Withdrawing Projection: Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris

Social media became a virtual battleground for political argument. Because no one is getting hurt physically it became a preferred medium for cyber bullying for the opposing parties. I purposely avoided Twitter because of the intoxicating rants of President Donald Trump and the snowflakes; I also eschewed the political arena on Facebook specially the endless video campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Robert Reich against the capitalists. I do resonate with them but I think that they and the other party should have a dialogue and find a common ground.

The social media tension that I was following then was between Dr. Jordan Peterson and Dr. Sam Harris. Here is a brief wiki about the two notable figures in this topic:

Dr. Sam Harris is an American neuroscientist, best-selling author, philosopher and host of the podcast Waking Up. He describes his job as ‘someone who thinks in public’ and has established a reputation as one of the leading lights in both New Atheism and secular spirituality.

Dr. Jordan B. Peterson is a Canadian professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, a clinical psychologist and the author of the multi-million copy bestseller 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, #1 for nonfiction in 2018. His popularity rise because of the public university lectures he posted on YouTube including the most recent 15-part biblical series.

For me, this is like a low-resolution version of Freud vs. Jung in the 21st century and social media as a platform utilized specially by university students who took sides based on their personal bias. Sharp explains that we are naturally inclined to believe that the world is as we see it, that people are who we imagine them to be. However, we soon learn that this is not so, because other people frequently turn out to be completely different from the way we thought they were (1998, p. 59).

maxresdefaultIn August 2018, Bret Weinstein moderated the debate between Peterson and Harris, he said that the purpose of this debate is “To try out positions that we have not try out before in hopes that we can get somewhere new.” The audiences attending from both camps agreed in unison. Harris said that his motive to help stage this event is born out of seeing JBP’s conversation to people other than himself. In his words, “I have so much admiration for him in those podcast, 90% of what he said in those conversations struck me as really wise, useful and well intended and 10% didn’t. Seeing this successful conversations with other people whom I respect, I began to wonder I might be the problem”. Peterson responded that he laid out some positions Sam and him agree because there were many of them and to figure out what he disagree on to hash it out with him and move forward. Jordan acknowledges Carl Rogers’ approach that one of the good ways to have discussion is to “tell them what you think they think, until what you think reflects what they said”. I think that citizens of the world can learn from this example of taking back projections and integrating the material. Jung said it well:

“Only through an intimate knowledge of my own complexes and predispositions can I know where I end and the other begins.”


Works Cited


Sharp, D. (1998). Jungian psychology unplugged: My life as an elephant. Toronto, Canada: Inner City Books. (pp. 59-62; 4 pages)

Varner, Vicky. “Module 8: Projection”. The University of Philosophical Research. 2018. 

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