Delusion, Ignorance, Journalist Demagoguery, All Piled Into One: Cathy Newman Interviewing Jordan Peterson

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Where do I begin? How does one try to make sense of an almost total fuckup? Well, despite the high risk of Cathy Newman reinterpreting anything I say below as its total opposite, I must take that risk—we all must, for that matter; we all must passionately call out baloney, fraud, nonsense and idiocy when we encounter it, for if we don’t, we give the ignoramuses, fools, nincompoops, blockheads, keyboard philosophers, pseudo journalists and all other deluded entities just that little bit more free rein to work their dark-but-aesthetically-appealing magic, to hypnotise, brainwash, and then recruit the uneducated and innocent for their new-order, utopic, fair world. Postmodernism is a problem; it is a problem, however, that you would not, or perhaps should not, expect to do its peacock dance on mainstream UK television, and to be done unto Jordan Peterson—a clinical psychologist with over two decades of in-the-trenches experience; a man who is a tenured professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto; a truly brilliant, remarkably well-learned, precisely-spoken man of science; one of the most profound, scholarly, deep, and accomplished minds still with us. Yeah, what gives him a right to say anything about anything—not to mention, psychology…?

Jordan was in the UK recently promoting his new book, 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote To Chaos; a book, in which he lays on the table the blueprint for living a meaningful, worthy and satisfying life—or in his words, the blueprint for ’sorting yourself out’. If you don’t know who Jordan is, have you been milking cows in rural Transylvania for the past 2 years? Heck, even my pet cow knows who he is. But to save yourself the complex matter of translating Moo to English, get over to YouTube and listen to his lectures and watch his videos, and listen to one or all of the fantastic and eye-opening podcasts he has done (three with Joe Rogan, ditto with Dave Rubin, two with Sam Harris—just to name a few), and read his books; at the very least, get yourself informed. As far as we can tell, this is exactly what Cathy Newman didn’t do—and it happens to be okay?! Of course it is: why do research when I am passionate (-ly deluded)?

Jordan was invited for an interview by Channel 4. He accepted. The keyword, there, is ‘interview’; what unfolded was more like an interrogation. Being a man of immense learning, of academia, of science, of truth, of depth, Jordan handled the situation like a don—but that doesn’t mean he was uncomfortable; in fact, it was the moment he said he was uncomfortable that exposed the interviewer for all her ill-preparedness, lack of diligence, lack of respect, ignorance, and delusion.

Something must be said about those who know nothing about Jordan and/or those who have the same shallow philosophy as the interviewer: to the untrained ear, she had, up until her inevitable trip over a very large rock, exposed a con man and ‘done women proud’. Hopefully untrained ears are not as prevalent as I think; but I am not too confident.

At this point, I know not whether the video is still up on YouTube, or worse, on the Channel 4 website (as it was at the time of writing); but whatever the case, I would suggest you watch it — all of it. And you need not even watch it closely; the tomfoolery is patently evident from about the second minute. But should the video not be available, or should you happen to have a video or Channel 4 phobia, then allow me to shed some light on what was said.

CN: ‘What gives you the right to say that?’
JP: ‘I’m a clinical psychologist.’

An alternative and deserving response would have been to just let the echos of ignorance resound around the studio; but this was in the first few minutes, and Jordan couldn’t of known she was an moody-Sherlock in disguise.

JP (on one reason for the pay gap between men and women): ‘Women are more agreeable than men.’
This is a fact, spoken by a man of science, an academic, a trained psychologist. But even putting respect aside, it is still a fact.
CN: ‘—Again, a “vast” generalisation… some women are not more agreeable than men.’
JP: ‘Yes, true—and some women get paid more than men.’

Like she does continually throughout the interview, as Jordan tries to clarify his arguments (which are repeatedly distorted by appalling interview etiquette), or is about to prove her wrong, or attempts to explain a point further, she smothers him with her next attack/question. It’s as if deep down she was her aware of the emptiness of almost everything statement that left her lips, and, that if she gave him just one second more he would prove it to the nation. Unfortunately, now the world.

It goes on.

CN: ‘…So instead of saying the pay-gap doesn’t exist, which was what you did in the beginning, you’re now saying…’
JP: ‘No, I did not say the pay-gap doesn’t exist.’

One cannot help but leave under the impression that ’So you’re saying…’ is Cathy’s favourite phrase; again and again Jordan has to say either ’No, I did not say that’, or ‘I am not saying anything; I am just making an observation’ or ’That is not what I am saying’ or ’They’re not listening’ (towards those who misrepresent or melodramatise his words, of which the interviewer was one). Why does he have to say this? Because Cathy Newman was out to get him, to make him slip-up, to say something by mistake, to ‘catch him out’, to show how right she was, to discard science, to market the new-world order of the United Kingdom of ignoramuses .The words ’So you’re saying…’ flew out of her mouth after almost everything he said.

Again, she says ’So you’re saying women are not intelligent enough…?’
The obvious response: ’No, no, I am not saying that at all.’
But then, ‘Oh, but people think that you’re saying (there it is again)…’
JP: ‘Well they’re not listening.’

Ahh yes, what about listening, ey? Expressions of laughter and phrases like ‘apparently’ and ‘I take issue with that’ say enough, I think, about the amount of attentive listening on her part. What indeed happened to listening? And what happened to rationality? And what happened to respect? And what happened to understanding?

Jordan has spent years and years trying to understand the world, human nature, how things work, and why. Being a man of science, he knows a thing or two about evolutionary biology. When speaking about the suture of society, namely the role of power and assertiveness, he draws a very sound, scientific and memorable analogy with Lobster Hierarchies: Lobsters, which we humans devolved from over 350 million years ago, have the regulatory hormone serotonin; this hormone, when abundant, causes the lobsters to stand up straight, to maintain a strong posture, to assert themselves, to look powerful, which earns them respect and status; and we humans are also regulated by serotonin, and we also stand more strongly and assertively when it is flowing through our blood. He draws this analogy to prove that power and dominance is not a social/western/man-made construct, but a product of nature. How does Cathy bring this up? In the most absurd of digressional moves, she blurts ’Tell us about the lobster. Jordan, as he does through the entire inquisition, proceeds to give a rational, data-driven, scientific, calm and precise answer. Her response: ’So you’re saying (I am beginning to think she has an unidentified variation of hiccups, and had knocked back her shot of absinthe too quickly before the cameras rolled) that we should organise our societies, along the lines of the lobsters?’ Need I say any more?

And finally,You’re just a provocateur, a stirrer of the pot, part of the alt-right’ blah blah blah. Remind me, who is Jordan Peterson, again? And who is the real provocateur, here?

At the beginning of the interview I felt sympathy for the interviewer—perhaps she spoke without thinking, misspoke, didn’t realise what she was saying, didn’t know who JP was, was brought in last-minute for the real interviewer—but that quickly deteriorated, as her underlying intentions shone through: simply put, aggressive, sour, disrespectful, ignorant, unskilled, sneaky, attention-seeking, pathetic. Though she may be the finest example of a rabble-rouser, she hasn’t done herself any favours with this disastrous performance.

Postmodernism is a dangerous idea. This event, though it doesn’t appear so on the surface, is a manifestation of precisely the issue, the big issue, that Jordan has been so vehemently critical of in the past few years (and is in fact largely the reason he wrote his latest book)—the issue of coming to one’s own version of truth, of not believing in truth, of disbelieving in good and evil, of distrusting the experts, of discarding religion, of being passionately ignorant, of bashing education, of thinking the world is all wrong and needs to be revamped, reordered, made fairer, more equal, more liberal, and so on, and so forth. Yes, there are some very valid claims here, but they are empty if absent of reason, truth, education, of virtue.

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  1. Jai,
    Beautifully written.
    Can you please add a section on the response to the Interview from mainstream media outlets. Search for Cathy Newman and Jordan Peterson.
    What did the media say? We’re the views mixed? Were they balanced? Was evidence presented for any claims made? What does this say about the entire mainstream media industry? What role is Ben trying to play in this situation and why?

  2. Brilliantly written Jai.

    You broke down this disastrous interview really well. It’s unbelievable how “feminist victim” Newman still has a job!

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