Mehrsa's Reviews > 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson
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did not like it

So there is a lot of wisdom in here about how to live your life: don't blame other people, listen and understand other people's perspectives, be honest even though it's uncomfortable, and don't demonize humanity.

And then all the wisdom goes down the toilet in one particular chapter when he makes a farce of his whole argument. Men are being victimized by liberal academics. Not only does he start blaming everybody and anybody, but he completely mischaracterizes the progressive argument or makes a caricature of it (he had a friend who was liberal and blamed patriarchy for everything and then he killed himself--see? Point proven). He also goes on to demonize anyone pushing for change or gender equality etc. And his proof? Literally, disney movies and the communist revolution gone wrong. But why leave out the revolutions gone right? American? Civil Rights? And why, instead of looking to the little mermaid to draw out wisdom about the true nature of motherhood and women, chalk it up to a crazy sexist script--which it is. Remember how Ariel uses her body language to get the man? I read this book because I was open to hearing from Peterson. I like well-reasoned ideas no matter what their source. And I was ready to hear him and I did most of the way through the book. It was very good--especially his chapters on marriage, parenting, and self-analysis. very good. But then he goes too big and grows quite shrill in his argument. He loses reason to make a point. But I guess controversy creates a best-seller and he knows what he's doing.

The other logical inconsistencies here were that he keeps using the animal kingdom (i.e. crabs and lobsters) to make a point about human nature--specifically on gender and sexuality, but then in his other more lucid arguments, he argues that we need to fight our nature (self-sacrifice and obedience). So why does it make sense for us to tolerate bullies (he says this) and male superiority because duh the animals do it, but not sloth and dominance because we're Godly dammit.

I would recommend that the critical reader who wants to read this book also read the history of misogyny as well as the fall of adam and eve to get some perspective on why these ideas got to where they are. Peterson keeps talking about women being chaos and men being order. He never mentions pandora's box, but he does bring up Eve quite a bit. Those two narratives are relatively recent phenomena instead of fixed laws of the universe. He keeps making these essentialist claims that men aren't as emotional as women (which he undercuts by giving example after example of men losing their shit over nothing) and how women are all about nurture, but humans are much more complicated than this. Read the book for the good, but keep one eye good and open to spot the bullshit.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
February 1, 2018 – Shelved
February 1, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 62 (62 new)


Erin I’m interested in reading this. Carson has been showing me some of his talks on YouTube and I think he’s got some really interested and helpful advice in some areas. I’ll check it out!


message 2: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael Scott Thank you for your honest perspectives. You've reconfirmed my decision to not purchase this book.


Harry Green If you want deeper wisdom Mehrsa I'd suggest some books by Jason Gregory. But you got to be ready for that sort of material.


message 4: by Avdhoot (new)

Avdhoot Have you watched his interview by Cathy Newman? I think he made it pretty clear what he thinks abour gender equality.


message 5: by Tom LA (new)

Tom LA Here is a talk where he goes through each of the 12 points. I enjoyed listening to it and during this 1h 30min talk he doesn't make the logical mistakes you quoted here. I'm not a fan of self-help, but there is something good here ... https://youtu.be/-5RCmu-HuTg. I don't understand where you say that he demonizes anyone pushing for "change" or "gender equality", both terms a bit too vague. Also it would be interesting to know how he mischaracterizes the progressive argument.


Nathan Bas Yet another misinterpretation of Peterson's views.


message 7: by John (last edited Feb 28, 2018 07:15AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Krauze The Progressive Argument you believe in is not the Progressive movement of today. Do your research.


James Shoop I think his point about his friend was that he hated life and humanity, not the patriarchy


Barbra Ann could it be that the patriarchy issue splits apart depending on your gender? The norms and goals might be different for men, women, trans, gay, etc. Each group cannot be totally reconciled with each other --- we have deep separations between us.


Sorin Silaghi I usually look for one star reviews on books because I find them interesting. Much more so than the 5 star ones. In this case I'd just like to say that it's like I've read a different book. And not because I think it's without flaws, because it has plenty of those.


message 11: by Josué A. (last edited Mar 06, 2018 11:08PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Josué A. It's a very naive to assume that his only sources are word of mouth and Disney movies.

Peterson is a trained clinical psychologist. His conclusions come from the knowledge of well established theories, scientific observation and years of experience in his clinical practice.

I'd suggest you read Maps Of Meaning. That should help you understand where all this archetypical jargon comes from and why it is relevant to the subject of interpreting the works of the human psyche.


Bryan Gibbons "Losing their shit over nothing". and you have the nerve to call someone else shrill? lol fantastic


Christian I agree with your 3rd paragraph, but everything else you say is very hypocritical. If you were truly open to his ideas you would politely disagree with what doesn't sit well with you. If one chapter can ruin a whole book, then you obviously weren't as open going in as you thought you were. Cudos to you though for still highlighting what you liked.


Sarah Michaux I completely agree with your review. You describe all the thoughts and critiques I had while reading. I liked some parts of the book and actually learned something. However, there are indeed many logical inconsistencies and as a woman I was deeply offended by some parts (and I think I would also be if I was a man because of the stereotype ideal that is proposed).


Haris Haralabides ffended women that when someone points out factual truths he becomes the enemy ====> therefore we give him one star. You epitomise fairness with that one star you know (and that's irony wrapped as a rhetorical statement).


Anthony This is what results when someone who is already prejudiced against the author reads one chapter and then skims quickly through the book and then goes and writes a review on it.


message 17: by Kiley (new)

Kiley I think this is a solidly balanced review, and I wanted to congratulate you for it since I'm sure you're getting lots of hate in the comments, something I thought goodreads might generally avoid. I also congratulate you on being able to find good parts in the book despite the misogyny and empty rhetoric, something I am less able to do. In my opinion, readers who find no logical flaws here at all have not read critically, whether or not they are inclined in advance to agree with Peterson.


message 18: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Haring Jordan Peterson is a scientist. Scientists come up with many of their theories about human behavior through experimental studies involving members of the animal kingdom.


message 19: by Zlata (new) - added it

Zlata Kulish When reading a great fictional book, one sour chapter won't make that 5 star book turn in to a 1 star one ( and I'm not saying this book is 5 star worthy.) What makes this book any different?


message 20: by Klas (new) - added it

Klas Well I read half the book and I can not do any thing then agree to your comment Mehrsa. In dubt if I will read the whole book know, to much garbage to sort out.
Give me an argument for that, hate to read half books, he!


message 21: by Bob (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bob Profion In other words, OP dislikes the arguments presented in the book because it contradicts her ideology.
God bless America.


Joley Enjoyed your review!


Michelle Klas - I just read the whole book and I recommend that you don't. Rule 11 makes for a particularly ghastly chapter.


message 24: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Grow Thank you for this review. This author is bamboozling young men everywhere.


message 25: by Philip (new) - added it

Philip Mildren you are the ones with your heads in the sand. Almost guarantee your reviews would be entirely reversed if he didn't assault your fragile political values that you desperately hold on to, because you are highly educated but ignore facts and only listen to feelings.


message 26: by Amo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amo Ra Lisch Don't know how what you have just written reflects in a one star review though? you likes some of his ideas and enjoyed even whole chapters, but because you disagree with some of his ideas and views the whole book was ruined for you? I wonder how someone like that goes through studying older books from great authors... 'yes, yes, groundbreaking stuff, but I totally disagree with his view on women and their psychology!! trash book! who wrote this? Ah... and people say he was a genius... I wonder why they teach his stuff at university to this day....'
I feel like these one and five star reviews on this page are pretty meaningless. who really falls in love with a book from front to back? and who, I might argue, hates a book in the same way? I would also argue that some people thing others might read their reviews if it's a one or five star, because you expect what's written in let's say three: I liked some, but some of it wasn't for me.


message 27: by Michelle (last edited May 29, 2018 03:45PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Michelle Amo wrote: "Don't know how what you have just written reflects in a one star review though? you likes some of his ideas and enjoyed even whole chapters, but because you disagree with some of his ideas and view..."

I gave this book a one star review as well. One star is "I didn't like it". I REALLY didn't like this book, but did read it all trying to figure out why it had so many five star reviews. The star system is biased really. Three stars should be "It was ok". Five stars is "It was amazing" and I don't think that the one star is as negative as that is positive.


message 28: by Leo (new)

Leo Zara The thing is, in my perspective, that if you came here to make up your mind through others opinion you should read the book your self. Try reading It and give your opinion for people to take your words in consideration while exploring there reading.

I'm not telling anyone to do anything, just giving my opinion based on the fact that I read some reviews that made me think about not reading it. But the thing is that I just started it so I can see for myself. That seems to be the best option.


message 29: by Colin (new) - added it

Colin Betts How mad are you though


message 30: by Even (new)

Even I'm confused by your review. I don't recall him saying we should tolerate bullies. There's whole sections about standing up to bullies and how not only is good for us as individuals but good for us collectively as a society.

Did you read it? or just watch a video or skim it?


Benjamin Gordon For those who may be persuaded not to read the book because of this review, I'd note some caution:

The criticism came out of one chapter which instantly set to the book to one star? I'm sure Mehrsha would not be happy getting one star on an essay because a professor disliked one point amongst many good ones.

Men are not being victimised by liberal academics, that's not the argument Peterson was making. He was and is critical of liberal academics though for different reasons and you can investigate these reasons through his videos and lectures.

He doesn't mis-characterise the progressive argument. The modern progressive movement is very different to the one Mehrsa seems to be defending. There are vast differences between the Civil Rights movement and the modern far left liberal movement which should be clear to any observer.

His friend did not kill himself because of the patriarchy, that isn't what happened and I do not know where Mehrsa picked that up. Chris was lost in chaos and confusion and self hate, not anger at the patriarchy.

He doesn't demonise anyone, but he is against gender equality if that means equality of outcome although I don't believe this topic was covered very much in the book. He is for equality of opportunity.

The examples made via Disney movies are appropriate as is citing the communist revolution of where liberal theories of the world go horribly, terribly awry. Why wouldn't Peterson use analogies that were appropriate?

The criticism about using lobsters as a basis of analysis of humans is fair but that's been a fair criticism about animal experiments for the longest time. Authors often use arguments based upon experiments on simple creatures such as mice. If Mehrsha is going to use that as a criticism then I hope she never again uses a single argument based upon an animal experiment, nor reads any modern psychology book (including nobel prize winning ones) or she will be seething! Authors utilise animal experiments all the time because they are the closest we can get and a good starting place for further investigation of how they *might* apply to humans.

Calling Peterson shrill - a meaningless ad hominem attack so can be ignored. Doesn't mean anything and seems very mean spirited. I didn't pick up that tone from the book at all.

The narratives about Adam and Eve, order and chaos, have been around for the length of humanity and we are still grappling with them. Just google the carvings and art work of ancient civilisations to understand how long and how deep this goes. To call it a recent argument is preposterous.

I found Mehrsa's review to be fundamentally flawed and I hope other reviewers are not put off by it. I enjoyed the book very much and have my own criticisms too (a 4 out of 5 for me), but I found this review to be highly unfair and did not criticise many of the points in the book itself, instead creating straw men arguments that Peterson never made and then knocking them down.

Please read it yourself and make your own mind up.


message 32: by Samuel Webster (new)

Samuel Webster "this book is half good, half bad. 1 star." ???


Joel Richard The hubris displayed in this review is palpable.


Char Lee  Sea I hate all books! One star for you! And you! Yeah! I'm a bookist!


message 35: by Istvan (new)

Istvan Zoltan Excellent review! Many mistakes clearly laid out and confirm the biases that Peterson tries to present as facts. Thanks for doing this.


message 36: by Barbra (last edited Sep 06, 2018 05:44AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Barbra Ann Have tickets to see JBP in September in Rochester NY . . . . feel that he's basically saying 'It's not a perfect world and we can never make it perfect [through legislation, shaming and other protestation] so we must learn just WHAT we as individuals in our own social situations can do and how to do it. I also think his book on the 'Rules / Chaos' is a somewhat fumbling attempt of an academic to break out of the strict rules of academic publishing and try to relate to a larger audience. FOR THAT I give him credit. Most academics are afraid to get out of the ivory tower.. . . they spend most of their time fighting in the 'Faculty Senate' where it doesn't count.
UPDATE: saw Jordan B last night in Rochester NY at Kodak's Theatre on the Ridge which holds 1,600+ --- filled --- primarily males, it seemed with a big 'techie-reddit' bent, some of which were serious fans who 'got' the coded/insider stuff. Jordan is basically a wild thinker whose on-stage performance is a 'mind at work' -- I actually agreed with everything brought up and appreciated the format. It was worth the high ticket price.


message 37: by Vito (last edited Sep 06, 2018 12:30AM) (new)

Vito Cosentino I was reading to see where you were headed but you lost me instantly when you compared the United States to the revolutions of the 20th century.

A quick reminder that the American revolutionary war was an already formed government fighting a faraway king who had the right to tax it's people. The civil war was two separate governments of the same union fighting over policy and the right to secede from the said union -- both wars ultimately for rights.

The revolutions that happened in China absolutely do not mirror American history in any shape or form. It's quite a long topic and too long to talk about here, but the jist is, they were over ideals.

Another contrasting mention is that southern states were not executed for being confederates and nor were British people for being British.

I wouldn't expect you to know world history but I read something on it just about every day. I recommend before you make connections that you are caught up on the topic first.


This book is of little interest to me as I read the source literature anyways. There is probably nothing for me to learn from it. But I have listened to Jordan Petersons talking points on the news and they clearly seem to be contrasted with his book. I think he makes excellent points based on my points of interest which is history.

Grouping people has been the most disastrous methodology in history. Especially in the 20th century. Look no further than American politics. If you support Donald Trump's wall you are racist, if you support healthcare for all you are a socialist.

Whether you are or not you are you will be victimized for your point of view because you are placed in that group. On the other hand, the United States has something unique, Libertarianism. The individual. That's what you are. That's what Jordan Peterson is saying I believe.


Michelle the comments your review received are so funny! they cheered me right up —something i needed after reading Chapter 11. thanks for posting!


message 39: by Magali (new)

Magali I was interested in that book. Then I read your review and I still was kinda curious, ready to read it while staying on my guard... And then, I've read the comments on your review and I'm definitely not reading that book. Seeing how people that defend it write to someone that did not like it, and the points they use to defend it, it's really really not for me.


message 40: by Obay (new) - added it

Obay Alshaarani Men ARE being victimized by liberal academics.


Drekinn Knight The fact that a grown adult calls The little mermaid sexist is embarrassing.


message 42: by Angela (new)

Angela I have not read the book but was curious given it was a best book of 2018 nominee. He definitely seems to appeal to men based on the comments, while women are more critical, though many find parts of his book helpful. Will check it out though. I think the reviewer is correct - controversy sells.


message 43: by Ramdeep (new) - added it

Ramdeep Romann Thank you for sharing your insightful view. Helps me better approach this book with a more open mind.


Jaime Swindall 😂😂😂


Kevin You have no idea what you're talking about.


Silvia I don't get why people think Peterson's book is against gender equality. It's against gender equivalence, which is a completely different thing. Men are not the same as women, nor should they be. We should have equal rights and responsibilities, but no matter how much people wish it otherwise, biology will always have some effects.


message 47: by Aman (new) - added it

Aman Suyal This review of the book completely missed the point.
Disappointed with such awful misinterpretation


message 48: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom This review completely misses the point. It is very evident the reviewer has a neo-feminist agenda and does not understand that Peterson is an advocate of equality that allows for differences. I am different from a woman. Women are different from men. That is just fact. I do not think Petersen has some dark agenda to put women down.


Sagnik Pls dont take the above comments for granted if u are thinking about reading this book because Mehrsa seems to ignore darwinian evolution completely and hence the contempt for analogies from the animal kingdom .And regarding feminine being seen as chaos ,the author does mention the metaphorical use of it cross culturally and does establish that it is not sexism unless you are a gender studies student .If u are try to read it in your safe space but do read it


Guiduck That's a really small minded and biased review. Implying that the oppessive patriarchy conspiracy isn't real does not make him against gender equality. wisdom from movies and mythology which are directly related to human psyque isn't a bad move. Don't try to reduce all knowledge of generations and +40 years of reading books from a 150+ iq Guy perspective just from resentment and to fill your ego.


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