Jordan Peterson’s psychobabble


This article was originally published at on July 24, 2018, where Adam Piggott publishes regularly and brilliantly. You can purchase Adam’s books here.

Vox Day links to an article about Jordan Peterson’s deceitful tactic of attempting to redefine words when it suits him in order to mask the meaning of what he is supposedly attempting to say.

“Communication becomes extremely difficult if we allow ourselves repeatedly to be drawn into a labyrinth of semantic distinctions. That is precisely why there has to be some fundamental agreement about what words actually mean at the beginning of any conversation. This is something Peterson can be particularly bad at doing, when the mood takes him—just listen to his excruciating two-hour conversation with Harris that never managed to get past the disputed meaning of the word ‘truth.’

‘When the mood takes him’ is an extremely generous way of describing such opportunistic behavior.

Peterson’s legions of mindless followers will no doubt rush to their guru’s defense with claims that it isn’t Peterson’s responsibility to define words, repeat ad nauseam. Or perhaps they will shout something along the lines that Peterson is attempting to answer infinitely complex questions and thus has some sort of special leeway to turn common language inside out and upside down. After all, complex questions require complex answers, and if you’re not complex enough to grok the meaning then that’s your problem, isn’t it.

Peterson’s answers are incredibly complex because Peterson deliberately constructs them in such a way that his answers are opaque and clouded in obscurity. Nicholas Taleb holds particular disdain for those who deliberately confuse and complicate language in order to seem more intelligent, worldly or knowledgeable on any given subject manner.

Which is a rather long-winded way of saying that Peterson is full of shit.

Vox has this to say on the subject:

“As I call it, bafflegarble. It’s nonsense that baffles the insufficiently comprehending.”

I’m not a fan of bafflegarble, particularly as there is already a perfectly good term to describe this condition: Psychobabble, which was defined by writer Theodore Dalrymple as “the means by which people talk about themselves without revealing anything.”

There’s a cool song on the subject by Alan Parsons too!

Photo by Gage Skidmore