The Righteous Mind: Why People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt (1 Viewer)

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Layce Erayce

Senior Member
Aug 11, 2002
Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist at NYU. His book (here), based on copious and interesting research, examines the bases of our political and religious sensibilities. His conclusions are provocative.

His central thesis: We are all frauds. We think of ourselves as rational, enlightened creatures, following the evidence and drawing our conclusions. Research shows this is the opposite. This is how our political views usually develop:

Unconscious gut feeling/intuition --> We become aware of this intuition --> We tell a rational-sounding story to justify this feeling --> This becomes our political views.

One of the most interesting parts of the book is the research it relies on. In one case, peoples' moral judgement become more salient, and critical, upon applying hand sanitizer. A further development of this idea shows that the strictness of a subject's moral judgement varies based on how close to them (proximally) the hand-sanitizer is located.

In another case, eliciting sensations of nausea or disgust makes our moral judgements more critical.

There's a whole lot more to say, but it really throws into question the rationality and cognitive worth of our moral judgements.
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