Livin' Like Larry: Jordan Peterson and the Dominance Hierarchy

Peace of Christ everybody!

Do you believe that Jordan Peterson’s stance on natural hierarchies (including human structures) is true, or is it based off of misunderstood research that we should leave to more qualified people such as Gad Saad to interpret?


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Hey Chuck. It’s Friday night. You know what I mean? You KNOW the answer. Petersen is right for the wrong reasons. Saad is right for the right reasons. Never, as in never, disrespect testosterone fuelled fascism. Meet it where it lives. It’s you and me shorn of bourgeois privilege.

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I’m curious about your comment here. Can you expand on this for me? I know nothing of Saad, much less what (he?) stands for. So I’ll request of you something that I know cuts against every cryptic synapse you use: an explanation using plain language. If you can.

…or from @Combine_Advisor too.

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Never heard of any of them. When I looked up Jordan’s name with natural hierarchy what came up was a bunch of quotes taken from a book about how To deal with life and it keeps mentioning humans and lobsters. Read that quote in multiple
Places and see just rambling on both sides.

I’ll never read the book. Some others here may know what it is. May be easier to ask the same thing in a different way.

Are their hierarchies within species? Yes.
Did humans evolve from some sort of species that probably had social hierarchies. Probably.

Does some weird animal instinct from specific or various species in our lineage decide the natural order of how we should live our lives and give precedence over
Improving our communities through social reform, emotional intelligence and cognitive processes? No. Not when it’s being used for some kind of jerk move.

Is that last statement what the guy , Jordan , was even arguing? No idea.

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I’ve listened to enough Peterson that I should be able to at least make some comment on that. But I will base this on memory of listening to him speak about it, and so this may need some correction.

Peterson (as I recall it) sees hierarchy as something of an evolutionarily necessary property that emerges in any society, and as such will almost certainly serve some valuable function, and not just the wicked mischief that would be heaped on the term today - though Peterson certainly wouldn’t deny that such abuse exists. But his main point I think is that hierarchy is about as evolutionarily “baked in” to us as just about anything is. There is no escaping that.

This short snippet of his talk about lobsters is what I’m talking about.


Peace of Christ Mervin!

If I understand Dr. Peterson correctly, he doesn’t believe that human hierarchical structures are mere social constructs, rather, he believes that they are deeply ingrained into biology itself and are unavoidable; he uses lobsters to illustrate his point. He also believes in a competence hierarchy, where the people in the top positions have accomplished some personal need, be it achievement, intimacy, or power, which are intrinsically valuable, and by recognizing what you want and achieving it in a sensible way, it could prove to be extremely beneficial to you.



You said it better than I did!

There is, however, the Peter Principle, in humans. :neutral_face:

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I imagine there is a biological aspect to everything we do since we are biological beings. I guess I don’t see anything really controversial off of what I’ve read of him so far or seen in the video. I don’t think the correlation is there like he’s trying to make it.

I agree hierarchies are important and beneficial. I imagine america would be even more chaotic if there was no government. Running a business as a owner would be challenging if there was no distinction between client, owner snd worker.

I presume when we are depressed all the chemical imbalances are not good for us and we tend to be less passionate about life.

But I guess that’s all I can contribute to the discussion. Never heard of them and not that interested in spending hours to determine their exact positions and so on. I asked a a handful of people I know and none of them have heard of these two as well.

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For me, no matter how right Petersen is biologically and sociologically, and the jury’s out as he isn’t a biologist or sociologist, he’s wrong politically; a “classic British liberal”, i.e. conservative. Uncomfortably we have theological overlap: Kierkegaard. He’s definitely on to something in how the politically incorrect are treated, which is very close to home for me, I have two extremely politically incorrect stepsons and I love them too much to ever even say I disagree with them. Saad is far more of a modern liberal. He and Petersen overlap as psychologists, I’d love to see them work together.

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“Do you believe that Jordan Peterson’s stance on natural hierarchies (including human structures) is true, or is it based off of misunderstood research that we should leave to more qualified people such as Gad Saad to interpret?” - @Combine_Advisor

A better person to turn to here is Jonathan Pageau, instead of Gad Saad. The latter is a playfully wilted, oftentimes bloviating evolutionary marketing-psychologist, who exemplifies “funny times”, while representing secular Judaism nowadays in N. America, based in Montreal. To call Saad “qualified” as an interpreter leaves much to be desired, truth be considered, even while he does have academic qualifications and a position in academia.

The former is an Eastern Orthodox icon carver, trained in theology. Pageau picks up for the explorer of Christianity where Peterson leaves off. He’s the real treasure, while Peterson is the sparkle and the fad. The “pop culture” mindset sadly turns quite easily to Saad and his musings on culture, while the depth of exploration raised by Pageau’s “symbolic world” is too heavy a meal for many people in the “evangelical world” to consume.

Both Pageau, and Peterson who enjoys discussions with him, are interested in mythic and symbolic hierarchies, beyond only natural hierarchies. It’s nevertheless true, as a couple of the comments here have indicated, that Peterson himself is more of a naturalist than a theist, at least in his openly preferred scientific/scientistic stance. In as much as his clinical psychology is practical (clean up your room, befriend people who want the best for you, etc.), it falls into a different category than experimental (natural) or formal science. This widens the area of Peterson’s contribution to the cultural conversation in N. America, in so much as people are paying attention to it / him.

This is a helpful insight regarding Peterson’s approach, which is largely motivational and full of (if you can stomach the hard talk first) encouragement, in the face of human suffering and despair.

Notably, Peterson is not a sociologist, rather a clinical psychologist. The lobsters comparison is overated for its significance, but it does reveal the naturalistic bent that compromises Peterson’s “I’m a scientist” approach with the “spirituality” he believes in intuitively. As a non-church person, Peterson is more a new age guru than a figure for Christians in BioLogos’ community to get excited about.

He came to public attention through a political statement that got launched into a national, then some kind of international (English-speaking) referendum on gendered pronouns.

The real story for Christians here is Jonathan Pageau and The Symbolic World ( If you haven’t found him / it yet, then be ready for a big evangelical surprise. He and his brother Matthieu both have views about divine creation and evolution that are outside the realm of “normal” or “on display” at BioLogos, while also being entirely and intentionally consistent with the teachings of the apostles and early Church.

Good wishes in your wrestling with hierarchies!

" wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking…" (Matthew 2:1)


p.s. If one identifies as an “evangelical” or “reformed”, they can at least turn to Paul Vander Klay, instead of Gad Saad, the latter with whom “evolutionary” clearly goes too far.

Peterson walks a fine line in turning to psycho-linguist Saad, whereas he is a quite different speaker and person in his approach to truth and responsibility when interacting with icon carver, lay theologian, podcaster Pageau. My view is that Peterson has made a good ally in Pageau, whose views of “not only natural” hierarchy, while often intriguing to them, is difficult for many (theistic) naturalists nowadays to oppose.

The need for further exploration of either 1) symbolism in a materialistic era, or 2) evolutionary marketing and business (cf. Saad’s “Darwinian consumption”), to this re-established Canadian, shouldn’t be too hard a choice for most balanced people in N. America nowadays to make. Who here would pick 2) instead of 1) to promote and defend to the people around them?

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Peace of Christ, Gregory!

Thank you for introducing me to Johnathan Pageau. I always love to hear from my Orthodox brothers!


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