Political News

Book Review: The Righteous Mind, Editor’s Introduction

By Matt Johnson

I must admit. Jonathan Haidt is one of my favorite scientists. And his work in social psychology has influenced me greatly. There are only a few other scientists and practitioners like Jay Forrester, Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz, Albert Einstein, and Carl Sagan who have impacted me more. But this review is about Jonathan Haidt and his book The Righteous Mind.

I became aware of this book and subsequently Haidt not more than a couple of years ago. I was provided a summer reading book list by a friend. And on this list was The Righteous Mind. I had just started my training in systems science and had just finished Derek Cabrera’s dissertation, which formulated the systems theory of DSRP (Distinctions, Organized Systems, Relationships, and Perspectives). As a result, I was learning how to view the world from different perspectives and I was learning how those perspectives were distinct from each other. So Haidt’s book was, if I may, extremely timely.

Since then, this book has become one of the main sources for my understanding of the moral dynamics between liberals and conservatives. As Haidt argues in this book, each group expresses a distinct moral set, which will be discussed in a future review. And as my readers know, I’ve invoked Haidt on multiple occasions. I referred to Haidt in my most recent article Why Trump will win unless the left puts on their game face and I referenced Haidt in Colin Kaepernick and the morals of honoring old glory. There have been other citations as well.

However, with the current political climate and the emergence of Donald J. Trump as the republican presidential nominee, I want to delve deeper into The Righteous Mind. I want to see how powerful Haidt’s notions are. I want to see what kind of predictive power his hypotheses have. I want to see if Haidt can explain the current contempt between team Hillary and team Donald. So how will I write this book review?

I got the idea from Walter Hudson. He’s a contributor for PJ Media and a Facebook friend (We’ve never met in person). He has been writing a Daily Bible Reflection. In this daily reflection, he reads a few chapters of a book and provides his thoughts and reflections to his readers. It’s a rather neat I idea. This is how I came to the idea of reviewing The Righteous Mind by each chapter.

The book is partitioned into three parts and each part has four chapters. The first part titled Intuitions Come First, Strategic Reasoning Second consists of

  • Chapter 1 – Where Does Morality Come From?
  • Chapter 2 – The Intuitive Dog and Its Rational Tail
  • Chapter 3 – Elephants Rule
  • Chapter 4 – Vote for Me (Here’s Why)

The second part of the book titled There’s More Morality than Harm and Fairness consists of

  • Chapter 5 – Beyond WEIRD Morality
  • Chapter 6 – Taste Buds of the Righteous Mind
  • Chapter 7 – The Moral Foundations of Politics
  • Chapter 8 – The Conservative Advantage

And the third and final part of the book titled Morality Binds and Blinds consists of

  • Chapter 9 – Why Are We So Groupish?
  • Chapter 10 – The Hive Switch
  • Chapter 11 – Religion Is a Team Sport
  • Chapter 12 – Can’t We All Disagree More Constructively

As you will read, each part of the book will have a general theme and the chapters of that part of the book will follow suit with their own sub-themes. And I should be straight with you, especially to my more religious readers. Remember, I’ve read this book a few times. Some of the topics will be taboo and you will be disgusted. But you will find out why you are more disgusted than your liberal counterparts. In contrast, I do not want to ignore my more liberal readers. Your conservative counterparts are quite good at binding the community. Let’s just say they have an advantage. The moral foundations will help explain why this is so.

The next article will be a review of the Introduction of The Righteous Mind.


Matt Johnson is an economics and science writer for The Systems Scientist. You can connect with him directly in the comments section, and follow him on Twitter or on Facebook

You can also follow The Systems Scientist on Twitter or Facebook as well. 

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