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The Fracturing Of The Human Mind with Jonathan Haidt & Guests

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

The Fracturing Of The Human Mind with Jonathan Haidt & Guests

Has your mind been fractured?

We never think of how we think in those terms, a term of injury or brokeness but our minds, our souls are fragile in so many ways and above all else so easily influenced into sin and evil.

Have you become so intellectually lazy and so willing to compromise truth and honesty that you will buy into anything anyone says without thought or fact checking?

Sad to say this is what most Americans seem to do and many Christians as well.

The public, society seems to have lost its sense of common good or common truth. As social media and narcissists like Trump, Desantis etc. delude people into not knowing what truth is or where to find it.

Can the least of the evils save our nation?

No!

Can we who claim to be Christians, who claim to be not of this world but of God's Kingdom in it change our culture through sacrifice and prayer?

Yes!

But have we also lost our way?


Video from Coleman Hughes


"Welcome to another episode of Conversations with Coleman. This episode is a recording of a live event that I did with Jonathan Haidt, Greg Lukianoff, and Rikki Schlott. Jonathan Haidt is a professor at the NYU Stern School of Business. He is also the co-founder of Heterodox Academy, which I once wrote a blog post for back when I was probably 21 years old. Jonathan is the author of many books including "The Happiness Hypothesis", "The Righteous Mind", and "The Coddling of the American Mind" with his co-author Gregory Lukianoff. Greg Lukianoff is the president of FIRE which is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and probably the pre-eminent defender of free speech on college campuses. Greg is also the producer of several documentaries about free speech and is also a trained lawyer. Rikki Schlott is a columnist for the New York Post, a fellow at FIRE, a contributor at Reason Magazine, and the host of the Lost Debate Podcast. We all discuss what has changed since Jonathan and Greg published "The Coddling of the American Mind" back in 2018. We talk about the effect of social media on political polarization and mental health. We also discuss Jonathan's recent viral Atlantic essay called "Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid", and lots of other related topics. Unfortunately, because of the constraints of the live event, this is a shorter podcast than usual. However, I'm getting Jonathan back on the podcast very soon to have a full-length discussion about all this stuff. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did!" from video introduction


The Constitution of Knowledge Review: Defending Truth from Trump

"Jonathan Rauch is among America’s more thoughtful and rigorously honest public intellectuals. In his new book, he addresses the rise of disinformation and its pernicious effects on democratic culture.


Through an analogy to the US constitution, he posits that the “values and rules and institutions” of “liberal science” effectively serve as “a governing structure, forcing social contestation onto peaceful and productive pathways. And so I call them, collectively, the Constitution of Knowledge.”

What he calls the “reality based community [is] the social network which adheres to liberal science’s rules and norms … objectivity, factuality, rationality: they live not just within individuals’ minds and practices but on the network”. This community includes not only the hard sciences but also such fields as scholarship, journalism, government and law, in a “marketplace of persuasion” driven by pursuit of truth under clear standards of objectivity.


Rauch puts the Trump era at the heart of the challenge, as Trump felt no “accountability to truth”, telling reporter Lesley Stahl that he did so to “demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you”.

To Rauch, “Trump and his media echo chambers [lied] because their goal was to denude the public’s capacity to make any distinctions.” Thus “every truth was met not just with denial but with inversion … to convey … that the leader was the supreme authority”.

The result is a crisis of democracy. As Senator Ben Sasse warned, “A republic will not work if we don’t have shared facts.” What emerges, in Rauch’s term, as “epistemic tribalism” effectively denies “the concept of objective knowledge [which] is inherently social”.

There is much here and the diagnosis is superb, with clear explanations of how and why disinformation spreads. Rauch finds glimmers of hope and positive change, as digital media act “more like publishers … crafting epistemic standards and norms”. Solutions, though, involve self-regulation rather than government action. Rauch cites Twitter’s Jack Dorsey in noting “that the battle against misinformation and abusive online behavior would be won more by product design than by policy design”.

True, yet Rauch admits there are “no comprehensive solutions to the disinformation threat”, instead hoping for reactions that will promote “something like a stronger immune system … less vulnerable”.

Rauch is a “radical incrementalist”. Hearty praise for John Stuart Mill makes clear that he seeks solutions principally from within classical liberalism, which the analogy to a social network reinforces: individuals working as a community, not a collective. Thus he shies from using government to enforce adherence to the Constitution of Knowledge.

“Cause for alarm, yes,” Rauch writes. “Cause for fatalism – no.”

Surely there is a third perspective. Referring to a director of the National Institutes of Health known for rigorous science and deep faith, Rauch states that “a person who applied the Constitution of Knowledge to every daily situation would be Sherlock Holmes or Mr Spock: an otherworldly fictional character. In fact, when I compare Francis Collins’s worldview with my own, I think mine is the more impoverished. He has access to two epistemic realms; I, only one.”

It shows Rauch’s generosity of spirit and intellectual integrity that he recognizes the validity and worth of other epistemic realms. They may, in fact, be a clue to solving the broader problem.

Does the constitutional order contain sufficient self-correcting mechanism? Rauch’s response, in a forceful and heartfelt final chapter, is to renew engagement in defence of truth. This is right so far as it goes. Waving the white flag, or silence (as Mill, not Burke noted) enables and ensures defeat in the face of attacks on the concept of truth.

It’s good that “Wikipedia figured out how to bring the Constitution of Knowledge online”, but that only works with a presumed universal acceptance of truth, a challenge in an era where a 2018 MIT study found falsehoods were 70% more likely to be retweeted than truths.

One may heartily agree with Solzhenitsyn (whom Rauch quotes) that “one word of truth outweighs the world” and yet note with horror (as Rauch does) that a few powerful algorithms can overwhelm it in the heat of a tech-amplified campaign.

Does individual action mean fervent defence in response to every inaccurate social media post? How to judge? (The individual rational response is generally to ignore the false post, hence the collective action issue.) And would that defence guarantee success when disinformation has destroyed trust in institutions and in the concept of truth itself?." from the article: The Constitution of Knowledge Review: Defending Truth from Trump


The Constitution of Knowledge with Jonathan Rauch - Cato Daily Podcast

Video from The Cato Institute


"The processes that have given rise to so much new knowledge show signs of sputtering. Jonathan Rauch, author of "The Constitution of Knowledge" argues that it's time to restore respect for the "how" of creating new knowledge." from video introduction

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