Jonathan Haidt

  • Aired:  05/02/12
  •  | Views: 10,588

Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt discusses his book "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion." (5:58)

>> Stephen: WELCOME BACK,

EVERYBODY.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

MY GUEST TONIGHT HAS WRITTEN A NEW BOOK "THE RIGHTEOUS MIND:WHY GOOD PEOPLE ARE DIVIDED BY

POLITICS AND RELIGION." IT'S THE PERFECT PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE GIVE TO THE IDIOT

ACROSS FROM YOU ON THANKSGIVING.

PLEASE WELCOME JONATHAN HAIDT.

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ) THANKS SO MUCH FOR COMING ON.

>> MY PLEASURE, THANK YOU.

>> Stephen: LET'S GET RIGHT DOWN TO THE HEAT OF THE MEAT.

YOU'RE A PROFESSOR OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGIST AT THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA.

ALL RIGHT, PRETTY IMPRESSIVE.

YOU HAVE A NEW BOOK, "THE RIGHTEOUS MIND, WHY GOOD PEOPLE ARE DIVIDE BY POLITICS AND

RELIGION." WELL, POLITICS AND RELIGION ARE PLACE WHERE'S WE FIND OUT CERTAINTY.

IN RELIGION YOU HAVE YOUR FAITH.

YOU KNOW YOUR FAITH IS THE CORRECT ONE.

IN POLITICS -- YOU DO.

IN POLITICS YOU PICK YOUR SIDE AND YOU FIGHT IT OUT UNTIL ELECTION DAY, AND THEN YOU FIGHT

IT OUT FOREVER AFTER THAT.

WHY SHOULD WE NOT BE DIVIDED IN THIS WAY?

>> WELL, WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT IS WHERE MORALTS COMES FROM AND WHAT IT DOES TO US.

IT'S KIND OF AMAZING WE CAN COOPERATE WITH PEOPLE WHO AREN'T

OUR KIN AND THE WAY WE DO IT IS WE FORM THESE TEAMS, THESE TRIBES, THESE HIVES AND CIRCLE

AROUND SACRED OBJECTS AND LOSE SIEFT TRUTH.

WE'RE TOTALLY FOCUSED ON BEING PART OF THE TEAM AND FIGHTING THE OTHER SIDE.

>> Stephen: YOU SAY WE MAKE SNAP JUDGMENTS ABOUT THE OTHER SIDE.

OKAY, THAT'S CALLED. CALLED...

INTUITION.

IT'S CALLED THE GUT.

I MAKE GUT JUDGMENTS ABOUT PEOPLE AND LATER I FIGURE OUT A MENTAL JUSTIFICATION.

( LAUGHTER ).

#-R FOR THAT JUDGMENT.

YOU SAY THAT PEOPLE DO THAT ALL THE TIME.

SO WHAT ARE WE SAYING ABOUT EACH OTHER LEFT AND RIGHT?

>> WELL, WE USE OUR REASONING JUST TO BASICALLY FIGURE OUT THE

WORST POSSIBLE STORY WE CAN TELL ABOUT THE OTHER SIDE.

AND SINCE NOW WE CAN ALL WATCH CABLE NEWS SHOWED WHERE CONSERVATIVES CAN JUST WATCH

CONSERVATIVES AND LIBERAL ACCUSE JUST WATCH LIBERALS SO WE TELL THE MOST TOXIC, NEWSCASTEF STORY

WE CAN.

IT MIGHT WORK GREAT GETTING THE TEAM TOGETHER BUT IT IS PRETTY BAD FOR THE NATION IS THERE

DON'T WE TELL THE TRUTH AS WE KNOW IT.

I'VE GOT MY TRUTH AND I INSIST IT BE YOUR TRUTH.

( LAUGHTER ) BECAUSE IF IT WASN'T-- IF I WASN'T DOING THAT, HOW TRUE COULD IT BE TO ME.

BECAUSE INHERENT IN MY BELIEF IS NOT JUST THAT I'M RIGHT.

ALMOST MORE IMPORTANTLY IS THAT YOU ARE WRONG.

( LAUGHTER ).

AND IF I ALLOW FOR A MOMENT THAT YOU COULD POSSIBLY BE RIGHT, I'M TOTALLY WRONG.

( LAUGHTER )

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

SO IF YOU'VE SEEN THE MOVIE "THE MATRIX," --

>> Stephen: OF COURSE, OF COURSE.

>> "THE MATRIX" IS A CONSENSUAL HALLUCINATION, AND PEOPLE HAVE TO GET TOGETHER.

THEY CREATE THIS MORAL ORDER IN WHICH THEY ALL LIVE, AND THEY HAVE THIS ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY,

AND, YEAH, IF THEY LET IN OTHER PEOPLE WHO VIOLATE THE MATRIX IT WILL ALSO DISSOLVE AROUND THEM.

>> Stephen: ARE YOU SAILING YOU KNOW KUNG FU.

>> WELL, SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY IS PRETTY POWERFUL, YES.

>> Stephen: WHY DO YOU WANT TO-- WHY AS A SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGIST DO YOU WANT TO

STUDY THE BEHAVIOR OF POLITICS AND RELIGION?

>> I DON'T STUDY THE POLITICIANS THEMSELVES BUT I DO STUDY WHY

PEOPLE VOTE ONE WAY OR ANOTHER,

WHY THEY BELIEVE THINGS THAT SEEMS OF SEEM TO BE CONTRADICTORY.

>> Stephen: WHAT DO YOU MEAN,

CONTRADICTORY?

>> WHENEVER ONE SIDE COMES OUT AND SAYS SOMETHING, PEOPLE ON

THE OTHER SIDE SAY, "OH, YEAH,

THEY SAY THEY WANT TO CUT TAX THRLZ BUT WHY DO THEY WANT TO RAISE TAXES THERE?

WE'RE ALL VERY GOOD AT THAT.

BASICALLY WE ALL EVOLVED TO BE LAWYERS.

BASIC WE WE'RE GOOD AT ARGUE A CASE AND IF WE CONTRADICT OURSELVES SO BE IT.

>> Stephen: WE ALL EVOSTLED TO BE LAWYERS.

SO WE EVOLVED TO HATE OURSELVES?

DO YOU PROPOSE A SOLUTION HERE OR ARE YOU MERELY IDENTIFYING A DISEASE?

>> WOMAN, I'M IDENTIFYING A DISEASE BUT IN A SENSE IT'S THE

NORMAL HUMAN CONDITION --

>> Stephen: WAIT, IF IT'S NORMAL, IS IT WORSE NOW THAN IT'S EVER WITHIN?

WE'VE ALWAYS BEEN FIGHTING IN AMERICA.

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

POLITICS IS ALWAYS HARDBALL.

POLITICS IS ALWAYS ROUGH, BUT NOWADAYS IT'S GOING GUNN FROM HARDBALLING TO A KNIFE FIGHT.

>> Stephen: HAS THIS EVER BEEN THIS BAD?

>> IN THE LATE 19th CENTURY THERE WAS A THING CALLED THE CIVIL WAR AND PEOPLE DID NOT GET

ALONG VERY WELL THEN.

>> Stephen: RIGHT, RIGHT,

RIGHT.

THAT WAS A TOUGH TIME IN CONGRESS.

( LAUGHTER ).

BUT HERE'S MY PROBLEM-- AND THIS IS WHY I MADE A SNAP JUDGMENT NOT TO TRUST YOU-- ( LAUGHTER )

AND I THINK I UNDERSTAND WHY.

I'VE NOW COME UP WITH A MENTAL REASON WHY I DIDN'T.

IS BECAUSE I THINK THAT I HAVE A MORAL COMPASS, ALL RIGHT.

AND MY POLE STAR IS MY BELIEF.

AND YOU ARE ASKING ME TO QUESTION MY MORAL COMPASS WHEN PASSING JUDGMENT ON OTHER PEOPLE.

>> WHAT I'M ASKING IS FOR YOU TO JUST RECALBRIGHT IT EVERY NOW AND THEN.

>> Stephen: WELL, THAT'S NOT IN MY OF WHETHER SYSTEM.

( LAUGHTER ).

ARE YOU A LIBERAL OR CONSERVATIVE?

>> I WAS A LIBERAL MY WHOLE LIFE UNTIL I STARTED WRITING THE BOOK, AND THEN WHILE TRYING TO

EXPLAIN CONSERVATIVES TO MY FELLOW LIBERALS-- I'M A PROFESSOR-- WHILE TRYING TO

EXPLAIN CONSERVATIVES I REALIZED ACTUALLY CONSERVATIVES SEE A LOT

OF THINGS THAT LIBERALS CAN'T SEE.

THEY ACTUALLY HAVE A VERY GOOD UNDERSTANDING OF HUMAN NATURE.

NOW, THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT THE REPUBLICANS ARE RIGHT.

ACTUALLY, THE REPUBLICANS ARE THE CAUSE OF THE PROBLEM IN WASHINGTON, BUT IF YOU STEP

BACK, I ACTUALLY THINK THE CONSERVATIVES HAVE A MORE ACCURATE VIEW OF HUMAN NATURE

THAN DO LIBERALS.

>> Stephen: IF YOU WERE A LIBERAL AND NOW YOU CAN SORT OF SEE A POINT OF THE CONSERVATIVE

SIDE, I'M HERE TO TELL YOU THAT'S A LIBERAL IDEA.

( LAUGHTER ).

( APPLAUSE ) ( CHEERS )

>> Stephen: WELL, JONATHAN HAIDT, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME.

THE BOOK IS "THE RIGHTEOUS MIND." WE'LL BE RIG