Jordan Peterson — what are his credentials in Academia? Pop psychology or well-respected scientist. Lets check the data.

Chris Vaccaro
3 min readOct 5, 2018


Jordan B. Peterson —Talks at Harvard: Postmodernism & the Mask of Compassion

With the sudden meteoric fame regarding the work of Dr. Jordin Peterson, many questions have been raised regarding his credentials in the academic community.

Is he a well respected academic, or just some pop psychology hooligan using the name of academia to further his selfish interests.

In terms of education Peterson seems to have a relatively impressive track record. He was accepted into, and studied at the University of Alberta and later McGill University, which are considered two of the best/most prestigious universities in Canada (Source: Times Higher Education, IDP, US News.) He also had a 5 year associate professorship at Harvard University Psychology Department before moving to the University of Toronto, where he is currently employed. Harvard University and the University of Toronto are also widely considered two of the top research institutions in the world (Source: Times Higher Education, dailyhive, UofT.)

But perhaps the most important way of quickly (and objectively) ascertaining the impact a scientist has had on their field, is via their h-index score. It’s a number that calculates how frequently other scientists are citing their work. How many other scientists are citing another scientists work is considered an acceptable method of quantifying someone’s general credibility/respectability in their field.

The “h-index” was introduced in 2005 as a metric for estimating “the importance, significance and broad impact of a scientist’s cumulative contributions.” It takes into account both the number of an individual’s publications and their impact on peers, as indicated by citation counts.

Its creator, Jorge Hirsch (UC-San Diego) asserts that a “successful scientist” will have an h-index of 20 after 20 years; an “outstanding scientist” will have an index of 40 after 20 years; and a “truly unique individual” will have an index of 60 after 20 years or 90 after 30 years.


The h-score essentially gauges your impact on the field of science as a whole. It answers the question: “Have you help move your field forward?”

It depends on field but, Average is ~10, successful is 20, outstanding is 40, 60 is the realm of Nobel Laureates. What is Dr. Peterson’s score? As of 2018 Peterson has an h-index of 51 on Google Scholar

Jordan B Peterson — Google Scholar

According to studies, 62 is the average of Nobel Prize winners, which is a number Dr. Peterson is slowly encroaching on.

He’s one of the top 50 most cited clinical psychologists of all time with over 11,000 citations.

Furthermore, a review from one of his Colleagues

I met Jordan Peterson when he came to the University of Toronto to be interviewed for an assistant professorship in the department of psychology. His CV was impeccable, with terrific references and a pedigree that included a PhD from McGill and a five-year stint at Harvard as an assistant professor.

We did not share research interests but it was clear that his work was solid. My colleagues on the search committee were skeptical — they felt he was too eccentric — but somehow I prevailed. (Several committee members now remind me that they agreed to hire him because they were “tired of hearing me shout over them.”) I pushed for him because he was a divergent thinker, self-educated in the humanities, intellectually flamboyant, bold, energetic and confident, bordering on arrogant. I thought he would bring a new excitement, along with new ideas, to our department.

In the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that that quote is from his good friend Bernard Schiff, who later was critical of him in the same article.

So is Dr. Peterson worthy of the title that the New York Times gave him of “the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now”? Let us know in the comments.

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