Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
We should all thank Cathy Newman for her excellent public service. In a 30-minute TV interview, she’s done more than any person to expose modern cultural fallacies. She didn’t intend to achieve that - but that’s unintended consequences for you.
Ms Newman is a British journalist, who works as a presenter on Channel 4. She's an Oxford graduate, a feminist and known for her direct interviewing technique.
As an accomplished journalist, she has several significant stories to her credit. She exposed former Prime Minister Gordon Brown for insisting a donor, Ronald Cohen, get a knighthood. Thus, you can see that Ms Newman is no innocent nor an unschooled person.
So, it's baffling to see her ham-fisted attempt to confront such an intellectual powerhouse as Professor Jordan B Peterson. The Canadian clinical psychologist took Ms Newman apart. In doing so, he caused her to suffer a public case of cognitive dissonance. It was thrilling and disturbing to watch at the same time. I’d ask that you view their whole exchange here.
But, I must congratulate Ms Newman. She afforded Peterson the opportunity to dissemble, then shatter, several falsehoods. Feminism, gender issues, the pay-gap and how culture operates all received attention. Ms Newman facilitated this destruction of myths by her agenda-ladened approach. Sam Harris described her performance as “An almost near-terminal case of close-mindedness.”
Peterson came to the studio armed with decades of research, facts and the rigour of substantiation. Ms Newman went with a few loose points, a load of unfounded opinions; all tied up with an unwillingness to listen.
From the outset, she went on the attack; challenging Peterson on all fronts. Soon her unpreparedness was evident in shallow questions. Next, she was wholly thrown by his responses. Had Ms Newman taken the time to do her research, she'd have discovered Peterson is no pushover.
Peterson, in a forensic-manner, took apart Ms Newman's world-view narrative. Throughout he was eloquent, polite, humorous and firm with the facts. He called her out when she misrepresented him, which she did. Peterson laughed at her attempts to question his thinking. It was never disdainful, but soothing laughter akin to that used with an uneducated child.
In the process, he disarmed her. If you listen to her voice, it’s possible to detect a harsh tone emerge as she struggles to control herself. Witnessing cognitive dissonance spread across her face is possible. At 23-minutes she’s stalled, frozen. She admits to struggling. Defeated and lost, she doubles-down her attacks with stupid questions. That’s when we get; “Tell us about the lobster.”
At this point, she is either seeking to embarrass Peterson or be flippant. She fails again, as he comes back with facts. In his answer, we get millions of years of evolution, a quick insight into a lobster's nervous system and serotonin. Ms Newman took another hit.
Her attempts to label Peterson as Alt-right, when the man is palpably a liberal, were desperate. Clutching to the assertion that his audience is mostly men on YouTube, she couldn’t make the mental leap that Peterson doesn’t choose his audience. The viewer selects him.
I've now watched the interview some five times to assure myself I'm not unkind or too harsh on Ms Newman. Each viewing affirmed my view she was battling with mental confusion. Her narrative on the world is wrong, yet she couldn't process that. Moreover, a cultured brilliant, rational, white-man put her straight. That must hurt.
In response to the interview, the Internet lit up. Ms Newman took a fair amount of criticism, much teasing and some rough language. Hey, welcome to the Internet.
Immediately, the SJWs sought to reframe the interview with Ms Newman as the victim. In a reprehensible article, the Guardian repeated lies that Peterson is Alt-right. Meanwhile, Channel 4 announced security experts would assess the threat to her. This laughable response to moderate criticism added a new level of absurdity. Peterson asked people to lay off with anything hurtful. His intervention was seized upon to assert he controls an army of Internet warriors. That’s real fake news.
Nonetheless, I’m serious. Ms Newman has done a substantial public service. In the end, Peterson affirmed his integrity. Meanwhile, Ms Newman came across as dishonest and a dogmatic ideologue. And yet, towards the end of the interview, you saw a flicker of admiration. If she has any rationality, she’ll be reassessing her world-view.
To his credit, Peterson is not declaring victory or jumping around in glee. He believes there is nothing to gain for advancing human culture by adopting a victory pose. The man wants a proper rational debate without the agenda Newman brought to the table. He’s reached out to her, offering to sit down for a decent conversation. She’s yet to reply.
And, one other thing ... I’ll never eat another lobster!
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.