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  • way wanted to start off this boy, the you introducing yourself a little bit telling us about your general work particularly.

  • You've talked a lot about faculty freedom recently, and I'm wondering if you think you want to talk a little bit about what you see as the ideal relationship between a university and its faculty members.

  • I think in many ways the best thing for the university to do with its faculty members is to leave them alone, and I mean that in the best possible way.

  • I mean, that was actually one of the things I taught here from 93 to 98 1 of the things and I have the same relationship, I would say with the university at University of Toronto is that the university's go to a tremendous amount of trouble to identify promising people in terms of their research capability from all over the world.

  • And generally speaking, if you identify promising people, your best bet as a manager is too.

  • Stay out of their way now and to remove obstacles from there from there from their movement forward, and I think that the universities do a credible job of that.

  • Although my sense over the last few decades as being that increasingly, there are more impediments placed in the path of research.

  • For example, I've seen that with the multiplication of the powers of institutional review boards, for example, ethics committees, which have vastly overreached, they're they're they're they're reasonable powers and they slow things down.

  • And that's a big mistake.

  • If you're dealing with people who are are conducting research into important topics, then you want to do everything you possibly can to let them move forward as rapidly as possible.

  • In what ways do you think these institutional review boards of these ethics committees have particularly damage the process or the speed of research research?

  • Do you think there are times like you have any examples in mind of when you think they've overreached their power?

  • Well, they they regulate that one's not on.

  • Okay, well, find it here, Look.

  • Okay, you can hear me, which, at least in principle, should be an improvement.

  • Yeah, well, I mean oh, yes, that's much better.

  • In the social sciences, for example, the institutional review boards insist upon reviewing the use of questionnaires in research, which I think is it's It's not helpful questionnaires aren't dangerous, and they have no real policies set in place to determine the difference between injuries, research and the normal dangers that people expose them.

  • Tell cells onto on a daily basis.

  • So Andi have.

  • Certainly the institutional review boards have certainly slowed down the work in my lab, for example, and made it much more onerous.

  • We have to do a tremendous amount of writing and justification for the studies long before they're even undertaken, and then also to do a fair bit of paperwork to keep up with the documentation.

  • And I don't find that the least bit use one.

  • I know that in the United States, the institutional review boards domains of power being cut back now because of complaints primarily, if I remember correctly primary from the primarily from the granting agencies because they're adding to the the unnecessary expense that's associated with research.

  • So in the university, should the university administration fundamentally exists to serve the faculty and students and probably the students first in the faculty second.

  • But increasingly, I see that the administration is multiplying out of control, and that's quite well documented in terms of overall cost and some of that's driven by legislation.

  • It so it's not.

  • It's not something that's necessarily intrinsic to the administration itself, but that's one of the things that's driving the spiraling up ever, ever upward spiraling of tuition costs.

  • So, aside from Research Ethics Board's institutional review boards, ethics committees, do you think that there are other ways that the administration has interfered with your work particularly use recently come under fire by some administration at the University of Toronto for certain controversial views you hold you mentioned that you think the administration's primary obligation should be to its students, and then it should also service faculty.

  • Do you see the administration using that mission properly when they try to talk to faculty about certain statements that they have made?

  • Or do you think that's also an overreach of their power?

  • Well, I think it reflects a more general societal confusion about just exactly what our priorities are.

  • I made a video back in September stating my objections to the mandated use of a certain category of pronoun that I object to, mostly on the grounds that I felt that the government had no right compelling people's speech and also because personally I didn't want to use The pronouns that were being put forward by people I regard is holding a philosophical and political ethos that I find really, really quite detestable.

  • And I made a video about that and mansion during the video that the act of making the video had probably become had arguably become illegal in Ontario, in the province I'm from and was about to become illegal federally with some new legislation, and that it likely violated the the code of conduct that characterized the university with regards to its inclusiveness.

  • Policies and university promptly validated my concerns by sending me to letters telling me to stop making such statements because they violated the university's code of conduct and also the relevant human rights legislation in Ontario and and in the federal government and one of the I.

  • I felt that the reason that the university did that was because they have faced a certain amount of public pressure from people at the University of Toronto when that would be mostly.

  • Most of that pressure came from people I would regard as the professional activist types, and the university said that they had received many letters accusing me of making the University of Toronto and unsafe space, which is the sort of language that immediately makes you know that you're dealing with people who are ideologically possessed.

  • But they also.

  • But they failed to note at the same time that they had received hundreds, perhaps thousands, of letters as well as a 10,000 signature petition supporting my stance.

  • And so I think, when the administration uh when the administration regards its duty, it's fundamental duty to promote some illusory notion of safety and then also is willing to falsify the facts on the ground by omission that they have definitely overstepped their boundaries.

  • And I would say that, uh, they were they were put back.

  • They were set back on their heels.

  • Let's put it that way by a very strident outpouring, strident, powerful outpouring of public opinion in Canada.

  • That was, although that was good for me because I got two letters.

  • And generally, if you're dealing with human resources professionals than three letters is the warning, and then the next step is something more serious.

  • I'm curious you mentioned the term safe space in particular for university, and I want you to link this back to this idea that university administration should be serving students first and faculty second.

  • So do you think that the administration has some sort of compelling mandate to make sure that students feel safe?

  • No, they haven't.

  • They have exactly the reverse mandate.

  • There's nothing safe about being educated.

  • If you want to be safe, stay home.

  • The things that you need to be educated about our terrible things almost always.

  • If you study history properly, it's terrible.

  • If you study literature properly, it's terrible.

  • If you study psychology properly, all of these fields of endeavor teach you the painful things that you need to know to understand what human beings in society or like.

  • And so the idea.

  • First of all, the idea that university should be a safe space is absolutely preposterous.

  • But it's also preposterous for more, more, I would say immediate reason.

  • So one of the one of the there's a few things that we know is as clinical psychologist, see as as a field and also as practitioners with regards to how to treat people who suffer, let's say, from an excess of anxiety and what you do with people who suffer from an excess of anxiety is exposed them to the very things that they're afraid of or sometimes disgusted by.

  • And you have.

  • You helped them voluntarily exposed themselves to such things, and that doesn't make the world safer.

  • It makes them braver and more competent.

  • And so the notion that you serve students safety concerns even by shielding them from things that they don't wish to encounter.

  • There's there's absolutely I can't think of a single possible valid reason why you would ever undertake such an endeavor.

  • I think it's really need to talk about it in the abstract.

  • But the particular concern that perhaps a lot of students and a lot of members of the community have with your case is the particular pronoun usage issue.

  • So in that instance, I'm wondering if you think there's a really harm.

  • So if someone comes to you, one of your students, let's say and would really feel more comfortable engaging with the deep, troubling historical or psychological or whatever field truths if you refer to the student with certain pronouns, do you really think that's a necessary place where they need that?

  • You know, severe exposure?

  • What do you think there is some sort of harm by calling them the pronoun that they will.

  • I think I think it's fundamentally a fabricated issue.

  • It's being fabricated for political reasons.

  • I know the history of the relevant legislation in Ontario, and initially the legislation was basically predicated on the idea that gender identity was a social construct and that there were going to be protections put in place for people whose gender identity had switched so that they weren't subject to harassment or discrimination.

  • And there's no utility in subjecting people too counterproductive discrimination.

  • And I would consider discrimination counterproductive when the discrimination occurs for reasons that aren't relevant to the task at hand because we discriminate all the time.

  • But the government ran the policies by a relatively select group of activists and transformed it into, ah, a piece of policy legislation that no one in their right mind would abide by or could abide by for that matter and reduced, for example, the idea of human identity to something that basically transforms on a subjective whim.

  • And so I don't buy any of that.

  • I don't I don't think that that's what identity is.

  • I don't think it's fundamentally self generated.

  • It might be so seo, culturally constructed to some degree and then the most certainly is.

  • But the idea that your identity is solely your choice and that you have the right to inflict that on other people is absolutely preposterous.

  • Most people grow out of that idea when they're two years of age, and I mean that technically, because we know that when Children hit about three years of age, they're able to start playing social games, and that's when they start learning that that identity is, Ah is at minimum a socially negotiated phenomena now, okay, so apart from that, there's no agreement whatsoever on the set of pronounce that will be used.

  • And then they've multiplied beyond anybody's anybody's imagination, I would say, including the people who formulated the legislation.

  • And then there's the fact that you don't refer to people by their pronouns anyways.

  • Their third person pronouns and so I don't call you he when we're talking, I might refer to you as he if I was talking about you with someone else.

  • So most of the time, it's a moot point anyways.

  • But Dr Peterson, in the cases where does matter, right?

  • Certainly you could envision.

  • Let's not talk so much about federal policy, but perhaps like in an actual, like personal, day to day setting, do you think there's a harms and perhaps you can disagree with, like the philosophical principle, the theoretical truth of whether or not identity can change subjectively wind to win?

  • But if someone comes up to me and says, You know, I want to be referred to as this, even if I adopt some sort of you that I don't really think fundamentally on a pure theoretical level, they have an understanding of identity.

  • Do does that do I then choose to harm them or potentially upset them by sticking to my belief about what their identity is?

  • Well, the first thing you'd have to establish is whether or not that would actually constitute heart.

  • That's the claim.

  • And the person might say, Well, you're harming me.

  • But that doesn't provide evidence that you are people.

  • People presume very often that they're harmed by things that they're not harmed by it all s.

  • So I don't think that the mere claim that someone thinks that the way I would address the might harm them gives them the right to enforce by legislation.

  • The content of my speech that just doesn't run, that doesn't that doesn't work.

  • And, you know, here's something else that's worth noting from a more practical perspective.

  • I mean, I've received letters from about 30 trans people, and that's actually a lot because there aren't that many people.

  • And these are people who, by and large we're very serious about their transformations and all.

  • But one of them agreed with what I was doing, saying, first of all, that they never asked to be represented by the activists who claimed to be representing them.

  • Know.

  • So here's a proposition, right?

  • So imagine that there's a group of people and that somebody is a member of that group of people.

  • And then that person stands forth as a member of that group and says, because I'm a member of that group, I speak for all those people.

  • It's like actually, no, you don't the mere fact that you're the member of a group that doesn't give you any right whatsoever to speak on behalf of that group, you need to have legitimacy as a representative, and I don't I think that that you can hardly imagine a more pernicious example say of racism, then to presume that if someone is black, they speak on behalf of all black people.

  • All black people are homogeneous.

  • They all believe exactly the same thing.

  • Therefore, if you talk to or met one of them you've talked to or met them all with respect, Dr Peterson, I think I'm referring to cases where the actual people in front of you are telling you, though, that they want to.

  • They want to represent themselves a certain way, right, so we can talk about whether or not the activist community is accurately representing actual communities.

  • But I'm wondering, you mentioned, you don't think like a self report of like, Oh, this is harming me or I would not be comfortable interacting with you unless, you know X happened would not be an accurate way of describing riel harm.

  • Are there better metrics we have for real harm if someone comes up to me and they say, Oh, you know, when that they're feeling too warm in this room, we should leave, you know, do I say, Ah, no, like you don't know how warm you are.

  • That's not something you can know for yourself.

  • That's just a self report.

  • Well, it would depend on what they were asking other people to do.

  • And I don't I don't believe that people have the right to impose restrictions on what not so much restrictions on what I'm allowed to say.

  • But to determine the content of my speech, that's an entirely different thing.

  • And so if it's a matter of the legal principle of whether or not I'm free to determine the content of my speech or the hypothetical discomfort of a hypothetical person because no one's actually asked me this yet, then I'm going to go with the freedom from compelled speech partly again, because I think that the idea that the government or any other institution should regulate the content of your speech is absolutely it's intolerable.

  • I think you have a strong legal argument, right?

  • So the government probably shouldn't mandate this, that I'm sure a lot of people might agree with that.

  • I'm still curious, though, in this hypothetical scenario that a student did or a person did approach you and they told you they would be harmed or they would be uncomfortable unless you refer to them with a certain pronoun.

  • What would you do?

  • Well, I really have a hard time answering questions like that because they're asked in the hypothetical it could Second, it could be good.

  • But my sense because I'm a condition is that I generally handle those sorts of things at the level of actual detail.

  • S O.

  • I would say it would depend on the person.

  • It would depend on the situation.

  • It would depend on why they asked me.

  • It would depend on how they asked me.

  • It would depend on what I thought they were trying to accomplish by the request.

  • It would.

  • It would depend on whether or not they were filming me.

  • Well, they were asking me.

  • It would depend on whether they asked me in my office or in the hallway.

  • No, I can tell the difference between a genuine plea for understanding and a bit of political theater or political manipulation.

  • Now, when I've dealt with people who have made all sorts of requests of me, believe me, because I've had a clinical practice for about 20 years, and my experience with with the range of human behavior is, I would say, extraordinarily extensive.

  • And so I've made all sorts of adjustments to the way I interact with people.

  • So I can't say exactly what I would do in a given situation because I firmly believe that the devil is in the details.

  • But I haven't been making Ah case about a specific interaction that I had actually experienced or or or or experienced.

  • I've been making a case of philosophical, fundamentally a philosophical case and and secondarily a political case, and I think that I've made the case properly.

  • But you would say that you recognize the difference between a like legal responsibility to do something versus it's sort of an individual personal choice.

  • I should do something.

  • Sometimes I recognize that.

  • I mean, sometimes the legal and the philosophical and the personal issue are all the same.

  • It's simpler when that's the case, but I also think that the issue is essentially a red herring.

  • I mean, look, since I made that video for one reason or another, things that I've been saying have become quite popular and and not as controversial as you might think.

  • Most of what I've accrued so far is being support, and the reason for that has very little to do with the issue of pro Now the pronoun issue and the pronoun controversy is a pointer to something that's a lot larger.

  • And that's why this issue has had legs.

  • I'm not here because people are interested in my views on pronounce.

  • Now I happen to put my foot down, so to speak, at a particular place, because it's very frequently the case that if you're engaged in a complex philosophical dispute, which is the case for our society in general, that in order to make A to make a statement about it, you have to make a statement in relationship to an actual cause.

  • So you have to draw the line somewhere.

  • And people have asked me, Why did you pick the pronoun hill to die on?

  • My answer to that generally is a I didn't die and B, you have to and B, you have to you have to pick something riel two to enter into the debate.

  • So, for example, if I would have just made another video decrying political correctness, that would have gone nowhere at all.

  • But I said that there was something I wouldn't do, and one of the things I won't do is use the maid upwards of postmodern neo Marxists who are playing a particular game with gender identity.

  • That's an extension of their particular reprehensible philosophy.

  • And if that happens to mean that, I have to engage in discussions about whether or not if, ah, you know, if a suffering and confused person who's had a who's had a very troubled pathway through life came and asked me politely if I would go out of my way to accommodate them.

  • I think that I don't think that those issues actually belong on the same in the same.

  • They're not the same category of issue, so so I don't see that there's well, I guess that's enough said about that all right, transition a little bit.

  • So you mentioned sort of post modernism and new Marxism.

  • In fact, in a statement of McMaster University, you claimed that an expression of that the protests that you see at your events are an expression of a philosophy that's grounded partly in post modernism and partly in Marxism.

  • Was that me first?

  • And secondly, how would you say that these movements are characterized in those ways?

  • Well, it McMaster it meant that some of the protesters came with came and hid behind a banner that had a hammer and sickle on it, you know.

  • So you see, the funny thing is, the funny thing is, is that people laugh about that, and I understand perfectly well what you're laughing.

  • But I can tell you, you wouldn't have laughed if it would have been a swastika.

  • And it's no, no, it's no funnier that it was a hammer and sickle.

  • You know that the reprehensible ideologies that are based in fundamental Marxism killed at least 100 million people in the 20th century, and they're still apologists.

  • One in five social scientists identifies as a Marxist.

  • It's like, really, really, that's really that's really where we're gonna take this.

  • Is it?

  • After the bloody 20th century, we're going to say, Well, that wasn't really communism or something foolish like that, even though we had multiple examples of exactly what happens when those doctors are let loose in the world.

  • And so what?

  • What happened in the 19 sixties?

  • In the late 19 sixties?

  • As far as I can tell when this happened, mostly in France, which is probably produced the most reprehensible coterie of public intellectuals that any country has ever managed is that in a in the in the late 19 sixties, when all the student activists had decided that the Marxist revolution wasn't going to occur in the Western world and and had finally also realized that apologizing for the Soviet for the Soviet system was just not gonna fly anymore, Given, given the tens of millions of bodies that had stacked up that they performed a what I would call a philosophical sleight of hand and transformed the class war into, ah into, ah, identity, politics, politics, war and that became extraordinarily popular, mostly transmitted through people like Shaq.

  • Derrida, who became an absolute darling of the Yale English department and had his pernicious doctrines spread throughout North America partly as a consequence of his invasion of Yale.

  • And what happened with what happened with the postmodernists is they kept on peddling their their their their their murderous breed of political doctrine under a new guys and resentful people all over the world fell for it, and I don't I don't consider that acceptable, you know, one of the things I've learned.

  • For example, I teach my students in my second year personality class about what happened in the Soviet Union in the Gulag Archipelago on I Use Soldier Nixon has an exemplar, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, as an exemplar of existential psychology because I think he's actually the wisest of the existential psychologists, even though he was primarily a history and literary figure.

  • While most of the students don't even know what happened in the Soviet Union, why is that, exactly?

  • And the reason for that is that radical leftist ideologue intellectuals in the West have never properly apologized for the role for the role they played in the in the absolute murderous nous of the of the 20th century.

  • S O students don't even know about it so they can come out to McMaster behind there.

  • They're damnable poster with the hammer and sickle on it and act like they're virtuous.

  • Using that calling.

  • Do you think that trend was only sort of significant to that specific McMaster incident?

  • Or do you see this type of ideology influencing campus protests beyond McMaster in general?

  • Well, I think the I think that that part of it's it's everywhere.

  • It's It's not just in campus protests.

  • I mean, the campuses are are are overrun in large part with disciplines that have, in my estimation, no valid reason to exist.

  • I think disciplines like women's studies should be defunded any of the activist disciplines who act who who's primarily primary role is the overthrow of of, for example, of the patriarchy, which is about as ill defined a concept as you could possibly formulate that it's enough.

  • We've done enough public funding of that sort of thing we're providing.

  • We're providing full time, destructive