Here we have a 1.5-hour discussion between Jordan Peterson and Richard Dawkins recorded in audio (but not video) in November 2021. I wanted to listen to all of it as I still don’t have much of a sense of Peterson, who sometimes says sensible things and sometimes goes way off the rails. Well, I have a better sense now.
The discussion (it’s more of a monologue) is seriously weakened by Peterson’s totally dominating the conversation as well as—Richard points this out—going from point to disparate point in a seemingly random manner.
The object of the talk was supposed to be a paper Richard sent Peterson called “The organism as a model”, which has as its thesis a view that the organism embodies in its genome information about the environment. (For example, a stick insect gives information, via the body for which it codes, about what sticks look like in nature.) This paper is apparently a precis of Dawkins’s next book, The Genetic Book of the Dead. And that is an interesting idea worth exploring. But apparently not to Peterson!
Richard is polite, but his impatience and frustration with Peterson’s circumlocution and inability to stay on topic are obvious. By the end of the first 40 minutes, with Peterson taking up about 95% of the the conversation time, I gave up. Perhaps Dawkins gets to talk later on, but I couldn’t wade through the swamp of Peterson’s verbiage any longer, and I pressed the “stop” button when he began blathering about the drug ayahuasca.
Perhaps readers can tolerate thislonger, but I’d prefer to read Dawkins’s book than hear Peterson riff on it. Clearly, the Canadian has such a high opinion of himself that he has no interest in what his co-discussant has to say. I find this brand of self-centeredness odious, and tend to avoid people who monologue. They have no idea how human communication is supposed to work, and in some sense are diminishing the worth of the person who gets talked at.