Academia

Righteous Mind Jonathan Haidt Wins Zócalo Book Prize

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I prefer the cute one |||

The social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has just won the third annual $5,000 book prize from the Los Angeles-based public affairs group Zócalo Public Square, for his great work The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. Reason was proud to run a cover excerpt from the book, which we headlined "Born This Way? Nature, nurture, narratives, and the making of our political personalities."

Zócalo, which I've written for and spoken at in the past, has an interesting little Q&A with Haidt up at its site. Excerpt:

Q. There are joiners like the 1930s fascists or communists who remained blind to all faults on their own side, and then there are loners like George Orwell, who seemed extraordinarily immune to some of the moral and logical blindness common to human beings. What characterizes the clear-eyed person who can see the truth in front of his nose from the person who can't?

A. One of the three principles of moral psychology that I present in the book is "morality binds and blinds." Some people do this with more gusto than others. Some people crave the security and moral certainty that comes with joining a group that is engaged in ideological battles. Orwell, somehow, didn't just join the left and go blind. I don't know if the reason is to be found in his personality—perhaps he was more secure or more of a loner—or whether it is to be found in some of his idiosyncratic profile of experiences. A deeply disillusioning experience can snap one out of a dream, as happened with Orwell during the Spanish Civil War. Then again, Robert Frost defined a liberal as a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel. So Orwell might be an example of the true liberal—not just a partisan, but a true descendent of the Enlightenment, which many leftists are not.

Haidt recently gave a great talk at a Reason-sponsored event at the Museum of Sex in New York, which you can watch below:

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  1. Sound like one heck of a deal to me dude.

    http://www.AnonMax.tk

    1. *AnonBot* is FIRST?!

      Sumpin’ WRONG here!!

  2. OT: Scroll Libel

    Not content to convince the world that Israelis, and world Jewry in general, will be sitting down to a Palestinian child blood matzos feast this first night of Passover, al-Jazzera saw it fit to publish an op-ed that accuses the Israeli government of stealing the Dead Sea Scrolls. Problem is, the author, Ghada Karmi, is lying through her teeth.

    Dr. Karmi (a medical doctor by the way, not an historian or archeologist) writes:

    First discovered by a Bedouin shepherd in caves north of the Dead Sea in 1946, more were found over the years to 1952, when archaeologists moved the collection to the Palestine Archaeological Museum in Jerusalem. After Israel’s occupation of the rest of Palestine in 1967, the scrolls were removed illegally from the Palestine museum by the Israelis and taken to the Israel museum, where Obama saw them. Irrespective of their biblical interest for Jewish scholars, they are part of the wider Palestinian heritage and do not belong to Israel. When Obama viewed them, he was in effect looking at stolen property, and his visit has endorsed that theft.

    [cont]

    1. [cont]

      Karmi’s contempt for her audience is clear when she assumes her readers are so stupid as not to know that the Dead Sea Scrolls were never moved. The “Palestine museum” and the “Israel museum” are the same exact place, aka the Rockefeller Museum, named after John D. Rockefeller who provided the funds for its construction. It was named the Palestine Archeological Museum, because in 1938, that’s where it was, the British Mandate of Palestine.

      It’s one thing to argue in good faith that Israel’s presence in East Jerusalem violates international law, it’s quite another to craft a vicious lie of Israeli soldiers engaging in war looting. Karmi’s inversion is a classic Pallywood trope, of taking a historic injustice against the Jewish people, in this case the looting of cultural treasures (e.g. the looting of the Temple by the Babylonians, the Seleucdis, and the Romans during various times in history) and claiming, regardless of the context, that the Israelis are perpetuating the same injustice toward the Palestinians, but worse, because the Palestinians are special-er, or something.

      1. C’mon, HM, the Palis are a unique people, alone in the world, there are no other Arabs to stand for them! They have nobody else they share a language, culture or religion with…. 🙁

        Oh, and they did not arrive via conquest, the Jews haven’t been there for very long at all!

      2. Karmi’s contempt for her audience is clear when she assumes her readers are so stupid as not to know that the Dead Sea Scrolls were never moved. The “Palestine museum” and the “Israel museum” are the same exact place, aka the Rockefeller Museum, named after John D. Rockefeller who provided the funds for its construction.

        Technically, they were moved. The Palestine Museum was a building that is now part of the Israel Museum, but they aren’t the same place or the same thing. The Israel Museum moved the scrolls to a different building, the Shrine of the Book. When Israel took over East Jerusalem from the Jordanians, they took control of the museum and its contents. So she’s not being as facetious as you are describing.

        1. Dr. Karmi didn’t see it fit to mention that technicality, no? If the Smithsonian moves an exhibit from one building to another, would one describe it as moving to different museums?

          1. But the Smithsonian wasn’t taken over. One might say that Karmi should be complaining about the occupation of East Jerusalem as a whole rather than this one specific example, but the point still stands: The museum was taken over (from the occupying Jordanians, who took it from the British) and the scrolls were moved.

          2. Of course, I think the more misleading point was in her somewhat implying that the Palestine Museum was a Palestinian-Arab museum, and not a Palestinian-British museum.

            1. I think the more misleading point was in her somewhat implying that the Palestine Museum was a Palestinian-Arab museum, and not a Palestinian-British museum.

              I agree. One also has to view Karmi’s article in a larger context of a long-running campaign by Palestinians to usurp Jewish connection to historical sites in the area, including the premeditated destruction of archeological artifacts in the Western Wall/Temple Mount complex.

  3. Haidt thinks Orwell might be too broad-minded to take his own side in a quarrel? I see little evidence of that in Orwell’s works.

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