Jonathan Haidt on Morality, Politics, Disgust, and Intellectual Diversity on Campus (Ep. 8)

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On the moral psychology of politics


The most important finding in psychology in the last 50 to 100 years, I would say, is the finding that everything you can measure is heritable. The heritability coefficients vary between 0.3 and 0.6, or 30 to 60 percent of the variance, under some assumptions, can be explained by the genes. It’s the largest piece of variance we can explain.



What Gosling found, people who are conservative, their rooms are more orderly and neat. They have more calendars, more postage stamps. They’re just better prepared to be orderly and neat and get things done. People on the left had more stylistic elements, more high design elements. They had more varied books. So in a variety of ways, our preferences grow out of our innate temperaments.


On intellectual diversity in higher education, microaggressions, free speech, trigger warnings, and all the rest


[M]icroaggression culture, and a lot of the current campus protests, only emerges when you actually get really close to an incredibly egalitarian, open society.



We should be extremely limited when we say that [university] authorities can step in and change things. The very fact of doing that encourages microaggression culture, encourages students to orient themselves towards appealing to these authorities. The point of the microaggression article is young people these days have become moral dependents.


On things under- and overrated

Psychedelics have an incredibly positive track record in terms of enriching people’s lives versus damaging them. So to the extent that they are rarely used, and widely feared, I would say that they are underrated and I’m basing this on the research that was done in the ’60s and just starting now that when you give people psychedelic drugs in controlled settings, be they cancer patients, or criminals in jail, the therapeutic effects tend to be quite positive.

…[E]arly economists were great social theorists. My God, you read Adam Smith, what a brilliant world philosopher, historian, they thought so broadly and you tell me, but it seems there was a weird turn in the mid‑20th century towards mathematics. I think it made economists set all the interesting variables to zero.

On Haidt’s earlier research (and what disgusts him)


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Mercatus Center

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The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas.

Conversations with Tyler

A podcast in which esteemed economist Tyler Cowen engages with today's most underrated thinkers in wide-ranging explorations of their work, the world, and everything in between.