I have said in a previous post that I have mixed feelings about Jordan Peterson. I agree with some of what he says and disagree with other things. However, I do not see him as a folk-devil in the way ‘progressives’ do. Indeed, to me, his accusers seem to be a lot worse and most have relied on ad-hominem attacks and smears rather than engaging with his actual arguments.
The latest example of smear tactics from the Guardian is quite subtle. An article reports an interesting study from Cambridge that appears to show that people who hold extremist views tend to see the world in black and white terms and struggle with mental tasks requiring intricate mental steps. The report by Natalie Grover is a good one and there is nothing at all wrong with it. So where does the smear on Jordan Peterson come in?
Well, if you scroll down to the bottom of the article there is a section devoted to related stories and there in the foreground are two headlines about Jordan Peterson. What the relationship between Jordan Peterson and the sort of black and white thinking in the article above is not made clear but it looks like a crude attempt to smear him by linking his name with an article looking at the thought patterns leading to extremism.
Irrespective of whether you agree or disagree with him does the Guardian have any justification for linking Jordan Peterson with simplistic black and white thinking that lacks complexity? I think not. Take for example the infamous interview with Cathy Newman of C4 news that you can find here. Cathy Newman accused him of denying the existence of the gender pay gap. Here is what Jordan Peterson said.
There are multiple reasons for that, one of them is gender but it is not the only reason. If you are a social scientist worth your salt you never do a univariate analysis. You say well women are paid less in aggregate than men. Then we break it down by age we break it down by interest, you break it down by personality...... there is prejudice, there is no doubt about that, but it accounts for a much smaller proportion of variance in the pay gap than the radical feminists claim.
In a recent interviews, Cathy continues to claim that Jordan Peterson denied the existence of the gender pay gap. He did not. Who’s thinking is black and white and lacking in complexity? Cathy Newman’s or Jordan Petersons? You decide.