12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson | Lessons & Book Review

Title: 12 Rules for Life

Author: Jordan Peterson

Category: Non-fiction, Self-help

Rating: 2/5

10-word summary: Everything is about order and chaos; here are some rules.

About 12 Rules for Life

This book of rules is meant to help people live better lives. Peterson, who is a psychologist, believes that we live in a world of chaos and order and that we can bring order into our lives. In this book, he combines personal advice and opinions, science-based information and ideas from mythology and the Christian religion.

Although the idea of the book seems very promising, I was extremely disappointed with it. There are so many things that are questionable, wrong or outrageous that I wonder how so many people miss them and praise this book.

A few disclaimers

I was skeptical

First of all, as always, I want to be 100% transparent in my reviews. So I want to say that I was a bit skeptical about Peterson’s book and ideas even before reading it. I am often skeptical of books that become multi-million bestsellers and the people who all of a sudden rise to fame as some sort of “gurus” that tell people how to live. I have a dose of skepticism and I won’t deny that.

However, I was curious about this book and I wanted to see why so many people praise it. I wanted to give this book a chance. Even if I sometimes have some prejudices or preconceived ideas, I am willing to give a book or a person a chance to prove me wrong – but this wasn’t the case.

To be totally honest, I am shocked that this book was published in its current form – let alone become a bestseller. If you read the full review, you will see why I say this.

I know that this book had a positive impact on many people

I know that many people love Jordan Peterson and look up to him for guidance. I also know that many people say that Peterson’s book and lectures changed their lives for the better – I can understand that. I am glad to hear that many people were inspired to improve.

However, I think this doesn’t prove much when it comes to his book. Many people are changed by mediocre books with little substance that also have some good ideas. The effect a book has on people often doesn’t say much about its quality or the accuracy of its contents.

Also the fact that I criticize this book says nothing about your own experience. Your experience is your own – even if the information that sparked it may be questioned. My review is not meant to take away from your experience.

I am only discussing the book 12 Rules for Life

When I previously criticized this book on social media, a few people had something to say: that I would understand Peterson better if I would watch some of his videos. While I understand this point, I think this does not make the book look better – it does the opposite.

If I need to watch hours of YouTube videos to be able to understand what Peterson meant in his book, this means he did a poor job at writing it. Maybe he has great ideas – but if they don’t make much sense in this context, then he definitely failed at sharing those great ideas.

This review is about the book 12 Rules for Life only. I will only write about what Peterson wrote in his book and what I think about that. I do not care whether he elaborated on or explained something better in a video or in an article because this shouldn’t matter when I pick up his book. No reader should have to do extra work or turn into a fan just to appreciate a book that is meant for the general public – especially when we are not talking about a book that requires technical/specialized knowledge.

Feel free to disagree if you do this

If you disagree with any of my views, feel free to contradict me. But please explain your reasoning and provide proof for what you say. I plan to do the same with this review to the best of my abilities.

Lessons from 12 Rules for Life

The 12 Rules for Life are:

1. Stand up straight with your shoulders back

2. Treat yourself life someone you are responsible for helping

3. Make friends with people who want the best for you

4. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today

5. Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them

6. Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world

7. Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)

8. Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie

9. Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t

10. Be precise in your speech

11. Do not bother children when they are skateboarding

12. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

Try to make small improvements in your life every day. Ask yourself: what can I do today?

It’s important to be precise when you speak and when you think. Clearly defining a problem is very important.

Couples should be honest and openly discuss their problems – even if it makes them temporarily miserable.

Parents often do not want to discipline their children, but they present their failure at parenting by claiming they want to provide their children with more freedom.

If you don’t define what success means to you, you won’t know when you are failing.

You need to make sacrifices in the present if you want your life to be better in the future.

What I like about 12 Rules for Life

1. Peterson’s motivation seems sincere

In the introduction of the book, we learn that Peterson was very shocked by how much harm people can do in the name of certain beliefs – as they have done in the 20th century. He was so shocked and appalled by the failures of people that he wanted to understand how this was possible and what we can do to ensure such atrocities will never happen again.

Of course, I can only admire his noble intentions. I imagine the shock and grief that he must have felt while learning more about humanity’s past failures. And I really admire him for trying to understand the human brain and to do something to make the world a better place.

2. The book does include some good ideas

Even though I disliked this book, I have to say that Peterson did include some great ideas in it. Sadly, there were quite few, but they are still valuable and they could be life-changing for some people.

3. I love the book cover

I don’t think I’ve ever said this about a book before, but I really like the nice, clean cover of this book. Non-fiction books often have plain or boring covers, but this one is simple, yet classy.

What I don’t like about 12 Rules for Life

1. The foreword is a long, useless praise written by a friend of Peterson’s

I know that some authors ask other authors, acquaintances or friends to write an introduction for their books. I usually don’t like those introductions, but I don’t have a problem with them.

But this foreword was too much for me. Norman Doidge uses up more than 15 pages to praise Peterson. He tells us about how he met Peterson, how he seemed a very intelligent person, how they had dinners where they would discuss interesting topics and so on. And while this could be fascinating for a die-hard fan of Peterson’s, I think it’s probably a waste of time for most people.

Even though this foreword was probably meant to establish Peterson as a great figure to learn from or someone to look up to, it had the opposite effect on me. This seemed like a sad attempt to impress people in a pathetic way.

Just imagine: if I write a book and I ask my boyfriend or my best friend to write about how amazing I am, would you be impressed? Or would you find me pathetic because I needed someone so close to me and so biased to praise me and make me seem cooler or more educated than I am?

And what made it even worse was the introduction written by Peterson himself where he also seemed quite desperate to assert himself as an authority. He shared how many people viewed one of his answers on Quora which was a list of principles like the ones in the book. He told us how many YouTube views he had and how he got this book deal after a TV appearance.

Again, a Peterson die-hard fan will probably love this. To me, it only seemed like a pathetic attempt to establish his authority or intelligence or…who knows what? While getting many views on any social media platform is still impressive, let’s keep in mind that thousands of people are very popular online – even if they talk about lipsticks or share their travel itinerary. Views don’t prove you are educated or fit to tell people how to live.

I would have disliked the book less if the foreword and overture would be left out. Apart from the glimpse into Peterson’s motivation, there is little interesting or useful information in those 20+ pages of a book that is too long anyway.

2. Peterson rambles a lot in this book!

I know that many authors include stories in their books to make them easier to read and understand. But this book often included stories or ideas that seemed to be only partly related to the topic – or sometimes even unrelated to the topic altogether.

This book has 12 chapters – each one addressing a rule for life. But here’s the thing: in every chapter, Peterson needs about 20 pages of rambling before he truly addresses the rule of that chapter. Then he spends 2-3 pages discussing the rule itself and then he moves on to the next chapter. And then he starts rambling again!

Let me give you a few examples to make this clear:

Chapter 1 is about Rule 1: Stand up straight with your shoulders back. What do you think Peterson talks about for most of this chapter? Let me tell you: lobsters. That’s right – he talks about lobsters and how they have a social hierarchy that affects how they feel. You could say that this is connected to the rule because there is a connection between your posture, your social hierarchy and how you feel. That’s true, but Peterson barely makes this connection.

And if you want to prove the connection between posture and self-confidence or positive emotion, why not talk about monkeys? We have much more in common with monkeys than with lobsters, such as: we are mammals, vertebrate creatures, we can stand on two legs, we live in communities and so much more. It would be much more logical to draw a similarity between the posture of monkeys and the way this affects their brain chemistry and emotions than to talk about lobsters. Also, he only talks about why posture is important in the last 2-3 pages of the chapter.

If you read this book, you will see that almost every rule is explored by talking about a topic that is usually remotely related or unrelated to the actual rule. Here are more examples:

Rule 2 is: Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping. What does he talk about? He focuses on the idea that everything  in the Universe is order and chaos. Then he talks about the garden of Eden and how Eve was tempted by the snake to eat from the forbidden fruit.

Rule 6 is: Set your house in order before you criticize the world. Here it would have made sense to talk about something like the fact that a messy home can make you feel more stressed or that the confidence you get from keeping your home in order will give you the confidence to achieve bigger and bigger goals.

But do you know what he actually talked about? Mass murderers from the US. That’s right. He talked about the people who shot and killed innocent people in cold blood. Because that’s what we normally think about when we think about cleaning up our homes. I don’t know…maybe I’m just missing the logical and obvious connection between cleaning your home and going on a killing spree.

3. This book combines psychology, religion, mythology and his personal views; but he treats them all as equally true and equally relevant

I know that many books include different types of information: personal stories, scientific research and opinions. But I think that in most books, you can tell the difference between them. Or you know that personal opinions are to be trusted less than current consensus between researchers and the results of scientific research.

However, while reading this book I felt that Peterson views all sources of information as equal. The Bible is just as true as the information about the hierarchy of lobsters. And he often expresses his personal views with such conviction as if they were as obvious as the fact that the Earth is a sphere. And he does this even when he provides no logical arguments and no reliable resources as proof that his opinions can be trusted.

To be honest, I was very confused and disappointed by Peterson for this. If you want to appoint yourself as an intellectual, a psychologist who is educated enough to tell people how they are supposed to live, you cannot be so messy in your thinking and writing.

After reading this book, I realized that I have no idea what Peterson believes because his writing is so messy and unclear. Is he religious? Does he really think that the Bible is true? Does he really think the whole world is about chaos and order? Does he really think that violence is alright, that truth is personal, that men never oppressed women in any way and that the people who are environmentally-conscious will end up hating humanity and killing innocent people? Even though he talked about all these things, I cannot tell what he really thinks.

The fact that Peterson did not make a clear distinction between facts, his personal views (that could be right or wrong) and mythology makes him seem either dishonest or extremely confused. Either he wants us to believe everything in his book or he cannot tell the difference between the accuracy and believability of the information in his book.

Because of this, I was on guard all the time while reading this book – something that doesn’t happen to me with other non-fiction books (at least not to this extent). It’s alright to question and analyze what you read. But if everything in the book seems questionable because the author doesn’t seem trustworthy and precise enough in his thoughts and writing, then there’s a problem.

4. His idea of chaos and order becomes a lens through which he interprets everything in the world

Peterson seems to believe that everything in the world can be interpreted as chaos or order. Since the Taoist symbol represents the yin and the yang, he believes this duality can represent everything in the world. According to him, order represents masculinity, hierarchy, judgment and punishment, the political culture, the corporate environment and the system. And he claims that chaos represents femininity, the unknown, the source, the mother, possibility, birth, accidents.

Peterson talks about chaos and order as if the world really is affected and controlled by these two forces only. Throughout the book, he repeatedly gets back to it and tries to interpret many things through this limited perspective. For example, when he talks about flow – the state you experience when immersed into an activity that is challenging and requires you to make use of your skills – he doesn’t call it flow. He says is it what you experience on the “border between order and chaos”. You would think that a psychologist can name the state of flow correctly, wouldn’t you?

While I understand that the belief systems of other cultures can seem interesting and appealing, I cannot understand why Peterson feels the need to talk about them and treat them as he does. Why does he seem to believe that these 2 elements of order and chaos are really the forces that control the world? Why does he want to look at almost everything through this limited perspective and treat it as true?

I understand that it is very appealing to want to simplify the world as much as possible. The simpler your view of the world, the less you need to think. This also ensure you won’t have to deal with cognitive dissonance and you won’t need to reassess the way you view the world.

But you can do this with almost anything that is general and vague enough. You can say that the world is all about light and dark; love and hate; patience and speed; life and death; growth and decay. Pick any one of these two antithetical terms and, if you generalize enough, you can reinterpret the world through those 2 forces – or any other opposing forces.

That’s exactly what Peterson seemed to be doing – he adopted this limited view of the world through which he can interpret everything! It’s an easy system, but it’s also terribly flawed and limited – not to mention that it has no basis or explanation.

And to make matters worse, Peterson himself complained that there are people who are “ideologues” and who see the world through their own limited view of the world – even though he is just as guilty of having done this in his book. Here are his own words:

“This kind of simplification and falsification is particularly typical of ideologues. They adopt a single axiom: government is bad, immigration is bad, capitalism is bad, patriarchy is bad. Then they filter and screen their experiences and insist ever more narrowly that everything can be explained by that axiom. They believe, narcissistically, underneath all that bad theory, that the world could be put right, if only they held the controls.”

I am very impressed with Peterson’s ability to describe this error in judgement while also avoiding to realize and acknowledge that he is guilty of that as well. It’s quite impressive!

5. His flow of ideas is often random and it seems that his thinking is very random, fuzzy or incorrect

Let me make this clear: Peterson seems to be a very educated person. I wouldn’t question that. But despite his education, he seems to be a terrible thinker – especially for someone who studied psychology!

12 Rules for Life is the only book that made me feel puzzled by what I’m reading so much that it was frustrating to read it. I found myself reading and reading until I asked myself “How the hell did he get there? What was he even talking about? And what was he supposed to talk about???”

If you don’t know me and if you loved Peterson’s book, I know you’ll be tempted to blame me. But I’ve never had this problem with all the nonfiction books I’ve read over the years, so I’m 99% sure it is not my fault. (If you’re curious what other books I’ve read, just check the reviews on this blog or my Instagram account).

The problem is that Peterson seems to make some connections between ideas that make no sense. He jumps to conclusions and generalizes in ways that are quite ridiculous. I’ll give you just a few examples, but there are plenty!

Our extended sense of self is what makes us save our children from harm and connect with characters in movies

Peterson talks about how our limits extend to include other things – like the car we drive as if we become one with it. He also goes on to state that we extend our boundaries of ourselves to include other people such as our children or parents. He thinks this is why a mother may sacrifice herself to save her child.

It’s not because we have an innate instinct to protect the people who share our genes to ensure the survival of our genes – something that even animals who have no sense of self do. No, it’s because when we think of ourselves, we also include our children.

But it doesn’t stop here. He goes on to say that this is also why we can relate to what happens to the characters in a movie – because our sense of self extents to include them too.

Again, there are much more plausible explanations for this, such as the mirror neurons in our brain and our ability to be empathetic. But apparently, this isn’t a good enough reason for Peterson – it’s actually about our extended sense of self!

And again, I cannot understand how he made the connection that all these things – driving a car, saving your child from danger and relating to the experience of a character in a movie – are all explained away by his theory that our sense of self extends to include all these.

Of course, this is a much more simple explanation, but definitely not an accurate one. It’s just like explaining that people do bad things because they are possessed by demons – that’s why they drink, lie, rape, beat their children or kill other people. It’s all because of some demon. That makes sense, right?

I’ll share just one more example of his very questionable flow of ideas – but the book has more of them!

Environmental concern will lead to suicide

Peterson says that he was in the audience when a professor gave a TED talk. That professor was worried about the effect people have on the environment and he said that he decided to have only one child because of this. But to Peterson, this was a sign that this professor is “anti-human” and he is “animated” by the same spirit that lead Chris, a friend of Peterson’s, to take his own life.

If you listened to a professor talk about environmental destruction and his decision to have only one child to limit his family’s impact on the planet, would you immediately think that this man is anti-human and that his path is likely to lead him to suicide? And do you think it’s normal for Peterson to assume this based on what happened to one of his friends, who was not only worried about the planet, but had a very troubled life filled with failures?

He assumed this professor is like his friend with such ease that I find it very troubling. It’s quite hard to think that he is such an educated person who supposedly understands how the human brain works, yet he cannot acknowledge that the speech a person makes in 20 minutes is not enough to judge that person. Not to mention that these two people might be totally different from many points of view. Just because they share one belief, this doesn’t mean they will have the same fate as that one friend of Peterson’s. Anyway, I was just shocked by the ridiculousness of his train of thought.

6. Some of his ideas are strange, illogical and downright ridiculous

12 Rules for Life has such an abundance of strange and ridiculous ideas that we could write short books explaining and debating them! Sadly, I can only share a few here because this article is already too long, but believe me, there is no shortage of phrases that will make you roll your eyes. (I say this assuming that you can critically analyze his claims and spot inconsistencies by relying on logic and your cultural background.)

Why we all hate ourselves

Did you know that you hate yourself (as we all do) because you are a descendant of Adam who failed God when he ate from the forbidden fruit? No? Well, that’s what Peterson believes!

And he also thinks that people love their pets much more than they love themselves because apparently people are more likely to ensure they give the necessary treatment to their pets, but when needed, they fail to take their own treatment themselves.

“And so we return to our original query: Why would someone buy prescription medication for his dog, and then so carefully administer it, when he would not do the same for himself? Now you have the answer, derived from one of the most foundational texts of mankind. Why should anyone take care of anything as naked, ugly, ashamed, frightened, worthless, cowardly, resentful, defensive and accusatory as a descendant of Adam? Even if that thing, that being, is himself? And I do not mean at all to exclude women with this paraphrasing.”

Truth is personal

Peterson believes that we do not decide what is true by consensus or by looking for proof. We decide what is true. While this is ridiculous, it does help us understand why he thinks he can make so many ridiculous claims and get away with them. Whenever he says something that is wrong or stupid, he can just claim “It is my personal truth.” You know, just like Trump’s administration came up with the idea of “alternative facts”.

Here are Peterson’s own words about truth:

“Truth will not come in the guise of opinions shared by others, as the truth is neither a collection of slogans nor an ideology. It will instead be personal. Your truth is something only you can tell, based as it is on the unique circumstances of your life.”

In other words, the people who claim that the Earth is flat are simply sharing their own personal truth and we should accept that. So by this logic, anybody can claim anything and get away with it as it is their “personal truth”. Do you think that the Earth is actually shaped like a star? Do you think you are an alien? Are you a reincarnated Jesus? Do you believe that we all live several lifetimes? Do you think you have a soul? Or more than one soul? Do you think you attract whatever you want just by thinking about it? Go right ahead! You can believe whatever you want because nobody decides what is true – only you.

Well, the claim that nobody else can establish what is true and that only you can tell what is real or true is ridiculous. And I may expect this from an uneducated person or a religious zealot who refuses to accept science as a source of truth. But I cannot accept that Peterson, a psychologist who presents himself as an intellectual, a person who can educate people and tell them how to live doesn’t even understand a concept as basic as “truth”. A person who writes his own version of reality and of the world should never be allowed to teach others because he only encourages ignorance which is always – at least partially responsible – for the problems of the world.

Oh, and in case you don’t know, truth also acts as some magic stuff.

“Truth feeds and clothes the poor, and makes nations wealthy and safe.” I don’t really understand how the truth can do that, but maybe I’m not enlightened enough. After all, what do I know? I think that the truth is established by scientific proof and consensus…

There are so many more illogical and ridiculous claims in this book. I will only mention some – without discussing them at length here:

Rationality is too narrow to understand faith and religion

“You might start by not thinking – or, more accurately, but less trenchantly, by refusing to subjugate your faith to your current rationality, and its narrowness of view. This doesn’t mean ‘make yourself stupid’. It means the opposite. It means instead that you must quit maneuvering and calculating and conniving and scheming and informing and demanding and avoiding and ignoring and punishing. It means you must place your old strategies aside. It means, instead, that you must pay attention, as you may never have paid attention before.”

So you should stop thinking, but this will somehow not make you stupid, but smarter. And you should pay attention – but without thinking or relying on your rationality. Because there is some other magical faculty that helps you understand yourself and the word when rationality fails. I wonder what that faculty is and how is magically works…

Facts are dead, ideas are alive

“Now, an idea is not the same thing as a fact. A fact is something that is dead, in and of itself. It has no consciousness, no will to power, no motivation, no action. There are billions of dead facts. But an idea that grips a person is alive. An idea has an aim. It wants something. It posits a value structure. An idea believes that what it is aiming for is better than what it has now. It reduces the world to those things that aid or impede its realization, and it reduces everything else to irrelevance.”

Wow! I never though a psychologist would ever write something like this. I expect this kind of mumbo-jumbo, new-age crap from a person who writes a book about the law of attraction. But to find this in a book written a self-proclaimed intellectual and psychologist is very disappointing.

7. He contradicts himself in his book

Peterson contradicts himself a few times in his book. Luckily, this does not happen a lot – but it still makes me question his logic and beliefs.

In chapter 1, Peterson talks about lobsters and how they have social hierarchies – even though lobsters are obviously less evolved than other creatures and have been around for a very long time. He talks about this to prove that social hierarchies are very old in evolutionary terms and they can affect our brain chemistry and, consequently, our behaviour.

Because he makes it clear that social structures are old and common in the animal world, it seems very strange that rule 4 is “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today”. The rule itself makes sense because comparing yourself to others will make you miserable.

But how can you not compare yourself to others if – according to Peterson himself – social hierarchies have existed for millions of years and even lobsters – who are obviously inferior compared to more complex creatures like mammals and humans – have a system that allows them to assess their position in the hierarchy? If this ability to compare ourselves to others is so old and so common, how are we just supposed to ignore it? And, if nature thought it was so important that it embedded it into so many different creatures, should we ignore it?

I found it strange that Peterson wrote about these contradictory topics and he never found it necessary to even hint at this contradiction. He did not acknowledge that comparison is a natural instinct imbedded into our DNA. It seems that by the time he got to write chapter 4, he completely forgot about the lobsters he rambled on about in chapter 1.

There are a few other instances where he makes claims that contradict something he previously stated. To me, this only proves that you should be very skeptic of what Peterson says.

8. The book is unnecessarily long

As I said before, Peterson rambles a lot in this book. Even though the book is supposed to be about his 12 Rules for Life, he spends more time talking about other topics than explaining his rules. If they would delete all the parts that are not necessary or related to the rules, I think the book would be only 40% of its length – and this would also improve its quality.

I think the book should be called 12 Rules for Life and 79 other unrelated topics.

9. He seems very arrogant

The fact that he wrote a book called “12 Rules for Life” that is meant to tell people how to live is already a possible (but not certain) sign of arrogance. I think that some people may truly have the experience and wisdom to write such a book and do a good job at it.

However, Peterson’s arrogance comes across in other ways too. For example, he often makes claims that are personal opinions expressed as unquestionable truth – even when his claims really should be questioned. He does this even when we provides no logical explanation for his reasoning and no resource to prove the validity of his claims. This seems to be a proof that he believes he is always right and we should all just believe him.

10. Even though he is a psychologist, he talks much more about religion (just Christianity)

You would think that a psychologist will write a book that relies mainly on facts and the results of scientific research. Or at least, that’s what I think. But sadly, this wasn’t the case. Peterson spends much more time talking about the Bible and God than about any topic related to psychology. Judging by this, you’d be forgiven if you assume he is a priest, and not a teacher or a psychologist.

11. Peterson is desperate to make sense of a complex world by simplifying it as much as possible; obviously, this leads to flawed and ridiculous perspectives

After reading the entire book, thinking about it and talking about it, I have come to believe that this is probably the main problem with this book – and Peterson’s flaw. In this book, he wants to provide clear rules that help us live better lives. But in order to do that, he tries to make sense of the world in a way that is oversimplistic, limited and…flawed.

Of course, this is definitely an incredibly big task. I think few people in the world have the ability to do this. It’s definitely a big challenge to attempt to understand human nature, our history and our complicated world and come up with rules that apply to such complex creatures. It’s a big task and it requires education (which he definitely has), self-awareness and accurate thinking (which he seems to lack or need more of) and more.

If you want to see how people can make sense of our complex world and explain it clearly in an accurate and clear way, just read the books of Yuval Noah Hari. He is great at synthesizing complex concepts without making such ridiculous claims and errors in judgment as Peterson does. Douglas Rushkoff is another author that talks about many complicated topics in clear, logical ways.

I think it is tempting to explain everything away in simple ideas (such as order and chaos), but as I said, I think this is wrong and dangerous.

Quotes from 12 Rules for Life

A few of the quotes that I liked

“Emotion is partly bodily expression, and can be amplified (or dampened) by that expression.”

“Question for parents: do you want to make your children safe, or strong?”

“Only man will inflict suffering for the sake of suffering. That is the best definition of evil I have been able to formulate.”

“You have to articulate your own principles, so that you can defend yourself against others’ taking inappropriate advantage of you, and so that you can trust and motivate yourself.”

Should You Read 12 Rules for Life?

No. Don’t read this book! 12 Rules for Life is one of the worst books I have read – despite its promising topic. This book has so many unnecessary, illogical and ridiculous claims that I really think it’s not worth your time.

I also want to add this: if you rarely read any books, you might think this is pretty good. And I think that is quite dangerous – given the information in this book. If you rarely read and you aren’t used to question what you read and judge the accuracy of a book, it’s easy to be persuaded even by bad arguments and illogical ideas.

But if you read a lot and are used to spotting inconsistencies and wrong information, perhaps you may want to read this book as an exercise in critical thinking. That’s mainly what I ended up doing, but it was very frustrating to read such a bad book. Also, I still cannot believe millions of people bought this book and most of them loved it.

However, if you are really curious about the book, then read it. Read it to have your own experience and see what you think about it. At least now you know what kind of book it is and what’s in store!

6 thoughts on “12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson | Lessons & Book Review”

  1. I totally agree with this review – I read the book because I wanted to make my own mind up about it and see what his writing was really like. I was absolutely floored by the rambling, contradictions and even the name-calling he uses against people in the book. Very astute point about his placing his own opinions on the same level as the bible or mythologies, that is exactly what it was like. Thank you for taking the time t write such a thorough review.

    1. First of all, thank you for reading it. This article is so long because I wanted to give examples and really explain my view – but I was worried nobody would read it, to be honest.

      I’m glad you found it useful. And I’m happy there are people like you who noticed some of the problems of the book. I thought that everybody loved it and praised Peterson. I’m glad to hear this isn’t the case.

  2. First of all thanks for taking the time and writing this long review.
    I started listening to 12 rules of Life as an audiobook and I stopped somewhere in chapter 2 coz he really annoyed me when he started talking about the story of creation as it’s a fact, I was shocked because I expected a book based on science, not on religious ideas.
    Despite that, I felt guilty for not finishing the book and I started blaming myself for not being able to read about ideas that contradict my belief system! So I would love to say thank you again for saving my time hhh I would never come back to it!
    And to be fair, for you the stranger who made it here :
    Personally, I discovered JP through his lecture on the 5 personality traits ( OCEAN ). I do like his teaching methods coz it makes the class more curious about the subject.
    I appreciate the knowledge he has and I learned a lot from his lecture and from the podcast and I highly recommend his lecture about personality, it helped me understand myself better BUT I totally support this review, it makes total sense to me!
    I had my doubt about JP before reading this, once he was asked about his religious beliefs he kinda run away from the question ( I felt like he didn’t want to lose his audience coz most of them are probably religious and it seems like it reasonable to me coz if he claims that he is not he won’t be heard anymore by too many people OR I may be overthinking it and he’s just someone who studied human brain, philosophy and the greatest mind in history and still believes in the ideas of god and miracle and that would be very strange to me!
    PS : I loved the first rule by the way, it helped me fix my posture hahahah

  3. Thank you for writing this. It is so satisfying to read someone perfectly articulate how I feel about the book. I only made it to chapter three on audiobook before I couldn’t take anymore. I wanted to keep an open mind but the rambling is unbearable. Now I can abandon it guilt free.

  4. It’s a delicious irony that the people who abandoned the book in the first few chapters think they have a handle on the substrate of the idea and a grasp in over-all analytical discipline; seeking out a review to substantiate their hastened conclusions rather than reading it in its entirety to have a more informed opinion. A self help book for all intensive purposes that stresses self responsibility where some people who have disagreed don’t even have the maturity to read it all the way through is borderline comical. In my humble opinion, those who took the time to comment but didn’t read the whole book are in dire need of a self help book that resonates with them in the realm of self-discipline, regardless of the author.
    Just how I can’t truly pick apart Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’ or Joseph Stalin’s ‘Dialectical & Historical Materialism’ without reading it, despite it being full of a miasma of ill-formed and outdated thought, you still READ the text in order to not write in your own self affirmed biases to fill in blanks that you think you know. You wouldn’t argue to me that a cliff notes version of a work of Shakespeare is enough to fully understand its emotion and themes, to form a fully flushed out self actualized opinion on it via abbreviation.
    To that end, I sincerely appreciate and applaud the author of this review for taking the time to read it cover to cover before stating their opinion, even if I disagree. If only the world were filled with more people like you who would at least try to be empathetic to a piece of literature before criticizing and critiquing it.

    1. Thank you. I agree with you, of course – to analyze and criticize a long piece of content (such as a book), it’s best to read it entirely first. Otherwise any opinion will obviously only apply to the part that we’ve read (which may reflect the entire work or not).

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