2016 February 20 Saturday
Jonathan Haidt On Universities In Moralistic Death Spiral

Read this:

JONATHAN HAIDT: Yes. We had no idea that the universities were about to commit suicide. We had no idea that they were going to blow up just a few weeks after we launched the site. So we launched in September. I wrote a post about our big review paper in social psychology. And we got a lot of attention the first week or two. Then it died down. And then we get the Missouri fiasco, the Yale fiasco, the Amherst fiasco, the Brown fiasco. You get place after place where protesters are making demands of college presidents, and college presidents roll over and give in.

Haidt is a moral psychology researcher at NYU. The interview is about a site that Haidt was involved in founding: Heterodox Academy. Also see:

Kristian Niemietz argues politically correct people keep move the bar because they want to be morally superior to others. The problem is they've moved the bar so far in terms of what is not permissible to say or think that they've got to take absurd positions in order to still be different.

A positional good is a good that people acquire to signalise where they stand in a social hierarchy; it is acquired in order to set oneself apart from others. Positional goods therefore have a peculiar property: the utility their consumers derive from them is inversely related to the number of people who can access them.

...

PC-brigadiers behave exactly like owners of a positional good who panic because wider availability of that good threatens their social status. The PC brigade has been highly successful in creating new social taboos, but their success is their very problem. Moral superiority is a prime example of a positional good, because we cannot all be morally superior to each other. Once you have successfully exorcised a word or an opinion, how do you differentiate yourself from others now? You need new things to be outraged about, new ways of asserting your imagined moral superiority.

This phenomenon is helped along by the fact that the social justice warriors are concentrated in university social science and humanities departments. They've segregated themselves into groups that share similar (and probably innate) ways to do moral reasoning. I expect this segregation by innate moral tendencies will be further accelerated by offspring genetic engineering. Imagine SJWs choosing genes that make their kids even more intensely SJWs. Other groups will similarly become even more pronounced in their distinct outlooks and moral preferences.

What should the rest of us do about the moralistic crazies? First of all, don't invite them to house parties or dinners. Just plain try to avoid them. If they are in significant numbers in your work place then try to find a new and better job. Need to get a college education? Avoid the departments they control and stay away from the craziest universities. Try to do more of your education online.

There is a lot to be said for avoidance. You can't do that much to make the world less crazy. But it is a big world with lots of local variations. So you can do a lot of navigating to avoid quite a bit of the madnesses of our age. Better to seek out non-crazies than try to argue with crazies. Better to look for local majorities of sane people in work and social circles rather than try to transform circles that have gone over into madness.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2016 February 20 08:16 PM 


Comments
william said at February 20, 2016 9:03 PM:

I saw a few youtube videos of minority college students screaming at university staff and professors. I love them. Let the staff endure the madness.

Brett Bellmore said at February 21, 2016 4:24 AM:

Avoidance has a real problem, though: If you avoid the crazies, instead of fighting them, they keep getting control of one institution after another.

They've got the universities, now, and though it's only certain departments, they're leveraging that into taking over the top level administration, which they can then utilize to take over the currently sane departments.

Even crazy control of the humanities and social 'science' is dangerous, because those fields are over represented in government. Crazy control of STEM could put an end to technological and scientific progress.

And it's a small planet. Once the crazies take over enough governments, (Europe is already mostly lost.) where do you go to avoid them? Governments aren't big on letting people avoid them.

No, I think that while avoidance is a good individual strategy, as a group strategy it has very negative consequences down the road. At some point we have to directly confront the crazies, and defeat them.

william said at February 21, 2016 6:30 AM:

'Crazy' does control STEM where there is a cartel is in place, which is the unspoken status of much of the industry. On the fringes of STEM, PC crazy doesn't and can't make inroads. The blue-blooded VC community is an example where PC crazy is getting slap-downed, likely by deep pockets for now.

l.allenbivin said at February 21, 2016 8:07 AM:

While the idea of retreat has some emotional appeal, our side needs desperately to define the ideas and places that we are willing to defend to the end. Look what we have aleady lost/abandoned: entire cities, k-12 education and most higher education, and many, many beaurocracies at every level of government. I have concealed myself at work and only reveal myself to some friends after a careful dance to determine the risk. However, I am reaching an age where I have enough financial and psychological security to take a more visible and aggressive political stance. People in my position are looking for leadership and organization, not calls to go deeper underground.

jb said at February 21, 2016 10:21 AM:

Wouldn't mobs of people cracking their skulls in the street because of their beliefs tend to confirm their extra specialness? Shouldn't we, out of kindness, be helping their self-esteem in that way? OH YETH, HIT ME AGAIN! I'M POISECUTED!

Imagine SJWs choosing genes that make their kids even more intensely SJWs.

You have a very optimistic and humorous view of these peoples mating habits.

Better to look for local majorities of sane people in work and social circles rather than try to transform circles that have gone over into madness.

Can you avoid the influence of the media? Can you avoid the establishment and the government it owns? Can you avoid the thousand Somalis that establishment is moving in down the street? I suppose to some degree you still can, if you have enough money or are willing to go all Ted Kaczynski. But when the true political implications of political correctness kick in there will be no where to hide. The important point is not that the stream flows but why does the stream flow in the particular path that it does. So-called SJWs work for the system. What's relevant is not that SJWs want to feel extry special, it's that they're allowed to feel extry special only in the direction those with power want them to. Mainly - causes whites as a group, individual, or culture to live one more day, not good. Opposite, good. If college presidents cave to these squirts it's because they know Big Brother and Big Media are behind them. There are news reports of Europeans attacking Muslim invader sex-offenders and that's good, but if they don't get to the root of problem, those in power, if they don't attack power in the streets, their efforts to stem the Muslim invasion and its inherent violence will fail. A riot is an ugly thing, and it's about time we had one!

sestamibi said at February 21, 2016 5:10 PM:

"Imagine SJWs choosing genes that make their kids even more intensely SJWs. Other groups will similarly become even more pronounced in their distinct outlooks and moral preferences."

Except they don't have a whole lot of kids. Evolution selects against SJWs.

"What should the rest of us do about the moralistic crazies? First of all, don't invite them to house parties or dinners. Just plain try to avoid them. If they are in significant numbers in your work place then try to find a new and better job. Need to get a college education? Avoid the departments they control and stay away from the craziest universities. Try to do more of your education online.

There is a lot to be said for avoidance. You can't do that much to make the world less crazy. But it is a big world with lots of local variations. So you can do a lot of navigating to avoid quite a bit of the madnesses of our age. Better to seek out non-crazies than try to argue with crazies. Better to look for local majorities of sane people in work and social circles rather than try to transform circles that have gone over into madness."

I believe a character is Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities" referred to it as "insulating yourself".

Bob said at February 21, 2016 7:15 PM:

What does Jonathan Haidt think about Kevin MacDonald's work? Would he be comfortable with guys like Kevin MacDonald in academia? Or is he a hypocrite like Steven Pinker, who poses as some sort of stalwart defender of academic freedom while attacking MacDonald's work without even reading it?

the unicorn is in custody said at February 28, 2016 4:38 PM:

berkeley is considering closing their chemistry department to save money. 13 nobels by faculty and alumni. stem won't be saved. it will be sacrificed to appease the gods of all that is holy-left. onward to the left-singularity!


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