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The Unspeakable Podcast

May 30, 2022

If you’re familiar with the so-called “heterodox” space, this week’s guest on The Unspeakable scarcely needs an introduction. In 2018, the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, along with author and first amendment advocate Gregg Lukianoff, published The Coddling of The American Mind: How Good Intentions And Bad Ideas Are Setting Up A Generation For Failure. The book was central to a burgeoning public conversation that asked why young people, especially students on college campuses, were so unwilling to engage with ideas they perceived as dangerous—and in fact why they found so many ideas dangerous to begin with. Jon’s research offered crucial datapoints as to why this was happening and suggested that a handful of intersecting cultural trends—fearful parenting, omnipresent social media and the corporatization of higher education, to name a few—had resulted in a generation marked by high anxiety and a low sense of autonomy. His more recent work, including his article last month in The Atlantic, “Why The Past Ten Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid,” goes beyond what’s happened with young people and looks at our collapsing institutions more broadly. Jon and Meghan talked about that article and covered lots of new territory, too, including a project of Meghan’s that she has just begun to talk about, a heterodox women’s community. Many of her observations about the male dominated “free think” space and women’s reluctance to speak their minds map on to Jon’s own research about girls’ social development.
Relevant links:
Guest Bio:
Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist at New York University’s Stern School of Business. 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 (2006) and of The New York Times bestsellers The Righteous Mind (2012) and The Coddling of the American Mind (2018, with Greg Lukianoff.) Haidt has given four TED talks and is a co-founder of Heterodox Academy, a nonpartisan nonprofit that promotes open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement in institutions of higher learning. Since 2018, he has been studying the contributions of social media to the decline of teen mental health and the rise of political dysfunction and he is currently writing a new book, "Life After Babel: Adapting To A World We Can No Longer Share.”