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.

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13 thoughts on “Is there a correlation between arts degrees and hating Jordan Peterson?

  1. >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

    It’s not really that. It’s because they’re left-wing. Academic psychology itself is full of left-wingers who will also happily demonise the likes of Peterson, and it’s not like they don’t know the field. They’ll have their own different take on the evidence, though.

  2. You’ll be surprised to find out that, believe it or not, a lot of the arts and humanities fields conduct research: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods. One doesn’t have to be a person in the “hard” sciences to understand the scientific method, or conduct academic research. Those in the arts and humanities are likely best equipped to critique the likes of Jordan Peterson based on their study of cultural theory, studies, and criticism, as well as critical theory. But of course these fields are probably not scientific enough to appease you.

    However, you lack solid evidence that the majority of those critiquing Jordan Peterson have “merely” arts degrees, beyond pure speculation.

  3. How are you talking about science when you are basing this entire article on your personal anecdote which you are calling “a correlation”. What’s the correlation coefficient? What’s the p value? What differential hypotheses did you consider to explain what you observed?

    You claim to be qualified in psychology. If that’s true, you know better.

  4. Im a phd doctor of clinical psychiatry who trained is psychiatry and later psychoanalysis and can blow your questionable positioning out of the water. Peterson makes childlike flaws mistaking mean averages for “truths” practically every time he opens his mouth. He tries to drawn otherworldly mysticism by referring to psychotherapy but is clearly not a psychotherapist, neither does he have the faintest understanding what psychotherapy IS and again proves this every time he opens his mouth. He is a closet biblical literalist and opportunistic political ideologue taking advantage of peoples naivety and insecurity during a very precarious time. He also has deep ties with the koch brothers funding and many of his debates have been set up to aid this cause – whivh believes in a malthusian thinnomg of society for libertarian ends. The guys a pox on every respected field he claims to draw inference from and youre only showing your own questionable merit posting this.

  5. Im a phd doctor of clinical psychiatry who trained in psychiatry and later psychoanalysis and can blow your questionable positioning out of the water. Peterson makes childlike flaws mistaking mean averages for “truths” practically every time he opens his mouth. He tries to draw otherworldly mysticism by referring to psychotherapy but is clearly not a psychotherapist, neither does he have the faintest understanding what psychotherapy IS and again proves this every time he opens his mouth. He is a closet biblical literalist and opportunistic political ideologue taking advantage of peoples naivety and insecurity during a very precarious time. He also has deep ties with the koch brothers funding and many of his debates have been set up to aid this cause – which believes in a malthusian thinning of society for libertarian ends. The guys a pox on every respected field he claims to draw inference from and youre only showing your own questionable merit posting this.

  6. And is it not slightly alarming that each of these “non scientists” completely mops the floor with peterson? Look at the abortion results in ireland, one of the worlds most catholic countries. Petersons frequent rants about enforced monogamy and casual sex “requiring state intervention” would place him firmly on the “no” side. The side that lost. The side that deserves to be lost to the annals of history, with the dodo, the dinosaur, and the bird worshipping cults of easter island. That should serve as to a litmus test as to where your own personal perception of “science” is (the victorian times?)

  7. I have degrees in psychology and neuroscience. What you have discovered here is a correlation between journalists and journalism degrees. You have provided no evidence other than googling.

  8. JP is not just relaying evidence, he’s making claims and building arguments based on evidence. Those are not the same thing. Here is a charitable review by analytic philosopher Kate Manne, who has a background in moral psychology and logic, meaning she is *literally* trained in the ‘art’ of argument. https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/jordan-peterson-12-rules-kate-manne-review/

    Also, “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).”

    Are you (or is he) taking into account domestic violence? Here are some facts about violence between intimate partners: https://ncadv.org/statistics.

  9. If you studied psychology, you should have learned about cherry-picking your data. If you are reading what *journalists* are writing, it should not surprise you that many of them have arts degrees. There are plenty of scientists who disagree with Peterson, however, as you should now know from your Twitter feed.

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