Saturday, 20 January 2018

Cathy Newman versus Jordan Peterson : mismatch of the century

You should definitely watch this, and all of it. You should do so both for all that you'll learn from it, and for the sheer, high-quality humour in seeing invincible ignorance meet with overwhelming force of logic, clarity and (in today's context, courageous) refusal to be cowed by bluster and nonsense. Though, it's a shame that Peterson's powerful and important initial message for men (on which, see here), gets over-shadowed by Newman's failed attempts to turn him into cartoon woman-hater.

You should, before watching it, understand that Cathy Newman is not a thickie reading a list of questions cooked up by some underpaid, overworked beginner in the research assistant role. She's not been set up to look like an idiot. Rather, she is herself a seasoned feminist campaigner, over a number of years, at a national level, pushing her own self-consciously chosen agenda and asking her own questions, educated at Charterhouse and the University of Oxford (where she obtained a first). That's why, as she gets completely dismantled by clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson (either an agnostic, or cultural Christian, according to Wikipedia - at one point almost at the end he appeals to conventional evolutionary theory), it's so very devastating. Time, and again, she (despite having 30 minutes at her leisure to develop however she wished) tries to perform a "gotcha" on him with a simplistic misunderstanding in the guise of an argument or question, in order to trip him up and prove that he's a bigot; time, and again, he exposes the sheer shallowness and lack of factual basis, behind what she's saying. Time and again, she lets loyalty to her cause refuse to let her hear what that's been said, and time and again, he clinically unpicks her confusion. At the end, she's left with nothing more trying to make him responsible for unspecified rude comments made by unnamed people on the Internet. It's that clinical.

The problem in the culture we face is a) that it's pretty rare for campaigners like Cathy Newman to set themselves up like this. Because of their strangehold among the media gatekeepers, they don't need to parade the vacuousness of their slogans in this way; and b) the factors that allow people like Jordan Peterson to still exist in academia (just) unfortunately don't allow them to exist in the same way in contemporary politics (which largely rewards the parading of vacuous slogans). But watching this would be a good start.

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