Who is Dr. Jordan B Peterson? (Part 1)

This past year I took a break from university mainly to avoid the insufferable nonsense of online education. I never expected it to be so difficult to live without the structure of school and the everyday comfort of having something to do.

All of a sudden I needed to decide what to do every moment of everyday and it was HARD. I struggled quite a bit, jumping between different hobbies and shuffling schedules. I’ve never really been a diligent planner so that meant I would go into each day not knowing what I was doing AT ALL until maybe 5 minutes beforehand when I decide to do something silly, like start a blog.

Anyways, one of the discoveries I made during this time was a book written by the popular psychologist Jordan B. Peterson called 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. If you haven’t heard of the guy then either you’ve been living under a rock or otherwise have better things to be doing than listening to some guy talk for hours on YouTube.

Jordan Peterson rose to fame some time around 2016 after taking a controversial political / social stance on Canada’s Bill C16 which mandated the use of preferred pronouns under Canadian law.

But for many years he’s been known as a brilliant psychology professor, intellectual and philosopher on topics ranging from Religion to Personal Development.

If you’ve never seen or heard about him I really recommend watching one of his lectures to get a better idea who he is.

Jordan Peterson on the meaning of life for men. MUST WATCH - YouTube

Now, I truly think that Jordan is brilliant in his speech and presentation skills, which are backed up by a wide array of knowledge in psychology, neuroscience and history.

Despite all that background, I do believe that I can break down Jordan Peterson’s main philosophies in one blog post — hopefully in a way that is more easily digestible than his lectures where he speaks for hours.

Not everything about Jordan Peterson will be covered in this post, but I will share some of the important ideas, philosophical concepts and developmental theories starting with a description of certain fundamental concepts.

Developmental Psychology

I wouldn’t call Jordan a developmental psychologist (although he is a clinical psychologist) but he brings up the field several times in his lectures, particularly the work of Jean Piaget, famous for his work on child development. The idea that humans behavior is largely explained by development since birth isn’t new, and is not very controversial. Yet the field of developmental psychology is way too large to go in depth so I will cite a few important takeaways that Jordan often mentions:

1. Taking good care of children from birth is crucial for their later life success and wellbeing (measured in various ways).

It’s not clear exactly what “good care” means, and it varies from person to person with sometimes comparable levels of success, but as I continue it will become more clear what Jordan believes (and I mostly agree with) to be the main indicators of parenting success.

2. Changing your own behavior is crucial to developing yourself.

Pretty self-explanatory. This will be mentioned a lot more later in the post, so I’ll just say that changing your behavior can change the trajectory of your development either towards something better or not, so controlling that is important (but difficult).

Existentialism

Most people think of existentialism as the “life is meaningless” idea, but that’s not entirely correct. Existentialism is essentially the idea that meaning is derived from lived experience; it’s not things themselves that have meaning but the way we use objects or perceive them.

Existentialism emphasizes the importance of individual existence (pretty easy to remember if you take apart the word).

Phenomenology

One of the most interesting fields that Peterson frequently touches upon. Plainly put, phenomenology is the study of ‘phenomena’ or more simply — an approach that concentrates on the study of consciousness and the objects of direct experience.

Consciousness is a very strange phenomenon (pardon the pun) and is extremely interesting to both study and philosophize about because we don’t know crap about it.

One thing that Jordan mentions a lot is the difference between objective reality and experienced reality. Or the difference between matter and what matters.

At first it might seem strange. What’s the difference? It’s actually pretty huge, and this is a point Dr. Peterson emphasizes a lot. We perceive the world not as a collection of objects, but as filled with ‘tools’ and ‘obstacles’ that either aid in moving towards an aim / objective or prevent us from moving towards the current goal.

More simply: we always have a current aim or goal, we perceive the world as things that move us towards or away from that goal because THAT is was is important to us.

Let’s look at an example…

Say you are downstairs and haven’t ate for many hours, but were distracted by homework that you FINALLY finished. All of a sudden your brain will likely fall under control of hunger (a motivated state) and your perception will be hyper focused on how to satisfy that motivated state (and thus activate certain reward systems to reinforce that behavior, but that’s a topic for another time).

The kitchen is upstairs so first thing you’ll do is get up out of your chair and align your body and eyes to move towards the stair case. You automatically ignore everything else in the room, because none of that would satisfy your current aim (unless there is a Snickers bar in the corner or something).

Assuming you are familiar with the kitchen, your eyes and ENTIRE perception will focus on where you can find food. Otherwise, if you are not familiar with the kitchen, your brain will utilize abstractions learned from your previous experience in kitchens to perceive a fridge or cupboard that it’s never seen before and assume that is where food can be found.

When you open the fridge, your eyes will focus immediately on the abundance of food, judging how to best satisfy your current motivated state, but you will also be under the influence of other motivated states competing with the state of pure “hunger”.

Maybe you are watching your weight so you are willing to sacrifice appeasing your hunger to in return shed some pounds.

All of these different motivated states can be thought of as micro personalities that ‘take control of you’. Even if they are only biological processes, I find it much easier to think of motivations in terms of micro personalities as it is much more practical.

ANYWAYS, that is enough of Phenomenology. I explained a few things outside of Phenomenology including Freud’s (or Jung’s?) theory of motivation, but hopefully now you get the idea that our consciousness and perceptions are not necessarily concerned with the objective world (assuming one even exists.. see this link for an extremely good video explaining this idea).

Truth

So this isn’t a psychological or even philosophical idea, but it is mentioned a lot by Jordan Peterson and I think it is really important to cover.

In fact, Jordan seems to describe truth almost as a religious idea in that using truth to act in the world will make the world better. And that the more that people are truthful, the better the world will be.

Now, it’s important to distinguish ‘telling the truth’ and ‘acting truthfully’ because I believe the second to be most important. You can always tell the truth and lie with your actions, although speaking the truth is a good first step.

When you act truthfully, your speech, actions, thoughts and experience should all be brutally honest. It’s hard to explain how to be truthful, but in Jordan Peterson’s book “12 Rules for Life” he has a chapter titled “Tell the Truth, or At Least Don’t Lie”. It should be quite obvious to you when you have talked, written or acted out a lie. It is important to notice these breaches of truth and try to correct them, don’t let lies slip by.

It’s really hard for me to explain why being truthful to yourself and to others is absolutely and fundamentally important, but it is.

I recommend being honest in every interaction, don’t try to deceive or manipulate, it’s not worth it. Lies will pile up and come back to haunt you.

Individualism

THIS IS THE LAST THING I WILL TOUCH ON IN THIS POST.

Jordan Peterson (rightfully, in my opinion) believes that the individual is the most fundamental and important element of society.

One of Dr. Peterson’s controversial criticisms of left wing activists and politicians is that they tend to elevate group identity over individual identity. When Peterson believes that individual identity is undeniably most important.

One of the justifications Peterson uses is that with group identities, individuals can have many of them. This makes it hard to know whether to hold a group responsible for the actions of an individual when often the individual is to blame (emphasis on individual responsibility is a topic that I’ll hopefully touch on in Part 2 of this post).

Also, another potential benefit to individualism is that it tends to foster better interactions between people. Tribalism, which occurs when people primarily identify with a group or collection of groups, has historically led to a lot of conflict when compared to individualist interactions which tend to consider that both parties in the interactions are responsible for what they do and say which makes for more respectful interactions.

Last thing about individualism, taking a more practical approach, is that when you act with your individual responsibility in mind, it makes your life more meaningful as taking responsibility makes you an actor in the world that can effect change and by taking responsibility for their actions, people are more likely to effect positive change because that is not only what’s best for society, but for themselves as well.

Anyways, I’ve gone off on a lot of weird tangents in this post and surely haven’t explained myself thoroughly enough to make complete sense. Hopefully when I get part 2 up things will make more sense and Jordan’s philosophy will seem more clear.

How to learn a language — quickly

I recently watched a video by What I’ve Learned on YouTube which was a great overview of how to ACTUALLY learn a language, not the crap they teach in highschools nowadays where it can take up to 4 years before students are even comfortable speaking in basic conversations.

The method called Comprehensible Input has been around for quite some time, popularized by Steven Krashen, who is a language researcher and polyglot, fluent in 8 languages and is actively learning more.

Since then, language learning has been boiled down and optimized to a point where many claim that anyone can learn to be fluent in a language in 6 months.

I could honestly just end the post here and link you to Refold, a website the explains language learning in very good detail and will walk through how to efficiently allocate your time towards learning language.

So DEFINETLY go to their website and keep it open in another tab for later because it is amazingly useful.

My experience with learning Russian has been an interesting one so far. I started on Duolingo after becoming interested because of my mom and two of my close friends that spoke Russian.

Since then I’ve taken First-year Russian in University and continued to practice via Duolingo, but my skills in the language were still pretty minimal.

What really accelerated my learning was the method described in the website I linked above: listen, listen, LISTEN to content in the language.

Active listening and passive listening are both useful, immerse yourself in the language for several hours a day. (video is also useful)

The brief explanation of why listening is so useful is because our brain is really good at recognizing patterns. This is how we learn language as a baby, listening to our parents and others, picking up patterns.

And since we are adults we can use even more tools to our advantage: Anki is flashcard software that is really useful for memorizing new words NOT so you can recall them later while trying to communicated, but instead to better understand content that you are listening to or watching.

The key is to find content in the language that is enjoyable! Otherwise the process becomes much more difficult and slow. I personally am a big fan of Russian music so I listen to a lot of it while translating the lyrics and memorizing the words I don’t know so I understand the music better.

Many languages have specific podcasts that speak at a beginner level which can be another good place to start. If you are interested in Russian language I absolutely recommend checking out Russian With Max.

I’m sure anyone can become fluent in Russian only watching his content. I use it all the time, he has amazing videos and a great podcast.

It’s honestly insane how quickly you are able to pick up a language using the above methods. Becoming fluent is more difficult, but I’m getting very close to being fluent in Russian after only 6 months of using the comprehensible input method of acquiring language.

And I could have been way more efficient if I was disciplined.

Regardless, if you are interested in learning any language I absolutely recommend diving in. It may seem daunting at first, but follow the method briefly described in this post and on Refold.la and I guarantee is will not only be effective but also very satisfying.

It still takes a lot of work to acquire a language and I recommend setting aside 30 minutes to 1 hour per day of active listening (podcast, YouTube videos or a TV show) and at least another 1 – 2 hours of passive listening (music and podcasts) if you want to maximize acquisition without burnout.

Even if you can’t commit to so much. Taking 30 minutes everyday to work on a language can get your really far in less than a year. It’s amazing.

The Rise and Fall of My Music Career

I was just thinking about stuff to write about in the shower, and while listening to some of my own music I realized that it would be interesting to do a bit of a reflection into what was actually quite a deep dive I took into music and the music industry from August 2020 to March 2021.

I’ve been interested in making music for a long time, starting probably as early as Freshman year in high school. I was a huge fan of electronic music at the time, specifically from the curator Trap Nation. I found the music on that channel incredible impressive and wanted to make music similar to that so I started looking into music production tutorials and such and made some electronic music I am really not proud of as well as some music later on that was a little better.

Anyways, I started getting into the industry side of things when I was introduced to Alex Tumay who is a popular “mix engineer” or someone who basically takes all the elements of song and puts them together in a creative way that is pleasing to listen to (something a lot of people don’t even know about).

Alex Tumay worked closely with famous rapper “Young Thug”

From around September through December I was really interested in doing this “mix engineering” for other people and “mixed” a large number of other people’s songs, some of which you can hear below.

Throughout this time I was also trying to make some of my own music, using my own voice, and it turned out pretty bad. But slowly got better and started making some music I was pretty proud of (even though I still think that my singing is terrible, definitely have to thank AutoTune).

I even got one of my songs trending on Spotify in Brazil so that was cool.

What I realized through all this was that I really enjoyed making music, but I didn’t like the bureaucratic nonsense having to do with the business side of things: promoting music, having a social media presence, and networking with others in the industry.

And I knew that these were all key aspects of success in music, whether its success as a musician/artist or mix engineer; I really didn’t want to get into all that.

So since then I’ve pretty much put music aside for the most part, but I’m confident that I will go back to it since making music is fun and I truly enjoy the creative process behind it.

Until then, here are some of my favorite songs that I’ve made!

Thanks for reading.

Anthony

Welcome to the Blog

Hello future people. I decided to start a blog thanks to a couple influences whom I’d like to name:

Anthony Colpo, an independent researcher and health/fitness coach has a very interesting and entertaining blog at anthonycolpo.com

Jordan B Peterson, a professor and public intellectual figure who seriously sparked my interest in writing and learning new things.

Since the start of 2021, I’ve been frequently spending me time watching videos and reading articles and research on a variety of topics and felt that a blog would be an excellent place to write about, think about, and talk about what I’ve been learning and also help document what I’ve been spending so much time doing over the year.

I will be writing about the topics I am interested in, including: Nutrition, Exercise, Technology, and Psychology.

The posts will hopefully be interesting and engaging and tackle difficult questions that I am still trying to figure out myself. This means that I might take controversial positions and make mistakes, but the goal is to learn, not deceive or manipulate.

Anyways, that’s the brief idea of what going to be going on here. I plan on making the posts a bit more entertaining although I might need a bit of practice translating humor into my writing but I’ll give it my best shot.

So if you happen to be reading this, I sincerely thank you for your interest. And as cliché as it sounds, I hope you learn something new, or at least enjoy yourself.

Until next time.

Anthony