Jordan Peterson on Rules for Life, Psychedelics, The Bible, and Much More (#502)

Illustration via 99designs

It seems to me that the purpose of life is to find a mode of being that is so meaningful that the fact that life is suffering is no longer relevant.

— Jordan Peterson

Jordan B. Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) has taught mythology to lawyers, doctors, and business people, consulted for the UN secretary-general, helped his clinical clients manage depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and schizophrenia, served as an adviser to senior partners of major Canadian law firms, and lectured extensively in North America and Europe.

With his students and colleagues at Harvard and the University of Toronto, Dr. Peterson has published more than one hundred scientific papers, transforming the modern understanding of personality, as his book Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief revolutionized the psychology of religion.

His book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos was published in 2018 and has sold more than 4 million copies internationally. His latest book is Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. Watch on YouTube here.

Brought to you by Wealthfront automated investing, Helix Sleep premium mattresses, and Athletic Greens all-in-one nutritional supplement. More on all three below.

The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#502: Jordan Peterson on Rules for Life, Psychedelics, The Bible, and Much More
Download

This episode is brought to you by Helix SleepHelix was selected as the #1 overall mattress of 2020 by GQ magazine, Wired, Apartment Therapy, and many others. With Helix, there’s a specific mattress to meet each and every body’s unique comfort needs. Just take their quiz—only two minutes to complete—that matches your body type and sleep preferences to the perfect mattress for you. They have a 10-year warranty, and you get to try it out for a hundred nights, risk free. They’ll even pick it up from you if you don’t love it. And now, to my dear listeners, Helix is offering up to 200 dollars off all mattress orders plus two free pillows at HelixSleep.com/Tim.


This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time, “If you could only use one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is usually Athletic Greens, my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body in 2010 and did not get paid to do so. I do my best with nutrient-dense meals, of course, but AG further covers my bases with vitamins, minerals, and whole-food-sourced micronutrients that support gut health and the immune system. 

Right now, Athletic Greens is offering you their Vitamin D Liquid Formula free with your first subscription purchase—a vital nutrient for a strong immune system and strong bones. Visit AthleticGreens.com/Tim to claim this special offer today and receive the free Vitamin D Liquid Formula (and five free travel packs) with your first subscription purchase! That’s up to a one-year supply of Vitamin D as added value when you try their delicious and comprehensive all-in-one daily greens product.


This episode is brought to you by WealthfrontWealthfront pioneered the automated investing movement, sometimes referred to as ‘robo-advising,’ and they currently oversee $20 billion of assets for their clients. It takes about three minutes to sign up, and then Wealthfront will build you a globally diversified portfolio of ETFs based on your risk appetite and manage it for you at an incredibly low cost. 

Smart investing should not feel like a rollercoaster ride. Let the professionals do the work for you. Go to Wealthfront.com/Tim and open a Wealthfront account today, and you’ll get your first $5,000 managed for free, for lifeWealthfront will automate your investments for the long term. Get started today at Wealthfront.com/Tim.


What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…

Do you want to hear an episode with one of Jordan’s more well-known debate partners? Listen to my most recent conversation with Sam Harris, in which we discussed psychedelics, how to cope during the pandemic, taming anxiety, and much more.

#433: Sam Harris on Psychedelics, How to Cope During a Pandemic, Taming Anxiety, and More
Download

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Jordan Peterson:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Personality Assessment | Self-Authoring Suite

SHOW NOTES

  • Who was Sandy Notley, and what role does she play in Jordan’s story? [05:23]
  • Early influential books that have stood the test of time for Jordan, and what listeners can expect to gain by delving into the list of books he recommends at his website. [08:57]
  • On the Nietzschean idea of morality as cowardice, and what we might do to cultivate courage while keeping our more dangerous inclinations in check. [11:37]
  • Drawing a distinction between thinking and paying attention as a way to gain insight during a conversation that may turn adversarial, and why resentment, for all its ugliness, can be a valuable consultant. [16:18]
  • On finding meaning to make life’s suffering irrelevant (or at least non-corrupting), and Jordan’s thoughts about how this perspective informs his conservative leanings. [24:10]
  • What does Jordan feel is the right way to constructively criticize a social institution? [29:30]
  • Jordan weighs in on what he finds fascinating about psychology and the physiology of drug and alcohol use, and what he considers to be the “Pandora’s Box” of seeking religious experiences through psychedelics. [34:43]
  • If the contents of this Pandora’s Box facilitate greater openness, when might this not be a good thing? How does Jordan define openness in this context, and how does it relate to Carl Jung’s warning to “beware of unearned wisdom?” [39:48]
  • In what ways does Jordan believe the world is, as he puts it, “deeply strange?” How did his son once inexplicably illustrate the chaos and order of this strangeness from a child’s perspective? [45:24]
  • Stoned apes, high flies, and the risk of ontological shock faced by people who pursue psychoactive experiences too casually. [51:00]
  • What might the average person in the Western world, religious or not, gain by studying the Bible? [53:57]
  • Jordan believes that ancient stories — as found in the Bible — carry kernels of wisdom that have been stripped of superfluousness over time. When writing a book, how does he try to convey his own messages in a way that will remain intact over time to serve further generations? [59:54]
  • How writing a book can be the meaning an author needs to keep going, and why finishing it can counterintuitively be a source of devastation rather than elation. [1:02:25]
  • What would Jordan recommend to someone seeking meaning if they have reached a high level of competence in a certain area? [1:03:30]
  • Why is Jordan’s new book called Beyond Order? [1:05:23]
  • Beyond sales, what would make Jordan consider Beyond Order a success? [00:00]
  • Parting thoughts. [1:16:48]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 600 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

Leave a Reply

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

66 Replies to “Jordan Peterson on Rules for Life, Psychedelics, The Bible, and Much More (#502)”

  1. Just wondering if you got around to asking Dr. Peterson about his assertions that sexism doesn’t exist – he has called it “an appalling theory.” Or if you had a chance to ask him about his belief that racism does not exist and is essentially a fiction perpetrated by liberals – he has called it a “Marxist lie.” Your guest has also said that the notion of gender identity being subjective is “as bad as claiming that the world is flat.” Also, isn’t this the guy who professed a belief in a strict meat diet on Joe Rogan’s podcast…meaning nothing but meat, salt, and water? I think that eventually sent him to the hospital, yes?

    1. Check out the episode to see if he asked those questions. FWIW I thought it was a thought provoking interview.

    2. Hi Alex. 1) Dr. Peterson has never said sexism or racism do not exist. You’re conflating sexism/racism and “systemic sexism/racism” which are terms with deliberately vague definitions, and yes they are associated with a pseudo-marxism (disparate impact theory, conflict theory, critical race theory, etc). 2) His diet did not in anyway put him in the hospital. He was on a specific drug which he stopped using and there were extremely negative side-effects, none of which were associated with his diet. 3) To believe gender is purely subjective – or socially constructed – and therefore disconnected from biologically, is as a-scientific as flat-earth theories.

      1. Well stated, Michelle. It’s seems indicative of ideological possession for the possessed to use ad hominem criticisms/attacks instead of engaging with the content of the ideas. Misrepresenting Dr. Peterson’s (and others’) positions is often the first play from the playbook – and if it’s in legacy print media, it’s assumed to be accurate, and then regurgitated as “fact”.

    3. Grossly misrepresenting who is is and probably because you are hearing what you want to hear and not listening to the exact words he has said instead. He has never denied sexism or racism. He has argued against the notion that society is predacted against women through a heirarchal patriarchy and to view the battle of the sexes as the domination of one against the other across history is the “appaling theory” and means you are viewing the world through an ideological lens. Same for the notion that society is fundamentally run by institutional racism and white supremacy.

      Finally – he has not recommended his all meat diet to anyone – it was in response to a specific set of auto-immune disorders he and his daughter have suffered from their whole life and after exhausting many other options this finally seemed to help (btw I’m vegeterian so have no bone in the fight to support hsi all meat-diet). The hospital trip was due to severe anxiety to what he believed was his wife’s terminal diagnosis and being prescribed drugs that left him with severe addiction and side effects.

      It is sad how much of what he says is deliberately distorted simply because those who oppose critical thinking, science and reason would rather discredit him then have to seriously contend with the points he makes. I’d suggest taking a break from reading the NYT hit pieces and go listen to his long form interviews on youtube in stead – joe rogan might not be a bad place to start.

    4. Alex, you sound so WOKE you’ve not ever gone to bed. Which leads me to wonder whether in your WOKENESS you are getting enough sleep as clearly Dr Peterson hasn’t said the things you claim he has in those contexts.

    1. Agree. How “smart” can Peterson be if he says Trump is a genius and he can’t experience a smile? Maybe he takes himself too seriously.

    1. Im sure they are working on it. May be if we just wait some days til they can release it … after all it’s free quality content that we are getting for free. But it’s just an idea, I could be wrong! I hope you have a good day.

  2. Can’t tell you how happy waking up to seeing this made me! Cheers from Buenos Aires Tim, hope to see you around here some time 🙂

  3. Thank you for being willing to bring on controversial guests who can challenge listeners. I hadn’t heard about Peterson’s new book, which is the point of doing podcast tours I suppose. I’ll definitely have to check it out.

    Keep pushing boundaries and opening minds, good sirs. 😀

  4. Hi Tim, I’ve been following you for over 10 years and this latest interview with Jordan Peterson is amazing , one of your best ever podcasts in my opinion. You are a great interviewer. Thanks for all you do

  5. Been pestering Tim on twitter for two years to have JP on the show. Feel like a kid on Xmas morning right now.

  6. Brothers, consider the time of your calling: Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were powerful; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly and despised things of the world, and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are,…
    1 Corinthians 1:26-27

  7. I will gladly skip this one. A bit disappointed that he was chosen by Tim. It is one thing to have a controversial guest to truly push boundaries and have a great intellectual discourse (Sam Harris, Eric Weinstein, Steven Pinker, Jonathan Haidt). It is another to have a word-spinning, far-right extremist who legitimizes hate through pretentious psychological gobbledygook.

    1. Your comment seems nonsensical. It serves no purpose to anyone but you. I’m sure that this interview was more than just a lark or fluff piece for Tim. After listening, I am strengthened and lifted in my hope for humanity.

    2. Jordan Peterson has also had great conversations with everyone you mentioned.
      Listen to his lectures or long form podcasts instead of misinforming yourself through hit pieces.
      Also, the far right doesn’t like him either.

  8. Tim, Rosemary Altea is your next go-to. [Moderator: link removed.] if you want answers to big world questions. I work for her and she is top notch. Putting you two togther would be most intersting.

  9. Unsubscribing after 6 years. Jordan Peterson Material should definitely not be spread any further without warning. Would not have expected to find the darling of the alt-right who lulls his target group of lost young men with his anti-feminist visions into buying his books that sell his advice on the base of data from Sweden as universally applicable, who insults his trans students with the argument of free speech and who academics on the one hand consider laughable, on the other one a dangerous charlatan. Disappointed this nonsense gets a platform here.

    1. Janina, you should have a book burning party and host a censoring campaign to “stop the spread” of JP lol

    2. I no longer going to follow Tim’s podcast as well. I try to find the middle ground in most things but someone like JP I can’t find it. So much pedantic stuff to buffer just more of the same old garbage that insults history of women and people of color. I’m out!

  10. Jordan Peterson is one of the most intelligent and thoughtful influencers of our time. He gets mischaracterized much to often, while he has the best intentions of others at mind. What a great interview, I’m sure his new book will be great.

  11. Jordan is such an important mind. His detractors should take some time to listen to what he says rather than listening to what people say he says.

  12. finally! 2 of my favourite people in one conversation! How I missed Jordan Peterson.. and can’t wait to read his new book

  13. An intense interview for sure. JP is a very deep character than is wrestling with many ideas. At times i could sense Tim a bit confused (or even amused) with the level of hostility (not directed at him albeit) from JP.

    I enjoyed it immensely.

  14. Longtime fan, subscriber, listener, and reader. I’m unsubscribing today from your emails and YouTube because I don’t support your choice to give Jordan Peterson access to your platform and audience. Incredibly disappointed, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be part of your audience again someday.

  15. I feel disappointed that you didn’t dig deeper and asked more follow up questions and instead moved on to another unrelated question when Jordan was getting into something maybe beyond what we are used to discussing. I kept pulling my hair during some moments when Jordan started talking about really interesting topics and you didn’t follow up on that.
    Hopefully you’ll have him back and decide to dig deep even though you might not agree with him or understand some of the existential topics he talks about. I really enjoy the podcast otherwise.

  16. Waiting for round 2, this was great! Jordan was challenging and that made it a very engaging podcast that ended too soon. Tim has consistently had varied opinions on this podcast. If you didn’t like it, just listen to the next one.

  17. Tim, man, it has been fun. I’ve not always agreed with you, but I’ve been a true fan. I’ve spent thousands of dollars buying your books, giving them as gifts, supporting your causes, etc. But Jordan Peterson is where I get off the train. He hates too much, and judges too much, and really, looks down on too many people. I’ve read the books and listened to the lectures. I even listened to your podcast. I try to respect differing opinions, and I do my best, but appreciating what this dude has to say is a move towards relativism. He’s not a good man. He’s not helping create a better world. This really bums me out, man. Your podcasts and books have been guiding principles for me. This is disappointing. Thanks for everyting, man, but you lost me here.

  18. This man (JP) is deeply and painfully in touch with reality, and by this I do NOT mean there is one reality, but that he is able to look at reality as it happens, observe it and act. To me it has to do with his willingness to take the shadow into the equation, which is oddly refreshing.

    Tim, you held space for him to go to his core. I myself cried at the end of the conversation. You both came down to earth, while also being in deep reflection.

    I appreciate really much the work you both do in the world.

    For me watching this today has had a hinge of a religious/spiritual experience.

  19. Would love to see you give a platform to more women BIPOC instead of just another interview with an overly confident white man. They already take up enough space in this world.

  20. IMO, Tim demonstrated patience, poise and more insight (than his interviewee) throughout a disappointing interview. I have been wanting to know more about JP due to his new found celebrity status and I thought this blog would be a good start. I found JP pedantic and not particularly profound (though lots of ‘common sense’ that did appeal to me). His self deprecation and false humility were off putting from someone so strident in his opinion. He is clearly articulate but his use of scientific bafflegab to impress his audience, by repeating what seem like well worn, almost rote, but rambling, diatribes didn’t convince this listener. JP’s tendency to interrupt and seeming love of the sound of his own voice were another distraction. Maybe I have to read his books (as opposed to listen to him) to better understand the man and his opinions?

  21. An interesting discussion. So many demons in Peterson; honestly it makes me shudder a bit. It’s more apparent since his recovery (about which I’m very glad for him). Overall, I find JP an oddly compelling nut, and I’m not a fan, but I think there’s value in studying him 1) because far less intelligent and disciplined men use his ideas to justify their bad behavior and it’s helpful to understand the message they are garbling, and 2) he’s clearly pretty smart and knows a thing or too about the human experience, and he”s not afraid to say it (most of the time anyhow,you can see evidence of him holding back in his body language at certain points in the discussion…)

  22. Interesting in that I’ve tried listening to one you tube talk he gave and found it incoherent. I tried listening to this interview and it was all over the place. Not Tim’s questions, but Jordan’s responses. Has to be the worst guest I’ve listened to. And to be honest, I don’t think there has been any other guests that I thought were terrible. Some I wasnt interested in, but this was just bad. FYI – I’m not a cultural warrior. Just found him impossible to listen to.

  23. Although the interview was fine, as a woman and listener to this podcast (and a fan!) I’m left feeling uneasy. JP’s own words on his YouTube channel making jokes about gender… No thanks.

  24. Been wondering why this guy has not been on. Well worth waiting for, and delivered as well as expected, and more. First one i watched right through on youtube. Well worth it, adds something to the experience

  25. As someone else said; I’d heard so much about this guy and read some of his output, and I really liked this interview, but it was a tad underwhelming – JP that is. I appreciate you probably don’t want to lock horns with him but it felt a bit like the pre-match.

    I also appreciate it’s a difficult one as you don’t want to end up dragged into the same old arguments so you don’t prod, but I think a little more prodding would have been good. I agree with some of his points and some I find so ungrounded I can’t even make out their shape. I generally support the concept of talking to these kind of guest (objectionable to large numbers of people) but it may be easier to justify if you poke a little more at their foundations. Otherwise your listeners spend a lot of time pointing at elephants.

    Keep on Keepin on.

  26. Thank you so much for finally having Dr. Peterson on your show. I’ve listened to this podcast twice already. His brilliant brain is absolutely beautiful, and your style of interviewing really let him shine. I greatly respect the way you ran this interview. You could’ve easily become defensive or combative. Instead you listened and allowed yourself to be open to a different opinion. I already was a die-hard fan of yours, but even more so now.

    I knew that this interview would be controversial to some of your fan base, and
    after reading through the comments here, I see I was correct. You lost “listeners” who didn’t listen to the episode and cancelled you for just being associated with someone who doesn’t toe the line. You had to have known that would happen. That was a badass move and I love you for it. Much respect for unapologetically following your curiosity. Keep going! I learn so much from you and look forward to all of the content that work so hard to create.

  27. Hi Tim,
    This podcast helped me. Thank you. I wrestle with temporal lobe epilepsy, which offers regular God experiences, and also rattles me deeply. When Peterson said “ontological shock” it put a word to the lifelong regular destabilizations the seizures have created. It’s something that I’ve never quite been able to define- thank you.

    Also appreciate that you guys talked about who shouldn’t be doing psychedelics. Psychedelics are quickly becoming the pop panacea for all psychological woes, at least among my fellow artists. Nice to hear you acknowledge that they are not necessarily good for everyone.

  28. Thanks, Tim. Excellent interview that provided a view of Peterson that may change minds as to how they view him.

  29. Dr Peterson is clearly very articulate and smart and I enjoyed the interview. However I think there are tons of better people out there to get life and self-help advice from compared to someone who is a controversial psychologist and is or was addicted to benzos but clearly made sure that the interviewer could not ask a question about this topic (having watched almost all of Tim’s shows I know that, if he could, he would have asked). Same goes for his thoughts on psilocybin: he pretends to be an expert but most likely never took the substance so all he knows is what he read, which anyone can do but does not make anyone an expert no matter how smart they are and how many degrees they have. There is much better advice out there for sure.

  30. I love how Dr. Peterson spoke of the two great domins: chaos and order. There is a need to contend with chaos even though too much chaos overwhelms you. it is a world of unknown possibilities. On the other hand, when order is too extreme then it becomes totalitarian and there’s no room for innovation and other great things.