Talk:Jonathan Haidt

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First-time editor; seeking advice before major changes[edit]

First off, how much more should we say about The Happiness Hypothesis? Should we even talk about it at all? Most of it sounds like general self help that doesn't fit very much with the wiki's mission, and it's only relevant to The Righteous Mind because the "rider and elephant" metaphor started there.

Second, can I delete the Schopenhauer reference as irrelevant? Haidt seems to have gotten more influence from David Hume's idea of the reasons as slave to the passions.

Third, I'd like to explain more about The Righteous Mind. This is a very rough draft of how I would describe it:

-- -- -- --

The Righteous Mind begins as a work of descriptive ethics, laying out six scales of good versus bad that determine people's emotional reactions to moral dilemmas. They are:

Care vs. harm:: cherishing and protecting others.

Fairness vs. cheating: rendering justice according to shared rules. (Alternate name: Proportionality.)

Liberty vs. oppression: the loathing of tyranny.

Loyalty vs. betrayal: standing with your group, family, nation. (Alternate name: Ingroup.)

Authority vs. subversion: obeying tradition and legitimate authority. (Alternate name: Respect.)

Sanctity vs. degradation: abhorrence for disgusting things, foods, actions. (Alternate name: Purity.)

According to Haidt, logic has nothing to do with the negative reactions people have to "evil" actions, and it only comes into play after they've already reacted. Someone who's emotionally against cheating, for instance, may use logic to create arguments for why cheating is wrong, but if they're shown that none of their arguments apply or make sense, they still won't be convinced to change their minds unless subjected to an emotional appeal.

From a variety of polls and studies, Haidt concludes that liberals mostly value care vs. harm and fairness vs. cheating, while conservatives value all six scales. From there, he suddenly jumps from descriptive to normative ethics, declaring that liberal morality is incomplete and all six scales are important. For someone who repeatedly cites David Hume, he's surprisingly willing to abuse the naturalistic fallacy.

-- -- -- --

As you can see, I'm not experienced in how to write in the Rational Wiki style. I'd love any help in making this interesting, snarky, and referential to other articles.

Edit for one more: I'm pretty sure all of that's in The Righteous Mind itself, but if we need more sources, he also talks about parts of it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/magazine/13Psychology-t.html — Unsigned, by: Feotakahari / talk / contribs


The book also seems to suffer from the balance fallacy, as detailed in this review (don't bother to read the comment).

Edit (15:00, 9 June 2017 (UTC)): Here's a better and more detailed review.

I believe we need to address his complaint that liberals tend "to push for changes that weaken groups, traditions, institutions, and moral capital" and his claim that their policies can end up doing more harm than good, e.g. "policies supposed to help the inner city poor undermined marriage, which would have helped them more". I'm not sure if we need to evaluate each individual claim, or if it's enough to say something like "Of course, this only shows that changes to the status quo should be examined carefully - not that change is almost certainly bad". We do need some traditions and institutions for the sake of structure and order, but we can have that without e.g. unjust hierarchies in which you are a second-class citizen unless you fulfil a set of arbitrary criteria. ThineAntidote (talk) 14:49, 13 May 2017 (UTC)

Haidt predicted this article's criticism and it looks very bad[edit]

I consider myself a rationalist and read articles on this wiki occasionally. After reading about the "rationalist delusion" in the book The Righteous Mind, I looked up Jonathan Haidt here to see if there were any counter arguments to his idea. It's disappointing to say the least. It lacks any valuable insight and is immaturely written, which makes it hard to take seriously, and looks very bad: a community of proponents of rationalism let their emotions cloud their judgements and turn into a mocking echo chamber. I know RationalWiki employs a sarcastic tone but what's also required is refutation of his ideas, not solely ridiculing them

Haidt's theory predicted that if you intuitively didn't like his theory, you would rationalise your dislike of it by finding any passable pseudo-argument, and ignore all evidence that supports it. But this takes the cake. You call his theory "not very original" simply because Schopenhauer had made a remark similar to Haidt's central metaphor. First of all, it's clear that whoever wrote that has not even read the full text of The Righteous Mind, considering that he's very open about historical figures who've shared similar thoughts on the matter. But more importantly, can you not see this treatment could be given to literally any other idea on human nature? You just go through ancient Greek scriptures and find something that superficially resembles the theory's overview. But simple quotes are not the same as a fully researched, evidenced and propounded theory.

It would be nice to see a response to the "rationalist delusion". Excerpt from The Righteous Mind (please read the actual evidence elsewhere on the internet before formulating your thoughts on the subject; basing them on a quote is stupid): "...the worship of reason is itself an illustration of one of the most long-lived delusions in Western history: the rationalist delusion. It’s the idea that reasoning is our most noble attribute, one that makes us like the gods (for Plato) or that brings us beyond the “delusion” of believing in gods (for the New Atheists).46 The rationalist delusion is not just a claim about human nature. It’s also a claim that the rational caste (philosophers or scientists) should have more power, and it usually comes along with a utopian program for raising more rational children.47" — Unsigned, by: Tightbend / talk / contribs

So he admits he's not very original? And why shouldn't RW mention that? Moral emotivismWikipedia or non-cognitivismWikipedia are certainly not new ideas, and the counter-arguments are plentiful and obvious. (Putting everything in 6 different categories is the worst way of pretending philosophical rigor, though.) Certainly this article needs expansion (if anyone considers Haidt in any way important), but I don't see fundamental problems. If RW was restricted to emotional reactions, that would be support for Haidt's theory, but there's nothing irrational about mockery per se. --Annanoon (talk) 10:06, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
Just a note on originality: Nothing is new. Also, what is wrong with six categories and why is six the worst number of categories? Take your time.Ariel31459 (talk) 21:11, 15 December 2018 (UTC)

Add a Criticism section?[edit]

Worth noting that while the concept of Foundations has grown popular, It has gained a significant amount of academic critique, even among it's proponents. Significantly, his ~2009 studies of Moral Language seem to only replicate well in extensions beyond the narrow Unitarian Universalist v Southern Baptist. Most recently from a colleague of his:

Frimer, J. A. (2019). Do liberals and conservatives use different moral languages? Two replications and six extensions of Graham, Haidt, and Nosek’s (2009) moral text analysis. Journal of Research in Personality.

72.53.64.115 (talk) 22:46, 1 July 2020 (UTC)

Of course his theory doesn't hold up to actual scrutiny, it's entirely built on unwarranted self-citations of his own papers. What was originally just a somewhat exploratory categorization out of the blue, slowly got re-framed to be a "solid" analysis under quite a number of shaky assumptions, and before you even realized the pompous book with no caveats came out and now it's the go-to reference for handwaving like good ol' 12 Rules for Life.
I'm not really sure how much you can disprove what was never there to be honest. I mean, you can work your ass out and do a "this doesn't check out" counter-experiment, but this won't end like normal science where you discover all researchers had their own "part of truth" and you just needed a more comprehensive theory. It's fraud, and this guy is a skilled con artist. I have my loads of links about him here, but my favorite will always be his beef with Pigliucci where he ended up writing that conservatives (ie. the ones that should be purer) are "better at circling around sacred values".
Basically everything can go, as long as he is the one deciding where the line has to be set in the current issue. And let's not forget that time he lined up to defend Carl Noah. --Mirh (talk) 19:05, 12 April 2021 (UTC)