#170 The Codding of the American Mind: Jonathan Haidt

At the recent funeral for Republican Senator John McCain, former Presidents and leaders of both parties paid tribute to his belief that America "is a nation of ideals, not blood and soil." In the farewell statement to the country he loved, Senator McCain described our democracy as “325 million opinionated, vociferous individuals.” 

The funeral was a rare, and perhaps passing moment of bipartisan unity and friendship at a time of bitter partisan division. 

In this episode, we look at some of the roots of political tribalism, why some young people are turning against free speech, and the need to "play our way to a better democracy." 

Our guest is social psychologist, Professor Jonathan Haidt, co-author of the highly-praised book, "The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation For Failure."

We discuss the ideas and research in his book: Why so many college students are anxious and depressed and how recent problems on campus have their origins in three damaging, destructive ideas that have become increasingly woven into American childhood and education:

  • What doesn't kill you makes you weaker.
  • Always trust your feelings.
  • Life is a battle between good and bad people.

We also examine constructive ways to deal with microaggressions, helicopter parenting, "safetyism" and the growing intolerance for opposing points of view that threaten the future of our national political discourse.