Posts Tagged ‘sophistry’

More Thoughts on the Snake Oil Salesman du jour, Jordan Peterson: 3

June 16, 2018 13 comments

In my previous post about this snake oil salesman, I made the point that his sudden rise to fame was due to lack of competition in combination with a rapidly growing number of disillusioned, young and mostly white men. And this brings us to the question as to how so many young white men lost faith in the status quo. Well.. the detailed answer to that question is long and complex.

The most compact version goes something like this: post-WW2 prosperity in the west and the resultant false equilibrium favoring white men kept alive an older belief that white men were somehow inherently superior and the “chosen people”. As the course of events within the last two decades have shown, that particular belief turned out to be erroneous.

So what do people of average-ish intelligence do after being faced with the reality that they are not special or chosen? Historically speaking, they double down on their beliefs and seek clever charismatic people who are happy to tell them what they want to hear for the right price. That is how Mussolini, Hitler and other fascistic leaders got into power in the post-WW1 era. That is also why various “holy men” in ridiculous costumes command the devotion of millions in India.

Even before the rise of Jordan Peterson, signs of this problem were plainly visible to anyone who was willing to see them. Ever wonder why there were so many american cop and detective shows in the 1990-2010 era in which they were portrayed as smart and fair? What about all those TV shows and movies from that same era where the american army was portrayed as invincible? Or the current obsession with superhero movies?

Sadly, there is always a market for material which makes defeated rubes feel relevant and good about themselves. But there is more to snake oil than simply reassuring people that things will be all right or the previous status quo will magically return. All successful snake oil salesmen also peddle hope under the guise of “self-improvement”. To be clear, I am not against the concept of providing people help to improve the quality of their lives.

My issue with “self-improvement” material comes down to laughably fraudulent claims made by its purveyors. Reading a book on how to become a millionaire might help you make a few better financial decisions, but it is unlikely to make you rich. Similarly trying to become a venture capital funded entrepreneur or working for a startup is unlikely to make you rich, though it may make you more cynical about humanity and less likely to make bad career decisions in your future.

But that is not how most defeated rubes see the world. They actually believe that following the instructions in some book, podcast or YouTube channel will make them super rich, sexually irresistible or whatever else is being peddled. The cleverest snake oil salesman sell contemporary fantasies and can thus enter a new market. There is a reason why books about ‘game’ sold like hot cakes in the last decade, but would not have had that success in previous decades.

As I said in my previous post, Jordan Peterson is peddling a particular fantasy which appeals to kind of people who, in a previous era, would have held CONservative beliefs. The problem with the fantasy he is selling are twofold. Firstly- his empty platitudes and appeals to traditional authority allow his followers to believe that the corpse of traditional CONservatism can be resurrected. He is thus setting up his followers for a huge disappointment in the future, but that won’t matter to him as he will have moved to another scam by then.

The second, and even more problematic part of his scam, is that he is putting the responsibility of failure on his followers- why is another hallmark of a cult. You see, cult-leaders never “fail”. It is always their less-than-enthusiastic followers who fail themselves. Your CONservative utopia did not materialize because you weren’t enthusiastic enough. And yes, that is very reminiscent of MLM marketing scams because they are, after all, secular cults.

Peterson does not explain, or glosses over, the parts on how his followers newfound devotion to CONservative values will translate into more stable jobs, more traditional wives and all the other old-timey CONservative goodies he is implicitly promising. I mean.. how will having traditional values stop your job from being made precarious by rampant financialization? How will your having traditional values affect the fact that you wife wants to be fucked like a ragdoll by some alpha guy? How will men believing in traditional values affect the fact that most divorces are initiated by women? My point is that he is selling non-solutions to real problems.

The problems which drive rubes to people like Peterson are due to primary and secondary structural changes in the socio-economic order. Some, such as the rise of feminism (in all its forms) are almost inevitable. However many others such as rampant income and wealth inequality, poor job and career security, laws and rules which preferentially penalize men to benefit women and the overall nihilistic zeitgeist caused by late-stage capitalism are not inevitable. Changing those things however requires approaches that are quite different and far more radical than the secularized CONservatism preached by Peterson.

What do you think? Comments?

More Thoughts on the Snake Oil Salesman du jour, Jordan Peterson: 2

June 5, 2018 25 comments

In the previous post of this series, I promised to write about in some detail (and with examples) why the snake oil which Jordan Peterson is promoting is essentially useless. Then there is the issue of how his followers are setting themselves up for failure and disappointment. Well.. as it turns out, I am not the only blogger who has the concerns or written about them. Therefore I will start by talking about, and link to a few posts, written by others who have made similar points.

While you might not like choice of font and page layout, stonerwithaboner recently wrote an interesting post about Jordan Peterson. To summarize, it draws attention to the fact that Jordan Peterson has a history of fame seeking and playing fast and loose with ethics. Now, this is not all that surprising. In fact, it have been shocking if that was not the case. What is perhaps more interesting is that Jordan Peterson has a peculiar obsession with maintaining hierarchy.

As those who have read my posts for years might remember, an obsession with maintaining hierarchy and status quo is one of dead giveaways of a CONservative, even if they identify as something else. And this brings us to another giveaway of the CONservative mind if you can call it that).. an obsession with outward appearance of “order”. His infamous ‘clean your room’ bullshit line is just one of the many instances in which he talks about “solutions” that have no relation to the problem at hand.

It also provides an insight into the type of con he is running. You see.. somewhat successful conmen often make many “common-sense” and unobjectionable claims to make themselves seem normal and lower the defenses of their marks to push a scam. That is why politicians cannot stop talking about patriotism, small-town america, family values, freedom etc while fucking their underage mistress, voting for wars which don’t affect them, fellating corporations who fund their election campaigns- all while screwing the rubes who voted for them.

Then there is the question of why Jordan Peterson does whatever he is doing. In other words, what is his motivation? Based on what we know to date, it is clear that a quest for power, fame and money (in that order) are the driving forces behind his public persona. To be clear, I am not against people achieving fame or making some money as a side product of doing what they believe in or like. However when the quest for power, fame and money are the primary motivation, one has to be highly suspicious of whatever is being peddled by that person.

And this brings me the world-view that Peterson is peddling. What is the product he is selling? Spoiler alert, it is a secularized version of traditional CONservatism. You know, the same bullshit ideology where gullible men are supposed to make large upfront sacrifices for the hope of a “meaningful” existence. However instead of using the alleged authority of an imaginary god and religion, his version pushes the scam based on its secular equivalents- “western” civilization and capitalism.

The dishonest crap that Peterson is pushing is no different from religious and cult leaders in previous eras pushing for human sacrifice and witch-burning to a stupid and desperate audience in order to “please the angry gods and restore order”. And how exactly will all this work? Well.. nobody knows. For starters, the way women behave and society functions today has really no connection with what men are willing to sacrifice. Face it.. the probability that a guy who is conventionally considered a good husband will get screwed over in divorce court is far more than anything resembling the ‘they lived sorta happily ever after’ fairy tale ending.

The way things works in real life is linked to something (anything..) being possible and the probability of it occurring. The fact that women will screw over devoted husbands and chase after rich, handsome or powerful non-committal men has everything to do with it being possible and likely. In other words, a lot of the disruptive social changes you see around yourself have to do with broader changes in society and how they affect the feasibility and probability of previously uncommon outcomes. Let me explain that point with an example.

I am sure that many of you have received numerous phone calls for fraudulent tech support, emails claiming to be from some bank or scammers claiming to be from the IRS. Ever wonder why stuff like this was uncommon 10-20 years ago, but is now ubiquitous? Well.. it comes to the much reduced cost of running such scams as well as and the ability to run them from overseas- thanks to the internet and seamless international financial connections. To put it another way, these scams were always around but could not be implemented on a large-scale in the past because it was not just not possible to do so.

Similarly, many of the problems afflicting the gullible devotees of Jordan Peterson have always been around. It just happened to the case that structure and functioning of societies in previous eras put a serious cap on their growth and proliferation. However the structure and functioning of societies does evolve over time. As many of you might know, the majority of decent paying jobs or vocations right until the middle of the 20th century involved hard or difficult physical labor. That is why society in those eras seems patriarchal.

Once technology progressed to the point where varying degrees of mechanization and automation made most jobs that were physically hard either easy or redundant, it was simply not possible to maintain the existing social structure. That is why the social changes of the late 1960s occurred all over the then industrialized world at about the same time. And that is why women started entered reasonably well-paying jobs in such large numbers at around that time. The subsequent increase in female sexual freedom was inevitable, as was the massive increase in divorce rates.

In the next part of this series, I will write more about why these socio-economic changes were pretty much guaranteed to create a number of adverse outcomes for men. My focus will be to show these changes lead to the rise of SJWs and all the other socio-cultural bullshit which surrounds us today. Having said that, the most important takeaway from this post should be that following self-anointed leaders who demand personal sacrifice to please some mysterious “god” is an exercise in futility.. and kinda funny to watch from the outside.

What do you think? Comments?

More Thoughts on the Snake Oil Salesman du jour, Jordan Peterson: 1

June 2, 2018 25 comments

A few months ago, I wrote an initial assessment of the latest “public intellectual” to “challenge” the SJW-ization of North America. In that post, I had pointed out a major reason behind the growing public popularity of Jordan Peterson was that pretty much every single person in his position, specifically “public intellectuals”, had stopped questioning SJW dogma because of the fear of resulting social, career and reputational damage. In other words, the major reason for Jordan Peterson’s growing fame is that he has no real competition for the audience to whom he was selling his brand of snake oil.

But before we go further, let us clear about a couple of things. I detest SJWs, current strains of “Feminism”, classical LIEberalism, LIEbertarianism with the same intensity as CONservatives, Religious Nutcases and Cultists. In my opinion, anybody who is trying to force their ideology upon you does not have your best interests in mind- to put it mildly. Furthermore anybody trying to sell you a ‘theory of everything’ based on rhetoric, lies and manipulation is a fraud- regardless of the ‘credentials’ of such a person or ‘reputation’ of the institution they hail from.

Secondly, I do not care about how good an ideology sounds in theory because that often no relation to reality. It is, for example, trivial to develop a geocentric model of the solar system that is accurate enough to explain the motion of the sun, moon and planets visible to the naked eyes. Indeed, the two thousand-year old Antikythera mechanism is quite capable of modeling the motion of those objects even though it is based on a geocentric model of the universe. To put it another way, a theory or model which can explain a few things can still be often totally wrong.

And this brings me why I said that Jordan Peterson was merely the latest “public intellectual” to “challenge” the growing SJW-ization of North American society. In case you are still wondering, I do not believe he is an intellectual or that he is really challenging the SJW-ization of society. So, let me start by first addressing the reasons why I do not consider him an intellectual. Some might say that he is clever, well spoken and intelligent and you know what.. he is a decent public speaker and self-promoter who saw a niche that others were too afraid to exploit.

Being clever and intelligent does, however, make you an intellectual. The founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, was also a clever and charismatic con man who was able to found a cult.. I mean ‘religious order’ which continues to this day. The same can be said about people like L. Ron Hubbard, Sathya Sai Baba and number of other people who started ‘religious orders’ within the last hundred years. One can also make the point that every single religion and secular religion throughout human history was founded by one, or more, clever con man or woman.

The real question, in my opinion, is whether an ideology benefits followers and believers as much (or more) than the founder and the high priest of that ideology. In case you are wondering, the vast majority of cults, traditional and secular religions tend to disproportionately benefit their founders and high priests at the expense of followers. For example, the founder of Mormonism and his close confidants benefited far more from Mormonism than the average follower. In contrast, the scientists who pushed for acceptance of the germ theory of infectious diseases benefited their followers (and the rest of humanity) far more than themselves.

So, why do I see what Jordan Peterson is pushing as the pseudo-intellectual equivalent of snake oil. Well.. there are many reasons, but let us start by talking about why I chose to compare him with a snake oil salesman of yesteryears. For starters, snake oil salesmen did not for the most part sell snake oil. Instead, they usually sold patent medicines which were usually just liqueurs containing opium (later morphine), cannabis and cocaine. What makes the people who sold and shilled for them interesting is that the snake oil salesman as well as demand for their products was largely a product of the socio-economic changes of the 19th century.

It is common knowledge that the second stage of the industrial revolution (1850s onwards) allowed the mass manufacture of bottles and the various “medicinal” liquids they were filled with. What is less well-known, is the fact that the main reason people bought patent medicines in that era had a lot to do with the socio-economic dislocations and hardships caused by capitalism. To put it another way, people bought liqueurs with opium, cannabis and cocaine because their lives had become so precarious and shitty. Furthermore, getting high by taking a “medicine” was seen as far more respectable than smoking opium or cannabis.

The neo-traditionalist snake oil that Jordan Peterson is now selling is popular largely because it allows the true believers and followers (almost exclusively young white men) to dissociate from the admittedly shitty reality of living in the second decade of the 21st century. So how does the snake oil that Peterson sells differ from somewhat similar but older products sold by various evangelical and baptist preachers? Well.. for one, it comes inside the bottle of secular authority letting the buyer feel superior to those rubes who buy one that comes in the largely discredited bottles of traditional religious authority.

It also helps that the purveyor of said product can speak in a much more intelligent seeming manner, as compared to those who sell the more traditional form of that product. You might have noticed that Jordan Peterson is careful to avoid challenging any of the central tenets of modern Feminism, even the ones that are well.. nuts. Sure, he pokes the dragon a little (to establish cred with followers), but never enough to evoke a lot of reaction and shut down his little business. Then again, you cannot blame the guy for identifying and exploiting a virgin market to sell his version of snake oil. He, like previous generations of snake oil salesmen, is simply serving a new and under-served market.

In the next part of this short series, I will explain in some detail (and with examples) why the stuff that Jordan Peterson is selling is close to useless.. except perhaps to make believers feel better about themselves for a short time. I will also talk about how the ideas and beliefs he is pushing are setting up his followers for failure and disappointment.

What do you think? Comments?