I think the answer is simply ‘no’, as is traditional for questions that are headlines.
Still, I was pointed at this piece: https://catherinecgill.wordpress.com/2018/05/24/the-correlation-between-arts-degrees-and-hating-jordan-peterson/comment-page-1/#comment-433
Gill is a journalist/writer who writes opinion pieces for UK newspapers (The Times among others) and is sometimes a talking head on Sky News.
Her recent blog post on Jordan Peterson starts:
Something concerning of late is the number of Left-wing journalists laying into the scientific theories of Jordan Peterson, even though they have arts degrees! I have nothing against arts degrees, incidentally, but I do take issue with people pontificating about areas they know nada about…
A few things to unpack here:
- Yes, if you google the background of a bunch of journalists you are likely to find lost of arts degrees. That’s a side effect of looking at people in a profession that suits people with arts and humanities backgrounds. Are there journalists with more science-based backgrounds? Sure, but they are going to be less common than those without.
- Are the people criticising Peterson disproportionately people with Arts degrees? I don’t know but I doubt it.
- Is an arts degree an impediment to criticising the scientific basis of Peterson’s claims? Well, no. Peterson’s scientific claims aren’t very strong or highly technical. There are plenty of debunkings, so a journalist who knows how to look stuff up and do basic research shouldn’t have a hard time evaluating that he’s talking nonesense.
- An arts degree, or specifically a degree in lietrature is probably a very GOOD grounding for engaging with Peterson’s writing (at least the stuff relevant to why he is in the news). Peterson’s arguments (such as they are) are cultural criticism and his mode of argument (such that it is) is not logico-empirical but closer to the modes used in literary criticism. Peterson rests his cultural/political arguments on Nietszche, Dostoyevsky, Jung, and the Bible not on science.
- Yes, he does include some science in his arguments and it is uniformly garbled (more on that).
- “I do take issue with people pontificating about areas they know nada about” – then you should take issue with Peterson.
But before I continue some links:
Psychology Today on Peterson: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/hot-thought/201802/jordan-peterson-s-flimsy-philosophy-life
Leonor Gonçalves Research Associate in Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology at UCL on Peterson: https://theconversation.com/psychologist-jordan-peterson-says-lobsters-help-to-explain-why-human-hierarchies-exist-do-they-90489
P Z Myers Professor and Evolutionary developmental biologist https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2018/03/15/the-criticism-jordan-peterson-deserves
That’s just three I had to hand.
“Generally, the Left has huge issues with psychological theory. This is because of their belief that people are ‘blank slates’ who can be shaped by the environment, so as to justify their desire to engineer it. Thus they cannot stand anyone who cites biological variables in human development – for example, personality traits have genetic components – as Peterson and all psychologists will do…”
This is a version of Steven Pinker’s argument, although Pinker’s argument has a bit more nuance than that. Is it correct? I guess for some value of “generally”. The left is more sceptical of arguments that propose biological determinism in various forms as an argument against social change. Some of that scepticism gets expressed as over-generalised ‘blank slate’ style arguments but those arguments are not a neccesary part of left wing views. There’s no shortage of people on the left who can recognise:
- What is actual evidence from biology about various traits.
- The capacity for humans to not be constrained by that.
To use a simple analogy, that your basic hair colour is genetically determined does not prevent you from dyeing your hair and is certainly not a reason for the state to ban hair dyes or for people to discriminate against particular hair colours or for somebody to repetedly point at your obviously red hair and declare that it is ‘really’ blond because ‘genetics’.
I’ll leave this last quote from her piece as an exercise for the reader:
“This aversion to psychological theory is part of the reason why I have never been published in this subject in a left-wing publication. I have a First Class Honours BSc in Psychology and 86 in a neuroscience paper – sorry for the brag, just making a point – yet I am deemed as “right wing”. Why? Because I was always accurate about reporting my studies. It is astonishingly frustrating to have an ideology planted onto you for being factual.”
[ETA: I don’t think I’ve posted this link before. Prof. A.W. Peet’s list of Jordan Peterson rebuttals http://ap.io/pet/12/ ]