Monday, December 05, 2016

READ THIS: Jordan Peterson: "We're Teaching University Students Lies"

A colleague just sent me this, and I've only scanned it and read six or seven paragraphs of it (and have to run to class now), but I'm posting it anyway because it looks very, very good.


Blogger The Mystic said...

It gets to be more of a mixed bag as you read it further, in my opinion.

He has a strangely radical position against the idea that women were discriminated against throughout history. He basically argues that everyone's lives sucked and women were stuck in their sucky lives just like men, and so..something..something..not really discrimination?

I mean, it's pretty easy to look back through history and see that women were fairly obviously expected to behave in a subservient manner towards men...

I dunno. The guy is on the right side of the fight he's picked, and he seems to be sufficiently sophisticated in his thought to combat it rightly most of the time, but he strikes me as a pretty unpalatable ally along whose side I would not enjoy fighting.

But, I'm always glad to see people opposing nonsense with not-overtly-unreasonable views.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Just got to that part, totally agree with you.

I wonder whether there might be a point buried in there that he's abbreviating too much...but I doubt it. Seems like the response is obviously: yeah, everybody's life sucked alright...and women's sucked more, because they were...well...I think feminists radically over-use 'oppressed'...but I'm wanting to say oppressed here.

4:41 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Though the stuff he writes about the glass ceiling / pay gap stuff is consistent with my own pet hypothesis:

Dudes are more prone to be obsessive.

5:27 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Yeah, and I think economists have largely proven that the pay gap is (1) much, much smaller (nearing insignificance) than that which is commonly bandied about and (2) readily explained by many of the facts mentioned by this guy, one of which is the difference in degree of obsessiveness over arbitrary competition among males.

One can hardly be acquainted with the Interwebs without recognizing this distinction between men and women.

Also worth noting about this guy: he is overly aggressive and jerky about even those of his positions (such as the discrimination against women part) which are either wrong or at least poorly delivered. It's an interview, of course, and he can't be expected to totally lay everything out perfectly, but one should really strive, in my estimation, not to come across that way when dealing with topics about which people are already so riled up.

His language and method of speech, however, causes me to suspect that he doesn't care much for that point.

Ok, one last thing: his assertion that everyone would be Nazis if we lived in 1930s Germany was also far too cavalier. There were, as I am sure he is aware, a significant number of Germans who were not down with Hitler. Again, as I'm sure he is aware, some of them attempted to assassinate him on a few occasions. Also (as I'm sure..), not all of the German citizens really knew what was going on when it comes to the Holocaust and other horrible things.

I do appreciate his point. It's an important point, and I often fret about who or what I would have become without some of the very fortunate positive influences I ran across in my life. It gives me a much more sympathetic view of even some of the most heinous people around. But he goes too far and seems to hold a sort of deterministic notion of individuals in societies despite his professional purpose in fighting against a direction society is taking. Combined with his aggressive jerkiness, it seems likely that he considers himself to be an exception to the determinism he applies to others without regarding them as possibly excepted, as well.

In short: it seems like an evening of drinks with this dude would be lame if it could not be made amusing.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I agree, unsurprisingly, about the Nazi point, though I took him to actually mean *most*, not *all.*

That'd be wrong too, though, since *way* less than 50% of the population belonged to the Nazi party.

OTOH, he didn't really mean *Nazis*, he meant *Hitler supporters*, and I'm under the impression, anyway, that that *would* be *most*. Most adults, anyway.

As for him being an asshole: I don't see it, but I don't think I have any particularly good fix on his personality.

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Bob Smith said...

Tried to read this. Got to the part where he was talking about the current Ontario government changing basic legal principles and had to stop. The most charitable interpretation of his statement is he doesn't undrstand Canadian law. In Canada, there is 2 standards of proof. Beyond a reasonable doubt or balance of probablities. BARD is used only for criminal cases. It is not used, and has never been used, in civil matters. Balance of probablities (ie predonderance of the evidence) is the civil standard of proof. Human Right cass are civil matters.
Secondly, he claims that the other legal principle thrown out by the current government is that intent doesn't matter in order to find a human rights violations. In this, he is half right. Intent does not matter in human right cases. However, it has never mattered. Human Right Tribunals have been around for nearly 40 years. Intent has never mattered. This is becuase if my human rights have been violated I don't really care what your intent is. The outcome is my rights have been violated. By way fo an American example,is a law that does not intend to limit freedom of speech but has the effect of limiting freedom of speech breach the first amendment?
The problem is I've seen this line of argument before in Canada and it is typically made in bad faith by people who know better. Therefore, when I run into this argument a big red flag is raised. Good arguments should not be based on untruths.

11:10 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

How sure are you about these things?

Seems implausible that human rights cases are civil matters. Also seems implausible that intent doesn't matter for such cases. Accidentally locking you in a room is very different than intentionally locking you in a room. Seems extremely weird to claim that an accident would count as a violation of your human rights.

I don't know anything about Canadian But I'm a little skeptical.

I'm actually more interested in Peterson's other, non-legal arguments. Those are the ones that seem most interesting to me.

11:43 PM  
Anonymous Bob Smith said...

Yeah I figured you were more interested in the non-legal arguments but "someone was wrong on the internet" and I had to act:)
As to your example, from the point of view of the person who is locked into the room, the intent of the person who locked him in there is (almost) irrelevant to the remedy needed. Should we leave one person stuck in the room simply because he was accidently locked in?
I practice labour law in Canada and deal with Human Right cases on a regular basis. (So far none dealing with xe or xer but the century is young). The usual human right cases deal with a standard, bona fide work rule that had a discriminatory effect on an individual. The law in Canada is that the employee is entitled to a remedy regardless of the intent of the employer.

Didn't mean to hijack the thread. Don't generally comment but when something comes along in my wheelhouse hard not to.

12:32 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yo, B,

LOL yes--I agree...someone being wrong on the internet must not stand!

You're not hijacking the thread in any way. I know exactly nothing about law, so am glad to have the input.

As for being locked in the room: it makes sense that the remedy should be the same...but is it really true that the *punishment* for the alleged offender should be the same in both cases? (Does the legal term 'remedy' cover punishments, too?)

5:39 AM  
Anonymous Bob Smith said...

The "punishment" would not necessarily be the same. In general, the underlying theory is not to punish the respondent but to alleviate the effect. Sticking with your example, if the complainant can show that he was locked in the room deliberatly he could make an additional claim for damages for injury to dignity, a sort of catch all category used to increase the monetary award. This amount used to have a de facto cap of around $10,000 but has recently been increasing (I think the highest award I've seen is $75,000).
Indeed, the concept of providing a remedy despite the lack of intent by the respondent is not unique to, nor invented by, human right laws. Tort law is divided into intentional and non-intentional torts. The law provides a remedy to a harm even if no intent to injure is shown.
I think the issue may be that becuase human right cases cover such a broad swath of activity under one legal concept it can lead to situations where the use of this concept can be, or at least appear to be, inequitable. For example, it is a breach of the Human Rights law to discriminate in the provisions of services customarily open to the public. Orginally this covered cases where a business would, for example, refuse to serve someone based on race or some other prohibited ground. Fairly straightforward cases in any event. However the concept is wide enough to cover a refusal by a professor to use the preferred pronoun of an individual, so long as that refusal is viewed as sexual harassment. Which is a long winded way of getting to the point I think I orginally wanted to make but didn't. The reason I see red flags when I read attacks on human rights like this is I see it as an attack on the concept of human rights rather than an attack on the flawed reasoning that sees a refusal to use preferred pronouns as sexual harassment.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

This is really interesting,thanks for posting all this.

Isn't it weird that violations of human rights are treated as torts? Doesn't it seem more natural to treat them as criminal matters?

Is this common or unusual to Canada?

Also, re: your final point: Don't you think that Peterson makes it pretty clear that it's this particular law he's objecting to? I don't think he gives any reason to think that he's rejecting the whole idea of human rights. I agree it'd be a red flag if he did, though.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Bob Smith said...

I've never really thought of it. Its just the way it is throughout Canada. Maybe it's because it's the way it has always been but even thinking about it I don't view it as odd. The criminal standard is there to ensure that the state must show evidence beyond a reasonable doubt in order to justify the (potential) loss of freedom of the individual. Human right cases typically do not involve the state, at least to the extent of criminal prosecutions.

As to the original article I went back and gave it a closer read. Not being an Ontario lawyer I didn't grasp originally the specific law he ws objecting too. (I was under the impressiin that "gender expression" discrimination was being caught by an already existing prohibited ground.) Aside from the stuff that you and The Mystic discussed earlier (and a couple of other minor asides I didn't agree with but were not relevant to his basic argument) on further review he does seem to be basically concerned with the new law.

12:22 AM  

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