Welcome to the UMD First Year Book Project Blog

Welcome to the Summer Reading Blog for first year students at UMD!

Our summer reading is The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, by Jonathan Haidt  (2012).

On July 15th, 2014, UMD Professors from across the disciplines will begin publishing posts about key concepts in the book here  and asking for your responses to the book.

Until then, we ask you to get your own copy of The Righteous Mind, to take notes as you read, and to be ready to tell us what you think of the key concepts in the book.

To prime your interest, here’s a video of Jonathan Haidt talking about the book:


For those of you who are interested in who Jonathan Haidt is, his thoughts on The Righteous Mind, and his other works, please check out:


If you ramp up your “google-fu,” you will also find interviews w/ Haidt and reviews of his work (reviews provide great context for counter-arguments!)

Also, here’s a  response to Haidt in The New York Times

How might these sources help you think about The Righteous Mind a bit differently?

24 thoughts on “Welcome to the UMD First Year Book Project Blog

  1. Krystal Cabral says:

    I think the three factors Shweder developed in his theory of morality are too simple and that society is shaped by many other factors.
    For example, another factor that I think would be essential in a functional society would be the “Ethics of Laws”. The main purpose would be to maintain order, control and balance. If we give people too much freedom to do what they want, their would be instability. People would try to overthrow the ruler and their would be mayhem within the society.

  2. Madelyne Gondres says:

    This book has a challenging way of putting out the way society view things. It talks about what things we find morally wrong, not because we really think they are but because for the rest of the people surrounding us this actions shouldn’t be allowed or committed by anyone. As someone that already challenges people believe on religion and politics, this book is very appealing because of the way Shweder compare and contrast his theory with other. As of for now I’m amaze by his words.

    • acox1umassd says:

      Hi Madelyne, would you mind posting your comment on one of the blog posts rather than this instructional page? That way more of your fellow students will get a chance to read it. Thanks! And, great post!

      • acox1umassd says:

        Madelyne, if you go to the bottom of the post, you will see an icon that says “leave a comment.” If you click there a comment box will appear and you can log in and comment there. Good luck!

  3. Nathan Garon says:

    An interesting point of view that the book offered to me was that of the elephant analogy. It is very interesting to think that our reactions are actually almost predetermined by this eternal elephant we are riding, and that our reactions may be altered by our surroundings. Something such as a smelly trash can or a pleasant sent can have an effect on our elephant. Even such things as simple as placing a hand sanitizer dispenser nearby can affect the outcome.

      • acox1umassd says:

        Hi again, yes. But look at the posts rather than the how tos and blog info pages:) As the days go on there will be more students, I promise:)

    • acox1umassd says:

      Nathan, would you like to add your comment to one of the posts rather than a page here? That’s where most of the discussion happens and it’ll give your peers an opportunity to respond to you:)

  4. Rudolf Boampong says:

    Jonathan Haidt, with this remarkable book, has really challenged my way of thinking about and view of society, This can be attributed to several examples of brain-teasing questions that have had and still have people dumb founded morally without having a justifying explanation as to why they agree or disagree on an issue. These series of questions have definitely fascinated me and have motivated me to endeavor to find appropriate explanations for my choices regarding matters I am faced with daily.

  5. Rudolf Boampong says:

    I also personally believe that actions that are generally shunned or frowned upon in society are the ones most people indulge in the most. This is due to the mindset that do those deeds draws attention to themselves. But if these actions are somehow or some way deemed legal or accepted, I strong believe that the wave of criminal activities won’t be as strong since these offenders would be the ones looking for their own new ways of protecting themselves and loved ones from these threats.

  6. liliana andrade says:

    I personally connected to this book when Jonathan Haidt compared the his reasoning to that of Damasio. It was stated that “reasoning requires passion.” It opened up my eyes to think about how do I reason? I reason through the emotions I feel. I tried putting my emotions to the side and reason on something like Jonathan first implied when he did his studies. Would I save one person getting hit by a train or five? I made many different conclusions but ultimately i made them with an emotion of guilt and sympathy. It became very clear to me that this reason over all is very true.

  7. Markery Flerisma says:

    I never thought about it before, but it is ridiculous how our personalities supress certain moral modules but increase others. Is a person not completely moral unless they have a perfect personality?

  8. Markery Flerisma says:

    All the points about democrats and republicans has me jumping back and forth between sides. I like the stern patriotism in republicans, but also like the humanist support from democrats.

  9. There are huge differences in moral and conventional rules that divides them up very easily. For example a moral rule is not to injure or kill people, or not to violate or steal from their property. Conventional rules are like if you’re a man you don’t wear a dress on normal occasions, or swear at the dinner table.

    • I agree with you, depending on how the person has been raise and it’s persona is that they will view morality. And if in my culture for example is totally normal to eat my own dog while in other culture this is could be consider a crime, this indeed will cause an effect on how the person will view morality and its “rule”.

  10. Darlande Joseney says:

    Haidt made a conscious choice to write his views on other people’s views on purpose. And I’m sure anyone reading this could be thinking, “Duh, it is his book, why wouldn’t he give his opinion?” but that is not what I am referring to. Haidt takes us into his own vantage points and revelations so that, in parallel, we as readers can have an enlightened perspective on whatever we believed morality to be before we read the book. Explanation: Haidt has his own thoughts on morality and what causes something to be “moral” before he did the research for his book, right? And now that he has written this book he can provide psychological reasoning as to why he feels the way he does. In the same token, before the book we all had our thoughts on morality. After reading, I can say that my views on morals have changed a bit. By giving his “two-sense” he connects with the reader and enlightens or “stirs up” the opinions us readers may have already had. That was his purpose.

  11. Darlande Joseney says:

    Prior to reading this story, I never considered the fact that someone’s “scale” for what is right and wrong could be based on their culture and how they are raised. Different cultures call for different morals and that is a concept that is still mind boggling for me and kind of hard to accept. I am strong willed, so in my mind, if I deem something to be right and in your country it is wrong, we are bound to have a debate. This concept was definitely a reality check.

  12. Michael Ciambelli says:

    In conclusion to Jonathan Haidt’s beliefs and research, I feel as if this book has a great deal of useful information dealing with human morals. Going into the book, I wasn’t expecting such vivid descriptions and scenarios that Haidt experienced in his studies. What really got my attention early in the book was figure 1.1. It gave us examples of actions that Americans said were wrong, but Indians thought were acceptable. One of the examples was a husband beating her wife because she didn’t ask permission to go to the movies alone. This was a real eye opener to me because it showed a real life example of just how different someone’s morals can be from yours.

  13. The Righteous Mind was a long book for someone like me that doesn’t read often but after finishing the book I feel that my whole view on what right and what wrong about morals has changed for the better. This book takes the saying “Don’t judge a books by its cover” to a new meaning. I have been an enlightened by this book and I am glad to say I’ve read it.

  14. Brendan Donoghue says:

    I know we have to leave two comments so i’m going to ask people if they read this if they would like a different book for the next freshman to come in.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s