Jordan Peterson

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Jordan Peterson
Peterson Lecture (33522701146).png
Jordan Peterson at the University of Toronto (2017)
Born (1962-06-12) June 12, 1962 (age 54)
Fairview, Alberta, Canada
Residence Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Fields Psychology
Institutions University of Toronto 1998–
Harvard University 1993–98
Alma mater McGill University (Ph.D)
University of Alberta (B.A.)
Known for Personality
Mythology and Religion
Freedom of speech
Opposition to non-binary pronouns


Jordan B. Peterson (born 1962) is a Canadian clinical psychologist, tenured professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. His research interests include self-deception, mythology, religion, narrative, neuroscience, personality, deception, creativity, intelligence, and motivation.


Peterson was raised as a Christian conservative, and began questioning religion in his early teens.[2] He criticizes the New Atheists (specifically Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris) for oversimplifying the philosophy of Christianity when making their critiques. Peterson often points to the symbolic underlying meaning of the archetypical ideas in religious mythology when explaining his understanding of religion.[citation needed]

He grew up in Fairview, Alberta, Canada, a small town of 3,000 people 580 km (360 mi) northwest of Edmonton, Alberta. He resided in Montreal from 1985 to 1993, where he studied under the supervision of Robert O. Pihl and Maurice Dongier. From 1993 to 1998 he lived in Arlington, Massachusetts, while teaching and conducting research at Harvard. He has resided in Toronto since 1998.[citation needed]

At the age of 13, Peterson had joined the New Democratic Party (NDP). He remained continually active with party until the age of 18.[1]

He has two bachelor degrees from the University of Alberta. His first was in political science. After visiting Europe, Peterson became extremely interested in the psychological unpinning that created the circumstances of the Cold War and its origins within the Second World War.[1] After this experience, he returned to the university to complete another bachelor in psychology.[citation needed]

He received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from McGill University. He taught at Harvard University as an assistant and an associate professor. There he studied aggression arising from drug and alcohol abuse.[1] During his time at Harvard, the university psychology department would frequently send any student with a strange or unusual thesis to him, as he would be willing to entertain and supervise uncommon thesis proposals.[1]

After Harvard, he returned to Canada and took a position at the University of Toronto.[citation needed]

In March of 2017, Peterson was nominated for the position of Rector of the University of Glasgow.[3] Peterson who received 442 votes came fifth in the election, losing to the Scottish lawyer Aamer Anwar who received just under 4500 votes.

Political correctness[edit]

On 27 September 2016, Peterson released the first part of a three-part lecture video series on political correctness.[4] In the video, he objects to the Canadian government's Bill C-16, which proposes to outlaw harassment and discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression under the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.[5] His objection to the bill did not concern the LGBT discrimination legal debate, but rather the freedom of speech implications of C-16's other amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, regarding their accommodation language.[6] Furthermore, he argued that the new amendments paired with section 46.3 of the Ontario Human Rights Code would make it possible for "employers and organizations to be subject to punishment under the code if any employee or associate says anything that can be construed as 'directly or indirectly' offensive." Peterson further argues that it is necessary for people to recognize the importance of free speech and particularly free speech on college campuses.[7]

Peterson has publicly stated that he will not use "non-binary pronouns" such as "zhe" in reference to others,[8] and further addressed the differences between free speech and compelled speech in a December 2016 interview.[9] In an interview about his stance on pronouns, Peterson stated that he would consider complying with a request from a "non-binary person" if he were asked in the right way.[10]


Peterson published Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief in 1999. The book describes a comprehensive rational theory for how we construct meaning, represented by the mythical process of the exploratory hero, and also provides a way of interpreting religious and mythical models of reality presented in a way that fits in with modern scientific understanding of how the brain works. It synthesizes ideas drawn from narratives in mythology, religion, literature and philosophy, as well as research from modern neuropsychology.[citation needed]

Peterson’s primary goal was to figure out the reasons why individuals, not simply groups, engage in social conflict, and try to model the path individuals take that results in atrocities like the Holocaust or the Soviet Gulag. Peterson considers himself a pragmatist, and uses science and neuropsychology to examine and learn from the belief systems of the past and vice versa, but his theory is primarily phenomenological. Peterson explores the origins of evil, and also posits that an analysis of the world’s religious ideas might allow us to describe our essential morality and eventually develop a universal system of morality.[citation needed]

Harvey Shepard, writing in the Religion column in the Montreal Gazette in 2003, states "To me, the book reflects its author's profound moral sense and vast erudition in areas ranging from clinical psychology to scripture and a good deal of personal soul searching..." He goes on to note that "Peterson's vision is both fully informed by current scientific and pragmatic methods, and in important ways deeply conservative and traditional."[11]

Online projects[edit]

Peterson has produced a series of online writing exercises including: the Past Authoring Program, a guided autobiography; two Present Authoring Programs, which allow the user to analyze his or her personality faults and virtues in accordance with the Big Five personality model; and the Future Authoring program, which steps users through the process of envisioning and then planning their desired futures, three to five years down the road. The latter program was used with McGill University undergraduates on academic probation to improve their grades.[12]

The Self Authoring programs were developed in partial consequence of research conducted by James Pennebaker at the University of Texas and Gary Latham at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Pennebaker demonstrated that writing about traumatic or uncertain events and situations improved mental and physical health, while Latham has demonstrated that planning exercises that are personal help make people more productive.[12]

Peterson records his lectures and uploads them to YouTube. His videos have received more than 7 million views as of March 2017.[13]

Peterson has also recently started recording a podcast: The Jordan B Peterson Podcast which has 8 episodes as of February 20, 2017.[citation needed]

Media appearances[edit]

Peterson has appeared on TVO on shows such as Big Ideas, and has been a frequent guest and essayist on TVO's The Agenda with Steve Paikin since 2008. He has also appeared on the The Joe Rogan Experience,[14] The Gavin McInnes Show,[15] Reality Calls,[16] Sam Harris's Waking Up podcast, Steven Crowder's Louder with Crowder, and Stefan Molyneux's Freedomain Radio.[2]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Peterson, Jordan. "The Pragmatics of Meaning"
  • Peterson, Jordan. Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief. Routledge, 1999.


  1. ^ a b c d e Anne C. Krendl, 'Jordan Peterson: Linking Mythology to Psychology'. 26 April 1995
  2. ^ a b Molyneux, Stefan. "The Architecture of Belief Jordan Peterson and Stefan Molyneux". 
  3. ^ Ferreira, Victor (3 March 2017). "Jordan Peterson, Milo Yiannopoulos backed to become University of Glasgow rector despite clashing with gender policy". National Post. Retrieved 20 March 2017. 
  4. ^ "New words trigger an abstract clash". Toronto Star, November 20, 2016, pageA2. by Rosie DiManno.
  5. ^ Craig, Sean (28 September 2016). "U of T professor attacks political correctness, says he refuses to use genderless pronouns". National Post. Retrieved 5 October 2016. 
  6. ^ "University of Toronto professor defends right to use gender-specific pronouns". Simona Chiose, The Globe and Mail, Nov. 19, 2016
  7. ^ Morabito, Stella (17 October 2016). "Professor Ignites Protests By Refusing To Use Transgender Pronouns". The Federalist. Retrieved 18 October 2016. 
  8. ^ Davidson, Terry (29 September 2016). "U of T prof rips bill outlawing gender identity discrimination". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 5 October 2016. 
  9. ^ Tucker, Jason; VandenBeukel, Jason (Winter 2016). "'We're teaching university students lies' – An interview with Dr Jordan Peterson". C2C: Canada's Journal of Ideas. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  10. ^ Kivanc, Jake (2016-09-29). "A Canadian University Professor Is Under Fire For Rant on Political Correctness". Vice. Retrieved 2016-12-19. 
  11. ^ Shepherd, Harvey (November 11, 2003). "Meaning from Myths". Montreal Gazette. 
  12. ^ a b Kamenetz, Anya (July 10, 2015). "The Writing Assignment That Changes Lives". NPR. 
  13. ^ "Jordan B Peterson - YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved March 20, 2017. 
  14. ^ Rogan, Joe. "Joe Rogan Experience #877 - Jordan Peterson". Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  15. ^ McInnes, Gavin. "The Gavin McInnes Show". Compound Media. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  16. ^ "Reality Calls Show #9: Professor Jordan Peterson, Western Civilization". Retrieved 19 March 2017. 

External links[edit]