BILL MOYERS: Welcome. People I meet on the left, on the right and in the middle agree on one thing: our country is in a mess, and our politics are not making it better. The problems seem insurmountable, three times last year congress came close to shutting down the government. In August, we almost defaulted on our more than $14 trillion debt, which could skyrocket even further if the Bush tax cuts are continued and spending is untouched at year’s end.

But as the ship of state is sinking, the crew is at each other’s throats, too busy fighting to plug the holes and pump out the water. And everything’s been made rotten by the toxic rancor and demonizing that have shredded civil discourse and devastated our ability to govern ourselves. Just look at the ugliness of the election campaign. So we’re left with paralysis, dysfunction, and a whole lot of rage.

On that cheery note, listen to this fellow. I first saw him on the website, that stands for “Technology, Entertainment, Design.” It’s the non-profit that brings together some of our most creative and provocative thinkers.

JONATHAN HAIDT: Suppose that two American friends are traveling together in Italy. They go to see Michelangelo’s David. And when they finally come face to face with the statue, they both freeze dead in their tracks. The first guy, we’ll call him Adam, is transfixed by the beauty of the perfect human form. The second guy, we’ll call him Bill, is transfixed by embarrassment of staring at the thing there in the center. So here’s my question for you: which one of these two guys was more likely to have voted for George Bush? Which for Al Gore? I don’t need a show of hands because we all have the same political stereotypes, we all know that it’s Bill. And in this case the stereotype corresponds to a reality. It really is a fact that liberals are much higher than conservatives on a major personality trait called “openness to experience.” People who are high on openness to experience just crave novelty, variety, diversity, new ideas, travel. People low on it like things that are familiar, that are safe and dependable.

If you know about this trait you can understand a lot of puzzles about human behavior. You can understand why artists are so different from accountants, you can actually predict what kinds of books they like to read, what kinds of places they like to travel to and what kinds of foods they like to eat. Once you understand this trait you can understand why anybody would eat at Applebee’s, but not anybody that you know.

BILL MOYERS: Jonathan Haidt has taken the core of that speech which you can see at our website, and turned it into an important and timely book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, to be published in March. His ideas are controversial but they make you think. Haidt says, for example, that liberals misunderstand conservatives more than the other way around, and that while conservatives see self-sufficiency as a profound moral value for individuals, liberals are more focused on a public code of care and equity.

Jonathan Haidt has made his reputation as a social psychologist at the University of Virginia, where he and his colleagues explore reason and intuition, why people disagree so passionately and how the moral mind works. They post their research on the website


JONATHAN HAIDT: Thank you, Bill.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean righteous mind?

JONATHAN HAIDT: Anytime we're interacting with someone, we're judging them, we're sharing expectations, we think they didn't live up to those expectations.

So, in analyzing any social situation you have to understand moral psychology. Our moral sense really evolved to bind groups together into teams that can cooperate in order to compete with other teams.

So, some situations will sort of ramp up that tribal us-versus-them mentality. Nothing gets us together like a foreign attack. And we've seen that, 9/11, and Pearl Harbor. And, conversely, when there are moral divisions within the group, and no external attack, the tribalism can ramp up, and reach really pathological proportions. And that's where we are now.

BILL MOYERS: So, but, it's sort of a tradition to divide into teams. The Giants versus the Patriots. Or the Republicans versus the Democrats. Us versus them, is almost something un-American to suggest that there's something wrong with that?

JONATHAN HAIDT: No. Groupishness is generally actually good. A lot of research in social psychology shows that when you divide people into teams, to compete, they love their in-group members a lot more. And the hostility toward out-group members is usually minimal. So sports competitions-- and I'm at a big football school, UVA. You know-

BILL MOYERS: University of Virginia-

JONATHAN HAIDT: University of Virginia. And you know, the other team comes, there's, you know, some pseudo aggression in the stands. You know, hostile motions. But, you know, that night, there aren't bar fights, when everybody's drinking together downtown.

That's the way, sort of, healthy, normal, groupish tribalism works. But, the tribalism evolved, ultimately, for war. And when it reaches a certain intensity, that's when, sort of, the switches flip, the other side is evil, they're not just our opponents, they're evil. And once you think they're evil, then the ends justify the means. And you can break laws, and you can do anything, because it's in the service of fighting evil.

BILL MOYERS: When I saw the title of your book, The Righteous Mind,” I thought, "Well, that's interesting." Because you point out that the derivative, the root of the word righteous is an old English world that does mean just, upright and virtuous. Then it gets picked up and used in Hebrew to translate the word describing people who act in accordance with God's wishes, and it becomes an attribute of God, and of God's judgment on people. So the righteous mind becomes a harsh judge.

JONATHAN HAIDT: That's right. I chose that title in part because we all think, you know, morality is a good thing, justice, ethics. And I wanted to get across the sense that, let's just look with open eyes at human nature. And right, morality is part of our nature. And morality is, makes us do things that we think are good, but it also makes us do things that we often think are bad. It's all part of our groupish, tribal, judgmental, hyper-judgmental, hypocritical nature. We are all born to be hypocrites. That's part of the design.

BILL MOYERS: Born to be hypocrites.

JONATHAN HAIDT: Born to be hypocrites. That's right.


JONATHAN HAIDT: Our minds evolved not just to help us find the truth about how things work. If you're navigating through a landscape, sure, you need to know, you know, where the dangers are, where the opportunities are. But in the social world, our minds are not designed to figure out who really did what to whom. They are finely tuned navigational machines to work through a complicated social network, in which you've got to maintain your alliances, and your reputation.

And as Machiavelli told us long ago, it matters far more what people think of you than what the reality is. And we are experts at manipulating our self-presentation. So, we're so good at it, that we actually believe the nonsense that we say to other people.

BILL MOYERS: So, take the subtitle. Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. Why are they? And what does the righteous mind have to do with it?

JONATHAN HAIDT: Politics has always been about coalitions and teams fighting each other. But those teams, those teams were never evenly divided on morality. Now, well, basically it all started, as you well know, on the day Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. You tell me what he said on that day. I think I heard you say this once.

BILL MOYERS: He actually said to me that evening, "I think we've just turned the South over to the Republican Party for the rest of my life, and yours."

JONATHAN HAIDT: Yeah. And he was prescient, that's exactly what happened. So there was this anomaly for the 20th Century that both parties were coalitions of different regions, and interest groups. But there were liberal Republicans, there were conservative Democrats. So the two teams, they had, they were people whose moralities could meet up. Even though they were playing on different teams.

And once Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, and the South, which had been Democrat, because Lincoln had been a Republican, so once they all moved over to the Republican party, and then the moderate Republicans began to lose office in the '80s, and '90s, and the last ones going just recently, for the first time we have an ideologically pure division of the parties.

And now, this groupish tribalism, which is usually not so destructive, we can usually, you know, when you leave the playing field, you can still meet up, and be friends. But now that it truly is a moral division, now the other side is evil. And there's nobody, there aren't really pairs of people who can match up, and say, well, come on. We all agree on this, let's work together.

BILL MOYERS You remind me that when we set out to try to pass the Civil Rights Act of '64, and the Voting Rights Act of '65, LBJ commissioned us to go spend much of our time with the moderate Republicans in the House, and in the Senate. Because he said, "When push comes to shove, and when the roll is called, we're going to need them to pass this bill." And at one point, in the signing of one of those bills, he turned and handed the pen to Everett Dirksen, the senior Republican from Illinois and the leader of the Republican minority in the Senate and he was the one who, in the critical moments, brought a number of moderate Republicans to vote for the Civil Rights bill. You’re saying that was a deciding moment, a defining moment?

JONATHAN HAIDT: So there are three major historical facts, or changes, that have gotten us into the mess that we're in. So the first is the realignment of the South into the Republican column, which allowed both parties now to be pure. So that now there are basically no liberal Republicans matching up with conservative Democrats. So, the parties are totally separated. The second thing that happened was the replacement of the Greatest Generation by the Baby Boomers.

BILL MOYERS: The Greatest Generation fought World War II. Came home. Built the country, ran the economy. People's politics, and, created this consensual government your talking--

JONATHAN HAIDT: Exactly. These are people who joined groups, had a sense of civic responsibility, participated in the democratic process. And so these people, as they moved through. I mean, they could disagree. Politics has always been contentious. But at the end of the day, they felt they were part of the same country, and in the Senate and the House, they were part of the same institution. They're replaced by the Baby Boomers. And what's their foundational experience?

It's not responding together to a foreign threat. It's fighting each other over whether this country is doing evil, or good. So you get the good/evil dichotomy about America, and about each other happening in the '60s, and '70s, when these people grow up, assume political office. Now, you got Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich. It's a lot harder for them to agree than it was for Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan.

BILL MOYERS: So we get through the culture wars. Fights over abortion, prayer in schools. And that conflict becomes very polarizing.


BILL MOYERS: And that's because of the Baby Boomers, and-

JONATHAN HAIDT: Well, the Baby Boomers, I think, are more prone to Manichaean thinking.

BILL MOYERS: Manichaean thinking. Good and evil.

JONATHAN HAIDT: That's right. Manichaeus was a, I think, third century Persian prophet, who preached that the world is a battleground between the forces of light, and the forces of darkness. And everybody has to take a side. And some people have sided with good, and of course, we all believe that we've sided with good. But that means that the other people have sided with evil.

And when it gets so that your opponents are not just people you disagree with, but when it gets to the mental state in which I am fighting for good, and you are fighting for evil, it's very difficult to compromise. Compromise becomes a dirty word.

BILL MOYERS: Let me play you an exchange between House Speaker John Boehner and Lesley Stahl on “60 Minutes.” Take a look at this.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: We have to govern, that’s what we were elected to do.

LESLEY STAHL: But governing means compromising.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: It means working together.

LESLEY STAHL: It also means compromising.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: It means finding common ground.

LESLEY STAHL: Ok, is that compromising?

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: Let me be clear I am not going to compromise on my principles, nor am I going to compromise the will of the American people.

LESLEY STAHL: You’re saying “I want common ground but I’m not going to compromise.” I don’t understand that, I really don’t.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: When you say the word compromise, a lot of Americans look up and go, ‘oh, oh, they’re going to sell me out.’ And so finding common ground, I think, makes more sense.

LESLEY STAHL: I reminded him that his goal had been to get all the Bush tax cuts made permanent. So you did compromise.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: We found common ground.

LESLEY STAHL: Why won’t you say-- you’re afraid of the word!


BILL MOYERS: He could barely say the word compromise.

JONATHAN HAIDT: That's right, that’s right. Because once you've crossed over from normal political disagreement into Manichaean good versus evil, to compromise, I mean, we say, you know, his ethics were compromised, you don't compromise with evil. Now, I think it's especially an issue for Republicans because they are better at doing, sort of, tribal team based loyalties. The data we have at shows that conservatives score much higher on this foundation of loyalty, groupishness. And the Republican, I mean, which job would you rather have in Congress? The Republican whip or the Democratic whip? You know?


JONATHAN HAIDT: The Republicans can hang together better. And part of it is, they're better at drawing bright lines and saying, ‘I will not go over this line.’

BILL MOYERS: But governing is all about brokering compromise.

JONATHAN HAIDT: Yes, absolutely.

BILL MOYERS: You cannot in a pluralistic, multicultural society with all the different beliefs, have a mantra that unites us all. You've got to broker compromise.

JONATHAN HAIDT: Well, it depends what perspective you're taking. If you're looking at the good of the nation, you're absolutely right. But for competition within the nation, taking this hard lined position is working out pretty well for them. So, sure. You can have a hard line against compromise. And especially if the other side can't get as tough, can't threaten to break legs, you end up winning.

And I think Democrats are a little weaker here. And certainly Obama took a lot of flack for that, in his negotiation strategy with the Republicans, as far as I can see, he's never really presented a credible threat. So, they've been better off walking away from the table.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, but the country suffers, doesn't it, when-

JONATHAN HAIDT: Yes. Absolutely-

BILL MOYERS: Boehner and the Republicans think it's immoral to compromise, and Obama thinks it's immoral not to compromise?

JONATHAN HAIDT: Well, that's true. I would say Obama could've done a much better job with his negotiating strategy.


JONATHAN HAIDT: Obama is such a great orator and wowed so many of us in the campaign. But then, once he was elected, you know, he's been focusing on the terrific, terrible problems that he's had to deal with. But I think he has not made the moral case that would back up the arguments from the politicians in Washington.

I think the Democrats need to be developing a credible argument about fairness, capitalism, American history. They need to be developing this master narrative so that when they then have an argument on a particular issue, it'll resonate with people. And they're not doing that. But the Republicans have.

BILL MOYERS: So the Greatest Generation disappears. The Boomers come along. The Civil Rights fight divides the country. And the third one?

JONATHAN HAIDT: The third is that America has gone from being a nation with localities that were diverse by class, in particular, let's say. You had rich people, and poor people living together.

It's become, in the post-war world, gradually a nation of lifestyle enclaves, where people chose to self-segregate. If people are concentrating just with people who are like them, then they're not exposed to the ideas from the other side, from people that they can actually like and respect. If you get all your ideas about the other side from the internet, where there's no human connection, it's just so easy, and automatic to reject it, and demonize it. So once we've sorted ourselves into homogeneous moral communities, it becomes a lot harder to work together.

BILL MOYERS: This gets us to the, what you talk about in the book, consensual hallucinations.


BILL MOYERS: What's that?

JONATHAN HAIDT: So I assume many viewers have seen the movie “The Matrix” and, or, one of those movies. And, it's a conceit in the science fiction book that the matrix is a consensual hallucination generated by computers and that we all live in it.


JONATHAN HAIDT: And I think this is a brilliant social psych metaphor. Back when we all encountered people of the other party, you couldn't have a consensual hallucination that wasn't interrupted by other people.

But once we can all live in these lifestyle enclaves, we only watch certain TV shows, we only go to certain websites, we only meet people like us, the matrix gets so closed in that each side here lives in a separate moral universe with its own facts, its own experts. And there's no way to get into the other matrix, to just throw, you can't just throw arguments or scientific studies at them and say, ‘Here conservatives, deal with this finding.’

It's not going to do anything. And conversely, they throw it back at you. We all feel as though we're living in reality. But them, they're caught up in this matrix. They're in la-la land. But we're all in la-la land. If you are part of a partisan community, if you're part of any community that has come together to pursue moral ends, you are in a moral matrix.

BILL MOYERS: My side is right, your side is wrong. Just ipso facto, right?

JONATHAN HAIDT: That’s right.

BILL MOYERS: Let me get some clarity on one of your basic foundations here. Your research in the book, you and your associates, organizes morality into six moral foundations or concerns. Sketch them briefly and tell me how liberals and conservatives differ on each of them.

JONATHAN HAIDT: Sure. So, if you imagine each of our righteous minds as being, like an audio equalizer with six slider switches, and the first one is care, compassion, those sorts of issues, liberals have it turned up to 11. And we have this on a lot of different surveys. Liberals really feel. When they see an animal being mistreated, they're more likely to feel something than conservatives, and especially than libertarians, who are very, very low on this one.

JONATHAN HAIDT: The next two, liberty and fairness, when liberty and fairness conflict with care, are you going to punish someone, or are you going to be compassionate? Liberals are more likely to go with care.

JONATHAN HAIDT: In other words, care trumps liberty and fairness, even though everybody cares about all three of those. The next three, loyalty, authority and sanctity, what we find, across many questionnaires, many surveys and analyses of texts and sermons, all sorts of things, is that liberals don't talk a lot about loyalty, you know, group loyalty. They don't talk a lot about authority and the importance of order and authority, maintaining order. They don't talk a lot about sanctity. Conservatives on the other hand, what we find is that, they value all of these more or less equally.

And I think this is part of the reason why conservatives have done a much better job of connecting with American morality and convincing people that they are the party of moral values.

BILL MOYERS: Let’s get down to some brass tacks, or brass knuckles as one might want to say. There's so much anger and incivility in our politics today. And the twain do not seem able to meet.

JONATHAN HAIDT: That's right.

BILL MOYERS: You have a lot of photographs of both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street that get at how moral psychology divides us, just-

JONATHAN HAIDT: That's right.

BILL MOYERS: Walk me through some of these.

JONATHAN HAIDT: The first step that we all need to take is to understand that the other side is not crazy. They're not holding their position just because they've been bribed or because they're racist or whatever evil motives you want to attribute.

JONATHAN HAIDT: So what I'm hoping my book will do is kind of give people almost a decoding manual so they can look at anything from the other side and instead of saying, ‘See, this shows how evil they are,’ you say, ‘Oh, okay, I see why they're saying that.’ All right, so, let's take, ‘Stop punishing success, stop rewarding failure.’

BILL MOYERS: I remember seeing that at one of the early Tea Party rallies.

JONATHAN HAIDT: So that's one version of fairness. Fairness adds proportionality.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

JONATHAN HAIDT: Well, if people work hard, they should succeed. If people don't work hard, they should fail. And if anyone bails them out, that is evil. You should not bail people out who have failed, especially if it's because of lack of hard work, something like that. So as the right sees it, government is evil because it keeps punishing success, with redistributive policies, okay, take from the successful and give to the unsuccessful.

And it keeps rewarding failure by giving out welfare and other payments to people who aren't working. So what I've found is that fairness is at the heart of both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party. But because the words have different meanings and they relate to additional moral foundations, that's why they're really, very, very different moral views.

There was a lot of empathy and caring at Occupy Wall Street. So this sign, "I can't hurt another without hurting myself." This is part of the ethos on the left, this is why you get a lot of Buddhists and sort of the Christian left.

It's a lot of emphasis on care and compassion. When they talk about fairness, it's in particular, fairness, that will benefit the weak and the poor. So, here's a sign, “Marching for the meek and weary, hungry and homeless." "Tax the wealthy, fair and square," as though because they're hungry and homeless people, it's fair to take from them and give to them. Now, I think there are really good arguments for why we need to increase tax rates on the top. But simply saying, ‘Some have and some have not, therefore it's fair,’ that's not a moral argument for most Americans.

BILL MOYERS: And what's the conservative moral position on this?

JONATHAN HAIDT: The conservative moral position is the Protestant work ethic. It's karma.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean by that?

JONATHAN HAIDT: So karma, karma's a Sanskrit word, for, literally for work, or fruit. That is, if you do some work, you should get the fruit of it. If I help you, I will eventually get the fruit of it. Even if you don't help me, something will happen. It's just a law of the universe. So, Hindus traditionally believed it's, that the universe will balance itself, right itself. It's like gravity. If I am lazy, good-for-nothing lying scoundrel, the universe will right that and I will suffer. But then along comes liberal do-gooders and the federal government to bail them out.

So I think the conservative view, for social conservatives this is, is that basically liberals are trying to revoke the law of karma. Almost as though, imagine somebody trying to revoke the law of gravity, and everything's going to float away into chaos.

BILL MOYERS: All right, let's go back to Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party.

JONATHAN HAIDT: Flags are everywhere. American flags are everywhere at the Tea Party. And you never see them defaced, modified, touching the ground. At Occupy Wall Street, however, the majority of them had been modified.

So here's one showing America as a nation taken over by corporations and war. Here's another one, “Occupy Wall Street, the 99 percent is you." Now, what this shows, I think, is that at Occupy Wall Street, certainly ‘The flag is not sacred, I think America is not sacred.’ The left tends to be wary of nation states. And this is, I think, a nice example of how sacralization blinds you.

And on the right, where they do sacralize America, they can't think about the nuances about how America is not always right, American foreign policy did contribute to 9/11, but you can't say that because people on the right will see that as sacrilege. So they're blind. Whereas people on the left have a more nuanced view.

So, you know, everything's a Rorschach test. As long as there's any ambiguity, one side will see the things that damn it, the other side will see the things that praise it.

BILL MOYERS: But isn't there reality below that Rorschach test? If Occupy Wall Street is saying, ‘Inequality is growing, the American dream, upward mobility is disappearing. Fifty million people in poverty,’ something's wrong with our democratic and capitalist system-

JONATHAN HAIDT: And I think something is wrong with our Democratic and capitalist system. And this is where I think the left has really fallen down in articulating what's wrong. The right has been extremely effective and has funded think tanks that have made the case very powerfully for what's good about capitalism.

And they're right. I mean, without capitalism, without free markets, we would not have the massive wealth that supports you and me and everyone else who doesn't physically make stuff. But since you need the push and pull, you need the give and take. You need the yin and yang. You need a good argument against that view. And I think it needs to be an argument about how capitalism, yes, it is good. But it only works under certain conditions.

There's a wonderful new book out called The Gardens of Democracy by Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer. And they say, ‘Democracy is like a garden. And the capitalist system is like a garden. You can't just say, 'Free market, grow as you like.' You have- it takes some tending.'

And even as Adam Smith knew, only external regulation can prevent externalities, prevent monopolies. You got to have a clear argument about what capitalism is, why it's good, and how to make it better. And, as I see it, the left hasn't done that.

BILL MOYERS: Does your research suggest it's preferable to have a greater moral range?

JONATHAN HAIDT: When I began this work, I was very much a liberal. And over time, in doing the research for my book and in reading a lot of conservative writing, I've come to believe that conservative intellectuals actually are more in touch with human nature. They have a more accurate view of human nature.

We need structure. We need families. We need groups. It's okay to have memberships and rivalries. All that stuff is okay, unless it crosses the threshold into Manichaeism. So I think that it would be very difficult to run a good society without resting much on loyalty, authority and sanctity. I think you need to use those.

BILL MOYERS: But it seems to me that liberals, progressives are more in touch with the nature of the social order. I had an anthropology teacher at the University of Texas who had spent five years amongst the Apaches in West Texas for his graduate work.

And he used both their example and the example through ages of saying, through the long history of human beings, we have accomplished more by cooperation, than we have by competition. And it seems to me that's the truth that progressives or liberals or whomever you want to call them see that conservatives don't.

JONATHAN HAIDT: But cooperation and competition are opposite sides of the same coin. And we've gotten this far because we cooperate to compete. So you can say that liberals are more accurate or in touch with how the system works. But I would say they're more in touch with some aspects of how systems go awry and oppress some people, ignore other people. Liberals see some aspects of where the social system breaks down. And conservatives see others. You have to have consequences following bad behavior. That is as basic an aspect of system design as any. And that's one where conservatives see it much more clearly than liberals.

I think I'm a centrist, in terms of liberal conservative. And I feel like I'm sort of, I sort of, like, stepped out of the game. And now that the game has gotten so deadly, I'm hoping that, in the coming year, I can be the guy saying, ‘Come on, people, just, here, understand the other side so you stop demonizing, and now you can argue more productively.’

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, well, how do we do that when, in fact, there's a great advantage to one side or the other side to demonize the enemy? And here, you know, you bring us right to Newt Gingrich and his career.

BILL MOYERS: In 1990, Newt Gingrich was chairman of something called GOPAC, which was a conservative political action committee. And he issued a memo to the members, the conservative members of that organization about words that conservatives should use to describe themselves and words they should use to describe Democrats and liberals.

JONATHAN HAIDT: Abuse of power, betray, bizarre, corrupt, criminal rights, cheat, devour, disgrace, greed, steal, sick, traitors, radical, red tape, unionized, waste, welfare. Quote, “The words and phrases are powerful. Read them. Memorize as many as possible. And remember that like any tool, these words will not help if they are not used.” Those words were used, as you know, quite successfully.

JONATHAN HAIDT: That's right. So two things to say about Gingrich. One is that he's a screaming hypocrite. But as I said, we're all hypocrites. That's part of the design. The other is that he's a very good moral psychologist. And as I've said, the Democrats are generally not.

JONATHAN HAIDT: So he had words there that touch all six of the foundations, you know, from abuse of power to sick and corrupt for the sanctity stuff. So while I'm non-partisan, my big issue is demonizing.

BILL MOYERS: And yet you also acknowledge that demonizing the other can be rewarded politically.

JONATHAN HAIDT: That's right. It can because that makes you stronger in the contest within the group. Within the nation your side can beat the other side if you demonize, but it makes the nation weaker.

JONATHAN HAIDT: Most of our politics is driven by the people at the extremes, the people who have these dispositions fairly strongly, get passionate, get engaged, give money, blog, argue. Those people rarely cross over. So, but most Americans are not that politically engaged, and they're the ones that decide the elections.

So, since most people aren't extreme either way in their basic disposition, they're up for grabs. And, whichever party can connect with their moral values. And this is where I think again, the Democrats have not fully understood moral psychology. I listen to them in election after election, especially 2000, 2004, saying, ‘We've got this policy for you. We're going to give you more support,’ as though politics is shopping.

As though, ‘Come, you know, buy from us. We've got a better deal for you.’ The Democrats, I find, have not been as good at understanding that politics is really religion. Politics is about sacredness. Politics is about offering a vision that will bind the nation together to pursue greatness. And Republicans since Ronald Reagan have been really good at that.

BILL MOYERS: At the same time, it can blind you.

BILL MOYERS: It can bind you--


BILL MOYERS: -into a tribe, but it can blind the whole tribe.

JONATHAN HAIDT: Absolutely. That's what we're stuck with. That's the nature of moral psychology. You got it.

BILL MOYERS: There's a chapter called “Vote For Me, Here's Why.” Let me run down a series of points you make in that chapter, and get your short take on what you want us to take away from that. Quote, "We're all intuitive politicians."

JONATHAN HAIDT: That's right. So a politician is always asking the question, ‘How am I doing?’ As Mayor Koch used to say. That's what we always want to know. And so when we interact with people we're intuitively we're like politicians, out to get their vote. Out to make them like us, make them be impressed by us. Who knows if they could be useful to us in the future.

So we say one thing to one person, one thing to another. We change our views, our attitudes. Oh, did you like that movie? Oh, I hated it because I know that he hated it, oh yes, I loved it, because I know that she liked it. We do this all the time. And we don't even know we're doing it.

So many people think, ‘Oh, you know, I dance to, I move to my own drum. I, you know, I'm independent. I'm a maverick.’ People think that about themselves. But research shows that even people who think that about themselves are just as influenced by what other people think of them. Basically we are clueless and hypocritical about ourselves. We're actually moderately accurate in our predictions of other people. Our blindness is about ourselves.

BILL MOYERS: Quote, "We are obsessed with polls."

JONATHAN HAIDT: Once again, what we really want to know is what others think of us. The research shows that when you give people the opportunity to cheat, in a way where they can get away with it, because there's no reputational consequence, most people cheat.

Other research shows that philosophers, and moral philosophers are no better than anyone else. So we all think that we're going to behave, we're going to have this inner moral compass. But really what we're most concerned with is what's this going to do to my poll numbers.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah. I remember, you quote somebody's research in here, that they looked into how often books on ethics were taken out of the library, and not returned. And it was a very high ratio. And often by moral philosophers, or teachers of ethics. Right.

JONATHAN HAIDT: Eric Schwitzgebel, a philosopher, looked at how often books had not been returned, from lots of libraries. And, right, the ethics books were more likely to have been not returned than other philosophy books. My guess is that moral philosophers are extremely expert in coming up with justifications for whatever they want to do.

BILL MOYERS: This one hit me personally. Quote, “Our in-house press secretary automatically justifies everything.”

JONATHAN HAIDT: That's right. When someone accuses you of something, you can't help it. Instantly, your mind is off and running, drafting the press release to explain how, while it might look like I was hypocritical, but actually, so, we just, this is the way we think automatically. And again, it's part of this sort of Machiavellian psychology.

BILL MOYERS: Quote, "We lie, cheat, and justify so well that we honestly believe we're honest."

JONATHAN HAIDT: Everybody believes they're above average in honesty. But in fact, again, the studies show that when you give people a chance to cheat, literally the majority take advantage of it.

They'll fudge a number here, or they'll go over-time. They'll change an answer on a test, if, say, they get paid more money for getting more correct answers, for example. And the amazing thing is they're able to justify it. They're… they walk out of there thinking that they didn't cheat and lie.

BILL MOYERS: Quote, "Reasoning and Google can take you wherever you want to go."

JONATHAN HAIDT: Something we need to talk about here is what's called the confirmation bias. That is, you might think that our reasoning is designed to find the truth. And if you want to find the truth, you should look on both sides of a proposition. But in fact what happens is, when someone gives you a proposition, our minds, we send them out, we sent them out to do research for us.

But it's research, like, as a lawyer does, or as a press secretary would do, it’s like, ‘Find me one piece of evidence that will support this claim that I want to make.’ And if I can find one piece of evidence, I'm done. I can stop thinking. Well, that's the way we've been for millions of years. And, well, hundreds of thousands of years.

And suddenly Google comes along. You don't have to do any research. You just type it in. You know, "I think Obama, was Obama born in Kenya?" Just type it in. You'll find hits. You know, “Is global warming a hoax?” Type it, you'll find hits. So Google can basically solve your needs for confirmation, 24 hours a day.

BILL MOYERS: Quote, "We can believe almost anything that supports our team."

JONATHAN HAIDT: That's right. So it's bad enough when we're cheating and dissembling and manipulating things for our own benefit, but when we're doing it for our team it somehow is even more honorable, and easier to do. And this brings us right back to the culture war. People can believe any kind of crazy nonsense they want.

If you hated George Bush, when he was President, and somebody would give you an argument. I mean, you, it just seems automatically compelling. And you don't have to think very hard, conversely, now, about Barack Obama. So, all these things I'm saying. These biases of reasoning, that are so obvious at the personal level, when you ramp them up to the group level they get even more severe.

BILL MOYERS: This one took me aback, because it flies right in the face of my predisposition. “Anyone who values truth should stop worshiping reason.”

JONATHAN HAIDT: The idea of sacredness, the idea of sacralizing something. What I see as an academic, and as a philosophy major as an undergrad, is there are a lot of people in the academic world that sac- they think, oh, you know, no sacred cows. We shouldn't sacralize anything.

But they sacralize reason itself, as though reason is this noble attribute, reason is our highest nature. And if we could just reason, we will solve our problems. All right, that sounds good on paper. But given all the stuff I just told you about what psychologists have discovered about reason, reasoning is not good at finding the truth. Conscious verbal reasoning is really good at confirming.

We're really good lawyers. So what this means is that if you sacralize reason itself, you are first of all wrong about it. And as I say in the book, follow the sacredness. Wherever people sacralize something, there you will find ignorance, blindness to the truth, and resistance to evidence.

BILL MOYERS: So what does, what did the Hebrew prophet mean when he said, "Come now, and let us reason together." Are you saying we can't get at the truth that way?

JONATHAN HAIDT: No. That actually is very wise. Because what I'm saying here is that individual reasoning is post-hoc, and justificatory. Individual reasoning is not reliable because of the confirmation bias. The only cure for the confirmation bias is other people.

So, if you bring people together who disagree, and they have a sense of friendship, family, having something in common, having an institution to preserve, they can challenge each other's reason. And this is the way the scientific world is supposed to work.

And this is the way it does work in almost every part of it. You know, I've got my theory, and I'm really good at justifying it. But fortunately there's peer review, and there's lots of people are really good at undercutting it. And saying, "Well, what about this phenomenon? You didn't account for that."

And we worked together even if we don't want to, we end up being forced to work together, challenging each other's confirmation biases, and truth emerges. And this is a place where actually I think the Christians have it right, because they're always talking about how flawed we are. They're encouraging us to be more modest.

And from my reading, these apostles of reason nowadays, they're anything but modest. And they think that individuals can reason well. Wisdom comes out of a group of people well-constituted who have some faith or trust in each other. That's what our political institutions used to do, but they don't do anymore.

BILL MOYERS: You're helping me to understand this fundamental dichotomy in American political life, the- a country that mythologizes the rugged individual.


BILL MOYERS: But a country that's now governed by dogmatic group politics, right?

JONATHAN HAIDT: So this gets us right into sacredness, one of the dictums of the book is "follow the sacredness." It, once you see the basic dynamic of human life is individuals competing with individuals, but when necessary, coming together so that the group can compete with the group. So it's perfectly consistent for the right to worship rugged individualism at the individual level and to see government and especially government safety nets and nanny states as deeply immoral because it undercuts rugged individualism.

But at the same time, for them to be tribal and to come together around a pledge on taxes. Now, Grover Norquist was brilliant in exploiting the psychology of sacredness in making them sign this pledge. Even if many of them knew in their heart it was the wrong thing to do, we're so concerned about our poll numbers, we're so concerned about what people think of us, any candidate that said, "No, I'm not going to sign," you can bet Norquist was going to hold his feet to the fire.

And now they're stuck. And you get that crazy scene in that Republican debate, "If you could work out a deal, $10 of spending cuts for every one dollar of tax increases, would you take it?"

BRET BAIER: Say you had a deal, a real spending cuts deal, 10 to one as Byron said. Spending cuts to tax increases. Speaker you’re already shaking your head. But who on this stage would walk away from that deal? Can you raise your hand if you feel so strongly about not raising taxes you’d walk away on the 10 to one deal?

JONATHAN HAIDT: It's straight out of all the conformity experiments in social psychology. It’s-- you don't want to look, you don't want to be the one who stands up and is different. It's a lot of conformity pressure. A little further out, it's not just that you're afraid of being different, it's that you know what's waiting for you if you didn't get your hand up. And that is Grover Norquist and everybody else saying, "He's going to raise my taxes, he's going to raise my taxes."

BILL MOYERS: And you will be ejected from the group.

JONATHAN HAIDT: That's right.

BILL MOYERS: You're not longer in the tribe.

JONATHAN HAIDT: That's right.

BILL MOYERS: Out to the wilderness, right-

JONATHAN HAIDT: That's right. Now, we can go even further back, and this is what I think people on the left have trouble understanding, is the rejection of taxes, this dogmatic attitude about taxes, it's not just, ‘Oh, I want to keep my money, give me money, I'm greedy,’ it's that the federal, they've seen the federal government, and this begins in the '30s with Roosevelt, they've seen the federal government doing things that they think are evil. That is, the government got into the business of bailing people out when they make mistakes. Now, usually people need help not because they made a mistake. There are important reasons to have a safety net. But welfare policies, and it got even more so in the '60s, the government began doing things that supported people who were slackers or free-riders.

So as entitlement programs grow, as they begin to do things that are really antithetical to conservative ideas about fairness and responsibility, now government, it's not hard to see government as evil. And the only way to stop it is to starve the beast.

BILL MOYERS: What's the Democratic liberal left equivalent of the tax pledge, no new taxes, the group think on one issue that, if you violate it gets you thrown out of the tribe?

JONATHAN HAIDT: Right, well, it's touchy to talk about, but basically I think the new left, the commitment that was made in the '60s, was toward victim groups. So it was civil rights, women's rights, gay rights. Now these were all incredibly important battles that had to be fought. And again, follow the sacredness. If you sacralize these groups, it makes you, it binds you together to fight for them.

So the sacralization had to happen, the sacralization of victim groups had to happen to bring the left together to fight what was a truly altruistic and heroic battle. And they won, and things are now better in this country because of that. But, follow the sacredness. Once you've sacralized something, you become blind to evidence.

So evidence about, let's say, how welfare was working, or any other social policy that many of these social policies would backfire. But you can't see it because you've sacralized a group. Anything that seems to be helping that group, anything our group says is going to help them, you go with. So both sides are blind to evidence around their sacred commitments.

BILL MOYERS: I want to go to a very important moment in an early Republican debate that seems to me to go to the heart of what you're writing about in terms of moral psychology and how the conservatives see it. This was a question to Ron Paul. Let's play it.

WOLF BLITZER: Let me ask you this hypothetical question. A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I'm not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I'm healthy, I don't need it. But, you know, something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it. Who's going to pay for, if he goes into a coma, for example? Who pays for that?

RON PAUL: Well, in a society that you accept welfarism and socialism, he expects the government to take care of him.

WOLF BLITZER: Well, what do you want?

RON PAUL: But what he should do is whatever he wants to do, and assume responsibility for himself. My advice to him would have a major medical policy, but not be forced--

WOLF BLITZER: But he doesn't have that. He doesn't have it, and he needs intensive care for six months. Who pays?

RON PAUL: That's what freedom is all about, taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody--

WOLF BLITZER: But Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?


JONATHAN HAIDT: This is a perfect example of what the culture war has turned into. It's a battle over ideas about fairness versus compassion. So the reason that that video went viral is because of the applause at the end.

So I got sent this video by a lot of people because, oh, my God, these Republicans are so heartless. They're so evil and cruel and terrible. But it's exactly Aesop's ant and the grasshopper. The grasshopper fiddles away all the summer while the ants are working and working and working, preparing for the winter. The grasshopper says, "Oh, you're being silly, working so hard." And then winter comes. The grasshopper comes, knocks on the ants' door and he's starving to death, he's freezing. He says, "Take me in. Feed me." And as some liberals see it, the point of the ant and the grasshopper and that the ants are supposed to feed the grasshopper. But that's not what Aesop meant.

And that's not what most Americans think it means. So what they're applauding for there and what they're saying, "Yeah, let him die," the reason they're saying that is because they want a world in which karma functions. This guy made a choice. He made a choice to be a free rider. He made a choice to not buy health insurance. And if karma works as it should, no one will pay for it and he will die. Now, if you care, if you value the care foundation, that is extremely cold. But if you value fairness as proportionality, that's what has to happen.

BILL MOYERS: What did Aesop mean?

JONATHAN HAIDT: Aesop meant, that you better take care of yourself because if you don't, if you're lazy and you expect others to take care of you, you deserve to die. You deserve to be left out in the cold. And that's why welfare has always been so contentious because, on the left, they think it's doing good bringing money to their sacralized victim groups. But on the right, it's doing bad because it's encouraging dependence. It's discouraging hard work. It's rotting away the Protestant work ethic. And it's encouraging irresponsibility. Welfare's always been an incredibly contentious.

BILL MOYERS: It has been but liberals and progressives are right, are they not, when they say government has been a big force in the development of this country, all the way from infrastructure, canals, and railroads and airports and all of that to the social contract, which prevents elderly people from falling into a life of despair at the end of their years.

JONATHAN HAIDT: That's right. That's all true. And if the Democrats could make a good, clear case of what the proper role of government is, I think they'd be successful because that's absolutely right. The problem is that government, whoever has the reins of government uses it for moralistic purposes.

They use it to further their sacred ends. And they use it to channel money and programs and largesse to their favorite groups. So people on the right don't trust government to do what's right with their tax dollars. And the left, again, needs to come up with a clear story about what is the proper role of government and what is not. And they need to regain the trust.

BILL MOYERS: But it means that we can never get together to try to resolve it when one party says ‘we won’t compromise’ and the other party says ‘you are evil.’

JONATHAN HAIDT: That's right. That's right. So, we're in a lot of trouble. I don't see an easy way out here. There are some electoral reforms that would make things better. But the problem is that all electoral reforms will tend to favor one side over the other, which means it's very difficult to get them enacted.

BILL MOYERS: Well, you're also asking the very people benefiting from the present status quo system to change what is to their benefit.

JONATHAN HAIDT: That's right.

BILL MOYERS: To keep it going.

JONATHAN HAIDT: That's right. So, I mean, my only thoughts about how we can make the kind of end run about this, is we need to develop norms of certain things that are beyond the pale, certain things that are bad. And so, for example, just as we developed our discourse about, say, sexual harassment, you know, when movies and TV shows from the '60s, it was common. It was laughed at.

But, you know, in just a few decades we've come a long way and recognized certain kinds of behaviors are unacceptable. We've changed our attitudes about smoking in public. We've done all sorts of things like that. We've moralized things. I'd like to propose that we moralize two things.

One is demonization. When you have people saying, you can disagree as much as you want, but when you start saying, "They're only saying that because they're, you know, they're a racist or they're in bed with this company," or, and even though sometimes that might be true. But we are so prone to dismiss other people and demonize their motives that we’re usually going to be wrong about that. So if we could begin to see this in each other and even challenge each other and say, "Hey, you're demonizing." Like, just, you know, disagree with them but stop attributing bad motives to the other side. So if ten years from now people sort of recognize that and could call each other out on in, that would at least be some progress.

The other one is corruption. Until we develop a massive groundswell of public revulsion at the fact that our Congress is bought and paid for, not entirely of course. Many of them are decent people. I don't want to demonize. I'm sorry. But the nature of the institution is such that they've got to raise tons of money. And then they're responsive to those interests. So perhaps there's some norms that we could develop that will put some pressure on Congress to clean up its act.

BILL MOYERS: Jonathan Haidt, thank you very much for sharing your ideas with us.

JONATHAN HAIDT: Oh, my pleasure, Bill. This has been great fun.

Jonathan Haidt Explains Our Contentious Culture

Our country is more politically polarized than ever. Is it possible to agree to disagree and still move on to solve our massive problems?  Or are the blind leading the blind — over the cliff?

Bill and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt talk about the psychological underpinnings of our contentious culture, why we can’t trust our own opinions, and the demonizing of our adversaries.

“When it gets so that your opponents are not just people you disagree with, but… the mental state in which I am fighting for good, and you are fighting for evil, it’s very difficult to compromise,” Haidt tells Moyers. “Compromise becomes a dirty word.”

Test Your Morals

Test your morals with Haidt’s assessment surveys related to Moral Foundations and Criminal Justice.

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  • leftofcenter

    Another reason it’s difficult to compromise is the capitalist system we live in. It actually says that weakness isn’t tolerated. Either you keep up or you literally perish.

  • Jbjones24

    Loved the show! Another thing I would add is that the premises upon which the tribal ethos is built (such as “hard work will be rewarded”) are often ill-defined or false.

  • Jbrjaw1

    This guy (Haidt) is just way off kilter.   Let me explain, before Bill buys his snake-oil…  Use your senses to determine absolute truth and absolute reality:  If that which you determine to be real is real, then you should be using 3 of your 5 senses, and if it’s more than 3 then it’s probably reality, true, or actually a fact, but if it’s less then it has a very good chance of being false or not real.  The GOP and the mentality of the republican mind has been trained by fear and hate to lean on or bully the weak, ill, and misfortune – for decades.  They have used religion as the all powerful trump card to fortify their heinous behavior.  Follow the marketing and the propaganda of all that the GOP spews out to the masses.  A tribe was compassionate towards other tribes in most cultures across this planet until many began to realize just how easy it was to manipulate fellow humans with exaggerated stories.  Back in tribal times, “he” who told the best stories usually was given more favor amongst the masses.  It’s been this way for thousands of years Bill.  Haidt has done a great deal of studies, but to say that there is an excuse for being an asshole to our fellow human’s is just plan wrong.  It’s a learned behavior that is still practiced by many.  I’m in marketing and while I took a marketing class – our instructor said this, “Jesus was the greatest marketing guru of ancient times.”  Many in the class were stunned, but I caught exactly what she was getting at.  Jesus and his disciples on to others throughout time that have told great stories to the masses by using dogmas, ideologies, and fictional situations and characters usually become iconic as they do to this day…  You need to get another perspective on Haidts preachings before you lose many of your viewers.

  • Anonymous

    Re:  Jonathan Haidt segment.


    Thank you….

  • Observer

    If Bill Moyers’ fans are writing here in the comments, I’m not surprised at the content.  Howerver, we need to throw the “Demonization” flag at what Jbrjaw1 says.  I was also surprised at his finding that conservatives are more comprehending of liberals’ viewpoint than the other way around. 

  • Info

    Where does it say that?

  • Info

    Who tends to be more sucessful people that work hard outside of the home or those that do not?

  • Anonymous

    Jbrjaw1 find your comments entirely without merit and utterly destructive
    of any attempt on your own part to add to this discussion. Mr. Haight is hardly
    the core of this event. His thought is. Mr. Moyers, as is to be expected, made
    inquiry in the various maters and allowed Mr. Haight to lay out his thoughts
    before we, the public. As a viewer of the program, I will begin to ponder this
    thought and over time, determine its value. In a very real sense Mr. Moyers
    provides a platform for the ultimate “peer review”…we the audience
    as a whole, may now begin that review.  As to “gaining another
    perspective” whom are you talking to? Mr. Moyers has been in deep
    involvement with many of the most basic issues of life for how many decades
    now? How many different points of view has he brought before us via now many
    different people? Do you imagine that with that deep and broad experience it’s
    even humanly possible for he to NOT gain another perspective? Oh, please.


  • Frank Sturgell

    As someone that is not a member of either tribe, this segment left me thinking that this is far too simplistic.  He doesn’t mention that the social issues of the day are nothing, but emotional bait that is used to galvanize the groups.  They are deflection issues used while the ones at the top fill up their wallets at our expense.  We are all victims of a giant pickpocket game.  If you don’t believe me, proof is the lack of doing anything of substance by the Republicans with the abortion issue from 2001-06.  They held the House, the Senate, and had the Rubber Stamp Chicken Boy in the White House at their pleasure.  Nothing was done.  They didn’t do anything with this advantage.  They kept in reserve to be used as an emotional stir stick in perpetuity.

    There is also the game by those at the top of the conservative group to create fear and weaken education to keep that group protecting those at the top, which is the entire reason for the Republican party today.  The Republican party is a bunch of a very wealthy party, most that obtained their wealth through daddy welfare, and look for protection by a bunch of fearmongers so they can hold onto their wealth.  This was not explained well and is why I call the segment too simplistic.

    As simplistic as the groups described, particularly conservatives that are afraid of everything, which was explained.  What wasn’t explained is that there is not a intellectual reason to be a conservative.  They all coalesce around one emotion, fear.  It is fear that bonds that group together.

    He states many times that “if liberals could word this argument . . .”  There are a couple of problems with this. 

    One, what defines a liberal today.  Liberals too me are a collection of groups, each having a different agenda.  Tough to get them to unite on one subject at a time to break down the conservative fear walls.  Particularly when one things their agenda is more important.

    Two, The other group does not want to hear an intellectual argument.  They don’t care about intelligence period.  To convince a conservative there is only game needs to be played.  Alleviate their fears by playing red rover.  They can’t be appealed to by intellect.

    Yes, our tribes peoples are in those groups because of their simplicities and fears that prevent them to think for themselves.   But what about those of us that do?  Forgotten like the rest of the political dissertation in the country.   I’ll just go back to watching this simplistic game of political tennis, where intelligence is not wanted on the court.

    And this drove me nuts.  “I don’t want to demonize Congress.  There are some good people.”  Who?  I want names.

  • steve

    this is true, but a corollary of such a hard wired belief such as “hard work will be rewarded” is: “if you are not successful, you are lazy”, which is patently false… this is a point which opposing viewpoints clash on… an ethos of hard work is great, but if it freezes only on that one point, then there is blindness to when that rule does not apply.

  • Frank Sturgell

    Correct.  Hardwork is often not rewarded.  Intelligence and the best ideas are often not rewarded.  I’ve read enough of David Brooks from the NY Times to see him contradict himself multiple times.   He has written on how great our meritocracy is to whoop up the emotional base.  A month later he writes about how the most chatty and beautiful person is getting all of the work while all of the harder working, better knowledged ones in an industry sit an stew with envy.  If only he could read his work.

  • Frank Sturgell

    We don’t have a capitalist system.  We have a cronyist fascism system.  With our system today, it isn’t a matter of keeping up.  It is a matter of the question are you accepted by the group of really cool guys that pay off the politicians to right the game?  If you’re not in the circle of cowards, you lose.

  • Frank Sturgell

    Your arguments are even more simplistic.  The name calling doesn’t work to your advantage.  You make yourself look like you are far too engrossed into one of the tribes to think clearly.  A 30,000+ view would do you much good.

  • Steve

    If what Mr. Haidt says is the reality of our political and moral life in this country, it is very depressing. I see very little chance of finding common ground with conservatives. And the thirty to forty years conservative institutions have spent demonizing liberals and progressives doesn’t make me want to give in to their bullying. I have always felt that the liberal attitude of trying to see the other persons point of view was best, but I have come to believe that most conservatives just see this willingness as a weakness to be exploited in their quest for domination of the conservative ideology. Mr. Haidt believes that conservative views stem from a strong traditional moral foundation.  This may be true for the common person. Conservative leaders have learned, however, to exploit these values and the general fear of change to push their private agenda of power. Public morality in the service of private gain. It’s leading our democracy to destruction. It’s time for progressives to stand up and resist. The occupy movement has the right idea and we must stand with them. I would welcome the Tea Party in this resistance, but I fear that the resistance they contemplate will just increase the power of the interests that already own the government.

  • Frank Sturgell

    I agree with most of what you’ve said, but I don’t think that there is an ideology to conservatives anymore.  It used to be an ideology about the rights of the individuals.  The individual is gone.  the many protective groups within corporations; execs., employees, board, shareholders, lobbyists and of course, regulators, Congress, councilmen, and legislatures. Fear (by the masses) and fraud (by the leaders) are not ideologies. 

    An ideology would give them an intellectual platform to base all issue from.  Their is no cohesive ideology to them.

  • Benjamin Arthur

    Correct Frank… but as Haidt so astutely points out Brooks is a hypocrite, Haidt is a hypocrite, Moyers is a hypocrite, I’m a hypocrite and you are a hypocrite.. in fact, we are ALL hypocrites because we’re designed that way! 

  • Jerbo00

    You are a sad fool. The very epitome of the close minded sacredist’s that Mr. Haidt describes.

  • Carol

    One thing this Haidt  says is that conservatives feel like there should be consequences that fall on bad behavior..I agree. The only problem is that they think that those consequences should only fall on the poor..they step on or over the line and they get smacked down hard. When the rich are responsible for that bad behavior..they get a raise and a bonus.

  • Ellyn

    Call me manichean. I think Haidt’s conclusions are too neat. His conclusions remind me of the corporate media”s “some say the world is flat….” false equivalence. I suspect that embedded as he is in Virginia, a state that has moved far to the right, he has become a little tribal.

  • Tatateeta

    It goes further than that. If there’s a hypocrisy graph in Haidt’s theory, the right must score higher than normal folks. The acronym IOKIYAR (It’s OK if you are a republican) was invented for a reason. Conservatives don’t think they themselves should suffer any consequences at all. By claiming the moral high ground, they believe that they actually have the moral high ground. Look at Nancy Pelosi’s habit of expelling any Democrat who morally transgresses from the House. Look at how often Democrats publicly shame groups like Acorn who have been accused without evidence of moral transgressions. Conservatives never accept blame or shame for one of their own.

  • N Ryan

    “I have always felt that the liberal attitude of trying to see the other persons point of view was best”
    What???!!! You are kidding, I lived in San Francisco for 11 years and it quickly turned me into an Independent from a Democrat. As long as you believed what the liberals in SF believed you were ok, otherwise look out, they will bully you verbally and physically, i.e. violent protests. 

  • Marco

     Jonathan Haidt makes some fine points on our current political divide. One that I agree with is, that Democrats don’t make  strong moral arguments for their positions.
    The recent healthcare debate should have been an easy  moral win for the Dems. I disagree with Haidt on some of his conclusions. He seemed to make conclusions based on GOP rhetoric not policy. For example he highlighted the GOP stance on work ethic and anti-welfare positions, ignoring GOP support for trickle-down and bail-outs, polite synonyms for welfare hand-outs.  There are more GOP positions that live only as rhetoric and never see the light of day. Tomas Frank has written about this disconnect, which has many voters voting against their own best interests. Haidt disappointed by not separating GOP rhetoric from reality when he has a good 30 year data base to look at.

  • mike

    One thing I would point out is that in the question regarding health care to ron Paul, Wolf Blitzer is assuming that the 30 year old male can afford health insurance but is choosing not buy it.  However, what is not mentioned by Haidt in his response is that many 30 year olds don’t have health insurance because they cannot afford the extra 300 dollars a month.  1/3rd of all US workers receive walmart wages in this country although worker productivity is higher than ever.  By not pointing out these facts Mr. Haidt runs a real danger of playing to false fairness.  That argument would be more accurate if the 50 million people in this country who are uninsured are uninsured because they choose not to buy health insurance.  But that is simply not the truth.

  • Tatateeta

    Not only that, but what if Wolfe added something to the question like “and what if that 30 year old man had the bubonic plague”. It has always seemed to me that the Golden Rule  (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) is a good one to follow whenever possible. I don’t think conservatives get the Golden Rule.

  • Bjf12858

    We all have one major thing in common as humans: we will all get old, become sick and die, and at that juncture, we are all in this together. How could illness ever be a major profit center in a society? It speaks volumes to the myopic view of the world and what is truly valued in this country. How could we as people of one race, the human race, EVER apply Aesop’s fable to hunger and illness? When profit supersedes even humanity, we will all eventually perish. That’s the REAL karma of Aesop’s fable!!!!

  • LauraNo

    I think very highly of his work but I take issue with some things he says, too. For instance, republicans disagreed with his earlier list of values because he didn’t have patriotism listed, so he ADDED IT. This is no way to conduct studies. And who says it’s a value? They do. Oh, okay then.

  • Annie

    First of all, we are so happy to have Bill and his staff back producing these thought provoking, timely and interesting shows on topics that can add to the national conversation.
    Now on to Jonathan Haidt.  His comments were so helpful in my internal debate as to “what’s going on?” in this country.  I am a political independent, with one foot in the liberally educated, help the poor profession of education and the other foot in the conservative capitalistic mode of an architect who must compete in the world of ideas, money and speculation (been in both career fields) . This divide has been inexplicable to me, until now. According to Mr. Haidt, “follow the sacredness” to find what drives our ideas — so true and so complex.  I especially appreciated his suggestions for both sides of our (my) moral divide, at the end: stop demonizing and stop the corruption.

  • Mecraig01

    Mr. Haidt did not mention the fact that corporations get welfare  and the conservatives look the other way. I would like for him (Mr. Haidt) to look at Mr. Moyers first show and than have the same conversation about culture…

  • Erik

    Fluff and conjecture in a typical Frank Lutz ideological motif.. Obviously designed to quell true open debate by pigeon holing a vast complex global system of ideas, experiences, social dynamics and corporate agendas into a diffused cluster of primitive tribal sound bites.  I could list counter points and weak links Ad nauseam …..   BTW,,,  did he say its wrong to demonize ??  How could you have an open conversation without referencing all the actions of a group (good or bad) .  Its like analyzing the Third Reich by just studying there industrial reconstruction policies …

  • Logan Gawain

    The problem with Haidt’s observations, is that he failed to observe the essential truth: Republicans are evil. That’s a plain fact. And until the left wakes up to the fact that we are dealing with inherently evil people, we are fundamentally unprepared on how to deal with the GOP thugs. The GOP thugs have blood on their hands from Iraq to Afghanistan to the entire planet with their war on the ecology itself. They will have murdered hundreds of millions of people before they are finished. That makes their bloodlust worse than Hitler’s. 

    So, don’t buy Haidt’s naive notion that there is some kind of moral equivalence between right and left. The right is utterly devoid of morality in any human sense. 

    We don’t need to talk to the right. We don’t need to listen to the right. We simply need to defeat and destroy them, and purge the right wing GOP evil out of our society, once and for all. 

  • Kye Lemki

    Very nice program.  Unfortunately, the discussion ignored probably the biggest reason why both sides demonize the other. If you’re a participant in some form of democratic society and the process of creating money is in the hands of a limited few, the results will always be a divided electorate that will prevent the spot light from shinning on the fact that the limited few who control the money system are in fact just orchestrating a symphony or producing a play designed to keep the discussion from exposing the tyrannical control of money underlying the illusion of democracy.  Eventually, we are supposed to figure this whole deal out, but for now were supposed to sit back and shut up and not rock the boat.

  • Bird

    He at some point makes it seem that free market economy (milton freeman) is a given..   and later states all systems need regulations..  { but doesn’t put this into a historical perspective that we already had a Great Depression due to banking fraud (ie., Federal Reserve problems with accountability)…   and collaboratively moved to a consensus around Keynsian regulations and group insurance systems and a system of “big” government solutions for the creation of wonderful “commons” like roads, social security, unemployment insurance..    to protect the (not lazy but rather weak and vulnerable)…   with regulations such as glass/stiegel (spealling?)  …    those were all manipulated away  by the financial sector of the economy under crony capitalism{…  but he does not in his “moral” psychology attend to the reality that  a 1% has truly manipulated the whole system using left and right as a reality TV program for us all to watch…..

    The USA had already, in other words,  lived thru this “moral war” stage and found consensus (with the exception of those crying in the wilderness who have been crying since The Enlightnment whe Monarchies were overturned!!!!

  • Brujos42

    I watched this most fascinating examination of the human psyche in the context of intractable socio-political partisanship and took the test.  I congratulate Bill Moyers who in recent years has displayed a measure of concern and outrage with the political process and media coverage along the lines of Edward R. Murrow. For a man of his age (and mine), I am delighted to see his mind more open than ever, founded on a wealth of experience His perspective is in dire need of reaching more people, enough to decide on our future leaders. 

  • Brujos42

    “Rhetoric”, posturing, or spinning talking points is about all most Americans absorb during a campaign. Haidt did not go beyond general perceptions of morality, something I wish could have been expanded to cover specific issues, including perceived performance. His data came specifically from his surveys as I gathered.

  • Brujos

    “Too neat”?  Or too superficial?  I like his approach and would be interested to see him delve deeper.

  • Brujos42

    I think that what Haidt was suggesting was that most Americans who decide elections can be convinced one way or the other.  Conservatives can be perceived as being more well-grounded in more categories than liberals.  Liberals these days need to do at least as well as conservatives to convince the undecided not through greater stridency, but rather through greater understanding and appreciation of a more conservative general public.  It is they who need to be convinced, not the opposition.

  • Tatateeta

    Both. I agree. But I think he is not “outside’ the sturm and the drang. He has a position and it is center right (in my view). But, as I said, call me manichean.

  • 801expat

    Didn’t Lakoff write this book 15 years ago?

  • Tatateeta

    Exactly. And when he talks about what is sacred to both groups, I he’s doing the false equivalence thing, again. Conservatives don’t want to pay for other people (although they never seem to mind if other people pay for their benefits) so low taxes and small government are sacred. And then his liberal equivalent is liberals wanting to take care of women and children with welfare and liberals being blind to the downside of welfare. And that’s true. What is the downside of welfare? I, a liberal, have no clue. But I know this. Since Bill Clinton, who turnsed out to be much less than I thought him, ended welfare, wages have decreased, more women and children are poor and homeless and our society is less stable. 

  • Anonymous

    Let’s try to put this all in a nutshell: 

    Would you rather live in a world where people help one another, and care about each other.  “The more you give the more you receive.” (Democratic World)? 


    Would you rather live in a dog eat dog world where everyone is out for themselves “The more you take from others, the better off you are.”  (Republican World)?

    I prefer the Democratic World!

    Haidt totally misses the meaning of Karma!
    “Karma is gained by how much you do to help others, not by what you take away from another.” 

  • Tatateeta

    Verrry manichean, but you don’t sound like a liberal. That’s right wing rhetoric:)

  • Tatateeta

    I love Bill Moyers. I love that he had a discussion with Dr. Haidt and I love that I am still thinking about it.

  • Brujos42

    “We don’t need to talk to the right. We don’t need to listen to the right. We simply need to defeat and destroy them, and purge the right wing GOP evil out of our society, once and for all.”

    The war is being waged on the wrong battlefield.  The hearts and minds of the receptive majority need to be swayed with strong, effective reasoning.   Thus far liberals have fallen far short of conservatives in the spin war.  I suggest that you start there first.

  • Mikewokie

    Finally, balanced reporting that puts all sides on notice that demonizing – by any side – does not lead to the truth but makes it worse for all sides.  We better get it together or we risk the very essence of the American experience. Don’t dioscrimate, don’t smoke and don’t demonize!

  • YellowPup

    I thought that it was a telling moment in this show that after Haidt finishes laying out the right’s most banal, paternalistic garbage about welfare, and what he calls the left’s “sacralized victim groups” (around 42:30), Moyers responds by asking whether it isn’t true that government has played a big role in the development of our country, and he goes on to cite a number of common sense examples, including the social safety net. Haidt responds, saying, “All true. If the Democrats could make a good, clear case (for this), they would be successful.” But Moyers just did!

    As Jon Stewart has said, maybe it’s not the food, it’s the waiter.

  • jody

    I found it interesting that Mr. Haidt spoke at length about the Hindu concept of karma and how we reap the consequences of what we sow.  I kept waiting, however, to hear any kind of analysis of Jesus’ message about caring for the poor and the less fortunate, and I didn’t hear it.  In Matthew 19, we have the story of the rich young man who wants to follow Christ.  “The young man said to Him, ‘All these commands I have kept; what am I still lacking?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ What would Mr. Haidt (and conservatives) say about that?  Or do they just cherry-pick what religious philosophies they want to follow, and ignore Christ’s teachings about our social and spiritual responsibilities?

  • willcommentforfood

    So did Thomas Frank in What’s the matter with Kansas.

    Still, Haidt made some good points worth considering in a current context. However, I think towards the end he was too much in love with his methodology and new theories and tried to rationalize some things the right wing does that are completely by any measure morally wrong.

  • Anonymous

     What he has done is judge the poor, and is declaring they are poor because the deserve to be poor.  (I know those were not his exact words, but that is what he eluded to).   This is not how Karma works.  We are not to make judgements, you nor I can change another persons Karma, only the individual has that ability. 

    When you have the means or ability to help someone that needs your help, your Karma increases…if you help that person.  The person you help, may lose Karma if he/she does not appreciate what you have done for them, but if he/she is appreciative they too would gain Karma. 

    The idea is that we are to help others, not judge them, nor look down on them.

  • willcommentforfood

    I agree with you, but at the same time, I think Haidt made some important points worth implementing, one has a greater chance of defeating an enemy by understanding their motives better and how well the Right frames issues in a supposedly moral context. Rational argument and better policy positions won’t always win. We lose when we think the Right is just wrong and just saying so will do the job.

  • willcommentforfood

    I agree, I think Haidt was just flat wrong in his ‘analysis’ of the bloodthirsty cruelty of the Republican crowd.  Ironically, it is a moral moment the Left would win in reminding people of the cruelty of the Right wing.

  • willcommentforfood

    The Tea Party is another case where Haidt made a false equivalency. He criticized Occupy but then let off the misspelling anti-intellectualism of the Tea Party as if it were a legit mainstream group. Once again, he let his ‘let’s all get along’ agenda cloud the reality of what is going on.

  • Anonymous

     My response to some of what Haidt had to say is my constant argument with people on either side that many policies are not yes or no decisions.  We are not doing single bit binary decisions, but we must deal in real numbers.  The question we must ask is, “How much of a certain policy will work the best?”

    The answer is not the most tax or the least tax, nor is it the most regulation or the least regulation, nor privatize everything or socialize everything, nor punish everything or punish nothing, nor bailout all bad decisions or bail out no bad decisions.

    In each case, there are bad consequences for either extreme and a better balance of consequences for something in the middle.  It would be wonderful if we could get to a position where everyone recognizes this and is willing to talk about their ideas of how much is right and why.

    As Haidt said, we must also recognize human psychology in any bargaining situation.  If one side is strong and the other side is weak, then the strong side has no incentive to compromise.  Each side needs to be smart enough to exert the right amount of strength of conviction to make sure to balance the other side’s strength and account for how important the issue is to each side.  Each side must also realize that the strength of your conviction is taken as a measure of how important the issue is to you.  You do not want to send misleading signals.

  • willcommentforfood

    Oh really? I’ve dialoged with conservatives in a number of comment boards on newspaper sites and sites like Huffington Post and I’ve rarely ever seen a conservative who understands why liberals take any position. They always ascribe some false Fox News or other self serving view.

    Your comment is a perfect example of vagueness, lack of specifity, and blanket accusation that I’ve seen cons do to libs repeatedly. To me, your comment is complete drivel as a result and makes me doubt you’re capable of dialog.

  • RE

    I’m duly impressed that most of the comments posted serve to illustrate Haidt’s  postulations. And, by the way, they’re not his theories or opinions, they’re based upon the recent research about how our brains work; objective evidence that our need for belonging supersedes pretty much every other need. Mazlow had it right: after we’re fed and watered (usually because we’ve aligned ourselves with others who are successful at this too) we need to be part of a group: it’s basic survival and we’re hardwired to pursue that aim above all. Once you accept that premise, the polarization we’re witnessing – and promoting – becomes less and less useful, eventually leading to the ultimate, if not put in check, of shooting ourselves in our collective feet in order to prove our tribe is stronger.

  • Kln

    I wish all voters would see your series.  Excellent!   Oh, for open minds.  Our polarization is very scary.  Thanks for shining some light on it.

  • a viewer

    I am somewhat stunned that a Man with such integrity, courage, and intelligence, {Bill Moyers} would voluntary, choose to have a conversation with a pompous, self righteous, marginally intelligent and supremely obnoxious man such as Jonathan Haidt.  This Young man has used his distorted, superficial understanding of the world, and artificially pumped up conception of himself, to conceptualize hypotheses’ of life and being that are significantly beyond his limited experiential knowledge of the very things he purports  to understand.  

    If this show had been anything besides Bill Moyers, I would have immediately, without hesitation changed my attention to  veritably any other activity. Perhaps there is some hidden purpose for giving such a dilettante the opportunity to spew drivel on such a respectable show.  [Mr. Moyers, my apologies, if I have offended you in any way].

    Perhaps most offensive was his banal continual misuse of the word “Karma”. I would suggest that Bill Moyers might lend this pretender of wisdom a copy of the Joseph Campbell interviews in order that he might somehow have a miraculous epiphany and realization of his comprehensibly doltish delusions of grandeur and imagined nimbus, while in reality projecting the repulsive jibber jabber of a fool.

  • Donnamariedenton

    i  enjoyed this  discussion very much,.. i learned  a lot. then i  went to  Dr. Haidt’s  home page  and  found the discussion with the  Dalia  Lama on May 3rd.   when he participated  with a panel discussion  on secular Ethics.a 2 hour  video Y-tube  presentation.
      The last  few  minutes were  the easiest  for me to understand when the   Lama of the MIT Dalai Lama  institute  there spoke on the   subject of the work on going  within this   group.  He  spoke  clearly of the  training  of  the  people  who wished  to become  more  aware of the ways  to help society evolve  to a  ethical way of  behavior  thru  the method  of  learning how that  behavior  can  have  better  results in our human evolution
    based on  love,  reason, empathy, dignity ,etc. for humanity to flourish in the future… i am so glad  i listened to Bill Moyers  show with Dr. Haidt.  In view  of the  state of our politics in the  U.S , it  was better to be  thinking of ways to make a  positive  difference  thru my own actions. putting  good thoughts  out into the  planet earth spaces and   remembering prayer  and action does help us to  support the  side of  good in the universe.  thanks  for the  discussions.  from donna  denton

  • Mycal

    Super interview with Jonathan Haidt!  He is the kind of people we needing leading the country.   I would add this saying to the discussion:  “The consequence of saving people from the consequences of their follies is to fill the world with fools.”  Many ills in our world would resolve themselves with simply respecting the law of Cause and Effect by never excusing anyone from the  consequences of their decisions and actions.  (To name 2 examples:  the banking-mortgage crisis, and the question to Ron Paul of what to do with the guy dying who did not pay for his insurance.)  Furthermore, most of said ills will never resolve themselves as long as we excuse people from the results of their actions.  To Jody below:  If that does not agree with the teachings of Christ, then Christ was wrong — look at what you are sacred-izing that blinds you to seeing what is and what works and doesn’t in life.  However, Christ did teach consequences:  “What you sow, you shall reap.”  We let people sow negative things and then not reap the consequences and this rots society from the inside — and at the highest levels in politics and business. 

  • Mycal

    Wow!  What an example you are of falling into  exactly the trap Heidt higlights of demonizing people who think different from you! 

    Heidt is basically a scientist studying large scale social phenomena.  He does an excellent job of synthesizing the reality of how people behave in the real world – behaviors that we are experiencing in our economics and politics day to day — and that now have us in crisis.   I would go so far as to say that his work is genius. 

    I was listening carefully to see if I could find bias in him.  Yes, it’s there, but I salute his awareness and control of it.  Extremely few people are able to maintain the relatively impartiality of his presentation of the matter. 

  • Mycal

    You are being facetious, right?  Because if not, it is like you heard not a single word he said about the basic problem being sacralizing our side (which makes us irrational) and evilizing the other side (so that you will not listen to their points of view, nor reach a compromise with them so that the country can move forward. 

  • Anonymous

    I found Prof. Haidt’s perspective refreshing and provocative.   No doubt
    some of his reasoning was abbreviated for program length and, to some extent, to
    extend the provocative aspects of the discussion.  Never-the-less, I found
    his repeated characterization of progressive policies using the vocabulary of
    the right disturbing.  Three times he invokes the phrase “victims groups”
    furthering a condescending view of the left as taking pity on some defined
    group of people being exploited or mistreated. 
    While this certainly fits in his moralistic framework, it is simplistic
    and insubstantial to ignore the values behind wanting to help groups of people
    in our society, in our community, that have been disadvantaged.  These values include the betterment and
    economic stability of everyone in the society, not specifically those most affected
    by those liberal policies. 

    It’s also a bit simplistic and hypocritical to
    say the left has a more nuanced view of America’s position in the world and
    then say that liberals refuse to see where welfare policies have failed because
    they have sacrilized them. 

    On the whole, one of the most fascinating and
    thought provoking programs I’ve ever seen on television.  Bravo!


  • johntt

    Haha, I came on here to lambaste the illogical discourse I had seen Haidt convey and the intimations of the fallen man or the depravity of man’s nature that so pervaded his theories based on these criteria which were unsubstantiated and superficial in the exterior and interior of human history and existence. Then I saw that many others had done it before me. I guess that’s why I tend to think more of people than Haidt. But hey, every argument I have seen on here against him can be answered by his own discouragement of reason.

  • Anonymous

     So you are a dog eat dog type of person full of greed?

  • Anonymous

    Professor Haidt’s “sacralization” of social psychology has  led to false premises and flawed conclusions.  

  • Anonymous

    Yes, it certainly has.  His whole premise is false, because he apparently has an authoritarian personality.

    If anyone is interested in a real study of the Republican Brain (Authoritarians) and why Haidt’s theories are false…Google “The Authoritarians”  by Bob Altemeyer.

    A free EBook in pdf form.

  • Anonymous

    What an incredible discussion, what a brilliant man, but respectfully I think that he misses one important point.
    In the mid 18th century, intellectuals began to question Chrisitianity’s validity as a social force for good, and this enquiry reached fever pitch in the 19th century, when there was no longer any Inquisition to suppress this process.  The culture of the United States was dominated up until the 1960’s by the Christian philosophy and ethos.  It was simply a part of the air that one breathed.  Even if it was just lip service–like the statements of Abraham Lincoln, who never joined a church and showed no real sign of accepting as his personal savior, Jesus Christ–you still had to go through the motions for politcal reasons.  Did you know that Oliver Wendell Holmes and his wife were atheists, but they joined the Unitarian Church in Boston just to keep up appearances?  Now days, who cares?

    After a good hundred years of secular education, I would say that a large chunk of the American people have moved away from Christianity.  Some states boast only of maybe 10% of their population as  churchgoers.  However, in the southern states, where Christianity is still somewhat strong, you have a solid Republican majority.

    After 300 hundred years, it seems to me that Americans have come to a crossroad–a crossroad that Europeans came to long before and that we are now just getting to.  Either you believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin without the aid of a human male, suffered on the cross for the remission of our sins, and rose from the dead in triumph over our great curse–or you don’t.

    Nowdays, if you were to try to talk this line in front Europeans, they would look at you in bewilderment.  They have simply moved on.

    You may embrace many of the teachings of Christ, which may also be found in the writings and sayings of Krishna, Mohammed, and Buddha.  Yet, Christ’s uniqueness is not established by such things.  Rather, his uniqueness is the claim by Christians that he died for your sins and rose from the dead.   That these events ACTUALLY happened and were not the mere formulations of myths.  C. S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein among others posited that Christianity was actually the fulfillment of these longings.

    I believe this story to be myth, frankly, and that we need to get past it and go forth to the light. Yet, many in this country do not share this opinion.

    We have a great cultural divide in this country–and Mr. Haidt has underestimated how hard this divide is.  You go outside of major sourthern cities, which are relatively liberal, and you find a very strong Christian culture still.  And you’d better be careful about what you say.

    This issue is still to be resolved, so stay tuned.

  • Mark Perew

    Mr. Moyers, you and Mr. Haidt have fallen into the trap of thinking there is a singular “left” and a singular “right”.  I would hope that if we learn nothing else from both the Tea Party and from Occupy, it is that we all hold a variety of views about a great many things.  There is a stupefying myth which forces us to think of two camps (Us vs. Them) when there are really many, many overlaps.  From the Log Cabin Republicans supporting LGBT rights, to the Catholic church opposing both abortion and executions, our views of the worlds are much richer, nuanced, and complex than merely “left” or “right”.  We need to throw off this binary, Manichean thinking and see the true, rich diversity and strength in our political landscape.

  • Bresden

    Uncle Bill, you just sat there and let a number of items go by that should have been challenged. 

    In taking the stance of being above it all, we here elements of neo-conservative ideology get repackaged as “a better understanding of human nature.” Whose human nature? Why is a heighten concern for caring for those oppressed by a gross maldistribution of resources not part of human nature? His use of “karma” was another attempt to update the packaging of  19th century social Darwinism. Those oppressed by an unjust and unfair market, it must by your fault.The telltale remark of an undergraduate degree in philosophy perhaps is a clue to this naivety about ideas shaped by economic culture. 

  • Another Viewer

    I have read the other responses to the Haidt interview and I have one suggestion, Read His Book. He had 47 min. to explain his research. Notice I said research not unsubstaniated opinions. He is a scientist who bases his con clusions on data. He even stated that he started ot as a liberal and moved more to the middle. Most of the responders I think proved is conclusions.

  • leftofcenter

    Just looked at today’s NYT. In it, they’re already talking about the 2016 race. This means that 2012 is already that boring?

    Another point in this article was both main parties saying we must attack. Campaign strategists are described as “mercenaries”.  Add to that the unchecked power of Super PAC’s (do you seriously think campaign reform will happen in the next four years?). No it won’t.

    This means that people abroad have every right to watch us and say what is going on over there?

  • Donaldsmith_1

    Your guest has it only half right. Although the divisions were there before Obama was elected, they were not as insurmountable as they are now.
    The real problem was articulated very wisely by Jimmy Carter- that some Americans just cannot endure the idea of an African American Presdent.
    Being a Canadian, I am not so caught up in this conflict and can be a bit more objective – I think. Republicans are all united on one goal “Get Obama out of the White House”. All of their other concerns are hidden under that. They won’t say it because it is not kosher. But they think it.
    The only solution to the problem is to deal with it up front- as Obama did in 2008 with his speech on racism..

  • Karl Hoff

    Compromise as I see it:  Compromise is born out of two near equal sides with two opposing views as to how to solve a problem.  One half of the people are 100% happy with their way of solving the problem  their way and  100%  unhappy with solving it with the other  half’s way and the other half is 100% happy with their way of solving the problem and 100% unhappy with the way to solve the problem the first half’s way.  So you compromise by giving each side half of what they want.  Now you have 100% of the people 50% unhappy with the way to solve the problem.  What has changed? 

  • Joseph Upton

    There is an incredible amount of nonsense being said about republicans here.  Are all you people mean spirited or just ignorant?  The average republican has a much more accurate view of how the world works than do the folks commenting here.

  • Anonymous

    Jonathan Haidt on Moyers & Co.
    Civil responsibility
    Tribal team based loyalty
    Talks about welfare state but doesn’t mention subsidies for the wealthy

    Haidt’s thesis doesn’t hold water down here in the trenches where 47 MILLION Americans struggle below the poverty level. VICTIMS of the greed stricken, power mad domestic and foreign policies of the RIGHT. Please tell something, ANYTHING that would make me want to compromise with these Republican FOOLS.

    Compromise becomes a dirty word when the people you’re trying deal with are insane. How THIS for contentious mofo’s:

    * Conservatives hate the government helping poor Americans but you people have no problem giving billions in subsidies and tax breaks to a bunch of corrupt, Wealthy, silver spoon aristocrats. Would Haliburton or Blackwater even exist without our tax dollars? What about Michele Bachmann getting farm subsidies or Mitt Romney devastating communities after they gave his company tax breaks a funding?

    Ok, I admit there’s a minority of Americans who are lazy sponges who rather get drunk or do drugs than pay rent or get a job. I think this has more to do with reckless economic policy and the War on Drugs, both HUGE failures under the Conservative CONTROL by AUTHORITY mind set. Not to mention how many lower class families were ruined by casualties of the foolish Bush/Cheney wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

    What leadership, character or morals have Republicans displayed since Obama/Biden was elected? Did you so-called great americans ever considered that the Obama Administration has been stuck cleaning up the huge debt mess Bush/Cheney left for American people.

    NO solutions, NO rational stance, clear agendas or common sense policy… JUST Sarah Palin/Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh  groupies parroting talking points!

    Have you ever LISTENED to the average right-wing fanatic? It’s like every Conservative in America is auditioning for a spot on the FOX News channel. (News Corp owned by Saudi Royals)

    COME ON, are you Republican voters #*~/‘n INSANE? Am I missing something here? Didn’t Conservatives just have 8 YEARS of Bush/Cheney and Republican controlled Congress (1994-2006) to put their warped ideology into practice?  AND IT ALMOST DESTROYED THE GREATEST NATION ON EARTH!

    Waste, fraud, abuse, scandal, sexual deviancy, corruption, lies, incompetence, job outsourcing, off-shore tax evasion, reckless economics, welfare for the rich, deregulation, war profiteering, Constitutional violations AND a Corporate Crime Wave of epic proportions…. The WORST looting of a nation’s wealth and resources in the history of MANKIND!

    Where was the Tea Party anger THEN? #*~/ ignorant hypocrites.

    But you want Democrats/Progressives to believe if only Conservatism had one more chance it can work? The very definition of insanity, isn’t IT? Over and over AGAIN! Just separate yourselves from Bush/Cheney… bull$#!~ MISINFORMED people into believing they’re part of a NEW Conservative Movement.

    In OTHER WORDS Republican Party talking points are based on the ignorance of their constituents. They revise history and LIE because they CAN… because morons who vote for Republicans DON’T KNOW THEIR OWN HISTORY!  This ain’t NO Tea Party… this is a CLASS WAR! Do I miss George W. Bush?  #*~/ NO!

    Haidt said Progressives don’t make as good an argument as Conservatives but that because voices such as my own are ignored. I’m ready to push myself upon the American scene weather all you Ivory Tower @$$holes like or not. Read and follow the links for all the TRUTH one needs to be a moral human who loves the USA
    2012 by FG Esposito

    My favorite blog
    As posted
    “I think we need to focus on those in the TOP 1% who made their fortunes on the backs of American workers… with American ingenuity, technology, ideas… using infrastructure paid for by the American taxpayer… And how did they repay us? The silver spoon, trust fund baby m’f***er’s moved all our jobs to Asia, fouled our environment with stuff that would make a bill goat puke and turned our politicians into a stable of high priced prostitutes. To be honest a few fanatics who’ve perverted Islam don’t scare me near as much as those FOOLS that believe capitalism can survive without ETHICS, RESPONSIBILITY and ACCOUNTABILITY

    Concerned Citizens educate themselves to the ways of TRUE debate, righteous anger, argument, etc.  We’ve all read THE text on this subject and know about the “Opposing Viewpoints Series” (Bender/Leone) put out by Greenhaven Press: 
    “It can be said that those who do not completely understand their adversary’s point of view do not fully understand their own“  DAVID L. BENDER

  • Anonymous

    I wrote this after watching the rebroadcast of Moyers & Co. Sunday morning 11am EST. Moyers should have an average boat rocker like me on his show instead of all those silver spoons that always seem to get national attention. I am somebody who fights back

  • Anonymous

    Karma. How to do it example:
    Gandhi’s Talisman
    “I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
    Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away.”
    – One of the last notes left behind by Gandhi in 1948, expressing his deepest social thought.

  • Anonymous

    I thought this was a great discussion.

    I’m going to have to pick up Haidt’s book, but one thing that I was looking for was some indication of the battle for meaning that’s occurring at the highest level.  He referenced Machiavelli and the concept that perception is more powerful than reality, and I think that is pretty much the bottom  line here … there are several battles going on in real time (Newt, et al), but what is really occurring is a War over who gets to make meaning out of social constructs in our society. This War has been going on since WWII (as I’m reminded while watching “Mad Men”), but the last 20 years have seen the Conservatives dominate the discussion.

    It’s straight out of Newt’s GOP playbook, which is straight out of “The Art of War”: The best way to win anything is to show no mercy. Do not negotiate, do not debate, do not compromise. All of those things lend credibility to your opponent.

    And if your views are dogmatic in nature, then giving pause to your opponent is very similar to admitting that some of your core beliefs are debatable.

    The 2012 election cycle is going to continue to be interesting.

  • Anonymous

     It is not nonsense at all.  The Republican is only able to see his side of things the way he wants to see them and feels he is always right….which he is usually wrong. 

  • Anonymous

     The full quote by Saint Paul is “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.”  And the most recent famous public quotation of that was Senator Sam Ervin during the Watergate hearings.  Sure did a lot of reaping of what they sowed, didn’t they?  You offer no evidence that this is not true for everyone regardless of their station in life.  For if I sow compassion, that is what I shall reap…”for I was hungry and you gave Me food…”

  • Anonymous

     I don’t see your point at all.  Of course helping someone even a small amount is going to lead to freedom for the hungry and spiritually starving millions.  If everyone realized that we’d be so much better off.

    Every little bit helps!

  • JoNohio

    How disappointed I was with this guest, Haidt.  Not only does he miss (or ignore) the influence of RW Think Tanks (as written brilliantly in “Winner take all Politics”) but he never mentions Fox News or the  Christian Right.  Of course the Right gets the message out with all these influences.  As for the 30 year old not buying health insurance, I think “Obamacare” gets you a fine for not doing so.  That entire question in the debate mislead many viewers.  What about a 5 year old whose parents can’t afford insurance – should they die too?  I could barely watch this episode of the show it was so disengenious!

  • Anonymous

     My point was that I was in agreement with you about Karma and offered Gandhi’s way as an example of how one’s own Karma is increased even when we are nearing despair ourselves.

  • Anonymous

     Oh thanks so much for clarifying that, as I thought you were disagreeing with me.

  • Nixl

    Though Mr Haidt professes a sort of neutral position, it was hard not to notice his trend to be inexorably Right leaning. I cannot but feel that his graph showing the typical Democrat as being very strong in altruistic emotions whereas Rupiblicans being strong in ALL of the traits he listed to be biased if unintentionally so. Very simply, a most basic reason for our tensions today is that Republcans are “ant-altruistic” or incredibly selfish and use religion and a host of mechanisms to couch and comfort themselves in. I find it surprising that he even attempts to present a picture of Republicans as more balanced, when there is an avalanche of information showing the facts to be contradictory to this concept.

  • Anonymous

    Haidt’s thesis is absolutley fascinating but it’s hard to tell if he actually takes the right’s framing of the left’s values or if he just describes it in the way they do but doesn’t buy into it. I have a problem, as a very liberal, progressive person in being assumed to hold sacred everything as “victimization.” I certainly don’t, and like Haidt, admire and praise success and wealth if it’s within reason and causes usefulness to society. Is it my self blindedness that I have failed to see that most of my like-minded lefties have not moved beyond the old simplistic views of our hippie youth to a more complicated understanding in our post middle age? I wonder if  the framing of his questions (I tried his site) have been unintentionally skewed to bring this assumption out?

    And if the grasshopper is disabled, under- educated, and ethnically constrained, why should he be seen merely as lounging all summer and choosing not to work? That was a one sided interpretation. Saying that we just want to redistribute money from wealthy to poor is exactly the wrong framing of how many of us feel. Yes, we want to redistribute money that has been taken out of it to the public commons by sociopathic greed of government riggers and return it, not necessarily to individuals of indigent means, but to the shared cost of operating a decent society in which our infrastructure works and our education and healthcare are strengthened and made more accessible, and in which all of us who use the commons shares in its upkeep.  Do we have to  create a new movement to stress that we’re for the health of the shared public commons not just against those who unintentionally let the theieves sack the public trust ? The era of feeling good, man, is long over. I’m sick of being misjudged by unchanged belief systems as still being wishy-washy.

  • Largebob280

    This discussion was interesting, but there is a serious flaw in the introduction to the piece – while there is more acrimony in U.S. politics than there has been in a long time, it is certainly not “more politically polarized than ever.”   We are nowhere near the polarization of the early- to mid-nineteenth century.  I think most of us can agree that we’re not on the verge of another Civil War.

    In my experience, what has brought Americans of all stripes together is a real or perceived common  “enemy.”  One can only hope that large government deficits and environmental problems will eventually be perceived as such an enemy.

  • Dbaerwald1

    This Haidt fellow has watched a lot of Tom Friedman.

  • Anonymous

    As GBS pointed out, the golden rule is an arrogant presumption with potentially terrible consequences. How do you know others wish to be treated the way you do?

  • Ronhelf

    Haidt seems to miss the fact that some left/liberals, like Reinhold Niebuhr, who had an immense influence on the anti-communist left and on the revival of conservatism after WWII, has a more Calvinist conception of human nature not a Quaker one.

  • Anonymous

    Has it finally come to this…poeple Braying endlessly about Belief Systems while having no grasp of the function, form and purpose of our Body of Civil Laws?

    The reason why our Law must be secular is not simply to remove religion-based fantsy as a basis for truth, it forces all who participate to “think outside” of their respective “boxes” in order to arrive at a commonality of Truly Measuable (clearly defined) values.

    We used to “put people away” when they became a hazard to themselves or others, regardless of Station. Since we no longer do that, the Wealthy have been able to keep their Delusional offspring well-heeled and well-placed.

    The Lunatics are truly running the Asylum.

    The only things that need to be identified are the Methods and the Reason for the failure in our System.

    The Method: Introducing Corporate Law into our body of Constitutionally-based Civil Laws.
    Everywhere that Corporate Law based legislation has passed,  an adversarial relationship then exists between the Government and the people. This is the Exact Opposite of what, by Law, it is supposed to be. Why does it have this effect? Because Corporate Law is BASED on the Adversarial Relationship. It is the antithesis of civil law and it must be excised.

    The Reason: Avarice.
    We all know it. We have Enabled it, but it’s time to stop beating about the bush—Gold Fever, Gambling Addiction, it’s all the same thing. Never EVER having ENOUGH! Wanting to have, run, own everything and moving Heaven and Earth to achieve it (regardless of collateral damage) is a Delusional Mindset. All members of BOTH parties put their full Faith and Trust in the Delusional ravings of the supposedly Rich (and their Wannabe cohorts).

    The Rich are, quite simply, Insane.

    Nothing else in the World matters except their Wealth, Power, and Control. They have stated openly that they will bring about the fall of the United States of America, if necessary, in order to achieve their goals. Just like the person who talks about suicide, to not take them at their word is to invite disaster.

    What the Delusional Rich would have us believe is that The Government is supposed to somehow be our Boss rather than our Servant (as in Civil Servant), this is why they always speak in authoritarian or Dictatorial terms.
    Again, this is the exact opposite of a Representative Government.

    Corporate Law is entirely of the moment, and it only serves (corporate) self . All definitions and boundaries are ALWAYS open to “interpretation”, regardless of factual reality. It has no center, or base, or direction. Many would argue (in today’s reality) that Corporate Law exists ONLY to defend the (corporate) individual FROM our Civil Laws.

    And, in case you haven’t noticed, the first casualty of Corporate Law …………is Humanity. Why? The only notation in Corporate Law which lists People in any form of measurable value is that singular term: Payroll.
    After that, people are merely an expense. I am certain you have noticed the Bosses of Capitol Hill constantly referring to the difficulties/ crises of the working classes wholly in terms of Expense to the National Budget….and that’s BOTH sides of the isle.

    Only 1% of our Total Population are multi-millionairs, but TWO-THIRDS of the Senate are multi-millionairs…Hello?

    There are very simple fixes to our current state of affairs if we but look to our own Laws as the tool (and only tool) for Governing Ourselves. Constantly “making up” new rules as we “go along” is only further buying into the mindset of the Delusional.

  • Alice Axenfield-Storm

    Bill, I love you but this Professor Haidt has come to false premises, he called the poor slackers, he has ideas that are frightening.

  • alice

    Brilliant review of this pompous character who has lived in the righteous state of Virginia too long.  I am very surprised that Bill Moyers had him on his show. I too thought most of what he was saying was drivel, pure drivel.

  • Anonymous

     That’s just about the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.  Do you not understand what it means or something?

    Here I’ll teach you:

    It means you would not do something to hurt yourself, so you would not do something that would hurt another. 

    You are the type of person the Republican Party Loves!  One who would vote against himself.

  • barkingdog

    Caution, Rant Alert! :

    You are either the Red pill or the Blue pill, there are NO other colors in the rainbow (unless your country has a Parliamentary system),

    or who are you going to believe the Social Psychologist or your own lying eyes?


    What kind of Beltway Bubble Mind Scramble is this guy plugging?  Is the University of Virginia much too close to DC to get the reality of the country beyond the media-driven beltway?

    In my Southern reality,  most of my Greatest Generation uncles were some of the biggest bunch of racists you would ever come across. There was no “compromise” with them regarding MLK. They only softened because those dirty Yankees made them do it. They were all Archie Bunkers, Southern style.

    Later, Southern “Christians” fled into their “Church-centered” schools. No Blacks Allowed. They weren’t Christian enough for the likes of them I guess.

    Then, Corporate America & the Republican party discovered a gold mine. Flame the prejudices of the South and CEOs & Southern Politicians would be laughing all the way to the Bank.

    Today, I bask in the sun of FL, and what do I see? The under 30s thinking that the older generations were nuts. And that anyone who professes to be Conservative needs to get their head examined.

    The younger generation (P.O.*) sees the Political Lobby Media Academia Corporate Mind Screw crystal clear, (as they are texting all their friends to play beer pong.)

    The sad history is that their Debt-riddened Parents and their Tea-party Grand-parents were fooled into thinking they lived in a Democracy.

    IMHO#1: tribalism only works if the Princes can orchestrate a fraud

    IMHO#2: the Greatest Generation Conservatives compromised because the Soviet Union was breathing down their necks

    IMHO#3: what passes for Liberal (media sanctioned Left) in the US would be laughed at by Left-leaning Europeans

    IMHO#4: not everyone who is gracious enough to present at TED knows what they are talking about    (counter example: Jeb Bush speaks near fluent Spanish; his wife is Mexican; and they travel all around the wide-open world. Jeb isn’t Conservative as a reflection of his Social Moral Psychology, Jeb has an addiction to Dollar bills. Conservatism is cover for money laundering.)

    *post-Obama 2008 campaign volunteerism

  • Info

    The Hindus are not republicans. Mr Haidt is not thinking on a level clarity.

  • Gustav

    Haidt is  superficial. Sorry but he shouldn’t have been on this show. Mr Moyers, you have my respect I always watch your show and I am glad you are finally back. But Haidt does not bring clarity to the American dilemma.

  • Marco

     Mark Twain never considered ‘patriots’ moral, in fact he warned they were scoundrels.

  • Samalessi

    I liked what Haidt was saying. I’ve seen many similar ideas before. Funny thing, I read some of the other comments. They seem to make his point.

  • Anonymous

    Rebecah, I understand very well what it means. Think of it this way: you don’t like to be hurt, but what if the other person likes to be hurt? Would you treat him the way you would like to be treated and not hurt him, or would you treat him the way he wants to be treated and hurt him? 

    Have a look at this essay by Shaw, you might find it interesting:

  • Marco

    I find that Mr. Haidt’s conclusion that conservatives are more tolerant of others views than liberals, to be so wide of the mark that I suspect foul play.  My conservative friends and the conservative media I’ve followed are the least tolerant people I’ve ever met.

  • Shroomduke

    This sick nut spent the whole time talking about himself and how he sees the world not the true reality of the diversity of humanity! 

    I would have liked to see Bill challenge this partisan whacko.

    what I hear is:
    Republicans say “everyone but me is evil”
    others say “republicans have some evil ideas”

    Haidt attributes evil motives to democrats then says when you demonize others you’ll always be wrong…

  • Anonymous

    What? And Republicans don’t constantly spew nonsense about Democrats? Try watching Fox News or listening to Rush Limbaugh if you want to see ignorance and mean spirits. They’re the ones mainly responsible for the divided nation.

    And don’t come across all lofty about how Republicans have all the answers. How short can a person’s memory be? Remember, Republicans voted not once but twice for GW Bush, the man likely to go down in history as this nation’s most profligate and foolish president. Yes, Republicans really have a strong handle on how the world works.
    Jeez, you Republicans never cease to amaze me. If you had any decency you’d still have your tails tucked between your legs.

  • Gparrella

    After reading almost all the entires, I would say there seem to be so many unhappy responses to what Haidt had to say that I wonder if we will ever come to the point where we can talk with anyone that has a different opinion.  I find his point of view helps me understand those that I disagree with (including some here). 

      Question:  Are there any folks out there who might be interested in using conflict mediation to create some common ground to deal with the enormous problems we face in this country and world? 

    Since this is my current project,  I hope we have not gone beyond the point of no return when it comes to problem-solving but I fear the worst.

  • baron

    Bill, thank you so much for coming back. Agree or disagree Jonathan make some very good arguments. Really enjoyed the show.

  • Anonymous

    jtl0960: Yours is the sort of original theorizing peculiar to Moyers’ stimulation. You make several invaluable observations about how the imposition of corporate law into civil governance debases the social contract. Thank you for speaking your mind. This is another way of describing distortions related to intense concentrated and mobilized power.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, this is a flat, crowded and hot morality where Nephilim  rule (see Old Testament). Haidt’s is a paternalistic, even pastoral conceptuality.

  • Isaiah Merchant

    Thanks for the Hike Professor Haidt. The ball is in the air. The first thing to understand is that capitalistic market economics stand on their own along with economies provided through trade, war, and government if risks to investments are acceptable. Capitalist have know since the beginning that government or other acceptable protection must be maintained to such ends. 

  • Dkomnenic

    these comments bellow are just proof that liberals are not tolerant and opened to other ideas.

  • Anonymous

    The ant and grasshopper analogy is a means of equating people to insects. Haidt’s morality is top heavy.

  • Anonymous

    How is he funded? Who published his writings? Who sponsored his professorship? What is the political climate in his department and at is university?

  • Mpetruzzelli

     One of the reason why the conservatives movement like the Tea Party  have gotten their message across so successfully is because they are the most loudest and not because their message actually resonates. It’s called SHOCK & AWE  Prof Haidt. Spectical impeganted with ” sacred images” of  nationalism and peppered with xenophobia. Sound familiar ( 1933 Germany)  They are also  most loudest because they are under written by corperate America and thier money even though they bill them selfs as a grasroots movement. What else could account for the metoric rise to power with in the space of 24 months. 

    The reason why the Tea Party has raisen to political prominance is because they are a  tool for corperate America to institute dereguation. It is the binding tie , the umbilical cord.  I hope that some day and someday soon this connection will be exposed for what it is an arrangment. The hypocrisy of this that Tea Party and other conservative groups claim to be  fighting for the America of the “rugged” individualist but realty is that they are puppets of a corperate collective that now governs the governers via a vast interconnected network of lobbyist.

    I want to see how  rugged they can be getting by with no unemployment benefits or as a 65 year old with out any medicare , medicade or Social Security. Their mindset still on the homestead praire of 1912 not 2012.

  • Anonymous

    Why not send Moyers a video? He asked for them at his previous show.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe Haidt illustrates that authoritarian thinking can be contagious.

  • Anonymous

    You’ll think of something later that is original and contributory  to this discourse. Please come back and post it.

  • Anonymous

    Jonathan Haidt is the kind of people we have misleading the country already, an apparatchnik.

  • Larry

     Out of  everyone of these posts you make the most sense. There is no right or left. But there certainly is evil. I see nothing the so called conservatives doing that is not evil. 2 + 2 = 4 no matter how often you’re told it is 5 by a CONservative

  • Anonymous

    The appropriate scripture is called the Beatitutides, from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew Chapter 5. It’s a Heavenly social contract as written, but before the rewrite it may have promised more than pie in the sky when you die.

  • Anonymous

    I tried that, couldn’t cut it.

  • Anonymous

    That Dalai Lama is a hoot, the way he endorses all sorts of hair-brained self-betterment enterprises to get money. He’s a refugee from an occupied kingdom and I can’t blame him for fundraising, but he should be more discriminating.

  • Anonymous

    Haidt’s argument will not help any poor people.

  • Larry

     Nazism was an evil. I think few would disagree. Nazism was pure conservatism in every sense of the word. I’m certain there were Germans who felt that Nazism was just another ideology and should be given an equal voice. That equal voice managed to reduce an educated and cultured country to a smoking pile of rubble in just over 5 years. That’s what acceptance of obvious evil gets you. No thanks. I choose to “evilize” as you say.

  • Anonymous

    Yep, Haidt can’t cook. He’s serving leftovers.

  • Anonymous

    Lakoff’s book was fairer and more insightful.

  • Anonymous

    So when distilled he’s apolitical and fatalistic.
    He should succeed in the new objective business dominated academia.

  • Anonymous

    Yep, we did see a glimpse of the Wizard behind the curtain. Then Haidt hollered subconsciously “Pay no attention to that Oligarch!”

  • Anonymous

    Beware of Maya (George Harrison- Peace on Earth)

  • Anonymous

    Conflict mediation is often employed by corporate interests against harmed individuals to avaoid lawsuits. Because of the power differential the injured party usually gets the dirty end of the stick. 

    I think Truth and Reconciliation might work better in  bringing powerful transgressors to heel, thus healing the pervasive distrust of big business and big government in their service by most citizens.

    When you say you “fear the worst” it sounds like the police about to clear Occupy tents.

  • Anonymous

    Haidt sliced the pie all wrong.

  • Michael G. Manes

    Very interesting –

  • Anonymous

    Me too on the foul play.
    How complicitous was Moyers&Company?
    That’s what I need to know.
    A propogandistic conversation is worse than silence.

  • Anonymous

    It’s called a syllogism. Anyone who differs is mistakenly subsumed under the flawed premise.

  • Anonymous

    Yep, but Hindus can be cruelly conservative and so are a useful example for Haidt’s pov.

  • Anonymous

    #2 I miss them Reds because they kept the game a little more honest. Now our Empire takes a dive.

  • Anonymous

    This guy would fail “current events” in any 5th grade classroom. Is UofVa Charlottesville a bubble now?

  • Anonymous

    He cherrypicks examples like Bill O’Reilly.

  • Michael G. Manes

    From a post-Katrina presentation:

    biggest failure of all identified during this process was the failure of the
    Great Society.  It was President Lyndon
    Johnson’s noble attempt to make life easier for the “poor” in lieu of
    attempting to make them as individuals stronger for whatever life “throws their

    The unintended consequence of this grand scheme was the creation of a large and
    growing segment of our population that is addicted to the government for cash,
    health care, education, direction, hope, etc.  
    Their dependency upon entitlements has crippled them and their God given
    potential to such an extent that short of direct individual intervention most
    will never enjoy the freedom and opportunity that is America.  Our country provides for “life, liberty, and
    the PURSUIT of happiness.”  Unfortunately
    the drug of ENTITLEMENT has created a belief that happiness can be delivered in
    a government envelope.  It can’t.

  • Lindsay Haisley

    I’m always disturbed whenever the parable of the grasshopper and the ant is used as a framework on which to hang any judgement about personal moral rectitude.  Even more than a parable about workers and slackers, it’s a very prejudicial look at the value of the arts in our lives.  The grasshopper is a musician, apparently a performing musician, and like many performing musicians, he’s drawn to music more surely than he is to the very difficult skill of making money at it.  Do we, as a society, leave our artists and musicians out in the cold to starve because they didn’t work hard enough?

    As a performing musician myself, with many good friends who likewise pursue their musical gifts with no health care, subsistence income, and in times of trouble are the beneficiaries of the charity of their friends,  I can tell you that these folks do work very hard at their chosen craft, and that we, as a society and a nation would be impoverished beyond measure if these folks were left out in the cold and ignored by the “ants” in our world.

  • JS

    ‘The ant and the grasshopper’ is useful for understanding how some on the right view things. It is only partly appropriate for viewing people in the US today. Some are choosing immediate gratification over their own long term good and maybe there should be consequences to those choices. However, a great many people are in jobs that pay such low wages that they really can’t buy health insurance even if they want to. Should there be consequences only for the one who has no better employment option or also for the ones who pay such low wages? Should there be consequences for the ones who charge such high prices for medical care or only for those who are stuck in low paying jobs? Karma should apply to employers and medical providers also. Do we really want to live in a society that allows the elderly and poor to die on the street?

  • barkingdog

    The way I see it,

    Conservatives would like to Outlaw Compassion.

  • D Vogel

    Wow.  I clearly watched a different program than most of you’all did.  I found this an interesting take on the current divisiveness in the political landscape in modern America.

    The guest was explaining his research and his current understanding based upon that research…not pushing a political point of view…or passing judgement on a political point of view.

    Read the transcript, and this time pretend you are his equal, not his better.

  • a viewer, once again

    Maybe you did. The only “Real Understanding” comes from direct experience, which he fails to see. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I have no political point of view.  Check out Joseph Campbell, if you think my credentials are lacking.  I think if you take the time to do this you will understand what makes his statements so outrageous. —And unlike Mr. Haidt, I am not talking down to you.

  • Anonymous

    This guy Haidt is on to something; I’d be curious as to what he thinks of George Lakoff’s “moral frames.”   I see that many posters do not seem to like him.  Some observations: 1) He is right that liberals and conservatives see the world differently; (2) Also right that we all are guilty of confirmation bias; (3)  As for “sacralizing victims, I would use a diffrent word: “romanticizing.”  The kind of thinking that condemns gay bashing on 8th Street, but “explains” it in Kabul.  This is an example “cultural relativism” –another way of saying look how tolerant I am of difference!!  Another way to think about was stated by Lord Russell, as the “superior virtue of the oppressed.”  (4) As for reason, I never thought the concept a solipsism; it entails being RATIONAL.  In other words, we cannot condemn morons who doubt where Obama was born, but make excuses for different morons who think Bush blew up te WTC.  I suggest that to be a rational, educated individual is to know the difference between one’s biases and how the world really works.  (5) Finally, and I think this is what bothers many posters: Haidt suggests that conservative thinkers are better attuned to human nature.  Well, look at it this way: How easy is it for conservatives to motivate their people?  Now how easy is it for our fellow liberals?

  • Victor Jacinto Cano

    Oh yes , the conservatives do understand the “Golden Rule” 
    ” Those that have the gold rule!

  • Tatateeta

    I wonder who funded Haidt’s studies. 

  • Anonymous

    Some suggestions for liberals:

    1) Jettison Affirmative Action.  The Civil Rights Movement won with the moral argument that people should be treated the same, regardless of “race.”  Affirmative Action not only says the opposite but is based on the forced (and often inaccurate) “racial” classification of individuals.  You don’t need it and it has created a lot of needless and understandable resentment.

    2) Promote a portable, single-payer health insurance system with the moral argument of freedom and control of one’s own destiny.  The private health insurance companies and HMOs are devoted to limiting the freedom of both patients and doctors as much as possible.

    3) Respect “sacred” symbols and don’t pick needless fights.  You have a right to burn Old Glory but the people who did it were infinitely stupid.  The anti-Vietnam War movement started it by despising the successful tactics of the Civil Rights Movement (good manners, non-violence, conservative dress, respect for sacred symbols, etc.) and taking pains to do the exact opposite.

    4) Admit that being a member of an officially “oppressed” group does not mean that one is totally guiltless and never wrong.  High crime rates, over-dependence on public assistance and irresponsible reproduction are real problems within some of your favorite ethnic/racial groups.  Screaming “Racist!” at anyone who dares to talk about it only empowers your opponents and tells people of good will that you don’t want to find a solution because there is no solution (i.e., biological inferiority).  Note also that your Republican opponents have learned to turn your own tactics against you.  The Charter School movement and its demonization of public school teachers and unions as “racists” solely responsible for the infamous Achievement Gap are based on the “liberal” premise that “blacks” are always right on “racial” issues and bear no responsibility whatsoever for their situation.

  • del Munroe

    Haidt never explained his good fortune in life.  Did he inherit his good fortune or did he work for it?  He really does not sound like he worked for it unless a meddling hobby is work .  I would wager to say outside his privileged position in an industrialized society he would not fare well as the industrious ant preparing for the winter.  I’ll bet in a more primitive life of self sufficiency off the land or wilderness he would fail and die without the charitable karma those around him.  Folks don’t regularly find themselves in a position of poverty or not having health insurance without extra ordinary disadvantages.  It is more than bad luck, it is called unfavorable odds.  Men with this lack of wisdom and over abundance of arrogance have played a significant role in history inspiring unfortunate bloody revolutions for social equality and justice.  

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t take notes, so I don’t have a comprehensive critique of Haidt’s analyses of the issue.

    But the general tenor of his analyses falls into the same false equivalencies of many so-called moderates.  There are certain matters (e.g., civil rights) where there is no room for compromise.  Furthermore, facts are objective.  They don’t take sides.  One, however, can ignore facts.

    In addition, Haidt analyses seems like they were gestated in a bubble, with little or no regard to reality.  For example, Haidt blames liberals for failing to get their message across to the American public & gives kudos to conservatives for their success in doing so.  What Haidt fails miserably to mention is that the moneyed interests in this country have a vested interest in keeping their power & need the people to remain ignorant of the various mechanisms (political contributions, lobbying, etc.) they use to keep & further their power.  So these moneyed interests fund “think tanks” that go on TV & radio – sadly, including PBS & NPR – to spread their message.  Corporate media is also in on the game.  The little guy (liberals) don’t have no where near the financial backing to mount an effective resistance.

    Another example is how Haidt equates the Democrats with liberals, while failing to mention how many/most Dems are just as susceptible to the SAME corporate & wealthy donors as the Republicans.  A look at Obama’s financial team says it all.

  • Anonymous

    An addendum to my previous comment:

    Haidt said he was a liberal before reading up on conservative arguments.

    After hearing his slanted spiel, I think he either wasn’t really a liberal or got taken over by conservative ideology.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, the GOP has most of the campaign money, but we have all seen Democrats rescue defeat from the jaws of victory too many times.  Too many campaigns have the GOP pit bull terrorizing the Democratic poodle.  Obama himself bears much of the blame for the 2010 GOP victories.  He did not want to come out fighting for jobs and REAL universal health insurance when he had a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate.  He literally wasted three damn years.  If people see their lives improving, they are far less likely to take GOP slanders seriously.  If they don’t see their lives improving, they will vote for the other party (GOP) or stay at home on election day because that’s what Americans do.  Yes, it’s stupid.  However, any professional politician like Obama who doesn’t recognize that fact is even more stupid.

  • Enzo

    C’mon Bill, it was all over your face. You weren’t buying a gram of this Republican apologist’s nonsense. He’s simply trying to create an artificial academic field he can be the head of.

    You can make it up by inviting Joseph E. Lowndes on the show. He put out a book “From the New Deal to the New Right. Race and the Southern Origins of Modern Conservatism.”

    As far as Saul Alinsky is concrened: You think would mention him at every single opportunity if his name was Brian MacPherson? “Saul Alinsky” sounds probably big city, probably Jewish, and therefore probably socialist, if not Communist.

    This was the first show of yours I actually had to leave the room.

  • Enzo

    That’s a really fabulous question!

    And shouldn’t be too hard to find out.

  • Enzo

    I believe he buys the Right’s message.

    The grasshopper ant thing sounds good until you think.

    He doesn’t want us too think.

    That makes him a righty.

  • Enzo

    Like how many “banksters” are in jail, or at least out of work?

    No consequences for those people.

  • Shroomduke

    You’re an attention whore aren’t you, I am foolish to waste my time on you, but…

    Do YOU or do you know anyone that likes to be hurt, lied to, stolen from, cheated, denied your rights, betrayed, tortured, starved, etc other than sexual play? How can this possibly be confusing? We are not talking about preferences like chocolate v vanilla, we are talking about life and death, human dignity, freedom or tyranny, this is the swamp of sociopathic group-think that poisons the possabilities of a nation and humanity reaching it’s highest levels of civilization and culture.How is an essay by GBS gospel, meaningful, or even relevant?

  • Enzo

    Sorry Joey, but not even close.

    People who self-identify as being on the Left, as opposed to those who merely vote Dem, are always shown to be more intelligent, better educated with a wider range of knowledge.

    You guys watch Fox, where a huge portion of viewers still believe Saddam Hussein did 911

    It is to laugh.

  • Enzo

    Please cite date, time and place of the “violent protests.”

  • Enzo

    There is nothing to delve deeper into.

    Conservatism is a totally superficial position based on the basest instincts people can have.

    Try to imagine a conservative in ANY tribal or indigenous group anywhere in theworld, at any time.

    Those are situations where survival is based on being a Liberal.

  • Enzo

    You seem to have missed the point that all of the positive points of Cons he mentioned he made.

    And so with the bad points of Liberals.

  • light in the darkness

     He is a nice looking, soft spoken reasonable sounding man, and I think it is important to listen to both sides of the story, which I do; Network News, Fox sometimes, Televangelists. But I cannot find much reasonableness on the right wing. Among the super rich, they don’t need God, they think they are god, might makes right and they are the fittest by virtue of their bank accounts indicating superior intelligence to everyone else. The oppressors looking down on the oppressed, and more of us than ever are feeling it now.
     As for the evangelicals, I cannot find more than a mob mentality, repeating anti Obama epithets as if he is The Devil incarnate, and a holier-than-thou position of the smug “definitely saved” believers, who are so deluded as to be certain that they will never be judged by God, ever. This is what saved means, sin, and sin again, but never be judged. Then they turn around and judge everyone else to be the devil. They have no eyes to see or ears to hear and are so unlike what a Christian is told to be by Jesus Himself, that they look like anti-Christs. 
    We all have egos, flaws and choices to make. We all can learn and grow and become more loving and beautiful. I think we can recognize beauty when we see it. And I think we need to see ourselves in each other, and know  that when a person is filled with fear and hate and pride and ‘righteousness’ we are in danger. Healing and education is needed.

  • Shroomduke

    I have the greatest respect for Bill Moyers but this Haidt guy is a mercenary hustler, a hypnotist, and a snake-oil salesman!

    Remember when they sold us “Compassionate Conservatism moral clarity, honesty and integrity”!
    They’re hustlers, sociopathic swindlers and they will sell you anything YOU will buy!

    The trick is not to get you to believe what they are saying, but to make you believe that they believe what they say!

    If yo want them to stop selling their  lies, deceit, war, tyranny, fraud and failures … STOP buying their CRAP!
    Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. Their
    thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction mark their ways.

  • Anonymous

     You are absolutely right on all points! 

  • Anonymous

     Beware of the Tea Party.  It may just be a front for Koch and the John Birch Society.
    Google what John Dean said about the Tea Party and conservatives.

  • Anonymous

     No they are proof we are not fooled by lies perpetrated by some Right Wing Nut.

    Liberals are very open to new ideas…hence the progressive term used by liberals.  It is conservatives that are set in their ways, and refuse to be open to new or progressive ways.  

  • Anonymous

     That’s the point, the average human can’t.  I want to leave this world a better place for my children and grandchildren.  Unfortunately the Republican Party is bent on destroying it.

  • Anonymous

     Yes, I could not agree with you more.  This Haidt guy is a perfect example of how the Nazi’s pull off their agenda too. 

  • Anonymous

     The fable he used isn’t about one’s morals.  It’s about planning ahead.

    The fable itself is unrealistic too.  The Ants are perfect examples of socialism, and they would never shut out the grasshopper.  At least in my humble opinion, such as it is.  :)

  • Anonymous

     Exactly, and it’s because they don’t have feelings of compassion, or empathy.   A better study would be to find out why they are considered human being?

  • Anonymous

    Haidt was brainwashed, just like anyone else that believes the conservatives have their best interest at heart.

  • Anonymous

    Yep, just another “honest debate” salesman calling at suppertime.

  • Anonymous

    Capitalism creates at minimum 10 losers for each winner. Under crony capitalism the odds lengthen.

  • Anonymous

    #2 is good, but #1, #3 and #4 are “straw man” lynchings.

  • Anonymous

    Deprogrammed conservatives can be pretty smart.
    Brainwashed professors are an abomination.

  • Anonymous

    Some people can’t taste the arsenic in the peaches.

  • Anonymous

    Countries where one fifth of the people need food assistance to stave off hunger seem like near-failed states. The Obama’s solution is to shame fat kids.

  • Anonymous

    Does a cricket fiddle for his supper?

  • Tag

    I agree, his arguments did sound like an undergrad with an incomplete understanding of the subject. Karma was a way to explain why good people had bad things happen to them: good people were bad in a past life that we don’t know about, so they were being fairly punished. The author is repackaging karma to rationalize his position. Guess he did warn us, though.

  • Anonymous

    Yep, the ants would welcome the grasshopper, then eat him. I explained in another exchange how this analogy is a poor fit based on scientific ignorance. Like Bernard de Mandeville’s “Parable of the Bees” (1704)it psychologically equates human beings with insects. (The Master can then manage them with pest control.) Now that we understand grasshoppers have an alternative biology (die in the fall and are resurrected -from eggs- in the spring) from ants we do not blame them for being different. We are foolish to perpetuate this stupidity. Even worse we consent when Haidt insinuates that Republicans are ants (Black or Red I don’t know) and Democrats grasshoppers. And I thought the agenda here was to accommodate innate difference.

  • Anonymous

    So do we exterminate “seen-yours” (Bush pronunciation) when they become “addicted to healtcare”?

  • Anonymous

    You’ve never been in a hurricane have you?

  • Anonymous

    No one likes being lied to.

  • Tag

    Say the ant starts collecting food for the winter, but the grasshopper stops him and says, “All the land as far as you can see is mine, me and the other grasshoppers agreed to it, but if you collect all the food on it, I’ll give you enough to  make it through the winter and I’ll take the rest.” The ant doesn’t feel he has a choice, so all summer he collects food to fill the grasshopper’s larder. All summer long the grasshopper goes to the praying mantis and plays beautiful music, then in the fall the praying mantis comes and asks for a third of the ant’s food. The ant asks, “Why don’t you collect it from the grasshopper? He has more than enough!”” The praying mantis says, “No, he needs it more than you, because he’s so much more important. Besides, he and I are friends. He plays such beautiful music!” So while the grasshopper gets fat all winter, the ant barely survives and does it all over again for the rest of his life.

  • Anon

    I heard no mention of corporate welfare.

  • Tag

    I have close Republican friends, and your view of them isn’t accurate. They did not agree with the bailouts, because it doesn’t agree with a “reap what you sow” mentality. They do feel the debt is a huge problem even if I remind them that in business you can grow by taking on some debt, if your payments on your debt are outweighed by your new income. America can do the same, but this economic fiasco has them scared of debt, especially since they’re the type to live frugally and save, the same as I do. They do agree that corporations have too much influence on the government, but that just makes them blame the government that’s supposed to protect our interests more than the corporations that are supposed to look out for their own. Oftentimes we disagree, but I was glad Moyer had a program on that articulated the Right Wing’s position, even if it was playing at being neutral.

  • Anonymous

    Citizens United blows his whole theory (conservatives know more about what’s good for others) out the window!  

    There are many others, but this is the biggest threat to our democracy that the Right Wing Nuts has done. Actually it is more of a threat to America, then any terrorist group.

  • Pragmatic but Hopeful

    Thank you Mr. Moyers for having a discussion with Mr. Haidt on your program.  I initially tuned in because I have been so turned off by the polarization that has led to people generally talking past one another in the public sphere that I’ve almost tuned OUT.  Not a good place to be.

    After reading so many of the comments left here I am more, not less, convinced that we’ve devolved into a morass of demonization and bias confirmation.  This belief is understandably amplified by the 24/7 social media culture that passes for news or discussion of ideas.

    How open-minded are we really?  Before commenting on a particular theory, view or presentation I try as much as I can to research the subject, read a variety of agree/disagree writings and think about how I think/feel after trying to comprehend a variety of views.  It’s patently obvious many respond without investigation lest they challenge their own cemented views.  Had they done a simple reading of articles about Mr. Haidt they would have found out that he has generally been a liberal leaning atheist who personally abhors the Afghan/Iraq wars.  Instead he’s been reflexively pegged as an uncaring “bad” conservative/republican who advocates letting only the fittest among us survive. 

    What your show encouraged me to do was spend hours reading Mr. Haidt’s works and those who have critiqued those works including ones that vehemently disagree with and/or disparage Mr. Haidt and/or his works.

    Your show if viewed properly, in my mind, should start us on a path of being open to ideas which at first confirm our own bias AND those which challenge it with an eye to understanding the humanity of those behind the words and ideas.  It is only from there, without naivete, that we can begin to understand other’s positions and try to construct compromises where each side identifies mutual goals which may be spurred by very different values.  That said, I cannot bring myself to listen to Beck, Limbaugh, et. al.  I’ll leave it to others to work through their “humanity”!  Admit a cop out.

    What is the alternative?  Are we all going to dismiss a significant percentage of our fellow Americans and simply continue to try to out game them?  Is that how we plan to evolve in our country?  Is that how we will work our way out of the many corruptions that have overtaken us in the last few decades?  There are some extremes which I cannot condone or tolerate but I don’t believe MOST people operate in their daily lives at these extremes and that belief isn’t an allusion to the demonizing 99% versus 1%.

    Thank you for this show.  If my curiosity is sparked, if I’m impelled to investigate new and/or contrary ideas, if I’m willing to question my own bias (first have to admit it) by a show such as yours then I believe you have succeeded in purpose.

    If I am or perceived to be less literate or intellectual for these thoughts or reactions, so be it.  That will certainly not stop me from continuing to learn and expand my own knowledge base and aspire to be a force for more peaceful progress instead of polarized battle.

  • Anonymous

     LOL!  You are probably right, concerning the ants eating the grasshopper.

    Maybe conservatives are insects, they certainly don’t have any normal human aspects.

  • C. G. Shaver

    Jonathan Haidt and The Righteous Mind; what a major disappointment after learning last week how big banks are rewriting the economy.  I was hoping for a follow-up of the kind I did, locating, downloading and studying the House and Senate roll calls on S. 900 to learn how some of President Obama’s most vocal critics (e.g., Senators Kyle and McConnell and Speaker Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan) and supporters, both, voted in 1999 to enable Wall Street gangsters to crash the economy, again, in 2008, and finally realizing how Senator/candidate Obama surely must have known what was going on (and who the culprits were) in 2006.

    Disappointing, too, I don’t recall hearing any mention of the U.S. Constitution as a reference point in the conversation on morality and politics.  How very typical of college educated professionals to ignore the ‘supreme Law of the Land,’ which is as ubiquitous to all things legal in the U.S. as is gravity to all things material.  With legality being the domain of the government and morality being the domain of religion, even if the social dynamic is right the failure for people like Speaker Boehner to govern in accordance with the Constitution is a serious crime, worse than having Jonathan Haidt on Moyers and Company.

  • Anonymous

    Bill Moyers has always been one of the great voices for progressivism and clear, honest talk.  So what was Haidt doing on this show?  And why was Moyers accepting everything he said without any challenge?   Any conversation about politics today must address the fact that corporate influence and corruption have fundamentally changed the game.  We are no longer working with a two-party system in which debate and compromise have a valid role; our government now exists solely to serve corporate interests.  All the contentiousness that Haidt explains away so adroitly is political theater intended to ensure that we the people are distracted from this truth and continue to believe our vote matters.Our problem in government is not that the two parties are contentious and cannot collaborate, it is that they collaborate far too well in serving the goals of the financial elite.  The more we stay spinning in our righteous positions as Democrats and Republicans the more we can be counted on to passively accept the decimation of our civil rights and the solidification of a corporate state.  In other circumstances and interviews, Mr. Moyers has acknowledged this reality and been a voice for an honest assessment of the dangerous situation that we’re in.  It is more than unsettling that he chose not to do so in this interview.  

  • Anonymous

     You seem so quick to judge the comments made, but you do not bother to debate them. 

    Just tell me one thing, please.  What policy has any Republican done for the good of the country, and not for the very greedy elite?

    They don’t want to pay fair taxes because they say we are punishing them for their success.  Not True!  Taxes are a way to keep their greed in check, unfortunately that isn’t happening because of the Bush admin. 

    To think that any human being deserves or earns more then a million dollars a year is ludicrous.

    They want to force their religious views on everyone, something that has always been against the very fiber of our constitution.

  • Puzzled

    His discussion or realities is well demonstrated here.

  • Anonymous

    If you can’t tell from my previous posts this guy has really hit a nerve in me.

    The idea that someone is poor because they have Karma to pay for, maybe a possibility….BUT they maybe poor so that you or someone else that has the ability to uplift that poor person, so that your karma is increased.  If you don’t then you are the loser. 

    All in all this guy really fails to see both sides of the coin, and is only pandering to the right wing craziness, that is such a threat to our society.

  • LeeLeander

    Brass tacks? Sorry Bill, but I’m not hearing much that’s tangible, other than some good points about human nature & self-comforting matrixes on “both” sides.
    So I’ll start with the “both.” As someone who often disagrees with neither party, what am I?
    All of these terms are so subjective:  “conservatives” and “liberals,” “care,” & the most vague one of all– “sanctity.” Sanctity of what?
    How did these “surveys” reap these quantifiable conclusions? Did all the people in the matrix “rate” themselves? Mushy science.
    It’s all about linguistics & economics. The GOP has been artful in appropriating & redefining “fairness” as something they hold a moratorium on, & the professor doesn’t question their definitions. Rich people work harder, right?
    Taking the “liberty” to speak now as a “liberal,” I believe very strongly in “fairness,” & that the problem with the U.S. over the last 30 years or so is that the working poor and middle class have not been being rewarded for their HARD WORK & for the record profits they’ve made for the international oligarchy.
    Hard work doesn’t make you rich. But media-fomented acrimony? It’s THE Blooming economy, starting with AM radio & now the Internet, & it apprears to be Nice work if you can get it.

  • LeeLeander

    Sorry, I meant as someone who often agrees with neither party. In this case a double negative is not a positive.

  • Matt
  • Angus

    This conversation is a perfect illustration of  Professor Haidt’s analysis.

  • NH Independent

    Wow! You sure did not seem to get the message about not demonizing. Most other commentators on this interview did not seem to get it either. If all of us keep casting those who disagree with us as evil, we are doomed to fail. Please treat Jonathan Haidt’s message as one of moral, not political psychology. Enough folks have to calm down and listen for things to change–and demonizing does not permit this.

  • Puzzled

    correction: of realities

  • Anonymous

     I disagree, Shroomduke is right you are wrong.

    Haidt’s message has nothing at all to do with morals and everything to do with political right wing lies.

    I think it is you that does not get it, but Haidt’s theories must fit into your view of the world. 

    If you feel someone is wrong in their view, you should debate them, not criticize them.

  • Tag

    His dismissal of reason was his most perplexing point. If we aren’t allowed to use reason to get to the truth of the matter, what are we to use, gut instinct? It feels true, so it is true?

  • Isaiah Merchant

    Occupy Wall Street Movement is up to now the only response to corporate success, or as I like to say, the firm establishment of a Capitalistic Democracy. Moreover, we all like our cell phones. So lets get the economics correct.

  • Gerry Long

    I regret having tuned into only the last half of the Haidt interview.  However, I felt that what was missing was the  mention of the injection ot hatred into the public discourse from the far right by the super fanatic Rush Limbaugh and his imitators such as Hannity, Beck, Savage, etc.

    This happened when GOP’s super hero and snake-oil salesman Ronald Reagan came into power and began his  epidemic of  deregulation, starting with elimination of the Fairness Doctrine.

    If the lying, racist,  obese, thrice divorced, drug-addicted Limbaugh were to be faced with daily rebuttal by someone such as Amy Goodman or Rachael Maddow, or Bill Moyers, he would be off the air in a matter of weeks, as would his imitators on the rest lot right wing radio and Fox News.

    As long as the publicly owned airwaves are allowed to be used to offer hatred and bias and falsehoods we can be sure that the public will continue to be polarized.  Today the public airwaves are controlled by the most hateful faction of the GOP.  This is not democracy.

    The damage done by the superficiality of Ronald Reagan’s air-waves decision should be the subject of widespread study.

  • Jon Perry

    I’m genuinely invigorated 
    that a brave soul in academia has the courage to publicly (Bill Moyer’s
    Journal NPR Superbowl Sunday) peel away at the layers of this particular
    societal dilemma that has all but bound our society into two irreconcilable
    tribes with their requisite sacred values. 
    The development of a specific nomenclature that enables discussion,
    rather than the regular devolution and emotional muddling may be seen in
    retrospect years hence as a clear beacon in the fog of our times!


  • Rocklady_gr

    Ah, there’s the rub… Professor Haidt did address the corporate influence. It’s important to watch the whole program.

  • Nancy Jakubiak

    Bill, I was so disappointed in yesterday’s show.  Why didn’t you challenge your guest in that he kept saying that liberals support those too lazy and good for nothing.  Your guest did not take into account that the playing field is not nor has it ever been level in this country and that most people don’t make it because of that, not because they are lazy, etc.  You both said upfront talked of Johnson’s comment that once the Civil Rights bill passed the South was lost for at least a generation to  the republicans.  Why, well because of racism.  Frankly I found your guest’s analysis insulting to liberals and all those who stand up for the rights of all.

  • Jon Perry

    Your defensiveness clearly demonstrates the myopia that has become intrinsic in our concepts of truth, left or right.  Truth is filtered by our personal sacred languages as defined by Haidt and is  subjective varying degrees.  I live and work  in industries that include both liberal and conservatives devotees; devotees being the operative here, because judgement of the “others” is too easy if you don’t get to know them and merely demonize from afar with easy stereotypes.  Within each monolith of thought are individuals with pros and cons, rarely the stereotypes accepted so handily by self righteous, effete snobs.  There, you see that demonizing gets nowhere, but perhaps getting nowhere is the whole point if one is financially served by demonizing and “speaking to the choir” by being a cheerleader for a cause.  Demonstartions serve these needs because marching for a cause serves one’s higher purpose and trumps one’s mundane existence.  It’s for these reasons I’m genuinely invigorated 
    that a brave soul in academia has the courage to publicly (Bill Moyer’s
    Journal NPR Superbowl Sunday) peel away at the layers of this particular
    societal dilemma that has all but bound our society into two irreconcilable
    tribes with their requisite sacred values. 
    The development of a specific nomenclature that enables discussion,
    rather than the regular devolution and emotional muddling may be seen in
    retrospect years hence as a clear beacon in the fog of our times!


  • atty.

    Mr. Haidt.  As an attorney  you apparently have little understand what we do.  You stated that attorneys find the case(s) and/orstatute(s) that supports our case, as in “confirmation bias” illustration.   That is untrue or only  half of the story.  We research all sides of an issue including the information and case law and statutory law that hurts our argument/case and have to try to deal with that as well as trying to find case law that supports our  position.  Every case has its problems for both sides.  If we only found the case law that supports our own case, we would not be doing our job and would surely lose in court.  Please stop using our work as an illustration for confirmation bias.  What we do is anything but that.

  • Jeanabella

    I waited so long to see Bill Moyers back on PBS! This new show is disappointing in that on two different viewings, I became uncomfortable watching Mr. Moyers. He has the powerful position of a trusted journalist and yet he wastes his reputation on this format with guests who bear false witness.
    For him to allow a questionable statement made by his guest, without follow up, displays that he either did not do his homework and is ignorant of the subject, or that he goes along with what is said.
    The comments here are great and give me hope that the majority of people do know what the “Golden Rule” means and how doing what’s right for the poorest among us is the right thinking.
    This whole meme of the right just having a “different” point of view is nonsense.
     The majority rule is our way of government and it’s what’s missing in a “Citizen United” era of Corporate owned government & Tea party.
    Who will stand up and tell the truth if not a Bill Moyers?

  • Jeanabella

     I so agree! The FCC has been taken over by the right wing for a while now. We have Fox where Canada refused them a license. We have fear and Canadians don’t.
     The Fourth Estate is all we have to give us the truth and the public airwaves are full of lies and fear mongering. This causes stress and depression etc.
    This is a world wide problem.
    #ows  changed the talking points from what the right wing wanted us to hear, and thank goodness for the brave souls who physically show up as well as all the people everywhere who keep their voices  alive over the internet. The media in general isn’t paid to report on ows.
    Again, who can we trust if not a Bill Moyers?

  • Markus

    The comments in this forum are great examples. By and large, this group demonizes the right and makes little attempt to understand why they think this way. But that’s expected.

    What is interesting is that Mr. Moyers does the same. Immediately after Professor Haidt was on, the show on Saul Alinsky was played. Hard to find a better example of deification. Was anything bad said about him. Similarly, was anything good said about the people who opposed him? And wasn’t Gingrich portrayed as essentially bad, a hypocrite and someone who was so sleazy he would attack a dead saint (my words, but Alinsky sure was portrayed that way).

    It’s really hard to change perceptions of a side you’ve always considered the enemy – maybe harder past a certain age. But imagine if, as Haidt suggested, years from now it became rude to be this one-sided and inflexible.

  • Shroomduke

    Yea, that’s what I meant, and furthermore…

    Bill understands that only dialog can bring us togather, the 1% have used the “divide and conquer” tacts to keep us chasing our tails while the rob us blind.

    We don’t have to agree with their ghoulish pro-death anti-human vindictive narcissistic views, we just need to find common ground!

    Bill shows faith in his audience by letting Haidt expose himself for who and what he truly is! 

    This interview makes me envision Van Helsing calmly interviewing Count Dracula, while Dracula opines how delicious human blood is, and how people are not victimized but honored and immortalized by having their blood slowly drained from their bodies by him and his kind…

  • Rohr

    The problem with Haidt is not in the details.  Question his research in relation to the conclusion he draws.  Question his motivation.  If the outcome is to “help” society, then there is a problem.  True science does posit a social outcome.  Question anyone who believes they have the solution.

  • Anonymous

    My BA major was in Psychology (3.9 GPA) and I switched tracks for graduate school because of people like Mr. Haidt who try to sum up the complexity of humanity in neat little packages. Sorry but your 6 characteristics/generalizations were wrong. I would like to know your sample size and what their socioeconomic  backgrounds were. Most decent psychology surveys are usually only question about a couple hundred people – rarely goes into the thousands which already means it is not scientifically significant (statistically) in the bigger picture of the most diverse country in the world. I was also offended by his interpretation of the term karma. He is describing karma as in the old Hindu caste system religion. Buddha (like Jesus to the old testament), brought new ideas to the Hindu canon. He re-envisioned karma as dharma or doing good deeds and taking care of  people in need – rather than letting them die. Are we over populated and maybe keep folks alive artificially and do not live in balance with nature – yes but we should not become immoral and move backwards to the dog eta dog dogmas of ancient times – eye for an eye etc.. Our consciousness levels have been rising slowly but surely over the millennium and people like Mr. Haidt only confuse rather than enlighten and therefore slow down evolution of humanity and are actually part of the problem. I was also offended by his 6 point scale making all liberals seem unpatriotic or tribal – in a good way. This is ridiculous as at least half if not more of the truly brave men and women who are liberal democrats and have died or sacrificed in wars so that flip flop, once was liberal but are now center right, cold heart secular academics like Mr. Haidt can spread their untrue ideas about our current reality in America. What would Mr. Haidt answer to the fact that their are simply not enough jobs to go around and that the welfare sytem never trains or teaches skills to the poor but only keeps them floating with the minimum so as to avoid a revolution and keep the status quo of the pecking order in our country. What advice would he give to a young black man (25% unemployment) who has a 50% chance of ending up in jail because of no opportunities/living wage paying jobs in his local urban world? Or the millions of jobless whites who represent the 8% unemployed? Decent jobs do not seem to be coming back or trickling down even with over 10 years of tax breaks for the rich – what would Mr Smarty Pants say to these realities in America in the early 21st century? How to educate 300 million to be computer programmers will take a lot of money – who is going to pay so we can compete in the world market? Compete – Mr Haidt’s favorite concept – because Conservatives are more in touch with how people really are – are these the same conservative who claim to be Christian when running for office? Do any of them follow the teachings of Christ? No they do not.

  • Bob Trumbo

    There are those who criticize you for giving the impression tou are against Liberals. The truth is the Liberal/Conservative  syndrome started 50-60 years ago when abuses of labor by corporations caused legislation that began the concept of “Just go to the Government and they will takes care of you”. It has now gotten so out of hand it has driven a wedge between us as a society. Ask the question; Does anyone really believe that people would not wish to work and create a living for themselves? Someone must have understood the day of reckoning would one day come and we as a society would have to pay for it. Where will the money come from? We may even have to stop fighting al these wars we never seem to be able to win anyway????   Bob    TN

  • Shroomduke

     Thank you, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt but I think Heidt is a con artist, a hired gun, and an opportunist. I don’t believe he believes in the snake oil he’s selling, but he’s making $$$ selling it (and his books) and isn’t concerned about the damage it does, this is immoral!

  • Mbtaffe

    I just watched Mr. Moyers & Mr. Haidt and while they both made very thought-provoking points, one I didn’t hear & seldom do, is the blame that is put on people who can’t afford the rising insurance rates that would demonstrate their willingness to take responsibility for their lives.  My husband & I, as self-employed, hard-working people, watched our monthly major deductible rates rise from $350 a month to $550 over the last two years, though we had not make one claim!  Now, I’ve had a major heart problem and there are insinuations that we didn’t have enough insurance.  So, the people who make the most money off the illness of others are putting some money in a fund for our hospital bills.  That is so kind, and yet, there is judgement.  I just don’t hear or read stories about the parasite businesses that make too much money and how we have been shifted to the poverty class.  That didn’t happen because we’re lazy, it happened because people like us were the easiest to pick off.  We are at the end of the flock.  This downward slide has been going on for approximately 25 years and instead of any protection from our government, we are ignored and locally called whiners.  We are expected to accept this failure of our lives as our fault.

  • barkingdog

    Someone’s morality may gravitate them to some sort of Political Ideology, but that doesn’t exempt them from Facts on the Ground.

    Haidt’s starting point for his research seems to be placed with the Beltway’s Media Culture of Red State vs Blue State. And then placing Moral Belief systems within this narrow bandwidth.

    But his extrapolation of his Research dismisses Context. His analysis seems to dismiss Racism, the denial of Science, level of Educational opportunities, the effects of Right-Wing propaganda, debt & the lack of jobs.

    Plus the Biggest Context of them All:

    that, as Voters, we have become the Commodity. The Voter is NOT the Customer.  Politicians package and sell us to the highest Corporate bidder. And then, the Politician provides his/her services to the winning Corporate player.

    Given this reality of the “Voter is NOT the Customer,” Haidt’s analysis of Conservative vs. Liberal becomes just another shell Game.

  • Anonymous

    I believe you hit the nail on the head!  He even looks like a snake oil salesman. 

    I agree, the damage, he is causing, is totally immoral! 

    Heidts Karma certainly can’t be very good, that is one consolation, although not my right to judge.   

  • Pwood

    Hi All

    I saw the show with Jonathan Haidt and I think the reason that Bill Moyers had him on the show was that he was talking about our process as a national community.  It is absolutely an unlevel playing field for so many in this country but there’s also a bunch of people who identify with Republicans who are not at all privileged.  How do we start shifting the discourse so that we can engage in some kind of dialogue with them because they are not going away and they are part of this country too.  Maybe it is by looking at what we all consider sacred as Haidt suggests and trying to forge some common ground.  I’m not saying it will be easy but as Haidt said  – we all have a tendency to think our own views are most accurate  – we make allowances for ourselves and people similar to us but we do no such thing for people we view as different like Republicans or Evangelicals.  Yet these groups are powerful and are part of our national discourse as well.   So we have to start thinking about process and what is getting in the way of an open dialogue with “tribes” other than our own.  And that means perhaps not constantly correcting people different than ourselves but taking time to really listen to what their underlying values are and what these folks hold sacred without demonizing them.  Because speaking for myself as a progressive I do think my view of the world is accurate and right but if that is what I put out in conversations with others of other views – they will never listen to me.  It is a recipe for them just shutting down.  And there probably is a lot of common ground if we could all just get past our own “facts” and really hear the other.  We all want security for our loved ones and families – we all love our country – we just go after these things in different ways.  I liked it when he said for us to begin by not demonizing  the other – we can acknowledge differences in views but not infer malicious intent.  This seems like a beginning to me and one that is sorely needed right now.  So that is why I think Bill Moyers had him on his show. 

  • Markus

    I think people are missing the point of the story. It’s not that conservatives are, or are not evil, hard hearted, greedy fat cats. It’s also not that liberals are or are not lazy, mooching, bleeding hearts. What they are is not the major  point of the show. It’s that most on the left or right are incapable of empathizing with the other side because they’ve demonized them while viewing their side as only good. And the discussions in this forum are great examples of this.

    IMO, our politicians on both sides love this near-sightedness because it keeps us locked in our camps and keeps them in power. 

  • Anonymous

    I was riveted by this particular conversation but I have something to say about the ‘grasshopper and the ants’ story. I don’t think democrats want the ants to give shelter to the lazy grasshopper, I think they want to give shelter to the hard working grasshopper who lost everything in the financial crash or the hurricane or the racist policies of the bug congress.

  • Anonymous

    Rand Paul actually had a former staffer who contracted a terminal disease and died for lack of health insurance at a young age. Paul has no conscience.

  • Millsaps

    jeeps!  i thought haidt was spot on.  what the heck, color me integral…

  • Shroomduke

    Just calling em  like I sees em!

  • Sergio

    Great segment !

  • Pawel G.

    The problem with Mr. Haidt’s obviously pro right wing ideological statements is that it misses the point of all rhetoric – it’s RHETORIC. Rhetoric is motivation for action. Usually for political action.

    And the difference between what the proto-fascists on the right promote and what people on the left promote is startlingly different.

    One side wants a society ruled by a small minority of ultra-wealthy people who suck our society and our country dry of resources, abuse the powerless and stream more and more wealth into their own pockets. (The premise of this analysis is the reality is that all economic systems are politically controlled. the only question is by whom.)

    The left wants more democracy.

    Not until the forces of evil are defeated will we be free. We need to be ever-vigilant and ever ready to control the power of minority that wishes to take away our collective rights.

    That’s the problem with pro right wing thinkers like Mr. Haidt.

  • MB

    I turned off the interview after three minutes because Haidt talked about “the first guy and the second guy.”

    It never occurred to Haidt to talk about two female tourists or a female and a male tourist.  In typical male-centric fashion, he talked about two male tourists.

    Haidt seems to think the male is the norm of humanity.  Very, very offensive.

  • MB

    Also, Haidt’s two tourists were white.  Sorry, but this guy immediately lost his credibility with me when he used two white male tourists to show the differences in worldviews.

    Haidt needs to examine his own subconscious sexism and racism.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t buy the premise that the Dems have been ineffective b/c they are too timid.  Check out  You’ll find that the Dems, especially Obama, are largely bought & paid for by the same corporate interests as the Republicans.  That’s why we didn’t get even so much as a fight on a public option, why the criminals on Wall Street have gone unpunished, continued tax cuts for the wealthy, “balancing the budget” by cutting services for the poor & vulnerable, etc. 

    We have a corporatocracy.  All the partisan fighting is kabuki theater to get us to believe there’s really a choice.

  • Mark G. Stevens

    I absolutely enjoyed this interview. 

    Alas, I find one point of disagreement with Mr. Haidt: his reference to the conservative use of the term “karma” is left somewhat wanting.  Although the original Hindu is “beneficial effects of past beneficial acts,” Haidt’s use of the term obscures the reality that many people suffering in today’s economy are utterly blameless. They are collateral damage from the acts of others. 

    Their low-skilled jobs are now offshore, their repossessed homes financed under corporate fraud(ish) conditions, their tax dollars sent to bailout banks… so to suggest that this outcome is their “karma” is both deeply ignorant on the part of the conservatives who hold this view and a free-pass from Mr. Haidt, who does not seem to see the lie in justifying a total lack of compassion in this society by citing karma. This, when the sorry state of the nation’s poor is a direct result of victimization through greed and sanctioned by an increasingly ignorant populace who elect ever greedier lawmakers. Karma, indeed.

    Bill, love the new show!

  • RestoreDemocracy

     This is the theme of the book America Adrift (See Amazon) about ending the discord and seeking to build consensus. We have to stop the blame game and begin to build bridges between our differences and find common ground. Without that approach we will never develop sufficient support for any solutions. Right now we even argue over the nature of our problems. The book details why this is so and what we can and must do to change the dynamic in this country. It’s a must read for our times.

  • Anonymous

    Bill Moyers — not only was it disappointing that you didn’t challenge Haidt, the entire interview was a reflection of how often the conservative narrative is ‘given the floor’ while well-intentioned liberals sit back and listen politely, loathe to question or challenge the conservative agenda TOO forcefully.  All in the name of finding common ground, which we all know has become bigger and wider between conservatives and liberals over the years.

    To my mind truly “finding common ground” occurs when both parties’ interests are met in some way after an honest conversation between equals.  It can’t be manufactured if it isn’t there.  In any case, real compromise should always include the process of standing up for what one believes in.  It seems you could have easily done that with your guest and at the same time provided an example of what goes into an contructive debate between equals.

  • Larry

     Agreed. See You would enjoy the book. We have to change the conversation in this country from the blame game to finding common ground. All the labeling, name calling and ideological intransigence is immobilizing us as our country continues to drift.

  • Sadie

    Were most of you watching the same show as I was?  I so didn’t hear Mr. Haidt taking up for the right or the left. What I heard was that both groups have valid points AND both groups have blind spots.  Seems like most of the comments support his findings that each group wants not only to be correct but also to demonize those who think differently. 

  • virginia

    You comments are a perfect example of what Haidt was talking about – demonization for one.
    Also we hear what we want to hear.  I heard him pro left.  Are you sure you listened to what he said?

  • Isaiah Merchant

    Free Markets shackle Free Economics.
    Give the poor Free Justice not Free Markets.
    Money in Politics is Bad Speech.
    Subsistence Living is not ugly, Treading on the poor is.

  • Anonymous

    This person is part of the problem not part of the solution. What I worry is that we have yet another academic that seems to be telling the left that ( sotto voce) sophistication lies in recognizing that if one sees the other as evil, for example,  that is , ipso facto, a sign of being in the constricted barrel of perception , not standing outside and above recognizing that we all just have different viewpoints. Which saps the strength of the left even more and increasing exponentially the notion that “A liberal is one ho knows everyone’s opinion but his own.” 

  • Anonymous

    Definitely not pro-left but not anti either. Rather, he is a person who have developed his own sense of worth by being above it all. See my note above. This kind of academic vitiates progressives without even recognizing it. 

  • Anonymous

    So there is no such thing as right and wrong ? And we can’t respond to wrong forcefully without being seen as “demonizers ?”

  • Anonymous

    Shroom Duke, since imagination seems to be an issue for you, let me provide another example, something a little more tangible for you: 

    What if somebody who is pro-abortion insists on an abortion for an anti-abortionist who has been raped and is obviously incapable of supporting the child?  

    This is ‘do as you would be done by.’  

  • Anonymous

    One more thing: 

    You say “How is an essay by GBS gospel?” 

    That’sthe wholepoint:it’s not. GBS is challenging The Gospel by saying that. 

  • Anonymous

    That makes absolutely, no sense whatsoever.  You really don’t understand the golden rule at all. 

    Gosh I’m sure glad my imagination isn’t like yours.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, Haidt’s work is not real science. Real science has strict controls, not websites inviting anyone to participate especially without knowing education levels, socio-economic backsgrounds. etc.  Many of his questions are absolute nonsense. Most questions are baldly obvious as to which mind sets they appeal to. However, there are a number that make absolutely no sense. “One of the worst things a person could do is hurt a defenseless animal. ”  Really ? When no one knows what other “worse things” there are how is one to respond ?  One can guess that you are trying to get at the notion that liberals will care more and conservatives less, but that is about all. A sophomore might write this question. “Whether or not someone showed a lack of loyalty.” Loyalty to what ? There has to be an object here ! Loyalty is not an abstract. It  is is always modified by an object: nation, flag, tribe, party, code of ethics, etc. This makes absolutely no sense. 

  • Anonymous

    Obama went 98%  to the Republicans side. In a televised debate the whole nasty crew of Republicans were asked in they would accept $10. of tax cuts for $1 in tax increases. They all no. So tell me, “RestoreDemocracy” where is there “Common Ground?” 

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, Haidt’s work is not real science. Real science has strict controls, not websites inviting anyone to participate especially without knowing education levels, socio-economic backsgrounds. etc.  Many of his questions are absolute nonsense. Most questions are baldly obvious as to which mind sets they appeal to. However, there are a number that make absolutely no sense. “One of the worst things a person could do is hurt a defenseless animal. ”  Really ? When no one knows what other “worse things” there are how is one to respond ?  One can guess that you are trying to get at the notion that liberals will care more and conservatives less, but that is about all. A sophomore might write this question. “Whether or not someone showed a lack of loyalty.” Loyalty to what ? There has to be an object here ! Loyalty is not an abstract. It  is is always modified by an object: nation, flag, tribe, party, code of ethics, etc. This makes absolutely no sense. Edit

  • Anonymous

    This is interesting: discussion with Lefties is quite similar to my forays onto Tea Party blogs. Shroom Duke called me ‘an attention whore’ (deleted by Moderator) and you feel a need to go beyond writing that not only do you disagree with me, but my thoughts are untouchable too. I think Haidt is wrong: Some lefties seem equally ready as the Religious Right to put themselves morally above their intellectual opponents. How the world has changed.

  • Anonymous

    Obama went 98%  to the Republicans side. In a televised debate the whole nasty crew of Republicans were asked in they would accept $10. of tax cuts for $1 in tax increases. They all no. So tell me, “Larry” where is there “Common Ground?”

  • Anonymous

    I don’t agree with Haidt’s conclusions in this respect, but I think a distinction should be drawn between leftist and liberal. In my view the liberal sits closer to the center and, yes, is fairly tolerant of different opinions. The term ‘liberal’ to me embraces some Republicans and some Democrats. People such as Buddy Roehmer, for example. The leftist, on the other hand, is about as tolerant as those on the right wing. He merely has a different ideology. One thing the rightists have done is conflate liberals with leftists. I have several conservative friends, and while I detest their politics, on a personal level I find them just as respectful and tolerant as my progressive friends.

  • bfp

    Aren’t lefties supposed to be open- and broad-minded? I am stunned that so many comments here illustrate precisely the problem Jonathon Haidt analyzed: the uncivilized nature of our political discourse.  Haidt didn’t take a left-right stand.  He sought to explain that, in a sophisticated democracy, it is essential that people with differing opinions be able talk, discuss, argue and debate without demonizing each other.  He seems to think this is possible.  After reading the comments here I seriously doubt it.  

  • BonesinTaos

    Haidt made the point towards the end of the talk that in science one comes closer to “right” by having ones view constructively criticized by peer review. And some of his peers disagree with him, but the dialog ends up being productive for all involved. He said over and over that we all have biases that blind us to other perspectives and that our moralizing leads us to demonize our opponents. That kind of dialog is what is missing in the right-left confrontational politics we are involved in and which is being so clearly demonstrated by so many of the comments to this talk. 

  • Leadingbrandz

    Mr. Haidt is an eloquent intellectual and presents some very interesting observations.  He welcomes challenges from “peers” to arrive at the “greater truth” and claims he was a Liberal and his research has moved him further to the right, but now claims to be a “centrist”.   So, here is a challenge, As a social scientist by education what I noticed is just a little bit of slight of hand going on, despite his remarkable work, knowledge and eloquence.  In his chart on Morality HE (or his “team”) have arrived at 6 categories to measure.  All of which show a skew that conservatives are remarkably stable, while liberals appear morally imbalanced.   When I saw that chart right there, it was obvious the esteemed Mr. Haidt is engaging in a bit of biased gimmickry.   Just like the way you word questions in a poll can affect the outcome of the results, the categories selected for this chart, also stack the deck in favor of a certain outcome. 
    I’m not convinced that groups of conservatives give equal weight to each category as Haidt says his “studies” have shown either!  I have met a number of conservatives who are very authoritarian, and others who are very “Liberty” oriented.  I’ve met so-called liberals who put Liberty above “care” and in fact no one I know anywhere on the political spectrum fits this neat and tidy and clearly biased mold Haidt has charted.    I’ve not found any political charting that beats the one at
    I think the chart and quiz you can take there is far superior in understanding the key differences in a social psychology context as it measures people on social vs. economic axes.
    For example on the political compass quiz, authority and freedom are at different ends of one axis – they are in opposition to each other.  Yet in Haidts chart, they are equal moral values for conservatives – that doesn’t make sense.  What that would mean is that conservatives are centrists, and therefore they would not be conservatives.   So there is quite a conundrum for Haidt, or he may just be creating a very clever deception.   
    What I really liked and did find useful and fascinating is his discussion about polarized, isolated, and closed political systems (or realities) which then engage in “demonizing” those outside of that system while simultaneously “rationalizing” hypocrisy that is inherent in human nature.
    But these are not concepts Haidt invented – they are widely recognized.  Yet he does understand and explain them well.
    It might not be so tongue in cheek to point out that even regardless of “Left” or “Right”, Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or Republican… there is an even bigger difference between those who live “inside the beltway” (you know like those people who live in Virginia(Home to more Defense related contractors than any other state, the CIA, the FBI, or government in general, etc…) and/or work in DC, than those of us in the whole rest of the country.  
    Finally, by making his focus on “morality” and then arbitrarily selecting “morality silos” he has already stacked the deck in favor of his hypotheses.   As an analogy it would be like me suggesting that pickles are pretty much evenly sour, but cucumbers are inconsistently sour.   

  • BonesinTaos

    I think you missed his final point that the one thing that needs to be done is to eliminate the corruption in government that stems from lobbying and financial contributions that create our government for the 1%.

    I found it refreshing that Moyers took a break from focusing on that issue to look at some ideas on why the 99% can’t come together and get rid of the corruption.

  • Leadingbrandz

     … and so I see Mr. Haidt as wittingly or unwittingly creating an obfuscation of this “greater truth”.  You are spot on correct.

  • expose the propaganda

     Great point.  Haidt used the absurdly simplistic Aesop fable of the Ant and Grasshopper.   What if one has never had the opportunity to be an Ant NOR a Grasshopper?  What if one is relegated to being a 3 legged cockroach? 

  • Leadingbrandz

     Apparently the 30 year old did not sock away enough cash during childhood.

  • BonesinTaos

    You just made a very good point. Faux News does appear beyond the pale, but so do many of the leftist diatribes. IMO it is a good thing neither represents a majority in this country. I believe that the critical strategic issue for progressives or liberals is to learn to reframe the debate so that it speaks to the independents who will determine who wins the next election. We won’t succeed by demonizing the right nor by being intransigent ourselves.
     As an example, to the extent that Social Security needs to be modernized, I am totally opposed to raising the retirement age because the people who need it are not bureaucrats but blue collar workers whose bodies wear out with time. But as a wealthy professional I would have been willing to contribute more to during my working years and have my pension reduced by my other income. (In fact I have refused to take Social Security until I actually need it).  Just as it is obscene to privatize Social Security, it is equally obtuse not to develop a plan to protect the working poor and yet prevent future insolvency.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think I am morally above anyone.  Your statement made no sense and had nothing whatsoever to do with the “Golden Rule”  It’s about how you treat people, not about convincing someone to do things against their beliefs.

    I don’t know that your thoughts are untouchable, I’m just grateful I don’t think like you.  You have every right to think and do as you please, just as I have a right to disagree with you.

  • BonesinTaos

    Both you and Shroomduke don’t seem to see that you can hold your opinions of how you would like the world to run and at the same time see the moral underpinnings of the other side. (I am discounting the bloviating by Faux News and the current Republican presidential candidates who have chosen to speak only to the far right). If we want to overturn Citizen’s United and eliminate the travesty of buying our Congress, then we have to engage with moderates and intelligent conservatives (that is not an oxymoron) to bring our government back under the control of the people.

  • Anonymous

    Why would you assume that we can’t see the moral underpinnings of the other side? 

    To quote you:
    “intelligent conservatives (that is not an oxymoron)”

    I don’t know could you prove that isn’t and oxymoronic statement..please?  Just kidding!

    I do agree we need to end Citizen’s United!

  • Anonymous

    I am not taking about “right” in the veracity of scientific analysis. I am talking abut right and wrong in the everyday world . For example, where some might want to eliminate Social Security or health care for poor people.  If one can’t apply Thomas Jefferson’s “self-evident” here then we are in big trouble. The problem with our academic friend is thst he is so far from the suffering he does not have to face the reality. As Stalin said, “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.” Mr. Haidt is a statistician.  

  • Anonymous

    OK, you’re looking at it but you’re not seeing it.

    Shaw’s point is that we should treat others they way they would like to be treated, which is not necessarily the way we like to be treated. This is not the Golden Rule.

    The way the Golden Rule is worded, it is a sanctuary for people who want to force people to do things that go against their principles. Using the example of abortion again, the anti-abortionist can reconcile her obstruction of others’ access to abortion in the context of the Golden Rule by saying that she would wish to be prevented from having an abortion should she have an unwanted pregnancy and under the duress of circumstance was wavering in her conviction. Therefore in obstructing abortion, she is doing unto others as she would have done unto herself.

    But if the moral adage is to treat others as they wish to be treated even if it is not something you would wish for yourself, the anti-abortionist has no protection and is exposed as a tyrant.

    Do you see it now?

  • G. Fritz

     Mr. Haidt is a psychologist. His mission as a
    psychologist is to help people adjust to the society they live in. The working
    assumption of a psychologist is that the individual should adapt to the norms
    of their society, that we are to change ourselves, and that the source of our
    problem is our failure to successfully adapt.


    This reminds me of a story by Kurt Vonnegut about a man who
    was obsessed with the idea of killing his nation’s president. The man worked
    diligently to adapt to his society and only after much work was he able to
    accept the guidance of his therapist and enjoy most of his days without
    wrestling with this inner turmoil.


    And so this president, Adolf Hitler, was never seriously
    threatened by this man, who had achieved some modicum of inner peace.


    The question is whether We
    the People need to adjust to our current state of affairs, or should the
    state of affairs be made to accommodate the needs of We the People. I don’t believe the guidance of Mr. Haidt is useful
    if we choose the latter.



    This reminds me of a story by Kurt Vonnegut about a man who
    was obsessed with the idea of killing his nation’s president. The man worked
    diligently to adapt to his society and only after much work was he able to
    accept the guidance of his therapist and enjoy most of his days without
    wrestling with this inner turmoil.


    And so this president, Adolf Hitler, was never seriously
    threatened by this man, who had achieved some modicum of inner peace.


    The question is whether We
    the People need to adjust to our current state of affairs, or should the
    state of affairs be made to accommodate the needs of We the People. I don’t believe the guidance of Mr. Haidt is useful
    if we choose the latter.


  • Anonymous

     I do see what you are saying, but I just can not believe anyone would take it’s meaning to such an extreme.  I sincerely do not believe it was meant to be used to force one’s idea on another. 

    It’s meant to be used in a positive way, not a negative way.

    I do see your view of it, but I hope you can understand why I would not go to that extreme.

  • Tatateeta


  • Tatateeta

    Proves my point that conservatives don’t “get” the golden rule.

  • Anonymous

    This idea does not work because one person would be forcing their principles on to the other person, which goes against the golden rule…because the person trying to force their principles would not want another person forcing their principles on them.  It would have to work both ways in order to apply the Rule.

    In other words you would have to be accepting to the idea that someone else should be allowed to force their principles on you, before you could force your principles on another…which is not likely to be the case.

  • Tatateeta

    If we didn’t have the internet, we would be mute. The right owns everything. They bought my favorite AM radio station (Bain owns the company that bought the station). I turn on what used to be Stephanie Miller and get Glenn Beck. Sorry. I’m veering off topic.

  • Tatateeta

    It’s laughable. It’s as if he’s talking about the old time conservatives who no longer exist.

  • Tatateeta

    I think he was just interviewing Dr. Haidt. I don’t think he was buying the snake oil.

  • Anonymous

     Ah, you maybe on to something, he must be talking about the Republican Party of Lincoln’s days. 

  • Tatateeta

    Social Security is not “insolvent”. It has a $2.6 trillion surplus which the Gov’t borrowed to fund things like the Iraq war and tax cuts for billionaires. It has it’s own revenue stream and doesn’t cost tax payers anything to administer. They want to steal Social Security because they don’t want to pay the money back. The U.S. actually owes more to Americans who pay into Social Security than it owes to China. And that debt to Social Security is backed by treasury bonds. Medicare is the one that’s in trouble. Social Security is not welfare. It’s a Social Insurance program.

  • Anonymous

    Well, hard as it may seem to believe, people will go to extremes to justify their actions, especially when they think God is on their side. As to its initial meaning, we cannot be sure what that was. The Bible is subject to interpretation. It remains an inaccurate presumption, though that what will be good for the goose will be good for the gander. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. Etc. There are several well-worn epithets that counter the Golden Rule. At least we’re having an intelligent conversation about it now!

  • Tatateeta

    But let’s not forget that  a right wing SCOTUS  majority stopped the vote count and chose George Bush as presidednt. 

  • Tateeta

    There’s a kind of IQ test on Haidt’s site which compares liberal, conservative and libertarian scores. Liberals rule, Libertarians come in second. Conservatives come in dead last.

  • Hermann Haller

    Mr. Haidt seems to be able to condemn Gingrinch’s hypocrisy while at the same time condoning the hypocrisy of the right as natural, human and therefore o.k..   How can you use the Grimm Fairytale of the Grasshopper and the Ants as a moral allegory as justification of Ron Paul’s implication that it is o.k. to deny health care to the individual who wants to opt out of health insurance, which is, as a physician, he supports; i.e., the personal freedom to not pay for insurance even when one can afford it.  The basic systemic hypocrisy of the right is to clothe social-darwinism in anti-christian double-speak.  All analogies break down.  Reality may be a social construct predicated on narratives and fairy tales, but we ultimately have to deal with some real events whose absurdity evade interpretations.  
    The christian values that he mentioned that are worth saving such as flawed human nature and modesty mean little or nothing when there is no forgiveness.  What is the point of there being a ‘modern’ society at all– if we would allow society to deny care to someone for not paying insurance which was made possible by the conservative electorate?  Is post-apocalyptic anarchy really preferable to dystopia?  What would the christian right think if they knew that Gingrinch was slipping in the philosopher Wittgenstein’s notion that words are tools and other fruits of cognitive science when he circulated his GOPAC list of dirty words to demonize the left? (no pun intended?)
    My problem with contemporary psychology is that it has a tendency of resignation, to excuse flaws in humanity and society, that when exposed, no longer need to be the impetus to do better even if it is ultimately illusive or vanity.  What progress has been made without criticism, i.e., the negative factor, the anti-thesis, the antidote. 

  • Tatateeta

    I think Gandhi regretted not going after the caste system in India. But I think he would have been killed sooner by the conservatives if he had.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I do realize some people would go to an extreme, but that is not considered normal to be on the extreme side of things.  I’ve heard the Bible isn’t suppose to be understandable to those who are not ready to understand it’s meaning.  I do feel many people DO (edit) use it as a poison too….ie Republicans.  LOL that’s for sure, and it seems they use it as a poison too. 

    I actually think there are a lot of pagan stories mixed in the Bible, mainly the Old Testament, but I can’t prove it, it’s just my personal belief.  The story of Adam & Eve for one.  There was also, a lot left out because the elite did not want the masses to have the truth.  To believe 100% in the things in the Bible, is to me the wrong thing to do.  You are right and I do appreciate that.  Try to understand when someone tells you, you are wrong, it means you are wrong in their opinion.   I suppose we can’t know for sure who is right or wrong on some issues.  It is best to realize what the consequences of a way of thinking might bring.

    For example the Republican policies will send us back to the dark ages, and destroy America.  Their philosophy is that only a few are deserving.  These ideas are wrong to me.  They care nothing about their fellow human being, and certainly seem to lack normal human feelings, like empathy.  They think the wealthy are job creators, which is to me is insane to even think.  Demand creates jobs,

  • Anonymous

     That does seem to ring true.  Look at Scott Walker or Rick Perry, neither one of them did well in school, (average grades if that) and they certainly seem to have some very foolish ideas.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

     Thanks for the link, and it certainly does lend support.

  • MelvinJ

    Henlopen said: So there is no such thing as right and wrong? And we can’t respond to wrong forcefully without being seen as “demonizers?” I would add that all of my Republican relatives, friends, and co-workers were – and still are – 100 percent in favor of the unwarranted invasion of Iraq and the killing/murder of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis by U.S. forces. But somehow Haidt wants us to take that horrendous act out of the discussion because he views it as “demonizing” the Republicans. We should never question its morality?

  • Pawel G.

    Haidt is just another mouthpiece of the corporate elite. He’s trying to equate the goals of a sociopathic minority whose government policies (because in the end, there is no economy without a government, it’s just a matter of who controls the government)  hurt most of us while benefitting the few. He wants to equate the lies and obfuscations of the proto-fascist and racist right with the democratic principals of the left. That’s just plain stupid – at best.

    Talk about appeasement: This is the sort of thinking that is a short cut to the gas chambers folks.

  • Isaiah Merchant

    Save Capitalism from the Capitalists.
    Five types of economic activities can be used by a nation.
    1) Trade economic activity.
    2) Government economic activity.
    3) War to establish exchange for economic activity.
    4) Capitalistic economic activity.
    5) Nations can use Subsistence activity to exist, but without the multiple benefits of money.
    6) Lastly, Enslavement activity can enhance any of the other forms of economic activity for a nation.
    Capitalistic economic activity can be beautiful. The Occupy Wall Street Movement is still America’s best chance of correcting and saving Capitalistic activity from the Capitalist.

  • Chris Paris

    I’m still trying to get over the fact that the guy who posted “the myopia that has become intrinsic in our concepts of truth” is calling other people “self righteous, effete snobs.” I will assume irony was in full swing here.

    The point Sosca was making was accurate – an analysis of psychology of the individual, without an analysis of the psychology of the corporate entities that control them, is pointless. The two operate together, of course, and people make up corporations, after all, but the psychology changes radically when groups of people gather together and obtain great collective power.

    Analyzing just the individual is like blaming the victim.

  • barkingdog

    I was thinking,

    how would Haidt explain Anthropogenic Global Climate Change Denial, given the abundance of Scientific evidence?

    In the name of compromise, do you simply forget Reality because the other side’s Morality (or Religious zeal) compels them to be Complete Morons?

    Does the backers of Haidt’s Research massage Social Psychologists into conveniently Ignoring the effects of Economic Fraud, Media manipulation, and Corporate Monopoly power?

    As a Progressive one of my favorite sayings is,

    It’s quite alright to approach things with an open mind,

    — just make sure that your brains don’t fall out.

    Giving that, I don’t suffer fools or Fascists or dog whistle politicians or the many stripes of their soft-shoe Propagandistas.  

  • Matt

    Thank you, you nailed it.

    This is what irritated me so much about Haidt’s elaborate false equivalence argument. Facts matter. Sometimes one side is simply right. And often, one side is simply dishonest. To talk to liberals as if we’re the ones with a skewed value set, and to tell us we should be more respectful of positions on the right, such as climate change denialism, is absurd. Granted, that’s one of the most dramatic examples.

  • Anonymous

     I couldn’t agree more, especially your last statement.  I sincerely believe if people don’t start to wake up, the Republican Party,  will find ways to kill off the poor, and the elderly.  They are working exactly like Hitler did, and using people like Haidt to help pull off their scams.

    I do know it is not just the Republican Party, any and all bought and paid for politician…The Republicans are the worst of them.

  • Pawel G.

    Sorry. It’s the perfect illustration of why he so so wrong. 

    It’s not rhetoric that’s important. It’s the results of policy.

    That’s the only thing that matters.

    What are the results of Republican policy? Who gains? Who loses?

    Who cares what the rhetoric is?

    That’s why he is a right wing hack and not a serious political thinker.

  • Pawel G.

    John: Rhetoric is unimportant. What are the results of policies? 

    The results of Republican policies are that a small minority enriches itself while the majority loses power and control over the affairs of the country. That’s it.

    Who cares what the words used to enforce these policies are?

    Again, its not dealing with reality that drives the ignorant into the clutches of right wing thinkers like Haidt.

  • Anonymous

     Thank you for the link.  The site is very interesting.  I was a bit shocked to see Obama is so close to the Republican candidates for the 2012 election. 

    I was in line with Gandhi and Nelson Mandela which makes me proud!

  • Jon

    I suspect that Haidt could easily justify Jack the Ripper by suggesting we need to better appreciate Jack’s system of morality and logic or that Hitler was really a nice guy and not evil because he played the piano.

  • Yaz

    Although I appreciated some of the insights Haidt provided, I experienced his as “over generalizing” the “human condition” as so many do.  It sounds as if all of his research we done in the USA and centered on the culture wars going on there.  This is valid given he is American, Bill Moyers in American and this is an American channel.  My problem is when he generalises from a very specific time in one country to talking about the “human condition” or these being human characteristics since time immemorial.  They are not.  I suggest to counter this and expand this very important conversation, Moyers brings in people such as John Perkins, Wade Davis or those involved in the creation of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity.  I also suggest you have folks like Chris Hedges and others who have done research on the funding of these “culture wars”.  They have not happened by accident or because of the “natural evolution” of anything.  Keep up the good work.

  • Valdaveronica

    The obvios fact missed in the Haindt’s analysis is that USA is a corporate welfare state. The big oil, megafarms, banks all get subsidies. The all-republican States like So.Carolina get more federal money than they contribute, then there is Alaska with its outrageous financial breaks. The welfare for the unemployed generated  out of fear of things getting ugly if we have hungry and armed crowds, we are protecting from angry mob the very people who constantly create it.  Financial markets sored in the 80’s and yet the poverty deepened.  The welfare exists because of the rich, not because of the poor.  The all-American capitalists hire Chinese, Mexicans and Indians rather than Americans becase capitalism is looking for the highest profit and the cheapest labor. The USA is creating  its underclass of those left behind and if we keep them poorly educated by cutting public funds we will come around a full circle and these Americans will be ready to work 20 hours with no complaints like Chinese do now. Then we will abolish the safety regulations, EPA to encourage businesses to come back and the conservatives will have their way, won’t that be wonderful for Americandream?  The truth of the welfare is that it is the other side of the coin of capitalism, so long as we have opportunities for squizzing all that the employers can out of workforce, exploring natural resources to the end and constantly looking for new markets this scheme requires to have disposable people. The other option is what Nazi plan was for Europe – no welfare, but free labour of concentration camps.  We cnnnot go there in the US.  Japan is not a socialist State but they keep Japanese workers employed in “zombies”companies, isn’t it a welfare type system?  Japanese prefer their workers have dignity and jobs while yes the capitalist society pays for them without profit.  The conservative view presented by Jonathan Haidt is shallow, but he workes at UofVA, not at Berkeley.  He has to be a hypocrite to keep his job in all-Republican State.

  • barkingdog


    here’s an interesting article by George Monbiot of the Guardian /UK entitled:

    “The Right’s Stupidity Spreads, Enabled by a Too-Polite Left”


  • Anonymous

     Thank you!

  • Rrr1930bob

    Best explanation of political polarization I have ever witnessed. Gives me a much better insight and understanding of the “wing Nuts” . So far the Conservatives are far ahead of the Progressives in terms of explaining why you are progressive of which I am, so we gotta work on this!

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Very good observation, especially as regards embarrassment at seeing a stone penis.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    So if we don’t fit his profiles we ain’t normal and we don’t count. I tried a psych major for awhile too.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Are social sciences real science? 
    Not in my book.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    It was a response to Gingrich’s unfair attack on a dead guy. Haven’t you ever read Julius Caesar, particularly Mark Anthony’s eulogy? 

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Both Bill Moyers and Diane Rehm are miracles for their age but they need capable successors. When the show was named Moyers&Company I expected people like Deb Amos and Chris Hedges and Maria Hinojosa as co-anchors or substitutes so Bill could concentrate on quality. I think maybe he got tired making the first 3 shows and burned out on the 4th. 
    I’ve been in TV production, and a weekly show is hard on the leads. Just the lights can exhaust you.
    And maybe he was obligated to sell Haidt’s inferior book. Such things occur routinely.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Rick Karr, I apologize for almost forgetting your great pieces at Moyers Journal.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    He also forgets case law research and precedents, and the filing of timely motions and appeals in the correct venue.
    He’s pretty superficial.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    He conceded slightly and moved on with his oblivious talking points. It’s a standard technique.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Clumsy Bill committed a touchback and cost me the spread. Jon Haidt earned most valuable player for his Republican team by completing several long bombs.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Why have we let the FCC become a tool of the NAB? Obama helped.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    No, your point is relevant because these are the kind of realities the psychology professor ignores. He totally disregards the asymmetrical  power relations between citizens and Oligarchs. Right wing extremists are stormtroopers for Elite interests whether they realize it or not.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    A perfect illustration of his flawed syllogism, I think.
    Positing a truism proves nothing.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    False equivalence is the second flaw Matt cites after circular reasoning.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Thanks for putting in so much effort to assert reality against Haidt’s cybergaming, Rebecah. This thing is tiring me out. Some people are so authoritarian they think anything Bill Moyers lets on the air can never be doubted. This show is rare and special but not  infallible.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Yep, he’s a fiddler, and Rome is on fire.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Bill should address mind colonization and dumbing-down sometime. He should address the pervasive anxiety that asymmetrical power creates. People are prudent to fear the wealthy and connected. They can exclude you from earning a living in the workplace with a finger snap. Barack Obama can legally disappear citizens now with no proof and no trial. He can order YOU killed with a drone if he feels you a threat. It’s no wonder people are anxious about talking back to extremists.
    Extremists see their sponsors smiling and know they are not obligated to listen to reason. Compared to these new realities Haidt is out of this world.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    You can lead the Oligarchs to superficial moral discussion, but you can’t bring them to justice.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    They buried it.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    So this was a conversation with a Tom Cruise vampire clone? Maybe.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly.  A false equivalency should not be laid on Democrats. 

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Jon Perry seems totally immersed in an office mentality. He’s probably a workaholic and a company man. He’s stuck in a corporate work game like Haidt is stuck in the university game. The style of using clever word manipulation (talking points) on victims was one skill even Dub Bush mastered. In the overall scheme of things it is an annoying parlor trick, but it is useful in bringing sadistic pleasure to oppressors.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    We need to stand up to bullies, not placate them. That is why Chris Hedges argues that the Liberal Class is Dead. They compromised their role away.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    hypnotist is the keyword. Made me recall the short story “Mario and the Magician.”

  • Grady Lee Howard

    You will do what Simon sez.
    You will do what Simon sez.
    (An episode of “Underdog.” speed of lightning, power of thunder, fighting all who rob and plunder: Underdog!)

  • Grady Lee Howard

    A woman on DRShow blog nailed it.
    Pancake Rankin says we are afflicted with “wealth etiquette” and so are  intimidated to question the motives of the wealthy, and fearful of retaliation when we confront bullies or ask hard questions of those who defend illegitimate power.

  • Anonymous

    The second commandment is the Golden Rule”treat your neighbor
    as yourself” which means you
    will always be good to yourself,
    You want respect, the right to live in peace where you desire or can obtain, etc.
    to marry, to work for a reasonable living,etc. It means
    you cannot dishoner someone
    else because of their color,
    religion, sex, etc.  It means
    you cannot send you child to
    school with the admonition to
    torment someone else, or do so yourself, and cover it as “free
    The explanation is that all the
    other commdments are
    included in that one in the
    Christian Religion.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Tom Cruise with snake eyes, good description. I know the “police” will find him soon.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    I was a progressive Republican for 25 years and the guys he’s defending are fascists.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    It was a home brain permanent.
    He did it in 30 minutes over the sink.
    Now he has the highlights, body and sheen of Ronald Reagan.
    Box said the worst side effect is early onset dementia. But it’s worth the risk to be popular with the in crowd. 

  • Grady Lee Howard

    I agree with the bubble thing too.

    Idealistic philosophical abstraction has that effect.
    You can see it in Alan Greenspan’s assumptions, and in Ayn Rand’s work.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Banksters are termites.

  • Anonymous

     I just read most of your comments, and very much appreciate your adding some comedy to the issue, at least you made me smile…thanks for that.  :)  I didn’t find one thing you said that I would disagree with either.

  • Ted Germosen

    I hated this interview and Haidt’s numerous false premises, and his ignorance about the sordid racial history of America. I am so tired of this “both sides” blame analysis.

  • William Legro

    Well, I can see where the reply format breaks down: about the 9th level of reply. Hilarious! Oh Webmaster!

  • William Legro

    love y0ur nic! a classic!

  • William LeGro

    A truncated syllogism at best. “I have a Land Rover, so there must be a parking space!”

  • William LeGro

    Excellent. You said what I’ve thought for a long time. That the rich are delusional – it’s their peculiar delusion that makes them rich – is I think inarguable when you break it down as, for example, a psychologist or logician would. Their cravings are just so…primitive as to be completely out of place in a civilized world. I think they all need medication and a nice quiet institution where they can relax.

  • chris

    Mr. Haidt is pure academic swindle….what would he do without Machiavelli? He hit it (albeit unknowingly) on the head when he said “our blindness is about ourselves.” Does that mean, present company excluded?! Oh, but wait, humility is not a “moral concern”!

  • S. Raney

    I liked some of the ideas Haidt proposes, but I kept coming back to the issue of free will .  Doesn’t the difference in conservative and liberal values boil down to how much we believe in individual free will.  The more we know about the human brain the more we are finding that behavior is  much more  “nature over nuture” than we thought.  If a person believes that free will is limited, that one can’t always “pick themselves up by their own bootstraps”, that people are a product of their genes and history ( and just plain luck) where does that leave them in this fairness issue? Doesn’t that leave them feeling that rewarding failure and punishing success may not be such a black and white  issue.  

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you about the Republicans, and I never intended to defend them. The modern form of the GOP is indefensible in my view. I’m a socialist, which I thought was hinting at with my reference to GBS. Formerly there were some moderate Republicans, and I didn’t have much of a problem with them. I wouldn’t have voted for them, but they never gave the me impression they would wreck the country for the sake of the short-term profits of their buddies in big business. This new lot of Republicans, which was ushered in around the time of that corporate patsy President Ronald Reagan, must be opposed, obstructed, confused and defeated by every legal means.

    Christmas was a pagan festival that was acquired by the Catholic Church to suit its ends, so why not stories in the Bible too? It is possible that the Bible is not understandable to those not ready to understand its meaning, but one could say the same for a book of Instructions about the video game Street Fighter V, and it would mean the same thing. I don’t agree, though, that understanding the Bible requires that one believe in god, or even that the Bible is the word of god. Understanding the Bible requires rationale. Believing it is the word of god requires faith. The Irish humorist Flann O’Brian wrote very amusing stories about believers and non-believers.

    As for me, I love a good argument, and I have a feeling you do too! I have no hesitation in attacking ideas, but I am careful about taking shots at people. If somebody can prove their argument, or part of it, is stronger
    than mine I will respect their knowledge and wisdom, but if they call me a
    bad or unworthy person I’ll feel hurt (here I am now, applying the Golden
    Rule!). But all the same, thank you for pointing out in such a nice way
    that I needn’t run to the gun cabinet every time somebody disagrees with

  • Anonymous

    So what if you’re into self-flagellation? According to the Second Commandment should you then also whip your neighbor? You are reading a great deal into that statement that is simply not there.

    ‘Treat others as you would wish to be treated’ is not at all the same thing as ‘Treat others as they would wish to be treated’

    Can you not see that?

  • David F., N.A.

    So there are actually terms and phrases for all this stuff: groupish
    tribalism, lifestyle conclaves, born to be hypocrites (I catch myself doing
    this a lot, and since I try not to rationalize, I try to fix it), Maneki, demonizing
    as a reward (ah, I feel much better now, you filthy Republican, you),
    confirmation bias (does this mean I can’t reference anymore polls), sacralize.  It’s almost as if this were a science. 

  • Anonymous

     I did not realize that at all…I should have guessed as you were reasonable, and certainly listened and presented you idea’s well.  I just did not agree, which does not make either of us bad people.  I would also, prefer socialism, to me it is the only fair ism of them all.  The problem is people don’t understand it, and true socialism has never been practiced. 

    I have never been able to have a reasonable conservation with a conservative, and not for lack of trying.  If I do not know something or I am wrong about one aspect of the conservation, then in their eyes I’m wrong about everything.  They always resort to demeaning me in someway, usually calling me names.

    I think many would be surprised just how many pagan ways are in the Bible.  Yes, believing in the word of God does take faith, but I believe it also take common sense.  To me it does not make sense that an all knowing all loving God would be a God of wrath.  I do believe there is a supreme power, but I don’t believe that power is wrathful. 

    I don’t know that I like to argue, but I do like to learn from others.  I do not know everything and I doubt anyone else does.  I also, know I’m not always right.  If I don’t voice my opinions how will I learn when I am wrong?  It is often hard to know exactly what one’s words mean when reading comments, as we can’t see the expressions of their faces.  The best thing to do is try to respect others ideas, but I do find it is easier said then done.

  • Anonymous

    Well, the Dracula Interview is the  best explanation for what happened on the show that I’ve read.  
    Thanks for the alternate vision.  I like the idea of Moyers as Van Helsing, bidding his time….

  • Shrek9374

    i see the tribes divided here on this informative discussion.  About not seeing both sides. wolf blitzer said a well off essential saying he made enough to buy health insurance he chose not to he chose to free ride the system. forcing others to pay for his care. It is a matter of what you believe and it is true we have self segregated as a result the rich guy goes by signs in his neighborhood offering 10 bucks an hour to work at mcdonald’s and here’s about an inner city having high unemployment and makes an assumption that the guys not getting jobs are simply not looking for them. while ignoring the fact thier is no public transportation to those job offers that are now artifically inflating the cost of employment.

  • Nancy Richardson

    When you are talking about people whose idea of working with people who don’t agree with them is demanding utter capitulation, this fantasy that we can all get along, while “understanding” where someone is coming from is ultimately the way we got into this mess.    

    I found Haidt ultimately frustrating because he seemed to be trying to justify his own compassion fatigue, and impatience with people are “rewarded for failure”  while positioning himself as a kinder and gentler Leo Strauss.

    It appears that the morality that Haidt is pitching is right is void of common human decency…and ignoring the actual actions of the Grover Norquists, and others who are interested in anything other than polarization….for reason which have to do with power and money, rather than right or wrong.

  • karmin

    Haidt used the Hindu Karma  theory to justify the Conservative viewpoint that if people fall into economically poor circumstances they deserve it  because that is the result of their own past actions.
         But that is only part of the Karma theory. The other part of the Karma theory is that one’s Self Effort will help  lift one out of one’s circumstance and result in Future destiny. So if the Liberals give aid to the poor to help them lift themselves out of their current conditions, that also is in accordance  with the Karma theory and is an improvement to the Conservative viewpoint, because in so doing, the liberals not only help in improving  the  fate of the poor but create good Karma for themselves and is a  win win situation for all.
          Sometimes a little help goes a long way, and all one may need is a little push to lift oneself out of a hole.

  • FranG

     I think the Occupy Movement (although not all the individuals within it) gets “the shared cost of operating a decent society.” However, I don’t believe most of the reporters on Occupy have listened.

  • FranG

     I was introduced to a blogpost by a right-wing Second Amendment fan who proposed that they do away with all the altruists.

  • Jim from Portland, Oregon

    While I admire Bill Moyers for having Jonathan Haidt as a guest, I found the give-and-take really missing. I was taught by Jesuits who were themselves taught by the Berrigans. I found nothing of the ideas of Catholic social activism even remotely recognizable in Haidt’s analysis of the left and right; his notions of the nature of conservatism are simple-minded, his ideas about religious justification are slanted strongly to the right, and his air of self-congratulation in noticing his own movement to the right was the nail in the coffin. If I am not mistaken, the New Testament lines up pretty well with OWS, not Mr. Haidt’s ideas of conservative politics and religion. 

  • Russellhushjr

    Compromise is not the only way to get things done.  In some cases compromise is good, in others it isn’t so good.  Imagine a nation where one side decides they want to deport all minorities.  This is wrong and evil.  I can see that and I am basically conservative.  So how do you compromise with this?  Can you imagine the other party saying, “Hey, we’ll compromise with you on that.  Instead of deporting, we just enslave them.  That’s better than them not having a country.”  I couldn’t see myself compromising with them on that.

    The lady interviewing, did she think Liberals should compromise when Republicans controlled everything?  Did she think Liberals should compromise when they controlled everything?

    Also, I noted Bill bringing up the words that Newt came up with.  Why not be fair and balanced and show this being done on the left also, because it has been done.  In fact, Newt didn’t exactly invent this.  It has been going on for a very long time.  The Liberals did this to great effect in 2006 and 2008.

    Dems are great at jumping on opportunities just as Republicans.  Take for instance the picture of Bush looking out of the plane as it flew over New Orleans.  The Dems saw an opportunity to demonize.  They claimed Bush should have landed and toured the area.  That is the stupidest thing that could have happened.  This isn’t some Mayor or a City Councilman.  Take a guess at how many first responders would have had to be diverted to a protection detail for the President.

  • Cat81LIN

    I think you like to split hairs, so here is what others say about the Golden Rule;
    It may be written differently in other religions, but basically the same in all. As
    Matthew Henry interprets the law it may be impossible to attain,
    But it does answer your questions about abusing yourself and other.
    The Golden Rule or the ethic of reciprocity is found in the scriptures of nearly every religion. It is often regarded as the most concise and general principle of ethics. It is a condensation in one principle of all longer lists of ordinances. (from the Internet)
    You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (From the Bible)From Matthew Henry’s commentaries (written 1708-1710)
    [1.] It is implied, that we do, and should, love ourselves. There is a self-love which is corrupt, and the root of the greatest sins, and it must be put off and mortified: but there is a self-love which is natural, and the rule of the greatest duty, and it must be preserved and sanctified. We must love ourselves, that is, we must have a due regard to the dignity of our own natures, and a due concern for the welfare of our own souls and bodies.

    [2.] It is prescribed, that we love our neighbour as ourselves. We must honour and esteem all men, and must wrong and injure none; must have a good will to all, and good wishes for all, and, as we have opportunity, must do good to all. We must love our neighbour as ourselves, as truly and sincerely as we love ourselves, and in the same instances; nay, in many cases we must deny ourselves for the good of our neighbour, and must make ourselves servants to the true welfare of others, and be willing to spend and be spent for them, to lay down our lives for the brethren.

  • Christopher Dobbie

    Pop psychology 101.  Com’on Moyers you can do better then this surely.  Watch the nostalgia, i.e. pre baby boomer generation idolatry. Though what really irked me was the use of karma, do you really believe that it’s that simple? There was a bloke who worked out something awfully important to the enlightenment of the human species, that of natural selection. Chance plays just as an important place in that actuality. I recommend you read his book instead.

  • Rusty

     Jesus also said that if a man will not work, he should not eat.  There is a difference between charity and allowing yourself to be conned.  Somebody above whined that people can’t afford health care that is $300 a month.  Yeah, but they sure can go out and blow money on cars, cell phones, at an average of $50 a month, pot, beer, etc…  Even at minimum wage, you are going to make about $400 a month.

    These same people that can’t afford health care also live risky lives with any combinations of risky activities, such as casual unprotected sex, drugs, alcohol, poor eating habits, not exercising, extreme sports, etc…

    Then, even though they haven’t contributed anything to the system, the can go to any emergency room or free clinic and get taken care of.  Even when charged for something , it is pennies on the dollar.

    You people simply don’t understand the con because you are too wrapped up in how smart you think you are.  The simple fact is that the medical industry is charging the have’s an extreme amount for their healthcare to subsidize your healthcare.  Why?  Because they know you won’t pay for it yourself.  I could go give some poor guy $300 a month and tell him that he should use it to buy health insurance.  I can guarantee you that while some might do just that, a lot of them wouldn’t, if I didn’t actually require him to do so to keep receiving the free $300 a month.  Some would blow it on “fun stuff.”

  • Taichi-wuchi

    Right Grady….
    Oppressors are depressing, digressing and digusting.
    What we need is decomressors who are inspirational, progressional, fundamental and sensational.
    O’ what a better world it would be.

  • Anonymous

    You are obviously out of touch.  I really wish people like you would lose everything, just so you can learn for yourself what it is actually like out here in the real world.

    We certainly do understand the con people like you have pulled on us.  Not paying a fair wage for a fair days work.  Not paying your fair share in taxes. 

    Who are you to say people don’t deserve to have fun stuff in their lives?  All work and no play makes one very unhappy.  Why do you feel you have the right to deny people any small amount of happiness?

    Your comments are just outright disgusting.


  • Taichi-wuchi

    Blaming the victim and ignoring circumstances is getting to be contagious and epidemic.
    We are both the victims and the recipients of the condition of our nation.  We have a vested interest in the wellbeing of all of our citizens.  We are all in the same ship of state and going in the same direction.  The front of the ship or the back of the ship does not matter but the quality of life on Board is critical to everyone.
    All hands have to work together to get to the final destination.  It is all about the voyage.

  • Rusty

    “The only problem is that they think that those consequences should only fall on the poor.”

    And then there is reality.  Democrats voted 140–95 in favor of the legislation (bank bailout of 2008), while Republicans voted 133–65 against it.  Maybe you should get your news from a credible source.  Maybe someplace that understands that this, not a black man being elected to the Oval Office, is what sparked the TEA party movement.  It’s amazing how because the TEA Party includes entitlement programs, people can’t see that there are a lot of common ground between OCW and the TEA Party.

    The 1% are happy letting some small businessman pay a larger share of taxes than he does, to support welfare and other entitlements.

    The TEA Party is tired of paying taxes into a government that looks out for everyone but them.  They dole out billions to their fatcat buddies, and dole out billions to welfare and other entitlement programs.

    You don’t seem to get it.  It’s a con, and all of us are being taken advantage of, but the TEA Party is calling for an end to the con.  Liberals asking for more con.

    I’m reminded of the line in Braveheart when William Wallace admonishes the nobles and tells them, “You’re so concerned with squabbling for the scraps from Longshank’s
    table that you’ve missed your God given right to something better. There
    is a difference between us. You think the people of this country exist
    to provide you with position. I think your position exists to provide
    those people with freedom. And I go to make sure that they have it.”

    I don’t want the government to take care of me.  I am OK with a safety net…just enough to survive but not live comfortably.  That gives me the incentive to find something better for myself.  But, what I want most is for the government to level the playing field, stop laying in bed with big business.  I don’t think some of you realize that this is a big part of what makes up the TEA Party. You’ve fallen for the con by the media…the media owned by big corporations.  They want you divided because so long as you are, there can be no Bastille Day where the people take the power back.

  • Erik the Red …

    Rusty,,,,,  What have you contributed ???  What of Goldman Sachs, Bain capitol, IMF, SAR, what are the contributions of the Carlyle group or Shity Bank,   etc, etc, etc, etc ..    All your conservative speak is a lot of Machiavellian elitist, corporate apologist BS,  faith espousing in word but not deeds..  Orwellian double speak.  Sad fact is that with all the delusions of justice and grandeur in our collective debates we ultimately all swim in a parasitic culture…  
    Despite all our rage we’re all still just rats in a cage ..But there is justice in the universe,  the great equalizer… William S. Burroughs summed it well,,,,   Hustlers of the world, there is one mark you cannot beat: the mark inside. 

  • Rusty

     Why would the democrats put Bankers in jail?  They voted 140–95 in favor of the 2008 bank bailout, while Republicans voted 133–65 against it.And Democrats held complete power from 2009 to 2011.  Eric Holder is the attorney General and was appointed to that position by Barack Obama.  If you want to see bankers in jail, maybe you need to stop blaming the TEA Party and conservatives who would actually like to see them in jail, and start blaming those who actually bailed them out…the Democrats…and those who hold the power to start investigations…Eric Holder and Barack Obama.Nah…too easy to sit back and demonize the other side instead.  Not very effective but it keeps you warm at night.

  • Rusty

     Erik…why don’t you take a strong dose of reality.  Democrats voted 140–95 in favor of the 2008 bank bailout, while Republicans voted 133–65 against it.  Dems held both houses from January 2009 until January of 2011, the presidency and the attorney general was appointed by a democrat.  And you want to sit there in a self deluded state of mind, point at the Republicans.  Seems to me the Dems are in bed with the bankers.  They were so eager to bail them out, with Pelosie even calling Republican House members un-American for not voting yes and said that if need be, the Dems would pass it without them.Maybe you should listen to a credible news source…one that correctly points to this, not a black man in the Oval Office as the reason the TEA Party was sparked.I am an independent and have the voter registration card to prove it.  I have been so since the summer of 2004.  Before that I was a Republican and before that a Democrat.  I was a Democrat for a lot longer than a Republican.  Frankly, I am sick of both parties and see them as working in concert to keep people just like you wrapped up in blind loyalty to a party so that they can keep you divided.

  • Erik the Red

    Indeed Rusty,,,  Once you move beyond the primitive tribal thinking you can cast your gaze upward,,,  and behold our glorious Plutocracy….   

  • Rusty

     Out of touch?  You are so wrapped up in your side bias you are beyond out of touch.  You assume everyone who disagrees with you must be the evil rich.  I have news for you, I am not rich and everything I have, I worked very hard to get.  Who are you to judge?  I’ve been to over 50 countries and I’ve seen what REAL poverty looks like.

    And who are you to decide that everyone deserves happiness.  You get the happiness you work for.  It’s not my responsibility to provide you with happiness.

    You are also so out of touch, you don’t seem to understand you’ve been trapped in a con…a con that pits the American people against each other.  i stepped out of that, much like Haidt said he did.  You do that by looking at reality, not cheerleading for a side and reading biased news sources.  I have news for you Missy, FOX isn’t the only biased news source out there.

    You wouldn’t understand a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work either.  You simply have no clue how the government comes in and taxes for everything.  Do you realize that even though you paid sales taxes on equipment for your business, the government comes in and assesses taxes on that every year.  You get taxed every which way but loose, and then you also have to pay for things such as bonding which isn’t cheap so that you are protected should you get sued.  The business equipment, etc.. all must be insured.  Maintenance costs money.  Cleaning services cost money.  Running the business costs money.  Employee theft costs money. 

    How do I know all of this?  I did not own a business, my parents did.  A mom and pop restaurant.  They didn’t make a killing at it, but the night manager started feeding her family every night on the company dime.  Because she was doing this, she couldn’t complain when the rest of the staff started doing it also.  The end result was a fired night manager and my dad had to go sit in the restaurant and manage it after he got off of work at Whirlpool.  This caused a lot of undue stress and my mom ended up selling the restaurant.  Her loyal customers weren’t happy because she took her home recipes with her.

    Fact:  You couldn’t run a business.  If you could, I suspect you would be doing so and ou would have a different outlook.  If you tried, I suspect that you would end up having a mental break down after trying to juggle all of the state and federal laws, taxes, fees, insurances, bonding, employees rights laws, employees that don’t show up because of a variety of excuses, and finally, employees that steal from you because they see thigns like you do…al good and evil and they believe that businesses are corrupt and cheating them out of a good life, so they steal.

    Well, they didn’t just steal some meals, they stole my mom’s dreams, her happiness.  People like you will never understand things like that because you simply don’t have the capacity to.  You would walk up to my mom when she owned that restaurant and assume that she had an easy life, and maybe always did.

    You would be an idiot to think so.  My mom had a really rough growing up.  Her dad, who just happened to be a Democrat (My whole family was and still is) abused her when he was drunk and he was drunk more than he wasn’t.  Always angry about something.  Then she had four kids and tried to help my dad support them on working wages.  But my mom had a dream of having something better.  So she took onside jobs for awhile and we did without a lot while she put money way to afford the down payment on that restaurant.

    For a short while, ting seemed pretty good.  We even had money to go on a vacation one state over to Gettysburgh, PA.  But it didn’t last long, because it isn’t like most small businesses actually make a lot of money.  Most fail within two years and only about 44% make it past 4 years.

    No, my mom ended up working so many hours that she made less per hour than her help and she had to do this because of help not shoeing up.

    Then the theft started causing a lot of problems and we actually had to use some of my dad’s income to pay bills for the restaurant.  After an investigation the theft was revealed and my Dad had to start spending every evening at the restaurant.  Well, actually he alternated many nights with my mom.  It got to be too much.

    Out of touch with reality?  You don’t know what reality is.  You think somebody owes you happiness.  What an absurd comment and totally disgusting.  It’s the type of mentality that cost my mom her happiness.

    Here’s a clue. if you think business owners have it so great, why don’t you become one.  You live in America.  Nobody is stopping you.

  • Rusty

     And another reason your mentality is so disgusting to me is that it took years for my parents to recover financially from the loss of the restaurant.

    Not only did I have to do without while my mom saved  so that we could “have something better” I had a short period of having, and then went back to not having, and even worse.

    For high school, I had three pairs of K-Mart special jeans.  I had 5 T-shirts, all bought off discount racks.  I had to pairs of running shorts for Cross Country and 1 pair of shoes to train in.  Actually my freshman year I had to use shows provided by the school.  These were cheap shoes and ended up causing physical problems.  So the next year, my mom bought me a pair of shoes.  That one pair cost more than my siblings shows combined so I had to not only train in them, I had to wear them to school.

    Needless to say, the poor kid wasn’t too popular with the girls.  They wanted the guys with the flashy clothes and cars.  Not the guy who walked a half mile to school and wore smelly shoes to class.

    You don’t have a clue about reality.

  • Anonymous

     Wow, you are filled with so much hate.  I’m sorry for you, you are only hurting yourself.  Fact is I did run a couple of business and I am very aware of all the taxes etc.    I also, was not talking about the small Mom and Pop type of businesses.  If your parents could not pay their employees enough they should have done the work themselves, or you should have helped them.  When you own your own business you have to work, all of the time, not part time and expect others to do all the work.  I don’t know what they did wrong, maybe they didn’t charge enough, I can only guess.  

    I’m not judging you, I’m telling you you have no right to say hard working people have no right to a few simple pleasures in life. 

    Who are you to tell me I don’t have the capacity to know things.  Get over yourself.

    I never said anyone owed me happiness, nor anyone else.  I do feel every human being deserves happiness, why do you think some do and some do not?

    I’m sorry for your mom…sounds really sad.  When you start a business you have to expect to work more hours for little pay in the beginning.  In general it takes 5 years to get over that hump, if you can make it that long, many don’t.  Did they bother to do a business plan, before they started their business?  If they had they should have figured all these problems out ahead of time.

    I am very well aware of what reality is, I think maybe you have too much anger to see straight.  I’m so sorry for you and your family. 

    Try to be more positive about things, you seem to be drawing a lot of negativity unnecessarily to yourself. 

  • Anonymous

     Gosh you know all about my mentality…I think you got it wrong, but you do have a right to your opinion.

    I am very sorry you had such a tough childhood, but don’t blame everyone else for it.  I can’t relate as I had a good childhood financially, my father had a partnership in a Tool & Die Company, my mother never worked. 

    I never once felt anyone did not deserve to have things that might bring them some happiness, no matter what their income was.

     I may not know everything there is to know, but I do have a clue about reality.

  • Rusty

    Is it just me or are some posts disappearing?  Nothing like censorship of ideas.   It’s not like many of the posts that are still here are completely civil.  Seems that when I post something that challenges some people’s notions, both their post and my post have disappeared.

    If there is one word or phrase, it would be more educational to have just that part removed with an admin’s note as to the fact.  This way one can modify their posts in the future to avoid deletion.  If they are being deleted because somebody is making a good case against liberalism, that is just plain wrong.

    Wouldn’t surprise me because I’ve seen that happen on other boards that cater more to liberals.

    I have copies of what I post.  I always cop and paste to a master word document.  So I will go back and see if there are any insults…I know there are no curse words…but I will see if there is anything that needs to be edited out and post them again.

  • Russellhushjr

      Out of touch?  You are doing what Haidt said people do, and as he said, you feel justified or excused for doing it because you think you are right.  You assume everyone who disagrees with you must be the
    evil rich.  I have news for you, I am not rich and everything I have, I
    worked very hard to get.  Who are you to judge me?  I’ve been to over 50
    countries and I’ve seen what REAL poverty looks like.

    And where is it written that everyone deserves happiness?  You get the happiness
    you work for.  It’s not my responsibility to provide you with happiness.

    You don’t seem to understand you’ve been
    trapped in a con…a con that pits the American people against each
    other.  I stepped out of that, much like Haidt said he did.  You do that
    by looking at reality, not cheerleading for a side and reading biased
    news sources.  I have news for you, FOX isn’t the only biased news
    source out there.

    I for one see positives and negatives on both sides.  Amazing how clear you can see things when you stop cheering for one side.

    A fair day’s pay?  You should try to run a business.  You would quickly learn how the government
    comes in and taxes for everything.  Do you realize that even though you
    paid sales taxes on equipment for your business, the government comes in
    and assesses taxes on that every year.  You get taxed every which way
    but loose, and then you also have to pay for things such as bonding
    which isn’t cheap so that you are protected should you get sued.  The
    business equipment, etc.. all must be insured.  Maintenance costs
    money.  Cleaning services cost money.  Workman’s comp, etc….  Running the business costs
    money.  Employee theft costs money.  Would you be surprised to know that most theft occurs by employees?

    How do I know all of this? 
    I did not own a business, my parents did.  A mom and pop restaurant. 
    They didn’t make a killing at it, but the night manager started feeding
    her family every night on the company dime.  Because she was doing this,
    she couldn’t complain when the rest of the staff started doing it
    also.  The end result was a fired night manager and my dad had to go sit
    in the restaurant and manage it after he got off of work at Whirlpool. 
    This caused a lot of undue stress and my mom ended up selling the
    restaurant.  Her loyal customers weren’t happy because she took her home
    recipes with her.

    If you think business owners have it so great, you should become one, and after you do, you will likely have a different
    outlook.  If you tried, I suspect that you would end up having a mental
    break down after trying to juggle all of the state and federal laws,
    taxes, fees, insurances, bonding, employees rights laws, employees that
    don’t show up because of a variety of excuses, and finally, employees
    that steal from you because they see things much like you do…all good and
    evil and they believe that businesses are corrupt and cheating them out
    of a good life, so they steal.

    Well, they didn’t just steal some
    meals, they stole my mom’s dreams, her happiness.  People who see things like you do will
    never understand things like that because you simply don’t have the
    capacity to.  Too caught up in your blind hate.  You would walk up to my mom, when she owned that restaurant
    and assume that she had an easy life, and maybe always did.

    would be wrong to think so.  My mom had a really rough life while growing up. 
    Her dad, who just happened to be a Democrat (My whole family was, including my mom and they
    still are) abused her when he was drunk and he was drunk more than he
    wasn’t.  Always angry about something.  Then she had four kids and tried
    to help my dad support them on working wages.  But my mom had a dream
    of having something better.  So she took on side jobs for awhile and we
    did without a lot while she put money way to afford the down payment on
    that restaurant.

    For a short while, things seemed pretty good.  We
    even had money to go on a vacation one state over to Gettysburgh, PA. 
    But it didn’t last long, because it isn’t like most small businesses
    actually make a lot of money.  Most fail within two years and only about
    44% make it past 4 years.  Why?  Inability to turn a consistent profit is the number one reason.

    No, my mom ended up working so many
    hours that she made less per hour than her help and she had to do this
    because of help not showing up, among other things.

    Then the theft started causing a
    lot of problems and we actually had to use some of my dad’s income to
    pay bills for the restaurant.  After an investigation the theft was
    revealed and my Dad had to start spending almost every every evening at the
    restaurant.  He alternated some nights with my mom.  It
    got to be too much.  Both of my parents were in effect, working at least 3 days a week where they would work more than 16 hours a day.

    I’m sorry if you think somebody owes you happiness.  But they don’t.  You have to go find your own happiness.

    Here’s a way to do that since you think business owners are happy… if you think business owners
    have it so great, why don’t you become one.  You live in America. 
    Nobody is stopping you.

    But you have to sacrifice.  My mother did, and people who thought like you do stole it from her.

    I am retired military and I’m now in school.  I could work a normal job, but right now, money is seriously tight.  I have friends who could be doing the same, but they aren’t willing to make the sacrifice.  It is a lot of hard work, and giving up things I could have.  But if and when I start making more money, you think I owe others something?  How is that fair?  It’s like the story about the hen who is growing grain and making bread and keeps asking for help doing it.  Everyone turns her down.  but then when the bread is made, those who wouldn’t help till the garden, plant the seeds, harvest the grain, make the bread…now they want to help eat it.  Fair?  Hardly!

    It’s a simple concept.  Sacrifice some happiness for more happiness later.  Much like putting money in the bank or investing it.  Later you will have less money worries and more happiness.  So explain to me, if I am willing to work harder, and sacrifice what I can have now for something better later, and my friends refuse to share that sacrifice, what exactly do I owe them when I make it and they don’t?  I’ll tell you…I don’t owe them anything.

    Sorry in advance for any typos.  It is late.

  • Rusty

     I disagree with the win-win for all.  Here’s an example of fairness.  I am not rich, or even well off.  But I work with my daughter and push her gently to do well in school.  Now imagine her doing very well in school and then applying for Harvard.  She may qualify academically but be near the cutoff to get in.  Then she finds out that if not for affirmative action, she would have made it.  Then you find out that some of those minorities, that didn’t score as high on the SAT/ACT, came from wealthier homes and went to higher rated school districts and schools.

     Is that fair?  Just because her skin color is of the majority, she should be punished?  It’s not fair at all.  I would rather see a fair system that investigates inequities and directs resources to help.  Create equal opportunity with no requirement for equal outcome.  If one race or the other does not take advantage of the opportunity as much as another, when there is equal opportunity, then so be it…that is fair and those that do take advantage of the opportunity should not be punished in favor of those who didn’t. 

    It doesn’t matter if it is the majority race or the minority race that takes full advantage. In the end it makes the country stronger since those with the best work ethic and skills are in the positions we need them in order to provide the most skilled workforce.  I don’t care who I work beside, white black or brown…but the need to earn it.  I would much rather have an educated black man that knows his job and is motivated than some white kid who got the job because of his daddy.  I can respect the black guy who knows his job but would have a hard time working with the white kid who doesn’t know his job, or is not easy to work with because he isn’t the most well qualified.

    We need equal opportunity, which is not the same as equal outcome.  Simple law of economics.  A racist company can’t compete with non-racist companies in this global economy.

    The non-racist company will be more efficient due to the better skilled workforce, and they will bury the racist competition.

  • Rusty

     “and behold our glorious Plutocracy….”

    Yes, and when that happens, then we can focus our attention on it and finally get something done.  I don’t ever see that happening though.  I had high hopes when I watched the above interview live, and so I went looking for it online and found it.  As I read these posts, I see that the old saying is true…you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.  I realize that those on the left and right are never going to come together.  They are too entrenched and are too afraid of stepping out of their comfort zone.  Too easy to see the other side as evil…much harder to question your own beliefs and actually compromise.

  • OtterBill

    Haidt is a conservative, and a dishonest one.  His ‘I used to be a liberal until I started reading conservative writers and thinkers’ line is a canard heard from the right for years and years. I’m surprised Haidt doesn’t have more updated material.

    Haidt’s most obvious ‘tell’ was his use of six or seven stereo-system-like  sliders to illustrate the differences between the values of liberals and conservatives. Liberals are way up on the Care slider, but score progressively lower in categories like Loyalty and Authority. In contrast, conservatives score at virtually the same level in every category, an amazingly even result, scoring higher than liberals in all categories but one (Care).

    Haidt is the Bernie Madoff of the liberal vs conservative values chart. Bernie was found out when someone noticed that he achieved a 10% return every year, no matter what the markets were doing. Haidt’s conservatives score just as reliably as Bernie’s returns, with the same level of credibility.

    Haidt assures us his results are based on tons of research.  Just like Bernie. Two peas in a pod.

    Conveniently, Haidt built himself a foolproof  escape hatch…according to him we’re all hypocrites. It’s in our genes. So when he puts forth his con game, he’s just being a normal human being. And if we complain, why we’re just hypocrites, too.

  • Rusty

    “Haidt is a conservative, and a dishonest one.”

    No he isn’t.  Just because he doesn’t believe everything you believe, just because he can agree with things on the left, which he does, and things on the right, which he does, that does not make him a Liberal.  Some of you simply take the line that if somebody doesn’t buy into every last liberal idea, they must be conservative.  Especially if they ever agree with any conservative ideas.

    I just can’t get over how hilarious it is for him to say, “People act this way” and then people act just like he said, all the while denying it.

    Truth hurts, I suppose.

  • Rusty

     Matt, let’s check out your hypocrisy quotient shall we? You believe in man made climate change.  OK, cool, you have a right to your beliefs.  But how much do you really believe that?  If all the people who believe in it would put their money where their mouth is, we could solve the “problem” right now.

    For instance, do you still use air conditioning?  Cars?  TV’s?  Computers?  I can name any number of things that use energy and thus contribute to “global climate change” and people CAN live without, but choose not to.

    You know, the Amish do without the majority of these energy using conveniences.  There is nothing stopping you from doing the same.  In fact there are communes here and there where people live more like that.  Growing their own food, composting their waste to use as fertilizer, no TV’s, etc…

  • jeff

    Haidt’s idea of karma for conservatives is very convenient for him and his beliefs. I know of many very hard working people who never reap the rewards he is talking about. His pop psychology theory I feel is very simple and flawed.

  • Anonymous

     Because we want to progress not go back in time, as conservatives want.

    Liberals want progress, conservatives want slavery to come back.

  • Sadie

    While I agree that what people do is of far greater importance than what they say I disagree that rhetoric (words) are critically important.  Words have power…they condemn and encourage, they manipulate and influence.  Before one gets to the point of doing there are many words that lead him/her to the point of deciding on an action.

  • Anonymous

    after reading many of the posts here on the content of the conversation and the views and opinions of Mr. Haidt bears fruit. i’ll just say in general terms the picture that was painted was dark and gloomy. yes, some say that Mr. Moyers could have confronted Mr. Haidt on some points here but then that’s what makes Moyers Moyers and not Bill O’Reilly. if you can get past the liberal conservative religion then the message was a very strong one that Americans should expand on. have a great day all.

  • Taichi-wuchi

    I agree that liberal and conservative are meaningless apendages.
    True assessment of situations is crucial to the right solution for the problem. 
    Lies and corruption of language prevents honest and accurate dialog.

  • Paul Kistner

     Near the end of his interview with social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, Bill Moyers missed a golden opportunity to point out the inconsistencies of the libertarian moral stance against health care reform. In a video clip from a recent Republican debate, Ron Paul is placed in a difficult position when he is forced to admit that a healthy young man electing not to buy health insurance would have to accept the consequences of his choice in the event of a serious illness ( i.e., go without treatment and die!). only to conclude:  “My advice to him would be to have a major medical policy.” Why, then, does he adamantly oppose mandatory coverage for all Americans? Mr. Moyers should have asked the question. It is obvious that the man in the above case would have obtained medical care at the taxpayer’s expense. At least the Democrats, in proposing a reasonable compromise – the requirement to purchase health insurance in the private market – have shown their good faith on this issue and a willingness to forsake the “sacralization” of a single-payer system. I’m sure that Mr. Haidt would have agreed.

  • Renard

    Right on the mark, Nancy. Sounds to me like Haidt is, in effect, sanctioning (or at least excusing) the Straussian/conservative belief that “the masses” need to be controlled by idealized nationalistic B.S. fed to them by their corporate handlers. He is correct in pointing out that liberals need to do a better job of articulating their vision for society. But beyond that, I did not think much of his article and am relieved to see that others posting here did not, either. 

  • Terry McClain

    I’m nervous when people begin quantifying behavior. (Read Foucault on the rise of the demographic). 

    I’m particularly curious about the attribute of loyalty-wonder if any of his questionnaires asked about loyalty to the planet/ bio-regions, etc. or if he means nation-state loyalty. I read an interesting article several years ago that logged in the formation of the modern nation-state at approx 1850 – only 160 years ago.

  • barkingdog

    Hate to Burst your Bubble Rusty,

    but as far as Racism and Company ownership goes,

    there are places on this Planet, that if you’re NOT Chinese or a member of the Communist Party, you’re NOT going to Own a Company.

    And unfortunately, these Super-Max sweatshops are Kicking American manufacturing butt.

    It’s an example of the “simple law” of the Plantation. Pay below minimum wage, and sell @ 1000% profit-margin to Social Networkers with Credit Cards.

  • Khatti

    I bet he’s also prone to steriotyping.

  • Khatti

    It’s hard to see the big picture when you’re standing within the frame

  • Eireen

    I was totally duped by the interview. I got all excited because I thought he was neutral and sincere.  I was not familiar with him as a person or author.  I was very much looking forward to reading the book because I have often thought about the fact that so much of our conflict here in the U.S. stems from the problem that most people are reluctant to make fine distinctions when problem solving or discussing a contentious issue.  I thought this was part of his thesis.  The one thing I was not sure about was his description of morality.  He defines morality as something that changes depending on your environment or your “tribe”. In other words there really is no right and wrong just reference points for right and wrong and as long as you are operating inside the guidelines for “your tribe” so to speak than you are “moral”. 

    (where have I heard this before?)  anyway…. so I looked him up and watched his video on his website describing his book.  It was quite different than the Moyers interview.  I would suggest that any liberal or democrat watch the video before spending money on the book.  He was very sneaky in the interview because he made it sound like he wrote this book for BOTH sides … which he did not. In his video he describes his motives for writing this book. He wants show “liberals” that conservatives are moral even though we do not think they are …because conservatives think differently.  He does not offer up the other side of the coin… which is … trying to convince conservatives that liberals are moral?    Sneaky , sneaky… very nuanced interview with Mr. Moyers.   

  • Jack

    1) I think ’twas an effort to understand the divisions in our country intellectually, but would have been better if there had been other voices, and not the Word of God, as it were. I strongly question some of Heidt’s interpretations, and accept others, but where we’re the others to weigh in?
    2) Now is the time to talk about welfare and “entitlement” programs. As a progressive centrist, I think there is much misunderstanding about how people really feel about the nuances of these programs. Bill?

  • David F., N.A.

     I’ve watch the show 3 or 4 times (and some parts several times) and I learned a lot, but, of course, I’d find something to complain about (it’s what I do (best)).  Why did Haidt use the phrase “the system is broke?”  I’ll bet that if he were a CEO of a multinational corporation, then he’d have a completely different opinion.  Plus, isn’t this a polite way of saying that our politicians are corrupt.  For years, both sides of Congress use this phrase all the time, but nothing is done to fix it.  And, why is this?  It’s because the system’s not broke; it’s working just the way it is meant to.

    This was a great conversation, so, hopefully, Haidt will be invited back someday.

  • BonesinTaos

    I continue to be saddened by the negative tone of much of this discussion. I would like to call everyone’s attention to the people in the last century or so who refused to demonize their enemies and ended up transforming the world:
    Mahatma Gandhi freed India from horrific colonial oppression.
    Nelson Mandela who destroyed apartheid and invited his prison guards to his inauguration.
    Martin Luther King
    Abraham Lincoln who at the end of his life said: “with charity for all and malice towards none”

    I would stand with them and try to find a meaningful way to understand the moral underpinnings of serious conservatives, over blindly demonizing my opponents.

  • Stevesunnj

    yes olde moyers was challenged and was cut up pretty bad, notice the chin hand and continous probing with prejudice against the conservative view.  You liberals just have problems with a balanced view of a social scientist who did not take sides, just spoke about human behavior in the context of politics.  But you liberals cannot view any commentary in an objective way.
    See you in november

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Haidt professed to being a proponent of the ending of “demonization” while at the heart of his theory was the implicit demonization of the poor and those who do not have the means to buy health insurance for themselves. He never even raised the possibility that those who need welfare or health insurance may have worked very hard for a long time and then have fallen on hard times due to circumstances outside of their control.  I guess by his way of thinking 52 million Americans are willingly “slackers” and deserve bad “karma.” He seemed to fail to realize that his bias against those who cannot help themselves was at the heart of his thesis. He spoke as if he were mouthing the feelings of Republicans without realizing that he had accepted their  alleged prejudices as fact. Also, it would have been interesting to hear the statistics regarding just how many Republicans get food stamps, welfare and are without health insurance. Mr. Haidt’s assumption seemed to be that all recipients of social services are Democratic/Liberal/Progressive, which is a very one dimensional way to view the country.  

    I would say to Mr. Haidt that he needs to look within and examine his own prejudices before pronouncing judgment on others.

    He is also lacking in understanding of the word “karma.”

    Merriam Webster
    Definition of KARMA
    1 often capitalized :
    the force generated by a person’s actions held in Hinduism and Buddhism
    to perpetuate transmigration and in its ethical consequences to
    determine the nature of the person’s next existenceI think that Mr Haidt wants to be the new Malcolm Gladwell without the sound theses or the talent. Sad way to try to sell a book. We do need to bring the various sides of the political spectrum together if we want to further this country but his cynical, suspicious and arrogant ideas do not seem to me to be the way forward.  

  • Anonymous

    i found Mr Haidt”s views,to be DISINGENOUS,and HYPOCRITICAL”[HIS WORD} at best.He sounded like an apologist,for conservatives making excuses for them,which was not really surprising,since he indicated he was no longer a “LIBERAL” and now considers himself  to be of the Conservative”mind set.But his characterization of the differences,between so called,liberals/conservatives,democrats/republicans,was absurd even amusing.Even worse was his comparison of the 99% movement,versus the Tea party movement.He tried to say that because the 99% ters,chose to write things on the flag,and the tea partiers when exibiting flags,did not at their rallies,that this somehow reflects a difference in “PATRIOTISM” between the two groups.Yet on the other hand,when the tea partiers show up at their rallies,with “GUNS” and racist disparaging signs,of pres obama with a bone thru his nose,nazi signs across his face,socialist and other signs of hatred,yet this dosen”t necessarily amount to Racism,ant-govt sentiment,and just downright “EVIL”! it”s a joke the things he said.And sad to say,Mr Moyers let him off the hook,but i understand why he probably chose to let the audience,decipher this nonsense on their own.Lastly,it”s amazing to me that he was changed,by a trip to INDIA,of all places.One of the poorest,most populated and exploited countries in the world,a place that was oppressed by the British for centuries.But im sure he can explain why what was done,is not Morally evil.

  • cheeseinvert

    This interview is sweet and by sweet I mean rad dude.

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Sweet like brown sugar for the brown shirts?

  • Arnold Sabastian

     Moyers gave the “other guys” a chance to sell their venom.  I thought the guy was too pretentious an windy.
    Yes, he too must be heard. 

  • Mary Ann

    I agree. A chill went up my spine when Mr. Haidt talked about the ant and the grasshopper, and when Mr. Moyers said, then the grasshopper should die, because he hadn’t worked, the guest said yes. Exactly like Ron Paul’s answer about the man without health insurance, and the crowd cheering for that man dying.

    I had a picture in my mind of the hospital rolling this unconscious man out the door and dumping him in the parking lot. Is that what should happen? My problem with the conservative “value” of individualism is that they don’t seem to every account for what happens next. Don’t give jobless people unemployment, hungry people food, sick people care! That’ll teach ’em! But then what? Where do they go, what do they do? Those starving and sick people may not die quickly or conveniently or behind closed doors. 

    Your point about a 5 year old is exactly right. To a conservative, I guess, if that 5 year old’s parents have money, she should live. If not, as the Grasshopper goes…

  • cheeseinvert

    Congrats Grady, you are the first to play the nazi card. You must be so proud.

  • CK

    After viewing interview between Bill Moyers and Jonathan Haidt, felt Moyer’s had not challenged any of Haidt’s responses and seemed to accept them as if they were gospel  implying consensus.  Felt that many of Haidts’s supposed research results were overgeneralized and many conclusions made were overdrawn and presumptive. An example given of 30 year old man refusing to purchase health insurance was oversimplified in that he did not explore the possibility the man may have been unemployed; had a preexisting condition & even though currently in apparent good health, the insurance companies refused to insure him; or not been able to afford the premiums on a limited income, & may be one of the millions of American’s chosing between eating and a place to live and paying for health care. Not showing the true complexities of what Americans face in their lives is not helpful. We have been given enough misinformation and spin for a lifetime.

  • Arbcnslrs

    I think that Jonathan Haidt’s is wrong to ascribe  the cause of political polarization as due to the vanishing of political moderates of both parties; it is the Republican Party’s moderates that have disappeard, not the Democratic Party’s moderates. Apparently, you only need one side of an argument, not both sides, to create polarization.

  • Cstark346

    Totally unimpressed with Haidt. While he may have a point that the left hasn’t made the case as well as it might, his relativism and tolerance for the racism, homophobia and sexism of the right leaves me cold. Not up to the standard of your usual guest.

  • Wlll965

     Well Heidt was certainly wrong in accusing “our team” of demonizing. We vampirize.

  • Chuck Denk

    Very interesting. However, it seems that the Conservatives have less understanding of the liberal/progressive perspective than Jonathan stated on the show. E.g., Sen. DeMint’s over the top analogy with the Superbowl that he used to justify gridlock in Congress. When DeMint implies that his Republicans have nothing in common with the Democrats, the members of the two parties actually have a lot more in common than they do differences – such as being American citizens who were elected to represent their respective constituents. 

    The reason why DeMint does not find anything in common with the Democrats is because he is more committed to representing only those of his constituents who are comfortable with the fact that DeMint is more committed to not violating the ideology which holds him captive than he is to being concerned about the needs of all of his constituents regardless of their political affiliations. 

    The most relevant problem with DeMint is that he has constrained himself to act as though government can only hinder people from attaining their goals; that there is (by his definition and understanding of government and what government can properly and helpfully do) nothing government can do to help people. 

    DeMint’s expectation is that if someone needs help, that person must find some legal yet non-governmental way of getting that help (e.g., from family, friends, church or other faith-based organization), otherwise the person is out of luck and must suffer – even if that person happens to be in dire straits through no fault of their own.

    For all that DeMint claims to be a Christian, he shows absolutely no compassion. While DeMint would most likely deny it, he acts in many ways like a Libertarian. As deficient as George W Bush was, at least he did have compassion for those in need. To the contrary, and as inhumane as it may be, DeMint cares more about the ideology that he’s held captive by than he does about those who will continue suffering because the idea of a government that could or should help is incompatible with the ideology.

  • Nalton J

    I have read Professor Haidt’s articles and essays through the years, and am familiar with his views.

    The disturbing thing to me is that his philosophy allows for few of the nuances of life’s realities.

    For example, he spoke of how Conservatives are more in touch with Karma, and gave the fable of the grasshopper and the ants as an example.

    Shiftless people should suffer for their irresponsibility.  Black and white; no nuance.

    A real life example was the video clip you showed of the Republican debate where the audience cheered the impending death of that uninsured and cavalier 30-something year old.  No nuance there.  

    As a Buddhist, I believe in Karma.  But a follower of the Buddha also believes in Compassion, Lovingkindness and Generosity.  Now nuance enters the picture.

    Say that 30-something year old was not cavalier.  He makes $28K a year by working two jobs.  He has a preexisting condition and is uninsurable.  He has a child with a medical condition which requires even more of his limited resources.  The $200 – $300 per month medical insurance now costs $1,200 and that’s before deductible and coinsurance.  He simply cannot afford that price. 

    Should that 30-something be allowed to die, because he “chose” to not purchase medical coverage?

    Professor Haidt’s (and the Conservative view) seems to be that every grasshopper who shows up at the door is lazy and in misfortune as a result of his own actions.  I believe this is just a justification for not engaging the other Buddhist qualities of Compassion, Lovingkindness and Generosity.

    Someone said that taxes are the price we pay for living in a civilized society.  What would Professor Haidt’s response be to the Karmic consequences of not providing help to someone in need and suffering?  Is there no Karmic consequence for turning our back on those less fortunate, when it is within our power to help?

    Thank you.

  • B. G.

    Professor Haidt fails to recognize that laziness or shiftlessness is simply a symptom of a greater negative force which has operated within human beings since time began.  He hasn’t dug deeply enough.

    Instead of labeling others as lazy or shiftless, we might try realizing that a lack of health and vigorous energy in a society is the logical outcome of a health industry that sees human beings as cost centers.  

    We also might recognize that our divided country is more about a pseudo democracy in which all do not participate equally.  Our society can be compared to a divided family in which the parents favor a few of their children over the rest.  Those unfavored children must then develop under the burdens of  judgment, projection, condescension, apathy, and despair.  Meanwhile the favored children thrive and look down on their less favored siblings.

    The cure is not to project this injustice on the less fortunate.  The cure is non-judgment, compassion, hope, transparency and respect.  Then watch the human spirit  soar!

  • Viewer

    The “right” has a better understanding of human nature? Unbridled greed is certainly within the scope of human nature. Has not this “moral” issue proven itself to be a more pressing and imminent danger than the possibility that Big Gov may force one to foot the bill for some freeloader? (If the “left” has its sacred victim groups, does the “right” have its sacred hero billionaire idols- being cruelly oppressed by Big G? Not a misconception ?)

    Do “narratives” really bear greater impact/influence than the cold, stark reality of average people suffering very real loss (of decent standards of living, opportunities for their children, among other things)?

    (I think the guest misuses the word “karma”: “like attracts like” i.e. “give and it will be given to you “, “take and it will be taken from you“. Those who subscribe to meritocracy, consequences, responsibility etc would think karma is a lot of hooey. Additionally, how does one care for the welfare of others, without understanding/valuing/honoring the sanctity of life itself. Do sanctity, authority, loyalty only count when applied to human institutions/groups?)

  • guest

    Well seeing as conservatives on record tend to give way more to charity than their friends across the isle, issues like this can be solved with privatized charities. You seem very into helping people, but would you ever be cavalier enough to start and organization on your own with out big brother? Compassion comes from the heart, not forced as tax dollars.

  • Roger F

    I don’t see how we can take Haidt’s analysis seriously when he says that it all about making sure Karma is working correctly and than only talks about lazy people and hard working people and ignores vastly disparate starting positions and ignores good luck and bad luck. 

  • Pjslaughter

    I am a conservative and registered Republican who:
    1.  gives away a large % of my income to chartiable causes (I am not rich, make a modest income, but try to give away as much $ as I can-at one point I was giving away so much of my $, I only had $40.00 a week to spend on food, yup $40 for an entire week of food – breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
    2. helps feed and shelter homeless families through a ministry in my church
    3.  helps make food for our community soup kitchen
    4.  coaches a youth soccer league
    5.  has helped single moms pay off their hospital bills
    6. has volunteered my professional services to community centers, churches, and schools (services that I “could” have charged up to $125 an hour for but did for free)
    7. works for an institution making half as much as I would if I worked for “corporate” american or had my own private business (I am not complaining, this is my choice b/c  I love what I do and believe I can do the greatest good and have the largest impact making much less $).

    yes, somehow, I am evil??? 

  • Anonymous

     You sound like one of the good guys to me.  You have to understand a statement like “Republican’s are evil”, does not mean all, there are always exception to the rule.

    It is just sad that you don’t realize what the Republican Party, of today, has turned into. 

  • Bobbi

    Simply put, one of the very best interviews I have ever seen. As usual, Mr. Moyers, you are a sane voice in a sometimes insane world. Mr. Haidt is trying to bridge two worlds. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of making America whole. We will never always agree, but we must reach the point where we listen to ideas and opinions which differ from our own.

  • Bobbi

    Oh brother, I meant to say “We will never all agree…” Sorry.

  • Mikewokie

    I am amazed that so many of the commenters viewed a different show than what I saw.  I heard a social pyschologist try to explain why liberals and conservatives have different views.  Interesting – I guess we each hear what we want to hear to support our narrow view of our political world.

  • Model 2 Interocitor

    Haidt brings up many fascinating points, but I feel there is a crucial error.  One must look at Maslow for the root of the error.  We seem to mix up morals and values.  Maslow studied the values of the healthiest people and empirically determined a core set of values of these examplary humans.  The values are Maslow’s “B-values” which should be used as a focus  for the crippling dichotomy polarization we see today.  If we continue to simply make up values, we will only aid what seems to be a fight against mytosis itself.  Dichotomy transcendence, which is what Haidt advocates, needs to re-tranlate “corruption” into Justice, etc.

    We also have to recognize that human beings are analog creatures, not digital ones.  Humans have the ability to include right, wrong, and uncertainty.   So instead of casting a problem against the backdrop of right and wrong, black and white, we need to include uncertainty, where we go from Judgement Mode to Decision Mode (cf Ivor Davies, Indiana University).  Rather than judging between right and wrong, we are faced with deciding: making a choice amongst alternatives, none of which are demonstrably right are wrong.

    Perhaps a central set of values would help us here, and I would encourage your viewers to look at Maslow’s “Eupsychian Management” and “Politics 3″ paper for some exciting alternatives to less-than-fully-human ones we see today.

  • Sara Hartley

    I object to Heidt’s simplistic sociology- asserting a dichotomy with pseudo-psychological insights. 
    I do not really privilege ‘compassion’ over stability/pragmatism/loyalty. I object to trickle down economics because I am selfishly concerned with social coherence, the sustainability of a middle-class democracy and the dangers of plutocracy in an unbridled free market capitalist state.
    I do believe that leaving children, disabled and aged citizens destabilizes a society- creating a fierce domestic state of terror. This increases crime, corruption and reduces civility.
    I fear for the maldistribution of wealth by non-productive financial profiteering. It weakens us as a country.It demoralizes the crucial sector of hard-working teachers, firemen, doctors, nurses et al without whose highest standards, life becomes treacherous.
    Balance over dogma. Perhaps that is a characterological issue, in contrast with fundamentalism & absolutism. And if a few recipients of SSDI or food stamps are ‘lazy’- so be it. That is the cost of ‘doing business. Compared to the waste and profligate corporate expense accounts- it is trivial.
    I am a progressive because I am selfish.

  • Sara Hartley

    in the Book of Amos, the question is raised- “why be good ?[read: industrious vs shiftless] when it is clear that good people can suffer  in this life & die young while evil people {read: shiftless or greedy and exploitive?] can appear to prosper without consequence….??
    The answer is- i feels better to do the right thing. and- if you believe- God will have the final word.

    How bizarre that the ‘conservative’ morality requires we punish those who appear to fail at taking care of themselves. This posits a man-made judgment vs divine one. ‘Karma’ does not require the restriction of ‘charity.’ It is inevitable.
    How many crack heads and impoverished are able to ‘learn from failure?’ The grasshopper- if he survives- is imagined to learn his lesson.
    This is true on the smallest scale (i.e. a child is careless) but cannot be extrapolated to 200 million Americans. A man blows a disc on the job and becomes unemployed…another inherits alcoholism….another is a jerk….maybe just outcomes do not require the elimination of a sound safety net.

  • GER


    I have viewed, listened and read  Mr. Moyers for years. Bill Moyers is a hero to me.  He and I share the same age group.

    My disappointment in the segment with J.Haidt is that it denigrates my hero. We all face the aging process and perhaps in our diminished capacity the mind accepts hurtful idea’s as bearing truth, justice and equality, however to me Haidt is an academic sophist. 

    Either Conservative or Liberal, no human beings have qualities that make them a super race. To suggest such is to treat discredited theories from our past violent history as valid in today’s world.

    My frustration is that my old hero, in the past, would have taken the author to task for his soulless puny theory that persons who claim to be conservative are the new super race.

    Real Conservatives, along with Liberals, themselves would be ashamed to be represented by such intellectual dishonesty as displayed by Haidt.

  • Rusty

    ” Now nuance enters the picture.”

    No, what entered the picture is just one of many possible scenarios, one that is comfortable to you to use to make you feel right.

    Here’s a more realistic scenario.  An uninsured person can go into any emergency room and receive free care.  He will be billed of course but can simply ignore the bills, which the hospital will write off and pass on in cost to the insured patrons.

    However, it doesn’t end there.  The uninsured person may also do drugs, drink excessive amounts of alcohol.  Eat poorly, eating processed foods, maybe even in some deluded belief that they are eating healthy when in fact a diet of meat, and fresh produce is far more healthy than most “healthy food diets.”  But since you have to cook everything from scratch, it’s not as easy.

    In addition, this person may spend what little resources they have on risky extreme sports such as snow boarding, fast motorcycles, etc….Then this person gets hurt and again the insured will end up picking up the tab when they are taken to the emergency room.

    You libs simply don’t get it and like to think what makes you feel comfortable.  The cons at that debate weren’t applauding the idea of a man dieing, they were applauding the idea of personal responsibility.

    Cons see this notion of no repercussions for immature and idiotic behavior as dangerous to our society and in fact see it as pulling us down, close to ruining us.

    It’s human nature.  Have you ever been a lifeguard and had a drowning person try to kill you out of their own panicked desire for self preservation?  In a case like that, do you allow yourself to be drowned so that the other person can live for a few more minutes?

    This is how Cons see it.  It isn’t that they want the poor to starve, or that they want to lazy to die.  They want as many people as possible to pull their own weight, which allows for more resources for everyone, including the truly poor and desperate.

    Haidt was totally right in this.  Not once did he say that the Cons are right in everything and the Libs are wrong.  What he as saying is that both sides have things that are right and things that are wrong and that the answers lay somewhere in the middle.

    My thinking is, this country is going to have to split into two.  The inability to actually find true common ground is going to cause that.  The I’m totally right and you are totally wrong is going to cause that to happen.

    In the end, the Liberal country will be crushed by it’s ideas, just as others before them have, such as the USSR and other countries like it where they thought they could create some sort of utopia that totally ignored the parts of human nature that makes things work.

  • Rusty

     “I am a progressive because I am selfish.”

    Finally a progressive who is honest.  Yes, progressives are selfish.  Selfish like in the story of the hen who wants to make bread.  So she keeps asking for help.  Help tilling the field, help planting the crops, help collecting the grain, help baking the bread.  None of the selfish progressives want to help, but they sure are willing to take some of the bread, and of course, are more than altruistic with that hens bread as they would of course feel it is right to give it to anyone who is hungry.

    You simply cannot get past the truth that there MUST be consequences for a society to function.  Human nature is simple in that we of course will take the path of least resistance.  If I can build a house with power tools as opposed to 18th century technology, I’m going to do it.  Most gain for the least expended energy.

    If I were to give my child a significant potion of my income, and allowed them to have the master bedroom, my car, etc…would she ever want to go out and make it on her own?  Maybe…maybe not.  he answer would come down to whether or not she was comfortable with the amount I was giving her.

    Bleeding hearts can’t stand to see people suffer, even if it is by their own hand.  This is where they fail at things like welfare.  They don’t want it to be a safety net.  They want to make people comfortable.  End their suffering.  Suffering is a great motivator.  I’m all for safety nets, but my idea of a safety net is one that actually performs as a safety net, and also works to motivate people to do for themselves.

    Your types are to guilt ridden and squeamish to be able to do what is right.  A safety net should do nothing but shelter and feed someone.  Maybe provide training that will help them become a productive member of society.

    You give someone a chance.  If they are drowning, you toss them a life preserver.  If they fail to take advantage of it, that is not on them.  I am not making them fail, they are choosing to do so on their own.

    At some point, responsibility must come into the picture.

    As always, the answers lie somewhere in the middle.

  • Anonymous

    You totally missed her point.  Go back and read it again.  This time try to understand it.

    The elite have robbed this country, thanks the the Republi-CONs, and their reduced taxes, very little government regulation.    The top 1% have had a  235% increase in their wages, and have more money then the bottom 90% totally. 

    Wake-up before you help to destroy your children’s lives.

  • Douglas Wolf

    Your answer proves his point about confirmation bias and sacredness. 

  • Douglas Wolf

    Keep enjoying your time in denial. Moyers does not have the intellectual tools to parry with this guy 

  • GER

     It confirms nothing of what Haidt stated.
    My two points were admiration of Bill Moyer, which has changed and the basic human nature that we are all born equal.

    My reasoned opinion of any super race theory, which elevates one group  above another, fails the test that we are all born equal under the eyes of God

    (or if you don’t believe in God.) Read some history about those groups who would dominate their world at the expense of others due to belief.

    I suggest a WIKI look up of Rwandan Genocide, the Hutu and the Tutsi.

    There is nothing that is sacred about dividing peoples into groups regardless what those groups represent and to do so lets you slide down a very slippery slope as history proves.

    For a closer look, start with the Reagan Revolution, the start of US vs THEM politics. Divided populace. US failure. Recession. United States of America has a chance. The Divided States of America is a loser.

  • Douglas Wolf

    ….My reasoned opinion
    of….exactly the path to a wrong opinion as Haight makes abundantly clear.  

  • Richard Hawley

    Mr. Haidt shared his opinion that conservatives have a better understanding of human nature than do progressives.  However, “human nature” is not fixed and frozen.  Humans can bring out different natures, depending on their attitudes.  Conservatives harp on a particular “nature” that they think is the only truth, and if a person comes to believe in it, then that nature becomes dominant for them.  If a person believes in a different nature, then that one becomes dominant.  One’s environment, thoughts, and experiences largely determine their view of human nature. 

  • Tomcarney

    “The idea behind the scale is that human morality is the result of biological and cultural evolutionary processes that made human beings very sensitive to many different (and often competing) issues.” This statement renders this evaluation useless.  Most of these questions are based on assumptions which flow from a warped and inaccurate comprehension of the nature of reality. They are one dimensional, mechanistic and form related. This kind of “psychology” has mostly disappeared from the conversations of present day explorers.   

  • Anonymous

    What? You’re so afraid of reason now that you can’t rebut his hyperbole?

    We see where this contorted Haidtian nonsense leads.

  • Anonymous

    Haidt has discovered the limits to humanity, don’tcha know?

    Y’all are a bunch of hypocrites, so man up and takes yer licks.

  • Anonymous

    The nature of reality is the market. Everything and everyone must sell itself.

  • Anonymous

    See what happens when you give them a bone?

    Better pull your hand away quick.

  • Anonymous

    I sure do!  You are so right too!  :)

  • Anonymous

    Or maybe there’s a lot of dog-whistling going on.

  • Matt


  • Anonymous

    Why not, comrade?

  • Anonymous

    Frank, where were you in 2008? You might have saved the empire!

  • Gingimax

    why did the Russian revolution happen?  

  • Gingimax

    I am curious as to how many people and who are actually going to read his book and how and where it will be marketed.  He speaks of ‘life-style enclaves’ and I hope he will not be relegated to one of these.

  • DM81

    What??? I don’t remember hearing any of that in there.

  • DM81

    Speaking as a conservative, I don’t beleave liberals are imoral, just living with blinders on.

  • DM81

    “Equal” is a loaded word. We are all “Equal under GOD”, but we are all

    unique individuals with our own thing to give to society. As far as “US vs THEM”, beter read your history.

  • DM81

    I have seen people succeed who had the deck stacked against them and people who have had it all and blow it. I just know to many people who “WORK HARD AT WORKING THE SYSTEM.” If they would put that effort toured a hard days work, who knows what they could do. I dont feel good about trusting the goverment to spend the money wisely I work 12hr night shifts to make . I do what I can to help with our local food bank and Habitat projects, I can see wer it goes and the people it helps.

  • Kay Stewart

    I posted comments re Haidt’s failure to make distinctions between right-moralists and progressive-moralists, and my comment was taken off this list within a day. there were no insults, and I can see no reason for the comment moderator to have remove them. Any thoughts why? 

  • AnneLBS
  • Greg

    Fascinating  interview – as are all your comments.  In my humble opinion – I firmly disagree with “lifestyle enclaves” – from the beginning of time – people have worked to improve their living environment, whether that means the better part of a city, the burbs, or the 2 streets in a small town where the “rich” people live………[I told you it was a humble opinion]  I’m afraid this is over most people’s head – some of it mine!

  • Shumphreys

    I think that some of the posters need to explore and think about Haidts position further. Or perhaps you haven’t had first hand experience with religious fundamentalism/conservatism.  After watching this interview I went to Haidts website, read a couple of his papers, took some of the morality tests.

    To summarize my understanding of the issue: Liberals tend to rely primarily on issues of care/harm, fairness/cheating and liberty oppression when making moral judgments. Conservatives use these 3 plus those of loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation. AND there is a difference between the concepts of fairness, for Liberals it is about leveling the playing field and for Conservatives it is about reaping ones just rewards, or reaping the results of ones Karma, ones actions.

    My experience show this is indeed the case. The two sides see issues through very different lenses. Unless one side at least can figure out how the other side views issues we will be doomed to constantly butting heads, talking through each other rather than with each other.

    I wonder why this is the case, why there is such a great divide. We are created equally in the sense we are all humans BUT we all have different abilities, strengths and weaknesses, and view issues through very different colored lenses, and I might add we also wear blinders, restricting our vision to the point that many have tunnel vision.

    I have noticed that Conservatives tend to have a very narrow view of the Polis and Liberals have a very broad view to the point that for some Liberals their Polis is all of humanity and the entire planet. I use the word Polis because it carries the sense of physical territory, but also of the people that occupy that territory and the people that are considered to be “citizens” of that territory with all the benefits that come with being part of the in or accepted group.

    With this in mind you can understand why Conservatives place such a value on moral concepts that help them keep people from leaving the Polis as well as keep outsiders out of the Polis and help them keep tight control over what goes on in the Polis.

    Liberals with their much broader view of the Polis stress concepts that level the playing field for all within their Polis, and find the concepts of loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation the very things that keep a Polis from expanding and including ALL people, or people outside the original group, and from keeping such a BIG Polis from functioning.

    Any thoughts from others on this?

  • Babsva

    I contend that the ‘human nature’ conservatives have a good grasp of is descriptive, not proscriptive. And historic. Societies were much more clannish, and some still are, but a liberal mindset embraces a much broader definition of a society. So yes humans can tend to be groupish by nature. And, also, xenophobic, and warlike. There are other aspects of human nature that are not desirable: rape? deceit? I can think of no good reason for humans to hang onto vestiges of our past values – loyalty, authority, ingroup – these are all things that can and often do bring out the very worst humans are capable of. A more generous and expansive liberal concept of who ‘we’ are is indeed fairer to more people, and more peaceable.

  • Anonymous

    As much as I respect and admire Bill Moyers, this false dichotomomy of false equivelency advanced by Jonathan Haidt between conservative and liberal is completely unacceptable. This exchange demonstrates how far to the right our chains have been yanked. And that this “centrist” and “third way” “bridge” mentality is such a tired canard. The last election, and the (dare I say tenuously dubious) accomplishments of this administration, should lay these stereotypes to rest, once and for all.

  • Ba

    You all might find this podcast interesting.In the episode, Kahan and Mooney not only review but debate the evidence on whether “motivated” ideological biases are the same on both sides of the political aisle—or alternatively, whether they’re actually “asymmetrical.”

  • Georgio

    Sad, Rebecah, very sad. Instead of worrying about what others are doing, go and do something with your life. Instead of socialism, go and become wealthy and give to the poor, you’ll have more impact for good. Leave us hard working Americans alone. Alternatively, there are lots of welfare states around the world, you are welcome to go and live there.

  • Anonymous

     If that is what you think you are one very sad individual.  You go live in a third world country, so that you may learn the truth.  We are all in this together and until you wake up to that fact, you will continue to live in fear.

  • Anthony Bradley

    It is fascinating to see the way in which liberals (progressives) reject and are demonizing Haidt in this video and how conservatives are content to say, “huh, he has a good point, but . . . “

  • Rgood

    Very thoughtful & important. I highly recommend to all persons interested in Washington politics. The problem of gridlock is made clearer but possible solutions are few.

  • Minister

    While I agree with some of Professor Haidt’s premises, particularly those moral categories that correspond to the stages of classic developmental theory, I disagree with this dualistic approach to the material and his Hellenistic conclusions. If interested in knowing more, please go to Youtube to see my public response to Dr. Haidt at:

  • Shortday

    What I find most interesting is what he doesn’t say.   He doesn’t address the real racism, misogyny, homophobia, etc… that exists among conservatives.  He doesn’t address the conservative’s reluctance and/or inability to accept change in an ever-changing  world.  He doesn’t address the so-called Christian conservative’s rejection of Christian values… especially in reference to the poor and needy.  It seems to me, when you factor in those truths, you’re only left with blind allegiance and/or loyalty to country and the like-minded.   

  • Shortday

    It would be very easy to debate Mr. Haidt.

  • Minister

    So Bill Moyers is a conservative? TED is a conservative organization? Have you surveyed enough liberals and conservatives to be sure this is a fair generalization? What language have you heard that “demonizes” Haidt? Who are the liberals you’ve heard doing this?

  • Minister

    BTW: Calling someone you disagree with a “slut” and a “prostitute” is demonization, not saying, “I disagree,” in an intelligent respectful manner. Since when did saying something others disagree with become offensive and deserving of counterattack?

  • Folkstreamsva

    Very good!

  • Folkstreamsva

    I bought the Kindle book. Very good read.

  • Folkstreamsva

    do you have health insurance?

  • Brett

    You are right that he doesn’t address this in the interview. I have just finished  his book and will say he has some compelling ideas, and does address some of your criticisms there. But also, to take a page from him, it is impossible for him to find the weaknesses in his theories. He is invested in them. It is left to his pear community to find his weaknesses. That said. I highly recommend his book.

  • Joshua Bruno

    Do it. He’s at UVA and very approachable.

  • Joshua Bruno

    After reading some comments I can see that devoted lefties are very upset and, in many cases, confused. You should be. Haidt’s work is building a framework from which those of us who want to move forward can build from.

    There’s a lot of ‘what about what the right did to _____ people? Where’s the morality in that? Why didn’t smarty pants Haidt talk about that?’

    Well, he made his point perhaps, by not talking about it. He also didn’t say that unions and welfare systems as we know them must crumble in order for us to move forward because pointing these types of things out as talking points are polarizing.

    If you’re a M. Moore or an A. Coultre, Dr. Haidt is going to ruin your reality.

    If you’re a fellow veteran, I highly suggest reading both The Happiness Hypothesis and TRM. 

  • John Chase

     The polis expands in response to a threat from outside, and not much else. Many such instances in world history. That being the case, one would think that the threat of climate change would unite us.

    But the idea never gets out of the gate because we are so divided that one side disputes it. Conversely, the threat of a terrorist attack, or the imposition of Sharia Law motivates one side but not the other.

    The polis will broaden when the threat is so real and so imminent that both sides believe it.

  • Jennifer

    yes..we understand the point. However..let me make one thing clear. the republicans have a different idea on how money should be distributed. Instead if giving money to the government..they prefer to have more control by giving their money to private charities. Americans as individuals are known to be the most generous in the world when I went to S Africa a few years ago a friend of mine  from Cape Town insisted that Americans were indeed the most generous in the world(and PLEASE don’t flatter yourself into thinking that those Americans are only democrats) they are Americans  from both sides of the aisle. Just because they(republicans) do not advertise their giving to the world and are against government tax increases does not make them “evil.” be careful who you judge.

  • Liz Harward

     I’m a liberal and I am in complete agreement with Dr Haidt- your generalization, I have issue with.  The world is COMPLICATED as are the people in it, we are all part of an ecosystem that is either reinforced or not by our tribes. This was a brilliant look at the complexity around this issue.

  • Fubar

    Shambhala Sun | July 1999 Liberalism and Religion – We Should Talk
    By: Ken Wilber

    The way it is now, the modern world really is divided into two major and
    warring camps, science and liberalism on the one hand, and religion and
    conservatism on the other. And the key to getting these two camps
    together is first, to get religion past science, and then second, to get
    religion past liberalism, because both science and liberalism are
    deeply anti-spiritual.

    In one sense, of course, science and liberalism are right to be
    anti-spiritual, because most of what has historically served as
    spirituality is now prerational, magic or mythic, implicitly
    ethnocentric, fundamentalist dogma. Liberalism traditionally came into
    existence to fight the tyranny of prerational myth and that is one of
    its enduring and noble strengths (the freedom, liberty, and equality of
    individuals in the face of the often hostile or coercive collective).
    And this is why liberalism was always allied with science against
    fundamentalist, mythic, prerational religion (and the conservative
    politics that hung on to that religion).

    Liberalism attempted to kill God and replace transpersonal Spirit with
    egoic humanism …  that is its sorry downside, this horror of all things Divine.
    Liberalism can be rightfully distrustful of prerational myth, and yet
    still open itself to transrational awareness. Its objections to mythic
    forms do not apply to formless awareness, and thus liberalism and
    authentic spirituality can walk hand in hand into a greater tomorrow. If
    this can be demonstrated to them using terms they find acceptable, then
    we would have, I believe for the first time, the possibility of a
    postliberal spirituality, which combines the strengths of conservatism
    and liberalism but moves beyond both in a transrational, transpersonal
    integration. The trick is to take the best of both, individual rights
    plus a spiritual orientation, and to do so by finding liberal humanistic
    values plugged into a transrational, not prerational, Spirit. This
    spirituality is transliberal, evolutionary and progressive, not
    preliberal, reactionary and regressive. It is also political, in the
    very broadest sense, in that its single major motivation, compassion, is
    pressed into social action.

  • Fubar

    As americanisms, both liberalism and conservatism are products of the rise of anglo-american politics since the 1640s (modernism’s triumph) and reactions to the rise of industrialism and the (unstable) form of “state capitalism” that came  from industrialism, and is returning to Plutocracy (an ancient, stable form well suited to Imperialism, but one that is inadequate to meet the “coherence needs” of people in a postmodern world).

     The Human Potential Movement and the New Age schools of thought that are derived from it (such as Integral Theory) have developed an analysis of the flaws of liberalism and postmodernism that transcends (or attempts to transcend) both conservatism and liberalism.

    In Haidt’s TED talk, he references the liberal/postmodern tendency toward openness to novelty, and the conservative aversion to such.

    At a “higher level”, a somewhat different perspective emerges that can provide insight into the underlying spiritual and psychological dynamics.


    Transformative Practices
    An Esalen Invitational Conference
    November 28 – December 2, 1999
    Human Change Processes
    Michael Mahoney


    Michael began by discussing how humans classify and organize as a way of
    structuring experience. His goal is to become more aware of the
    categories and constructs. He is especially interested in the role of
    crisis and disorder to motivate someone to discover new ways of
    constructing meaning and experience.

    Humans are thus embodied theories of self & world, seeking a
    Sisyphian balance — a “dynamilbria” — between old and new activity
    patterns. Dynamilibria refers to a moving balance, which is
    different than the static balance typical of equilibria.

    Too little novelty –> no
    change. Too much –> systemic contraction or a lack of functioning.
    All living systems have a natural and healthy resistance to change. We
    can only take so much change at one time. The long term view
    resembles respiration, with cycles of breathing in and out.

    The main question for Michael is how we can help structure individually
    paced challenges that honor the current coherence needs of an individual
    while also presenting opportunities for experimentation and new ways of

    The essence of Darwinian evolution involves three things:
    variation, selection, and retention. The psychospiritual analogues are
    creative exploration or flexibility (variation), virtue (selection), and
    practice (retention).

    studies in neurosciences …
    variability precedes the next step in development. Chaos is thus a good
    thing at times. Some scientists even suggest that the brain creates
    chaos as a means of identifying patterns.

    This approach excites him because it depathologizes disorder and
    disorganization. So much of our culture has been orderly and fearful of
    disorder. From a complex systems perspective, episodes of disorder are
    a necessary and healthy expression of an open system.

  • Fubar

    Arthur W. Frank

    Department of Sociology

    University of Calgary


    In social settings that formerly
    operated by communicative media (I & L), the quantitative media (A & G)
    now dominate.  Rather than communicative
    action—people talking about their differences and coming to a common
    understanding—one (person, party, or interest) dominates the other by having
    more money or votes.

    If people believe either that the economy
    affords them no opportunity to compete and succeed, or that the state works
    against their interest, crisis results.

    There is no possibility of reaching a common understanding 

     that’s what
    Habermas means by communicative action: the process of reaching a common

     So legitimacy requires that citizens understand each other as committed
    to continuing the process of seeking common understanding, and acting with
    respect for that on-going process.  With
    money and votes you never seek to reach understanding, you only invoke how much
    (quantitative) you’ve got, and thus overpower or be overpowered.  Money and votes can be useful ways of
    getting things done, but only so long as their legitimacy is assured by the
    common understandings of influence and value-commitments.

    of the community have less sphere for communicative action.  Their relationships are increasingly
    mediated, locally, by money and power.

     In the university, department meetings
    could, ideally, be a place where communicative action takes place and influence
    and value-commitments are regenerated. 
    We could, in those meetings, attempt to reach common
    understandings.  In one meeting we were
    discussing a proposed change to the curriculum.  I was trying to ask a colleague why s/he wanted this change; my
    “communicative action” involved asking what s/he was trying to teach, how that
    teaching was going, and so forth.  The
    colleague’s response was: “If you don’t like the change, vote against it.”  In other words, s/he didn’t want to talk,
    explain, or reach a common understanding. 
    Instead we would each gather votes and whoever had the most votes would
    win.  Systems media (power, votes) had
    pushed out lifeworld media (appeals to common value commitments as a basis of
    influencing colleagues to believe one option or the other best represented who
    we want to be, as a departmental community). 
    It’s important to understand that this colleague acted in a milieu that
    the university as a system creates: money and power dominate, and local
    understands don’t count for much.  The
    colleague was part of this colonization process, but s/he was only reflecting a
    larger process.  

  • Fubar

    Transpartisanship, with Joseph McCormick:

    (Finding common ground, transcending partisanism.)

  • Lori Bell

    Re: The discussion of “karma” starting around 20:00…Where’s the “karmic consequence” in the failure of major financial institutions which were then Bailed Out to the tune of billions or even trillions of dollars? Where’s the “work” involved in creating money out of thin air? Although I am a firm believer in the idea of “karma” myself, and that each person should accept responsibility for the inherent work involved in maintaining a functional human life, it has been my observation that BOTH the extremely rich and the welfare poor are DEPENDING on the rest of us to support them. It seems, from the Conservative point of view, once you are wealthy enough, the laws of “karma” no longer apply…

  • Lori Bell

    Re: Yin and Yang – Push and Pull at 23:50 – In his second book “Lila”, Robert Pirsig makes a wonderful case for the interaction of what he terms “static” and “dynamic” “quality”, that has supported and continues to support every step of evolution, both biological and cultural. Too much “static quality” and growth through “dynamic variation” is stifled. Too much “dynamic quality” and growth cannot happen because the system is so unstable.
    Therefore, there has to be a balance of both, and there are usually multiple ways in which combinations of “static” and “dynamic” “quality” are “tested” over time to see if they are sustainable.
    Our Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights are forms of “static” structures that have allowed for considerable “dynamic” activity of members of our society. However, current trends, allowing too much “dynamic activity” from the financial industry have ultimately led to a decline in the protections of basic civil rights. As the Bill of Rights is really the foundational or “static” support for our culture as a whole, should it be undermined, then our culture would naturally collapse to its most prior “stable” evolutionary state: i.e. some form of tyranny.
    On the other hand, and especially with the connectivity available through the new “nervous system” of the human body politic, the internet, we may be able to come to a new agreement on what the next form of “static structure” needs to be in order for human society to continue to evolve – something based on the principle of non-aggression for EVERY level of society, for instance; or organization and “management” that is more horizontal and cooperative rather than hierarchical.
    As it is now, however, the “dynamic” behavior of a few (the financial elite), is threatening the many, and even the very foundations of our society altogether. When the need to “bail them out” becomes too heavy a burden on the rest of the population, then collapse is inevitable, and who’s to say what will be left of the foundations of our culture once that happens?

  • Thomas Sanford

    A true sadist would refuse to beat a masochist… 😉

  • Miranda

    Great interview – its certainly made me think about the demonizing I do… One thing I’m still questioning, as the “caring liberal” that I am, is that the “protestant work ethic” does NOT seem to accommodate for widely different opportunities, it seems to presume everyone has equal opportunities/access and therefore must reap what they sow ?! In this sense, conservative “fairness” does seem to be wanting.

  • maddalyn

    I am an example of a liberal. I don’t actually feel any need to think of democrat vs. conservative. The issues that are important to me are ones that involve preserving the environment and human rights. These are issues that involve everyone: democrats, republicans, and all other political parties and I would include: children, women, men, animals, the oceans, air, agriculture… This is beyond politics: it is about the Sanctity of all life!

  • Eric Pierce

    Voltaire’s rationalism was necessary, but not sufficient. It created a flawed structure that was attached to Liberalism, and has been the source of many flaws.

    Liberalism/leftism is a magnet for bizarreness.

    Liberalism/leftism are largely in a state of pathology (identity politics are far more important than labor rights of economic and social justice issues), and they accommodate people that seek to commune with other people with pathological tendencies. They are outmoded ideologies that can not address the coherence needs of emergent Holistic culture.

    The failures of Leftism/liberalism in the USA resulted in a vacuum of meaning that was filled by the right.

    The failures of Leftism/liberalism in the USA directly resulted in the successes of the Right, and the lack of meaningful opposition to the rise of the corporate-plutocratic “conservative” mindset.

    1980, Jazz club in Santa Cruz, some animal rights extremists shouted down Wendell Berry for being a small horse farmer.

    See any of Michael Lerner’s critiques of the failures of the New Left, and the bizarre responses from the Left.

    See Ken Wilber’s material on the internet about “Boomeritis” for the general case of how political correctness and leftist thought policing toxified liberal political culture from the 60s on. See the vast amount of material in various academic journals and the popular press on the “culture wars” from the late 70s on. “Sokal’s Hoax” is a typical example.

    1920s/1930s, prior to and during the Spanish civil War, Leftists broke the doors off of rich people’s houses, dragged their families into the streets, and hacked off body parts. Leftists also lined cannons up in the streets of Barcelona in that same period of time and used them to blow the doors off of churches. Unarmed Nuns were dragged into the streets, lined up against stone walls, and executed by firing squad.

    The Left has always been a magnet for dysfunctional personalities, extremists and lunatics.

    The Right has always justified its existence on the basis of the pathologies of Leftism.

    The Left has always justified its existence on the basis of the pathologies of the Right.

    What the world needs is a new paradigm that transcends the pathologies of both Right and Left.

  • Eric Pierce

    Please cite where your mental health was last normal, and where that info can be verified by a panel of legal and psychiatric specialists paid for at your expense.

  • Eric Pierce

    Populist conservatives are being exploited by cynical plutocrats. The pathological aspects of Right wing ideology seek to impose paradigm regression to a mythic-conformist state of culture (medieval social values).

    Liberalism/leftism is in a different regressive/pathological state, deeply mired in identity politics, political correctness, etc., and the “leaders” of liberalism, such as Clinton, sold liberalism out to the corporatists long ago.

    A new paradigm is needed that transcends both right and Left.


  • Eric Pierce

    There are valid elements of conservatism, such as the need for a “strict daddy” mindset and strong “law and order” (when in harmony with a liberal “nurturing mommy” mendset), but in its dominant expression, conservatism is pathological, and corrupted.

    Here is one interesting explanation of why:

    Ironically, FDR’s progressive New Deal eliminated economic barriers in the south, but doing so empowered the long suppressed remnants of the brutal Confederate Aristocracy, which had been largely blocked from taking national institutional power by the old Yankee plutocrats/elites after the American Civil War.

    The industries that gave rise to the remnants of the brutal Confederate Aristocracy developed in the south and southwest:

    Oil, Real Estate, Defense, Finance.

    Those industries are now dominant, and their “value system” (elites rule, workers are serfs and peasants) has become mainstream and widespread in the corporate world, and has spread into public service (after liberalism became discredited as a force for real reform, Clinton, seeking any kind of power by which to create a superficial impression of reform mindedness, embraced corporate wealth and made the Democratic Party into a shill for corporate interests).

    See original source for additional details:


    June 28, 2012
    AlterNet / By Sara Robinson

    Conservative Southern Values Revived: How a Brutal Strain of American Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America

    America didn’t used to be run like an old Southern slave plantation, but we’re headed that way now. How did that happen?

  • AlanGJones

    After reading Jonathan Haidt’s The
    Righteous Mind, I wanted to refute his strange generalization that we
    westerners are all righteous partisan hypocrites. (Many of us are non-partisans
    who question their assumptions and are self-correcting.) I also was disturbed by his confusion and
    misuse of terminology and surprised by his apparent ignorance of the findings
    of Stanley Milgram and Bob Altemeyer.
    But then I realized that I had jumped over a problem seen with his
    attempt to systematize (work out rationally) the moral sense.

    “We believe the
    Five Foundations are the best way to carve nature and culture at its joints
    when studying moral psychology.” –

    “Moral values
    are not something that we work out rationally on the principle of utility, or
    any other principle for that matter, but are irreducible aspects of the
    phenomenal world, like colour.” – Iain
    McGilchrist, The Master and His Emissary, p. 86.

    When one entertains the notion that
    Haidt’s systematizing may help our understanding of moral values, a review of
    his Five Foundations shows that they are of two types. Survey results show that the care and
    fairness foundations are universally held.
    [Empathy is expressed with care and fairness.] But the survey results show that the loyalty,
    authority, and sanctity foundations are held by a subset of the
    population. How can this be? Are loyalty, authority, and sanctity
    expressions of empathy, or are they rather means of controlling (utilitarian
    manipulations of) its expression?

    If I would be what Haidt
    says is more broad-minded (if I’m to share all of his moral foundations), I
    would have to lose much of my desire and ability to empathize and much of my
    desire and ability to question assumptions.
    I would have to adopt schizotypal and authoritarian ways of attending to
    and being in the world.

  • David Heyburn

    The majority of commenters here are caught in the very “moral matrix” he articulates. Take a pause, and step back from what you’re saying to gain some perspective on what it is that you are actually communicating.

  • brux

    > playing to false fairness

    Standard Republican Operating Procedure.

  • Scott Supak

    “I am fighting for good, and you are fighting for evil”

    This isn’t a mental state. These are facts. From the Iraq war to tax cuts for the rich, from supply side market rigging to cuts to the safety net, from letting welfare dependent “parasitic” children go hungry to forcing rape victims to give birth to rape babies, I am fighting for good, and they are fighting for evil.

    And, frankly, I’m sick of liberals who want to be nice to the people who have been so disastrously wrong about so much. These wingnuts need to be ridiculed and called out every chance we can. Our problem is not that we are to polarized our problem is that liberals have been too nice and allowed ourselves to be steamrolled into some very bad outcomes.

  • Anonymous

    False equivalency.

  • Dina

    I have to agree. Though I’m pretty agnostic on God, I do see that there are times in human history where evil seems to make a bid for taking over: Mao, Stalin and Hitler all happening at once? So I tend to believe in good vs evil. And I cannot fathom how people can defend the actions of the GOP from the Iraq war, to suppressing the vote, to cutting food for hungry children while granting tax breaks to the very wealthy. It just looks like evil.

  • Anonymous

    As this reflects on the Shut Down, the republicans are telling the democrats to compromise, but they are offering “My way or the Highway.”

  • Victoria Dunlap

    making sense of it all…………Moyers once again…finds a person that can put things into perspective….thank you Jonathan Haidt……….

  • Anonymous

    Haidt’s arguments deconstruct because he claims intellectuals (meaning he’s biased against his own kind) make logic sacred, claiming that individuals (like himself) cannot think logically alone (apparently, thinking takes a group–there go any “moral” perimeters for individual behavior), but he keeps claiming that progressives need to “come up with convincing arguments,” which apparently means he does not listen to individual progressives, only group think (which explains why he believes Progressives have not come up with the compelling arguments he claims they need to create).

    His authority completely fails because, while he admits he’s biased and implies he has problems viewing his own biases, his information is clearly biased. How did his “group” (did he really do this “research” in a group? I have my doubts) come up with Six Points as Moral Concerns? And why choose moral concerns? Why not social concerns? Why not, simply, ethical concerns? “Morals” implies religious views, not real social science.

    His research tools, mechanisms, and process all sound biased from the getgo.

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately it tends to be the progressives who are trying to understand the “mindset” of the extreme right wing, while the extreme right wing feels free to demonize progressives, ignore facts and base their opinions on prejudices.

  • Anonymous

    I saw a Congressional committee kowtowing to Jaime Dimon, but never heard about Obama doing so (?).

  • Anonymous

    I, too, was disturbed by his incorrect assumptions about what karma is and the idea that ultra conservatives worry about karma at all. As Jimmy Carter stated, they don’t even think in Christian terms (apparently they will not divide fishes and bread with anyone unlike themselves), so should be ashamed to call themselves such.

  • Anonymous

    I disagree that science and liberalism are anti-spiritual. I am both a scientist and a Liberal, and do my utmost to live on a very spiritual plain. They are not mutually exclusive states.

  • Anonymous

    Republicans are not “telling the Democrats to compromise,” they are holding the entire government hostage to ideology and self-interest, and insisting Obama capitulate. The GOP stated their plan to shut down the government if the President didn’t either delay or defund Obamacare. Do you consider it reasonable to shut down the government in order to force the President’s hand on a law that was duly passed by Congress?

  • Dave

    I still believe we will be the instrument of our own downfall. It seems more and more evident when the people who are elected to represent cannot even say the word compromise, and yet have lists of words they should use to vilify their opponents. All empires have fallen, normally from within… we’re just doomed to repeat history.

  • Anonymous

    Bravo! Had that very conversation with a conservative who thought revoking Roe versus Wade had always been derailed by the Democrats. He shut up, and didn’t know what to say when I posted a chart that showed that the Republicans had, if I remember right, something like 12 years in which they could have done it while they had the majority in both houses.
    Abortion, and Gun Control are trotted out regularly to whip up the bases to support their “tribes” at the polls. This current mess is just theater of distraction so the status quo of siphoning off the American economy can continue unabated. I can’t wait to find out just how much we’ve been robbed once they’ve played this out.

  • Anonymous

    P.S. If you want to read some good insight on the conservative mind, read Joe Bageant’s essays.

  • Mary Whisler Maxwell

    It doesn’t seem like Mr. Haidt has been watching Mr. Moyer’s shows. He seems to have little interest in, or maybe even knowledge about, how unfair things are economically, and even seems to buy into the conservative belief that people are economically suffering because they did not work hard enough!! Show after show on Bill Moyers has demonstrated that the system is unfair! We have seen great mounting evidence that people at the bottom are working harder than ever before, and only getting poorer. Conservatives CHOOSE to ignore this fact. Mr. Haidt describes himself as a centrist, but I believe that is misleading. I also disagree with him that liberals have failed to present their argument effectively. The information is out there: conservatives have CHOSEN to ignore it and they are more guilty of demonizing, because they are actually attacking a President who is trying to do good things. Having worked hard all my life, both me and my husband, and realizing that the deck was stacked against us, and wages have stagnated, I obviously believe in the work ethic, but I believe the work ethic has failed the American people. Don’t forget what happened to John F. Kennedy, who actually brought in the Civil Rights movement (Johnson merely signed the law once the Kennedy’s made it a reality). Conservative corporate America plays HARD BALL.

  • Anonymous

    It’s an interesting development for JPM and Dimon. The bank has been under lots of pressure from regulators since its 2012 $6 billion London Whale loss. Dimon was even brought down to Washington to testify before lawmakers about the ordeal. It hasn’t been easy for Dimon or JPM since.
    Most recently, JPM appears to be on the hook for a giant settlement with regulators which some report could top $11 billion–one of the biggest Wall Street deals in history. Last week Dimon met with Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss the settlement after his bank’s offer to settle was reportedly rejected.

    * I watched the Senate Banking Committee Hearing as Dimon testified. It was a joke…even one Senator asking Dimon what he thought could be done to prevent “risk management gone awry”. As they “grilled” (not) Dimon over the $2 billion loss t shareholders…Dimon sat there with a straight face…It wasn’t $2 billion. It was determined later to be $6 billion.

  • James Lesley Jones

    The Law of Moses: Obey the Law and be Blessed; disobey the law and be Cursed. The Blessings are Prosperity, Health and Long Life.
    Here, I give you money (it’s like god giving to you) and you go and do what I tell you (it’s like god telling you what to do).

  • Anonymous

    I agree, BUT the right feels exactlye same about liberals and progressives.

  • Sherrie

    Wait, not demonizing…he thinks that racist comments or motives shouldn’t be pointed out and challenged because that’s demonizing something? How about, rather, it’s calling attention to something that is unfair and ignorant.

  • Sean

    I must respectfully disagree with Mr. Haidt’s assessment of the current state of political discourse. The problem, as I see it, is the automatic assumption of equality for all viewpoints simply because the viewpoint exists and not on the validity or substantive value of said viewpoints. Regardless of partisan affiliation, if one side is citing empirical reality and factual evidence and their opponents are citing a self-invented narrative based in manipulative political rhetoric then it isn’t a matter of perceptual “good versus evil” but actual fact versus fiction. In a world where decisions of government have, as we see, real world consequences, how can we afford to indulge political fiction as a valid basis for action? We’ve accepted perception as reality out of laziness when we should be demanding evidence and holding a standard whereby those engaging in this kind of deception are held accountable.

  • Anonymous

    First, I have not read the book and at first I was hungry to find out more of his thoughts. After listening to the entire interview I do not think I will find out anything enlightening to help me understand the conservatives. His premise is that the ones on the left have demonized the ones on the right….totally not true. What we see on the left is the total manipulation of conservative constituents to get them to vote for politicians that do not have their best interests in mind. We know for a fact that Republican politicians have used Newt Gingrich’s GOPAC buzz words as a mantra which almost puts them in a trance like robotic mode and they are unable to think rationally past that point. We on the left have a problem with the lies and apparently people on the right are immune to lies. This is the one point we can not get past because we simply can not accept a lie as truth. We on the right cannot effectively reason with brainwashed individuals on the right.
    I know this was just a short interview but he seems to not have addressed the history of American economics and why there is such an economic divide in this country. The issue of self responsibility was almost laughable. First the question posed about the man that decided not to purchase insurance…then gets an extended illness requiring treatment was manipulative in and of itself. In all likely hood he would not have purchased insurance because he could not afford it. But the question itself was meant to demonize the poor man without insurance. He never addressed how our welfare system and our economic system are linked. He never addressed how the welfare system was used to keep Black people from out of the job market to keep them from “taking jobs from white men”. He never addressed how Republican say they believe in individual responsibility yet think it appropriate to pay women less for the same work a man does. I guess individual responsibility depends on how much Republicans think that individual is worth. He fails to address that some people in a society can’t work because of mental and or physical illness. Should we kill them or let them starve or leave them in abject poverty and allow them to become diseased and spread those diseases in our community?
    His book would probably be interesting to read but I find no value in it’s ability to help me understand conservatives that live in their bubble of lies fed to them by their politicians. This is my least favorite interview …….

  • do2

    Mr. Haidt offers thought provoking ideas and conclusions. While I
    differ on several of the conclusions I do agree the liberal message is
    not connecting with a majority. Listening to and reflecting upon the
    ideas of conservatives is critical.
    From the 19th century
    through much of the 1970s the 2 party system worked well in the
    convention process bringing diverse groups together and fostering
    compromise to devise a common end and a candidate of choice. The rise of
    the presidential primary dramatically ended that by providing candidate
    selection via 15 second media charm. That coupled with the religious
    leader’s fervor not for scripture but political influence and financial
    reward has led to disappointment among religious liberals and has
    fermented unusual religious beliefs among many evangelicals that seem
    more aligned with profitable multinational corporations than gospel.
    Not sure how this plays out, but we need to be
    thoughtful rather than reactive. A unified message might be asking too
    much, just yet. :)

  • Anonymous

    It doesn’t help that the media, generally, gives equal weight to fact and fiction, and no longer does anything resembling analysis or deeper digging into the claims of politicians, corporate spokesmen, or “average Joes” (or Janes). It’s frustrating when news reporting is limited to the “he said, she said” format. It doesn’t help that the “average Joe or Jane” is not skilled or practiced at genuinely critical thinking.

  • sparkeyjames

    Try this it will give you great insight into the conservative mind….

    It is a free pdf book by Dr. Robert Altemeyer from the University of Manitoba. Called ‘The Authoritarians’. It’s a fairly good read.

  • Pete Joachim

    Very interesting and very good. I think the conservative values and priorities make a lot of sense provided everyone has an equal shot at successes. You can believe this if you ignore our 350 yr history of NOT giving every group an equal chance at success. The white ruling class created a welfare culture by their actions and treatment of minorities in the past, you just don’t change that overnight by passing the civil rights act (which was only 48 yrs ago mind you). That is why many of the conservatives views seem to lack compassion to the left – their sense of fairness is great, but, due to our history, today that fairness only serves to keep people in their same historical groups/class. How do you change the cycle of poverty/welfare for many minority families or just poor white families, when that’s the only culture they have known for 100s of years – as a direct result of the lack of fairness shown by the white ruling class for most of our history? The lack of acknowledgment of this history and its lingering effects on the same oppressed groups is what troubles me. There has to be bridge to get us there first (which may take a few generations) and then the safety net can become more fair and smaller – which I believe most liberals would want anyway.

  • Kamal Shariff

    Tell em Scott!

  • Keith Stanley

    Pete, I could not agree with you more. In fact, I find it quite amazing that the conservatives/Republicans have not at least been more open about this fact of historic unfairness. With your numbers we as a country can really claim to be “fair” to everyone for about 16% of the 350 years. That is amazing. You are also correct that it will take some time for us to get to a point where we are truly a “fair” country.

  • floridaman

    Mr. Haidt, when you say that the republicans rightly believe in the karmic thought that “I succeeded through hard work and if you had worked hard you would not need my tax dollars as relief” if karma worked we would not need a legal system, everyone would just get what they deserve and that would be that. We on the left know that sometimes it does not matter how hard you try, it matters who your parents are, what color your skin is, what part of the world you happen to be born into, your mental condition, and on and on, things over which you have no control. It is easy to sit in an ivory tower and say I can see their point about the grasshopper and the ant. BS. No one has the right to judge the “grasshopper” we don’t know his mental state just because he looks healthy, looks like he should be able to work. You cant tell by looking at him that 4 of his buddies got blown up in front of him while he was serving his country. I could go on but I think I made my point and if I didn’t, anything else I say isn’t going to change anyone’s mind.

  • Chmee

    After reading a lot of the comments here I really have to say, Haidt’s contentions in the last paragraph are undoubtedly accurate.

  • Mary Whisler Maxwell

    I didn’t remember that about Johnson’s work. Of course I know he played hard ball, too. I do remember that he was only chosen as Vice President so they would carry Texas. He was very much a buffoon in the White House until he got control. And I maintain my position that he would not have been so supportive of civil rights, except for the Kennedys’ influence. After all, he was a Texan! Once the assassination took place, he was obligated by the force of public sympathy to carry through on the work they had started.

  • Pat Thompson

    I agree. Wider and deeper causes and effects have been ignored in this study.

  • Pat Thompson

    True. The only thing Republicans understand about human nature is the shallow, personal layer that Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, handed over to the business community (against Freud’s will) to instruct how to manipulate human desire, for financial profit. The only “sacred” thing about Republicans is their SPEECH; their actions are otherwise while they emotionally project their real intentions onto their adversaries.

  • Anonymous

    Well. Just because we do not have to put up with compromising with petty, blind, ignorant and selfish world views (how’s THAT for ‘simplifying’, Mr. Haidt?) due to the sincerity of those beliefs, it does NOT meanwe should NOT blame both parties — if we are talking about Political Parties.
    Philosophically, morally and intellectually, BOTH suffer from a myopia which contributes to our society’s inability to comprehend either history, or the complex origins (and difficult-to-remove consequences) of social and economic differences and treatment.

    In the USA, politically there is no real left-right split (any more). It is right and more right, and the notion that having centrist beliefs is somehow “quasi-liberal” is a product of ignorance — whether you accept it or not.

  • Anonymous

    It has much to do with how we see “the other.” Not in Haidt’s sense of relativism, but in an anthropological comprehension of origin.

    Those acts (Iraq, tax breaks, war etc.) might not BE “evil,” but the consequences are the same. Sadly, a good number of folks considered both conservative and liberal, have supported such policies to varying degrees.

    Anyone forget drones, torture, poisoning our drinking water, distorting the electoral system, ignoring the Constitution, privatizing prisons, letting insurance companies determine health policy, spying on the entire population, etc.???

    This is not about HOW to compromise!!

  • Anonymous

    Maybe you have to pause.

  • Anonymous

    Demonizing in one’s thoughts and values is one thing.
    Using unfair advantage and power to demonize real living systems (e.g., slavery, wage slavery, poverty, outsourcing, removing food regulations, buying elections, death penalty, etc.) is quite another.

  • Anonymous

    OK. Some thoughts.
    It is less about HOW you THINK about things, than how you use your energy and resources to ACT on them.
    Much of what has happened in this nation’s history (or any, for all that matters), produces results and situations that FEED a given mentality.

    “Leveling the playing field” is not just a “value” — it is a ConCLUSION based upon observing (and knowing) the FACTS!

    People did not become slaves because they were “lazy,” but because some other folks with the power WANTED slaves, profited from it, and did not consider some humans as real people. A centuries long cascading social scene (lack of education, opportunity, respect, family, home, poverty, prejudice, lack of participation, etc., etc.) CREATED the world where Haidt’s value systems exist.

    This is similarly true about immigrants, too, and about labor and workers.

    CONDITIONS precede attitudes!

    Without an understanding of this, the whole argument about “listening” and “compromising” falls on its face as empty words. Bravado and self-protection, but NOT reality.

  • Larry Siegel

    Grr. Most conservatives are moderate and compassionate, we’re just not as vocal as the crazies.

  • Anonymous

    This is hardly about a difference in opinion. It’s about the realities those opinions are based upon. That has something to do with process.

    If someone says the way to get “goods” is to work hard, how does that square with folks who worked for decades in an industry, then the company (ostensibly formed by hard-working entrepreneurs) pack up their bags, leave the country and leave workers without the promised pension? Did hard work pay off for them?

    Isn’t it important to be knowledgeable about such occurrences when you cite and cling to an opinion about work ethic because that was what you were taught?

    The ideological differences that we see dividing our nation are real and have much to do with process and belief, and may well shape HOW we derive our opinions. What would be a “compromise” in the above example?

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, that little “history” factor, eh, Pete. You are on the money. Ignore the realities shown by our history and you’ve got … nothing to argue about.

    For me, the Failure of the Civil Rights Act is exactly what you point out. It needs time — but who ever said that publicly?. Even Johnson and other perpetrators of this act, I believe, were “using” it as a political tool to get strategic votes and support. IF they had been SERIOUS (and I contend that they were not), it had to be made clear that the transformation inspired by the Act required at least 2 -3 generations to take real effect, to overcome the very long-term effects of slavery, prejudice, and the perverse social conditions produced by these. Not to mention the need to deal with and change negative reactions to the new-found “fairness” inherent in the ACT. In fact, as we’ve seen, the REACTION has become way more potent than the remedy.

    This was NOT a typical 4-year, one term legislation that changed rules overnight. The generational scope of these changes should have been spelled out in the bill to fully understand the need for it, and to create appropriate expectations for it, so no one, especially the conservative opponents (the ones we should reach out to, according to Haidt), expected a Quick Fix — which, ironically, IS a part of the socially-blind conservative mindset.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, so right!

    Don’t lose your soapbox!

  • Anonymous

    “I do agree the liberal message is not connecting with a majority.”

    Agreed here, too. In large part I believe that is because it is being delivered (or not) by a hollow, sold-out establishment groups known as the Democratic Party. Because of their deep oligarchic ties, their “message” is neither thorough nor sincere. They talk “fairness” and support wars of aggression. They think colluding with “banksters” and paying them ransom is acceptable. Etc.

    I put some faith in the possibilities of the Green Party (there still is a possibility), exactly because the DP had no believable message to deliver.

    A sustainable economy with decent jobs & wages that respects people and the planet, plus sustainable politics which empowers the People and respects the Constitution, ARE part of the Green Vision, yet have no place in the real DP “platform” which is their actions, not words. We need the words, the intent AND the actions.

  • Anonymous

    … what you say should be SO obvious!

    There ARE no “equal sides” here, no pure “center” and to pretend otherwise actually IS part of the faux-moralistic, faux-religious ideology that drives racial and social prejudice.

  • Becky Byrd

    I need to keep this and play it back when I forget that the other side is just as Human as I am. We just see things differently. Wish all of us would pass this on and get its message.

  • NotARedneck

    “Hardwork is often not rewarded. Intelligence and the best ideas are often not rewarded.”

    Quite true. Being good looking, especially generally accepted female good looks are usually rewarded and well.

    Likewise, being born with a silver spoon in your mouth.

    And of course, you have all those RepubliCONs toadies eager to smooth the way.

  • NotARedneck

    True. Right wingers live in a world of “revealed truths” and become angry when others don’t see them. Nearly always it is self serving garbage.

    Note that I call them right wingers. Very few RepubliCONs are real conservatives. Perhaps 1%. Real conservatives are much closer to other political persuasions of the center – based on reason and reality.

  • NotARedneck

    “They kept in reserve to be used as an emotional stir stick in perpetuity. ”

    I determined this a long time ago. Right wing criminal trash often create the problems and then use their deep pockets to blame others. This is what happened in the 20s in Germany. The politicians in power during the massive inflation were right wing “business expertise” type politicians. They created this disaster and then blamed the socialists who were never in power! Such fables led directly to Hitler gaining power.

  • NotARedneck

    “Conservatives can be perceived as being more well-grounded in more categories than liberals. ”

    Conservatives perhaps but the right wing criminal trash of the RepubliCON party are NOT conservatives.

  • Pete Joachim

    Yeah, I think people just assumed the Civil RIghts Act would just “do the job” and no one wanted to really explain that just because you tried to put “fairness” on the books, it will take generations to make it a reality. I think the GOP conveniently ignores this fact in much of its rhetoric.

  • Pete Joachim

    Good for you and your efforts. You done good by your daughter. In fact, I often use your type of situation to compare to a say the son of a wealthy banker, who was given every opportunity to succeed in life on his own (ivy league education and multiple high level job opportunities) and yet ends up living at home as an adult, basically milking his family’s fortunes. Which scenario displays the true American rugged individualism and fight for a piece of the American pie (despite greater odds)? Yours obviously. The point being – people can take all the right steps to try to succeed, but given the lack of “fairness” in our current society (due to our history) it doesn’t always result in same success – depending on where you started. The GOP doesn’t seem to recognize that.

  • Lawrence

    Again! Both are evil. They only fight over who gets control to rob the people of their wealth.

  • John Seibel

    lots of generational stuff not spoken of here

  • Anonymous

    In view of the recent actions of conservatives on the illegal immigration of children, the support of hobby Lobby in imposing their beliefs on others, and the opposition to the Health Care act, I would say that the Republicans measuring high in values such as loyal, sanctity, fairness, is a measure of thoughts, ideas, and words, but not actions. What is more defining? words or actions?

  • Anonymous

    I have read the book The Righteous Mind. I enjoyed the ideas but I disagree with the conclusion that conservatives have done a better job in representing human nature. They say one thing and do another, is that the Human Nature you are referring to, Mr. Haidt?

  • Meggie

    Read “The Fundamentalists” by Bob Altemeyer. That will tell you more than you learn from this guy. Or, maybe some of the work of Leon Festinger about dissonance theory. The greedy and the self-righteous have seized the moral high ground, especially over the abortion and contraception issue, and we and the media have let them do it. When somebody can call you a “baby-killer’ for merely pointing out that a sperm and an egg in the same zip code don’t constitute a baby, and you call them a “manipulator”, and it’s your remark that gest removed for a newspaper’s editorial chat page, you know that the game is over unless we start objecting now. When Michelle Bachmann says that God told her to go to law school and to run for public office, and people believe it and vote for her, we have to begin to realize that there is a shortage of lightning strikes and that ordinary people will have to start speaking out and reclaiming the moral high ground.

  • Anonymous

    Many of these people, who use the bible to measure their own righteousness, fail to see their own mind, in the mind of the Pharisees, whom Jesus said, heaped up burdens upon the backs of others, but failed to lift a finger to help!

  • Anonymous

    Magical thinking is for immature people!

  • Anonymous

    I enjoyed seeing Boehner squirm when Stahl tried to get him to say the word compromise.

  • Peter Kriz

    I do not think that is is “moral humility” that gets created when one steps out. It is perhaps moral indignation that gets softened to the point that we can look beyond purely moral critiques toward a practical and actionable discourse. Therein lies our potential salvation, the discovery of opportunities to advance our humanity toward one another. In fact, moral humility–in the sense of supplication–is exactly what must not be expected if we are to get along on this planet.