The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion
written by Jonathan Haidt
published by Pantheon Books
Did I enjoy this book: I picked this book because I’m deeply disturbed by the rancor in American politics. I hoped this book could help me find a response when faced with someone seething with anger because “the other guy” is ruining our country, and I enjoyed it.
I’ve been saying for years that people see, hear, and believe exactly what they want to see, hear, and believe, but I’m not an expert. So I decided to read what the expert says. He pretty much agrees. It just takes him longer to say it.
One of my favorite quotes is about confirmation bias. He defines it as, “The tendency to seek out and interpret new evidence in ways that confirm what you already think.”
That explains why highly partisan Americans watch only a single cable news channel – the one that tells them they are correct in their views and the other guy’s a blubbering moron hell-bent on destroying the country.
The reason I went with just four out of five stars is because it takes Haidt forever to make a simple point. He embellishes his book with analogies, research, history lessons, etc. I understand he needs to support his position with documentation. but for me, it went on too long.
Would I recommend it: Yes. I want to buy a copy for some of my more partisan friends and family members. Unfortunately, if what he says in this book is correct, they’ll just disregard it and say I’m too liberal or too conservative – depending on where they are on the political spectrum. Either way, I still have to try.
About the book – from Goodreads: A groundbreaking investigation into the origins of morality, which turns out to be the basis for religion and politics. The book is timely (explaining the American culture wars and refuting the “New Atheists”), scholarly (integrating insights from many fields) and great fun to read (like Haidt’s last book, The Happiness Hypothesis).
From the Hardcover edition.