12 Rules for Life Tour (2019)

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As part of his 12 Rules for Life book tour, Jordan Peterson did a show in San Jose (2019.01.22 @ City National Civc), where I'd also seen Styx a few years ago. So I called some friends that I knew liked him, and bought a block of tickets.

I was expecting a book tour thing, that covered sort of self-help, take personal responsibility, and stuff like that. But it was actually him talking about what inspired him to write his books, which went all over the map. He's an academic, and started a bit scattered, but as it went on, he started bringing things together and having a coalesced message and it was quite an interesting and fun talk.

His book can be summed up as telling young men to be better fathers, better husbands, better community members. But because of his blunt style and willingness to tie the history of failure among leftist postmodern thought, and the horrid atrocities of political correctness (censorship of thought and ideas) and is king of a classical liberal (Libertarian in American thought), the left of course hates him and attacked him in places like Vox, where they got a snowflake philosopher to accuse him of being a misogynist for not condemning masculinity and in fact defending it. [1] Jordan threatened to suit for defamation (there's nothing in his book that's against Women: he's against the attacks on men -- but that's something beyond the intellectual carrying capacity of some leftists). However, he seems to have let that drop, which is probably for the best.

Jordan was intro'd by Dave Rubin of the Rubin Report. Dave Rubin started with testing us on some basic current events, and laughing at themselves that they decided to open up here (San Jose), because they wanted to help out some refugees: sane conservatives/libertarians stuck in a hostile land. The audience lapped that up. He kind of teased the audience about the 60/40 male-to-female ratio, and since we were in the Bay Area, some of the guys were going to have to double up. Just a little icebreaking.


Jordan started slow paced talking... with a lot of different researchers and some of the things they touched on. But as he got into it, he started to weave stories, like the fraud of "toxic masculinity" and the decline of the APA (which has become a far far left organization). And by the end, his pacing was faster, he was enthused, and would tie lots of earlier stuff into later stuff, and so on. The gist was what motivated him to write his books, but really it was more about what motivated him in life, or looking at the world around us. It felt extemporaneous, in both the lack of rehearsed tightness, but also in the sincere and personal sort of way.

Here's a sampling (highly paraphrased), of one small segment, to give you an idea of what it was like (from my view). He was starting on toxic masculinity and how it's actually the opposite: men and masculinity is not wrong/bad, it's about ordering society and protecting. Which drifted into how much people enjoy rules and order, like games and play. But we hate cheaters or those that don't play by the rules, and some anecdotes and stories. We like games so much that we'll work hard (to earn good money), in order not just to play ourselves, but to watch other people play (professional sports). Think about the absurdity of that, "Here's $150, can I have the ball? No you can't have the ball... but if you sit over there you can watch this other guy have the ball!".

This tied into a story about a rat study: where a researcher was testing rats and whether they like "play". And the answer was obviously yes. And you could tell because they made the rats work (push a little button repeatedly, before they could get in to play). And once they knew that, they would work quite a bit to get to play with the other rat. (And that play was wrestling).

But then they also started pairing up a bigger rat with a littler rat -- so that one could always win, if it wanted. And they had strong ingrained rules. The little rat had to invite the other to play, by bouncing like a little dog. And then they wrestled. The bigger rat could win -- but if they let them play repeatedly -- the bigger rat knew that he had to let the little rat win, about 30% of the time, or the little rat would get bored (or feel cheated) and not play any more. And this was about sense of fairness that are ingrained. We don't like bullies.

It also wove in a story about babies, and how they know anger early. (Little terrorists). Many people mistake babies crying for fear or other things, but if you look closely, many are red faced and not looking away: they're often just pissed off and raging at a world that won't give them what they want. And you see it in 2 year olds, before they've moderated and learned social skills. They just take, or go in rages if someone takes something they want (or won't give them something they want).

Which sort of wandered back into the point that if men were toxic, then single mom families would result in boys and girls growing up to be more successful than dual parent families. And we see the opposite (statistically). Men help teach values, and teach kids what not to do -- which is why kids from dual parent families often outperform ones from single parent families.

There was a lot in-between, with studies, references, anecdotes, and some jokes. But it was like watching a really interesting philosophy lecture that touched on all sorts of things.

While it's sort of categorized as self-help, it's not the fluffy, granola-crunchy book that is favored by New Age hippies -- it's more a deconstruction of what motivates people and makes them fulfilled, as well as the psychology behind it and what motivates them: an in-your-face, get-real book that tries to smack people into seeing what is good around them, and what kind of person they want to be. Not a mommy psychologist, "how does that make you feel" type, but more a manly life coach saying, "put on your big-boy pants and stop doing shit that you're ashamed of, and do more shit that will make you die proud of yourself".

The rules belie the deeper messages behind them, and the point is more in how to achieve them than in the rules themselves, but they are:

  1. Stand up straight with your shoulders back
  2. Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping
  3. Make friends with people who want the best for you
  4. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today
  5. Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
  6. Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world
  7. Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
  8. Tell the truth – or, at least, don't lie
  9. Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don't
  10. Be precise in your speech
  11. Do not bother children when they are skateboarding
  12. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street
He has a way of wandering all over the place, discussing research and things that may seem only a bit related... and ultimately tying those things back into the rule itself.


📚 References

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