What Elon Musk & Jordan Peterson Have In Common: Exploring Journalistic Integrity
Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin, Sam Harris, Steven Pinker, and Elon Musk have one thing in common: they are often unjustly demonized by journalists. In this blog post I will explore why the Media is about to change for good.
About a week ago (the 23rd of May, 2018), Musk was in somewhat of a dispute on Twitter with some journalists, as has been becoming quite a common occurrence.
Let me shorten the story by covering it succinctly in 4 steps:
- Journalists verbally slander Elon Musk’s company Tesla and an injury that occurred in a Tesla vehicle.
- Musk responds, saying that slanderous, irresponsible Ad Hominem aricles are the reason why no one trusts the media.
- Media responds: ‘Musk . . . you don’t know anything about the media… You’re rich, privileged, etc.’ (more Ad Hominem basically)
- Later that day: Musk in process of creating a website that will put every other News outlet out of business.
It is sad that we have not proposed this earlier.
Steven Pinker came to Musk’s defense, tweeting out:
Elon Musk is absolutely right about this. Journalistic innumeracy is damaging in many ways, and editors should put an end to it.
Eric Weinstein proposed similar worry over the Media since the recent outburst of support for Musk:
I’m convinced that only Journalist-activists get us to Trump in 2020.
The problem with the media is obvious. Most of us have been seeing it and slowly distancing ourselves from mainstream news outlets, for better or for worse. The average person will see around 3,000 commercials a day (radio, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, News, TV, etc.). By the age of 25, the average person will see 2 million ads. 1 hour of TV programs is 25–30% advertising. Podcasts, on the other hand, have relatively few ads. If they do, it is a product that the broadcasters have personally benefited from.
How the Media Makes Money + Hit-Piece Articles
During the CNNs coverage of the Iraq War, CNN was receiving millions of views and hence benefiting by receiving incredible sums of money from advertising and sponsors.
The same applies to CNN’s coverage of Trump’s election and Russia’s potential interference with it. The more CNN covers Trump (especially this story), the more viewers they have, hence the more money they have.
CNN cannot report on things that matter because those are not things that are being watched.
Most Republicans are misrepresented by mainstream left wing news. They publish stories on Trump because they get views.
But it’s not just them of course. All media is becoming trash. Even the New York Times publishes stories that don’t tackle ideas. Instead they resort to slanderous statements directed towards the human behind the ideas (which is an Ad Hominem logical fallacy).
The media gave Trump free publicity because of his outrageous claims. It is mainly the media’s fault that Trump is president. If they wouldn’t publish stories that demonize him, he wouldn’t get elected. That is fact.
As Jaspreet Grill helpfully explains in his article “ Our Tribes and Tribulations”:
Even Trump deserves an admission (however difficult) of his achievements (however few) from his most strident critics. It is worth noting that the most airtight and scathing criticism of an ideology is usually delivered by those who once espoused it — for they have been psychologically intimate with both its appeal and its flaws.
Why is it that these actions are not being recognized in the mainstream? (If they are please let me know in the comments.) Is it possible that it is because it does not fit in the ideological agenda that CNN is proposing? Fox News has been guilty of this even more so during Obama’s 8 years as president. Everyone is guilty.
The Folly of Hit-Piece Articles
Vox News, supposedly a more reliable news source for progressive Millennials (one from which I continue to benefit from), has fallen into the trap of writing hit-piece articles as well, among others. It seems as if few are exceptions to this recurring pattern.
Vox called Sam Harris a “pseudo-intellectual” because of his conversation with Charles Murray. Many people came to his defense, from acclaimed Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker to Eric Weinstein, Bret Weinstein, Dave Rubin, to Jordan Peterson (almost everyone on the political spectrum).
The Washington Post wrote a completely ridiculous article about the biggest YouTuber, Pewdipie, where they took words & actions deliberately out of context to prove that Pewdipie is a Nazi and hence a bad influence on youngsters.
B. Weinstein & his wife Heather E. Heying are probably the best examples of left-wing individuals that were deliberately misrepresented by fellow progressives. So, we’re pretty safe if we are to conclude that people stopped trusting the media and that even liberals — such as myself — think that we’re already late in producing a website that will refuse to report Hit-pieces, such as Musk is proposing.
It is entirely reasonable to suppose that most large media companies think that profit outweighs truth. They will prefer to report dishonestly if that means that they may keep their jobs.
The New York Times on Jordan Peterson
“If we hope to see a better future, the Left needs to break out of its increasingly stultifying discursive box, stop denouncing everyone who won’t dutifully recite the latest list of hashtag slogans as ‘alt-Right,’ and open up to the possibility of a new paradigm. “— Carol Horton
I don’t agree with Dr. Peterson on Religion. I don’t believe that Peterson’s arguments for the impossibility of morality without god are warranted. I have written about this extensively, for example here.
I wish that my criticism of Peterson’s views would be based on his ideas without the intention of straw-manning or misrepresenting them even accidentally. If he were to come across them, I would want him to say that he agrees with my assessment of them. By representing them accurately (which few find importance in) and secondly, by providing strong arguments that grant my conclusions.
In a study titled, “Why do humans reason?” the French cognitive scientists Dan Sperber and Hugo Mercier wrote that our reasoning capabilities did not evolve to pursue truth but to, on the contrary, provide arguments that support views that we already hold. This phenomenon is most commonly known as “confirmation bias.”
In a 2017 study, Professor William Brady and his colleagues from New York University said that emotional language is crucial in increasing the popularity of tweets that express political ideas on Twitter. That is not surprising since we are more likely to either get outraged or feel superior to the opinions that are being articulated.
We could see this thing happen yet again in a recent article that the New York Times journalist, Nellie Bowles, wrote:
Most of his ideas stem from a gnawing anxiety around gender. “The masculine spirit is under assault,” he told me. “It’s obvious.”
In Mr. Peterson’s world, order is masculine. Chaos is feminine. And if an overdose of femininity is our new poison, Mr. Peterson knows the cure. Hence his new book’s subtitle: “An Antidote to Chaos.”
You’re really misunderstanding Peterson’s book the Antidote to Chaos if you think that he is writing it to find a cure for the “chaos” of femininity that is disrupting his “beloved” patriarchy. Peterson has explicitly said that hierarchy by definition will produce intolerable results. His suggestion is to, instead of disposing of hierarchies (which he finds unbiological and will lead to a sort of nihilism), re-educate young men & women to value good character (nobility, loyalty, honesty — “putting yourself together” as he tends to say) over negative traits that are often times compatible with the most extreme forms of capitalism.
The distinction is very important. If you do not understand this, you really do not understand Peterson’s claims.
The book is not even about Postmodernism and the side-effects that he believes neo-Marxist & postmodernist doctrines have on our society, namely on academia. He addresses those issues elsewhere. I think that he should reconsider his stance towards Marxism and Postmodernism. I think he misunderstands the two and I am not alone.
Once again, I don’t see these political and literary systems to be as severe as he thinks they are. Policing language is a very severe and pressing issue. Censorship is not uncommon. It has happened to Charles Murray, Lindsay Sheppard, the Roaming Millennial, Dave Rubin, Jordan Peterson, Christina Sommers, and others.
The book is primarily aimed to help individuals to live a balanced life in a world that is starting to be driven by victimhood. His advice to “clean up your room” and “tell the truth” are essential in starting to lead a healthy life. We should be thankful that these ideas are being expressed in the mainstream, especially among people that we politically disagree with.
Ben Shapiro, someone who I also disagree with on everything, responded to the article published by the New York Times in the Daily Wire. He says that,
[Peterson] has never said that a society run as a patriarchy makes sense and stems from men’s innate competence — he has said that in a free society, free choices lead to hierarchies of competence. He is not looking to “undermine mainstream and liberal efforts to promote equality” — he’s arguing that such efforts to promote equality of outcome ignore equality of rights.
Ben Shapiro is right in his representation of Peterson’s views.
Bowles continues with her irrelevant insults, unfortunately, exemplifying the most astute definition of an Ad Hominem fallacy, worthy of philosophy textbooks:
He does not smile. He has a weathered, gaunt face and big furrowed eyebrows. He has written about dogs being closest in behavior to humans, but there is something extremely feline about him. He always wears a suit. “I am a very serious person,” he often says.
. . .
For the Skype call, he wears a sharp blazer and button-down, but he sits shoeless and cross-legged. He knows where the frame cuts off.
. . .
Mr. Peterson has a verbal tic where he makes a sound like m-hmm, a guttural forceful noise to signify agreement barked in two distinct beats; his mouth stays closed…When Mr. Peterson talks about good women — the sort a man would want to marry — he often uses these words: conscientious and agreeable.
I find this sort of language unbearable.
It is hard to take Nellie Bowles seriously after such a ludicrous piece. I would never wish to even write about my enemies in such a way if I were to become a journalist in the future.
She is not alone with her viciousness. Peterson has been called “The Professor of Piffle” in the Walrus, furthermore that he is not the author of “any lasting work of scholarship, the originator of any important idea, or a public intellectual of any scientific credibility or moral seriousness.” (Claims which are verifiably false and which I’ll get into below.)
The Guardian and The Baffler say that Peterson is a “charlatan”, obsessing over “conspiracy theories” of postmodern dominance. It seems like many are trying to understand the cultural phenomenon that Peterson is all the whilst really ignoring the true crisis of responsibility (Peterson calls it the “crisis of masculinity,” I’d prefer to make it more universal), that our culture is facing.
Peterson as Professor
One would have to look briefly to find the claim that Peterson has no scientific credibility fallacious. Firstly, Peterson was a lecturer at Harvard for five years. And he currently holds a professorship at the University of Toronto. He also authored the scholarly book Maps of Meaning (1999) which took him 10 years to finish, where he looks at Freudian and Jungian approaches to mythology and narrative. In an interview about this book, Peterson says that he wrote about a dozen different variations for every sentence of the book, proving that he takes his words very seriously (something which he stresses fairly often, for example in his infamous Cathy Newman interview).
Apart from his University position, Peterson has also published 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers. He almost has 6,000 citations and has been granted numerous research grants. The Walrus, thus lies to its readers by saying that he has no “scientific credibility.”
Due to obviously malicious articles that do not pursue a balanced, unbiased perspective to discover the truth, but rather an ideologically-driven hatred for right-wing individuals, we are discovering that people have become less and less inclined to turn to them as a trustworthy source for truth.
Carol Horton expresses the same astonishment with the spite against Peterson:
Contradicting my friend’s warnings of hate-filled right-wing propaganda, I found Peterson’s discussions intellectually engaging, personally meaningful, and a refreshing departure from the standard discourse on such issues. I read up on Peterson’s battles over Canadian hate speech legislation and watched his infamous Cathy Newman interview. Here again, I found Peterson’s commentary to be largely thoughtful and thought-provoking. I tuned into his podcast discussions with Sam Harris, and started exploring Harris’s work as well. I even bought and read 12 Rules for Life, and put Maps of Meaning on order at my local public library.
I can disagree with Peterson and still appreciate what he is attempting to do.
Peterson as Social Commentator
In a recent interview with Russell Brand, Peterson, quite contrarily to how Nellie Bowles describes him, comes across as disposed & calm. It seems as if when he is not under direct confrontation he loosens up as if he were speaking with a close associate or friend.
He says that differences between personalities and gender are one of the fields in social psychology that no serious researcher disagrees upon. One needs not be reminded that most psychologists are left-leaning. It is society that does not allow discussion of these differences due to how it is deemed “taboo.” The fear that difference will lead to resulting oppression is warranted and one of the reasons why we should always mention it.
In Peterson’s case, he clarifies that these topics are not of particular interest to him. Peterson also says that we do not necessarily need to be discussing these differences. This was similarly stated by Sam Harris after he had Charles Murray on his podcast. It is only if we are already having that discussion that we should speak about the facts in the research and what they represent.
Men are, for example, over-represented in the top 1% on the economic spectrum, but they are also over-represented at the bottom of the economic spectrum. That is an interesting distinction between the sexes. We need to be able to talk about these statistics if we are to help women & men.
Peterson as a “Mean Mad White Man”
In the most recent Munk debate, which was catastrophic in my opinion, Peterson was labeled a “mean mad white man” by the academic & author Michael Eric Dyson.
Stephen Fry responded to Dyson’s Ad Hominem verbal assault on Peterson by calling him a “huckster, snake oil salesman”. Fry, as a liberal, finds such slurs as regressive.
In the 45th episode of the Waking Up podcast by Sam Harris, Harris similarly warns us of the dangers of Identity Politics. He says,
“If you’re reasoning honestly about facts, then the color of your skin is irrelevant. The religion of your parents is irrelevant. Whether you’re gay or straight is irrelevant. Your identity is irrelevant. In fact, if you’re talking about reality, its character can’t be predicated on who you happen to be. That’s what it means to be talking about reality.”
Many listen to Peterson. Many of whom are also liberal. We should not be scared of ideas. We should not aim to deplatform or resort to physical violence. Straw-manning Peterson is not the way to challenge his ideas. There are much more productive ways which will persuade your political side. If you are persuading liberals that Peterson is wrong then you should aim to understand him first, showing humility by granting him the benefit of the doubt, and then asking him to do the same.
Let us all aspire to such methods.
It’s About Time
“A grand canyon has opened up in our world, the fissure, the crack, grows wider every day. Neither on each side can hear a word that the other shrieks and nor do they want to.” — Stephen Fry
People have been turning to YouTube and other underground 'unbiased' news (like Philip Defranco and the Rubin Report) because few still trust the multi-billion dollar industries that need to make money for shareholders, investors, & other political affiliates.
Musk, by creating this website, will give the good journalists a chance to break free from the more recognized journalists that get asked to publish hit-piece articles.
We are lucky to have this coming. I look forward to it. We need to break from this divide that both the left and right are creating for us.
More Articles That I’ve Written That Clarify My Political Leanings:
Is Western Society Patriarchal and Oppressive Against Women?
Exploring the frameworks that surround oppression in culture and how to overcome them.
Why Sam Harris is the Future of Reasonable Engagement
Sam Harris is one of my favorite intellectuals. Two TED talks, 7 books, 10s of millions of views on his podcast.
The Controversy of Bret Weinstein Explained — The Evergreen Scandal
Bret Weinstein is an evolutionary biologist that made national headlines for being a racist. So… what exactly happened…
An Open Letter to Ben Shapiro
Ben Shapiro says a lot. I think he thinks that his capability to speak quickly equals the truthfulness of the claims…
Before you go…
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I write to keep you thinking and to keep me thankful and reflective. Cheers and until next time,