Making self-help sound like terrorism

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You’ve heard of Jordan Peterson. He’s a Canadian professor of psychology and a clinical psychologist. In his work in the latter role, he has helped a lot of people deal with mental health issues and sort their lives out, as clinical psychologists are wont to do. He became notorious because of the hate he received when he objected to a university trying to force people to use the gender pronouns of transgender individuals. Not that he never uses those pronouns, but he objected to being told that he had to use them, or else face consequences. He didn’t create the situation, he just responded to it because it affected him directly.

Peterson has managed to offend people in other ways, too (not that this is a great feat today), for example by arguing that genuine sex differences exist – hardly a radical theory. Cathy Newman notoriously made him more famous via an interview in which she spent nearly all of her time re-stating and misrepresenting most of his answers when discussing the gender pay gap. Peterson didn’t force her to do that. She did it herself, and so badly that she became a meme. She was a train wreck, and in retrospect few people doubt that she knows it. Otherwise the interview would have been much less remarkable and would almost certainly not have had the positive effect on Peterson’s fame that it did.

Most of Dr Peterson’s subject matter is psychology and self-help. But (generally when the issue is raised with him) yes, he has talked about things with broader political and social implications. When he does, the target of his criticisms are generally not just people on the left or the right, conservatives or liberals, but rather the space on the political spectrum he calls “the radical left,” although at times he has also spoken specifically about the dangers of fascism in particular as well as the factors that enable it.

Unsurprisingly, the radical left (as much as I dislike collectivism – take me to mean “many people who could fairly be described as radical leftists”) tend not to like Jordan Peterson. But even not liking somebody or their views should surely be compatible with some very basic principles of fairness and decency. Continue reading “Making self-help sound like terrorism”

Christian Today got loads of clicks with this one weird trick

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Note: When this article was first written it made reference to Christianity Today. This was an error. In fact the website in question is Christian Today. My apologies for the initial error.

Clickbait. Clickbait is everywhere. What happened next will blow your mind. You won’t believe what this guy said. Personal trainers hate this guy for telling everyone this one weird trick to lose weight. OMG, #5 on this list gave me chills!

Sometimes clickbait is blatant, as in examples like those. Other times it’s in the wording, where you can argue that there’s a sense in which the headline is true, but the writer knows quite well that people will understand it to mean something that is blatantly false yet titillating.

I expect clickbait from some places, as well as headlines and even stories that spin things so extremely that they basically amount to what is being dubbed fake news. Yes, Huffington Post, I mean you.

Now here’s a recent tweet from Christian Today:

That looks pretty clear, right? Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is going to express remorse over The Reformation. I don’t think there’s any honest doubt about what those words will be taken to mean by most readers: The Archbishop of Canterbury, to a considerable extent at least, regrets that the Reformation happened. Typical. What a wishy-washy, Ecumenical liberal who doesn’t think theological distinctives matter. He’s basically a Catholic! Anglicans, huh? What else would you expect?

Bait laid. Next come the clicks for which the bait was laid. And when you click on the link, you’re taken to the story, with this headline:

Oh. So… he doesn’t regret the Reformation. He regrets that it was accompanied by violence. Well. How about that?

Actually, CT used as its source a story from the Daily Mail (yes, really), which is entirely about violence and people being burned to death etc, something Welby regrets.

Decide for yourself whether or not this constitutes clickbait. The answer will shock you!