February 6, 2012

Jonathan Haidt — Nails It

Last night's Bill Moyers interview with Jonathan Haidt was a superb example of rational analysis of issues. A primary theme of getting people to talk across their differences without polarizing demonizations reminded me very strongly of the goal of the Continuing Indaba and Mutual Listening Process.

Have a look.

Jonathan Haidt Explains Our Contentious Culture from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


June Butler said...

I agree that Haidt nails it. Individual people on neither the right nor on the left listen well to the other side. After hearing what Haidt says, I have a better understanding of what Obama was trying to do for his first three years in office, although it does not follow that I think he was right.

Haidt says we are in a political pickle in this country, and one way out is to get the big money out of running for office. I don't see that happening soon, although perhaps the groundswell against candidates buying their way into office has begun, and we are not yet aware of it.

In the example of the question asked of Ron Paul by Wolf Blitzer about the 30 year old man who refuses to buy health insurance going into a coma, with audience members shouting 'Yes!' to the question, 'Should we let him die?' In the real world, who is going to to let the man die as an object lesson to be responsible and either have a huge savings account to pay for possible medical expenses or purchase health insurance?

Haidt is right about listening attentively and respectfully and about his caution not to demonize the other side. It sounds wonderful, but how do we get there?

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, Mimi. In the long run the only thing to do is fall back on the Golden Rule --- though that doesn't have much promise when Tea Partiers boo Ron Paul's suggestion we apply it to foreign policy!

I also welcome people dealing with "facts" instead of "truth" --- the latter seems much more elastic than it ought to be...

RonF said...

Hm. Well, I had some hope for this but it died quickly.

First, the Federal government was not in danger of defaulting last year. Cash flow was then and is now more than adequate to service debt. No holder of American debt was going to miss a payment. Payment of internal obligations would probably have to be limited, but those are not loans or other debt and are not default.

Mimi, did you listen to that Ron Paul video? I did. When Ron Paul made that comment, one person - or possibly two - shouted "Yes". And we have no idea if that was someone in the audience or someone running a camera, nor do we have any idea as to whether it was sarcasm from some opponent of Rep. Paul who was present. Yet the incident is presented with no context as if there was some general agreement or consensus on the part of the audience in favor of that sentiment. Citing that out of context is a blatant example of political partisanship. Pretty ironic given the subject here is supposedly to achieve rational discussion of our differences by avoiding such.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

RonF, I don't have time to go back and review it now, but my recollection is that when the voice cried out "Yes" in response to Ron Paul's question, it was followed by applause.

June Butler said...

Ron, I watched and listened to the video again, and it sounded like more than two, but not many more shouted, 'Yes!', followed by a bit of applause, not a lot. Of course, I can't read minds, but I did, in fact, watch the debate, and I was shocked by the shouts in the broader context.

MarkBrunson said...

Citing that out of context is a blatant example of political partisanship.

Defending the indefensible.

And that, dear Mimi, dear Tobias, is why demonizing the "other side" is not only justified, but accurate and the only responsible attitude! They really are that bad.

What is it that we are supposed to talk to them about? How can intelligent, compassionate human beings rationalize allowing frightened, vicious animals to run around, savaging others?

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Sorry, Mark, but I think demonizing is just unproductive. It is perfectly acceptable to name their errors and their crimes, and attempt to find a way to control or constrain them, but I think that is another matter. Demonizing is the flip side of sacralizing one's own position -- and the irony is that those who sacralize sometimes end up acting like demons -- we see this in the Christian Right, and have since day one.

I think it is possible to mark a person's actions as wrong without making them a demon, or dehumanizing them --- Christian conservatives do that all the time to progressives, and it is a portion of high ground I am not willing to cede.