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An Ironic Slip of the Tongue for Jordan Peterson

Summary:
You guys think you’ve got me allll figured out. I’ve been pumping up Jordan Peterson, saying how great he is, and then his interview with Cathy Newman goes viral. You would expect me to share it with enthusiasm, yet I actually was underwhelmed by it (as I think I’ve said before on the blog). Anyway, David R. Henderson and I were discussing it over email. (BTW, David has a nice post about JP at EconLog.) I said that even though Newman was obviously being combative, there were a few key parts where I thought JP was not trying to get his point across to someone who disagreed with him. Even though it was perhaps hopeless to try to persuade Newman herself, there could be sincere feminists watching who honestly would not have gotten his points. David encouraged me to

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You guys think you’ve got me allll figured out. I’ve been pumping up Jordan Peterson, saying how great he is, and then his interview with Cathy Newman goes viral. You would expect me to share it with enthusiasm, yet I actually was underwhelmed by it (as I think I’ve said before on the blog).

Anyway, David R. Henderson and I were discussing it over email. (BTW, David has a nice post about JP at EconLog.) I said that even though Newman was obviously being combative, there were a few key parts where I thought JP was not trying to get his point across to someone who disagreed with him. Even though it was perhaps hopeless to try to persuade Newman herself, there could be sincere feminists watching who honestly would not have gotten his points.

David encouraged me to re-watch the video, and every time Newman said something, I should stop the video, and then jot down what I wished JP had said in response. Then, play the video to see how he did.

It was an instructive exercise, and David was right, JP did better than I remembered. It was actually only in two or three exchanges where I thought he missed an opportunity, and there were other places where he was amazing. So overall, he did fine. (And of course the “ha–gotcha” near the end will go down in Hostile Interview history.)

But, the one major goof I noticed: Start at 5:40 and JP clearly says, “…multivariate analysis of the pay gap indicate that it doesn’t exist.”

OK, we all know what he means by that. He takes “pay gap” to mean “a disparity in pay that can only be explained by irrational sexism.”

Yet later on, starting at 8:07, Newman says, “OK so rather than denying that the pay gap exists, which is what you did at the beginning of this conversation, shouldn’t you say to women…” and then she followed up on his nuanced position about being assertive.

At this point JP goofs. He says at 8:20–while he literally points his finger at her–“But I also didn’t deny that the pay gap existed. I denied that it existed because of gender.”

No, that’s not correct. He literally said the multivariate analysis indicated that it didn’t exist.

And then, to compound the problem, he then went on to lecture her about how he’s “very very very” careful with his words.

Anyway, we all get what he meant, and he had a very defensible, correct position on the substance. But this is a good example of what I mean, when I say that I actually don’t think he demolished her as much as some of his fans believe. And if someone went into this interview thinking he was slippery, they would see “confirmation” of that (incorrectly, in my mind, to be sure).

As I’ve said before, I think JP’s Biblical lectures are absolutely amazing; I can’t believe a thinker like him exists. I personally know people who have benefited from his work, as in, it’s helped them in their personal lives. So I’m mostly just posting this because it’s ironic.

Robert Murphy
Christian, Austrian economist, and libertarian theorist. Research Prof at Texas Tech and author of *Choice*. Paul Krugman's worst nightmare.

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