Jonathan Haidt — The Coddling of the American Mind, How to Become Intellectually Antifragile, and How to Lose Anger by Studying Morality (#644)

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“Shared anger is thrilling, and that’s part of what’s driving us off a cliff as a country.”

— Jonathan Haidt

Jonathan Haidt (@JonHaidt) is a social psychologist at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Jonathan received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992. His research examines the intuitive foundations of morality and how morality varies across cultural and political divisions. He is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis and the New York Times bestsellers The Righteous Mind and The Coddling of the American Mind (with Greg Lukianoff).

He has given four TED Talks, and in 2019 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Since 2018 Jonathan has been studying the contributions of social media to the decline of teen mental health and the rise of political dysfunction. He is currently writing two books: Kids in Space: Why Teen Mental Health Is Collapsing and Life after Babel: Adapting to a World We Can No Longer Share.

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

#644: Jonathan Haidt — The Coddling of the American Mind, How to Become Intellectually Antifragile, and How to Lose Anger by Studying Morality

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Want to hear an episode with someone who was once Jonathan Haidt’s intellectual enemy, but later became a friend? Listen to my most recent conversation with Sam Harris in which we discussed cleaning and reassembling the gun of mindfulness, navigating time and in-between spaces on different psychedelics, new insights about fear, worthwhile nonprofits, the most important four-word sentence you can be asking in abundance right now, and much more.

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

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

SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Jonathan Haidt:

Website | Twitter

SHOW NOTES

  • [06:51] Richard Shweder.
  • [08:59] Making sense of assertions in anthropology.
  • [13:50] Why I invited Jon on the show.
  • [15:05] Moral relativism.
  • [21:24] How an emergentist views human rights violations.
  • [23:58] A turning point: why Jon almost never gets angry anymore.
  • [26:35] Taking LSD for the first time.
  • [32:21] My own transformative experience was happening simultaneously.
  • [34:15] Were my politics influenced or altered by this experience?
  • [40:17] What being a Jewish atheist means to Jon.
  • [45:13] From feud to friendship with Sam Harris.
  • [50:19] Complex dynamical system.
  • [54:36] How safe spaces and character cancellation took over colleges.
  • [1:00:50] Why did the University of Chicago initially resist this trend?
  • [1:02:13] What makes businesses more resilient against this trend than colleges?
  • [1:07:18] The University of Austin: a catalyst for academic reform?
  • [1:11:16] The aim of Jon’s Heterodox Academy.
  • [1:15:31] Distilling John Stuart Mill — the patron saint of viewpoint diversity.
  • [1:17:26] Aging out of anger and the disarming power of Daryl Davis.
  • [1:20:37] How to get smarter, stronger, and more sociable.
  • [1:22:55] After Babbel.
  • [1:24:46] What the holy and hitched can impart about happiness for the secular and single.
  • [1:29:20] What’s happening to Gen Z?
  • [1:32:17] Jon and his wife’s free-range parenting style for fostering independence.
  • [1:37:30] Group sports vs. individualist sports.
  • [1:40:40] A tough coach or teacher tests limits and taps potential.
  • [1:46:38] Developing intellectual antifragility.
  • [1:49:27] Jon’s billboard.
  • [1:52:00] Revisiting practical philosophies when times get tough.
  • [1:57:20] Parting thoughts.

MORE JONATHAN HAIDT QUOTES FROM THE INTERVIEW

“I don’t get mad. I look at systems and I always think, ‘How can we make them better?'”
— Jonathan Haidt

“If I see someone oppressing a whole society or acting in that monstrous way, not for any morally legitimate reason, I think we need to take action.”
— Jonathan Haidt

“I’ve really come to see that a functioning society, it needs a Progressive wing pushing for change and it needs a Conservative wing saying, ‘Slow down,’ tapping on the brakes. William F. Buckley stands athwart history, yelling, ‘Stop.’ You need both in a healthy society.”
— Jonathan Haidt

“Our left is not Liberal. Our right is not Conservative. We’re a mess. But societies need those two impulses.”
— Jonathan Haidt

“What I’ve learned from studying morality is, in a polarization spiral or a culture war, the harder you hit your enemy, the stronger they get. And so you don’t win by punching them really hard. You can never destroy them.”
— Jonathan Haidt

“‘Heterodox’ means there should be a variety of ways of thinking. We need that in order to be successful.”
— Jonathan Haidt

“You really need to seek out criticism. You need to seek out people who differ from you, and then, actually, you’ll get smarter.”
— Jonathan Haidt

“Shared anger is thrilling, and that’s part of what’s driving us off a cliff as a country.”
— Jonathan Haidt

“You get stronger by challenging yourself, by exposing yourself to threats and dangers within limits that you then surmount, and we have to do this with kids.”
— Jonathan Haidt

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5 Replies to “Jonathan Haidt — The Coddling of the American Mind, How to Become Intellectually Antifragile, and How to Lose Anger by Studying Morality (#644)”

  1. Hi. I enjoyed another good episode. I thought it would be helpful to point out a small correction–and hope that Jonathan will appreciate it. He says at one point that no university followed Chicago in trying to push back on woke rigidity. The president of Wesleyan University, Michael Roth, has written and spoken about this topic often. His book “Safe Enough Spaces: A Pragmatist’s Approach to Inclusion, Free Speech, and Political Correctness on College Campuses” is on point.

    1. It is actually the wokery that allows girls from 6-8 to be genitally mutilated without the protection of our laws. This takes place in Western Countries. Those children are British, American, and Canadian. FGM falls under the conditions legally of both rape and assault. There is no comparison to male circumcision. If religions want to mutiltate their male children with sanitary expert procedures? At least they are not causing infection and disfiguration as well s PTSD and terror, problems with UTIs, no escape for menstrual blood, and ripping in childbirth, fistula creation, and medical need for later revision when the young woman as agency and can search out a physician who isn’t an actual quack. There is no evolved understanding of this. I am calling it. These women are sexually traumatised and tortured. There is no seeing another side of this. Let’s take your daughter, Mr Haidt. See how she feels about doing this instead of mansplaining it to the masses. They don’t understand why our countries do not protect them while we are protecting our own children. Why don’t they count? We aren’t talking to their insane parents. They are talking to us. Ask them. If an adult holds a 6 year old down and takes a razorblade to their vagina? Yes to jail time. Absolutely. Either they are American or British subjects once in our countries or they are not. And if they do not abide by our laws, out they go. Or to jail they go and that is just fine by most people. That is what happens when you sexually abuse children in a civilised country.

  2. Re: Gen Z, hence the terms Helicopter Parents and Snowplow Parents. I’ve dealt with them and their offspring for years as a soccer referee instructor and assignor. Seldom came out well

  3. FGM is unacceptable in any setting. It does not happen to a baby, it does not happen with anaesthesia, it does not happen in sanitary conditions. Infection is a huge issue. Dirty instruments, unlike in male circumcision are used. There are complications, for example when they sew the lips of the labia together, the girl has no place for her menstrual blood to be released from. It collects and creates infection. She also has UBI and other complications. The clitoris is deeply imbedded into the female anatomy. There is no way to remove it or its sensation, so the operation is a complete act of fraudulence. It is just disfiguring and demoralising, not to mention cruel. No pre-pubescent girl is willing to be raped in this way. There is also tearing in childbirth, and groups like MSF spend a great deal of time repairing fistulas in these women. This is not at all like male circumcision, and when these poor young women get to places like the UK, doctors are afraid to rectify their medical issues due to the fascist-wokery that has a stranglehold on logic and reasoning. These victims are the women. If a mother and her relatives hold a seven year old girl down and cut her vagina, I believe they should absolutely be jailed in 1st world countries. We do not operate within two legal systems within our Western Countries. We do not run small areas of other countries within our countries. It is not protecting women who have immigrated to allow this to take place in our countries. We are underserving these people. It is a barbaric practice, and it is misogynistic at its core. There are actually some things we do not tolerate in first world countries, and this is one of them. It is worse than child slavery, child abuse, and child porn. Probably worse than child trafficking, since it is traumatic, violent, and meets the definition of rape. Do you know that girls who are victimised by this who immigrate feel hard done by because they cannot get justice from practicing physicians in our countries? This is malpractice, neglect, and any physician who refuses to remedy the complications is a quack and should have his/her license pulled. And any person who has “evolved” past being irate about this? Has lost the plot and should retire from advising people on how they should live and think. You haven’t got enough passion for ethics to do this.