Clear and Present Danger – episode 13: Expert opinion – Jonathan Haidt


In this episode, we do a bit of time travel and leave the 17th century for a discussion of free speech on American college and university campuses today.

Our guest is New York University professor Jonathan Haidt, who is a co-author with FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff of “The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure,” which is already among Amazon’s top 20 bestselling books.

But in looking at the present challenges to free speech on campus, we do also try to draw parallels with older controversies in order to determine whether the psychological mechanisms at play are similar.

Among the topics discussed are:

  • Is there really a “free speech crisis” among American students?
  • The three “Great Untruths” challenging the idea of free speech
  • The mental health crisis affecting students’ ability to handle adversity and disagreement
  • The role of social media
  • Why students’ efforts to shut down speakers at American universities is related to the millenia old idea of blasphemy
  • What drives tribalism old and new?
  • Whether we should think of words as a form of violence
  • How do we overcome the temptation to reenact the inquisition?

Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist and the author of the New York Times Bestseller “The Righteous Mind.” Among a dizzying range of activities, Haidt is also the co-founder of Heterodox Academy, a large and growing group of professors and students who disagree on many things but are united in their mission to increase viewpoint diversity at American universities.

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