I'm a big fan of Peterson for a lot of reasons, and I think most people are predisposed to dislike or distrust him because he is not political, but is in fact scientific. The person he is most like is the Berkeley physics prof Richard A Muller who became famous by talking about the physical science that any American President should know. I also find his independence very much like that of Dick Feynman. He is, as he says, surfing the 100 foot wave, and I expect that in the short term he will remain unsponsored and thus gangbanged by big media. I find his sense of integrity absolutely extraordinary.
What Petersen cannot do is stop all sorts of partisans from excerpting 10 minute sections of his lectures and headlining them like the NY Post. What very few people have done is read his books or find actual flaws in his methodology.
I find it interesting, most of all, that he is the kind of intellectual who talks about great literature, and seeks to connect dots within the tradition of Western culture.
And I also admire that he takes a long view - as such he is perfectly willing to say 'we don't know'. I found that particularly interesting when he talks about women in the white collar workplace and what is actually acceptable. It was really hilarious when he matter of factly said that women wearing makeup is sexually provocative, from a dispassionate scientific point of view. So where should a business draw the line when it comes to fraternization given such facts? He doesn't know, so he doesn't say.
He has harsh words for Progressives that mirror my own and he absolutely destroys the methodology of Peggy McIntosh, the inventor of 'white privilege' without calling her out by name. He deals very frankly with personality and gives a breath of fresh air for people who are like me, sick and tired of hearing about race, gender and sexual preference as if all discrimination on the planet were determined by these attributes.
There's no question in my mind that he is genuine and not cynical. He is emotionally authentic and it shows. It makes him so very different from all of the talking heads, because in the end, he wants to be helpful more than he wants to show off his intellect. But he really throws the hammer down when it comes to being serious about what is good peer-reviewed academic work with rigorous methodology and what is not. This is, I think, more than anything what gets under the skin of university types. And I think he is genuniely impressed about his ability to reach hundreds of thousands more people through social media than he did as a university lecturer and thesis advisor.
I first encountered Peterson on Joe Rogan's video podcast over the Evergreen State College fiasco. Liked him immediately and found him more interesting than the guy it happened to.
I've seen that Christian apologists have a tough time with him because he is not devout although he takes very seriously the evolution of thought from religious and classic knowledge. IE Peterson recognizes how one invents religion in the self-discovery of pre-literate and pre-scientific societies. But ti's going to be a slog to get through that book - I understand the gist.
The thing that I appreciate most about Peterson.. well I don't know quite yet. He's surprisingly good all over the place. But the most novel idea that he has armed me with is the context of evolution on human behavior with an understanding that it is millions of years old. Human beings are not so presciently self-conscious and capable of maintaining abstract thought as they are in actually experiencing being. Or to put it my way, our intellectual muscle memory is much stronger than our conceptual capacity. There are things we have evolved to understand that are out of touch with things we expect to be conventional wisdom, and a lot of that has to do with the power of sexual selection among other things. In a funny way, he also reminds me of Penn Gilette. He's giving away secrets of the science of psychology by plain speaking it all. The dude is super transparent.
So of course this evolutionary weight puts him at odds with cultural Marxist who wish to go all materialist and erase history and religious tradition, and in this he's perfectly aligned with Stephen Pinker on that whole blank slate controversy. But since Peterson, unlike Pinker, is not satisfied with a statistical accounting of history, Peterson gives a lot more consideration to great authors, especially Neitszche, Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn. So in his attacks on Progressives and social Marxists, he illustrates the totalitarian component from the psychological perspective. IE, what kind of personality defect gives rise to the compulsion to change other people's behavior rather than to fix oneself? So of course he comes down hard on political correctness, the Socialist Left and SJWs.