Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Well-Meaning Bad Ideas Spoiling a Generation (nautil.us)
143 points by dnetesn 16 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 142 comments



For a counterpoint, read this scathing review by Moira Weigel of his book The Coddling of the American Mind:

Like Trump, the authors romanticise a past before “identity” but get fuzzy and impatient when history itself comes up. “Most of these schools once excluded women and people of colour,” they reflect. “But does that mean that women and people of colour should think of themselves as ‘colonised populations’ today?” You could approach this question by looking at data on racialised inequality in the US, access to universities, or gendered violence. They don’t. They leave it as a rhetorical question for “common sense” to answer.

Their narrow perception of history severely limits the explanations Lukianoff and Haidt can offer for the real problems they identify. Can you understand the “paranoia” middle-class parents have about college admissions without considering how many of their children are now downwardly mobile? How are college teachers supposed to confidently court controversy when so many of them have zero security in jobs that barely pay above poverty wages?

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/sep/20/the-coddling-o...


I have never been thoughtful enough to realize that the exclusions mentioned (women, POC) throughout US history fit the definition of 'identity' or 'identity politics' so well. I'm always impressed when someone comes up with such a rock solid example that points out _specific_ hypocrisies. Normally, using hypocrisy to counter someones argument is a logical fallacy, but the omissions present, and the effects of historical politically enforced inequalities must be taken into account when discussing these issues philosophically, especially when dealing with those who suggest that this is only a contemporary issue.

This issue is only contemporary in the fact that we are still burning far too much energy knocking down these doors in the first place, or trying to keep them open, when it comes to women's rights, and the issues present in "The Color of Law". I'm impressed.


the omissions present, and the effects of historical politically enforced inequalities must be taken into account

I say this as a lifelong Democratic party member and voter. (Until recently.) In 2019, inequality is propagated through differences in access to effective educational environments. It's the Democratic party which opposes school vouchers and funding increased choice in education for disadvantaged neighborhoods. I know that such choice is an important issue for inner city parents. I've been approached by an inner city mother asking how she could get a coding education for her son.

As was mentioned in the Watergate scandal, always "follow the money." (Or eyeballs. Or fame. Or votes.) Who benefits from disadvantaged neighborhoods? Who benefits from encouraging large populations to refuse to assimilate into their host society?


> It's the Democratic party which opposes school vouchers and funding increased choice in education for disadvantaged neighborhoods.

I would recommend taking a slightly broader view of the politics involved, and reading more from education policy experts.

Charter schools are being pushed predominantly by folks with an agenda to (a) break the power of teachers’ unions (and organized labor more generally), so that they can reduce teacher pay, benefits, social respect, and job security, (b) reduce overall education spending as a means to cut taxes on the wealthy, (c) give resources to schools which are less publicly accountable and can more easily kick out struggling or problematic students, spend money on dubious corporate programs, etc., (d) personally profit off the partial privatization of the education industry and outsourcing of education functions , (e) for some wealthy people, use donations to charter schools as a massive tax dodge which also brings them positive publicity.

Many Democrats have bought in fully to the school choice / charter school message, such as e.g. the Obama Administration education department, which was run by people (like Arne Duncan) with no teaching experience and little education or policy credibility among experts. Of course the lack of qualification, corruption, and bad faith of Betsy DeVos puts all of the Obama people to shame.

It has been a massive bi-partisan swindle decades in the making, and the results are bad so far and only getting worse, especially for most poor children in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Teachers are justifiably extremely angry, but have remarkably little influence considering their expertise and position. (Though recent successful teacher strikes around the country have showed that they still can have some effect if they are willing to fight hard.)


My own belief is that it's a combination of your C) (the subpart:) "more easily kick out struggling or problematic students" as well as kicking out students that honestly don't want to be there because they either don't understand the importance or have been failed by society too many times and weren't given proper support to reach where their age would normally place them. (Sometimes also those like me who were far enough ahead that we spent half the lesson doing 'homework' at school in a class we didn't need to pay attention to.)

With respect to this topic, I think that a more European combination might produce the desired results.

  * School includes more health checks (including eyesight) and nutrition assurance.
  * More career exposure and education
  * Multiple paths from about middle-school on (trade skills/college/etc?)
  * More aptitude and class of knowledge tests
  * Less teaching to 'tests'; like none.  Tests should measure basic comprehension and ability.


> failed by society too many times

Well yes, it is a big problem when kids don’t have adequate food, shelter, healthcare; live in violent, polluted, socially broken neighborhoods with hostile public authorities; are raised by overworked (often single) parents; etc.

Policy changes to reduce poverty would go a long way toward improving schools.


(a) break the power of teachers’ unions (and organized labor more generally), so that they can reduce teacher pay, benefits, social respect, and job security

Wouldn't an education market that worked do precisely that for schools that are failing catastrophically?

(b) reduce overall education spending as a means to cut taxes on the wealthy

As far as I know, no one outside of libertarian absolutists actually has a goal like this. As far as I can tell, this is a strawman, a fiction.

(c) give resources to schools which are less publicly accountable and can more easily kick out struggling or problematic students

If "publicly accountable" means less micromanaged by a centralized bureaucracy, I don't see how this is necessarily bad. The point is to diversify the education market. Also, isn't the whole point to be able to easily kick out struggling or problematic students? If the social climate in a school makes it a disaster, but you can put some of the kids in a "lifeboat" with a better climate for learning, why wouldn't you?

(d) personally profit off the partial privatization of the education industry and outsourcing of education functions

If the results are good, then they should profit.

(e) for some wealthy people, use donations to charter schools as a massive tax dodge which also brings them positive publicity.

I think that wealthy people donating to schools is one of the best ways any society can do wealth redistribution. Again, I see nothing wrong with that.


> > (a) break the power of teachers’ unions (and organized labor more generally), so that they can reduce teacher pay, benefits, social respect, and job security

> Wouldn't an education market that worked do precisely that for schools that are failing catastrophically?

(1) Education is not a good with the kinds of features which allow approximating rational choice, and so there's little reason to expect that a market would work.

(2) Even leaving aside (1), no, there's no reason to expect that; among the errors that appear to be implicated in that conclusion is confusing schools with teachers.

> As far as I know, no one outside of libertarian absolutists actually has a goal like this.

Plenty of Republicans at all levels have openly advocated for this and even advanced bills for it. Whether they are all libertarian absolutists I'll leave to.you, but it's a real viewpoint with substantial support in the political sphere.

> If "publicly accountable" means less micromanaged by a centralized bureaucracy, I don't see how this is necessarily bad.

If they really believed that excessive central regulation was the problem, then rather then promoting charter schools exempt from the bureaucratic rules along with greater central accountability and regulation for traditional public schools, advocates would instead simply reduce central control and increase local (district and even site-level) control of traditional public schools. They don't, because what they really want is a subsidy for private, for-profit entities while engineering maximized paralysis in traditional public schools to drive an exodus to the subsidized private providers.


(1) Education is not a good with the kinds of features which allow approximating rational choice, and so there's little reason to expect that a market would work.

The school has a good reputation, so we'll pay money to send our kid there. Sounds like a rational choice to me.

(2) Even leaving aside (1), no, there's no reason to expect that; among the errors that appear to be implicated in that conclusion is confusing schools with teachers.

I suspect there is a granularity problem here. Discerning comics fans follow creators, not titles. Maybe the future of the education market will involve dis-intermediation and a more direct connection between students and teachers.

If they really believed that excessive central regulation was the problem, then rather then promoting charter schools exempt from the bureaucratic rules along with greater central accountability and regulation for traditional public schools, advocates would instead simply reduce central control and increase local (district and even site-level) control of traditional public schools.

This is a bit of a non-sequitur to me. "Promoting charter schools exempt from the bureaucratic rules" is a perfectly reasonable step.

along with greater central accountability and regulation for traditional public schools

If those schools are failing catastrophically, I don't see what's necessarily wrong with that. So long as there are some schools more independent of the central bureaucracy, there is more choice in the market. Again, your "logic" relies on false dichotomies and doesn't logically hold up.

They don't, because what they really want is a subsidy for private, for-profit entities

What if there was a more direct way to divert funds at the behest of the parent to private for-profit entities? There's a "subsidy" for public education. What's wrong with empowering parents to redirect those funds? It's beginning to seem like you're just restating the whole point of the proposed idea, just wording it so it sounds bad to you.

while engineering maximized paralysis in traditional public schools to drive an exodus to the subsidized private providers.

I many cases, the traditional public schools are already "paralyzed." The whole point is to enable an exodus to private providers, if the parents so choose. Would you support such initiatives if they didn't come with "engineering maximized paralysis in traditional public schools?" Why is a for-profit school necessarily bad?


I think your example here of “rational choice” is a great example for the problem of treating the school ecosystem like a market. Only those with means to participate will benefit. If there is someone with no means to pay for better, what is the default? You quickly end up with a system where those who need access to quality education the most (the poor) have the least access, or only access to the worst.

Furthermore, markets require demand to drive pricing. In k-12 education, demand is completely inelastic - school attendance is compulsory. Who services those who can’t afford to participate but are required to do so? And how does the entity serving those have motive for quality? There’s no competition.


I think your example here of “rational choice” is a great example for the problem of treating the school ecosystem like a market. Only those with means to participate will benefit.

So why not give people the means to participate?

You quickly end up with a system where those who need access to quality education the most (the poor) have the least access, or only access to the worst.

That's where we are right now.

Furthermore, markets require demand to drive pricing. In k-12 education, demand is completely inelastic - school attendance is compulsory.

Non-sequitur again. If it's still possible to choose which school to attend, there's a choice. Eating is compulsory. There's still a market for food.

Who services those who can’t afford to participate but are required to do so?

We already have this entity.

And how does the entity serving those have motive for quality? There’s no competition.

We already have this problem, just that there's no way out for a lot of people, and we could enable a few people to get out.


> We already have this problem, just that there's no way out for a lot of people, and we could enable a few people to get out.

Actual studies of choice programa generally show that in the short term they hurt outcomes and in the long term that goes away to about even; some of the worst student outcomes in the US are in the systems with most extensive availability and use of school choice. The evidence does not suggest that school choice is a solution to any actual problem in public education—which has real problems—no matter how much both those with money at stake in the private education business and religious devotees of free-market fundamentalism want us to believe it is; it's certainly a powerful distraction from efforts to find real solutions, though.


>Why not give people a means to participate?

Sounds great. How? Show how you can provide everyone the means to participate and doesn't just raise the bottom line on the cost to participate, returning to the normal equilibrium that you'd expect from a market where there are always those who are priced out. How does it avoid the pitfalls of things like UBI?

>Non-sequitur

A non-sequitur would be talking about the reproductive life of penguins. "Inconceivable!" The concept of "you're free to choose" always sounds great but glosses over reality: choosing schools is not like choosing apples in the grocery store. Choice comes with cost, and the costs of attending different schools can be enormous. Not all schools are right outside your door. Since socioeconomic groups are frequently geographically concentrated (sides of the town/tracks), you'll end up with terrible schools in poor neighborhoods and good schools in good neighborhoods far away. Sounds like what we currently have, right? How does a "market" improve on this situation? It would seem that it provides incentives for schools to work against integrating student populations. Schools are disincentivized from enrolling poor kids, because poor kids are much less likely to perform well. A rational school will do everything legally possible to avoid accepting kids from populations statistically less likely to perform well in school.

So maybe you try to solve that problem with regulation? Schools are... what, required to do all acceptance via random lottery if they want to be eligible for payment through federal vouchers so they can't discriminate against poor applicants? Well, now school-choice isn't much of a choice anymore, it it? Maybe you have better suggestions on ways to force a rational, privately run school to accept kids they don't want to accept.

> We already have this entity.

I'm tired of people wanting all the benefits of "markets" for themselves and hand-waiving all the problems away back to the government. The public school system cannot exist in its current capacity if there is a massive shift to school privatization. So no, you can't just assume it will exist, you have to support your case with how you think it will function, and how it will be more likely to provide better outcomes than the current system.

Fundamentally, you have to be able to justify the merits of your proposal in real terms, and not in terms of "markets make everything better." Markets are awesome, and for so many of the goods and services in life, using and acquiring them through a free market with good competition to establish true market prices is really optimal. But market's are not a panacea. Roads do not work well in a universally private market. If every user of a road had to deal with transaction costs for every road they used during the day it would be a nightmare. The entire society is better off when people are free to move around. The federal/state ownership of roads funded by taxes is part of what makes the entire economic market work. Education, I believe, is the same: when everybody has access to education, funded by taxes, the entire economy is better off. Privatization will only lead to worse disparity for the vast majority who cannot afford to participate.

The current ecosystem is more like road vs air travel. You can go across the country by car, on public roads. Nobody will stop you. But if you want a better/faster experience, you can pay private companies for that service, but in so doing, you do not get a tax rebate for the road you didn't use. Private schools are great - It's all I've ever been to - but attending a private school should not free you from supporting the system that is universally beneficial.

We have major problems in our current school ecosystem, yes. And they do resemble many of the problems that a market-based system would have: the "best schools" are full of wealthy kids. But unlike a market system where this that outcome is optimal, it's a secondary effect of the residential clustering of socioeconomic strata, AND the reality that the quality of the school is driven less by the quality of its teachers and administration, but the quality of it's students. Student performance is most strongly tied to factors related to the poverty/wealth. So instead of trying to tread the symptom, we need to address the cause: poverty, and poor social mobility.


> The school has a good reputation, so we'll pay money to send our kid there. Sounds like a rational choice to me.

Well, no. It's clearly a choice, but a rational choice is one where he costs and benefits are born by voluntary participants in the transaction who decide to accept or reject them based on maximization of their personal utility function with complete knowledge of all costs of and utilities that will be derived from the decision with an infinite time horizon.

No real decision actually did this, but many reasonably approximate it. But childhood education fails hard and almost every aspect. Opacity of impacts and the downstream effects and the fact that where here is choice, its third party choice on behalf of a party who is not in a good position to weigh the effects of a decision against heir own utility function are the main issues.

> . "Promoting charter schools exempt from the bureaucratic rules" is a perfectly reasonable step.

If the problem is too many rules, then you don't need limited special providers exempt from the rules, you need to remove the unnecessary rules entirely.

> > along with greater central accountability and regulation for traditional public schools

> If those schools are failing catastrophically, I don't see what's necessarily wrong with that.

If, as is the justification for diverting funds to private schools through vouchers and charters, the traditional public schools are “catastrophically failing” because of excessive central micromanagement, increasing central micromanagement of traditional public schools is exacerbating, not alleviating the problem. OTOH, if traditional public schools are “catastrophically failing” because of inadequate central management and accountability in the use of public funds, diverting public funds to private schools with less accountability and centralized management through vouchers and charters is monumentally stupid. But the same people advancing charters and vouchers have also been behind moves to increase centralized accountability and management of traditional public schools, and in fact have specifically linked those efforts to charter/voucher programs.

> The whole point is to enable an exodus to private providers, if the parents so choose.

Which would be problematic, even if it didn't involve policy designed to increase both the actual and perceived failings of traditional public schools, because it rests—even further than is already the case—quality of education on parental skill in evaluating quality of education, even if the vouchers were restricted to institutions which took them as full-cost with no supplemental required payment (which is sometimes not the case; voucher programs, and even more often tax credit systems, are often partial tuition subsidies which drive market clearing tuition up at private schools but don't make it an equal cost choice with public schools l), thereby entrenching inequality from generation to generation.

But in the real world, that's not the goal; the “if the parents so choose” isn't part of the goal, the goal is to in the near term deceive parents into the choice, and in the long term collapse public education entirely so that there is no choice.


Well, no. It's clearly a choice, but a rational choice is one where...

Sorry, that sounds like a bunch of ideological gobbledygook to me. As you say, "No real decision actually did this." Parents already choose schools for their children, often doing their best to be rational based on incomplete information. That's a situation called "life."

If the problem is too many rules, then you don't need limited special providers exempt from the rules, you need to remove the unnecessary rules entirely.

Nope, you're strawmanning here. Again, you can have more rules for the failing incumbent players and fewer for the new experiments. No contradiction there, if the increased rules are determined by the failing track record. If the new experiments start to fail, they can have the same rules as well.

because it rests—even further than is already the case—quality of education on parental skill in evaluating quality of education

Parental skill in evaluating quality of education worked well enough in the 1st half of the 20th century. (Granted, public schools also worked better.) Polish, Italian, Hungarian, and many other immigrant groups arrived and scored lower than the US median on IQ tests, but had caught up and surpassed the US median by the 1950's. There were similar gains in socioeconomic status. A big difference is that there were no perverse government subsidies applied to those groups to enable 73% of children to be born out of wedlock. A big difference is that there wasn't a glorification of antisocial and anti-learning attitudes and behaviors throughout the media, making it uncool to study hard and get good grades.


>> "1) Education is not a good with the kinds of features which allow approximating rational choice"

Sure it is, and it's well exemplified at the post-secondary level.

>> "advocates would instead simply reduce central control and increase local (district and even site-level) control of traditional public schools."

Intellectually, sure, but pragmatically, it's a canard; big, complex systems generally do not re-organize themselves. The IRS will not 'simplify the tax code'. Bureaucracies do not trim themselves, rather, they get replaced.

While I'm a big fan of public schools, the fact remains that there are legitimate 'libertarian' arguments to be made here. Decent charter schools might offer an opportunity to shake off some of the cruft and allow entrepreneurial thinking to lead the way.

Almost all of the arguments on this thread ignore the libertarian arguments at face value, and instead imply some kind of nefarious 'dark motivation' behind everything. It's not entirely unreasonable to bring up such factors, but it's intellectually a little shifty.

There are reasonable grounds for charter schools. Most of the 'possible dark patterns' might even be mitigated by decent regulation, for example, maybe they have to hire union teachers, or maybe schools have to have open enrolment for local kids, maybe tuition has to be graduated etc. etc..


>> "1) Education is not a good with the kinds of features which allow approximating rational choice"

Sure it is, and it's well exemplified at the post-secondary level.

Post-secondary education has somewhat less obscure results and at least the main participant is actually the decision maker, but even post-secondary education doesn't well approximate rational choice, which is why the private for-profit segment is rife with predatory actors.

>> "advocates would instead simply reduce central control and increase local (district and even site-level) control of traditional public schools."

> Intellectually, sure, but pragmatically, it's a canard; big, complex systems generally do not re-organize themselves. The IRS will not 'simplify the tax code'.

Well, no, because it can't, Congress controls the tax code.

But, in any cases your argument is the canard—any faction with the power to dictate policy can just as easily dictate an increased local control of traditional public education policy as one of increased centralization of traditional public education with public subsidies for private alternatives. What a bureaucracy is inclined to do for itself is irrelevant when we are talking about alternative rules that can be imposed on the bureaucracy, where either alternative requires the power to impose rules on he bureaucracy independent of what it would choose for itself.


> ...the Democratic party which opposes school vouchers and funding increased choice in education for disadvantaged neighborhoods...

Hmm, in my city (LA), one Republican (Riordan) and later Democratic mayors (Hahn and Villaraigosa) have strongly supported charter schools, and the results (after two decades plus) are decidedly mixed. I used to be a moderate supporter of charters, basically for the reasons you mention, but the experiment has generally failed.

Basically, oversight of a network of charter schools is really hard, so there will be bad charter schools that "look good" from the outside. It's hard for parents, even involved parents, to understand this before their kids graduate, so there's no good corrective for charters that are siphoning money off, or providing poor educational outcomes.

This seems to be a case where market pressures suffer from a too-long feedback loop, and information about outcomes is too hard to acquire.


Hmm, in my city (LA), one Republican (Riordan) and later Democratic mayors (Hahn and Villaraigosa) have strongly supported charter schools, and the results (after two decades plus) are decidedly mixed. I used to be a moderate supporter of charters, basically for the reasons you mention, but the experiment has generally failed.

So there was some success and there was some failure? Urban public schools seem to be a failure overall. Shouldn't we see an experiment that yielded some successes as a success in gaining information?

Basically, oversight of a network of charter schools is really hard, so there will be bad charter schools that "look good" from the outside. It's hard for parents, even involved parents, to understand this before their kids graduate, so there's no good corrective for charters that are siphoning money off, or providing poor educational outcomes.

This seems to be a case where market pressures suffer from a too-long feedback loop, and information about outcomes is too hard to acquire.

I think this applies to schools, period. No, there's no good corrective which guarantees a parent can use to put their kid into the right school, outside of moving to a good neighborhood. (And even there, there's no guarantee.) The information loop is going to take generations to work out. So long as the institutions last over several generations, that will at least be possible.


> ...Urban public schools seem to be a failure overall....

This is just not true. My kid, now 13, goes to an LAUSD school and it has worked for her and her classmates. (We left a higher-"rated" [and there's another topic] suburban district by choice, in fact.) A lot of people in LA view the charter experiment as generally a failure and a distraction from actually improving the schools we have.

This overview (https://laist.com/2018/07/22/do_not_publish_-_ref_rodriguez_...) provides a good run-down of the sorry end of the "pro-charter" majority that prevailed in the LAUSD board.

The pro-charter board president was directing public funds to a private charter organization he was separately paid by. He had support of Reed Hastings, the Gates Foundation, and a host of well-meaning billionaires (and some not so well-meaning).

> ...So long as the institutions last over several generations...

This kind of stability isn't going to happen in LA or any significant city. I really think that my point about the difficulty of informed "choice" by parents in this "market" is important, and your comments on it (like this one) are ludicrous.

In general your comments on this topic seem rather un-grounded in either experience or research. You must be aware that many former charter supporters (e.g., Diane Ravitch) are now strongly against them?


I'm opposed to school vouchers because I feel like the most likely outcome is to move private schools from the 1% to the 10%, and as upper-middle class parents abandon public schools, the political will to improve them will decline.

I've seen cases where school choice was marginally improved, and what happened was that the parents who had the largest combination of motivation and time moved their kids, which caused what was left of the school to become ghettoized, because those were the same parents who would volunteer in the classroom, run the PTA, seek out donors for particular programs &c.

It's possible that larger changes would result in improvements even though smaller changes result in serious problems, but I don't see larger changes coming soon, and school voucher programs do not appear to be large enough to accomplish this goal.

We may be stuck in a very pessimal middle ground right now; it seems likely that significantly increasing school choice would improve things from where we are, but also seems likely that the exact opposite approach of banning private schools and assigning kids to public schools by lottery would also improve things, as that could motivate the wealthy and connected to improve schools that poor kids are equally likely to end up in.


One factor that gets buried in the abstract debate around school choice is the practical consideration of transportation. If you want to give families real choice in choosing among schools for their children, you have to remove transportation costs from the family's decision making. Otherwise, there is a “choice” of one or maybe two schools for the families who are ostensibly most in need of choosing a school other than the closest one.

We see this in my kids' focus option school. Families from anywhere in the city can enroll their children in a lottery for admission. The lottery is actually weighted to favor lower income families, yet the school is in the top tier for median income. There are a number of factors that play into why this is the case, but among the most frequently cited is that lower income families have fewer resources to get their kids to school and back. Yet these are the families that by and large live in areas where the neighborhood schools tend to fail to deliver quality education, the families who would benefit from having a real choice.

Unless a municipality is willing to convey a child from any home to any school and back (and in a timely manner), vouchers will never meaningfully address education quality. Rich families will send their kids to the handful of high performing schools, and everyone else gets stuck with the closest choice.


Yet these are the families that by and large live in areas where the neighborhood schools tend to fail to deliver quality education, the families who would benefit from having a real choice.

So you're of the view that a real choice is better than no choice?

Unless a municipality is willing to convey a child from any home to any school and back (and in a timely manner), vouchers will never meaningfully address education quality.

What of the cases where the charter schools are close to or essentially co-located with the public school? There are some charter schools which are in the same building as the public school.


For the record, I'm also of the view that a real choice is better than no choice. I just feel that vouchers tend to increase choices primarily for those who are already fairly well off.

Transportation is a big part of the issue; if transportation is not provided, then only those with both a reliable car and an adult available to transport the child can attend a school that isn't nearby.

For most proposed implementations I've seen of school voucher programs, money is also a big issue. If you give each kid say $8k in vouchers, the bottom 50% or so of families financially will choose between schools costing $8k per year. Middle class parents (particularly those with only 1 or 2 kids) will now have the option of sending their kids to schools that cost say $12k per year, which would not have been affordable before. Upper middle class parents now have many options of where to send their kids. Rich parents were already sending their kids to private schools, so they get a $8k per kid discount on the tuition. By increasing choice for the middle of the income bracket, you've decreased the wealth diversity of many schools, and that "urban kid in a crappy public school" is now an "urban kid in a crappy private school"


I just feel that vouchers tend to increase choices primarily for those who are already fairly well off.

Anything that increases choices tends to increase choices primarily for those who are already fairly well off. This also applies to Affirmative Action. The beneficiaries of Affirmative Action tend to be kids who are already in the Upper Middle or Upper classes.

For most proposed implementations I've seen of school voucher programs, money is also a big issue. If you give each kid say $8k in vouchers, the bottom 50% or so of families financially will choose between schools costing $8k per year.

That may well be $8k more choice than they would have had otherwise.

By increasing choice for the middle of the income bracket, you've decreased the wealth diversity of many schools, and that "urban kid in a crappy public school" is now an "urban kid in a crappy private school"

The difference being that the 2nd school can exclude troublemakers, so at least those kids aren't in a constantly disrupted environment.


>> I just feel that vouchers tend to increase choices primarily for those who are already fairly well off.

> Anything that increases choices tends to increase choices primarily for those who are already fairly well off. This also applies to Affirmative Action. The beneficiaries of Affirmative Action tend to be kids who are already in the Upper Middle or Upper classes.

School vouchers appear to be particularly bad by this measure though. For anyone already sending their kids to public school, it's subsidizing a behavior they already do. It's $8k per kid that could be spent on improving other schools.

For those who just-barely can't afford to send their kids to private schools better than the public schools, it's a huge gain, but I am of the opinion (though I admit without sufficient data) that this gain comes at the expense of the quality of the public schools (or in a zero-public-school, voucher scenario, the 0-added-tuition private schools) that those poorer will be relegated to.

[edit]

I guess my point is that I think vouchers are likely to be a net-loss for the poor, and even if I'm wrong about that, I'm struggling to think of ways in which they could be a net-gain.


Charter schools are first and foremost a tactic for weakening unions. There's nothing stopping experimental “sub-schools,” using public school teachers from developing within an existing public school. That's in fact how my kids' aforementioned school started. It was just a couple of classrooms within a larger K-8 public school. Eventually its program became so popular that it took over the building.

That does fit a certain limited notion of school choice, but it's not in my experience what most people have in mind when they talk about voucher programs. Choosing between two neighborhood schools isn't a marked improvement over being assigned to one. This is especially the case since demographic factors strongly tied to geography are prevailing influences in school success.


Charter schools are first and foremost a tactic for weakening unions.

If those unions are presiding over schools that are catastrophically failing, I don't see what's wrong with that.

There's nothing stopping experimental “sub-schools,” using public school teachers from developing within an existing public school. That's in fact how my kids' aforementioned school started. It was just a couple of classrooms within a larger K-8 public school. Eventually its program became so popular that it took over the building.

Also sounds good to me.

That does fit a certain limited notion of school choice, but it's not in my experience what most people have in mind when they talk about voucher programs. Choosing between two neighborhood schools isn't a marked improvement over being assigned to one. This is especially the case since demographic factors strongly tied to geography are prevailing influences in school success.

If one school can exclude troublemakers, then this is one tool to help create a positive learning environment in spite of geographic and demographic factors. Some choice may well be better than none. It's the situations where there's no choices, where corruption comes in.


Saying "not everyone can give their children better opportunities, so no one can give their children better opportunities" is one of the crappiest arguments against charter schools. It's pure and simple envy and a desire to hurt those more fortunate.


Not wanting to subsidize a wealthy parent's child's tuition is a desire to hurt them?


Not wanting to subsidize a wealthy parent's child's tuition is a desire to hurt them?

Not wanting to subsidize a poor parent's child's education just because a wealthy parent's child might exploit it seems either spiteful, or desiring of too much perfection in a complex system.


The entire goal of basic schooling is to ensure all children are given equal opportunity and resources to grow into good citizens.

Separating out people into haves and have-nots at the lowest level is a great way to grow economic stratification and further fuel discontent among the general population.


If putting everyone together means that no one has an opportunity, then that's obviously not going to help.


Except the reason why no one has an opportunity when put together is because of groups fleeing school systems (see: white flight) due to other issues like racism or religious reasons.

The solution isn't to further punish the poor by essentially defunding public schools. It's to increase the quality of public schools and increase opportunity for people to go to school. And make no mistake, the entire point of school vouchers is to punish the poor.


Except the reason why no one has an opportunity when put together is because of groups fleeing school systems (see: white flight) due to other issues like racism or religious reasons.

That makes no sense, given there are charter school successes located in those neighborhoods. There are also other initiatives that have focused on the whole environment of the children. The problem isn't racism. The problem is a self-perpetuating cycle of an environment that prevents good education.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlem_Children%27s_Zone

And make no mistake, the entire point of school vouchers is to punish the poor.

When I put myself in the shoes of that woman who approached me about her son, I find that I would want that school voucher! The entire point of opposing school vouchers is to preserve the urban bureaucratic status quo. Why not give those parents a choice? Do they currently trust the public school to provide their children a good education? My impression is that a lot of them don't.


The entire point of opposing school vouchers is that the people pushing them and their implementation of school vouchers would devastate local school systems. There are some charter school successes, but that also ignores the many charter school failures [1] and the fact that again, they are barely beholden to any scrutiny. Charter schools also have a financial incentive to expel underperforming students in order to raise their average test scores rather than accommodate and improve their curriculum.

And again, the problem is racism. White flight exists. It is why public schooling in those neighborhoods is so bad to begin with and to ignore the history of racism in the public schooling system does a disservice to your argument.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waiting_for_"Superman"#Educa...


The entire point of opposing school vouchers is that the people pushing them and their implementation of school vouchers would devastate local school systems

Just because particular schools close, doesn't mean something bad is happening. In a market that actually works, no one is too big to fail.

And again, the problem is racism. White flight exists. It is why public schooling in those neighborhoods is so bad to begin with

Thomas Sowell remembers attending a very good school in Harlem, and that the neighborhood was safe enough for him to sleep outside on the fire escape, if it was too hot on a summer evening. The key difference has been effect of the welfare state on those neighborhoods, and the resulting degradation of the social fabric there, not the flight of white people.

https://youtu.be/mS5WYp5xmvI?t=996


but also seems likely that the exact opposite approach of banning private schools and assigning kids to public schools by lottery would also improve things

Can you imagine if that were done to you?


Arguing over the morality (or even constitutionality) of such a measure was not the point of me bringing it up. It's obviously a complete political non-starter in the US (it's within the Overton Window in Britain, but still highly unlikely).

The point was that there are compelling arguments to make that both greatly liberalizing school choice and greatly eliminating school choice would improve things for those who are economically disadvantaged. That says a lot about how badly things are working now.


Arguing over the morality (or even constitutionality) of such a measure was not the point of me bringing it up.

So what? I was asking how you would feel.

The point was that there are compelling arguments to make that both greatly liberalizing school choice and greatly eliminating school choice would improve things for those who are economically disadvantaged.

Eliminating choice is generally about centralizing control.


>> Arguing over the morality (or even constitutionality) of such a measure was not the point of me bringing it up.

> So what? I was asking how you would feel.

To me how I feel about it is tied directly to the morality of it.

>> The point was that there are compelling arguments to make that both greatly liberalizing school choice and greatly eliminating school choice would improve things for those who are economically disadvantaged.

> Eliminating choice is generally about centralizing control.

I disagree with this. Eliminating choice generally causes a centralizing of control, but that does not mean it's generally the motivation for it.


By the way,

> encouraging large populations to refuse to assimilate into their host society?

In my experience this kind of argument is originated and pushed predominantly by socially sheltered racists and nativists (or those pandering to them), as a fear-based rhetorical cudgel, with little factual basis. Literally the same arguments were made about every generation of immigrants in the past, including my own Irish ancestors, Germans, Swedes, Italians, Poles, etc., all of whom successfully “assimilated”. My friends who are 3rd generation Guatemalan or Chinese or Egyptian or Pakistani are largely culturally indistinguishable from the 5th generation Italians or the 7th generation English.

The rhetoric happens to now focus on Latin Americans and Muslims, as those are the groups currently trendy for the right to demonize.

Of course African Americans have been getting heaps of abuse for centuries now, and down to today have faced more systematic racism than other groups, so there are various entrenched policy problems involved in helping their communities succeed (but it’s definitely not because they “refuse to assimilate”).


> In 2019, inequality is propagated through differences in access to effective educational environments. It's the Democratic party which opposes school vouchers and funding increased choice in education

Because both exacerbate educational inequality and reinforce the degree to which traditionally disadvantaged groups remain consistently on the disadvantaged side of that inequality, which, as you note, is an important problem.

School choice (at best, but real programs, particularly voucher programs, tend to be far worse than “at best”) amounts to accepting failure and abandoning systematic efforts to root it out in the public school system but maximizing the degree to which parental skill, attained largely through the education, determines whether or not students are subjected to that failure.


> I say this as a lifelong Democratic party member and voter. (Until recently.) In 2019, inequality is propagated through differences in access to effective educational environments. It's the Democratic party which opposes school vouchers and funding increased choice in education for disadvantaged neighborhoods. I know that such choice is an important issue for inner city parents. I've been approached by an inner city mother asking how she could get a coding education for her son.

One, this is completely off-topic for this article.

Two, and this is important, I find the "I, an anonymous person, used to believe X, so you should believe me when I espouse political beliefs that are antithetical to X" school of debating incredibly tiring. Just make your case, skip the "as a ...." introduction.

Third, and this is important -- almost all school voucher programs are designed to take public money and put them into subpar schools with few to no standards. Voucher programs with standards get support, voucher programs that exempt private recipients of funds do not.

> Who benefits from encouraging large populations to refuse to assimilate into their host society?

Most democrats and public education supporters are for integrated education. Most voucher supporters are not.


One, this is completely off-topic for this article.

Not at all. If you want to look at how disadvantage is propagated, that is exactly what it is in the US.

I find the "I, an anonymous person, used to believe X, so you should believe me when I espouse political beliefs that are antithetical to X" school of debating incredibly tiring. Just make your case, skip the "as a ...." introduction.

Then just take my advice and start "following the money." If you believe there is systemic discrimination which has lasted decades, there must be a reason for it. Start ferreting out the incentives. Who profits in terms of money and power?

https://www.creators.com/read/thomas-sowell/11/14/a-legacy-o...

Third, and this is important -- almost all school voucher programs are designed to take public money and put them into subpar schools with few to no standards. Voucher programs with standards get support, voucher programs that exempt private recipients of funds do not.

Feel free to link some articles about this. Standards could be used as a political tool to repress competitors, or there could be real concern about standards, or there could be a mixture of both.

Most voucher supporters are not.

Many voucher supporters are the very disadvantaged people we are supposed to be helping!


Politics isn't always about profit. A lot of times its simply apathy or a lack of resources.


In the case of disadvantaged minorities, it's often about cultural isolation and a corrupt minority elite.


> In 2019, inequality is propagated through differences in access to effective educational environments.

This is not accurate, and has been covered in excruciating detail in books like "The New Jim Crow" and "The Color of Law", so I don't feel like I need to argue the case at extreme length.

> Who benefits from disadvantaged neighborhoods?

People who want cheap workers. People who want to make sure that they don't have a voice. People who don't want to pay taxes.

> Who benefits from encouraging large populations to refuse to assimilate into their host society?

People who want to make sure racists vote.


People who want cheap workers.

Employers want good workers, at any price. Employers want socialized and dependable workers, and many schools don't manage to support this.

People who want to make sure that they don't have a voice.

I have no idea who that might be, unless it's people who de-platform, namecall, and denigrate people for "wrongthink," even if it's not anything bad and just asking questions and thinking differently. If people are to have a voice, they need to be free to "fire" their representatives. It doesn't seem like the media and the political machines of the cities actually want that.

People who don't want to pay taxes.

People who are concerned that government is too big would rather such neighborhoods didn't exist. The incentive structure of aid would seem to propagate the very conditions it's supposed to help.

> Who benefits from encouraging large populations to refuse to assimilate into their host society?

People who want to make sure racists vote.

The people who talk in terms of race and identity for votes are the unsavory part of politics, on both the left and the right of US politics.


This is a nation based on race and identity, almost it's entire history.

We only started calling it identity politics when people who aren't in power try to achieve justice.

Here is why we shouldn't do the private school voucher thing, unless we take away the right of private schools to select their students:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2016/03/29/...


Here's a reply to this so-called "review", which amounts to little more than name-calling[1].

https://quillette.com/2018/10/14/moral-pollution-in-place-of...

The book actually contains a footnote anticipating exactly this kind of response:

"44. In fact, we can make a prediction right now, while writing this book in 2017: Most of the negative reviews and responses to this book will at some point note our race and gender and then directly assert or vaguely hint that we are racists or sexists who are motivated primarily by the desire to preserve our privilege. We will then respond in the spirit of Mark Lilla, the author of a critique of identity politics titled The Once and Future Liberal. Lilla, an avowed liberal who wrote his book to help the Democrats start winning elections, responds to repeated name-calling by saying, essentially, “That is a slur, not an argument. Make an argument and I’ll respond to it.”"

The reply goes on:

Instead, the rhetorical approach exemplifies precisely the aspects of the moral culture we identify and criticize in the book, and the tactics are ad hominem: guilt by association, and misrepresentation.

And so on...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Graham%27s_Hierarchy_of_D...


That's not what the review does at all. That's one or two sentences of it.


Hmmm

“Lukianoff and Haidt share some benefactors and allies with the well-established right that funded Bloom and D’Souza. (Lukianoff works at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit group that receives funding from the Scaife and Olin families.) But, reading The Coddling of the American Mind, I was more struck by their points of proximity to the newer Trumpist right.”

“Lukianoff and Haidt quote “Jonathan Rauch, a scholar at the Brookings Institution””

“The rhetorical appeal, here, shares a structure with the appeal that carried the enemy in chief of political correctness to the White House”

“This is the incredulity of people who have never feared being stereotyped. It can turn to indignation, fast.”

“the two-step from shame to rage about shame may be what brings it closest to the Trumpists”

“Nassim Taleb, whose book Antifragile Haidt and Lukianoff credit with one of their core beliefs and cite repeatedly as inspiration, is a fixture of the far right “manosphere” that gathers on Reddit/pol and returnofkings.com.”

“The commonality raises questions about the proximity of their enthusiasm for CBT to the vogue for “Stoic” self-help in the Red Pill community,”

“Lilla admits to envying the effectiveness of the “right-wing media complex”. It is hard to imagine that Haidt does not feel some such stirrings about Peterson, who is, after all, selling more copies of self-help books ”

“Lukianoff and Haidt quote Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago as an epigraph and key inspiration; Peterson, who frequently lectures on the book, wrote the introduction to the 50th-anniversary edition Penguin will publish in November.”


This is a kind of anti-fallacy. You take the mere presence of these comparisons to undermine the rest of the substantive argument that their claims are wrong.

Just a couple of examples:

the framing leaves no room to consider how historical and social change might legitimately change institutions or individuals, or that individuals might want to change their world. (This framing also explains how they can write hundreds of pages about what’s wrong with contemporary higher education and not mention debt or adjuncts.) The authors cite the “folk wisdom” “Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child”. They call this attitude “pragmatic”. The prospect that a group of children might get together to build a new road themselves is not one they can countenance.

Or the quote in my original comment, which if you remove the apparently distracting "Like Trump", is entirely substantive:

the authors romanticise a past before “identity” but get fuzzy and impatient when history itself comes up. “Most of these schools once excluded women and people of colour,” they reflect. “But does that mean that women and people of colour should think of themselves as ‘colonised populations’ today?” You could approach this question by looking at data on racialised inequality in the US, access to universities, or gendered violence. They don’t. They leave it as a rhetorical question for “common sense” to answer.

And:

They argue that intersectionality theory divides people into good and bad. But the scholars they quote do not use this moral language; those scholars talk about privilege and power.


> Anti-fallacy

What's an anti-fallacy? Seems to be the opposite of a fallacy, so that's a good thing, I guess.

> You take the mere presence of these comparisons to undermine

No, I take the fact that the text is full of these sentences to "undermine" (aka: disprove) your incorrect assertion that

"That's not what the review does at all. "

and

"That's one or two sentences of it"

That is exactly what the review does and that's a lot more than one or two sentences. Alas, there's a limit to post length on HN and just pasting the entire review gets old.

Interestingly, the fact that your claims turned out to be utterly and completely false did not change your conclusion one iota (see: motivated reasoning[1]), you just switched to other "reasons".

No, I do not find the rest of her ranting in any way "substantive". For example, you quote:

"The prospect that a group of children might get together to build a new road themselves is not one they can countenance."

Well, here's what the reply I referenced has to say to that exact sentence:

"Far from this being something the authors are unable to countenance, encouraging children to build new roads themselves is exactly what the authors hope to achieve. But this can’t happen if adults prepare roads rather than children."

And of course, "not one they can countenance" is not language that has a place in a serious review. You can say what's in the book or not, you just don't have access to the authors' state of mind. But the ad-hominem is what this is about, so "can't countenance" it is.

The rest is, again, unsubstantiated ranting. The authors "romanticise" the past. Where? How? Is this bad? Why? Nothing. Where do they get "fuzzy"? This is not a history book, saying they did not research something they neither intended nor claimed to have researched seems somewhat silly.

> "good and bad" vs. "privilege and power"

That seems a very slim "error" to hang your critique on. If, in fact, it is an error.

Some of the terminology used: "matrix of domination", "vectors of oppression and privilege", "oppressive measures", "domination always involves the objectification of the dominated; all forms of oppression imply the devaluation of the subjectivity of the oppressed."[2]

Now you can try to claim that all these terms do not carry any moral judgement whatsoever. I think you'll have a hard time with it.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motivated_reasoning

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersectionality#Key_concepts


Nobody is 'romanticizing a time before identity' and it's frankly absurd to suggest so.

The 20th century is full of identitarian issues such as women's suffrage, desegregation, a holocaust, racial issues galore etc.. I mean, the most traumatic event in American history, a civil war which nearly broke the Republic and in which more died that in any other war was about slavery after all.

Also, the attempt to lump the book in 'with Trump' is an indication right off the bat that the critique might be playing ideology. (I suggest Trump is utterly oblivious to even the least nuanced of the issues at hand anyhow)

And: "How are college teachers supposed to confidently court controversy when so many of them have zero security in jobs that barely pay above poverty wages?" - this isn't related to the argument at hand. It's an attempt to 'wedge in' another possibly important issue, but it's rhetorical smoke as it's applied.


There is a middle ground of recognizing serious systemic issues in both gender and race and being concerned by some of the issues around intersectionality, speech and feelings.

There is too much indignation, hysteria and manufactured outrage of the thou doth protest too much variety that only create further suspicion of not good faith engagement but dismissal based on privilege. This only entrenches extreme suspicions of ideas from places of privilege as predictable reaction to loss of status.

We have one side that are tone deaf with constant appeals to an imagined counter reality that is ahistorical and 'data-centic' that anyone with historical knowledge can immediately dismiss as wishful thinking masquerading as truth, and the other that have identified stubborn pervasive social, mental, physical structures of systemic victimization but seem unable to articulate the way forward outside the identification and demonization.

No one gives power, its always taken. The intersectionality architecture of feminism is impressive intellectual work even if you do not agree and the counter to this is very weak, simplistic and basic lacking any kind of intellectual plank, rigour or serious thinking beyond the same kind of sterile 'free markets meritocracy' narrative that is being dismantled in the economic sphere outside these movements, name calling and appeals to tradition. This has sent one group down a dangerous path of a 'glorious past' and complete regression in every facet of human thinking and enlightenment of the Bannon, Urbit variety and other advocating a 'nothing is really wrong status quo' of plain jane Peterson conservative and libertarians.

These issues should have been solved generations ago but they still persist and its time to let newer generations and newer thinking give it a go.


>Like Trump

I stopped reading the review there. Instead of reviewing the book at hand, it goes for facile comparisons, to elicit an emotive knee-jerk response -- in the first sentence...


It's like an 8000 word review. Ironically it's you who refuses to read.


A fish rots from the head down -- in this case the article rots from the intro. It put me off it, like a turd on the top of a cake that might otherwise be nice.

I don't doubt it might have some nice insights further down (or not, both cases are possible). But I refuse to applaud cheap manipulations like that.


[flagged]


[flagged]


I read it through to completion. The article spends a lot of time associating Haidt and Lukianoff with Milo Yiannopoulos, Jordan Peterson, and various members of the Alt-Right:

"If there is a new right-liberal dispensation, the two-step from shame to rage about shame may be what brings it closest to the Trumpists. Hints of elective affinities between elite liberalism and the “alt-right” have been evident for a while now. The famous essay that Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos wrote in 2016, “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right”, cites Haidt approvingly. At one point Lukianoff and Haidt rehearse a narrative about Herbert Marcuse that has been a staple of white nationalist conspiracy theories about “cultural Marxism” for decades. Nassim Taleb, whose book Antifragile Haidt and Lukianoff credit with one of their core beliefs and cite repeatedly as inspiration, is a fixture of the far right “manosphere” that gathers on Reddit/pol and returnofkings.com.

The commonality raises questions about the proximity of their enthusiasm for CBT to the vogue for “Stoic” self-help in the Red Pill community, founded on the principle that it is men, rather than women, who are oppressed by society. So, too, does it raise questions about the discipline of psychology – how cognitive and data-driven turns in that field formed Haidt and his colleagues Pinker and Jordan Peterson. Lilla admits to envying the effectiveness of the “right-wing media complex”. It is hard to imagine that Haidt does not feel some such stirrings about Peterson, who is, after all, selling more copies of self-help books marketed as civilisational critique. Lukianoff and Haidt quote Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago as an epigraph and key inspiration; Peterson, who frequently lectures on the book, wrote the introduction to the 50th-anniversary edition Penguin will publish in November."

This is very clearly a guilt by association argument.


“But does that mean that women and people of colour should think of themselves as ‘colonised populations’ today?” You could approach this question by looking at data on racialised inequality in the US, access to universities, or gendered violence.

The groups who succeed are all about integrating themselves into the current order. Sometimes by hook. Sometimes by "crook." Most often by both at once. This is what the Irish did, and the typical Irish peasant in the 1st half of the 19th century was about half as well off as the typical American slave. Chinese immigrant groups often arrived on the shores, poorer than the median poor of the new country, but still raised themselves up after a few generations. In fact, in the 100 years after slavery, this is also what African Americans in the US were doing. There was astonishing progress in areas like literacy. (There were also huge reversals, but many of these came after 1960!)

However, there are some historical patterns found in the study of immigrant groups that come with the continued disadvantage of a group. Many of these involve unfair laws. These were eliminated in the US civil rights movement. Another historical pattern involves the cultural isolation of a group while the group's own elites exploit the group's cultural isolation for their own relative wealth and power.

Always ask yourself, who benefits? Follow the money. Or eyeballs. Or votes. Who benefits from the poor urban districts? Who benefits from illegal immigration and disadvantaged hispanic neighborhoods?

https://www.creators.com/read/thomas-sowell/11/14/a-legacy-o...

How are college teachers supposed to confidently court controversy when so many of them have zero security in jobs that barely pay above poverty wages?

That is true. However, how is it that tenured professors are being hounded out of their jobs for asking questions and for pointing out a particular ethnicity's accomplishments? (I'm talking about the medieval studies professor who wrote the article about awesome things white people did.) What's been pointed out above is also valid, but without the freedom of thought and expression, what exactly is the solid wage and job security protecting?


This is what the Irish did, and the typical Irish peasant in the 1st half of the 19th century was about half as well off as the typical American slave

Citation needed

However, there are some historical patterns found in the study of immigrant groups that come with the continued disadvantage of a group. Many of these involve unfair laws. These were eliminated in the US civil rights movement.

That is a very ... optimistic and a very inaccurate representation of the state of American law and law enforcement. Please check out: http://newjimcrow.com/about (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_Jim_Crow)



I read a fair bit of it, and then started skimming. It seems to me that they think the 'bad idea' is how people are classified. They think that young people are learning that the underdog is always good and the people in power are always bad.

Instead, I think they hit on the real problem accidentally: Binary choices aren't real. Life isn't just black and white, good and bad, wrong and right. It's all grey area with almost nothing falling into the very extremes.

Being unable to recognize that people are complex is what people today are lacking, I think.


I think the article hit on that a lot

"To take 18-year-olds, and rather than try to turn that down and say “okay hold on, don’t be so moralistic. Let’s try to give people a chance. Let’s judge people as individuals.” That was the great achievement of the 20th century—to make progress there. Instead in the 21st century to say, “okay welcome to campus. Here are five or six dimensions; we’re going to teach you to see men, maleness, masculinity as bad, everyone else is good. White is bad, everyone else is good. Straight is bad, everyone else is good.” This is Manicheism. This is ramping up our tendency to dualistic thinking."


Sure that's the rhetoric. Most people don't take that completely seriously, however. (Lots of people make an exception when it benefits them to do so.) Those who take this rhetoric seriously most of the time, can be mostly avoided.


"Well-meaning bad ideas spoiling a generation" is just a hook to engage readers and listeners, and I don't think Haidt believes that. His ire seems directed toward lazy thinking, regardless of whether that comes in the form of traditional bigotry or intellectual shortcuts like choosing virtuous groups, but he isn't an advocate of middle ground fallacy thinking either.

The problem with two-point, binary choices in making optimal social or public policy decisions might be explored with geometric analogies. When reading a historical presidential campaign speech or watching a historical presidential debate from over 50 years ago, it is difficult to completely agree with one person, and the middle ground in between the two speakers' positions is more likely than not to be disagreeable, too. Both speakers almost always seem to be far to the right or far to the left of what a majority of people today think with regard to issues like individual freedoms or fairness standards.

In other words the two points are "wrong", but so is the middle ground or "grey area". The two points don't imply a line segment that defines limits to a spectrum of good choices. Furthermore they don't define a line along one dimension, where one or both of speakers are simply to the right or to the left of what future citizens will think is right.

What does Haidt actually think? According to his writings he thinks that it is a worthwhile effort to understand what political philosophers actually said, and if you want to be reductive, you can do a lot better than left vs. right. He argues in favor of a model with five "moral foundations" to explain a significant portion of individuals' sociopolitical preferences:

  - Harm/Care 
  - Fairness/Reciprocity 
  - Ingroup/Loyalty 
  - Obedience to Authority/Respect 
  - Purity/Sanctity
So, rather than saying people should look for grey area, middle ground choices, he is saying that they can maximize their utility by looking for a positions that best accord with their preferences in a five-dimensional hyperspace! That sounds glib, but left/right is garbage, and understanding what your personal values in those five moral foundations is at least tractable.


His ire seems directed toward lazy thinking

If nothing else, I feel like this is the biggest flaw in the author's argument. It boils down to "smart is good, dumb is bad", which comes off as "yet another tone-deaf academic", regardless of which side of the aisle the author sits on.


Smart isn't good? It's not difficult to come up with examples of an issues being framed in left/right terms leading to people voting contrary to their preferences.

The argument comes down to, "your preferences are your business, and understanding them makes it difficult for people to bamboozle you." That's the opposite of the elitist tone-deaf academic archetype, which would tell you've they've already done all the thinking, and they are the ones who know what you want and what is right and wrong.


The headline doesn't do a great job of summarizing the content and ideas in the interview. You seem to have skimmed past many of the interesting ideas and missed the other points that might be referred to by the poor headline.

Other bad ideas that might arguably be the referents of that headline.

1) Making kids safer is always good and we should teach them that the world is a dangerous place so they protect themselves.

2) winning the culture war (vs discovering truth through dissent) can lead to better social justice.

3) That striving for equality of outcomes naturally leads to equality of opportunities.

4) That you can teach people a class that will make them behave ethically, rather than teaching them how designing social structures that encourage ethical behavior leads to better efficiency.

(That last one doesn't really fit but is an example of the interesting ideas in this interview that don't cleanly fit within the thesis of the headline)


Ah, It's not that. Haidt's hypothesis in The Coddling of the American Mind is that by trying to ensure we never see disagreement or unpleasantness, and by attributing any such thing that we do see to a societal oppressive phenomenon, we are making ourselves fragile.

The other bits are concessions he's making wrt his thesis.

I usually like his hypotheses. Quite thought provoking.


Sounds like a direct extract from Donnie Darko.

“I mean, who cares if Ling Ling keeps the money and returns the wallet? It has nothing to do with either fear or love”

https://comingofageindonniedarko.weebly.com/fear-and-love.ht...


Sure, this what I call a one-bit argument, where we choose sides and argue about how to set a bit.

But this is a habit that's very hard to shake, since it's a fundamental part of how language works. Is an adjective appropriate or not?

I think there are occasionally binary choices that aren't just an artifact of language, though. :)


I don't agree.

The article indicates that intersectionalism is a valid idea, i.e. that we must consider that 'black women' for example will faces systematic challenges that others do not.

However - when intersectionalism becomes the only policy tool, then we're led astray.

The example given is that 50% of letters to editors published in the NYT will be women, even though 75% of the letters written are by men.

The totalitarian intersectionalists need to see equal outcomes, which gets ... well, very ridiculous, very quickly: the NYT is only one policy inch away from mandating that 'published letters' must not only be 50/50 men/women - but also 15% Black, 18% Latino, 65% White, 5% Asian. And also 8% Gay and 92% straight. 10 years ago it would have been absurd to even suggest that NYT letters must be 50/50. Not even 'far left' types I think would be in support of the idea.


>young people are learning that the underdog is always good and the people in power are always bad.

This is not a bad thing, but something to be proud of. This is built into the blood of the American fabric. Questioning authority and fighting for the underdog is what built America, and created a nation free from monarchs. Every notable thing in American history to be proud of has come from resisting government overreach, and the treatment of all people with justness and compassion.

Anyone who tries to say that fighting against oppression and manipulation by the upper class is somehow a bad thing... well...


At some point I really hope that data, science, facts and reason can prevail over the craziness that has taken over university campuses and society as a whole. Most reasonable people believe in the spirit of social justice etc., but the activists have turned it into a zero sum power grab that has very little to do with the stated mission. The irony is that the level of hypocrisy on that side is at the same levels as the religious person who commits all sorts of horrible acts while fervently preaching against people who are engaged those horrible acts.


I find is surprising that this stuff gets discussed on HN at all, and then I'm more surprised that comments like your own aren't the highest voted.

Every reasonable person agrees that (lower case) social justice is our goal. Let's use a scientific approach to get closer to making it a reality.


One of the author's points is that it's a fallacy to believe people can be explained / lead purely by rational thinking or facts. Emotions play a huge part in human life and realities like this will always need to be taken into consideration when deciding on policy.

I agree, proper research needs to be done and unbiased facts need to be found, but thinking once you have this you will get everybody on board with your new idea because it's "scientific" is unrealistic.

EDIT: to clarify, by "the author" I meant the author of the book, not the Nautilus-article


Totally agree. The goal part isn't scientific. Our emotions lead us to decide the kind of world we want to live in. I think there is more agreement there than conventional and social media are leading us to believe.


Science doesn't justify current Social Justice (capitalized) beliefs and methods, so science gets tossed aside.


>> The irony is that the level of hypocrisy on that side is at the same levels as the religious person who commits all sorts of horrible acts while fervently preaching against people who are engaged those horrible acts.

Really? Asking to consider think in non-binary terms is the same as religious terrorism?

That's a highly uneducated analogy.

But this told me what I'm up against:

>> At some point I really hope that data, science, facts and reason

Did you ever think that maybe you just don't understand facts and reason when they conflict with your beliefs? That's usually the case when a someone (almost always a boy/man) please for reasoned debate. It means they are losing and are calling the refs.


The intent with my statement was more around religious leaders who would give fire and brimstone sermons about sexual immorality while they were having affairs, molesting kids etc... With that being said it has reached a level of violence, IE: Evergreen, Berkeley etc. and many are concerned that it will escalate.

On college campuses today (and many parts of society) there is no longer room for a debate to lose etc.. You either buy into the ideology being sold or face significant backlash...IE: being black listed, having someone go after your job, physically attacked, being labelled as a (pick your favorite ad hominem), banned from campus, banned from events etc.. All for daring to express a view that goes against the orthodoxy.

Many people are open to new ideas being presented to them even if they go against their current world view....and well reasoned people will consider them. But, when people try to force those ideas on you with severe threats if you don't believe, those well reasoned people will also, rightfully, be skeptical.


>At some point I really hope that data, science, facts and reason can prevail over the craziness that has taken over university campuses and society as a whole.

This statement assumes that traditional (pre-today) notions of data, science and facts were (and are) inherently unbiased and pure, the product of a time before "unreasonable" people tried to change them and modify the standard. I see no reason to think this is true, other than in the sense that their subjectivity was one you preferred to the current one. By presenting your own case as "data, science, facts" you're ignoring the heated debate since about the 60s (such as the Positivism Dispute[0]) and what science really is, and even the possibility that it is inherently gendered[1] and the theory of falsification as expounded by the likes of Popper can't even stand up as he himself explained it[2]. In that sense, it is a naive view driven by the false presumption that the collection, access and presentation of such data is disconnected from both the institutions that produce them (science with its methodological and metaphysical systems) and from the society that must suffer them (subjectivity being presented as objectivity).

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positivism_dispute

[1] https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminist-science/

[2] https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pseudo-science/#KarPop


"Your math is a conspiracy of the patriarchy!"


It's not surprising when you see a book title that includes the word "coddling" what the subject matter is going to end up being. But this psychologist has a very carefully crafted approach to get you to think you agree with most of what he says.

If you check out the answers, the subject of the interview always follows a very specific pattern: given a question "what about <this "liberal" idea>?" He starts by saying, "oh, it's a great insight, and based on something entirely true", then he moves onto "but of course it gets oversimplified and misapplied", and then he starts throwing out blatantly false strawmen like "then you get to 'men are bad' and 'whites are bad'" as if that's just another fact that proves that the original idea being discussed is actually a terrible one. Of course, the fact is not true, but if it were true it would be a bad thing, but by that point in the answer you are primed to go along with his until-that-point entirely reasonable rhetoric.

It's impressive, really, but it's ultimately the same toxic BS that the ideas he's talking about are trying to fight against. This is just twisted logic to provide a false path to help you conclude that the privileged are actually the oppressed. It's disturbing, but alas it's nothing unique. This sort of argument has been getting more and more refined very quickly. There's some interesting psychology going on here, but it's not what this person wants you to believe.


>and then he starts throwing out blatantly false strawmen like "then you get to 'men are bad' and 'whites are bad'"

These are sincerely held beliefs increasing in popularity around the world. Take, for example, the evergreen state college controversy in the USA where black people decided white people shouldnt come to college one day. Governmental and corporate boards are increasingly forcefully including women to achieve "equal" representation, regardless of measured abilities.


>Take, for example, the evergreen state college controversy in the USA where black people decided white people shouldnt come to college one day.

That's not exactly what happened[0], and it wasn't because "black people" believed "whites are bad."

And... attempting to extrapolate from a single data point into some global anti-white belief is absurd to say the least. If anything, the global rise in populism, anti-feminist and anti immigrant sentiment points to the opposite trend.

>Governmental and corporate boards are increasingly forcefully including women to achieve "equal" representation, regardless of measured abilities.

Attempting to correct systemic gender bias is not an expression of a belief that "men are bad". One can argue about the effectiveness or fairness of such programs but you're being purposely disingenuous as to their nature and rationale.

[0]https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2018/02/22/evergreen-sta...


> >Take, for example,

> And... attempting to extrapolate from a single data point

Im not extrapolating from a single data point. I said "for example", and then gave an example. Here are some more: https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/heres-the-full-recordin... https://www.chronicle.com/article/What-the-Grievance/244753

> If anything, the global rise in populism, anti-feminist and anti immigrant sentiment points to the opposite trend.

I am not aware of any such sentiments. Have any data points?

> >Governmental and corporate boards are increasingly forcefully including women to achieve "equal" representation, regardless of measured abilities.

> Attempting to correct systemic gender bias is not an expression of a belief that "men are bad".

This is begging the question. I do not accept your premise that systemic gender bias exists, and even if I did im sure we would disagree about the extent that it does.

Gender differences exist individually and statistically across populations. There is no reason gender outcomes should be equal in all, or even most, cases. Your argument is that there exists a _global_ system disciriminating against race and gender?


It's not my premise. I can accept the latter can be reasonably argued, but that systemic gender bias doesn't even exist?

>>If anything, the global rise in populism, anti-feminist and anti immigrant sentiment points to the opposite trend.

>I am not aware of any such sentiments. Have any data points?

You want me to provide "data points" on populism, the alt-right, MRAs and neo-reactionists, the xenophobia resulting from Syrian refugees into Europe and Mexican immigrants into the US, the narrative of the rural white male feeling isolated and alienated by a multicultural society which apparently led to Trump's election, and that campaign's unprecedented support by white nationalists?

No, I'm not wasting my time litigating that. If you've been completely unaware of the existence of these social and political trends, you can do your own research. At this point that's like asking someone to first prove the that the earth is round before they'll even discuss transportation safety.

I can tell this is not going to lead anywhere constructive, so I'm bowing out.


The article you cite says that's exactly what happened:

> Last year, organizers said that on the Day of Absence, they wanted white people to stay off campus.


>The article you cite says that's exactly what happened:

Nowhere in that article does it claim that black people wanted white people off campus because they hate white people.


> >The article you cite says that's exactly what happened:

> Nowhere in that article does it claim that black people wanted white people off campus because they hate white people.

neither i nor the person you replied to claimed black people hate white people.


> Take, for example, the evergreen state college

Why take that as an example? That college is hardly mainstream even for liberals, it's at the extreme end of liberal institutions. When weird shit happens there the only ones who care are people who just need a counter-argument to their terrible point.


When weird sh!t happens at the extreme end of liberal/conservative institutions, it tends to spread to the nominally-not-so-extreme liberal/conservative institutions. Evergreen may well be a leading indicator.


It's not. TESC has been this way for a long time, it's nothing new to the people of WA. I'm 42 and went to a public university in the state, we all knew what TESC was back then, everyone who went there and goes there knows what they are getting in to. It's certainly not shaping attitudes at other universities.


And this would be entirely convincing, were we living in 'normal' times in the first place. But the whole point that Haidt's article is drawing from is that the level of political factionalization nation-wide is quite unprecedented, at least in recent memory. For freak's sake, Donald Trump is POTUS in case you haven't noticed! Something that The Simpsons used to joke about as obviously crazy and ludicrous! People like to talk about the toxic tendencies on the left (the so-called "SJW's"), but that's hardly the one and only sort of craziness we're experiencing nowadays.


> And this would be entirely convincing, were we living in 'normal' times in the first place.

To further debunk the "business as usual" argument, take a look a TESC enrollment numbers since the controversy from their own website:

https://www.evergreen.edu/sites/default/files/Admission%20HX...

I dont know if "freefall" is exactly accurate, but theyre down like 40% from 2017 to 2018


> This is just twisted logic to provide a false path to help you conclude that the privileged are actually the oppressed.

I'm not sure what you're getting at here. There are a whole lot of people who make all sorts of claims about who the "privileged" and the "oppressed" might be; some of them arguably with more care than others. By way of example, a certain high-profile figure in our administration seemingly likes to portray eirself as being 'just an average guy' who has been somewhat successful thanks to eir outstanding smarts and saviness in 'making deals', but is now being 'oppressed' by the fake-news-peddling mainstream media. I don't think these claims should be taken seriously, and I regard this notable individual as plausibly being, by and large, quite privileged. But of course it's possible that I am wrong, and that ey's really being oppressed, even though I might regard em as privileged. Is this what you're getting at?

More generally, I think words like "privilege" and "oppression" obscure a lot more than what they might seem to reveal; they're the kind of claim that should always come with some sort of explanation or qualification.


I have a rather simple test that I use to verify my view of the political climate. I take news and replace the word men with immigrant and woman with nationalist, and vice verse. Hate being hate it should then not matter if I change the targeted demographic.

Immigrant free concert, nationalist exclusive events, people writing that all immigrants are lazy, toxic, violent and dangerous. That immigrant culture is medically defined as harmful.

The filter even picked some extreme cases like a suggestion by the national political party that we should have reeducation camps for immigrants, and a wish to reduce the immigrant population down to 10% through genetic modification. It a rather scary filter.


Are you saying that the ideas aren't getting oversimplified as they spread out from experts who spent a lot of time thinking about them to the general population (even restricted to on campus)? Let alone when the ideas spread into the realm of politics or activism.

What other subject does this hold true for?


I think this is trying to be a leading question but I honestly have no idea what you are trying to say.


I would catagorized it as a rhetorical question instead of a leading question, but yes.

My point is that, across all domains of significant public inteterest, a simmilar pattern arises. The actual beliefs of the less informed members of the public actually mirror what experts would view as a strawman of those beliefs. Doubly so on political topics where even proponents of the idea spread a sumplified version. Maybe this issue is somehow special, and everyone who thinks they understand it actually do. Or maybe the author, who actually studied what people think, is correct and therr is a significant population that actually buys into the strawman.


For the author's summary of the book's thesis, Ctrl-F "six intersecting or interacting threads."

If you're trying to explain what's different about this generation, and you do _not_ spend much time thinking about the rising costs of housing, higher education, and healthcare and the erosion of job security and benefits that many folks had in previous generations, you missed something. Weigel makes a lot of good broader points but I feel like that's an especially painful omission given the empirical and social-science gloss Haidt and his co-author are putting on their book. This is like explaining the past few generations in the US without mentioning the Great Depression, the New Deal, World War II...

Stories about how the younger generation is worse go back forever, and seem to be easy sells for various reasons--the world's always changing in ways that can be confusing and hard to keep up with, so a relatively tidy explanation that says the older generation's right and the kids are full of silly ideas can be comforting to some.


I really like his ideas, if not his writing (or speaking?) style.

I especially liked the bit about how society today is more rational (better?) because of guaranteed dissent that was part of the scientific revolution, and we're taking that away with safe spaces and the like.


I don't see how safe spaces are at odds with that. Just because people want to have some space where they can relax doesn't mean that disagreement is impossible.

There are just less private spaces now, and we have more of an understanding that some people find it extremely hard to find those spaces, so actively ensuring they exist is important for them.

The idea that we have to let people show "dissent" about someone's identity and life by harassing people literally all the time seems obviously wrong to me.


No one is arguing that people should be harassed "literally all the time" (or ever).

Some of the more egregious deployments of "safe spaces" in universities happened in response to controversial campus speakers who were deemed to have views that were threatening to some students. According to some campus radical leftists, the very presence of such speakers was "violence" and a literal "threat" to marginalized students.

Of course, the students could simply refuse to attend the talks of speakers they didn't like, but that wouldn't make as dramatic a statement as creating an explicit "safe space" where they could congregate.


>According to some campus radical leftists, the very presence of such speakers was "violence" and a literal "threat" to marginalized students.

And why shouldn't they have a point? If it could be shown, or at least it is plausible, that violence against marginalized students could occur due to a speaker inciting such action or even bringing out groups for it, doesn't that give some case for refusing the admission of such people to campus?

In general I have not seen any reason to consider speech as much different from action, except on the principle that the harm caused is entirely caused by the victim (e.g a hearer) themselves, which seems implausible according to our intuition in a variety of circumstances. In fact, the bifurcation of speech and action seems to trace its way back to a Cartesian mind-body dualism, which is generally rejected by neuroscientists and philosophers today.


Why stop there? What if it could be shown to be plausible that blocking speakers on campus increases tensions and escalates violence because of the suppression of people's views? It doesn't stretch credulity that right wingers are more mad about restricting the expression of their beliefs than they are about the subject itself. For evidence, watch a sample of Fox News -- they're often indignant and "righteously upset" over "being told what to think or say".


That is obviously also a possibility; I'm not arguing that they should be silenced by default, only that it is possible and should not be beyond the reach of a society's purview to do so. For the moment, it seems more plausible that violence erupts due to persuasion and incitement, which is why (for instance) there are already laws against incitement but not against illegalising speech lest it cause high tensions. I assume this question can also be answered empirically.


In the tension between freedom of speech and preventing harmful speech, I wonder if we're approach a Nash equilibrium, or if it's more of an accelerating oscillator.

Universities should prepare people for life. By encouraging free exchange of ideas, including uncomfortable ones, we force young adults to strengthen their arguments through dialogue and debate. Safe spaces create ideological echo chambers where people can't learn.

It's also disturbing to hear "dissenting" opinion equated with violence - that just encourages physical violence in response. It's autocratic group think and it really needs to stop. The world outside the academy isn't so forgiving of garbage tribal behavior like that.


autocratic groupthink is a great way to put it


From the point of view of their critics, the fight for safe spaces always has been employing motte-and-bailey tactics [1], where the defensible and reasonable position is that people want some space where they can relax, but the indefensible position that they actually fight for is that the whole world should be converted into a safe space for themselves. As a point in case, as far as I can tell nobody ever insisted that attendance at talks by controversial university speakers be compulsory, or that particular groups of students who felt threatened by them not be allowed to form social clubs or set up meeting spaces in which the opinions from those events are not allowed to be mentioned.

[1] https://heterodoxacademy.org/the-motte-and-the-bailey-a-rhet...


You understand that theres talk of Universities in general being safe spaces.

Edit: For example http://theconversation.com/why-safe-spaces-at-universities-a...


Safe spaces sound great in theory. In reality they are a mechanism/excuse used to exclude, discriminate, bully, gaslight, physically assault etc. people.


Safe spaces sound benign, if you agree with the people setting it up. If a group you disagree with declares a safe space, it sounds malicious. It probably has a lot to do with those tribal instincts the article talks about.

Note that I'm only commenting on how it sounds, not making any claims of how it is.


These movements come in waves, and it's a mistake to suggest that the recent developments are troubling or unnatural. All ideas are ultimately interpreted according to the norms of the time the interpretation is voiced, so perhaps in a few decades of this, it won't seem so aberrant and counterproductive to a class of privileged intellectuals anymore.

But the unintended consequences will shape out future. Escalations typically hollow out the middle, where people with little investment in the topic might find themselves having to choose sides, and angering the other.

Different people have different priorities. Many are more concerned about their immediate families and their careers, and they will try to conform to localized expectations to avoid conflict. Corporations and bureaucracies readily adopted outward signs of support for this movement, and people are doing the same. Their true beliefs are made known privately, or at the ballot box.

People of conviction, on the other hand, will have no such qualms. Savvy nationalists and ethnic supremacists will find it easy to pivot their platform towards a broader vision of societal norms, and some will branch out into economic policy as we've already seen in Europe. They may find a receptive audience among younger members of groups that have been told that their group is problematic, and who may want no part in a movement that has left no place for them.


> These movements come in waves, and it's a mistake to suggest that the recent developments are troubling or unnatural. ...

You're probably right, but it's not Haidt that's describing any ideologies or worldviews as "troubling" or "unnatural", other than perhaps wrt. Trumpism at the close of this interview. If anything, he repeatedly stresses just how natural it might feel, for example, to demand ideological "safe spaces" in order to preserve one's quasi-religious worldview and sense of identity from what's perceived as a very personal attack from outsiders and enemies. What arguably is "troubling" and indeed outright toxic, is the consequences of these developments on the workings of our institutions (such as academia and policy-making) as well as on social cohesion more generally. But these consequences are far from unavoidable, and Haidt's book is mostly about trying to avert them.


As a non-American who has spent some years in the U.S., it fascinates me that you could subject your youth to so many horrors -- student debt, school shootings, not to mention the present administration -- and yet there is this profound thirst for psychological explanations other than 'plenty of young folks are scared of homelessness and hunger'.

The shearing force between the reality of American life and the receding American dream has become just this enormous.

Big hugs all around. I have a lot of compassion for even the wrong among you.

<3


We've all got problems; overall life's super good if you don't believe the hype.

Hugs back.


I thought this was a pretty well-written article.

One hopefully useful nitpick:

> this social institution that began developing in Europe in the 17th century, a community of people who would read scientific treatises and letters and then critique each other—that’s what science is. It’s institutionalized critique. It’s guaranteed dissent. That makes people smarter.

It's certainly true that science started doing this in the 17th century, but if you look at how Aquinas in the 13th century did his much of his writing it was laid out similarly: what is the question? What are all the objections, stated as strongly as possible? How does the author respond?

From what I've heard/read, writing was of that format, because Aquinas and other university professors at the time would have a lecture revolve around a question or hypothesis, and he would have students announce what are the best objections to the hypothesis, and they would lecture for the remaining time refuting the best objections raised (and sometimes adding their own).

One might disagree with many of the conclusions that Scholastics came to, or whether the questions merited such an approach, but the process has been in place for a while.


I remember this ted talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind

It is interesting to know that he's decided that "the Republican Party is no longer the social conservative party", and so Haidt believes that his previous research on the distinction between conservatives and progressives doesn't apply to existing Republicans.

> You’ve written that Republicans understand moral psychology better than Democrats. Do you think that’s still true in the age of Donald Trump?

"...what we were able to show is that conservatives can pretend to be progressives and they can accurately fill it out as though they were one. But progressives can’t pretend to be a conservative and fill it out accurately because they don’t really get the group loyalty, respect for authority, and sanctity or purity. They don’t really get those so they kind of dismiss those and they assume that conservatives just like to kill puppies and things like that.

That was the case for a number of decades. Trump has shifted a lot of things around. The Republican Party is no longer the social conservative party. I believe, in other research I’ve published with Karen Stenner, a political scientist in Australia, Trump is appealing to more authoritarian tendencies. It’s very hard to see how Donald Trump is a conservative. So the psychology that I just described a moment ago no longer quite applies. The Republican Party, I don’t know what’s happening to it, but it is bringing in elements that are overtly racist. It is bringing in desires for rapid change, which is not a conservative virtue, generally.

So I think we’re in a time of chaos in which both parties are in flux. What might come out is we might get ever further away from having a center-left Democratic Party and a center-right Republican Party, which is what we had for a number of decades. We might have two much more polarized or ideologically disparate parties and it could make for some very interesting politics and even less cooperation than we have now."


This is, unfortunately, an entirely inaccurate perception of the Republican party. Historically, it has always been a "big tent" party: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_tent#United_States and "social conservationism" has always been divided between the religious right (who are often fiscally liberal) and the libertarian middle (who are often fiscally conservative).

What's more, you appear to have fallen into the same trap you called out:

> They don’t really get those so they kind of dismiss those and they assume that conservatives just like to kill puppies and things like that.

> I don’t know what’s happening to it, but it is bringing in elements that are overtly racist.

Those elements have always been there, in both parties (more so in the Democratic party up until recently, in fact[0]). It is only in this age of hyper-awareness of race issues that those elements have gained the intense scrutiny of the news cycle.

The sad truth is, those who want to see racism will see it only where they want to, and those who do not, will not. The same applies to any other charitable or uncharitable viewing of any other motivation, and our current political situation does not allow for charitable interpretations of others' motives.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964#By_pa... See also the founding of the KKK by southern Democrat whites and the targeted violence against white and black Republicans.


You may think you have had a center left democratic party and center right democratic party in the past, but that's not how other western nations perceive you - many would say that the democratic party is center right, and the republican party is far right. Even before Trump.


Center is defined by where the wings are, and that in turn depends on how much you're looking at. Among developed countries, US is definitely on the right. But in US politics, Democrats are on the left.


god - most stuff i listen to from this site has _some_ quality about it - something i can learn, but this is just garbage. 15 minutes, one quarter of the way thru -- done.

i didn't know it was just some right-wing psychobabble.


The writing is very long-winded, lots of words with little content.


[flagged]


Tell me more about your studies in modern journalism. You sound enlightened.


Personal attacks will get you banned here. Please don't post like this again.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


[flagged]


It's worth noting that the concept of pure equality of opportunity has been served a very wide range of critique: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/equal-opportunity/#Cri


" in every bathroom at NYU, there are signs telling students how to report me anonymously if I say something that they find offensive"

How can people not be up in arms over this?


Most European countries ignored Hitler breaking every rules of the treaty of Versailles years before shit hit the fan.

I'm of course not saying this is equivalent to the nazi ideology. Sometimes you don't see things coming or you ignore them until it's too late.


What's up with all these psychologists lately trying to play philosopher, turning back to the ancients and commenting on normative concepts (particularly related to morality and politics)?

I'm not against psychologists contributing to discussions on these topics but sometimes the amount of hubris they seem to have in their approach is a bit baffling—they all seem utterly convinced their opinion on the topic is correct and impenetrable—I feel like I rarely see philosophers or political scientists associated with these moralizing titles, it's always "Psychologist discovers everything wrong with the world" or "Psychologist claims our morals are a wreck" etc. etc. Of course, I'm sure my experience is skewed, but it's a weird phenomenon (perhaps its just the coattails of Jordan Peterson's meteoric rise and notoriety).

Edit: to clarify, I'm more so against this notion that the American mind is "coddled". I don't think it's constructive. I think it's an invective meant to produce division and build allegiances, not to intelligently adjust the path we're going down. To say the deployment of particular concepts is the result of "coddling" is of a different nature than calling for increased criticism and scrutiny in our society.


> trying to play philosopher,

It doesn't have much to do with philosophy though, it's mostly a psycho/socio/historical analysis. If the people studying these fields can't comment on modern events I'm not sure who you think should do it.


I graduated college around the time safe spaces and the like were starting to become "a thing". I'm glad I went to a state school in BFE. We (and some of our professors) at least were able to openly mock a lot of the less than ideal "cultural developments" that have happened at universities and colleges that the author has to take seriously in his workplace.


> Let’s try to give people a chance. Let’s judge people as individuals.” That was the great achievement of the 20th century—to make progress there. Instead in the 21st century to say, “okay welcome to campus. Here are five or six dimensions; we’re going to teach you to see men, maleness, masculinity as bad, everyone else is good. White is bad, everyone else is good. Straight is bad, everyone else is good.”

Incredible.


> In fact, just today, The New York Times announced that it’s going to commit to publishing an equal number of letters from men and women, even though 75 percent of the letter writers are men. Men like to put themselves out in public and show off. But The New York Times has committed to this equal outcomes social justice, which says we’re gonna treat people unequally in order to attain equal outcomes.

> That I think is unfair.

Um, no, it's not unfair. The very idea is that you have a group that is used to getting its ideas out there, and there is another group that won't open its mouth because to do so would be a nail sticking out. From a strictly statistical standpoint, the NYTimes is trying to sample more effectively.

> Most Americans think it’s unfair.

Source?

And, this is not an acceptable standard of good conduct.


In your defense, if it could be shown that the most thoughtful female writers strongly tended to be those most likely to show that off by sending a letter to the Times, you'd be right. I couldn't say, but I suspect that instead, extroverts of either sex are most likely to write in.

Re unfair, making doubly sure that women's views were presented about issues where their perspective is distinct seems fair to me. So your viewpoint could still go through.


Hahaha. No one is going to expose themselves to criticism. This article is just going to either be a bucket of virtue signaling, or ignored.

I think it's interesting, though.


this could be a comment generated by a HN troll bot


Did you read it?




Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: