Friday , June 22 2018

Potpourri

Summary:
==> CONTEST! Get your video posted for free admission to the Contra Cruise. Details in the middle of this episode (which is also quite good). ==> I differ with the Pope on transubstantiation *and* climate economics. ==> This is a great Tom Woods interview of Saifedean Ammous. He is an economist with a very particular interest in Bitcoin, and he makes the case passionately. (Note, I’m not necessarily agreeing with all of his positions.) ==> This is a great Scott Alexander post talking about the reaction to the “Intellectual Dark Web” stuff. My favorite part is when he points out the absurdity in a Reason response: So. Threats against a professor and his family forcing him to leave town. Another professor told that she would lose her job if she communicated

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==> CONTEST! Get your video posted for free admission to the Contra Cruise. Details in the middle of this episode (which is also quite good).

==> I differ with the Pope on transubstantiation *and* climate economics.

==> This is a great Tom Woods interview of Saifedean Ammous. He is an economist with a very particular interest in Bitcoin, and he makes the case passionately. (Note, I’m not necessarily agreeing with all of his positions.)

==> This is a great Scott Alexander post talking about the reaction to the “Intellectual Dark Web” stuff. My favorite part is when he points out the absurdity in a Reason response:

So. Threats against a professor and his family forcing him to leave town. Another professor told that she would lose her job if she communicated research to the public. A guy needing $600,000 worth of security just to be able to give a speech without getting mobbed. Someone showing up to a lecture with a garrote. And Reason Magazine reads all this and thinks “I know what’s going on! These people’s only possible complaint is that they feel entitled to have everyone agree with them!”

Incidentally, Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s Reason piece is a great example of why Jordan Peterson fans will become gradually impervious to legitimate criticism of their hero. There are plenty of things JP has said in interviews and especially on Twitter that make my eyebrow shoot up. But I get boxed into “defending” his most provocative claims when people utterly misrepresent what he said. (I won’t say “lie” because I do not claim to understand the behavior of people who so obviously misrepresent him. I am open to believing that they really think that the people who like Peterson do so out of hatred of women, instead of e.g. all the reasons his fans will list when you ask them why they like Peterson.)

Anyway here’s part of what Brown wrote about JP:

His YouTube videos and recently published self-help book are full of sensible advice—interspersed with wisdom about how all feminists have “an unconscious wish for brutal male domination,” rants against postmodernism (which has reached almost mythical megavillain status in Peterson’s worldview), threats to hit other academics, and goofy parables about lobsters.

OK so the “threats to hit other academics” doesn’t have a hyperlink, but I presume she is talking about the time somebody wrote a hit piece (in the New York Review of Books, not in a journal article) on JP saying he and JP’s colleague were courting fascists, and JP said on Twitter, “And you call me a fascist? You sanctimonious prick. If you were in my room at the moment, I’d slap you happily.”

So yeah, obviously JP shouldn’t have tweeted that, but it’s a bit misleading to summarize that as “threats to hit other academics.”

Anyway, the line about “how all feminists” desire domination is not correct. Now Brown went out of her way to write “all” in there. What I mean is, just imagine you are in casual conversation talking about someone’s views on a group. If you say “all” then you are deliberately emphasizing that the person thinks this of all members of the group.

Only problem is, that’s not what JP was doing. If you follow her link, you get a little snippet of a video from a guy who clearly hates JP’s guts. If you scroll down in the comments you’ll get the full context. What happens is that in the middle of a 4-hour interview (specifically at 2h14m27s) the topic comes up of how “radical feminists” (the term JP uses) inexplicably criticize American society for all sorts of stuff, but never criticize the US government’s cozy relationship with Saudi Arabia, even though that government literally subjugates women. On the face of it, that is weird. JP says he can’t understand it except in psychoanalytic terms–remember, the guy is a psychologist and a fan of Freud–and then he offers the bombshell statement that is the gift that keeps on giving.

To summarize, this is what’s so annoying about a lot of the criticism of Jordan Peterson. If people had just linked to this and said, “You on board with this Murphy? A lot more than just expositions of Noah’s flood huh?” then I would agree. But instead Brown has to say it’s JP’s opinion of “all feminists.”

EDITed to add: After I posted the above, I skimmed the NY Review of Books hit piece again to make sure I had characterized it fairly. It had this link to a FB post where Peterson asks about “feminists” (not just “radical feminists”) avoid criticizing Islam because of a desire for domination. So perhaps that’s what Brown had in mind, although her link was to a video where he was talking about “radical feminists.” And in any event, the more important thing is that she omits the part about “Why don’t they criticize Islam which subjugates women?” The way Brown is depicting it, JP is saying anybody who cares about women’s rights is actually seeking domination.

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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