Haidt in the Morning

I guess I’m pretty wee-wee’ed up about this Haidt fellow. I’ve seen snippets of his book and a snippet of his appearance on “Up with Chris Hayes,” and he did not come across as a sympathetic figure. But I was trying to figure out how to articulate this, while simultaneously getting a better feel for the man. This insipid piece seems to take an awful long time to cutely say that Teabaggers love seeing people suffer and that that is their raison d’etre.

Explanations so far have spanned a rather narrow range, from racism (they’re all white!) to greed (they just don’t want to pay taxes!) to gullibility (Glenn Beck has hypnotized them!). Such explanations allow liberals to disregard the moral claims of tea partiers. But the passion of the tea-party movement is, in fact, a moral passion.

*taps Haidt on shoulder* Erm, Mr. Haidt, the fact that Teabaggers see themselves as moral crusaders does not, in fact, discount the fact that many of them are, YES, dumb, gullible, greedy racists. These two things are not necessarily anathema to each other.

There are few things that make me angrier than mushy-middling, feel-good pablum about all ideologies having merit. [INSERT HAIDT BABBLING HERE]

My first few weeks in Bhubaneswar were therefore filled with feelings of shock and dissonance. I dined with men whose wives silently served us and then retreated to the kitchen, not speaking to me the entire evening. I was told to be stricter with my servants, and to stop thanking them for serving me. I watched people bathe and cook with visibly polluted water that was held to be sacred. In short, I was immersed in a sex-segregated, hierarchically stratified, devoutly religious society, and I was committed to understanding it on its own terms.

It only took a few weeks for my dissonance to disappear, not because I was a natural anthropologist but because the normal capacity for empathy kicked in. I liked these people who were hosting me, helping me, and teaching me…Rather than automatically rejecting the men as sexist oppressors and pitying the women, children, and servants as helpless victims, I began to see a moral world in which families, not individuals, are the basic unit of society, and the members of each extended family (including its servants) are intensely interdependent. In this world, equality and personal autonomy were not sacred values. Honoring elders, gods, and guests, protecting subordinates, and fulfilling one’s role-based duties were more important.

[Bolding, mine. Here he comes across as downright sociopathic to me.]

The fact is, NO. That’s simply not true. Conservative ideology centers around creating hierarchies, where a small group of people benefit and everyone else, to varying degrees, suffers. This is something that Haidt sort of acknowledges in the writings I’ve seen, but what he doesn’t acknowledge is that, as someone white, male, heterosexual (I’m assuming) and upwardly-mobile (I’m assuming), he will naturally be at the top of this hierarchy. So, it’s convenient for him to leave his liberalism at the door and  appreciate the “order” of oppressive, conservatively-behaving ecosystems. That he does not recognize this stunning to me. It’s extraordinarily troubling oversight, and calls into question pretty much everything he says. I’m comfortable dismissing him as a cynical hack. Oh, and an asshole. I do not like this guy.

I will continue to keep an eye on him and pick apart everything stupid fucking thing he says.

Before I work myself up into a bad mood, I’m gonna post some pics of Lord Chubbington (or Dudeskull, if you prefer), who is a horrible narcissist.

Of course, when you’re this cute, you almost can’t blame him for being one.


8 thoughts on “Haidt in the Morning

  1. Before I work myself up into a bad mood, I’m gonna post some pics of Lord Chubbington (or Dudeskull, if you prefer), who is a horrible narcissist.

    He’s still young, I’m sure that he will become a much better narcissist over time.

    Rather than automatically rejecting the men as sexist oppressors and pitying the women, children, and servants as helpless victims

    I did not pity the women, children and sevrants for I was not a woman, child or servant. However, I will not now or ever tolerate the oppression of clueless white males! So vs, please stop oppressing this poor, poor man.

  2. With empathy like that, he can probably understand how upper-caste men need to gang rape a dalit on occasion, then parade her through the streets naked to shame her for it before setting her on fire. High ranking men need, on occasion, to blow off a little steam. What kind of unfeeling monster wouldn’t understand that?

  3. I was musing about a blog post about Haidt’s methodology. Of course it’s not just *his* methodology, but has been used by any number of Values researchers in the past, each starting out with different assumptions which they turn into different conclusions by the Objective Processes of Factor Analysis.

    Fortunately, P. Z. Myers has saved me the effort:

    But then [Haidt] went off on this “moral foundations” stuff, where he identified different axes of motivations, like care vs. harm, and then the axes started proliferating, and pretty quickly it all became a lumpy mush without much utility. He’s succumbed to Labeling Disease, something that hits some psychologists hard, in which they observe that which they measure, stick a name on it, and try hard to reify it into existence, even if it has no correspondence to any substrate in the brain at all. Id, ego, superego, anyone?

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