Despite my sometimes strong critiques of Heterodox Academy (@HdxAcademy) I have to say I remain thrilled that Jon Haidt is out there in the world doing what he does.
He’s unlike most other academics I encounter, and through this he helps to illustrate and explain what IMHO is a deeper issue than the mere lack of viewpoint diversity that’s plaguing academia.
When I wrote to him in 2010 to describe a bottom-line difference between left and right that I deduced from reading multiple books by historians about the intellectual origins and histories of ideologies he said,
“I think you have nailed one of the few best candidates for being a single principle that characterizes the lib-con dimension.”
Haidt is a non-WEIRD, holistic, critical, thinker. It’s not ideology or moral matrix that resonates with him, it’s clarity of thought.
I can’t say the same for most other academics I’ve encountered. When I say the same sorts of things to them the respond with “Show me the evidence.” So I list the books. They say “That’s not evidence. Show me the peer reviewed scientific study.”
Here’s the deeper issue: It’s not diverse viewpoints per se that academia is boxing out, it’s an entire mode of thinking and everything associated with it. The WEIRD rationalism that dominates academia is doing the same thing to clear-headed holistic thought that Haidt observed in Moral Psychology and the Misunderstanding of Religion that New Atheists are doing to religious people:
If we want to stage a fair fight between religious and secular moralities, we can’t eliminate one by definition before the match begins.
The absence of viewpoint diversity is to the problems in academia as a fever is to the flu virus. It’s a secondary indication of a deeper cause.