Inspired By

Inspired By Jordan B Peterson Podcast with Mark Manson and Mikhaila Peterson

The ▶️ Jordan B. Peterson Podcast S4 E5: Mark Manson and Jordan and Mikhaila Peterson aired on February 11th, 2021.

The following are quotes from it followed by the words they inspired me to write.

Originally posted on Telegram

👉 Guest Mark Manson, author of ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’

👉 Host Jordan Peterson

👉 Host Mikhaila Peterson

Social media as a tool to reinforce pre-existing notions and to avoid challenges

Mikhaila Peterson brings up a topic from Mark Manson’s book. Using Social Media, one can now surround his or herself with those who agree, no matter the belief.

Jordan Peterson notes that the Internet can be used to find a group who will reinforce any neurosis with agreement, and proffer evidence of its truth.

Mark Manson offers membership numbers for the Flat Earth Society as evidence of this disconnect between modern technology and psychological wiring.

I warn of the potential for weaponization. It is natural to accept support for our ideas as evidence of their truth. This leaves opportunity to gain psychological control by feigning peer agreement using fake online personas, or real, fraudulent people. Evil would target the neurosis and strengthen the false premises and bonds between, while discouraging anything that might dissolve them.

▪️ Bottom Line ▪️

– Surround yourself with a variety of perspectives from authentic individuals, both online and in real life.
– Consider the balance of time spent bouncing ideas off of each.

One who lacks the ability to read social cues cannot benefit from the collective intelligence of the group. This is beneficial when the group is sane, and detrimental when the group is not.

Social cues naturally guide our learned behavior. Reading them is a valuable skill, but those who are unable to are insulated from those who would use them to manipulate.

💡Though I do not subscribe to a traditional model of evolutionary biology that is blind to epigenetics, I wonder if this has root in strategies adaptive for varied environments. Is there a range of potentialities available to each developing child? Is hyperfocus on social cues most suited to some environments, while inability to register them at all is best in another? Is a species most likely to survive through time when it has both strategies represented by individuals within it, or is there some optimal balance that nature will find?

▪️ Bottom Line ▪️

– Man is not an island. A child needs interactions with a variety of perspectives to adapt to and successfully participate in civilized life.

– The occasional rebel is the target of both skepticism and admiration — rightfully so.

Mark Manson: “… whatever issue I’m struggling with at that period of my life, I investigate it, and then I write about it… the writing is my own personal form of digestion. I have this faith that, if I’m going through it, then there must be a lot of other people going through it as well.”

Jordan Peterson: “I actually think that is the answer to why your book was so successful. It is the case that there is a large population of people who have the same questions that you do… you’re leading them through a process of investigation [at a level within the zone of proximal development].”

💡I have come to believe that transparently sharing honest and accurate details of one’s well-lived life is a better education for others of like-mind than any premeditated curricula could be. Further, I believe it to be more persuasive and motivational to others than any manufactured effort to change them, as one who focuses on himself in this way will see desirable changes in others even though he has made no particular effort toward that end. Therefore, it is more ethical and better respects the dignity of the individual. Of course I have much self-reminding to do before I am able to apply that naturally in practice.

▪️ Bottom Line ▪️

– Honoring the self through diligent efforts to improve while living as a willing example to others can be a path to success. It is also the most fair and effective means of persuasion.

Zone of Proximal Development: Psychologist Lev Vygotsky originated the term to describe that set of abilities which can be performed with guidance, but not alone. It is used in relation to learning and development, and Jordan Peterson refers to it here to illustrate a parent’s natural tendency to use language that is slightly more advanced than the child can understand.

💡ZPD in parental language use as described is a form of natural ‘scaffolding’ that aids language development in the child. Scaffolding is a teaching technique that involves modeling an ability prior to allowing for undisturbed attempts by the student to mimic it. It would go something like this: “May I show you how I do that? … Now you try.”

The teacher then stands back, available for support. When the teacher avoids phrasing that dictates how the child should do it, and instead describes or models his own choice of procedure, it is considered good psychology because it respects agency and innovation in the child.

Other considerations include how readily the teacher will provide support, whether and how he will encourage the child to continue trying instead of helping, and how he will treat ‘failure’.

▪️ Bottom Line ▪️

– Modeling a skill that is not yet mastered, then allowing the child to try it, is an effective tool when parenting/teaching.

– We can benefit from this understanding in our own development by seeking out opportunities to observe the technique of those who have already mastered the skill we desire.

– Example works better than force in many disciplines.

Mikhaila Peterson: “What are you supposed to give a fuck about? Is it different for each person?”

Mark Manson: “I intentionally don’t answer that question. I don’t feel it’s right for me to impose my values on any of my readers. I offer what I’ve discovered.”

Jordan Peterson: “I do think you impose your values on your readers. I think that apologizing for that is the most predictable thing a millennial could possibly do… what they’ve been taught above all else is that the cardinal moral sin is to judge, to be judgmental, to be discriminating. But that’s absolutely foolish… If your claim is correct – that your emotional state depends on your value structure, and it’s more important than anything else to get your value structure straight – and if [to have a value structure] you have to say yes to some things and no to others – then you immediately admit that there’s a value hierarchy and that there’s some things at the top and some things at the bottom. You don’t say that you’re certain that you’re 100% right… but you certainly make the claim that the reader should take [the concepts] seriously and that they’ve been useful to you.”

💡 The difference in word choice by Manson and Peterson arises from the way each distinguishes acts that are voluntary from those that are compelled. When the boundary between is blurred, lucid analysis suffers. We find that this can be a life and death matter.

When voluntary employment is framed as slavery, it can lead to naive and misguided calls for market intervention that result in losses, poverty, and suffering. When debate over redistribution skips past calls to abolish it, and proceeds directly to determining which group will be the recipient, producers suffer as the logistics of confiscation trend pragmatic and efficient rather than considerate and humanitarian.

▪️ Bottom Line ▪️

– Distinguishing acts of choice from those of coercion is not a trivial matter.

– Writing is a reflection of the writer’s hierarchy of values, while reading is a voluntary exercise of choice over what to absorb and accept.

Jordan Peterson: “We can’t create our own values. We can discover them. We can co-create them. You wouldn’t be able to violate your conscience if you create your own values. You would just go along with what you’d proposed. We try very hard to impose our own values. Then it fails. We’re not satisfied by what we’re pursuing, or we become extremely guilty, or ashamed, or we’re hurt, or hurt other people. Sometimes that doesn’t mean we’re wrong. But most often, it does.”

💡 Many modern sources claiming philosophical authority on the subject of core values disagree with Peterson’s assessment. In context of the podcast, his statement was itself a critique of famed philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s alternative assertion that values are created by the individual.

Nietzsche gives the individual latitude and philosophical protection to rearrange his values toward any misguided or selfish goal he pleases.

Under Peterson, the individual’s conceptualization of the universal nature of consequence informs the hierarchy of values he uses to make choices, and both become more accurate over time — when life functions properly, that is. The individual has a prioritization of his own, but the distance from ideal is theoretically measurable.

▪️ Bottom Line ▪️

– Values can be seen as an individual’s ranking of preferences, no better or worse than that of another, or they can be seen as a set of objective truths that reveal themselves to the individual over time. One of these views allows for moral relativism, which I also reject.

Jordan Peterson: “We need something structured and irrational to protect us from even less structured and more irrational beliefs. We can’t live in a fully rational world because we’re not smart enough – we need something to fill in the gaps. The advantage of a codified religion is at least there’s a unifying force behind it. What you get now is this fragmentation in search for a replacement for religious values. A conspiratorial theory will offer exactly that, but none of the benefits of a true religious system — one that’s evolved over time and that has a deep basis.”

Mark Manson: “One of the concerns that I raise in ‘Everything is Fucked’ is that people… in lieu of religion… are taking…things like politics, cultural issues, social group identities – and behaving religiously around them… you don’t have to read far back in history to see how that ends up bad.”

Jordan Peterson: “Carl Jung realized… we do have a profound religious impulse. I’m not saying that that’s good or that’s bad. I’m saying that something has to be done with it. The advantage to a genuine religion…”

Mikhaila Peterson: “Well the alternatives don’t seem great.”

Mark Manson: “It’s been backtested for 2,000 years.”

Jordan Peterson: “There’s something at the core of it… there’s an ideal… there’s a striving to specify what that ideal constitutes.”

💡 To the extent a religion serves inherent human needs, but is rejected, solutions will be sought elsewhere. To the extent the religion is time-tested, it can be assumed to have served its adherents satisfactorily. Alternative solutions are unlikely to be competitive in what is already a mature market for meeting these ancient human needs.

▪️ Bottom Line ▪️

– A religion can be seen to provide a symbolic ideal or historical example of where a well-meaning individual ought to aim.

– It is inevitable that some penultimate example will be sought by the individual, so ignoring the ones that have lasted through time would be foolish.

Jordan Peterson: “This commitment issue that you raise… it seemed to me that it was quite a revelation to you that being in a committed, monogomous relationship would bring you as much satisfaction and happiness as it did compared to a more libertine lifestyle… What did you discover that you didn’t know?”

Mark Manson: “Before I had that experience, my irrational gut reaction to intimacy in general was, ‘I’m going to be trapped – this person is going to expect too much of me – I’m going to disappoint them, I’m going to hurt them, they’re going to hurt me… the first epiphany was that that is not necessarily true… there’s a different kind of freedom in commitment.”

“… it felt like I had a program running in the background constantly thinking and worrying about which women were single, which ones were interested in me… it was kind of eating up a lot of RAM in my brain. It was almost instantaneous when I proposed to my wife – that program just shut down, and all of a sudden my brain had 30% more energy… I never have to think about this stuff again.”

– Jordan Peterson: “One of the advantages to being married is it solves a set of problems so that you don’t have to consider them anymore.”

💡 Where the individual lacks positive models for the various roles he might be responsible for acting out in the course of his life — husband, father, son, brother, mentor, mentee, etc — the individual is more likely to become an adult who fails to be a positive role model himself.

Technology has allowed him to nevertheless propagate stories that further confuse what a positive role model would be through the veneration and amplification of misguided or subversive media. Conversely, a functional role model can positively influence generations to follow, and can leverage technology to provide an example for those who have none.

When the husband has no functional model for healthy and appropriate interdependence prior to a marriage, nor one that appropriately models fidelity after, he may unconsciously mimic role models from his past that are scarcely remembered, or those vaguely understood from the media that he has consumed. Combined with the reactionary emotional or physical impulses that become more common with such a lack of appropriate behavior modeling, we have a recipe for less functional individuals, relationships, and groups.

The institution of marriage has survived so long as to be trustworthy in it’s efficacy at meeting human need. As it loses shape, however, these problems worsen — which explains the concerns of those who seek to preserve it’s integrity.

▪️ Bottom Line ▪️

– Positive role models are a necessary prerequisite to well functioning adults.

– Without positive role models, the individual suffers emotionally, behaviorally, and in not-so-obvious ways.

– We can leverage technology to provide role models for those whose families or communities have failed to provide them.

– The concerns of those who seek to preserve long-lasting institutions have a rationally justifiable basis.

Jordan Peterson: “If you don’t know what to do, you should try doing what people have always done. Take small steps toward getting a job. When you’re in doubt do something, even a small something. You’re not going to generate yourself a functioning value hierarchy that’s optimally tuned to your personality in the next week. It’s going to be a lifelong endeavor of approximation. And you’re going to get a lot of it wrong. But you’ve got to start somewhere. So let’s start with what people have agreed upon universally.

“You should probably get up in the morning. You should probably go to bed at night. You should probably have some friends. You should probably have a family. Probably have a job. Wouldn’t hurt to pursue some education.”

“You can raise objections to any of those, and you might say ‘That doesn’t stop me from feeling hopeless,’ but the right answer to that would be, take some steps in at least one of those directions. Small steps, daily steps. Can you make your relationships a little bit better, can you make your career [a little bit better]?”

💡 An advantage to this approach is that it is within reach for everyone. We are all aware of these traditional behaviors, even if our environment has not encouraged them specifically. We can trust they are likely to work due to their existence through time.

▪️ Bottom Line ▪️

– When in doubt, go back to basics and do what people have always done.

– Take small, daily steps to improve fundamental aspects of life — such as sleep, nutrition, relationships, career, hobbies, and passions.

Mikhaila Peterson: “I’ve seen a lot of people my age who don’t want kids, and part of the reason is because there’s a sacrifice associated with it. Even just being pregnant is hard the whole time. The first year you’re kind of glued to a baby — both parents, but especially if you’re a Mom. My argument’s been, ‘Yeah, but then you end up with a kid. It’s a lot of work, but then there’s another human there.’”

Jordan Peterson: “In principle it’s the best relationship you’ll ever have. You have more opportunity with that relationship for it to be deep and meaningful than any other relationship you’ll ever embark on.”

💡Our teeth are not just indicators of our ability to chew, but a reflection of the fact that we need to chew to acquire the nutrition we need. Our reproductive systems are no different.

It may be that an unpleasant or traumatic childhood will result in an adult who places less value on a healthy parent-child bond. It may nevertheless be a perfect natural prescription for healing. To ignore the creation of children as a primary mission of our bodies – and lives – is to declare the reproductive system a useless carry-on.

I’ve found that the experience of raising and interacting with my children has been key to understanding my life and self in such a measure that I cannot imagine that I would have had hope for a well-rounded life without.

▪️ Bottom Line ▪️

– It is evident in our biology that having children is a primary function of our bodies. Therefore, not having children may be an incomplete use of our potential that results in an unsatisfactory life.

– One who has no desire for children should probably not rush out to have any – but still might benefit from open-mindedly pursuing opportunities for growth through healthy interactions with a child.

Jordan Peterson: “It’s so backwards to say, ‘I don’t want a kid because of the commitment and work.’ The commitment and work — that’s where you’re gonna find the meaning.”

💡 Scientists have harnessed mice to treadmills and found that they will not keep running, even at the expense of their hides. Similarly, we are not motivated by effort for the sake of effort. We need a purpose for that effort to have meaning.

In light of this, it’s easy to assume that all manner of human ailments are cured by effort toward purpose. Certainly, a lack of it is characteristic of depressives.

▪️ Bottom Line ▪️

– We need purpose and meaning in our lives. When we work toward a goal, good things happen – and when we have no goal to work toward, bad things happen.

Jordan Peterson: “This is the role of culture. Men have to be convinced to grow up and take responsibility. You can convince them by threatening them, and by finger wagging at them and by punishing them if they fail to do so. And perhaps all those things are necessary to some degree. But it’s much more effective to convince them [by saying], ‘Look, you don’t understand. The game you are playing is not the best game in town. Although you might be cynical about the hallmarks of traditional maturation, that’s a big mistake because you’re going to miss out on the adventure of your life if you stay that way for too long.”

💡 Maturation in humans is so complex that tools such as stories and traditions have been developed to aid. The suffering of an individual that abandons those traditions is predictable.

▪️ Bottom Line ▪️

– The fate of a man’s network is tied to his ability to mature. Traditional aids to maturation are ignored at our peril.

“I realized something a long time ago when I was teaching… I had this voice in the back of my head constantly that said, you know, If you had really mastered this material you could teach it with a light touch.” – Jordan B. Peterson