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Is WEIRDness Causing the Demands for Safe Spaces?


In this age of social media the current college and twenty-something generation is inundated with information but has few tools with which to make sense of it all.

A person given a choice between vanilla and chocolate is happier after they choose than is a person given a choice among 32 flavors.  There’s no second guessing for the former and lots of second guessing for the latter.

Our kids are getting 64 thousand flavors but no tools with which they can figure out what’s best for them.

I think it’s because of our WEIRD culture, and specifically because of the cognitive style of Platonic rational idealism that dominates it.

It’s been said that:

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.  We have created a society that honors the servant but has forgotten the gift.”

We conflate the WEIRD analytical thinking of the faithful servant with science.  When we’re doing the former we believe we’re doing the latter.  Since The Enlightenment we’ve thought “science” is the most, if not the only, valid source of knowledge, so the WEIRD Platonic mindset spirals in on itself.

Our WEIRDness is depriving our kids of their “like-o-meter;” the evolved psychological mechanism of intuitions of like or dislike, approach or avoid, and fight or flee that helps us to make thousands of decisions per day.

Dr. Haidt suggests that the kids “don’t lose their like-o-meter; they crowdsource it.” He explains:

The internet gives likes and ratings to everything; they feel pressure to like what their friends like; they fear to stray from their social network. So they become like sheep. Many of them don’t’ want or need a safe space. In fact, very few ever go to a safe space. But if the most strident SJWs insist on one, many students will support that. 

Either way the result is the same. Our WEIRD culture is not merely forgetting the gift, it’s stealing it from our kids and hiding it away.

If culture and the psyche make each other up then our WEIRD culture is crowding the the gift of the intuitive mind out of the psyche.  We’re turning out entire generations of people like the patients in whom the feeling part of the brain is separated from the logical part of the brain.  Instead of being more logical and better decision makers they’re lost; they have no particular reason to prefer one option more than any of the other 63,999.

Is it any wonder that the most strident among them want to retreat to the comfort of safe spaces and the rest go along?

My education program (here, and here, lesson plan here) is a much-needed inoculation against the disease of WEIRDness.

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