Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist and professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, and author of his most recent book with Greg Lukianoff "The Coddling of the American Mind," joins David to discuss politics, tribalism, and much more.
I'm paying attention to what's going on in prominent Twitter left-wing influence circles. The majority of the discussion I'm seeing is about how can we get health care to everybody, even if they can't afford it; how can we reduce income inequality; why aren't we dealing with the climate and so on.
How can we empirically identify that [outraged, illiberal majority on the left] is really a major problem. So if you're within a discourse community most people are pretty reasonable, even if you're just within the discourse community of activists on the Left. Most people are well-intentioned, mentally stable, interested in policy.
Let's suppose a thousand things are said in your community and five of that thousand are kind of crazy, intolerant, what's called the intolerant left. In your community you say: „Look we're pretty reasonable“. But it's those five comments that are going to be retweeted and shown on right-wing media. (It turns out the Russians we're doing a lot of this.)
So within your community most people are reasonable, but it generates enough stuff that there's a daily diet, every single day, people on the left and the right send me things
with basically the messages: „Can you believe those people! They're completely sick!“ And it's from both sides because there are 350 million of us in this country and every day between ten and a hundred on each side do horrible things and we should mostly just ignore them.
I mean, we *used to* ignore them because we didn't *know* about them, but social media
means that we know about all the worst things from the other side every day, and that makes it very hard to keep our minds. We're all losing our minds because we are stuffed every day with outrage stories and the other side is stuffed with outrage stories - so I'm very pessimistic about the future of our country and actually the future of Western democracies.