The Real Highlight of Jordan Peterson’s CH4 Interview

Dr. Jordan Peterson’s fans will point to the “Gotcha” moment that left Cathy Newman speechless (22:12) as evidence of a win. His detractors will use it to portray him as the aggressor. Both mischaracterize the nature of the conversation. For starters, the exchange was a discussion not a debate. Both parties benefited. Peterson gained even more notoriety and publicity for his book. Newman is in the business of getting eyeballs. One episode of her show garnered a global audience and over 6M views.

The “Gotcha” moment occurred because there was an obvious fallacy in Newman’s question:

CN: Why should your right to freedom of speech trump a trans person’s right not to be offended?

Who enjoys the right not to be offended? How would such a right be enforced? And You think Peterson is dangerous?

JP: Because in order to think you have to risk being offensive. I mean look at the conversation we’re having right now. You know like you’re certainly willing to risk offending me in the pursuit of truth. Why should you have the right to do that? It’s been rather uncomfortable.

LAUGHTER 

CN: I’m very glad I’ve put you on the spot.

JP: You get my point, that is you are doing what you should be doing, digging a little bit to see what the hell is going on, and that is what you should do. But you’re exercising your freedom of speech to certainly risk offending me, and that’s fine, more power to you, as far as I’m concerned.

At (23:15) you can hear in Newman’s voice that she is flustered. She trips on the word voluntarily and then quickly, and impressively, gathers her composure. Peterson just shuts up and lets her ask her next question. Blood was in the water, but he didn’t attack. Instead, he embodies the type of meekness he encourages in his book.

The best part of interview came a few minutes later. Peterson claims that the philosophy guiding utterances of trans activists is the same philosophy that was used by leftist authoritarians like Mao. Newman looks genuinely perplexed and aghast. That’s reasonable. The connection isn’t obvious, but “as far as I can tell,” is everything Peterson has been saying publicly for the last year and a half. The question was the pitch Peterson was waiting for.

CN: Okay, tell us how that philosophy is in any way comparable?

I wish Peterson had used the famous the Clayton Bigsby reply of, “How much time you got?” Instead he calmly explains his position.

JP: Sure, that’s no problem. The first thing is the philosophy presumes that group identity is paramount. That’s the fundamental philosophy that drove the Soviet Union, Maoist China, and it’s the fundamental philosophy of the left wing activist. It’s identity politics. It doesn’t matter who you are as an individual, it matters who you are in terms of your group identity.

I’m not claiming Peterson is right. I also believe that Peterson would like to be wrong. Unfortunately all I see his critics do is call him names and decline debates. If Peterson’s theory is correct, the consequences would be horrifying:

There would be anarchy on college campuses. Professors wouldn’t be allowed to present opposing viewpoints. Honest people would get fired and publicly shamed. Certain topics would be off-limits on Youtube and censored on Twitter.

Oh wait.

Newman offers no argument against Peterson’s claim and retreats to a barrage of ad hominem attacks. She suggests Peterson is merely a provocateur and in her loudest tone adds, “You are like the alt-right that you hate to be compared to.” It’s a pathetic retort, perhaps a sign of frustration, or last-ditch attempt to get Peterson emotionally charged.

He doesn’t take the bait and Newman quickly changes subjects. Peterson is caught of guard for a second and finds humor in the ironic segue. He enjoys the last laugh.

JBP

Then the interview went viral and his book sales skyrocketed. How’s that for “multiple levels of interpretation?”

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What Happens to Bitcoin Doesn’t Matter

Cyprus is a small Mediterranean island off the coast of Turkey. The Republic earned a reputation for being a tax haven for Eastern Europe and Russia. For example, Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, owned 10% of the Bank of Cyprus. cyprus

On March 25, 2013, the island nation accepted a bailout from European Banking authorities and the IMF. In exchange for €10B, Cyprus imposed a one-time levy on uninsured bank accounts holding more than €100,000 and austerity measures. Economist Richard Wolf suggested:

This is basically the officials of the banks and the political leaders going to the mass of people and saying to them, “This awful deal that makes you, who have nothing to do with the crisis and didn’t get any bailout, pay the costs of the crisis and the bailout. You must do this, because if you don’t, we will do even more damage to you and your economy. So give us your deposits, give us your money, pay more taxes, suffer fewer social programs, because if you don’t, we will impose even worse on you.” It’s the basic idea of austerity across the board and in our country, too. And I think it’s the confrontation of a system that does not work with the mass of the people, saying, “We will go down and take you with us, unless you bail us out.

Bitcoin was trading around $60 prior to the announcement. It more than tripled in the weeks following:Bitcoin Cyprus

The price action was an early indication of things to come. As currency crises plague economies, Bitcoin serves as a refuge. For example, according to Bitcoin brokerage Surbitcoin.com, the number of Venezuelan users skyrocketed, from 450 in August 2014 to more than 85,000 in November 2016. Argentinians, no strangers to collapsing currencies, have also been early adopters:

argentina bitcoin

African economies are also turning to the cryptocurrency:

Zimbabwe Bitcoin

According to Yami Kazeem’s article in QZ, “With Nigeria’s foreign reserves and revenues shrinking amid an economic slump, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) put up currency controls to restrict access to dollars.” The controls have driven a 1500% increase in peer-to-peer bitcoin trading. Nigerian Naira trading on LocalBitcoin has exploded:

Nigeria Bitcoin

Our current fiat monetary regime turns 47 years old this September. The US Dollar became the world’s reserve currency by default. The privilege permits sustained fiscal profligacy and imperialism. All fiat monetary regimes hide the true cost of welfare and warfare states. The larger cryptos get, the more viable they become as reserves. It’s a positive loop. I believe that’s one of the factors that drove Bitcoin’s price in 2017.

Individually the Venezuelan Bolivar or Zimbabwean Dollar would never threaten the US Dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. Together, and as other more developed economies like Russia get involved, a tipping point could be reached.

Since the beginning of 2018, Bitcoin has experienced about a 65% draw down and the combined crypto market cap has fallen by about $340B. I’m by no means an expert on cryptocurrencies. I understand there are some serious issues with transaction speeds and costs. I’m not arguing that Bitcoin or any other alt-coins are good investments. However, the fact that the technology has repeatedly provided a safe haven around the world, particularly in developing economies, can’t be ignored. I believe it’s a sign that  cryptos will inevitably become the world’s ultimate reserve currency, and that the day might come much sooner than our gatekeepers expect.

Whether or not Bitcoin ultimately survives isn’t the point. It’s already shown a promise that a global, decentralized, autonomous movement can exist and thrive beyond the realm of legacy institutions. The significance of that and how that evolves will be the subject of a future post.

Don’t Use The T-word

Be careful who you call a terrorist. It’s a slippery slope. Our civil liberties have eroded quickly enough since 9/11. We don’t want to accelerate the terrorist creep.

Remember, the battlefield for the War on Terror includes the US homeland and US citizens can be detained indefinitely without trial:

You may be thinking, “This only applies to Muslim extremists.” Wrong.

Why do politicians refuse to call the problem Radical Islam? First it was Obama:Obama islamic extremism

Now it’s Trump (via McMaster):

trump

They don’t want to limit the definition. Constitutional rights don’t apply to terrorists. It’s better to leave the term open-ended so it can be applied to the opponent du jour.

Consider what Boston neighborhoods looked like after the marathon bombing: swat

Nobody wants this. I get that Antifa is using violence to block free speech. Does that make them “domestic terrorists?” Maybe, but we should err on side of liberty. These labels and pleas just invite the humvees and body armor:

Antifa does appear contrived. For example, how is it so organized? How is it being funded? The tweet below is concerning despite the rather disreputable source:

If true, this is straight out of  the color revolution playbook. The objective should be to expose rather than engage. To engage is to take the bait, not to mention dangerous. Dangerous to the extent you’ll beg for militarized police, and I’m afraid that’s the goal.

 

Synchronicity

I’m reading a book called The Dynamics of Transformation: Tracing an Emerging Worldview  by Grant Maxwell. It’s fascinating. As the subtitle suggests, the author makes a case for an emerging worldview. The ideas put fourth are almost by definition hard to grasp because the language to easily describe them doesn’t exist. For example, Maxwell uses the terms below very frequently, and I lacked even a basic understanding of their meaning going in:

  • Teleology: The study of evidences of design in nature.
  • Archetypes: The original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies.
  • Temporality: The state of existing within or having some relationship with time.
  • Syntropy:  The psychological state of wholesome association with others.
  • Fractal:  Any of various extremely irregular curves or shapes for which any suitably chosen part is similar in shape to a given larger or smaller part when magnified or reduced to the same size.
  • Ingression: the act of going in or entering.

That said, the book pulls you along no matter how many tabs you have to keep open.

Maxwell talks about qualitative temporality, which I understand as a characteristic, or mood, or spirit, related to a given period of time. For example, the thousand year period up to the year ~1500 was qualitatively very different than the last 500 years or so. Something about the quality of time produced a cognitive boom or discontinuous leap that manifested in the likes of Copernicus, Columbus, Martin Luther, etc.

Maxwell offers some explanations as to why, but more interestingly, suggests that we’re on the cusp of another such leap, and points out that the leaps themselves are increasing exponentially.

As my vague understanding has grown I’ve been able to find examples on other mediums that seem to offer support. For example, Copernicus’ change in world view seems to correlate with our own changing world view, i.e. the internet and artificial consciousness. I’ve been formulating this theory about collective consciousness or group intelligence driving our species towards something even if we’re unconscious of it at the individual level.

I went back and found a quote from Sam Harris’ interview with David Deutsch. Around the 1:27:48 mark Deutsch says, “Our culture is much wiser than us in many ways.” This interview was from 2015 but for some reason it stuck in my head. The idea also relates to the case Yuval Harari makes in Sapiens. For example, when humans started farming the quality of life went down in many ways relative to the hunter gatherer lifestyle. For some reason as a species we opted for safety and relative security despite the poor trade at the individual level. Now there’s 7.5B of us. Coincidentally Harari was also interviewed by Harris regarding Harari’s new book Homo Deus (another emerging worldview).

The Dynamics of Transformation discusses the concept of synchronicity or, “the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.”   Maxwell describes how the current modern paradigm, that’s reductionist, quantitative, and materialist in nature has left many people anxious, depressed, etc. Synchronicity Maxwell argues is potentially a sign that their is a higher dimension that we’re missing and that may offer hope.

The despair Maxwell writes about was the exact topic of conversation between Joe Rogan and Dan Doty as I listened to episode #951 on the way in to work today. Their conversation wasn’t about archetypes or ingression, but it echoed my burgeoning understanding almost perfectly. It was a synchronicity. Later today I saw a tweet on my way to lunch that got even weirder:

Global Brain

 

It’s hard to imagine a book and subtitle that could’ve fit more in-line with the exact phenomenon I’ve been contemplating derived from my concurrent reading about synchronicity.