HackerNews Readings
40,000 HackerNews book recommendations identified using NLP and deep learning

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The Soul of A New Machine

Tracy Kidder

4.6 on Amazon

177 HN comments

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction (Center for Environmental Structure Series)

Christopher Alexander , Sara Ishikawa , et al.

4.7 on Amazon

176 HN comments

Meditations: A New Translation

Marcus Aurelius and Gregory Hays

4.8 on Amazon

172 HN comments

The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

Clayton M. Christensen, L.J. Ganser, et al.

4.5 on Amazon

168 HN comments

The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy

Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko

4.6 on Amazon

166 HN comments

Infinite Jest: Part I With a Foreword by Dave Eggers

Sean Pratt, David Foster Wallace, et al.

4.3 on Amazon

166 HN comments

The Elements of Style: Annotated Edition

William Strunk Jr. and James McGill

4.7 on Amazon

155 HN comments

Outliers: The Story of Success

Malcolm Gladwell

4.7 on Amazon

152 HN comments

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

William B. Irvine

4.6 on Amazon

151 HN comments

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Neil Postman and Andrew Postman

4.6 on Amazon

151 HN comments

Stranger in a Strange Land

Robert A. Heinlein, Christopher Hurt, et al.

4.4 on Amazon

151 HN comments

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Joe Ochman, et al.

4.5 on Amazon

150 HN comments

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Charles Duhigg, Mike Chamberlain, et al.

4.6 on Amazon

149 HN comments

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

Jonathan Haidt and Gildan Media, LLC

4.6 on Amazon

144 HN comments

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

Roger Fisher , William L. Ury, et al.

4.6 on Amazon

143 HN comments

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ilakshonJan 30, 2021

Here is an awesome discussion between Andrew Yang and a moral psychologist named Jonathan Haidt about these issues:


Haidt also has a book named The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.

ternaryoperatoronDec 23, 2018

The Righteous Mind is brilliant. It gives an excellent framework by which to understand today's events better.

tomsthumbonSep 11, 2017

If one considers that the conservative vs. liberal spectrum in America has a statistically significant genetic [0] why would it not?

[0] - Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind"

jimmy1onApr 5, 2019

For an excellent book on your points, see "The Righteous Mind" https://righteousmind.com/

nickffonSep 24, 2020

Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind" is a good start.

jseligeronMar 5, 2016

Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: http://jakeseliger.com/2012/03/25/jonathan-haidts-the-righte...

This is a novel, but Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind is fantastic.

grzmonJan 29, 2017

Read Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion

FellshardonFeb 5, 2019

In similar veins, his 'A Conflict of Visions' and 'The Vision of the Anointed' are two stunning incisive books that show pretty directly why we are where we are now, as divided as we are now. Likely corresponds strongly with Haidt's 'The Righteous Mind', referred to elsewhere in this topic.

anonfornoreasononJune 14, 2021

Not sure why you are getting downvotes. For anyone curious, Haidt is a liberal professor who is dedicated to figuring out how to get people talking across political ideologies. The book that covers this topic is called The Righteous Mind and is an excellent read or listen.

cjsleponJan 15, 2019

I am wrapping up The Righteous Mind and while I think there are a lot of intuitive ideas presented in the book, I have a lot of problems with Haidt's arguments, things he isn't addressing, and his approach to the field in general. It's been a great exercise of critical thinking skills for me.

gyardleyonMay 17, 2012

Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind" was terrific.

sixhobbitsonFeb 3, 2018

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt

It changed the way I think and most of my existing ideas.

louis-paulonJan 4, 2020

I am reading through The Righteous Mind myself at the moment and it is a GREAT book! The ideas are very well presented.

drivers99onOct 28, 2018

"The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion" is a book that's good at explaining that. It has changed how I observe other people's strongly held opinions online.

ilakshonJan 16, 2021

Fascinating points.

I hope people will also put this in the broader context of human psychology.

Check out this book: The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt.

arjieonMar 24, 2017

In The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt argues that it's not about altruism, it's about parochial altruism. Niceness is okay. Niceness aimed narrowly at your own gang is fantastic.

He mentions that it isn't new, though. I thought it was a neat observation since it was new to me.

dipaonDec 23, 2018

The Righteous Mind by Johnathan Haidt

Tribe by Sebastian Junger

just put my full lists on medium:



grzmonJan 2, 2017

I'd love to see The Righteous Mind as required reading for HN! I picked it up originally for its subtitle: aptly subtitled Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. Probably had the most impact on me of any book I've read in the past few years.

buckminsteronJune 5, 2018

Hume was right. I recommend The Righteous Mind.


X6S1x6Okd1stonApr 28, 2020

"The righteous mind" speaks about this at some length, I'd highly recommend the book for anyone interested in a look at bonding individuals into groups.

tryptophanonDec 29, 2019

I can second The Righteous Mind. Currently almost done with it. Has given me many thing to think about.

However, I feel like the author sometimes falls into the same biases/flawed thought patterns he spends the book describing. Because of this, I'd rate it as very good instead of great.

anonfornoreasononMay 25, 2021

I try not to be aggressive when I engage in these conversations and instead focus on positive solutions based on finding out why they believe what they believe, instead of contrarian “in your face” sort of takes. They aren’t effective in my experience.

Read “the righteous mind” by Jonathan Haidt. Great audiobook too.

travmattonDec 26, 2017

For politics, “The Righteous Mind” by Jonathan Haidt and “The Dictators Handbook” from Bruce Buena de Mesquita will give you a great basis for understanding political motivations.

ReedxonDec 28, 2019

Another Haidt book well worth checking out is "The Righteous Mind".

Great for grey thinking and better understanding. And I think it's one of those books that if everyone read it, we'd all be better off. Like an antidote or inhibitor to tribalism.

rgunonFeb 25, 2018

The book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt explores similar concepts.

It is an extremely interesting book on moral psychology. (YC 2017 Summer Reading List)

grzmonDec 6, 2016

If this is a topic you're interested in, I think you'll find Jonathan Haidt's book "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion" particularly useful. I've read it through twice and it's helped me better understand the nature of the issue.

emodendroketonOct 1, 2018

> That said, Jonathan Haidt's book The Righteous Mind does outline a very similar thing. That our 'reasoning' is almost always a post-hoc attempt to explain how we already feel.

I think Hume beat him to this position by a bit.

gmunuonJune 4, 2017

It's a metaphor he also puts to good use in his later book, the Righteous Mind. It's useful to seeing through your own righteousness and recognizing patterns in others. I enjoyed that one too, but it didn't have the same life impact as the Happiness Hypothesis.

thescribeonJune 4, 2017

I am not certain ethics are universal. I think "The Righteous Mind", by Jonathan Haidt, does a fairly good job showing that there are different aspects or flavors to ethics, and that not everyone can agree on which aspects 'count'.

njs12345onMar 26, 2017

You might like Jonathan Haidt's book 'The Righteous Mind' - http://righteousmind.com/

It has a lot on how people make ethical arguments in particular which I found quite eye opening (if a bit bleak in terms of its consequences for civic society).

baldfatonAug 3, 2017

So I really like the description of "The Righteous Mind" WHY is it $2.50 more to get the Kindle version then to have a paperback book shipped to my home!

Kindle Version - $11.99

Paperback (Prime) - $9.32


quarkralonOct 21, 2019

But the answer you get isn't necessarily the truth, because humans don't make decisions based on reason. 90% of the time, decision-making is based on emotion, and the reasoning comes afterwards to try and justify why the decision was made. Thus, when you ask the person for justification, you're getting post-hoc reasons.

There's a great book written on this - "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion"

wussboyonMay 1, 2020

I second this. Few books have affected me the way The Righteous Mind did. I read it once in 2011 and thought it was cool. On the second reading I became troubled and found myself disagreeing with much of what he said. It wasn't until the 5th reading that I understood how huge his discoveries were.

kleer001onAug 27, 2020

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt -

Fantastic walk through his six factor model of human morality. It's as revolutionary to me as learning about the five factor model (& HEXACO) of human personality.

jiscariotonMar 27, 2021

Those were foundational for me as well. Along the same lines of "Outgroup", Johnathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind" gave a lot of insight in to why people hold certain values and beliefs.

no_waveonSep 16, 2015

As Nietzsche became more and more isolated, socially and intellectually, he had less to say about the Dionysian impulse.

What he's describing is more clearly observed and understood by Jonathan Haidt in The Righteous Mind, when Haidt discusses the hive switch.

ilakshonJan 25, 2021

I really hope that people who appreciate this article will take a look at the work of Jonathan Haidt such as The Righteous Mind.

steven_nobleonSep 3, 2018

Plus one for The Righteous Mind, mentioned below.

Also in the vein of 'not quite psychology of religion, but related', The Hero's Journey, by Joseph Campbell.

grimtriggeronDec 28, 2013

"The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion"

If you're like me and love debates, this book is awesome. It'll show you how to find common ground and understand implicit values behind arguments.

Link for the lazy (non-affiliate): http://www.amazon.com/The-Righteous-Mind-Politics-Religion/d...

jacobnonDec 23, 2018

Righteous Mind, Why good people are divided by politics and religion by Jonathan Haidt (also applies to classic nerd feuds like Mac vs windows vs Linux)

The Mom Test, how to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you by Rob Fitzpatrick (worst title ever, book is great)

david-cakoonApr 25, 2019

Very Jungian/Jordan Peterson-esque thought that I think makes a lot of sense in understanding ourselves. Also reminds me of the book The Righteous Mind.

We exist to measure ourselves in an ocean of complexity, with infinite recursion in self-awareness.

ycombineteonAug 8, 2018

I don't have any specific studies to mention, I am afraid, as I've only had them through third party sources. They will be in the books Waking Up by Sam Harris, The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker, and The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. The last two more specifically.

TheAceOfHeartsonMay 11, 2018

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, by Jonathan Haidt.

This book had a big impact on me; it definitely made me re-evaluate how I was approaching things like politics and religion.

grzmonFeb 8, 2017

I think you'd get a lot out of reading Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow" and Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind". They're not directly related to privacy, but I found them really helpful in understanding human psychology and different aspects of human thinking.

grzmonNov 24, 2016

Based on what you've written here, I think you might find Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind" interesting. He's been involved in a lot of recent research into human psychology, morals, and understanding how people can arrive at different political stances.

iamjkonDec 23, 2018

Absolutely loved The Righteous Mind, it was one of my favorites this year as well. I just ordered his next one, The Coddling of the American Mind.

neilsharmaonDec 23, 2015

"The Righteous Mind" - Jonathan Haidt. This book helped me understand conservative thinking, made me less heated in my opinions, and provided a convincing framework for me to understand moral arguments

"Emperor of All Maladies" - Siddhartha Mukherjee. An excellently written history of cancer.

"Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage" - Lansing Alfred. A true story of one of the last great explorations man has taken

grzmonApr 26, 2017

It sounds like understanding how people arrive at their values and politics is something that interests you. I found Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion[0] very interesting, one of the most important books I think I've read in the past five years or so. I highly recommend it.

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

shishyonAug 15, 2017

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt

I cannot recommend this book enough -- I'm halfway through it and it's a very accessible overview of work done in moral development psychology that (for me) shed light on how people come to believe the things they do so strongly. It's increasingly relevant today, and was a bit of an eye-opener for me.

Has anyone else checked it out? Curious to get your thoughts -- I'm not done yet and once I finish, I'm doing to dug through the primary sources he cites.

TheAceOfHeartsonFeb 5, 2019

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned this one yet: "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion", by Jonathan Haidt [0]. This book fundamentally changed how I think about religion and politics. It helped me understand a lot of behaviors which I'd previous considered absolutely incomprehensible.

[0] https://www.amazon.com/Righteous-Mind-Divided-Politics-Relig...

rossdavidhonSep 3, 2018

"The Righteous Mind" by Johnathan Haidt. Technically it's not just about religion, it's about the psychology of righteousness, but it's clearly related. My review of it: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/829796352

turc1656onAug 30, 2018

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt

EDIT: Thanks for the list. I think I'm going to check out The Silk Roads - seems like my type of book/topic.

grzmonNov 9, 2016

I agree. It's really useful to see how discourse can (and some times can't :/) work. You might want to consider adding an "Edit: see follow-up comment" to call attention to it, but given it's proximity, it's probably not necessary.

Btw, are you familiar with Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind"? Given the topic, I think you might find it interesting.

senecaonApr 25, 2021

This article is a little light. If you're actually interested in scholarship around the topic, Jonathan Haidt has a lot of great writing around how deep seated "gut" feelings like disgust drive our moral judgements. I would highly recommend his books and papers.

The Righteous Mind is a good starting place for this topic.

pavpanchekhaonSep 17, 2015

Yes. The main organizer, Jonathan Haidt, is a well-regard sociologist. He's been crusading for more political diversity in science for... years? A decade? He has, of course, been doing very impressive science as well; check out his book, “The Righteous Mind”, if you're interested in understanding how people talk about morality, for example. Like it or not, climatologists sceptical of climate change should get their voices heard, just like Levin should be allowed to doubt the possibility of quantum computers, AI researchers should be allowed to doubt the possibility of general AI, and so on. They must, of course, conduct their science to the standards of their field, but the fact that they can argue for ideas not widely held in their field makes that field stronger, not weaker. Science isn't a battle for consensus, or even a battle for getting the largest agreement on a truth; it is a battle for the truth itself, any discussion and conversation, within a process that enforces good faith and good epistemology, only helps.

tekproxyonJan 13, 2020

You didn't ask me but I have a similar outlook and would appreciate reading suggestions.

Jordan Peterson talks about the diversity of opinion being important because there is no single or constant fitness function. His lectures on personality get into this a bit. His 12 rules book does not.

I believe he's informed a lot by the work of Jonathan Haidt. His book The Righteous Mind is good.

ewzimmonNov 4, 2017

This is a fascinating proof of its own conjecture. The author bashes "tribal epistemology" while enthusiastically engaging in it. I think people experiencing this kind of fear should consider reading Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind" for more insight into why conservatives seem so obtuse. I found one of the relevant sections in this blog, which also seems informative in general:

>...it allowed us to assess how accurate they were by comparing people’s expectations about “typical” partisans to the actual responses from partisans on the left and the right)’ Who was best able to pretend to be the other?

>The results were clear and consistent. Moderates and conservatives were most accurate in their predictions, whether they were pretending to be liberals or conservatives. Liberals were the least accurate, especially those who described themselves as “very liberal.” The biggest errors in the whole study came when liberals answered the Care and Fairness questions while pretending to be conservatives.


schaeferonJune 25, 2019

Thank you, I'm familiar with the book you are recommending - the righteous mind. It is discussed in Altruism and cited in its bibliography. [1]

I get the impression you've decided to take a stance on the book Altruism without reading it. The summary you provide for Rightous mind could work just as well as a summary for Altruism too. At this point, we aren't even disagreeing, we're just citing different sources, and I'm content to just drop it.


ycombineteonOct 1, 2018

I must admit to smirking at the unintended irony created by the title of the article, and the publication it appears in.

That said, Jonathan Haidt's book The Righteous Mind does outline a very similar thing. That our 'reasoning' is almost always a post-hoc attempt to explain how we already feel. And Haidt, while claiming neutrality is very definitely on the right end of the spectrum.

anderspitmanonFeb 5, 2019

Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I'll throw in several more favorites that have changed the way I think over the years, in no particular order:

* The Righteous Mind - Jonathan Haidt

* 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey

* The Emperor of all Maladies - Siddhartha Mukherjee

* The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

* Getting Things Done - David Allen

* The Worthing Saga - Orson Scott Card

* The 4-Hour Work Week - Timothy Ferriss

* The 5 Love Languages - Gary Chapman

* The Total Money Makeover - Dave Ramsey

jseligeronOct 30, 2017

But, it boggles my mind why so many people don't believe global warming can be man-made

I used to think the same way, but part of the issue is that most people are not abstract or systems thinkers. They don't perceive abstraction or systems the way many HN readers do or would.

In addition, and related, most people have strong tribal identities that overwhelm their limited intellectual capabilities; Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind is very good on this: https://www.amazon.com/Righteous-Mind-Divided-Politics-Relig... and there are others as well.

Climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers, and other conspiracy theorists share some key underlying traits.

Most of us, including me, also live in our own bubbles. You're likely in a rationalist and data-driven bubble, so you don't see people to whom you'd have explain an entire rationalist and data-driven worldview.

tashoecraftonDec 12, 2018

Reamde - Neal Stephenson - Really enjoyed this one, though I’m a sucker for Neal Stephenson books.

Nexus (1, 2 and 3) - Ramez Naam - Great scifi exploring human -> cyborg transformations across the world. An OS for the mind had me very excited and scared for the future of computing.

The City & the city - China Miéville - A weird sci fi based that I had no idea what to expect going into it. Enjoyed it, but not as much as some of the others.

The Righteous Mind: Why Good people are Divided by Politics and Religion - Jonathan Haidt - Great read for this current climate. Allowed me to understand those around me better and to improve relations with family members who are far over on the right side of the political spectrum better.

Robert Oppenheimer - Ray Monk - Enjoyed it, but it was quite long. Oppenheimer was an interesting person who didn’t actually make many direct contributions to the world of physics, but was extremely well read and knew everyone in the industry. And you know, lead development of the atomic bomb.

The Phoenix Project - Gene Kim - Great CI/CD book disguised as a novel, inspired me to push heavily for an improved build/release pipeline at work.

Alexander Hamilton - Ron Chernow - Yes, the book the play is based on, but it goes into such great detail of the life of an incredible person. It’s hard to fathom what the United States would become without Hamilton.

It Doesn’t have to be Crazy at work - Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson - Great, short read about why our corporate/entrepreneur culture is just crap. All this hustle, burnout, and destructive ideas are unnecessary and don’t really bring much improvements.

Hitler - Ian Kershaw - Really great biography into the rise and fall of Hitler and the third Reich. It’s horrifying for all the reasons you know, but also with how much is rhyming with the world right now.

Team of Rivals: The political genius of Abraham Lincoln - Doris Kearns Goodwin - Great biography into Lincoln and his cabinet. He was truly a unique president who was able to convert people who hated him into his biggest admirers.

crazygringoonJune 25, 2019

From the links, it seems like his main criticism of Dawkins is actually merely the word "selfish" in the title of his book, and that the CEO of Enron liked it?

Yes, Dawkins is saying that "universal love" does not have an evolutionary component, which seems like a fairly uncontroversial claim.

It seems like your criticism of Dawkins is more a criticism of how other people have misunderstood him, rather than any criticism of the arguments in The Selfish Gene itself?

If you haven't, I highly suggest you read Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind". While it's at a popular level, it does a fairly good job at presenting a plausible framework for how moral behavior (like altruism) can emerge from evolutionary principles. [1] Haidt is probably one of the most influential moral psychologists today.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Righteous-Mind-Divided-Politics-Relig...

nwienertonJuly 24, 2020

Agree. in this case he entirely misses that the aggressively conventional are serving a purpose that’s incredible important. This is classic stuff going back to the Tower of Babel, and theories about conservatives vs liberals functions in society (ie disruptives and preservationists).

After reading The Righteous Mind (best book of the decade, IMO) and generally gaining an appreciation for how blind we are to how good we have it (the aggressively independent types moreso, they are chronically unsatisfied and in a way pessimistic about progress, blind to the incredible luxury we live in now), I find myself really understanding the role and purpose of the conventionistas in society and I’m glad for them! They are the buffer between the woke mobs, they fight to keep the system from moving around too wildly. They are wrong of course (heresy is a good example), but so are the unsatisfied independents as well.

Not that these map perfectly. There are many conservative independents and vice versa, but your main thrust on pg generally:

1. Defining things so they create categories for people, usually framing it for some self-serving purpose

2. Putting himself in the good category and spending very little time thinking over why the “bad” one may not be so bad.

Really hits home.

Side note: I found his last essay on Orthodoxy Privilege to be a real stinker. That he felt the need to write about “privilege” of which he is gluttonous, and use it as a chance to redefine privilege to his ends, was an impressive level of dissonance.

supersouronJan 17, 2021

A book I always recommend on this topic is by Jonathan Haidt "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion"

Also, there is a page in there where Haidt hypothesized that the low agreeableness/asperger personality people actually do better in the startup world precisely because they don't fear being ostracized and thus don't engage in the groupthink showcased in the article. Peter Thiel type people. Of course that's hard to really test one way or another, but the narrative fits...

jseligeronOct 17, 2020

It's not unchecked free speech. Instead, it's unchecked curation by media and social media companies with the goal of engagement.

Try teaching non-elite undergrads sometime, and particularly assignments that require some sense of epistemology, and you'll discover that the vast majority of people have pretty poor personal epistemic hygiene—it's not much required in most people, most of the time, in most jobs.

We evolved to form tribes, not to be "right." Jonathan's Haidt's The Righteous Mind deals with this topic well. https://jakeseliger.com/2012/03/25/jonathan-haidts-the-right...

TheAceOfHeartsonApr 27, 2020

Since we're mentioning Jonathan Haidt I just wanna chime in with an additional recommendation: _The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion_. In this book Haidt digs into the roots of human morality; it changed my perception of the world. Haidt has a TED talk [0] which is basically a tl;dr of The Righteous Mind and it's only ~18.5 minutes long.

[0] https://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_the_moral_roots_of_...

ycombineteonOct 2, 2018

And St. Augustine beat Hume to his position by more than a century :)

In The Righteous Mind Haidt actually quotes Hume's "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."

Given the above, I'm still happy with Haidt as a reference here, as he references Hume, and also has a decade or two of research to back up his claims.

BeetleBonNov 24, 2016

>He duped millions of people.

Yes and no. I suspect those people would have voted for Trump anyway.

I just got done reading The Righteous Mind (https://www.amazon.com/Righteous-Mind-Divided-Politics-Relig...). After reading it, my default view on all these things: The final outcome is set in their mind, and they are merely looking for any reason to justify it.

(I mean, sure, things are elastic. His articles do play a role - just not that much).

sixhobbitsonSep 7, 2018

For a more alternative view (not sure if it still counts as alternative as it's pretty well accepted, but in my experience not that well adopted, but the "rewards and incentives are bad, monitoring is bad, trust and autonomy is good" line)

* Drive, by Daniel Pink

* Punished by Rewards, by Alfie Kohen

* Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

I wrote about some of these ideas here [0]

For a more traditional approach

* High Output Management, by Andy Grove

* The Manager's Path, by Camille Fournier

* The Thing about Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz

Not specifically about management, but in general, if you haven't read Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind", you should do that first. This is the book that has changed the way I think and understand people the most, and has indirectly helped me more with management than all of the management focussed books combined.

And I just finished "The Mythical Man Month" which is definitely still a must-read decades after it was first published (get the 20th anniversary edition as it has a nice summary at the end, including where the author thinks he was right and where he admits freely what he got wrong).

[0] https://www.codementor.io/garethdwyer/enter-the-zone-fight-i...

TheAceOfHeartsonSep 26, 2017

I've posted this quote a few times before, and I find it fully relevant to this discussion:

> He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion... Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them...he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

― John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

A few months back I read "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion", by Jonathan Haidt. I'd highly suggest reading it for anyone seeking to improve their understanding of the ideological landscape in modern America. From the publisher's summary: In The Righteous Mind, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores the origins of our divisions and points the way forward to mutual understanding.

The biggest problem I'm seeing with many online communities is the unwillingness to engage with others. There's no discussions, they just tell you that you're wrong and evil, and then they ban or block you. That's no way to change people's mind; it just makes people more likely to dig in their heels. If you want to change people's views you need to engage them calmly and with respect. One of the greatest example of this that I can think of is Daryl Davis, a black man who converted ~200 people from the KKK just by befriending them.

travmattonJune 10, 2017

I'd also recommend 'The Righteous Mind' as a solid basis for understanding political thinking.

rossdavidhonJune 26, 2020

The answer to the first question, is that I absolutely avoid watching TV (including YouTube/Hulu/etc. equivalents). I also have an "only on Sundays" rule for Facebook.

The answer to the second question probably changes a lot, but I think the long term answer is probably:
1) Jonathan Haidt, "The Righteous Mind"
2) Nassim Nicholas Taleb, "Antifragility"
3) Peter Turchin, "Ages of Discord"

wussboyonNov 17, 2020

Your plan is reasonable if human minds were genuinely and effectively open to letting the best ideas win. But they are not. Human minds care more about reputation than veracity and this has important ramifications for plans like yours: namely that they don’t work. Confirmation bias is real and pervasive and as completely in control of my mind as it is of yours. I encourage you to read Haidt’s The Righteous Mind and see if what you purpose still makes sense.

lkrychonFeb 5, 2019

Non-Fiction (Science)

  - *The Selfish Gene* by Richard Dawkins

- *The Righteous Mind* by Jonathan Haidt

- *Thinking, Fast and Slow* by Daniel Kahneman

Non-Fiction (Social)

  - *The Art of Not Being Governed* by James C. Scott

- *The Unwinding* by George Packer

- *People's History of the United States* by Howard Zinn


  - *East of Eden* by John Steinbeck

- *Sometimes a Great Notion* by Ken Kesey

- *The Brothers Karamazov* by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

edit: formatting

drivers99onJune 15, 2020

> I kind of have two modes when reading: too credulous, looking for reasons a work could be true, and too antagonistic, looking for reasons to not only disagree, but dismiss entirely.

This sounds like what I read in "The Righteous Mind" which has stuck with me since then.

First, a little background: You have an emotional response to something first, in the deep parts of your brain, and then you come up with a rational explanation for it from that after the fact. I've run across that concept in multiple books (but I don't have a systematic method of determining which books are true like the author of this blog; it's the first time I've heard of doing that so systematically!).

How that works out in practice: When you are evaluating something you believe to be true, you look for a fact to back you up. That is, "can I believe this is true?" When you are evaluating something you are emotionally against, you think "MUST I believe this is true?" Every fact must dispute what you believed before you change your mind. If there is a shred of doubt, you will stick to the side that is emotionally appealing to you.

Once you're aware of this dynamic, you can see in everywhere (including, disturbingly, yourself). Which I think is what the author is talking about, seeing she is doing that.

grzmonJan 17, 2017

The "post-fact" issue is one thing; convincing people and changing minds is another.

As for the latter, I highly recommend reading Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind". And keeping in mind that a big part of convincing others is keeping yourself open to having your mind changed.

Going back to the post-fact issue: people are rarely convinced based on evidence or facts alone to change their mind, so in some sense the facts are secondary. That said, finding a common ground of ideas or facts to agree upon is important. Figuring out how to find this common ground is an important skill. This is what I think the crux of "post fact" comes down to. And a lot of this means granting people the benefit of the doubt, engaging in good faith, and refusing to let yourself get dragged into "point-scoring" and other lesser forms of argumentation.

lkrychonDec 18, 2018

I'm going to plug a few great non-fiction books that are easy(ish) to read and deep on content. I'm sure there are a lot more out there.

Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman

Coming Into the Country - John McPhee

The Unwinding - George Packer

Anything by James C Scott (Thinking Like a State, The Art of Not Being Governed)

The Righteous Mind - John Haidt

The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins (Regardless of how you feel about his current public persona, this book published in 1976 is an absolute classic)

james_s_tayleronJan 15, 2019

A few good books I'm reading / have read on the subject

  The Righteous Mind
The Elephant In The Brain
In Defense of Troublemakers

The deck is stacked very far against us cognitively. We are a walking, talking political nightmare unto ourselves and others.

The worst part is it's excruciatingly difficult and extremely unlikely for you to find your own blind spots. So you need to hash things out with other people. As others mentioned the best thing you can do is hold defeasibility and corrigibility as some of your highest values and do your best to understand all the pitfalls in our thinking.

dnissleyonAug 6, 2020

Also not the study, but the results would be in line with another study I know about from the book "The Righteous Mind":

"... we tested how well liberals and conservatives could understand each other. We asked more than two thousand American visitors to fill out the Moral Foundations Questionnaire. One-third of the time they were asked to fill it out normally, answering as themselves. One-third of the time they were asked to fill it out as they think a 'typical liberal' would respond. One-third of the time they were asked to fill it out as a 'typical conservative' would respond. This design allowed us to examine the stereotypes that each side held about the other. More important, it allowed us to assess how accurate they were by comparing people's expectations about 'typical' partisans to the actual responses from partisans on the left and the right. Who was best able to pretend to be the other?"

"The results were clear and consistent. Moderates and conservatives were most accurate in their predications, whether they were pretending to be liberals or conservatives. Liberals were the least accurate, especially those who described themselves as 'very liberal.' The biggest errors in the whole study came when liberals answered the Care and Fairness questions while pretending to be conservatives. When faced with questions such as 'One of the worst things a person could do is hurt a defenseless animal' or 'Justice is the most important requirement for a society,' liberals assumed that conservatives would disagree."

Link to the study itself: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal...

RainymoodonJan 25, 2019

For those hardcore atheists that just can't fathom why someone would believe in Christianity/religion in general, let me ask you are you WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, and Democratic)?

If the answer is yes, I can highly recommend the book The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. It didn't really change my opinion on religion but it did give me a different view and perspective into why some others do believe in it.

ericdykstraonJuly 13, 2018

First, I'll recommend Discrimination and Disparaties by Thomas Sowell, another fantastic work from Sowell put out this year that builds on some ideas from previous essays. It's short, but the arguments are concise, empirical, and convincing.

And 3 books that have most recently made it into my "must-reread" category.

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt

Antifragile by Nassim Taleb

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

wussboyonJune 25, 2021

Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind”, any of Dan Ariely’s work.

vinay427onSep 20, 2020

I did very much like "The Righteous Mind" by Jonathan Haidt, which mentions this WEIRDness on several occasions to make a distinction so he is able to speak about a certain cluster of political and social environments today.

The book actually tries to draw more evidence-based claims to explain some of our core political differences as rooted in psychological differences that are rarely salient to us, let alone mutable. It also makes a very compelling case for trying to understand and empathize with core values that people on different sides of the political spectrum fight for, which is especially convincing if we accept that these values are not always the result of a conscious decision. They rarely are the result of something egocentric like selfishness but rather the result of how we prioritize different parts of society, and some balance is probably desirable between opposing views here.

WhompingWindowsonJuly 7, 2020

Only certain truth exerts a pull on our beliefs: the truth that we use to justify our beliefs post-hoc. It's well established in psychology, from books I've read like "thinking fast and slow" or "The Righteous Mind", psychological study points to people building their beliefs THEN finding facts to justify them.

I do agree that, over generations, the correct and truthful views tend to gain the upper-hand. This arises from each generation downloading a new set of facts and learning in school, when they are young and their minds haven't formed their belief system yet. However, if we allowed all children to enter school at their place of worship from 5 to 18, we'd find college students remarkably unwilling to learn many more facts.

So, more broadly, why does it bother you that facts don't change our minds and we're all irrational? We are Homo Sapiens, a mammalian primate who made the jump from the jungle to the Savannah and learned to work together to gather food and hunt game. We haven't left behind our animal software, it is still active in and exploited by our modern society.

jfengelonJuly 20, 2021

And having elected Trump, what did they get aside from triggering the libs?

I see a fair bit of attempts at understanding. Liberals love to write books like "The Righteous Mind" and "What's The Matter With Kansas?", attempting to understand conservatives from a liberal point of view. I can't think of anything comparable on the right. Progressives seem to me desperate to understand and cater to conservatives, and it feels like the only thing conservatives want is to make my life harder.

It could very well be that I'm just not listening hard enough. That seems to be the response every time liberals lose elections: "understand harder", because the problem is with me. But I'm starting to think that maybe I do understand: they don't want anything from me except someone to be angry at, and whatever despair they're undergoing is more about the deliberate induction of that despair than anything I actually do.

BeetleBonMar 2, 2018

>Oddly before opening the article I had assumed it was about how moral "disgust" is positively correlated with left-leaning. But then the study was referring to digestive disgust which appears positively correlated with right-leaning.

Actually, even moral disgust is positively correlated with right leaning folks. The Righteous Mind (https://www.amazon.com/Righteous-Mind-Divided-Politics-Relig...) is a great read that covers the research on the topic.

arjieonMar 4, 2017

In The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt cites evidence that intentional communities that have shared sacrifice without sacralising the acts or the principles behind them see no gains from the sacrifices demanded. Essentially, you need religious fervour or something similar to get the advantage of sacrifice.

BeetleBonJan 23, 2019

Haidt's book The Righteous Mind does touch on this - he'll likely have references to the studies in his book. What he says the studies show:

Conservative ideology: Fairness is about guaranteeing everyone equal rights. If different people have different outcomes, the question is: Did one person have more rights than the other? If so, let's correct for it. If not, it is because the person did not fully utilize his/her resources. However, this step is often omitted and people jump to "Person did not put in effort."

Liberal ideology: Fairness is about guaranteeing equal outcomes. This often (but not always) ends up being a metric regardless of the effort the person put in - so if the outcomes differ, it's a sign of something unfair at play.

There is overlap between the two, and they are not fundamentally at odds with each other. However, as a lot of pop psychology has taught us: People are fundamentally lazy in applying analytical thought, and will look for simple proxies. So instead of thinking through as their ideologies dictate, they will jump to the conclusion.

qrendelonMay 29, 2016

I'll second the "mandatory reading" suggestion. The SCC post has considerably better analysis of these tribal disagreements than most anything else I've read on the subject, particularly the NYT column.

The article is almost cute. Like, "Did you know people are tribal? And did you ever think that might be a bad thing?" It's not a profound new idea, and it's one that's been better discussed elsewhere, from the SCC posts on the subject (see also the recent one on Albion's Seed[1]) to Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind[2] to Joshua Greene's Moral Tribes[3] to the many, many articles[4][5] that have already been written about partisan polarization in the U.S. (and probably globally, if Europe is any indication).

I mean I'm glad that a random NYT column is provoking further discussion about an important subject, but there's so much more and better stuff that has been said about it than just what this touches on.

[1] http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/04/27/book-review-albions-see...

[2] http://www.amazon.com/Righteous-Mind-Divided-Politics-Religi...

[3] http://www.amazon.com/Moral-Tribes-Emotion-Reason-Between/dp...

[4] https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/how-divided-are-...

[5] http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/why-are-stat...

jseligeronMay 4, 2014

"Let instinct trump logic" - bad advice. Instinct is simply pattern matching current conditions against memory. Without experience, instinct is a poor criteria and logic should be employed. Read Kahneman for the supporting research into that.

I'd also recommend Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind (http://www.amazon.com/The-Righteous-Mind-Politics-Religion/d...). He makes a lot of interesting points, including that most people come to a conclusion about an issue, then look for reasoning to support it, and that most of us operate on instinct most of the time—logic is a more costly, difficult mode whose use can be cultivated but which is not at all the default.

ycombineteonAug 3, 2017

This is a very good response, which I hope the person that you responded to will take to heart. I'm always amazed by the historical ignorance of so many people who hold firm geopolitical views though, and sometimes wonder if it is willful.

I'd like to add to your post that anyone looking for interesting writing on this subject should have a look at Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind. (Based on the language of you post I think you might have read it?)

jseligeronSep 25, 2020

The drive towards censorship that seems to have revved up in the last few years is an astonishing change. I'm old enough to remember the utopian thinking about the web's planned positive effects on free speech and free discourse: now it seems that a new and, to my mind, strange censoriousness seems to have settled in.

When I read Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, I don't think I understood how broadly applicable it would be. His follow-up, with Greg Lukianoff, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, is also applicable to the censorship movements afoot in many companies (including publishing companies).

scarejunbaonDec 3, 2018

In The Righteous Mind, in a small section, Jonathan Haidt talks about this with the analogy that reason is a mahout riding the elephant of emotion. After reading that book and some others, I wondered if I could train my feelings so I’d respond instinctually and instantly to things in the ‘right’ way.

Often when we see code, we have a feeling of ‘dirty’ or ‘clean’. An internal reaction that pushes us in some direction. It’s worth questioning why we think that about some things, but I think we eventually develop a sense of what is a good pattern and what isn’t and we actually use the emotional reasoning of our brain to guide us effectively in writing code. Perhaps we wouldn’t even be effective programmers if we had to actually think through full reason each time.

Less applicable when reviewing code, of course.

thomas2718onApr 6, 2020

I have a cranky uncle who sends an email newsletter with links. Most of the links are conspiracy theories in my eyes. Some of them are about the climate. So to be able to make reasonable judgements, I've decided to learn about the science of climate. The IPCC makes all their reports available. I've started with the technical summary (84 pages, two-column). Most parts of it are well written and understandable with some basic knowledge of physics and chemistry. Nevertheless, it took several man-days to read it. As there is high confidence that the current warming is caused by humans, I've joined Citizens' Climate Lobby to contribute to the right laws to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions.

The same newsletter made me read a book about motivational psychology (The Righteous Mind). A very interesting topic, that I would love to learn more about, if I had more time.

Last year I've (re-)read Category Theory for Programmers. I had tried it once before, but gave up after a third, as the notation didn't make much sense to me anymore. I would like to read it again, creating flash cards for the most important concepts along the way.

purple-againonApr 24, 2018

Some guy derailed the conversation for no reason. Jonathan Haidt is far from right wing propaganda (though he is heavily focused on morality and religion like many D's).

Below is a quick dirty quote from Wikipedia.

In chapter 8 of The Righteous Mind, Haidt describes how he began to study political psychology in order to help the Democratic Party win more elections. But in chapter 12 of The Righteous Mind Haidt argues that each of the major political groups – conservatives, progressives, and libertarians—have valuable insights and that truth and good policy emerge from the contest of ideas. Since 2012 Haidt has referred to himself as a political centrist

makutoonSep 30, 2020

This comparison resonated with me especially once I've learned how "deep" political views are, similar to religious views. Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind" is about this. Preaching politics in the workplace will scratch the same nerves that preaching religion will - deeply held beliefs that can cause strong reactions to people who agree or disagree with them.

mseebachonSep 9, 2012

Never mind the irony of your crusade to end the pressing of moral values onto others itself constituting pressing of values onto others, you seem to completely misunderstand the concepts of morality and religion. Please read The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt if you care to broaden your horizon a little.

thisisitonMar 14, 2018

Regarding the Mindwise book, I recently read Jonathan Haidt's The Happiness Hypothesis where he talks about (at least what I interpreted) the silliness of good vs evil and differing beliefs. I haven't read his 2nd book but the title - " The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion", suggests it might be something similar to the Mindwise book.

AS37onJuly 28, 2021

> The intellectual left loves to pump out articles and books trying to explain right-wing thought: ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Righteous_Mind

> Every time liberals lose elections, there is hand-wringing about understanding the other side. But I've never seen the equivalent worry about how conservatives can understand liberals.

One of the big theories in The Righteous Mind can be used to explain this. The Moral Foundations Theory lists 5 drivers of moral judgments, 5 reasons why people may feel things are 'right'. Then it gives data showing that liberals feel 2 of these strongly and 3 weakly, while conservatives feel all 5 about as equally strongly.

By that theory, the reason that conservatives need not work as hard to understand liberals is that they feel all the same moral impulses liberals do, and more, while liberals only feel 2/5ths of the conservatives' impulses.

The same theory suggests that conservative persuasion will be more effective on liberals than liberal persuasion on conservatives. This then leads to election losses, which leads to hand wringing about how liberals don't understand conservatives, so they can't convince them to vote liberal.

mpwozonApr 5, 2019

I found the book 'The Righteous Mind' very eye-opening and it talks about exactly these things, I recommend it to all my friends.

Particularly relevant to my own experience was the commentary on how politicians have become less cooperative with their rivals in other parties, and how political views/party associations have become more extreme/less tolerant overall.

Highly recommend.


grzmonSep 11, 2017

It's tough. I'd encourage you to take a step back and reflect on arguments used from many positions. Currently a lot of discourse is breaking down and polarization increasing because of a lack of reflection and understanding one's own biases and the arguments one's making and where they're coming from. No one has a monopoly on bad faith (unless you're considering humanity as a whole). I've found Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind[0] to be really insightful and useful in this regard, particularly if one has a goal of effecting meaningful change.

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

Edit: Re-reading this, it's coming off harsher than intended. I likely need to eat something. Apologies.

IneffablePigeononDec 19, 2017

Best book I read this year hands down was The Righteous Mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion, by Jonathan Haidt.

It's a really lucid and eye opening introduction to moral psychology, and as a left-leaning person politically has made me understand my right-leaning friends more than anything else. Truly enlightening.

tchaffeeonSep 5, 2017

I think employees could use some training on how liberals and conservatives think very differently. When I became familiar with Jonathan Haidt and his moral foundations theory, I was able to better understand where conservatives are coming from, and even became a lot better at persuading.

For example, when talking about confederate statues coming down, a conservative will respond to arguments around why it's traditional and patriotic to remove those statues (along with why it's fair) whereas a liberal will concentrate only on why it's fair. Make an argument that focuses only on the fairness aspect and the conservative will remain unconvinced and the liberal will think the conservative is a horrible person, because the liberal heavily values fairness.

Liberals are most sensitive to the Care and Fairness moral foundations and conservatives are equally sensitive to all the first five foundations. I think the sixth foundation was added for libertarians.

- Care: cherishing and protecting others; opposite of harm.

- Fairness or proportionality: rendering justice according to shared rules; opposite of cheating.

- Loyalty or ingroup: standing with your group, family, nation; opposite of betrayal.

- Authority or respect: submitting to tradition and legitimate authority; opposite of subversion.

- Sanctity or purity: abhorrence for disgusting things, foods, actions; opposite of degradation.

A sixth foundation, Liberty or oppression, was theorized by Jonathan Haidt in The Righteous Mind chapter 8.

Once you understand that the other person is thinking about the problem in a very different way than you, you can stop talking past each other and start getting to a sort of understanding.

Haidt's TED talk is a fun introduction to the subject.


As a final note, I wonder if conservatives could use their own experiences to develop some much needed empathy for minorities and women in STEM? These groups seem to be at odds right now, but they actually have a lot in common when it comes to feeling like an outsider who will never fully be accepted. Likewise, minorities and women might be missing an opportunity for diversity allies because they are writing off conservatives as being against their cause without ever trying to look for common ground.

tiniuclxonJan 4, 2020

I believe that the difference between sitting down and reading a book for an hour vs. browsing the internet is _exactly_ what makes books so valuable.

You're right, books are a lot of effort. However, they teach something that internet articles & videos don't, and that is delayed gratification.

In the digital age, everything is fighting for your attention and it is getting harder and harder to actually focus on anything. Clickbait titles is perhaps the most obvious manifestation, but you can see it in videos as well - many popular videos are edited in a specific way (no pauses between sentences, cut after cut after cut) that grabs your attention as often as possible.

Books let you practice tuning all that noise out and focusing on a single task for a long time, while still providing entertainment. For a knowledge worker, to be able to focus at this level is a very valuable ability!

Deep Work by Cal Newport is a non-fiction book that goes into more detail about some of these ideas concerning focus in the contemporary era.

Another great non-fiction book that really couldn't be presented in another medium is "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion" by Jonathan Haidt. The Righteous Mind is not an easy read because the ideas presented are complex and wide-reaching. It takes a lot of time to go through and digest, but it is definitely worth it. The Righteous Mind has had perhaps the most impact upon my understanding of humanity and politics out of anything I've ever read.

If you want to see what it's like to read for fun, check out the Broken Earth trilogy by N. K. Jemisin - this is probably the best pacing I have ever experienced in a fantasy series.

And if you think science fiction would be more your thing, try to to take a stab at reading Dune by Frank Herbert. This is a sci-fi classic that essentially codified the genre, and some of the ideas in the series are what made Star Wars the phenomenon it is today. I think you can't get better proof that books can stand the test of time than this!

BeetleBonMar 8, 2017

>The purpose of moralizing is to shame those that ignore our struggle as living organisms.

So how is that working out?

Think of all the campaigns that have effected change. How often did shaming work? Sure, you have a few cases like the fight against Apartheid, but in general? Not effective.

Here's the thing. I'm as pro-science as they come. However, I've been blessed to come from communities that fall prey to anti-vaccine and other "nonsense". And one thing I know is that fact based ridicule and moralizing has a low success rate.

As someone who somewhat understands both communities, I am already not on your side. If a pro-vacciner like me is turned off by such rhetoric, imagine it from an anti-vacciner's side.

Think I'm an outlier? I'll hazard a guess that most pro-vacciners are close to someone who is not (family connections, etc).

There is comfort in being "right". But being "right" does not in itself translate to right outcomes.

The Righteous Mind (https://www.amazon.com/Righteous-Mind-Divided-Politics-Relig...) is a very worthy read. A few things it points out:

1. On a polarized issue, facts will increase the polarization (and I'm guessing justifying shame with facts will exacerbate the issue)

2. To persuade someone, you will have a lot more success appealing to emotions than to the rational mind. This does not mean playing games where you manipulate people.

TheAceOfHeartsonSep 2, 2017

A few weeks back I read "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion". It was very insightful. I enjoyed it so much that I ended up immediately recommending it to many of my friends.

The author does a good job at getting the main points through. He ends each chapter with a summary of the discussed points, and at the end of the book he sums em all up again.

Not a book, but I've been consuming many Jordan Peterson videos on YouTube. He has presented me with many new arguments and ideas which I hadn't previously considered.

motohagiographyonOct 12, 2019

We would be getting into the weeds of it, but it's just redistributive, with all the moral hazard associated with that, and without applying it to direct investment in a carbon sink technology that mitigates the problem.

There are values that just don't scale well without trade offs against things like human dignity (loaded, but important), and applying the sentiments behind equity to vastly heterogeneous global interests is one of them.

While I (and my more reactionary and working class friends) understand that carbon taxes presumably compensate The People for the consequences of what was formerly an environmental externality - the use of climate as just a pretext for redistribution signals what gets perceived as an underlying dishonesty and illegitimate elitism that makes it difficult to legitimize the rationale, or outcomes.

For example, basic income funded by indirect taxation is an interesting solution to a specific set of problems around technology and globalization, but it requires a level of trust that has been damaged by freighting climate with these other agendas. Still doable, but to honestly discuss the options requires frank talk about limits and boundaries to its application.

I've got opinions like anyone and I'm not always entirely above point scoring either, so it's going to take real work for people to do it.

Having read things like Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind, and watching Scott Alexander's influence, the question of what the fundamental irreconcilable difference of interest may be is the most pressing question. How do we reconcile interests and coexist with people whose most basic beliefs we experience as alien? Some would just say, "win," even independent of political persuasion, but I'd argue there is immensely valuable work to be done to find ways to do better.

So short version, returning carbon tax money to the general populace means general revenue, for general spending, which is not something conservatives tend to trust.

ilakshonJan 23, 2021

Take a look at Jonathan Haidt's work such as The Righteous Mind.

He is not coming to the conclusion that there is no point. He is suggesting that people need to be aware of their strongly-held preconceived ideas, and work hard to understand the other side's worldview, before being able to make more objective conclusions or have constructive discussions.

It's really about taking time to absorb some of the alternate information streams to understand what a different perspective they are coming from.

The problem is that most information sources are highly polarized at this point.

travmattonJan 2, 2017

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt.

anonfornoreasononJune 15, 2021

That's not at all what I got out of reading "The Righteous Mind", so not sure how to respond to this constructively. Did you read the book? Granted it's been ~ 1 year since I read it, but I walked away with a completely different impression. The interesting thing that was covered was that liberals and conservatives have different ways to approach moral reasoning.

Republicans tend (this is not universal) to view things through a lense of six things: faith, patriotism, valor, chastity, law and order. Democrats focus on care and fighting oppression. Again, this is a simplification, but the theme is that conservatives have different moral foundations that make it hard for liberals to understand why they make decisions they do. A solid example (I can't remember if this was used in the book, but it helps me) is "why are they voting against their own interests". I hear this in my personal life all the time! I used to say it! Then I realized that voting for someone who is against welfare, when you are low on the socioeconomic spectrum, makes sense if you overweight faith, and believe that abortion is a grave moral sin. What's some poverty now compared to eternal damnation? I don't believe in hell myself, but this insight let me understand that someone who views things different than me isn't dumb, they just have different values that allow them to rationally decide things that my values seem irrational.

The hard part is trying to talk across this gap in moral reasoning, and find the right balance.

grzmonNov 8, 2016

Thanks for taking the time to respond. I have a really hard time with this, too. I've seen the problems it's caused me personally and in the US with its crippling polarization. There have been some discussions around HN recently:

- Crocker's Rules: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12881288

- Principle of Charity: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12774600

- Rapaport's Rules: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12774692

I also found Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind"[0] really worthwhile. I mean to read it again in the next week or so. What I find particularly impressive with his work is that he found that his research actually changed his own thinking.

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

And you know, re-reading your response "I've never had facts change anyone's mind", I think even if you don't change someone's mind at the time, finding some common ground, something you agree on is a worthwhile accomplishment. Sometimes it seems the gulf between us is so large. Recognizing that it might not be is reassuring.

I hope you find these useful!

DoctorZeusonJuly 24, 2015

You might be interested in the book 'The Righteous Mind' by Jonathan Haidt... he talks about that group psychology, and the importance of having social contexts where those energies can be expressed in a non-destructive way - such as college/city sports teams.

Also, do you have a reading recommendation for learning more about that aspect of Martin Luther King Jr. and his compatriots?

bmeltononApr 11, 2014

The smartest among us don't ascribe to partisan policy choices. I attempt to evaluate every position in which I have an interest based on its merits. This means that I disagree with the left on approximately half the issues, and disagree with the right on approximately the other half (that's a rough estimate, in reality, I think I disagree with either party far more than half).

That said, it's hard to be informed and not develop some loyalty to any particular politician. In all likelihood, you'll develop an affinity towards whichever politician you find agrees with you the most, and it's hard to say that "In general, I like so and so, but for his opinions on x and y."

Jonathan Haidt has done some fantastic research on the subject, specifically in the area of political psychology, and I would encourage you to read "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion".

In practice though, most people are happy to swallow whatever their party tells them is true, even when it provably isn't.

jseligeronMay 10, 2015

I'll ask my friends occasionally, "Why you believe that?", and I'm amazed when I realize that beyond a few brief soundbites, there's no real foundation beneath their viewpoints. Strong emotions but little rationale.

If you get a chance, take a look at Jonathan Haidt's excellent book The Righteous Mind, which is about, among other things, how people come to believe what they do (I wrote a little about it here: http://jakeseliger.com/2012/03/25/jonathan-haidts-the-righte...).

A better strategy in my experience is go up a meta level to something like, "How do people come to believe what they believe?"

jseligeronMay 29, 2012

. . . that scientist is Jonathan Haidt, who wrote The Righteous Mind.

BuntraceableonFeb 28, 2014

I highly recommend anyone in a similar situation read Jonathan Haidt's book "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion."

Haidt is a psychologist who studies moral development, and while I don't believe everything he puts forth in the book to be gospel, he makes many good points about how people come to moral conclusions (which may not be logical conclusions, but nonetheless are based on what the person uses their senses to believe is true).

You can hear a summary of Haidt's theory or moral matrices, as well as an example of how the theory has been employed to talk to people across the "political divide": http://media.uoregon.edu/channel/2013/06/04/what-on-earth-is...

jerfonNov 25, 2015

You might to find out who you're contemptuously dismissing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Haidt , in particular the first few paragraphs.

If you've progressed to the point where you can dismiss that guy without a thought, given his credentials and accomplishments, I submit to you that alarm bells ought to be going off in your head that you might have epistemologically closed yourself too far.

I'm not saying you're obligated to agree with him. I'm saying if you can't even engage with his arguments, it may be you that has the problem.

I can also recommend:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONUM4akzLGE "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion"

StronicoonJan 17, 2014

It's definitely the spectrum, not autism itself that I was refering to - I apologize for not being more specific.

And I would recommend Jonathan Haidt's book "The Righteous Mind"(if I gave offence, I apologize) for how differing political mindsets define fairness - it was quite illuminating to me when I read it.

Consultant32452onJune 29, 2020

I would highly recommend "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion" by Jonathan Haidt. He's a left leaning psychologist, and it's basically a PHD level dive into how morality works at a psychological level, with quite a few dips into cultural anthropology. Once I understood how my own moral systems worked and how very different moral systems function, it helped me avoid these pitfalls of negative emotion blocking my empathy and understanding of other people.

AntiImperialis2onDec 29, 2020

>There is absolutely a solid sense of morality baked into (at the very least) primate brains.

No, there isn't.

>Give this a read. The science is solid:


"The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion?". Hmm...

So, from your comment, I'm guessing that the answer in the book to the question in the subtitle is that there is some baked in "morality" in us, that evolution gave us? If so, that's extremely misguided.

If there was such a thing, it would be at least somewhat similar across all human tribes and cultures. That's not the case at all. It's vastly different throughout history and across cultures because these things have everything to do with power dynamics and resource distribution.


And? Monkeys have hierarchies. If they repeated this experiment but swappped the monkeys, it would turn out differently. The experiment is designed and orchestrated to show some sort of "equal pay" nonsense. What is happening is that the monkey on the left is socially higher than the one on the right... and hence it is used to claiming better food for itself first. When it sees the other one gets it, it gets pissed off. When these higher ups get injured, get sick or get old, someone else claims the status. It's all power dynamics and fight over resources. It has nothing to do with "morality".

> What kind of unhinged philosophy are you smoking? Objectivism? Marxism? Freebasing Solipsism?

I don't know what your western intellectuals call it but if I were to translate it to English, it would roughly translate to "reality".

jseligeronOct 3, 2015

I can't choose one, but I'd cite:

* Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind, for explaining so much personally and culturally so concisely.

* Everything on this list: http://jakeseliger.com/2010/03/22/influential-books-on-me-th....

* The Lord of the Rings, for its combination of story, interior drama, and (underrated) political economy.

* Blindsight by Peter Watts.

* Heart of Darkness by Conrad, who seems more prophetic all the time.

BadassFractalonJuly 4, 2018

Moral psychology is fun. Lolicon is one of those odd moral black holes for westerners. Jonathan Haidt in his book The Righteous Mind talks about a bunch of similar examples of victimless but "immoral" actions that we find wrong and will desperately try to find a victim for when one doesn't exist.

Similar examples: incest with 100% guarantee of no conception. Consensual cannibalism (edit for clarity: of someone very well cooked). Eating of a dead dog. Sex with a dead chicken and then its consumption.

We find all of those repugnant, immoral, and will try to come up with victims, even when there are none to be found.

It's a good example of how morality for humans is much more than just about harm. It's about conformity and cohesion with a set of rules that identify a specific tribe, regardless of harm.

grzmonFeb 20, 2017

Your Morals is an interesting alternative. It was set up by, among others, Jonathan Haidt, probably most commonly known for his book The Righteous Mind.


From the "About Us" page (http://www.yourmorals.org/aboutus.php):

This website is a collaboration among social psychologists who study morality and politics. Our goal was to create a site that would be useful and interesting to users, particularly ethics classes and seminars, and that would also allow us to test a variety of theories about moral psychology. One of our main goals is to foster understanding across the political spectrum. Almost everyone cares about morality, and we want to understand --and to help others understand -- the many different ways that people care.

soapdudeonAug 6, 2018

In The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt, the author extends a metaphor where humans act as a person riding an elephant. The elephant is strong and self-willed, and although it may be open to suggestions by the rider, it will ultimately be the prevailing force when dealing in immediate/reactionary circumstance. Over a period of time, the rider can influence the elephant such that it has a different "lean" in the future.

You seem to grapple with feeling hypocritical by not having a logical response to something you later find to be wrong, but perhaps your elephant simply wasn't "leaning" in the direction of the wrong-sayer.

I like the idea that the majority of forces acting on a humans actions/behavior are non-verbal; not necessarily big news, but it helps me to justify why I have trouble communicating with friends who are on the bleeding edge of social politics while I spend my weeks writing proprietary code and reading classic fiction novels.

bkandelonMay 12, 2020

Two that did it for me:

- The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt. Really deepened my understanding of how Western and other cultures think about moral and ethical issues.

- The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan. It's a feminist book that is very non-ideological, and helped me, as someone born in the 80's, appreciate some very real and practical issues that feminism has helped us address.

bootloadonFeb 11, 2017

" In _The Righteous Mind_, Jonathan Haidt argues that emotion-processing is critical to decision making (and that we use emotion-processing to guide reason), citing some work that people with damaged emotion processing suffer analysis paralysis on simple tasks."

The balance between logic, emotion and decisiveness is a theme explored in Star Trek S1E16, "The Galileo Seven" [0], [1] Spock taking command and following ^flawlewss logic^ almost gets them marooned and killed. I have a theory smart people who assume a rigid logical mindset make the worst leaders.


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

[1] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0708465/

jfengelonJan 23, 2020

I believe that the left loves to tie itself in knots trying to address the right. Books like What's The Matter with Kansas[1] and The Righteous Mind[2] are all written from a left-wing point of view, explaining the right-wing point of view and encouraging understanding. These books go at least back to the mid 90s[3], and during that time, the Overton window has shifted almost monotonically to the right. It seems to me that the harder the left tries to understand and accommodate the right, the more the right takes it as an opportunity to make itself less appealing to the left. And politically, it's successful.

I don't want to run down a rabbit hole of blame here. Rather, I wanted to suggest that it's not just symmetrical, and it's not as simple as "if only we on the left tried harder we could solve the problem unilaterally" -- because I don't think I've ever heard any similar accommodation from the right. I think we've tried that, and need to try something different.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What%27s_the_Matter_with_Kansa...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Righteous_Mind

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_Politics_(book)

tardygradonAug 20, 2017

This was touched upon heavily in the book 'The Righteous Mind' by Jonathan Haidt, an amazing book if you're interested in this sort of thing and part of Bill Gate's reading list where I first found it.

This quote (by Bertrand Russell) stood out: "Social cohesion is a necessity, and mankind has never yet succeeded in enforcing cohesion by merely rational arguments. Every community is exposed to two opposite dangers: ossification through too much discipline and reverence for tradition, on the one hand; and on the other hand, dissolution, or subjection to foreign conquest, through the growth of individualism and personal experience that makes cooperation impossible."

criddellonMar 5, 2016

In this election season, if you are left leaning and would like to understand just what it is that's underlying the politics of the right (or vice versa), I recommend Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind.


Prior to reading this, my politics aligned very closely with those of Sanders and I thought everybody on the right were selfish, evil, close-minded fools. After reading the book, my politics are still left of center (but definitely right of Sanders), but I think I understand and appreciate the politics of my right leaning family and friends.

lukiferonDec 29, 2019

Fiction: Unsong by Scott Alexander. The funnest and funniest sci-fi yarn since Douglas Adams, amidst tantalizing explorations of theodicy and existential absurdicy. It's even free: http://unsongbook.com https://github.com/moorederodeo/Unsong-In-Ebook-Format/relea...

Non-fiction: The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. Of all the books of the last ten years, I can't think of one that more transformed my understanding of (and compassion for) my fellow thinking, feeling, moralizing, tribal primates. https://righteousmind.com/

grzmonNov 16, 2016

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. Your guide is in line with what I've been thinking about. I'll admit I wish it were less work (and I don't like what that statement says about me).

As for editorial, I find news analysis pieces useful in putting facts in context, especially for topics I'm unfamiliar with, though that can be problematic, too. Similar to confirmation bias, being aware of the different types of bias can help me build the habit of keeping them in mind while I read.

I noticed in another thread that you're familiar with Jonathan Haidt. I hope to re-read "The Righteous Mind" this week. I found it really mind-opening the first time around, and has shaped how I'm now approaching the news in particular and discourse in general.

MaxBarracloughonOct 18, 2018

I'm not sure Scott Adams has really grasped moral foundations theory. It explain the differences in the moral systems used by American liberals and conservatives - it does not claim that liberals lack a sense of morality.

His abortion example strikes me as particularly off-base. Again, it's not that US liberals don't care about morality. Of course liberals think murder is wrong! They just don't consider a fetus to have the moral standing of a human.

Anyway, some direct links regarding moral foundations theory (though I highly recommend Haidt's book, The Righteous Mind):



grzmonJan 29, 2017

I understand and personally feel the same frustration. A few resources that have helped/are helping me:

- Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion

- Rapoport's Rules: https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/03/28/daniel-dennett-rapo...

- The Principle of Charity: http://philosophy.lander.edu/oriental/charity.html

dorchadasonDec 23, 2018

I should order that! I emailed him after I read The Righteous Mind (2016, 2017 maybe?) asking what his opinions were of the shifts we had seen since the book was published and whether his opinions have changed and how hopeful he was, etc. He did take the time to reply, even if it was short, and answered my questions; always appreciate when an author interacts with readers like that.

BeetleBonOct 16, 2020

I don't have the actual study at hand, but it's cited in the book "The Righteous Mind".[1] They looked at independent communes[2] in the US in the 1800's, and 20 years after the founding of a commune, 6% of the secular ones were still around, as opposed to 39% of the religious ones. The latter had more things binding them. One insight: In religious communes, sacrifices (no alcohol, etc) correlated with longevity. In secular communities, there was no correlation. Over there, every sacrifice had to be argued about and justified. There was less thrash in religious communes.

(Just found the author of the study/studies: Sosis[3]

[1]: https://www.amazon.com/Righteous-Mind-Divided-Politics-Relig...

[2]: A commune being defined as a group of people not sharing kinship deciding to live and work together.

[3]: https://anthropology.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/944/...

spodekonSep 18, 2020

I saw her speak at West Point about a year and a half ago. In a room including colonels, generals, and cadets, she riveted the audience with humor, stories, wit, and insight. My favorite insight was her sharing her friendship with Scalia. Their nearly opposite politics didn't stop them from things like he would secretly pass her notes while hearing cases to try to make her laugh.

Her sharing contributed to my befriending a few people with opposite political views, against this nation's tide of increasing polarization and beating opponents without trying to understand (Jonathan Haidt's book The Righteous Mind contributed too). Among the results: less anger, more understanding, more self-awareness, though also more confusion among friends and family to why I would talk to someone who voted that way.

ryanstormonMay 22, 2018

I listen to books during commutes and errands, and give them a letter grade when I'm done. I read a lot of different genres as I believe there's value in all genres (and mediums too).

These are some of the books I've given an "A" over the last few years, roughly grouped by genre:


- A Short History of Nearly Everything

- Fabric of the Cosmos

- Dataclysm

- The Righteous Mind

- Merchants of Doubt

- Dead Wake

- Man's Search for Meaning

- Evicted

- The New Jim Crow

- Night


- We

- The Sirens of Titan

- Hyperion

- Stories of Your Life

- Frankenstein

- The Day of the Triffids

- Childhood's End


- The Stormlight Archives

- The First Law Trilogy

- The Lord of the Rings


- The Stranger

- Dubliners

- Things I've Learned from Dying

- The Things They Carried

- Cloud Atlas

- Stoner

- Pillars of the Earth

abecedariusonAug 13, 2017

> I did read your comment as a touch condescending, just FYI.

Sigh, yeah, I need to watch that. Good of you to let me know.

My take on the not-listening thing -- of course I'm not Aron -- is that if you've heard a faction hector you a lot, and you don't think they're listening to you except maybe to match some of your words into their standard bingo cards, then it's natural to tune someone out the moment they say one of that faction's shibboleths. From this POV, telling the speaker how their rhetoric failed is actually reaching out to them a little. That's not the POV I aspire to: I try to consider more words that piss me off than I really feel like, because I meta-want to be less biased. Sometimes I do, and sometimes they even get through.

Re: social psychology, I'm just starting on Haidt's The Righteous Mind in hopes of learning some basics.

(Since many more people might read this, I guess I want to make it completely clear that I didn't say what brand of words piss me off.)

chazonJune 13, 2013

That's a fruitless way of approaching the problem. It plays into the political divides of "us" vs "them." By trying to establish groups of people as "clueless" about a topic, it just reinforces the feelings of, "they just don't get it" or "they wouldn't think that if they just knew better." All sides of an issue believe exactly that.

This reminds me to read a book that talks about this: "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion," by Jonathan Haidt. Maybe someone else has read it and can comment.

http://www.npr.org/2012/03/01/146474609/why-we-fight-the-psy..., http://www.amazon.com/The-Righteous-Mind-Politics-Religion/d...

nickffonJuly 22, 2020

I can give you a reading list to illustrate the libertarian views on public choice and government intervention (perhaps starting with non-libertarian James C Scott's "Seeing Like a State", and including Bryan Caplan's "The Myth of the Rational Voter"), but I have to say that we're unlikely to convince each other (for reasons described by Jonathan Haidt in "The Righteous Mind").

Municipalities organized as corporations are not unique to California, but the "inc." at the end of the name doesn't change anything. A government is an organization granted a monopoly (or oligopoly) on the legitimate use of force in a designated geographic area. For a discussion on the philosophical problems with governments as such, I recommend reading "The Problem of Political Authority" by Michael Huemer.

BrendanEichonNov 23, 2016

What's to understand? Gaur fantasizes about victimhood (mine, and presumably his or others; see links below) and makes up facts.

On the facts, Mozilla and I both say I resigned, and Mozilla's board members said at the time that they wanted me to stay.

But in fantasizing that I was fired, gaur's moralistic and judgmental language exhibits the usual signs that Jonathan Haidt has detailed in "The Righteous Mind": a casting out of the other as beyond redemption and justly punished, without the ability to model said other or address their point of view.

(Also without ever adverting to the bad "purging" precedent he's endorsing, which global Trumpism can and will exploit by reversing his right-makes-might-makes-right circular argument. The shoe may soon be on the other foot even here in the USA, at least in large regions; it definitely never left the first foot in places like Saudi Arabia.)

Dishonesty and self-pity are not worth hearing or studying -- we have enough of them already.

Gaur expresses or implies falsehoods about California law, but I've addressed those elsewhere on HN and won't repeat here. Links:





jseligeronMay 17, 2012

Even when they hold essentially the same views as I do, it's often for bad reasons

I noticed this too, and for a long time it bothered me. But I recently read Jonathan Haidt's book The Righteous Mind, and in it he points out that a lot of people appear to hold believes about a wide array of issues (politics, religion, consumer products, and so forth) that they don't really hold based on logic and evidence, but to signal group identification and affiliation.

In addition, he points out that, on a wide array of issues, people tend to have gut, intuition-based reactions first, then look for evidence to support their intuition, while a lot of us assume or want to assume that it works the other way around.

I probably learned something from The Righteous Mind on every page, and I say this about very few books; I also wrote at more length about it here: http://jseliger.com/2012/03/25/jonathan-haidts-the-righteous... .

(BTW, I agree with your basic point and think it's well put.)

atulatulonMay 27, 2019

This point was also deliberated in "The Righteous Mind". May be worth a read.

Plus, I like the observation from Maugham's Of Human Bondage: The submission to passion is human bondage, but the exercise of reason is human liberty.



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