The news from Mikhaila Peterson that her father Jordan Peterson has been struck down with the coronavirus and pneumonia has given many pause. Maybe the Canadian professor and father figure to a lost generation of “men” does not have all, or indeed any, of the answers to the big questions facing our bros. Perhaps a psychotically deficient diet, transparently motivated by the association of meat with masculinity was a step in the wrong direction? One wonders if the risible lack of evidence for its efficacy could have tipped us off? Might Jordung himself be a deeply damaged individual whose opinion on anything can be safely ignored?
First, some background. A psychology professor straight out of Alberta, Canada, Peterson’s academic credentials are impressive. After obtaining his PhD from McGill University, he went on to teach and research at Harvard. Since then, he has carved himself a career in the media, diligently embarking upon his apprenticeship trolling around the minor leagues - the adaptation of his 1999 book Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief into a 13-part lecture series broadcast on Canadian TV being an early example.
Perhaps a psychotically deficient diet, transparently motivated by the association of meat with masculinity was a step in the wrong direction?
But it was his 2018 magnum opus 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos that cemented him in the public’s mind. A self-help manual that stressed personal responsibility and the need to transcend suffering, citing psychology, Jungian archetypes and evolutionary biology, 12 Rules immediately struck a power chord and became an unlikely international bestseller. It was recommended by thought leaders as diverse as Joe Rogan and some of Joe Rogan’s guests. Some called it flaccid, banal and pointless. Others were less kind. Nonetheless, it resonated with young men, notably a particular stripe of anti-intellectual who still wants to be thought of as intelligent - the STEM virgin who secretly craves to be Humanities Chad. We're talking someone not quite crazy enough to be a full-on incel shitlord but certainly a directionless and resentful type ripe for some tough love and home truths delivered by the smart dad they never had.
Dig if you will a young man navigating his way through the perilous tundra of his twenties. Employment opportunities are scarce. Nice girls don’t like him. He has yet to successfully come to terms with his own masculinity, much less the expectations of feminism, millennial angst or the gig economy. It's frankly a nightmare. But soft, what is that that appears in his Amazon recommends? It is Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules for Life – a handbook for people just like him. He purchases it with the £10 Amazon voucher his absent father sent him for Christmas. He thought he was fucked before but this boy’s cornholing is just beginning.
12 Rules was recommended by thought leaders as diverse as Joe Rogan and some of Joe Rogan’s guests
Jordan was not done, though. He had a thriving side hustle as a critic of political correctness in academia which gained him the cherished position of the figure you love to hate. He campaigned against Bill C-16 which sought to extend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of “gender identity or expression”. He objected to the idea of being compelled to use a person's preferred pronouns which he saw as an infringement of freedom of speech and he also had a big problem with anti-unconscious bias training. When a video of Channel 4’s Cathy Newman failing to land a punch on a calm and measured Peterson went viral it was clear that his star was on the rise. Newman's hastily constructed strawmen were no match for Jordung accurately repeating his oft-stated positions. Even his opponents had to admit he tiptoed over the laserbeams well. It was a rhetorical masterclass perhaps on a par with Iain Duncan Smith’s 2003 The Quiet Man conference speech. Robust, rational, masculine debate had its champion. Hemingway would have gladly gone hunting with such a man. Kipling would have approvingly noted his stoicism. Martin Amis would have him over for dinner sat opposite Salman Rushdie. Here was a man you could trust, even if he was beset by dreams of his grandmother sexually assaulting him with fistfuls of her ancient bush hair.
And yet not all was well in the Peterson kingdom. Heavy is the head that wears the crown and King Jordan became visibly traumatised by the bashing he was taking on Twitter from the wokescold goon squad. A severe autoimmune reaction to “food” saw him thrown onto a course of the benzodiazepine drug clonazepam, a tranquilizer renowned for being a lover to get hooked on and a mother to kick. Specific details are hard to find but this set him on a course that like a potholing expedition with substandard batteries, got darker as it went along. His wife’s cancer diagnosis caused him a great deal of anxiety and the clonazepam dose was upped to a new high, giving Jordung a new high. Drug use segued seamlessly into drug abuse as the pressure of being in the public eye and surrogate father to millions of needy dudes took its toll. He checked into rehab to treat his benzo addiction. The cracks were becoming faultlines.
Attempts to kick the habit brought on dismal withdrawal symptoms, threatening both his sanity and his life. He was dragged around from hospital to hospital, looking like a proper bag of shit. Several times, he was close to death. In desperation, his family flew him to Russia where he was placed in an eight-day medically induced coma by psychopaths. The radical and deeply unethical procedure fucked up his motor function and gave him neurological damage, Mikhaila told the world.
Yeah, about that Mikhaila. A digression is needed. Jordan’s daughter has carved out her own niche as a blogger and podcaster with a provenance even more strange than her father’s. With a list of illnesses rivalling that of unhinged SJW empress Jameela Jamil, Mikhaila’s life looks like an extended setup to sell a miracle cure. At the age of seven she was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis that required hip and ankle joint replacements and she has done her lagging with an intimidating list of illnesses including severe depression, bipolar type II, idiopathic hypersomnia, Lyme disease, psoriasis and dyshidrotic eczema. These are diseases that take complex medical management and absolutely not the kind of things remedied by a fatuous fad diet.
OR ARE THEY? Because Mikhaila has managed to do just that by following The Lion Diet, one consisting “solely of beef, salt, and water supported with numerous health and wellness practices”. She believes that meat heals as would you if you took her unverified anecdotal experience at face value. For you, a combination of the absence of evidence and the suicide-inducing monotony would make it tough to swallow. For her, it’s the only possible explanation after eliminating every food but beef from her diet. Mikhaila was left with no choice – she had to share this miracle with the world. The six weeks of diarrhoea Lion Diet devotees endure would be a small price to pay, as would the subscription fee for her online support group: $599 a year. She refused to allow her lack of relevant qualifications hold her back, claiming on her Her Don’t Eat That blog that “many (if not most) health problems are treatable with diet alone.”
The six weeks of diarrhoea Lion Diet devotees endure would be a small price to pay, as would the subscription fee for her online support group: $599 a year.
That continued for a while but the feeling persisted that there was something missing from the mix. An irreplaceable X factor, if you will. Maybe something in a much more famous father endorsing her product? Like all daddy’s girls, Mikhaila was able to wrap pappy round her little finger. She persuaded him to try the cuckivore diet for his many maladies. After all, what had he to lose? He had flirted with death more often than FGB Duck and The Reaper was becoming more tempted with each day.
The results were
completely predictable astounding. After completing the mandatory 42 days of squirting his guts through his inflamed pinhole angus, Jordan was a new man. Immediately, he came off his antidepressants and found that his gastric reflux had disappeared along with his gingivitis, psoriasis and sprained vagina. He didn’t have a bad word to say about the diet. Well, there was the problem that any slight deviation from the holy trinity of beef, salt and water led to catastrophic side-effects. Like that one time he dabbled with apple cider giving himself a galactic panic attack that rendered The Professor unable to sleep for 25 days. “It produced an overwhelming sense of impending doom,” he told Joe Rogan “You lay in bed frozen in something approximating terror for eight hours.”
So far, so terrifying. Could Mikhaila's diet really that bad? What are the experts saying? Jack Gilbert, faculty director at the University of Chicago’s Microbiome Center told The Atlantic “Physiologically, it would just be an immensely bad idea. A terribly, terribly bad idea.” On the fence then? “If she does not die of colon cancer or some other severe cardiometabolic disease, the life—I can’t imagine.”
OK, but that's just one guy's opinion even if he has spent his entire professional life devoted to the study and practice of the relevant medicine. The highly qualified often differ - that's the nature of science. What about Lisa Sasson, New York University's clinical Professor of nutrition.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Sasson told The Guardian. “The claims that are made are preposterous. Atkins was bad – this is 50 times worse. This is probably the worst diet I’ve ever heard and I’ve heard such bad ones.”
Fair enough, but don't you think – oh wait, she's not finished. “To me, it’s amazing anyone would think there’s any merit to something like this. We all know that fruits and vegetables are important. That’s where you get so many of your nutrients: plant-based foods. There’s absolutely nothing here.”
We get it! Not a fan. Christopher Gardner, professor of medicine at Stanford University: speak your say. “Are these T-rex? African lions? Or humans? Assuming [you are referring to] humans, this sounds disastrous on multiple levels”. So we have a mixed response - a little bit of “oh God no” sprinkled with some “are you fucking crazy?”
Nothing in the Peterson family it seems comes without a hellish drama. They make the Brontë sisters looked like a picture of health. Mikhaila blamed the Western medical system for her father’s troubles and she hated those rat bastards calling themselves doctors who “treated” his various “conditions”. In the worldwide smash Covid-19 pandemic, she found the perfect vehicle to take her antiscience philosophy to new heights. In her video of April 16, she said “the government should realistically reopen businesses” and that “the ramifications of closing down entire countries far outweigh the benefits”
So imagine our surprise when the risk-addicted crank diet following Mikhaila and her father Jordan contracted coronavirus. Some say Mikhaila is the family’s Typhoid Mary, having contracted Covid in a Serbian club before visiting her father in hospital. This is of course speculation but that absurd need for theatre is evident once again.
What to make of all this? It is tempting to conclude that Peterson is a classic case of someone educated beyond their intelligence but that doesn’t really help us here. He has always been more nuanced than your common-or-garden anti-feminist and even if you think his position on pronouns is transphobic, you have to concede that it is one widely held and not confined to some demented hate group fringe. Whatever you think of 12 Rules for Life and his tours in the Culture Wars™ they at least came from somebody with a respectable academic background. Hating on him for his opiate addiction is churlish and while that won't stop me, it probably should you.
The beef and water diet though? Fuck outta here, man. He’s seconds away from death, an emotional wreck fantasising about sex with his gran, benzo'd to the gills like a hillbilly and the Cucknivore Diet is to blame. Jordung Peeturdson is a human disgrace doomed to die prematurely like the innocent animals he murders to feed his disgusting habits. What a filthy skunk.