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Why Jordan Peterson is Wrong (in my opinion).

I’m currently resisting the urge to dive head-first into my rant to mention the following. I cannot wholeheartedly hate on anything or anyone that inspires others to work on their personal growth and self-improvement.

My brother showed me this video on Youtube of Jordan Peterson giving a lecture on how Hitler is more evil than we think. I watched all 4 minutes and 23 seconds and was dumbfounded.

When you make a point, you point. Image pulled from the Toronto Star.

The video is literally called “How Hitler was even more evil than you think.” I didn’t realize we had quantified evil to the degree, so the assumption alone raised suspicion. I personally cannot conceive of an evil greater than Hitler’s, nor would I want to. That’s not to say that other evils of the same or similar magnitude haven’t occurred, but rather that comparing evils seems sort of pointless to me. Anyway, the video has over 18 million views. The top comment is by username Just Some Guy without a Mustache with ‘moustache’ spelled incorrectly. He says,

“He’s the type of teacher we all wanted, but will never have.”

This comment got over 8 thousand likes. The second highest is by Andy,

“The only way today’s college tuition rates could possibly be justified is if you had a professor like this teaching every single class.”

This comment got over 6 thousand likes. I’m currently resisting the urge to dive head-first into my rant to mention the following. I cannot wholeheartedly hate on anything or anyone that inspires others to work on their personal growth and self-improvement. If JP encourages you—then the utilitarian in me says that outcomes outweigh, and I’m glad you’ve found something that’s having a positive impact on your life. All the power to you; I’m a live and let live type of person at the end of the day. 2. I’m strictly focusing on the content, i.e., the words that he says in this one video. I’m not talking about his videos or other talks because I’m unfamiliar with them. Still—I struggled to get through this video.

Image from Ali G ‘science’ Youtube video.

Almost instantly I had to hold back from rolling my eyes. I didn’t want to offend my brother since he was showing it to me. I rolled them anyway. All forms of Youtube etiquette were irrelevant and the philosophy graduate in me was raging. The video starts with Peterson saying:

So here’s what you should have done if you were a Nazi and you wanted to win the war. You should have enslaved the Jews and the Gypsies and had them work… for the benefit of the victory…if you wanted to, you’d liquidate them afterwards. That is the logical thing to do if you want to win.

This statement is fine despite being historically false (Jews and other targeted groups were enslaved by the Nazi’s and forced to work towards their captors’ victory and their own continued enslavement.) So yeah, bit of a concern that students or maybe the 18 million other people watching would hear this and assume it’s historically factual. Apart from that, there’s nothing significant about what he’s saying, I just don’t get why he’s all hot and bothered about it (besides working to keep his students engaged #gimmicks) Admittedly, I am being harsh and narrowing in on a couple of sentences, and you can criticize me for cherry-picking, or whatever. Let’s keep listening (or reading, for you.) He goes on to say:

That is the logical thing to do if you want to win. And we assume Hitler wanted to win…but that’s not a very intelligent assumption. Why would you assume that? He wasn’t exactly a good guy, so why should we assume that he was aiming at the good he was promoting, even on his own terms.

Let’s think about this for a second, because there is room for interpretation. The question he’s asking is if evil people have real intentions to promote and see through their mission, or proposed view of the ‘good,’ or whether they’re just psychotic and incompetent at executing. When I say the word ‘good,’ I am not referring to a general understanding of what is good, or what most people think of as good or positive actions and events. If you’ve taken an Intro to Ethics course, or even any philosophy course, you’re likely familiar with this distinction. Clearly, what Hitler took to be good was in fact bad and morally deplorable. He was misguided and wrong on what he understood to be good.

This can happen—people can make mistakes on what they believe is good. Racism takes it roots in exactly this brand of misguided reasoning. In Hitler’s case, it’s a strange question, because it’s posed hypothetically… except it isn’t hypothetical. This actually did happen so we don’t need to speculate. It’s not a mystery whether or not Hitler was serious in his intentions.

Image pulled from Cambridge

We know he was serious. Despite not achieving his ultimate goal, he was capable of aiming and executing; 6 million Jews were killed as a result. Having ill intentions and wanting bad things to happen have no connection to a person’s abilities to bring about those things in and of themselves. People with bad intentions have amply demonstrated their ability to execute evil plans and succeeding at them. Just look at Netflix’s true crime category section or read a history book. The answer is yes, bad people (even and perhaps especially those in positions of power) are entirely capable of executing their evil intentions into evil outcomes with real and evil consequences. The issue with so-called ‘evil people’ is not and has never been their ability to bring about their desired outcome. The problem is that they aim at promoting this bad or negative thing in the first place, and they are under the impression that it is good. Their understanding or view of what would be good to bring about in the world is radically misguided and heinous. That is the problem. I will end here, as part 1/2 of my Jordan Peterson rant on his rant on why Hitler is more evil than we think.

I appreciate and thank you for reading, as always.

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