S4 E52: Enlightenment and the Righteous Mind | Steven Pinker & Jonathan Haidt


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This episode was recorded on June 6th, 2021.

Dr. Peterson, Steven Pinker, and Jonathan Haidt sit down to discuss truth, how societies function, utopias, the role of religion, & more.

Steven Pinker is a psychology professor at Harvard. He's the author of Enlightenment Now and The Blank Slate. His 12th book, "Rationality," is out now. Dr. Pinker has received many awards and often writes for The Guardian and The NY Times.

Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist at NYU Stern. His research focuses on the intuitive foundations of morality across cultures. He's the author of The Righteous Mind and The Coddling of the American Mind. His next book, "Three Stories about Capitalism," is expected by 2022.

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[0:00] Intro

[00:18] Jordan introduces guests Dr. Stephen Pinker and Dr. Jonathan Haidt

[02:47] Catching up with the recent research and endeavors of Jonathan Haidt. Elaborating on the framework of moralism versus true and false when viewing the world

[07:00] How cognitive biases lead to a more pessimistic view of the world

[10:30] The problems with the idea of utopia and its beneficial uses when properly inserted into a society's belief (religious) structure

[18:00] Examining the role group religions play in bringing people together

[24:30] Jordan highlights the role he believes Christianity had in turning people's attention to the evil within us all

[29:30] Reflections on Enlightenment Now. How do you engage people towards a higher set of goals without religion as a backbone?

[38:00] Is the world we live in a new frontier based on the expanding influence of the internet and social media on individuals' decision-making?

[48:00] Discussion on the dangers posed by the new world to the endurance of liberal democracies

[56:00] Finding truth in the post-2012 social media revolution

[1:06:00] The rate of change in modern life

[1:07:00] The Righteous Mind, Haidt's interpretation of the religious instinct/impulse and why he gets a positive reaction from religious crowds

[1:06:00] Saying goodbye to Dr. Pinker due to time constraints

[1:17:30] The human ability for imitation through learning or exploring

[1:25:30] Religion as a social function? Or an inherent impulse inside us all to find higher states?

[1:29:30] Comparing views on the central uniting principle of groups, societies, or human beings for that matter

[1:33:00] Is the extreme claim that power is the central driving factor of western European civilization grounded in reality?

[1:37:52] Is having a common purpose or shared beliefs a more powerful way of bringing people together?

[1:45:00] Recounting Haidt's research on disgust in both humans and animals

[1:52:00] Exploring any correlation to disgust levels and political beliefs/alliance

[02:02:30] Wrapping up

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