Haidt: Two Incompatible Sacred Values in American Universities


Jonathan Haidt:                 Thanks so much, Bruce, and thanks to all of you for that warm, warm welcome.

So 2016 is a very, very strange year. It feels very strange around the world; extraordinary violence in Syria and Iraq driving political events in Europe, novel events the likes of which nobody expected. Of course in the United States, our political season is producing something that nobody ever expected. Many people on both right and left feel that the apocalypse is coming if the other side wins. In fact, things are so bad that many people around the country are going to be writing in third-party candidates such as Giant Meteor.

Now it’s a very strange time for humanity, but it is a wonderful time to be studying moral psychology because all of these conflicts, all of this division, this is all mostly driven by people who think they are pursuing the good; they are fighting what they think is the good fight. Moral psychology can help explain almost all the conflicts, I would say all the conflicts, that we are having around the world and around the country. In other talks, I apply moral psychology to the American situation, but today what I want to do here with you at Duke is to apply it to the university. This is the institution that we are in. Extraordinary turmoil began last fall on universities around the campus, and there’s been obviously turmoil and political conflict on this campus as well, as at most of our top schools.

Now what I’d like to do is look at universities from the perspective of moral psychology, and I’m going to show you two different ways of looking at a university. I’m gonna open with two quotations from dead white men writing in London in the 1840s. So a very, very narrow range of human thought here, but extraordinarily far apart, and what they said is resonating and playing out today.

So John Stuart Mill on liberty: John Stuart Mill is so wise about human frailties, foibles, biases, the awfulness of our thinking in many cases, and how it is that we need each other to think better; to correct our thinking. So as he wrote, “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion.” Now contrast that, or think of the university based on Mill’s principles, and it’s gonna clearly be one that strives to represent diverse views. It’s going to reach out for viewpoint diversity and encourage a culture of debate and challenge, and only in that way can we find truth together.

On the other hand, Carl Marx writing right around the same time, this is a quote that I’ve heard a lot and when I Googled it, when I found the exact words, they’re pretty similar, he wrote “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point is to change it.” Now you can hear his frustration with the professors, the academics who will talk endlessly about this or that distinction, and he’s saying “No, we need a revolution. We need to change.” And so if we imagine a university based on a more Marxist approach to intellectual life, it’s gonna look extremely different.

Now what kind of university do you want? Do you want one focused on finding truth through debate or one focused ultimately on changing the world? And I’ll ask you to vote at the end of this talk.

When I arrived at Yale in 1981, this is what it said over the gate, over the main gate to the old campus: “Lux et Veritas,” it’s written right there in stone; veritas, truth. I was inducted into an institution with a long sense of tradition, going back clearly to the medieval universities like Oxford and Cambridge, and going back all the way to Plato’s academy 2500 years before. It was really thrilling to feel that I was joining a fraternity, especially as a philosophy major; you really feel that link back to the academy, and the debates, and the symposium, and the ways that these early philosophers would argue, and in that way, improve each other’s thinking. Yale did not live up to its mission perfectly; no institution does. The faculty clearly leaned to the left, I leaned to the left, but it had a very, very active culture of debate and argumentation, and it was so much fun. I have made my home in the academy ever since.

But beginning in the 1990s, I believe, universities began to change. What was written over their doorway began to change, and I think they began to adopt change itself as more of the motto, the mantra. And not just any change, not just change for the sake of change, but social justice particularly. Social justice becomes much more important in the life of universities, I believe, in the 1990s, first of course from the various studies departments; the gender studies, race studies, all the different ethnic studies departments and areas, but then also the humanities more broadly. Now let me make clear that many of the changes brought about by these forces in the 1990s were for the good; to the extent that the faculty became diversified, that’s all to the good. To the extent that the areas studied; you know, why study just the leaders and the kings and the presidents? Why not study the common people, people who are oppressed? So to the extent that this was broadening what we study, broadening the people studying, broadening the canon that undergrads read, the books that they read, this is all to the good. I’m very happy about those changes.

But I think this set in motion, in the ’90s, a set of changes that are resonating today and that can help explain what happened last fall all around the country, and that very rapid transformation that’s occurring this year and last year. So in my talk, I’m gonna argue that no university can pursue both. Individuals can in their own lives, but a university needs to have a central mission, and it has to be either truth or social justice. It can’t be both. And so I’m gonna argue that we need a schism; we need our universities to clearly declare which way you’re going. You can go either way, it’s a free country, but you gotta go one way or the other and you have to be explicit about it, advertise that, and then students can choose which kind of university to go to.

So here’s why I believe that such a radical course, such a radical separation, is actually needed. So in my talk I’m going to make eight points: The first is the topic of telos. So telos is a very important word in ancient Greek, very important in the philosophy of Aristotle in particular; the telos is the end purpose or goal of an object or a thing. So, you know, the Greeks, they’d sit around, they’d say, “Well what is the telos of a knife? The telos of a knife is to cut, and therefore, if this knife does not cut, well it is not a good knife.” So what’s the telos of a physician? Well we can ask that about any profession; what is the telos of a doctor or a scholar or a judge or a lawyer, and I think it’s pretty clear the telos of medicine is health, and if a physician does not bring about health in his patients, then he is no good physician. If a judge does not deliver justice, then she is no good judge.

Now there are other professions. These here are not closed guilds like the ones on top, but they certainly strive for some sort of a purpose. Business, we might say the purpose of business is profit. Now that I teach in a business school, I have a bit more of a nuanced view that the purpose of business ultimately to create value, to create some sort of good or service, that people need, so you create value. But of course a businessman who creates value for others and doesn’t make any money for him or herself is not a very good businessperson. So we can speak of that as the telos, and there are many people who join organizations that work for social justice, and I think the telos of social justice, I’m recording it here as racial equality, because that’s the most passionate one in this country at this time. But that is meant to include gender equality, LGBT rights, environmental issues, the whole set of issues that are pursued by social justice activists.

Now these different fields interact. They each have their own excellence, their own expertise, and as they go about their business, they make life better for others. So it’s very easy to see this, that business helps us all; you cannot be a doctor, scholar, lawyer, or judge without relying on hundreds or thousands of businesses to do your job. So here are three of my favorite companies, because boy, do they save me time. Boy, do they make me a better scholar. I could not imagine doing my work, as I did in grad school, without these companies. So these companies help me achieve my telos. And, of course, all these other fields return the favor. Obviously businesses rely on doctors to keep their costs low on research of all sorts, especially in the sciences, and on justice and lawyers and judges. So each field helps the other to be excellent by using its own excellence.

We can say the same thing about social justice. When social justice activists point out that black and white patients are not treated the same, that maybe black patients are not recommended as much for an expensive treatment, whatever it is; if doctors are treating people differently based on their category for no good medical reason, it’s not just a violation of racial equality, it’s also a violation of their telos. They’re not healing as well as they could. So social justice activists hold people’s feet to the fire, they find discrepancies, they point them out, they help scholars do better work; here are the areas you’re not studying, here’s how you’ve been studying it wrong. So again, each field pursuing its own telos helps others achieve theirs. So that’s great, that’s constructive interaction. You might just call it the division of labor. And, of course, the other fields return the favor and help social justice activists to be effective.

But there’s another kind of interaction. This is what really concerns me. It happens often that one field injects its telos into another. So I teach a business ethics course at NYU and a lot of our cases are cases wherever business rubs up against professors, researchers, doctors, lawyers, you know what’s gonna happen: People get corrupted and they stop pursuing their telos, they start pursuing profit. Doctors increasingly, in this country, are running businesses, are looking at patients as profit centers, and are thinking “How can I bill for more?” Now this is a direct violation of their telos; this is corruption.

The most dramatic case I’ve seen recently, with really historical effects, is this one: A couple weeks ago in the New York Times, we learned that … You know, you were all raised thinking that fat was bad for you, right? When you were kids, you were told cut out the fat. Well that was never true; there was never good evidence for that. The reason why you were taught that is because in the 1960s, there was a trade group, the Sugar Research Foundation; I’m sure they were full of very careful researchers. And they basically bribed, or paid … They bought some Harvard scientists to write a review. They didn’t just say “Here, please write a review”; they said “Well here are the studies we want you to review.” Now that is such a violation of the scholar’s telos. To do a lit review where you say, “You tell me which studies you, your industry, wants to review. We’ll write favorably, done. Give us the money.” That is such corruption.

And that led to the government adopting policies saying … The food pyramid, have lots of starches and only a little bit of fat, which is exactly backwards. Fat isn’t bad for you; fat isn’t even fattening. Starches and sugars are what’s fattening. They create a big insulin reaction, then you store the fat. But if you eat fat, you get full quickly, and you don’t eat that much. So fat was never fattening, it was never bad for you. Complete myth, led to an explosion … There were other factors, but this scientific error is one of the reasons why we had an explosion of obesity in the United States, and it especially effected black women. Black women’s obesity rates shot up more than any other group. So even racial injustice, racial inequalities, came about because these three scholars betrayed their telos.

So that is a destructive interaction, and what I’d like to argue now is that the same thing can happen when social justice injects its telos into other fields. When everybody is thinking about how to improve racial equality rather than their telos, that is corruption. Now you may not think that it’s as bad, it doesn’t seem as bad; it seems good compared to profit as your motive. But as I’ll show, it can lead to disastrous consequences, especially for the very people you’re trying to help.

So that’s telos. Now the reason why any other motive other than say truth is bad for scholarship is because reasoning is very, very heavily motivated. So this is the major psychological point I want to make to you today: Human reasoning is motivated. We’re not very good at objective, careful, balanced reasoning. When we evaluate a proposition, anything; that fat is good for you, that Obama was born in Hawaii or Indonesian, wherever … Any proposition, you evaluate it. We don’t say, “Well what’s the evidence on one side, what’s the evidence on the other? Which one … ” We don’t do that. Our brains are not set up to do that. We start with a feeling; we want to believe X or we want to doubt X. We ask, “Can I believe it? I want to believe this. Can I believe it?” and then we send our reasoning off on a search to find evidence. If we find one piece of evidence, we can stop, because we’re now … If someone holds us accountable, they say, “Why do you think that?” you pull out the piece of evidence and you say, “Here, this is why.” So this is what the research shows; we have motivated reasoning. I’ll show it to you in action.

So in one study subjects come into the lab, they’re in a psychology course, they’re learning about experimental methods, and they’re given a study. It looks like it’s from the Journal of Science and it shows that caffeine consumption is associated with breast cancer. And your job is to evaluate the study and just critique it; does it look like a well done study? So who do you think finds a lot of flaws in that study? Coffee-drinkers, yeah. Coffee-drinkers hate it, right? All coffee-drinkers? Female coffee-drinkers are asking, “Must I believe … I don’t want to believe this! Must I believe it?” And so they look really critically, and they can pick it apart; the sample size is too small, they didn’t control for this or that or age, whatever. They really don’t want to believe it, and they don’t have to. They don’t have to.

Let me show you another study. Subjects come into the lab, they sit in front of a computer, and they’re told lots of stuff’s gonna flash up on the screen. If you press this button within half a second of seeing a letter, then you get a nickel added to your account. And so lots of stuff flashes up, you press the button. Okay, what was that? What did I put up? Anyone see it? So if you were paid to spot letters, you saw that as a B. But half the people were told, “You get a nickel every time there’s a number,” and they see it as a 13. So note that nobody is crazy, nobody … There is ambiguity. Nobody sees it as an L or a fish or something. You know, it’s either a B or a 13, and as long as there’s ambiguity, we see what we want to see. Can I believe that’s a letter? Yes. Click.

So this is the way our minds work; we see what we want to see. Now this has enormous implications for scholarship because in scholarship sometimes maybe we really don’t know and really have no opinion, but usually we have an idea. We want to believe it if only because it’s our idea, or maybe we want to believe it because it supports our politics, whatever. We’re not indifferent to anything, or whatever. We are indifferent to very few things in the world, whatever, how you say that.

So if you start by wanting to believe one side of something, you’re going to find evidence for it and you’re generally going to conclude that it’s true. So scholarship to support a political almost always succeeds in supporting it. The scholar, as she goes along, rarely, if ever, believes that she was biased; “This is just the fact. This is what my research has uncovered!” A motivated scholarship often propagates pleasing falsehoods; once something that is published that is politically pleasing to the majority of scholars, it’s almost impossible to recall it because it’ll get cited. You can sort of issue a retraction within your field, but it’s gonna spread fields and it’ll live for decades as a falsehood.

There’s only one major protection against motivated scholarship, and that is institutionalized disconfirmation. That means if you participate in an institution that institutionalizes critique and disconfirmation, then the bad ideas, the bad research, gets caught and filtered out, and that’s the way the academy is supposed to work. This was the genius of science. It’s not the scientist who’s so rational; it’s that science is a community of scholars that critique each other’s work. That’s great and it used to work, but it stopped working in the ’90s. Here’s the data.

So this is a representative sample data of American professors all over the country, and as late as the mid-1990s … This is people on the left; left are far left, this is right are far right, these are moderates. As late as the 1990s, the left/right ratio in the academy was only two to one. Just two to one, left to right. But after about 15 years, this was the transformative period, mid-’90s to about 2010, we have a radical change in the American professoriate as the greatest generation and silent generation, they retire, replaced by baby boomers and Gen X, almost everybody’s on the left. Because even this five to one, this is everybody; this includes the professors in the dental school and the engineering school and the agriculture school. If you focus just on the humanities and social sciences, it’s … Well, it varies. A new study just came out. Between 17 to one and 60 to one, depends on the department.

So here’s my department, here’s psychology. I published a paper on this problem with some of my colleagues. We found every bit of data we could on the politics of American psychology professors. So in 1960, it was four to one voting Kennedy over Nixon, and then they were asked to recall who did they vote for previously, so about two to one. So in 1960, professors were mostly democrats. Not surprising. As late as 1996, it was the same, about four to one. But look at what happens by every measure afterwards, whether you look at where you are left/right or who you voted for, it shoots up and the data just came out last week, a new paper by Mitchell Langbert, is 17 to one for this year. So it’s skyrocketing up. Very few people understand this. Very few people in this country know just how radically the professoriate has changed in the last 20 years.

And what this means is that you undergrads here, you are exposed to less political diversity than ever before in the history of this country except maybe for the eighteenth century when they were divinity schools. But since they became research universities, there has never been as politically homogenous a professoriate as we have this year, and it’s all very, very recent. This is not a slow change; it’s a very rapid change with profound consequences for everything that happens at the university.

Now what are those consequences? For students, I think those consequences are that orthodox views, whatever is politically pleasing to the left, become much more strongly held than they were 10 or 20 years ago, but much less weakly supported. People don’t know the reasons for their beliefs because they’ve never been challenges. Nobody dares challenge them, and this was Mill’s concern, that if you’re not even exposed to anybody who believes the opposite, you can’t know what you think you know. Secondly, students walk on eggshells in class discussions. Now this isn’t only the problem of the shifting balance; this is also social media. But what I’m finding as I speak around the country, students are complaining in private that in their seminar classes, someone says something and nobody dares to disagree. There’s just not the kind of give and take and argument. People are afraid; they’re afraid they’ll be crucified on social media, they’re afraid … They say mostly of each other; not so much the professors as each other. But the point is, students are walking on eggshells, and that means in your classes, I hope it’s better here at Duke, but what I’m seeing around the country is in classes, students are much more afraid to speak up and disagree than they were 10 or 20 years ago. They’re walking on eggshells.

Many become intellectually fragile, and I’ll talk about fragility in a few minutes, because if you’ve never had to defend your ideas and then suddenly you’re challenged, then it feels like, a phrase that some use is, “You have invalidated my existence.” Students now say that. If you challenge a core conviction, they say you have invalidated my existence, and that’s a form of violence, and so we can’t allow that. We can’t allow a speaker on campus who might do that.

The consequences for faculty are almost as profound. Certainly there’s a misallocation of effort as many people flood into the trendy topics. I read recently almost nobody is studying or teaching … There’s a huge decline in teaching military history and even political history. Everybody’s focused on the trendy topics. So misallocation of effort, loss of rigor, fear of dissent, and fear of students; the professors are increasingly afraid of students. Everybody’s on the left, but they’re increasingly being hauled up for some charge of racism or sexism and they don’t know why, but professors all over the country are pulling videos, pulling material. They’re not presenting things that might be provocative because what if a student feels somehow victimized by hearing that? They take you in front of the Equal Opportunity Commission, it takes weeks or months. It’s horrible.

So again, you are being exposed to far less provocative material. I can’t know that for sure about Duke, but nationally, undergrads are being exposed to far less provocative material in 2016 than they were even in 2014. Just the last two years, professors all over the country are changing their teaching because they’re afraid of the students. So that’s motivated reasoning. And the reason why political orthodox becomes so dangerous and you get all this strange stuff happening is because political orthodoxy then, or any kind of orthodoxy, activates the psychology os sacredness.

So I study morality and the origins of morality, am very interested in cooperation, the origins of cooperation. There are almost no species on Earth that are able to cooperate in large groups. Bees are great at it; of course, their trick is that they’re all sisters. They’re all in the same boat genetically. This is a termite mound in Australia, again same trick. So nature discovered this way of creating ultra-social species where millions can work together to build something huge. There’s only one species on Earth that can do it without being siblings, and that’s humans. So this is Babylon and this is Tenochtitlan. And what we find in the archeology record is that wherever there is civilization, it starts with temples, or at least the record begins with temples. And the reason, I believe, we always start with temples is that humanity’s great trick, our evolutionary trick over the last half-million or so years, I’d say, is we evolved a psychology of sacredness; we evolved to be religious and that means if we circle around something, we then make that thing sacred and then we can trust each other.

So this is straight from Emile Durkheim; I take this straight from Emile Durkheim, the sociologist, I think one of the greatest social scientists ever. And so these are Muslims circling the Kaaba in Mecca, and as they circle, if you take a wire and you move it through a magnetic field, you generate electricity; the capacity to do work, a polarity, And Durkheim used that metaphor too; he said that social rituals generate social electricity. And then the group can function as one, they can work together, they can fight against other groups. So that’s our great trick, and we do this all the time. It’s not just gods and manifestations of a god. So the flag, the flag becomes sacred, especially during wartime. Soldiers circle around it and then they will risk their lives for each other.

So what is sacred at a university? I mean, what do we circle around? This is Raphael’s School of Athens. What are they trying to do there? Well obviously, I mean, it’s right there on the crest; veritas, right? That’s what’s sacred at a university, right? That’s the most important thing for us, right? We circle around that. But my argument is that what has been happening since the 1990s is there’s been a change. The most sacred thing at a university is the victim; not in all departments, not in the sciences, but in the social science and especially the humanities, the victim is the most sacred thing.

Now you can see this especially here. There are six groups of victims traditionally, since the ’90s. So most, whenever there are big political blow-ups and controversies, they tend to be around race issues, gender issues, or LGBT issues. Those are the big three. There are three other groups that are sacred too, but there just seems to be less controversy around Latinos, Native Americans, and disability status. They all matter, but these are, I believe, the six sacred groups since I joined the academy in the ’90s.

Now the last two years have been so extraordinary. Again, studying moral psychology, it’s like I go back and forth between saying, “Oh my god, the world is going to hell and I’m scared out of my mind,” to saying, “Oh my god, this is so unbelievably interesting! I can’t believe that moral psychology helps us understand every … ” So the last two years have been extraordinary because there’s been a revolution just in two years; we’ve added a seventh group, so now Muslims … It depends on the school, but at some schools, Muslims are now in the sacred category. So any criticism of Islam or of Muslims is equivalent to … Well, it can’t be done. Transgender issues have rocketed from obscurity a couple years ago to the frontline of campus politics now, and of course Black Lives Matter since we all saw those horrible videos beginning in 2014, of unarmed black men being killed. So there’s a huge amount of moral passion, and it comes onto campus, and it is transforming the life of the university.

You know you’re in the presence of sacredness when any little thing, any little affront or insult, elicits a huge reaction. So if somebody on campus were to use an American flag or a Bible in an art project, maybe they put it on the floor, maybe they mix it with something, do you think that would be okay? Well, you know, it happens, but for people on the right … It’s very easy to see this for conservatives: The flag and the Bible are sacred. Any little thing is blasphemy, is treason. Those are sacred objects. You can also see it on the left; obviously Civil Rights leaders, Martin Luther King is a hero. So each side has their sacred objects, people, images, ideas. And again, this is just normal human group-ish-ness; this is what groups do.

But as you circle around your sacred objects on your team and you generate this electricity, you get a polarizing effect so that our side is on the side of the angels; our motives are good, our motives are pure. Even if we’re wrong about things here and there, we meant well. We’re the good people. Their motives are so evil; even if they ever were accidentally right, it doesn’t matter because their intentions are so bad. And the clearest expression of this, what has given us, this polarizing has given us what some sociologists call victimhood culture. This is the key to understanding the new moral culture on campus just in the last few years.

So these two sociologists, Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning, they wrote this wonderful essay two years ago. They were trying to understand … They started hearing about micro-aggressions and they were wondering why do some campuses talk about micro-aggressions, and why only some campuses? And this is two years ago, before most of us had ever heard the term. And their analysis is that there’s a long-term change; cultures change, their moral culture changes, and many cultures, including American culture, long ago had elements of an honor culture. In an honor culture, people will often shun reliance on law or any other authority, even when available. They refuse to lower their standing by depending on another to handle their affairs. So in an honor culture, a gentleman cannot tolerate any stain upon his honor, and if you insult me in any public form, even in a small way, I have to challenge you and get you to back down or I lose honor. And that’s why you get dueling. So all the way up until the end of the eighteenth century in America, we have dueling.

Now gradually, as our commercial system changes, as we get more big, more diverse, challenging people to duels begins to look kinda stupid in the nineteenth century, and it fades out. And it’s replaced, they say, by what as they call a dignity culture. In a dignity culture, dignity exists independently of what others think, so a culture of dignity is one in which public reputation is less important. It’s even commendable to have “thick skin.” Parents might even teach children some version of “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will ever harm me”; something I heard a lot growing up. Now obviously, words do hurt; we all know that words hurt, but the ideal is to teach kids “Brush it off.” If you want to respond to every insult, you’re a fool, and you’re destined for a life of misery. So just toughen up, brush it off, forget it.

But what Manning and Campbell say has been happening, and it happens first on campuses in the United States, is the transition to a victimhood culture; a culture of victimhood is one characterize by concern with status and sensitivity to slight, so just like an honor culture. Any little thing can cause it … You have to react. So people are intolerant of insults, even if unintentional, as in an honor culture, but here they react differently; they don’t deal with it themselves. They bring it to the attention of the authorities. If something happens, you don’t deal with it yourself. You report it, you get the president of the university, the dean, somebody, some older person, some bureaucratic authority, you bring them in to punish the person who did this. In such a culture, you don’t emphasize your strength. Rather the aggrieved emphasize their oppression and their social marginalized. They also point out that the only way to gain status is not just to be a victim, but to stand up for other victims. And so even if you’re not in a victim class, you can gain status by aggressively pursuing those who you think have marginalized members of the victim class.

So for example, at Emory back in, I think, January/February when somebody wrote Trump 2016 not just once, but maybe 20 or 30 times, people wrote Trump on campus overnight. What do you think happened? Do you think those tough Emory students got out their wet sponges and paper towels and erased it? Hell no. They were scared, they were panicked, they said they were fearing for their lives, and they went en masse, they gathered and then they went to the president, and they demanded that the president of the university take action. “Can you imagine someone writing that during an election year?” So this is moral dependency. The president at first was very sympathetic, and then when the whole world mocked him, he kinda backed off and said, “Okay, we have to let people have free speech.”

So the British tabloid The Daily Mail, “Students freak out because someone chalks Trump slogans.” So the whole world is laughing at Emory University, and basically they’re laughing at American college students. And this is not just the whole world; it’s most of America too, is laughing about the stories they read about fragile college students. Not you guys, you guys I’m sure are tougher, you came to this lecture, many of you are in the PPE program, I don’t mean you. But students at many other schools.

And the reason why this is so terrible for the students themselves is that once victimhood culture gets onto your campus, and once it gets into the teaching, students are literally taught to see people as members of good or bad groups; there’s the good race and the bad race, the good gender and the bad gender. Good, bad. Students are leaning a Manichean view of the world, good versus evil. This means that there is eternal conflict and grievance; there can never be peace in a victimhood culture. There is eternal conflict and grievance because that’s what the struggle for status is all about. Students are walking on eggshells in a victimhood culture, everybody is afraid, everyone is self-censoring, and that’s what leads them to implement or to demand safety culture. The whole idea, the very idea that a college campus is full of danger; these are unbelievably safe places. But the idea that words, ideas, and speakers could invalidate someone’s existence is so threatening, we need protections, we need safe spaces, we need trigger warnings.

The net effect is that the very people you’re trying to help are rendered weaker and they become moral dependents; they become morally dependent. Let me give you an example. Two weeks ago, when we had the Trump/Clinton debate at Hofstra University, and for the Hofstra students coming in, there was a sign “Trigger Warning,” because Donald Trump is there. So, you know, he’s triggering. So “The event conducted may contain triggers: Sexual violence, sexual assault. If you feel triggered, please know there are resources to support you.” And it lists five different organizations that you can go to for support if you feel upset by Donald Trump. Now this is textbook case of moral dependency.

So the reason why this is so bad for students is because of the other big psychological idea I want to share with you, which is antifragility. My first book, The Happiness Hypothesis, it was about 10 great truths; insights from around the world and across the millennia. Truth number seven is that people are antifragile. So as Friedrich Nietzsche put it, what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, and there’s a lot of research. It’s not always true; there is PTSD, there are some things that can damage you, but for the most part, it’s true. It’s a great truth because it was noticed by many wise people in different cultures. Meng Tezu, or Mencius, said “When heaven is about to confer a great responsibility on any man, it will exercise his mind with suffering, subject his sinews and bones to hard work, and place obstacles in the paths of his deeds so as to stimulate his mind, harden his nature, and improve wherever he is incompetent.” You cannot be a great man or woman unless you have suffered, faced adversity, been banged around, failed, and come back, gotten back up 50, 100, 500 times. That’s the only way to greatness.

There’s a wonderful book by Nassim Taleb called Antifragile, and this is the key idea. And Taleb, I talked to him about this, he wishes he could find a better word, but there isn’t one, so he made this word antifragile. But it’s exactly right, and he describes antifragility as “Systems that increase in capability, resilience, or robustness as a result of mistakes, faults, attacks, or failures.” And he’s very clear to say this is not resilience; if something is resilient, that means you can beat on it and it won’t break, but it doesn’t get stronger. No, he means things that actually get better.

And so the examples that he gives, that anyone can see, so bone is this way. Bone will toughen and harden to the extent that it’s needed, and so if you take it easy on your bones, if you don’t work them, if you’re in weightlessness for months, they get weaker and weaker and weaker, and then when you experience weight, they’ll break. The immune system is the same way; it is expecting experience. If you raise your kids and you use a lot of antibacterial wipes, you are crippling their immune system because the human immune system can’t reach adulthood unless it experiences millions and billions of kinds of bacteria, hookworm, all sorts of parasites that it’s expecting that it learns from. So the immune system will be crippled if you protect your kids. And, of course, children; children will be crippled if you protect them, so as we wrap our kids in bubble wrap, and this is what we began doing …

So American parenting changed in the 1980s for a variety of historical reasons. In the 1980s, we began massively protecting our kids. Now it’s true there was a crime wave that began, so it wasn’t imaginary, and it was amplified by the arrival in 1980 of cable TV. So we were afraid; afraid for our children, unnecessarily it turns out, but we really sort of threw the blanket of protection over them, beginning of the 1980s, and it wasn’t just as infants. So helicopter parenting really takes off in the 1990s, kids are raised … For a variety of reasons, parents are always there, helping; “Wait, here, you need a Band-Aid. Did you remember this?” So kids are not having unsupervised time.

Unsupervised time used to be a feature of childhood; every child would spend a lot of time unsupervised every day. They’d work it out, they’d have fights on the playground, someone would call them stupid, they’d fight, but these are the experiences that make you grow up. And of course now, it goes all the way through college. I occasionally hear from … Business people tell me that when they turn someone down for a job, it has happened that their parents, the kid’s parents, call them.

So what do you think happened? How did it happen that when Hofstra University has the great honor to host the first debate, how on Earth did it happen that Hofstra, rather than saying to its students, “Hooray! Go sit in the front row!” how did it happen that they came swooping in saying, “Now kids, you know if you’re upset, here’s five numbers you can call. We’re here to help.” This is not helping because safety culture is debilitating, it is crippling, it is a terrible, terrible thing. Those who embrace it, those who embrace as an identity, my identity is that I am a victim, I am a member of a marginalized or oppressed group … I’m not denying that there’s oppression; I’m saying the more you foster that as your core identity, the weaker you get, the more angry you get, the less likely you are to thrive after leaving the bubble of safety.

Who gets stronger from this? Straight white men. Straight white men are the only beneficiaries here, because for four years, they’re told “You’re the bad guys, you’re the evil ones, and there are no resources to support you in particular.” What does that sound like? Frequent criticism and no special support. What does that sound like? A job, right? That’s what a job is, okay? So straight white men have four years of preparation for a job, whereas anybody who grasps that identity has four years of dis-preparation, or whatever you might say. And as I’ve been giving these talks, and I talk with people, and I meet business people at Stern, and they say, “What is going on? I mean, I don’t want to hire these kids. They’re gonna sue, they’re gonna cry. I don’t want these kids from this safety culture.” So again, safety culture is debilitating. If you see signs of it here at Duke, run like hell. Or better yet, argue against it.

Now you might have some trouble arguing against it because point number five is the presence of blasphemy laws. So I taught for 16 years at the University of Virginia, a wonderful school. I’m sorry, you’re not supposed to say that here, am I? It’s a school not too far away. And on many parts of grounds are these words from Thomas Jefferson: “This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind, for here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.” And he’s basically pointing to institutionalized disconfirmation. That’s the point of a university. So he’s saying there will be no blasphemy laws at UV; you can say anything you want and people will simply argue it down if you’re wrong.

But at a social justice university, there are many blasphemy laws. I just listed a few off the top of my head; racism and sexism are endemic, victims played no role in arriving at their current state, no difference of ability or interest, and affirmative action is good and more is better. So most universities, if you disagree with any of these publicly, you can expect a very severe response.

Now why does this matter? There are lots of problems that we want to figure out, there are lots of things we want to think of, there are lots of racial inequalities, there are lots of gender inequalities. We need to understand what’s going on, right? So a long standing problem is that women are underrepresented on the faculty of STEM departments; Science, Technology, Engineering. So what should we do? Well at Harvard back in 2004, I think it was, they had a conference on. This was a closed-door conference, no public, no press, to really air ideas. They invited the president of the university who’s an economist, Lawrence Summers, and they asked him to give his thoughts. He’s the president of a major university; does he have any thoughts on why we can’t get the numbers up in our STEM departments, the numbers of women? And so he gives a talk, and you can find it online, and …

Well, okay. Maybe people think that he said that women aren’t as smart as men, and that’s not at all what he said. In fact, I urge you to Google “Lawrence Summers women in STEM,” and if you read, it’s not that long, it is a model of careful social science thinking. Social sciences teach you to think about multiple forms of causality. It’s hard to know what’s what. And what he does is he comes in and he says, “My guess is that there are many causes,” and he lists three; one of them is discrimination. But he says, “Well one of the three causes could be,” could be, “that there is a difference in the standard deviation of IQ scores.” He doesn’t say that men are smarter, because they’re not; the IQ is the same. But the spread is different, so that at four standard deviations above the mean, there are gonna be more men.

So this is statistically what he’s talking about; the IQ scores for women in the United States, the same mean, but the standard of deviation is larger for males. And so if we look for standard deviations above or below, there are more men. There are more men at the very top and the very bottom. There’s a lot of research showing that this is the case on measures of quantitative skills. There are some studies that suggest that maybe it’s lower in other countries, maybe it’s changing over time, so this could be something that will change eventually, but the point is that for recent history, for many decades, this has been true. This is the population of people we’re sampling from who are applying for jobs as professors of chemistry at Harvard; it’s gonna come from the top. So that could be one of the three reasons, that’s what he said. One of the three. Yes, discrimination, but also maybe … That’s what economists do; they draw graphs, they figure out things from … That’s what they do.

What happens? Do people argue back with him? That I don’t know, maybe somebody argued then, but the point is there was such outrage, outrage not just as Harvard but around the country, that ultimately he was forced to resign. Now he is a pugnacious guy who made a lot of enemies, it’s not just this, but the fact that he was ultimately pushed out because of this is such a black mark, I think, not just on Harvard but on all social scientists who did not stand up for him, because this is just such simple, obvious, straightforward and quality social science thinking to raise that as a possibility. Because he committed blasphemy, and in fact, he violated three of those four rules; he wasn’t denying, but he was just saying maybe the reason isn’t just sexism. Maybe there’s other reasons. And he’s blaming the victim; he’s saying it has something to do with women. You can’t do that. And of course he’s saying well maybe, it’s not an average difference, but maybe the top end … So again, blasphemy. He committed three forms of blasphemy with that simple argument, and that’s why he got fired.

Here’s one other example: So poverty in American effects children especially, and especially children from black, Native American, and Latino families. One of our biggest problems, one that most undergraduates are concerned about, one that most professors are concerned about. So by a long process I ended up, because I’m non-partisan, I’m not on the left or the right, I write about this stuff, I ended up chairing a group of American’s top poverty scholars from the left and the right. We’d come together to try to reach consensus about inequality, we failed, but in that first meeting we discovered that we all were very concerned about child poverty, the transmission of poverty, and so can we get together as a bi-partisan group and make some recommendations based on the research? And the answer was yes, and it was fascinating.

We worked together for a little over a year, and right off the bat, the left wanted to focus on those three causes, the right wanted to focus on those three causes, and the thing is, they’re all correct. Both sides are right. It is economic and it is familial. Both sides are right; you need all of it to do it. And after a year, we’d come up with what I think is the best analysis of American poverty in the last 30 years, and I think the only … Well, the best plan out there, I believe, for actually addressing it. Because we got everybody to agree, and we even got, it was amazing, we got the people on the left to actually agree that marriage is actually really, really important for understanding poverty and inequality, and we got the right to actually agree to recommend birth control. Now you have to look in the footnote and read between the lines, because it was really hard to get people to agree to violate their sacred values, and people were really worried about what their colleagues were gonna say, but they did it. And so we came up with a consensus report. It was really thrilling to do.

Now what would’ve happened if we had done this at a university? Well one conservative was from a university, there’s one at NYU, but all the other conservatives were at think-tanks because they can’t get jobs at universities. So if this had happened just within sociology departments or economics … Well economics is different. But had it happened just at a university, we could not have considered those; those are blasphemy. You can’t blame the victim, so we would’ve knocked those out.

Now the situation is this: Social science is really, really hard. You’re dealing with situations which you can’t usually run true experiments, and you’re always dealing with multi-causality about things that think and move. It’s really hard stuff. You need a lot of tools. But what happens at Social Justice University is they say, “One-third of the tools? Nope. Nope. You cannot use them. If you touch it, we shoot you.”

And now here’s the most important statistical tool that you need to understand and that is universally understood except when social justice comes into play. So here’s a graph, this is very recent data on the gender breakdown of jobs in Silicon Valley. So here are some of the top Silicon Valley companies, and as you see in green, in the non-tech jobs, women are about 50% of the workforce in Silicon Valley. But in the tech jobs, it’s below 20%, averaging around 15, 17%. So look at that graph and tell me, do you see evidence in that graph of institutional or systemic sexism? Raise your hand if you see evidence of institutional or systemic sexism. Please raise your hand high right now. Anyone? You must be a bunch of right-wing libertarian … I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it, because normally … I’ve shown this at a few schools and a lot of hands go up. I mean, this is the definition of institutional or systemic sexism, typically; a gender disparity. Okay, so my next demonstration’s gonna flub because … All right, here it goes.

So this is the gender gap is PhDs last year. So if you look at everybody in American who earned a PhD, the distribution is this. In engineering, it was about 75% men, and then down to business about whatever that is, 55% men. So all right, raise your hand if you see institutional sexism or systemic sexism here. Okay, no hands. Well, we got a couple … Okay, couple hands. Actually about … Some people who are signaling to me because you … All right. So I know the schools I’ve been at, a lot of hands go up for this.

And let’s look at the other fields. So these are the other major fields, and in the other fields women dominate, as they have since the ’90s. Women, of course, are in the vast … Well, women are in the majority of undergraduate degrees, Master’s degrees, and PhDs in this country. Women are doing very well in school, men’s performance are going down and down, especially the bottom half of the income distribution. So women dominate the academy at the level of degrees, and they are getting PhDs in different fields than men.

Now maybe this is systemic sexism, or maybe it reflects something that we know with, I think, a fair degree of confidence now, which is that prenatal testosterone, when it goes into the uterus or is generated … I’m sorry. We all start off as girls in utero, and then if there’s a Y chromosome that triggers a cascade of events that lead to a littler pulse of testosterone, which changes the genitalia to the male pattern and changes the brain to the male pattern. And as part of that transition from female to male, brains become less good at empathizing, reading emotion, being sensitive, and more good, more gooder, better, at systemizing. But what comes out is that boys are more interested in playing with things and girls more with people, and this goes on to occupational choices. So a major view in Psych Bowl found a lot of evidence for this, and you can see it in high school students’ preferences for careers.

So this is data from the US News/Raytheon STEM Index, and what this shows … So when high school students are asked, “What do you want to do into as an adult? What field do you want to go into?” So this is the line for women who say science, and you can see that number’s actually been going up from 2000 to 2014, and actually this is the line for men here. So the line for men and women are basically indistinguishable if you just say “science.” So that’s great; women’s interest in science has been rising, so that’s these lines here. But if we look at specifically tech, “Do you want to go into technology?” the line for boys in high school is much higher, many times higher, than the line for girls, and the gap is increasing. We are increasing our efforts to encourage women, that’s great, but it’s not having any effect. And if you look at engineering, it’s even more stark. So if you look at technology and engineering, high school boys really, really want to do it and very few high school girls say that they want to do that.

Now maybe you can argue that that is a kind of sexism, maybe you can push it back further, but at a certain point, I think you have to look at this graph and say, “Women are getting most of the PhDs, women are going into the sciences, but they’re electing difference sciences.” And at what point do you say until women are 50% of everything, it’s sexism. Is that really a logical conclusion?

So the deeper problem here, and the reason why I’m so concerned about this, why I’m spending so much time on this, is that there’s a really, really deep problem in the social sciences; which is that every one of us, every one in every social science department knows, that correlation does not imply causation. We know this so deeply that … I mean, we never let each other get away with it. If you’re at a cocktail party and somebody who’s not a social scientist says something, you know, like we can’t stop ourselves from saying, “Well, but correlation doesn’t imply causation.” And if we’re dreaming and someone in my dream … I mean, I correct them in my dreams. Like we all know this.

So here’s a graph. So autism, as autism has been going up since the ’90s, so has organic food sales. What do you think? Do you think that autism is caused by organic food, or do you think that it’s autistic people who buy organic food and that’s why they go up? Which is it? And if you’re a social scientist you say probably neither; that’s just a correlation. There’s a lot of ways to explain that. Here’s another one I just found from Googling, more buck for your bang; people who have more sex make the most money. So what do you think? Do you think that if you’re currently in a relationship and you have more sex, your income will go up? Do you think that’s the way it works? Of course not! There’s a third variable. So a social scientist would instantly say, “What’s the third variable?” And the third variable is extroversion and openness to experiments. People who have that trait have more sex and make more money. We know this. We all know this.

But suddenly you present people with a disparity and they all say, “Oh my god! Causation. The fact that that person is a women is why she wasn’t hired.” All we have is a correlation between gender and outcomes, but we impute causation and we know the causation is discrimination; could be individual or it could be systemic, but it’s discrimination. So at Social Justice U, they teach you that if a group is underrepresented it proves, or at least strongly suggests, that there is systemic or structural discrimination against that group. That is what you learn at SJU. Now this is wrong; this is just flat-out wrong. There’s no defense of … I shouldn’t say there’s no defense, I’m sure someone will have a defense, but I believe this is wrong, and I’m coming to that.

At Truth University, we teach you that correlation does not imply causation. In fact, this is such an important lesson, I want you all to say it out loud with me right now; I’ll say “One, two, three,” and say it. One, two, three: Correlation does not imply causation. Thank you. So please remember that and spout that back to your professors when they violate that.

Now I do not want to deny that there is racism and sexism. I do not want to deny the indignities that women, and especially African-Americans, feel; I read the stories from my students. I’m not saying everything is fine. But what I’m saying is to simply argue that a disparity shows systemic anything is wrong. It’s an invitation to look more closely. By all means, look more closely; we need social justice activists to commit themselves to look more closely. That’s great, that’s necessary, and sometimes they find it. But you have to look for third variables and you have to …

Ultimately, the most powerful test is an experimental manipulation, and so one was done. Williams and Ceci at Cornell, they made up all kinds of resumes that showed equivalent levels of research success and productivity, they sent them out to faculty in STEM fields, and they found who was selected, short-listed for an interview. And what do you think happened? Yes, there was bias. Which way do you think it went? Everybody is on the left, everybody is really concerned about getting women into science, everybody’s really concerned about gender inequality, racial inequality, so of course these professors would prefer to bring the woman in. They’ve been trying since the ’90s to equalize things. So of course if you’re applying and you’re a woman, of course you have an advantage. And I’m not saying that’s wrong; I understand that, that’s fine. But to then say that the disparity shows that the STEM fields are systemically sexist gets it exactly backwards; they’re systemically anti-sexist.

And so the next time anyone, especially one of your professors, tells you that some disparity shows a violation of social justice, what I want you to say is “Disparate outcomes do not imply disparate treatment.” On the count of three, please say it loud with me right now. One, two, three: Disparate outcomes do not imply disparate treatment. Okay, thank you. So again, it is an invitation to get to work and to look, but you know, false accusations are bad things. And in our society, in academic society, false accusations of racism and sexism are virtue signaling. People do it all the time because it’s a good thing to accuse people of racism and sexism, but I think that’s wrong.

So my last major point on justice: So what is justice? The basic psychology of justice, the main theory that helps us understand justice, is called equity theory and it’s a very simple proposition. It’s that we all keep track in our social relationships, and think about your living situation if you have roommates or a group house. We all keep track, and so what’s the ratio of my inputs; how much work am I doing and then what am I getting out of it? That’s the ratio. And if Mary is getting more … If her ratio is higher, that’s upsetting. So we keep track of each other’s ratios. And equality is a very important kind of fairness, equality is a special case; if our inputs are all equal, well then of course, of course, our outcomes should be equal. So if the bottom line holds, then of course the top line holds, okay?

But what about the case where you’re doing more work than Mary and Mary is doing more work than Bob, but yet your outcomes are all the same? Now in a family we can tolerate that, but those of you who have roommates or you live in a group house, what percentage of you think that you do more than your fair share of the work, and the cleaning, and the grocery buying? Raise your hand if you think you do more than your fair share. Okay. And raise your hand if you think you do less than your fair share. Okay, a few. All right. But in general, people are biased; they do motivated reasoning, they think they do more than their fair share.

Now I’ve read a lot of definitions of social justice. It’s very hard to understand exactly what the definition of social justice is, but I think there are two parts to it. So social justice activists are very focused on disparate treatment of individuals, and that is a sub-type of justice. That is good, everybody should agree that that is a thing to focus on. If people are treated differently because they are black, or gay, or female, that is wrong, that is an outrage, that should stop, somebody should stop it. But there’s another part of social justice. Social justice, as I experience it, as I hear it, as I read about it, it is not mostly about disparate treatment. It is mostly about disparate outcomes, and when social justice is focused on achieving equal outcomes for all groups, then it’s no longer a subset of justice. Part of it is justice, part of it is outside of justice, and if you want to understand why, let me work you through an example.

So in 2006, under George W. Bush, the Department of Education began prosecuting Title IX offenses. And so one thing that they noticed is that in public schools around the country, boys are disciplined, expelled, and suspended more often than girls, and the ratios are gigantic; I mean, it’s often 10 to one or more. And so the Bush administration thought, “This is unfair. This is a violation of Title IX. You can’t be discriminated against boys in this way,” and so they told schools that they must eliminate gender disparities in punishment. And so what did schools do? Well, what are they gonna do? They have to now crack down on the girls; if a girl does anything wrong, because girls are so much better behaved than boys, so if a girl does anything wrong, we have to suspend her. And if a boy does anything that isn’t violent, we have to look the other way because we’ve gotta narrow that gap.

So think about that. We know that boys have many more behavior problems than girls. They have many more externalizing disorders, they commit more violent crimes, they don’t get as … Their grades aren’t as good. We know that boys’ violation rate is way, way above the girls. And so if the goal is to make the suspension rates the same, is that fair? Is that justice? Raise your hand if you think that is a fair or just goal. Raise your hand high. Okay, nobody. Because that is an abomination of justice.

Now thank god this didn’t happen. I made up the whole story, okay? That did not happen. But what did happen is this: In 2014, the Obama administration Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, noticed that punishment rates are very disparate by race. This is true. And so the Civil Rights Act prohibits such discrimination and they tell schools that they must eliminate their disparities, they send one of their infamous “Dear Colleague” letters warning schools, “You better even the rates out or we’re coming after you.” And so the Minneapolis Public Schools, the administrator of the head of the public schools, comes up with a new plan that’s gonna make it much more difficult to suspend children of color, and of course they’re gonna try to crack down on the white and Asian kids because they gotta get those rates equal.

So what do you think? We know that the black and Latino violation rate is higher, not just from the corresponding crime rates outside of school, but just from the fact that boys raised without marriage, boys raise with men cycling through the home, have many more behavior problems. So we know that the rates are different and if the goal is to equalize the rates of punishment, is that fair? Raise your hand if you think that would be fair. So this is an abomination from the point of view of fairness or justice to do that. And that’s why I say that when social justice as I see it, as we practice it in this country, when social justice demands equal treatment, it is justice, it is right, is it good, and when it demands equal outcomes without concern for inputs or differences, it is unjust and the only way to achieve those equal outcomes is through injustice. If it would simply do this, then most of the conflicts with truth would go away and we wouldn’t need the schism. But that would involve committing blasphemy, so don’t hold your breath.

Okay, so that’s the bulk of my presentation. The implication then is that these two are incompatible as the telos of a university; each must choose one. Fortunately the schism is underway. Brown University has volunteered to lead it. Christina Paxon wrote to the faculty saying that Brown is a bedrock commitment to social justice. The faculty wrote back in the newspaper, “We applaud the call to unite around a university agenda of social justice.” Unite around it, circle around our sacred value, that’s what holds us together. So Brown, we just found out last week, the left/right ratio in the humanities and social science is 60 to one; it is the most left-leaning school of the major schools in the country. 60 to one left/right ratio at Brown. So Brown, fine, let them do it. They’re gonna spend $100 million dollars on diversity and inclusion. That’s their choice, it’s their money, it’s their donors’ money, whatever. They’re gonna spend a lot of money on diversity and inclusion, so they’re going that way.

Chicago has declared the opposite. The University of Chicago sent a rather clumsily-worded letter; it’s foolish for them to say “We don’t allow safe spaces,” there’s a right of association, but what the dean of students meant was classrooms at Chicago are not safe spaces. That’s what he was trying to say.

So they’re gonna lead the schism and I think what I’m calling for is not actually very radical because it’s already happened. So these schools, they used to be divinity schools, and we still have schools that devote themselves to Jesus Christ. So here’s Wheaton College and they say right there on their website, “For Christ and His Kingdom.” That’s their telos. If you go to that school, our mission is to serve Jesus Christ. Now you’ll take English courses and history courses, of course, but they’re clear; our telos is to serve Jesus Christ. So we’ve already had a schism where some schools, they were all Christian schools originally, some went to Christ, some went towards truth. We’re already had that schism. All I’m saying is let’s have one more; we need one more. We already have a place for people on the religious right, they can go there. People on the far left, social justice left, they can go to Brown, but shouldn’t we have some schools for people who are not on the far right or far left?

And so that’s my question for you, for Duke. Well, I guess I have a hint at which way you’re gonna vote already, but which way do you want to go? Raise your hand if you think Duke’s telos should be serving Jesus Christ. Raise your hand. Okay, we actually have four. Okay. Raise your hand if you think that Duke’s telos should be social justice. Raise your hand high. One, okay. And raise your hand if you think it should be truth. All right. Okay, well, all right. Sorry. Got a little …

Student:                              Are there hands for rejecting false dichotomies?

Jonathan Haidt:                 You mean trichotomies. No, I know that somebody would reject it, but I think we have a clear show of sentiment. Okay.

So that’s my point about schism. What can Duke do to affirm its telos? Well, I don’t know if this is representative of the campus, I imagine not, but if it were, what could you do? I urge you all to go to HeterodoxAcademy.org, it’s an organization that I founded with some other professors trying to restore diversity of opinion. Viewpoint diversity on campus, that’s our goal. So go there, we have a lot of projects. One is for students to introduce into student government a resolution calling for Duke to become a heterodox university. All it means is you ask the administration to adopt the Chicago principles of free expression, you want there to be a clear non-obstruction policy for protests. Of course people can protest, but never in a way that stops others from speaking or hearing, and that’s intimidation. And third, you want the university to include viewpoint diversity in all of its stuff, in all of its writing about … That’s it. Would you support that? Put it up for a vote, let Duke talk about it an see what comes of it.

So in conclusion, there are two very different ways of thinking about intellectual life that go back 150, 200 years. They’ve led to two very different ways of thinking about universities, and I am thrilled that you have all identified, or most of you have identified, with John Stuart Mill’s view in which the point of a university is to understand the world. Because only if you commit to truth, I believe, can you actually achieve justice. Thank you.

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I Support Viewpoint Diversity


A politically diverse group of social scientists, natural scientists, humanists, and other scholars who want to improve our academic disciplines and universities. We share a concern about a growing problem: the loss or lack of “viewpoint diversity.” When nearly everyone in a field shares the same political orientation, certain ideas become orthodoxy, dissent is discouraged, and errors can go unchallenged.

An Interpretation of Jonathan Haidt’s Moral Foundations Theory

This sidebar lists a series of posts which together make up an essay relating Moral Foundations Theory to today's politics, and even a little history, as viewed through The Independent Whig's six-foundation moral lens.


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