Boris Smus

interaction engineering

12 Rules for Life

One of my rules for life is: listicles are always clickbait, even in book form. There is a balance to be found between order and chaos. These rules are Petersons take on where that balance should be. I come at this with a dislike for Peterson. I first heard him on a Sam Harris podcast and he came off as a deliberate obscutantist. Also, the pronouns debate seems like a foolish hill to die on. But when I. told me that he respected Peterson's ideas, I decided to give the book ago. Spoiler alert: I got through about a third.

Tidbits I found interesting:

  • Classical music is a good illustration of fat head distributions / Matthew's law / Price's law / Zipf's law. There are not many prominent composers and few of their pieces are performed on a regular basis.
  • The Yin-yang symbol is actually about chaos and order, masculinity and femininity.

Most of Peterson's book is super annoying. Why the emphasis on the dominance hierarchy? Sure it exists but is it the most fundamental thing about human existence? After they're also other aspects to life that may be more important? Peterson's is a classic zero sum framing of life, explicitly so in some places. Petersons take on the snake as a primordial enemy that coevolved with humans is a classic just so story. He ties it into Mary and Christ too, for good measure. It's not credible, but his ability to spin a story is impressive.

Peterson seems to be writing for an audience of very low self-esteem men. This is a recipe book for escaping this rut, at worst by becoming a narcissistic psychopath. By rule four, I'd had my fill and decided to cut my losses.