Is there a correlation between arts degrees and hating Jordan Peterson?

Something concerning of late is the number of Left-wing journalists laying into the scientific theories of Jordan Peterson, even though they have arts degrees! I have nothing against arts degrees, incidentally, but I do take issue with people pontificating about areas they know nada about…

This they do over and over again, particularly around psychology – which is Peterson’s specialist area. Yesterday it was the turn of Jared Yates Sexton, who accused Peterson of “bad science” and “patriarchal pseudoscience” – whatever that means.

Yates Sexton had taken offence to Peterson’s recently publicised hypothesis that enforced monogamy serves a protective function against male violence, whereas sexual frustration in men can lead to aggression. This observation does not seem unreasonable to me, considering most terrorists seem to be young blokes who weren’t getting any (nothing against virgins, incidentally).

It’s actually quite a complex theory, and certainly not a literal instruction for forced marriages, nor any suggestion that violence doesn’t happen within monogamous relationships. It deserves nuanced academic contemplation, but we are not in that sort of age.

Yates Sexton’s ‘critique’ resorted to nothing but insults, before he accused Peterson of relying “on shaky research and logical fallacies”. All of this prompted yours truly to investigate the background of Yates Sexton: how does he know? Is he a scientific researcher himself?

It turns out that he’s in fact a creative writing professor (though his prose tells another story). That someone whose job is making stuff up is tasked with analysing a Professor of Psychology says everything about the desperate state of academic debate.

Indeed, every time I see Peterson criticised, his opponent seems to have some sort of arts degree – be it English, creative writing or something else.

Like I say, I have nothing against arts degrees; I did music, art and drama at school and find literary people very attractive. It’s only that I am exhausted with “arts-plaining”; writers with no understanding of psychology trying to lecture on it. The expression “know your limits” comes to mind!

Much of the reason they find Peterson controversial in the first place is they haven’t studied psychology, nor dared to read about the topic, therefore they are hearing many theories for the first time through him. They take him way too literally; “Jordan Peterson wants forced marriage!” It’s hilarious at times…

Their infantile retorts (he’s “bad science”, “dangerous”, “alt-right”) are ultimately a smokescreen for their lack of scientific knowledge from which to draw.

Much of Peterson’s assertions are reflective of psychological research, not ideology. I know this because I studied psychology and his analyses chimes with the research. It is merely that facts do not always make Left-wingers happy.

Generally, the Left has huge issues with psychological theory. This is because of their belief that people are ‘blank slates’ who can be shaped by the environment, so as to justify their desire to engineer it. Thus they cannot stand anyone who cites biological variables in human development – for example, personality traits have genetic components – as Peterson and all psychologists will do…

This aversion to psychological theory is part of the reason why I have never been published in this subject in a left-wing publication. I have a First Class Honours BSc in Psychology and 86 in a neuroscience paper – sorry for the brag, just making a point – yet I am deemed as “right wing”. Why? Because I was always accurate about reporting my studies. It is astonishingly frustrating to have an ideology planted onto you for being factual.

All the while I have watched numerous Left-wing journalists cover psychology, even when they have no background in it. It is not a problem to lack qualifications… I am not an academic snob and love self-taught people, as well as thinking that university is overrated. But the issue is having no interest or knowledge of topics; it shows!

One of the worst examples of this was Owen Jones’s criticism of James Damore last year, who was fired by Google for writing a memo that suggested sexual differentiation in the brain. Owen accused him as ‘alt-right’, increasingly code for: “I don’t know what to reply”. Everything Owen wrote was wrong. But is it any wonder? He has a history degree!

It strikes me that one of the greatest diversity issues in media is actually academic diversity, as there don’t appear to be many scientific writers in the mainstream. Of course, by its very nature, journalism will attract arty, literary types. But if we do not have more BScs over BAs, is it any wonder journalists react to Peterson, as well as other scientists, with such horror?

Of course, Peterson covers numerous other areas like economics, history and religion which others may want to touch. These are ones I am more reticent to partake in; psychology is my area, and I really do know my own limits!

By all means people should criticise Peterson, but it is not enough to hurl insults, nor assume that sanctimony is a replacement for expertise. I am not against psychological criticism of Peterson, but, bloody hell, let’s have some facts. Until then I will keep count on the correlation between hating Peterson and arts degrees.


My nightmare trying to claim O2 insurance (day 6)

On Saturday, I broke my iPhone by dropping it on the floor. It has a broken screen and I can’t use it. I have insurance with my phone provider, O2, so I assumed this would be easy to remedy.

On Sunday I went to an O2 store and explained the situation. The assistant there told me to ring O2’s insurance line, which I did in the store. On the phone, the advisor pointed out that I would need proof of purchase to go ahead, which the store could not offer as they only provide receipts for up to six months and my phone was purchased in 2016. It also transpired that my IMEI number does not match to the IMEI number O2 has on records for me. An IMEI number is a method of identification.

My IMEI number does not match for this reason: in 2016, I had an iPhone SE. When it was time to upgrade, I chose a Sony. The Sony broke in the first few weeks of having it – the screen peeled away. I went back to the O2 store to complain and the assistant swapped me back to an iPhone SE. However, this advisor did not register my new IMEI number on the account. Thus I have been paying insurance towards a different IMEI number for God knows how long. Essentially, it is an admin fault on the part of O2 that these details were not synced.

I explained this event in the store and the assistant passed me over to her manager, who then communicated on my behalf with an O2 phone advisor. The phone advisor seemingly understood the IMEI issue and remedied it. He went through my details and informed me they would update the system and send me a proof of purchase so I could go ahead. He said this would take 24 hours to go through. I waited. Nothing reached my email account.

So on Tuesday, I contacted an online advisor and relayed all the details of what had happened in the store. I said I hadn’t received my proof of purchase. They told me that they would send me a new one and were reassuring – telling me that it would come through.

On Wednesday, I had received no proof of purchase. So I contacted two new online O2 advisors. One told me that my proof of purchase could not go through because of the IMEI number sync issue. I was not happy about this response, seeing as I had explained the IMEI issue already in a store, and online, and been led to believe that this was fixed. I asked the online advisor to escalate the concern to their manager who gave me the same response. It shocked me that I had been given such contradictory feedback every step of the way. Two advisors gave me the impression my proof of purchase was coming through, along with the correct IMEI, two others said no to this.

I tried ringing insurance next, for want of knowing what to do. The conversation concluded in him telling me I couldn’t make an insurance claim, and that I needed to ring the store to get a proof of purchase.

I rang the store up again. The man who answered the phone said he couldn’t help me, as the proof of purchase records only go up to six months. Which, of course, I was told at the beginning, but I was running around in circles at this point. He told me he could not help and to phone customer service.

I rang up customer service and spoke to a nice woman. I explained to her all the difficulties I’d had, and the story of my IMEI number, and she seemed to understand this. She took my IMEI number down and said that she would put this through on the new proof of purchase. It seemed that everything had finally been solved!

I received my proof of purchase, and I rang up insurance. Insurance told me to forward my proof of purchase to an email address. The chap on the phone received my email, and said he would forward this on to the claims department. I asked him when I would know if my claim had been sorted, and he said that I needed to phone insurance. I pointed out my lack of phone, and asked if they could email. He said they would.

On Thursday, today, I had no such email. I phoned up an insurance advisor to ask what had happened to my claim. Astonishingly, she told me that they cannot put my claim through because they have the wrong IMEI number on their system for my phone.

I feel like I am in Groundhog day. I do not know how many more times I can recount the story of my IMEI, and when someone is going to actually listen and sort it out. Moreover, I cannot believe the amount of contradictory advice I have received. I pay O2 £10 a month for my insurance, which adds up.

I still don’t know what is happening with my phone, incidentally, so this blog can get longer. It’s up to O2…

Like I said, I would elongate this blog the longer my complaint was not settled.

A few facts I have learnt in the interim:

  • I have paid £210 towards insurance since I got it in September 2016.
  • My insurance is O2 premier insurance (trying not to laugh at the misuse of the word ‘premier’)

What happened on Thursday (day 5 of life without a phone):
So yesterday I posted this blog on Twitter, which always gets companies’ attention. O2 didn’t so much help, but sent me through some emojis, which I suppose they consider to be ‘customer service’. An advisor told me to message customer service privately on Twitter.

Among our many messages, my Twitter advisor told me “We’ll be back in touch ASAP”, and also “We’ll be in touch shortly” but this took 8 hours. I am getting used to O2’s generous definitions.

Eventually I decided to email O2’s customer service line repeatedly to make sure they would process my complaint.

Eventually a customer advisor got back to me, and said this:

“I would like the opportunity to discuss this matter further. I have attempted to contact you on the number provided, however, I have not been able to reach you and have left a voicemail.”

Funny, that… Because my mobile phone does not work!

Luckily I was able to find a landline to call this advisor from.

Do you remember that sketch in Little Britain called “computer says no”? It was very accurate for talking to this advisor, who also used: “broken record technique”, telling me over and over again that my insurance claim would not be processed because of the IMEI number syncing issue. I explained that three advisors had said that this would be fine to remedy, but she could not compute this, although she did admit that I had been “misadvised”. O2 can find that on the call if they want to… 

This advisor was suspicious that I had bought the phone from another store, and that this was the reason why O2 does not have my IMEI number. I told her over and over again that it was O2 who’d given it to me, and I have no interest wandering into the Apple shop, nor anywhere other than my provider, not least because I am completely disinterested in mobile phone stores, and this would be expensive for me. Seriously, what would be the point of that when I can get a free upgrade? I also have insurance so that if my phone breaks I can only get it through O2.

I pointed out three things to the advisor:

  • The current make of my model is the same was the model whose IMEI number is registered under my insurance. Therefore the repair would be exactly the same. The sensible thing for O2 to do would be to admit they had made the mistake of not registering my IMEI number correctly, and update this on my purchase form.
  • I have paid insurance since September 2016, so where has all this money gone?

Additionally, all of my bills are sent to my mobile phone number, so can O2 not track this link between my policy and the handset I am using? 

Today I have been texted by O2 twice, and have two missed calls from a number that looks like it may be O2. I’m not sure how many more times I can tell them that my phone is broken.

At this point, this is what O2 needs to do:

  • Switch the number on my proof of purchase to the correct IMEI number
  • Apologise to me
  • Fix my phone
  • Give me a temporary phone in the interim, complete with iPhone functions
  • Reimburse me for the 6 days I have been without a phone

Even Jordan Peterson’s followers must beware of groupthink. My thoughts on his talk at The Hammersmith Apollo:

Yesterday evening I went to see Jordan Peterson speak at the Hammersmith Apollo. I’ve been a huge fan of Peterson ever since his Channel 4 interview with Cathy Newman, which has always seemed like a pivotal, slightly euphoric, moment in the culture wars, not so much between the political Left and Right, but between the Far Left and common sense. Like many, I felt a (rather evil) satisfaction as Peterson demolished so many of the Lefty arguments we’ve become sick of hearing, thrown at him by Cathy Newman.

One of Peterson’s famous bits of advice is to be wary of group identity in favour of individualism, which is why the first part of his show caused me alarm. It felt like something of a rally, as he was introduced to the stage by Dave Rubin – an American political commentator, seemingly on the same ideological spectrum. As compère, Rubin did an excellent job stirring the audience up, and when Peterson entered the stage much of them hypnotically rose to their feet and applauded. I watched in horror; it was as if someone had shoved a mirror in front of my face. Am I in a cult? I wondered. Is it possible I have been so concerned about left-wing collectives that I, myself, have inadvertently become part of another? Perhaps…

Thankfully, the talk settled and the Jordan-mania calmed down, too. Even so, I do think – myself included – that Peterson followers must watch out for their own ‘cultish’ tendencies. Understandably, many are sick of being demonised by the scary Left and thus see a saviour in Peterson, who serves an important existential purpose – batting away overly-promoted sociological constructs (patriarchy, privilege) that could have sinister consequences. But this shouldn’t mean taking Peterson’s every word as gospel, nor view him as a type of messiah. This thinking merely makes us the type of group we purport to fear. We must keep a critical mind, and be prepared to disagree with Peterson (and I’m sure he himself would agree on that…)

Back to the event, anyway. Peterson has an amazing mind, and is a hundred times cleverer than me – so excuse my criticism, but I did find his talk too free-flowing, like his 12 Rules book. It needs more signposting; often I do not know how we got from A to B, or if we’re even on Z, in terms of his thought processes. Like I say, I love the guy, so none of this is to slight his analyses or conclusions, just how they are packaged and pulled together. From my perspective, Peterson is best when he’s being interviewed or debating, which focuses the discussion. I also like his parenting and life advice, as I am a sucker for self-help. Who isn’t, ey?

Overall, I found it astonishing that Peterson’s event has come to exist at all. It says a lot about how scared people are to speak their minds that we now need famous figures to do it for us. Peterson and pals aren’t actually saying anything radical, merely speaking common sense. It is just that common sense has become the new controversy.

Part of the reason men and women especially need Peterson is his academic understanding, as we are locked in ideological warfare. The Left often misinterprets science or creates pseudo-intellectual arguments to advance itself (last week I read an ‘academic’ article arguing that white women tears are a type of racism…), thus there’s a new demand for opposing heavyweight intellectuals. This is why Peterson works so well, who’s able to use multivariate analyses as if it were a huge baton to hit idiots with.

The talk did make me wonder how prevalent far-Left ideology actually is, as I stared at the droves of people there – ‘the silent majority’. I suspect the SM is way bigger than the SM thinks, and has been mobilised greatly because of the internet. The internet has so much to answer for in terms of social fractures. It has meant that individuals from completely different geographies are now thrown into dialogue with each other. We have got to the point where Jane from Dorset is now debating with Stacy the Guardianista on Twitter. They are so far apart by virtue of their locations that it shall be almost impossible for them to reach a middle ground. This is we can never achieve a rational, constructive dialogue, instead our TV debates are raging wars between Left and Right. (I confess I have gone a bit free-flowing in this paragraph, hypocritically after my earlier critique).

Can Peterson sew the world back together? Perhaps! Ultimately he serves an important function, providing an alternate view to Left-wing groupthink. Peterson believes individualism is what can save us all, but at the same time I hope no one misinterprets that advice as encouragement to retreat from their opponents, which would only polarise debate further. If there’s one thing his audience figures suggest, it’s that lots of other people have the same thoughts, which is all the more reason to break up from each other and talk to the opposition, lest we become guilty of groupthink! We must not be so afraid to tell others of our opinions; we must take heart from the bravery of Peterson.