about being discriminated against and change your posture. (This is an actual Petersonism, I shit you not.) It’s not for us to restructure society, or to moderate and perhaps improve on, say, the Scandinavian welfare state. (Peterson wouldn’t lower himself to such base political considerations.) It’s for individuals to pick themselves up, pull up their socks and, as per Rule 1, ‘Stand up straight with your shoulders back’.

In other words, stop whining and get on with the hero’s journey, you big wusses.

For Peterson, as for many of his followers, egalitarianism is merely a gateway drug for USSR-style communism. The problem, according to this crew, is not the fascism inherent in white male resentment, but the fascism that arises from trying to ameliorate the effects of white male dominance. No ‘privilege’, per se, exists—just a postmodern neo-Marxist construction that attempts to realign privilege, to unmoor nature from itself.

Peterson, it should now be clear, is a crank of drunk uncle proportions. But he is also the ‘the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now’, which should not be mistaken for an exaggeration. It’s all caved in on itself, the Western world and its various satellites, in their various stages of orbit decay or escape velocity—we’re all Walter Benjamin’s ‘Angelus Novus’, gazing at the detritus of history, blown back to the future by the force of the mess. And there’s Jordan Peterson, waiting for us with his rulebook, reminding us to eat a decent breakfast, to pull our flies up, and to refuse futzing with pronouns to accommodate the transgendered.

12 Rules For Life is paleo-intellectualism crossed with a Hallmark card. We’re all going to die in a ball of fire.☹

180 thoughts on “Richard Poplak sets Jordan B Peterson’s house in order: a (scorching) review of 12 Rules For Life”

    1. Peterson is just a con man playing the oldest game con men have played….find losers and tell them how they can stop being losers by essentially explaining to them what everyone who isn’t a loser figured out at age 16. “Have some self respect?” YA.DON’T. SAY. “Stand up straight?” Duuhhh. “Organize your life?” novel though for an adult.

      If you find any of this helpful what you really suffer from is immaturity, which is why it’s so easy for a huckster like Peterson to come in and play the father figure role for you. Grow up.

      1. Congratulations on not being a sucker. People who critique the self help genre are always trying so hard not to break their arms patting themselves on their own backs because they’ve managed to “figure out at age 16” something which people who do not have such an easy time of it struggle through, whether that is because of a poor upbringing, the unfortunate situation of being abused as a child, or some mental health issue which causes them to struggle with day to day life. Oh you lost a parent at a young age and that still bothers you ? Figure it out yourself or else that means there’s something wrong with you! Bullshit, life’s tough snowflake. So enjoy your white privileged, fly your tiki torch because you can’t stop patting yourself on the back long enough to analyze your own self serving ideologies. You made it, others who struggle can burn then I take it from your post, people like you, so self righteous that they demonize those who ask for help are a special type of sucker who buys there own shit and try’s to tell other’s it smells like roses.

        1. What is this idiocy? My comment is referring to Peterson’s cult, not people who ACTUALLY have issues like losing parent’s at a young age or mental illness.
          Speaking of which, have you not picked up on the fact that most of what you just replied to me with is pretty much Peterson’s theory?

          1. Yes, but Peterson explains the reasons, and not in the gross way you did. Congratulations on not being a sucker, Superman!

        2. Wait, did you just put the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now into “the self-help genre”? Is that what this book is?
          Richard Poplak, you could have saved vast amounts of time and ardor!

        3. I honestly despise everything about this review and its creator. Shameful to speak about the man who care most about the fate of the individual the most in such a manner. Shame, shame….

          1. This review is horrendous, none of the points Dr. Peterson makes in his book are discussed or argued. It’s a bunch of fancy words being used to slander a very intelligent man. Shame! As someone who actually knows Dr. Peterson it disturbs me to read such gibberish. Dr. Peterson is brilliant, caring , compassionate and is deeply concerned about the human condition.

          2. Wow! This guy’s hatred for Dr. Peterson is blinding….he needs to engage in actual arguments and criticisms as to why he disagrees with him.

      2. For those who don’t yet know Peterson, here is a sample of what Poplak fears, the hucksterism that Peterson has been teaching his university students for the past thirty years. It’s well worth a view, so that you can understand why Poplak is so deeply alarmed and why Poplak is determined to contain him.

        Jordan Peterson: A history lesson for political radicals

        https://youtu.be/Rys45B4OhV0

      3. That’s the thing that is sad
        The fact that no one tells them that and they have to get it from a youtube video because no one in their lives displined them

    2. April 4, 2018 at 3:10 pm
      Dave wrote: “ah, the self-righteousness of presumption without curiosity.”

      Utterly spot on. Les mots justes.

    3. Correct. Peterson is calling out, in plain terms, the BS of the whole post-modernist sophomoric “philosophy” that now permeates the far Left. And it hurts, badly. One can almost see Poplak’s pain in this resentful, churlish “review”. Eina.
      Persius

  1. I’m only halfway through but I wonder if we are reading the same book. There is not one bit that sounds like a call to arms of any united group. Half of it so far has interesting cases of evolutionary explanations for why some methods work in clinical psychology. The stand up straight chapter mostly deals with why anxiety and depression form in a human when they feel they are low ranking in their community and steps to deal with it. I honestly wonder what review you would have written if you read this with no idea who the dude was. Seems like you are seeing what you want to see. As a review itself it’s badly written cause you don’t even break down one of his key ideas and explain why it is wrong. You ridicule from afar and suggest people are hunting and drinking gin and tonics to associate it with negative imagery of your creation. I have some problems with peterson and I have read some good criticisms of some of his positions. On other positions I agree with him. Your review was a waste of my time for developing either side of my understanding of him

    1. Could you please share the good criticism that you read? I like an dislike Peterson at the same time and would like to read and articulate criticism of his work. So far I have only found article based on ridicule and not arguments.

      1. Respectfully, just wondering: have you read the book? I think I’ll get myself a copy and make up my own mind. The reviewer’s snarky comment putting down my hometown of Winnipeg smacks of the worst kind of “”progressive elitism”, too coin a phrase.

      2. Agreed. I’ve spent the last few hours talking to people who have shared this story, and now they too despise Peterson…and yet also won’t read the book. Are these adults, professionals? What age are we living in when this can happen on a supposedly professional platform? It’s other media, too. I can’t get my head around it. I don’t buy into left or right labels, but care deeply about social progress, cruelty and corruption. I read lot of philosophy. I’m not a Buzzfeed-reading, insecure Alt-right teen. I’m a writer in his 40s. The term slave morality comes to mind. Utterly thoughtless.

    2. Thank you for this – well considered and comprehensive. The fact those desperate to drink the kool aid of hatefulness towards Dr Peterson can only respond to you with ‘Shut up’ and ‘Agreed’ with all the class and articulation of kids of the back of the bus only able to disparage rather than engage, only proves your point further.

  2. Dear Richard Poplak, I have read Dr. Peterson’s book. Your review of “12 Rules for Life” sounds as if you haven’t. Given that your description of the book bears only a vape resemblance to the actual book, I suppose you have an agenda. I suppose you won’t be honest and up front about what you are really up to. Your review is dishonest. It churlishly attempts to demean Dr. Peterson’s intellect and it grossly distorts his views.

    By chance, have you watched the interview of Jordan Peterson by Cathy Newman’s of Britain’s Channel 4? It has 9 million views. I encourage my fellow readers to see it.

    In her interview of Peterson, in front of her audience, Newman attempts to distort nearly everything that Peterson says to her. Newman humiliates herself, in her dishonesty, pretentiousness, shallowness and pettiness, much as you have done in your review.

    So far, from what I have observed, every scurrilous and dishonest attempt to discredit Jordan Peterson’s has left the attacker looking quite the fool.

    You appear very foolish and childish to me.
    I suspect that what may be going on, deeper, within your psyche is that you might be feeling quite jealous and insecure.

    I am an intelligent, highly educated person. I consider myself an “intellect.” Honestly, Richard, I can’t hold a candle to the genius of Jordan Peterson. And neither can you.

    May I suggest that, with humility and an open mind, you reread “12 Rules for Life.” You might learn a thing or two.

      1. Ideas this preposterous don’t require their falsity to be broken down. They are evident on their face and rejected by even the most simple of decent folk.

        1. Perhaps, Andrew, I have overestimated my intellect.

          However, it is improbable that I have overestimated the intellect of Jordan Peterson.

          From the Chronicle of Higher Education — What’s So Dangerous About Jordan Peterson?
          By Tom Bartlett  JANUARY 17, 2018
          “In 1995, Peterson was profiled in The Harvard Crimson, an article that reads like an award introduction. One undergraduate told the newspaper that Peterson was “teaching beyond the level of anyone else,” and that even “philosophy students go to him for advice.” A graduate student from back then, Shelley Carson, who now teaches at Harvard and writes about creativity, recalled that Peterson had “something akin to a cult following” in his Harvard days. “Taking a course from him was like taking psychedelic drugs without the drugs,” Carson says. “I remember students crying on the last day of class because they wouldn’t get to hear him anymore.”

          The issue of my intellect aside, Richard Poplak, has written a hatchet job on Dr. Peterson’s book and a shoddy one at that.

          Following in the footsteps of Cathy Newman and her ignominious performance on Channel 4, Popek demonstrates a callous dishonesty. Why should you or I or any of the readers of the “Johannesburg Review of Books” have our intelligence insulted and underestimated by a writer who only pretends to offer us a legitimate review?

          Given Popek’s antagonism toward Dr. Peterson, one would hope that he would take on at least one of Jordan Peterson’s arguments by trying to dissect it and refute it. However, he doesn’t even try? He fails to do so, because Poplak’s intellect falls well short of the task.

          After all, consider the following sentences in Poplak’s review:

          “Peterson honed his persona on television, so it’s not entirely ad hominem to say that the author photo on the jacket offers a stark warning. The Professor is depicted with his chin sinisterly raised as he gazes up at what I imagine to be a classical sculpture he has never before encountered—as if that were even possible..”

          Popek claims his sentence is “not entirely ad hominem?” What? Is he serious? His review, top to bottom, is entirely ad hominem. Poplak’s suggesting to us that it isn’t, only calls attention to the fact that it is. This review is made of insult upon insult, dressed in the pretense of a style that offers us nothing but 50 cent words and menacing evocations.

          Poplak’s words are incoherent. Where is there any substance in this review? There is absolutely none. Just a multitude of cheap shots.

          To dissect, Poplak’s pretense, what a ridiculous statement is,

          “Peterson honed his persona on television.”

          No, sorry Richard Popek. You are incorrect. Jordan Peterson honed his persona, as we all do, by living and experiencing life.

          Furthermore, a significant portion of Peterson’s adult life has not been spent on television, as you suggest, but in the classroom, teaching the students of Harvard and the University of Toronto. Much of Peterson’s remaining time has been spent in his long standing clinical practice as a psychologist.

          And now, I will pull this Popek sentence apart a bit further. “Peterson honed his persona on television, SO it’s not entirely ad hominem to say that the author photo on the jacket offers a stark warning.”

          “So” you say?

          How, exactly does the idea:

          “ Peterson honed his persona on television”

          relate to the false idea,

          “ it’s not entirely ad hominem to say that the author photo on the jacket offers a stark warning?”

          It doesn’t. It’s a complete non sequitur.

          What exactly is this “stark warning” that Popek tosses in our lap like a frightening serpent and which turns out to be more like a child’s floppy rubber snake.

          Popek follows the above nonsense statement with another: “The Professor is depicted with his chin sinisterly raised as he gazes up at what I imagine to be a classical sculpture he has never before encountered—as if that were even possible..”

          Richard, who frikkin cares what you imagine. Let’s get real. And how does “as if that were even possible..” relate to anything you have stated previously?

          To describe Peterson’s photo, you use the word, “Sinisterly?” If that’s how you see it, do you expect us to swallow your warped appraisal and adopt your malevolent point of view?

          How about a rewrite, from another angle. I offer you this:

          Professor Peterson is depicted with his eyes raised to the heavens, like the aspirational figure of a Donatello sculpture or a Giotto painting.”

          I encourage my fellow readers of Poplak’s review to take a closer look at his non sequitur riddled sentence construction. Line after line, his incoherence as a thinker, and as a writer, show through.

          This review is a fine example of the follies of characterization rather than refutation. There is virtually no engagement with Peterson’s ideas. Consequently, the review is shallow, comes off as ingenuous and deserves to be dismissed.

          Andrew, as Jordan Peterson’s star has risen and continues to rise, ultimately, neither your opinion nor mine will matter a whit.

          1. There is engagement with Peterson’s ideas, it’s just hidden in a very rude (if you are a JBP fan)/entertaining (if you are not a JBP fan) tirade. you’re guilty of your own criticism by looking past it.

          2. Patrick Harvard, what a superlative review. Wow.

            What strikes me about the reviewer is that he obviously has native intelligence, but just isn’t much of a human being yet. That he can’t see the value in and rejoice in a phenomenon such as Jordan Peterson is not a good portent for his future. I’m really sorry about that. (Actually the main thought that occurred to me about the reviewer is what sort fellow soldier he would make. Can you imagine him being in your platoon?)

            What really bothered me is that he stooped to outright lies several times. And major lies of omission.

            A reader of this review would simply never know that what Peterson refused was and is COMPELLED SPEECH (he doesn’t give a flying F what or whom it supposedly is “protecting”).

            He’s been quite kind to transgenders (see the interviews online, pics and even loving testimonials). A great percentage SUPPORT him and have written and told him so. They don’t WANT the rest of the populace to resent them because busybody Canadian lawmakers wrote compelled speech into law on their supposed to behalf via the Human Rights Commission in Canada.

            The reviewer acts like nothing untoward has happened due to this bill C16. Has he not heard about Lindsay Shepherd? At least Bill C16 has afforded us this hilarity:

            Watch “Hitler Reacts to Grad Student Thought Crimes | Laurier | Lindsay Shepherd | Jordan Peterson” on YouTube
            https://youtu.be/93Qs2oiTx2Y

            My husband and I had VIP tickets and saw Jordan Peterson at his first United States appearance at the Beacon Theater in New York City on 3/25/18. The audience, hubby estimated, was about 70% male (I asked him to tell me what he thought 2 compared to my opinion – I had thought “about two-thirds” so that’s about right I’d say).

            Many but not all people there looked to be on their 20s or 30s. We ourselves are in our early 60s.

            At the VIP meet-and-greet after we got to have our picture taken with him and exchange a couple of words. I gave him a manila folder that contained two stories from “Against the Pollution of the I” which is a book I really recommend by Jacques Lusseyran, ” Blind Hero of the French Resistance” who ended up in Buchenwald. The stories I put in the folder were Poetry in Buchenwald and Jeremy. Stunning stunning stories. I knew JBP with love them (my husband and I both love Solzhenitsyn and Dostoevsky, and Lusseyran’s stories partake of that).

            I also included On the Interpretation of Genesis by Leo Strauss which can be found online and is quite fascinating.

            Here’s the crowd that night:
            Watch “Jordan Peterson at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan” on YouTube
            https://youtu.be/dHsZcSrvCag

            Here’s the entire talk.

            Watch “Jordan Peterson Full 12 Rules for Life, Beacon Theatre, March 25 2018” on YouTube
            https://youtu.be/pfbA_3adRrw

      2. Well, if someone, certainly the writer of this story, could offer a valid criticism of his work we might be better able to understand the mean denouncement. As it stands, this kind of smear writing just vindicates Peterson. I read the book and would be able to write a much more critical article than this. Why did the writer here leave out the book? It was a book review, no? I didn’t see a tab for personal assault.

      1. Instead of pointing out the errors of Peterson’s thought, Yungbluth’s article -like the many others superficially critiquing his overwhelmingly popular and timely message- smugly sits on the ideology that Peterson indicts without making much of an effort to enter evidence demonstrating where he has gone wrong. I don’t know about the author, but Chasing Dragon echoes with the tenor of a spoiled child’s end of playtime.

        1. It’s not an exact science, but anyone preaching an “overwhelmingly popular” message to the horrifying, untidy, and unwise mass of homo sapiens sapiens has almost certainly “gone wrong”. Very wrong indeed.

      1. legit came here to post this article. There is a lot to say about his personality and how he became famous, but his work is pedestrian drivel. He makes people feel smart. That doesn’t make him insightful or innovative. He is the embarrassing drunk uncle at holiday dinners who thinks 5 glasses of wine makes him eloquent but actually makes him make less sense than usual.

      2. I think this totally validates the utility of Peterson. Even if his ideas are not new nor original, if people feels the need for someone like him to explain them, in that way (I don’t think he is vague at all in the book, but I haven’t finished it yet), the fault is not on Peterson. He has said numerous times that western culture has a BIG PROBLEM, and Nathan in his review comes to this exact conclusion. So Peterson is right, and his success, despite all the bad words from the mass-media establishment, somewhat reinforces that. Leftist ideas has dominated the mainstream media in the past decades, so if this environment gave birth to the Peterson’s phenomenon, maybe we should ask ourselves what is wrong in those ideas, or in the way we act informed by them. Sorry if bad english, it’s not my mother language.

    1. I read your reply with an open mind until you mentioned the interview withCathy Newman on TV. That was ridiculous to have done in the first place. I was embarrassed watching how Peterson set her up. It made him look like a star, a victim…why ever would an intelligent person seek to do that? It was absurd. They were BOTH absurd. I am sorry you used that example, it invalidated your assessment of this critique of Peterson. When a person tells you you they are: “are intelligent highly educated person”. and consider yourself an ‘intellect”… I am immediately on guard. I’ve read and watched Peterson. My FIRST impression, my intuition about this fellow is he’s smart, he’s read quite a bit etc…AT THE SAME TIME, I had a gut queasy feeling about him. He’s furious. I say let him gab, the more he jaws the more he will reveal. Personally I find him to have a cruel, ugly side. You’ll see…give it time.

      1. Cia,
        To describe the Cathy Newman/Jordan Peterson interview by saying, …
        “Peterson set her up.” is double speak, as it actually was Cathy Newman, who, very unsuccessfully, attempted to “set up” Jordan Peterson.

        Newman would ask Peterson leading questions, akin to the classic, “So tell us, when did you stop beating your wife?”

        Cia,
        As you know, but pretend not to know, Peterson spent a significant amount of the interview, correcting Newman’s mischaracterizations of his words. She would preface these mischaracterizations, with the recurring phrase, “So, you’re saying that….”

        Peterson’s replies to Newman, in effect, were to say, “No, that’s not what I am saying,” as he would patiently correct her mischaracterizations, and, to do so, without ever losing his cool.

        Having never met Newman, Peterson arrived at the Channel Four Studio to simply talk about his book. Like Popek, Cathy Newman, went on the attack, in an ingenuous attempt to discredit Peterson. She set many traps, yet Peterson outmaneuvered every one of her transparent rhetorical tricks.

        The real setup, Newman’s set up, backfired on her, and it made her into a laughing stock. Her behavior and her, “So your saying that…” line have been parodied endlessly on youtube, with millions of viewers having seen these parodies.

        With your own mischaracterization of the Newman/ Peterson interview, you may succeed in fooling a handful of people who are too busy to watch it. For those who are interested, here’s the link:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMcjxSThD54

        Also, here is another video, one that offers a step-by-step analysis of Cathy Newman’s underhanded interviewing methods, in which she wastes a half hour of Peterson’s time, attempting, unsuccessfully, to undermine his credibility. Seems to be a recurring theme .

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nS9W-wlJHPA

        Say what you like Cia, your mischaracterization of the Cathy Newman/Jordan Peterson interview has now been exposed.

      1. It takes character, courage and intellect to step into the arena and debate.

        It’s so much easier to shrink and hide behind the mockery of your, “PFFFFFFFFFhahahahaha
        hahahahahahahahahaha?”

        Do you have anything real to say?

    2. Patrick, I think I have to agree that Poplak is so utterly disgusted with JP, that he didn’t really read 12 Rules or try to review it. Rather, he simply shot it down in flames. Some other responses here do guide you to articles which do more seriously engage with JP and 12 Rules, but arrive at the same conclusion, that he is a charlatan. Of course we never like when the rug is pulled from under our feet, but perhaps one simply needs to stand up straight, with your shoulders back.

      1. Louis, I didn’t think the purpose of this forum was to trot out the favorite negative book reviews of everyone who dislikes what Jordan Peterson has to say. Although, I find it doubtful that many of JP’s detractors are listening or reading very carefully.

        In your comment, you say that you agree that Poplak, “didn’t really read 12 Rules or try to review it.”

        Then you go on to say, “Some other responses here do guide you to articles which do more seriously engage with JP and 12 Rules, but arrive at the same conclusion, that he is a charlatan.”

        But who is really the charlatan?

        Is it the man who labors to produce a book that is, in large part, so well reviewed by critics and readers that, within a couple of weeks of publication, it became the best selling book on Amazon?

        Or is the charlatan, actually, the man who neglects to read and understand that book and then has the crassness and audacity to review it.

        I find nothing in Poplak’s “review” that accurately represents either Peterson or his book.

        As a review, Poplak’s writing is a vile misrepresentation, a waste of our time, the work of a charlatan.

        And then you wrote, “Of course we never like when the rug is pulled from under our feet, but perhaps one simply needs to stand up straight, with your shoulders back.”

        What rug got pulled out from under who’s feet?

  3. For someone who appears to be so erudite and well-informed, Poplak has disappointed me with his rant. I conversely would have expected a far better article in response to JB Peterson’s book. AT LEAST: a better summation of the core principles that drive Peterson’s values and principles and a decent rebuttal of the points that Peterson makes.
    I can’t help but feel Poplak has no real response to the arguments that Peterson makes, so he resorts to ad hominem, straw man and vitriol instead.
    …just the sort of lame intellectualism we have come to expect from the South African ‘intelligentsia’.

    1. Agreed, it was hard to find a critique of any of Peterson´s actual logic, even something as basic as “Peterson says X, but he hasn´t thought of Y and Z, and so X is wrong” would have been welcome.
      A good critical review of his book would consist of a list of logical errors or discrepancies.

  4. I’ve read this book by Peterson, and can’t help but comment that this review has almost no relation to the content and points made in the book itself. This review feels like a one-sided hatchet job of an otherwise fascinating analysis and perspective of the importance of individual responsibility within society. Very disappointing, JRB.

  5. Yes, I agree with the view that Poplak’s review is wholly absent, because he hasn’t provided any substance about the book itself, and seems to be in an orgiastic state of ejaculating on account of his ‘word salad’.
    Though I like his style of writing a lot, I’d prefer to read something fictional by Poplak, that would be a movie – and I would really enjoy a piece written by him where he develops his characters – their personas and have all these characters be recognizable as inherently South African tendencies and idiosyncrasies – I say again, I love his style of writing and read it not for substance – because truly he never has any to offer – but for the sheer loudness and personality of his writing style. It’s audacious, it resonates the writing of Hunter S. Thompson and the beatniks also. So I personally think that Poplak lacks depth and insight into core issues and so always skirts the edges and surfs the surface – exceptionally well in wordsmithing – but he lacks the depth and that might be due to his age – I imagine he’s very young., I don’t know but according to his writing I imagined him in his mid-twenties.

    Do don’t be too harsh on this guy, he’s young and he may well mature into quite a valuable asset in the future as a writer who touches the SA psyche in an acutely and profoundly real way. He should perhaps give Peterson’s book another read, putting his ideological point of view one side and ask the question of whether there is anything he might learn personally from Jordan Peterson’s 12 rules – and then set about reading the book with an open mind.
    DesireeL

    1. If only Popak were simply a callow man, in his 20’s.
      Alas, he is not. He is twice that age.
      He is biography indicates that he was born in 1973,
      so he’s in his mid 40s.

      1. I’d assumed he was really young too!

        Lots of ‘showing-off’ with his use of language, but very little depth and you got the feeling he hadn’t actually read the book, just flicked through it and decided it didn’t fit with his ideas about life so dismissed it.

        If he’s in his 40s then there’s little excuse beyond the fact that he is not an academic and therefore not qualified to review Jordan.

      1. NO, it’s not… he does not address a single idea. He just says “ideas are vague and banal”. Perhaps TO YOU, superman!
        What a asshole!

    1. I am disgusted at this man’s vile attempt to discredit Dr. Jordan Peterson. As someone who knows Dr. Peterson, I can attest to the fact that he is caring, compassionate and very brilliant. He cares deeply about the suffering of humanity, and the fact that we have not learned lessons from the horrors of the 20th century. I have never met a person in my life who has been so affected psychologically( other than victims of the atrocities) by inhumane acts of evil perpetuated by governments against their own people. Dr. Peterson is saving a lot of people who are at the brink of nihilism and is showing them an alternative path filled with responsibility and hope.

  6. It’s interesting that so many of the complaint-comments here from JBP fans are upset that this piece is not a point-by-point debate with the substance of the “12 rules” in order to disprove it or somesuch. Imagine, if you will, that not everyone is obsessed with dominance… and that it’s possible for a piece of writing to engage with a topic for other reasons, including the cultural context of a bizarre and (frankly) upsetting turn in the tone and character of “scholarly” affairs?

    1. I think that most of the complaints against this review, including my own, are not aimed toward asserting dominance but at demanding honesty and professionalism. Poplak fails in both regards. Poplak wrote a description of Peterson and his book that are gross misrepresentations.

      I find Poplak’s dishonesty to be insulting, insulting to all of us who came here to learn about Peterson’s book and to have a conversation about it. Just look at how retrograde the dialogue is.

      Poplak fails to engage, even superficially, with a single idea in the book. There’s nothing in the review to engage our hearts or our minds. It’s so vapid, so very pathetic, and so sad.

      What a waste of everybody’s time.

    2. While it is true that Poplak fails to engage even a single idea of Peterson’s in his entire review, it appears that most of the complaints about Poplak’s review are about how Polplak completely misrepresents Peterson and his book.

      Being upset with Polak’s willful dishonesty is something quite different from being “obsessed with dominance.”

  7. Think you are completely missing the pseudo self-help that Peterson is spewing. He is a Canadian Doctor Phil without the Texas drawl and caters to a mystical view of the past as being a wonderful time when men where men. If you can’t see this then you are part of the problem.

    1. And more ad hominem…What are we supposed to think of your comment? That you are superior? Much of Peterson’s work is based on Nietzschean philosophy. I quite like Nietzsche. Not so much into Dr. Phil. You Phil, are the spewer, aka, ‘the rabble’.

    2. Could you give us an example of where Peterson says, that the past was a “wonderful time when men were men?” I’ve never heard him say anything like that. I have heard him describe how the lot of most of our ancestors, male and female, alike, was, not wonderful at all, but was a difficult life of grinding poverty.

  8. Thanks for the review and some wonderful adjectives. Every time I come across Peterson I get a bad taste in the back of my throat. Right or wrong he reminds me of Ayn Rand and her miserable self-centred view of the world. Like Rand, a view of the world based on a pure antithetical perception of communism and therefore socialism where the individual must be the centre.

  9. The only thing better than the trash reviews for this book are JBP’s shrill responses to them. Can’t wait for his inevitable twitter tantrum.

  10. This is the review that goes into a more academic dissection of Peterson’s ideas and the intellectual soil from which they grew.

  11. Ugh, maybe read the book properly before writing a review?

    Either it has gone over your head or you didn’t read it properly, neither reflects well on you. Jordan is clearly on a totally different level to you and I couldn’t find a valid or intelligent criticism in that whole ‘review’.

    If someone paid you to write a hit-piece they didn’t get their money’s worth, that was naive and daft, like reading something written by an angry 16 year old.

    Shame on you young man! You have much growing up to do.

  12. “Either it has gone over your head or you didn’t read it properly.”

    Oh my. That brought me back to my college days, when people actually said this earnestly and expected it to sound convincing.

  13. LOL, I bought this book two months ago and was like “It’s OK. It’s not my favorite but yeah, I’ll be able to pick up few things, some from between the lines, some will need to change… but it’s fine.” and then just yesterday I learned this guy is an “alt-right nazi” and some people suddenly get outraged that I read it and started all that “unfollow” drama.

    I have no idea how that happens… guy has some nice videos with which I agree (“Fix yourself” was helpful to _me_, same about how breakfast improves your mood throughout a day) and then some with which I disagreed… but getting that… “excited” as some people get is very weird to me. Everybody is bragging how they’re smart enough to know “one should learn from the enemy” and then in practice, nobody does that.

    It’s very confusing to understand all those “camps” adults create for themselves. I’ll stick to discussion on the idea by idea basis and. as Epictetus said, sincerely try to find a learning opportunity even in things I dislike. Hell, I could even tell you few good things Pokemon theme song teaches you if you listen carefully enough 😉

    1. Also, this is not a very in-depth review… seems like the author had some personal problems with Peterson (or those “camps” I mentioned earlier) and thorough analysis, even of disliked things, was put off to get… fame, clicks, money? It’s too bad but seems like the soldiers of reviewer’s soul city didn’t protect his honor and sold his philosophers for the sake of appetites (yeah, I’m reading Plato right now in high school :P).

      But maybe that’s common among adults, idk.

  14. To suggest the book is for “assholes” or tiki-carrying supremecists tells you all you need to know about this review and the person who wrote it. Funny how takedowns of Dr. Peterson always neglect the fact that many liberals and centrists value his words. Perhaps if present-day “Liberals” and “Democrats” in North America hadn’t abandoned all reason and gone completely cuckoo, the good Dr. wouldn’t be as popular as he is.

      1. So what you’re saying is anyone who takes anything positive away from what he says or writes is a white supremecist asshole. You seem to follow the Cathy Newman style of deduction.
        People like this reviewer like to create their own narratives and the claim that all his “fanboys” are alt-right is a ridiculous one. Anyone who disagrees with the left gets labelled “alt-right” because they’ve run out of ways to try to convince people that up is down.
        How Dr. Peterson became such a controversial figure is the work solely of the bully brigade left. Take responsibility for youself and your life; yeah, what a horrible message that is to put forward, he must be stopped (eyeroll).

  15. Yeah, I think the problem with Peterson is that he conflates the “is” and “ought,” which is a classic error in critical & philosophical reasoning; in practice, he effectively forms these archetypes of masculinity by nostalgically recalling how things had been in his own recollection “when men were men,” but of course, setting that as the benchmark is totally arbitrary and there is no actual reason to think that *that* is “nature” and anything which diverges from it is a “construct”
    Strictly speaking, all information is one of two types: genetic or memetic, encoded either as genes or as memes; or in his parlance, “nature” or “construct”
    But what is “nature” is v limited, such as people who produce a lot of testosterone being physically stronger than those who don’t, but men needing to be dominant and aggressive is nothing more than a “construct” because it is a cultural meme, not an expression of their genes
    So on the question of gender, he’s right to say these “made-up” genders are constructs and not part of nature, but he fails to extend his own logic and consider the fact that all gender definitions are constructs, and as such, are mutable. But of course, his nostalgia is immutable and he considers his recollection of things to be the archetype of how things ought to remain, in accordance with nature, as he defines it
    So, he can be interesting to listen to because his ideas are internally consistent and flow logically, but he begins with false premises and that undermines the outcomes of his thought processes

  16. Woof. I wonder if the book is as bad as this review. The overcooked hyperbole of the first few lines was difficult to get through, but when the review starts dumping on the author photo (seriously?) and the foreword – basically admitting there’s no substantive criticism coming – I gave up. This “hot take” seems just as pretentious, obnoxious, and insufferable as Peterson and his MRA fanboys.

  17. Mark Lilla is a ‘conservative intellectual’? That didn’t jibe with my memory so I checked. Hmm. Admittedly ‘conservative’ has undergone a magnetic pole flip in recent decades but I’m certain Lilla would be surprised at being so characterized.

    I had never heard of Jordan Peterson before reading David Brooks’ recent column in the New York Times (the source of: ‘the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now’ quote). There is something deep underlying the animus in this review. The odd remarks about the author photo and the strange inclusion of the white trophy hunter with ‘musky’ guide topped off with gin and tonics at sunset scenario offer some hints. Readers can draw their own conclusions.

  18. Haven’t read the book , but this is a funny review and I enjoyed reading it. That said, the review is pretty light on actual substantive points.

  19. I’m sorry, I had to stop reading this absurd collection of lies after you made the claim that Dr. Peterson collects old Soviet art because he’s a closet totalitarian.
    Are you, and I mean this literally, fucking insane?

  20. I think I read this article before in the 90s as a cross-posted usenet screed originated from alt.something.somethingorother.

    I always thought that stuff would be relegated to the archives for future historians to make fun of a small corner of the internet. Now they get to really lay into our whole society. Thanks Johannesburg Review of Books.

  21. A seriously incoherent and shallow review, written in a pretentious style by someone desperately wanting to come across as hip and clever.

  22. I laugh very, very hard when I read all of the “critical” comments here which amount to “YOU DIDN’T ACTUALLY READ IT! ADMIT IT!”

    The reason is that this is also the go-to excuse that fanboys — they’re all boys —of James Damore’s putrid little “memo” (who also see to inevitably be Peterson fans) respond to any criticism in EXACTLY the same way.

  23. “The Johannesburg Review of Books” must be so eager to curry favor with their country’s Marxist, Black supremacist overlords that they need to publish the ne plus ultra of hyperventilating Peterson hit pieces. With the continued political devolution of the country, I doubt it will do you much good. Fear not, white liberals will get the bullet, too.

    1. Relax, Vijay, you’re all good.

      I, however, demand my choice of wall. What good is my white privilege, otherwise.

  24. Ah, yet another reviewer that didn’t read the book, evidently. What self-righteous twaddle this review is. A long ad hominem attack that only bolsters Peterson’s conviction that there is a worrying trend of ideological twits more in love with their slave morality than the world. I disagreed with Peterson throughout the book, but actually having read it I could do that. Poplack’s face is now burned into my thoughts as one of those yapping rabble hanging out at Zarathrustra’s well. It’s the preferred meeting spot of thr glib, spoiled, wreçkless new left media. How predictable and trite they are, and how they are only encouraging stupid white boys to run into the arms of alt-right demagogues. Real alt-right demagogues. He offers no insights whatsoever, just anger, bitterness and insult. I hope he understands that this kind of bedwetting behaviour, an unwillingness to sensibly debate, analyse, is the current idiocracy. You are not being helpful mister, only aggravating your own sore spot and leaking puss into the internet. Behind some lyrical sentences what you essentially have here is a bare story, a literally pointless gaff. The kind of claptrap Orwell would have despised. Words without meaning. The slagging off buzzwords of the writer that can’t actually compose an antithesis…pseudoscience, BuzzFeed, alt-right, etc. This total lack of understanding and unashamed ignorance makes the book you didn’t read righteous. You nit-wit, you poured gasoline on his fire. And you know, there is so.much to debate in the book, too. In another life you might have been useful.

    1. “The slagging off buzzwords of the writer that can’t actually compose an antithesis”

      Lobster fucking.

      1. I didn’t enjoy the lobster chapter, actually. Well, I am not on board with Peterson in that respect. Seems the writer isn’t, either, but he forgot to tell us why.

          1. Let’s hope he’s now working in the more suitable profession of dishwasher. Orwell could at least empathize with him.

  25. The adolescence, while imagining being world changing geniuses, should be clear in both the inane ridicule of a book (as opposed to respectful criticism of it) as well as the subsequent responses by similarly infantile characters. Dismissive bashing such as the above speaks of ignorance (as opposed to mastery) of existentialist and Jungian psychology. Not to mention characterlogical pathology.

    1. Oh, snap! We’ve been rumbled by a world changing genius.

      Even a pathologically characterological lobster/masturbater like me can sense the mind power at work. It’s in the spelling, innit?

      1. Addendum: Apologies for my small minded profaneness. My comment should start “Respectfully, oh snap!…”

        1. We certainly sound like a bunch of wankers. Comments sections are rarely not shameful. What Jay Says is reason enough to put our tools away and forget we ever existed.

  26. The Kathy Newman interview was awful. Peterson, however, is an angry alpha-male with an ego bigger than Canada’s prairies. Perhaps he’s a decent psychology prof — decent enough to get tenure at a good school — but he continually steps into areas he clearly doesn’t understand, like continental philosophy. You can probably spare Poplak the two-bit analysis of his psyche. However, the fact that you would offer it up after reading a short review of your “hero” suggests that intellectual talents are being overestimated in general.

    Why would anyone read a self-help book called “12 Rules for Life”? Who gives that degree of authority to someone else? If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him, as the old saying goes.

  27. What a miserably mean-spirited and insubstantial “review”. It said a great deal more about the writer than about the book. In that respect it was, I suppose, helpful.

  28. There’s an interesting aspect to some of the comments by Peterson acolytes (disciples? fans?). That is, a tendency to leap into psychological critiques of Poplak. Odd, that. To some, he’s jealous of Peterson’s success; to others, he isn’t yet a grown-up and to one, he’s not quite human. (OUCH! 1933 wasn’t that long ago!)
    In fact, Peterson has some rather dubious notions about archetypes and there being some essentialist human nature. He takes it from there to more or less write off men & women who don’t conform as somehow being in need of a salvation of some sort. That is why some critique his work as having a fascist element. Of course, he thinks the “left” are all unwittingly (and sometimes wittingly) veering toward Stalinism…as if Stalin was concerned with marriage equality, rights for people who are transgendered, the pay gap, the environment, social mobility and all these other terrible, terrible things.

    1. This seems a considerable misrepresentation of his position. While I have indeed heard him describe a perspective that holds that there are some inherent human characteristics and tendencies, the conclusions he draws from that and the criticisms he makes of some people are considerably less broad than you suggest. Certainly, he expresses no opposition to the ideas you list at the end of your comment, except, perhaps, in relation to the “pay gap” the reasons for which he describes as being much more numerous and nuanced than as popularly suggested in the msm.

      1. I would add that the “othering” of critics of the reviewer by describing them as Peterson acolytes/ disciples/ fans is unhelpful as, with bells on, is the Nazi reference.

  29. Wow, what a terrible review. Very disappointed in your work here, Richard, and I’m a fan of your Daily Maverick articles. Your arguments are weak and it appears that you don’t actually understand what you’re talking about.

      1. Atticus,
        We all know that you’re really Poplak. You’re not fooling anybody.

        Or, you actually are a lobster.
        Either way, impressive claws…

  30. If you have an issue with the content of the book – please be specific. The ‘book review’ did not really address any of the specific points from the book at all. The book is fairly straightforward and contains practical advice base in history, clinical practice, life experience, science, etc.

  31. Gross mis-representation of Jordans book and his views.

    Leftwingers (and others) who seek the true enligtenment on what the man is really saying should go directly to the source, either the book or his countless videos on youtube.

    All these leftwing media outlets are not doing a service to people who truly want to understand the basis for different viewpoints.

  32. I only read the comments on this review.
    I got as close to reading this review as this parasitic critic got to reading the book.

  33. What an embarrassment. This review I’m reminded of the scene in Tolstoy where an uneducated woman explains how she came to the conclusion that her scholarly acquaintance was a fool because, either he was an idiot, or she was. Rest assured, Poplak, the dunce cap is yours for the taking. I especially like that when anyone references the unassailable credentials of JP, the response is to call that person “fanboy” or say their “fedora is too tight.” You’re a fucking nobody compared to the person you’re criticizing. Your understanding of what he’s saying is sub-sophomoric. Let’s take this little gem in response to Peterson’s having bought all these Soviet materials:
    “Yeeeaah, I’m not so sure about that line of reasoning. While I’m no shrink, Peterson actually is—a shrink, I mean. And I wonder whether he’d buy that nonsense from a patient.”
    So you, admittedly, have no credentials and yet feel perfectly comfortable labeling Peterson’s account of his own life as “nonsense.” He should have stuck to Siri, huh? Evidently, not having a fucking clue and KNOWING you don’t have a fucking clue has not provided even a slight obstacle to your talking out of your asshole. You’re the type of person who really, desperately, hates the fact that there are ACTUAL serious people in the world, people for whom this makes perfect sense, and you aren’t one of them. You are an idiot, as is every person who reads this and thinks it represents anything less than the equivalent of the illiterate schoolyard bully making fun of the bookish kid. There are people who are much, MUCH smarter than you. Deal with it.

  34. This is an immensely entertaining read. However, any author who, without comment or qualification, quotes an opinion column by David Brooks and attributes it to the New York Times as a whole cannot, must not be taken seriously.

  35. Poplak is smart. He is also witty and clearly enjoys those parts of himself: this was an easy write for him. My guess though is that this was written not to review the book or the man, but to laugh at the millions of young people who follow him. I think Poplak is lonely. And resentful..

  36. Poplak is smart. He is also witty and clearly enjoys those parts of himself: this was an easy write for him. My guess though is that this was written not to review the book or the man, but to laugh at the millions of young people who follow him. I think Poplak is lonely. And resentful..

    1. Richard Poplak, “trained as a filmmaker and fine artist at Montreal’s Concordia University” and the producer/director of “numerous short films, music videos and commercials”

      Sub par writer, deeply envious person with a thesaurus wedbsite open s he writes..

  37. The reviewer seems bitter and twisted about something and the review appears to mostly be a platform for ad hominems aimed at Peterson and his “fanboys”. Anyway, the review has piqued my interest and I think I’ll buy the book and make up my own mind.

  38. Ideological disagreement thinly disguised as intellectual disagreement.
    Hey Poplak, your ideology is showing.

  39. This atrociously-written rant runs to over 2000 words. One can’t help wondering what the good Dr. has done to cause the writer such distress. The article itself gives no clue, as the picture it paints of Peterson and his views bears no resemblance to reality. Perhaps Peterson’s (real) arguments threaten the writer’s most deeply-held beliefs. Or possibly the illness which Peterson describes in his book – unhappy, useless life, shorn of meaning by blind adherence to present-day orthodoxy – seems too familiar for the writer’s comfort.

  40. When an article begins with “Fuck”, I know it is hateful and probably biased. I generally stop reading. I went to the end hoping it would be possible to express this thought.

  41. First year journalism students, in an attempt to appear edgy, start serious articles with vulgarity.

    Beyond that, this review appears to be a written equal to the Cathy Newman interview.
    If you have a true desire to be talen seriously, I suggest you read the book then try again.

  42. Somebody just made a fool of himself, not the author in the question but the man desperately trying to ride on coattails by writing trashy attention grabbing insult and dressing it as a ‘review’. Not very impressive.

  43. What a waste of my time. Peterson has some views that are very debatable, but this flowery, weak little conglomeration of eloquence does nothing to perforate even one of them. I’d suggest cultivating the requisite skills to objectively dissect ideas you disagree with rather than stringing big words together to appeal to other misguided ideologues. Good luck, mate.

  44. This review seems to me as written by someone who stands well off from the fray and hurls ridicule at those who are engaged in it. Like someone who says I’m a real man but does nothing to protect his family when under attack. Frightened of being hurt himself, he willingly allows his family to suffer, using as an excuse that they were going to die anyway. It exposes a weakness.
    In the author’s case, his weakness appears to me his unwillingness to engage in rigour and intellectual analysis. It is a shallow approach and as with a lot of people who engage in this type of behaviour, is typical of those who accept post-modernism thinking as gospel. Whether the author does or not is not clear from this review. But the behaviour is. Stand back, do not engage in a meaningful way, but ridicule those who do.
    If he read the book in it’s entirety, he certainly didn’t understand a great portion of it. And it would appear he hasn’t taken the time to analyse and think about the content, except on a most cursory level. Treated it more like a cheap novel one would read over a weekend while on holiday. Plough through it and toss it aside, missing anything of real value that may be in it.
    And that’s a pity, because it shows that, with a topic such as what JP has written about, the reviewer thinks that what he already knows about that topic is absolute. And quite frankly, that may well prove to be dangerous for him and those closest to him.

  45. I feel so bad for Poplak. The guy will never be able to improve his life. He must feel so bad about himself that he’s trying to pull everyone down to his state of depression. You can turn it around Poplak, but you’re the only one in the world who can do that….no one can help you if you’re not open to new or different ideas. Good luck.

  46. this review by Poplak reminds me of the phrase
    “those who most vehemently defend their position are usually the most insecure about it”
    …sad individual Poplak is

  47. Sadly, Poplak is emblematic of the kind of vague, inchoate thinking and failure to accurately represent reality that the humanities churns out these days.

    Hence, his review can’t even accurately and charitably represent Peterson’s ideas and positions, much less rationally engage with their substance.

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