08 – Jonathan Haidt on Morality, Politics, Disgust, and Intellectual Diversity on Campus

6 Moral Taste Buds:

  • liberty vs oppression
  • loyalty vs diversity
  • authority
  • openness
  • conscientiousness

Diversity leads to clashing ideas (26 min)

The military deals with diverse members by creating uniformity.

Colleges do not pump out graduating classes that go out and do great things as a unit.

Social Sciences: Pursue Social Justice and Victims

Extremism in pursuit of any Virtue is a Vice (49 min)

Once you make helping the poor/African americans a religion you are

SEP 07 132 Where microaggressions really come from: A sociological account

Rather, such forms as microaggression complaints and protest demonstrations appear to flourish among the relatively educated and affluent populations of American colleges and universities.

.. Overstratification offenses occur whenever anyone rises above or falls below others in status. [Therefore…] a morality that privileges equality and condemns oppression is most likely to arise precisely in settings that already have relatively high degrees of equality

.. as progress is made toward a more equal and humane society, it takes a smaller and smaller offense to trigger a high level of outrage. The goalposts shift, allowing participants to maintain a constant level of anger and constant level of perceived victimization.]

.. People portray themselves as oppressed by the powerful – as damaged, disadvantaged, and needy.

.. But why emphasize one’s victimization

.. It also raises the moral status of the victims. This only increases the incentive to publicize grievances, and it means aggrieved parties are especially likely to highlight their identity as victims, emphasizing their own suffering and innocence. Their adversaries are privileged and blameworthy, but they themselves are pitiable and blameless.

.. This is the great tragedy: the culture of victimization rewards people for taking on a personal identity as one who is damaged, weak, and aggrieved. This is a recipe for failure — and constant litigation 

.. The social conditions that give rise to this form of social control] include a social setting with cultural diversity and relatively high levels of equality, though with the presence of strongly superior third parties such as legal officials and organizational administrators… Under these conditions, individuals are likely to express grievances about oppression, and aggrieved individuals are likely to depend on the aid of third parties, to cast a wide net in their attempt to find supporters

.. Since the rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s, racial, sexual, and other forms of intercollective inequality have declined, resulting in a more egalitarian society in which members are much more sensitive to those inequalities that remain.

.. modern technology has allowed for mass communication to a virtual sea of weak partisans. This last trend has been especially dramatic during the past decade, with the result that aggrieved individuals can potentially appeal to millions of third parties.

.. A culture of victimhood is one characterized by concern with status and sensitivity to slight combined with a heavy reliance on third parties. People are intolerant of insults, even if unintentional, and react by bringing them to the attention of authorities or to the public at large

.. Naturally, whenever victimhood (or honor, or anything else) confers status, all sorts of people will want to claim it.

.. men criticized as sexist for challenging radical feminism defend themselves as victims of reverse sexism, [and] people criticized as being unsympathetic proclaim their own history of victimization.”[p.715] [In this way, victimhood culture causes a downward spiral of competitive victimhood. Young people on the left and the right get sucked into its vortex of grievance. We can expect political polarization to get steadily worse in the coming decades as this moral culture of victimhood spreads]

Jonathan Haidt on the Cultural Roots of Campus Rage

An unorthodox professor explains the ‘new religion’ that drives the intolerance and violence at places like Middlebury and Berkeley.

“But on each campus there are some true believers who have reoriented their lives around the fight against evil.”

 These believers are transforming the campus from a citadel of intellectual freedom into a holy space—where white privilege has replaced original sin, the transgressions of class and race and gender are confessed not to priests but to “the community,” victim groups are worshiped like gods, and the sinned-against are supplicated with “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings.”
.. The fundamentalists may be few, Mr. Haidt says, but they are “very intimidating” since they wield the threat of public shame. On some campuses, “they’ve been given the heckler’s veto, and are often granted it by an administration who won’t stand up to them either.”
.. In 2015 he founded Heterodox Academy, which describes itself as “a politically diverse group of social scientists, natural scientists, humanists, and other scholars” concerned about “the loss or lack of ‘viewpoint diversity’ ” on campuses.
.. A scheduled February appearance by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos prompted masked agitators to throw Molotov cocktails, smash windows, hurl rocks at police, and ultimately cause $100,000 worth of damage. The student newspaper ran an op-ed justifying the rioting under the headline “Violence helped ensure safety of students.”
.. “People older than 30 think that ‘violence’ generally involves some sort of physical threat or harm. But as students are using the word today, ‘violence’ is words that have a negative effect on members of the sacred victim groups. And so even silence can be violence.” It follows that if offensive speech is “violence,” then actual violence can be a form of self-defense.
.. a “bias response hotline” students can call “to report an experience of bias, discrimination or harassment.” I joke that NYU seems to have its own version of the morality police in Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia. “It’s like East Germany,” Mr. Haidt replies—with students, at least some of them, playing the part of the Stasi.
.. Today justice means equal outcomes. “There are two ideas now in the academic left that weren’t there 10 years ago,” he says. “One is that everyone is racist because of unconscious bias, and the other is that everything is racist because of systemic racism.”
.. ‘ophobophobia,’ which is the fear of being called x-ophobic.”
.. “In the wake of the Middlebury protests and violence, we’re seeing a lot of liberal-left professors standing up against illiberal-left professors and students,” Mr. Haidt says. Less than a fifth of the organization’s members identify as “right/conservative”; most are centrists, liberals or progressives.
.. “I think that the ‘deplorables’ comment could well have changed the course of human history.”