Blogging at UMD

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This is the blog for the UMass Dartmouth First Year Summer Reading Project!

On this blog, students, faculty, and staff share ideas and comment on The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, by Jonathan Haidt.

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61 thoughts on “Blogging at UMD

  1. Kenneth Bowers says:

    Everyone has reasons why they do things, but I feel that it’s important to acknowledge your rights. I feel that Mr. Haidt does a decent job at admitting to his personal bias. It is, however, incredibly ironic that an author writes his own views into a book about understanding and accepting other people’s views.

    • Marielys Rodriguez says:

      I completely agree with Kenneth’s statement. Haidt shows us many different ways in how people understand and accept each others point of view. All the central metaphors that he mentions in the book really sink in to what he describes afterwards. This book explains in depth all different ways of morality and how people think plus act upon it. Morality is actually a very interesting subject to converse about and The Righteous Mind strongly enforces this subject. I felt that this book made me think very differently and comprehend other people’s opinions and views.

      • I agree with Marielys because this books should help everyone understand that what we believe to be right and wrong may not be what another person feels. This books opens up your perspective on so many aspects to not only your personal views, but how people in the world have a wide range of views.

      • In the first chapter of the book The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt, the authors strategic use of information and the assertions he creates make it more possible for the reader to comprehend and understand other peoples’ beliefs without offending the reader. Haidt’s claims about peoples’ morals are carefully backed up by positive assertions that are able to justify why people believe what they do without disrespecting anyone or their beliefs. The way Haidt organizes the first chapter allows the reader to open-mindedly acknowledge the moral values and beliefs of others, drawing them into the book and also a deeper understanding of the connection between social and moral values.

    • Darlande Joseney says:

      Although incredibly ironic Kenneth, I believe he chose 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.

    • Mua'au Pa'u says:

      I thought this book was going to be a hassle to read, because it involves Politics and Religion. But honestly it was the opposite, it showed more than just that, it had many of the same views I have in life. It showed I’m not the only one who thinks like this.

      • Vincent Chambers says:

        I completely agree. I expected to struggle yet surprisingly ended up enjoying the book and reading it twice.

      • Guillermo says:

        I completely agree with Mua’au this book looked incredibly difficult when i first picked it up but ,to my surprise, was very feasible. Because Haidt offers many relatable analogies to when he is trying to make, it is much easier to understand his meanings. Also he defines some of the jargon he uses which allows the reading to become much more comprehendable.

    • brenden bennett says:

      Kenneth made a great statement, though Haidt has his own opinion in his writing, he acknowledge the opinions of others and understood why. That is sometimes hard to do as a person, he understood that different people, from different communities, will have different opinions and morals. I will admit at times I see myself as very bias or snub towards some people, when I read into Haidt’s writings I could understand a little better that not everybody will think the same way, not because of anything other than the way they were brought up.

      • Chantia Williams says:

        I agree with Brenden. There are times when I find myself trying to understand how a person is because their way of thinking or doing things is completely different from mine. I also agree that pointing out that people have different ways of thinking based on how they were raised or where they are from is an important part of Haidt’s book. Regardless of us all being humans, this world is made up of different cultures that all have different views and different traditions.

    • Angela Oduro says:

      From what I have learned from reading and comprehending this book, Haidt does accept other peoples views and tries to understand them by scientifically testing them out through stories, scenarios, and studies. His writing is laudable because he does not jump to conclusions or make decisions based on personal feelings.

      • liliana andrade says:

        I also agree with your comment and believe that Haidt makes it easier to view both sides so your not close minded. He sets out a lesson for us to take advantage of being open minded and not judging a book by its cover. That “elephant” that weighs out intuitive thinking is connected to the rider.

    • Molly Baragwanath says:

      I liked the chapter which talked about how intuitions come first and strategic reasoning comes second. I thought it was very relatable because it’s a common occurrence to tell little white lies to avoid punishments. An example would be getting in trouble with your family over minor details such as giving excuses as to why you did not clean your room.

    • Nick St Germain says:

      Kenneth Bowers, I feel that your thoughts of Mr. Haidt being ironic is very true. I feel that you can’t really grasp the book if the author is writing in third person and in the first person, the book looses credibility from this.

    • I highly agree. However I do not believe that he is forcing his opinions upon anyone. Better honest than not about his personal bias. The whole idea is about keeping an open mind. That being said he acknowledges other’s views but stands firm on his own, much like we all do.

    • Brady Martin says:

      I agree with Kenneth on the part about Haidt putting his own views into the book. I also believe that every human has there own agenda and that someone who was writing a book like this would be strange in my eyes to not include there own view on a subject and try to persuade people into thinking like them so that there views look like the better path.

  2. Róisín Ellis says:

    Before reading this book I had a hard time understanding why there is such conflict between liberals and conservatives. Haidt was able to successfully cleared that right up for me. What I can take away from this book is that I can better understand someone else’s political point of view, but that dose not change what I stand for personally.

    • Glori Tolentino says:

      I completely agree with your opinion! I am a person who to be honest does not really pay to much attention to the world of politics and religion. But Haidt had written the book in a way that not only made everything a lot more clear but it made sense. I learned to accept others personal views.

      • The author, Jonathan Haidt, shares a challenging story about morality. In this scenario Haidt states, ” A man goes to the supermarket once a week and bus a chicken. But before cooking the chicken, he has sexual intercourse with it. Then he cooks it and eats it. ” Immediately, I felt a sense of disgust. What can drive someone to do that!? Then I started to think about the bigger picture. The man didn’t harm anyone. He has the right to do whatever he pleases in the privacy of his home. If that is what makes him happy who are we to judge. Any thought?

    • Guillermo says:

      I agree with roisin completely this book opened my eyes to the differences and dilemmas between conservatives and liberals. The righteous minds depicted them in a way in which there is very little middle between these two ideals which personally scared me because of how little it seems cooperation is possible.

    • Mua'au Pa'u says:

      Before this book i could careless for others political views, because i didn’t really understand where they were coming from. Haidt helped me see how others view on politics, and it also helped me realize that politics it self is a huge thing in this world.

      • Cassandra DaSilva says:

        I honestly can agree with you because that happened to me a I never really took the time to understand politics and their reasoning behind things. The whole politic scene never caught my attention but once I read this book it opened my mind a lot. Politics are very important in this world so its good to know whats going on in this world.

  3. Róisín Ellis says:

    Prior to reading this book I wanted to study psychology. I didn’t know what specifically I wanted to study but after reading “The Biology Of The Hive Switch” in chapter 10, I am starting to consider studying something I had been trying to avoid. The biology in psychology. I honestly hadn’t been enjoying this book as much as I was hoping. Actually I was having a hard time understanding a lot of it. Then once I got to chapter 10 “The Hive Switch” I was starting to enjoy it! I know that I enjoyed that specific section of chapter 10 because it explained exactly what causes us to react to situations and do things the way we do. Its the “neurons, neurotransmitters, and hormones” in the body as Haidt explains. I also like haidt’s whole theory of “The Hive Switch”. Being part of something more than yourself and being with a group of people that share similar interests. This is very important to me socially, as Haidt says it should be.

    • Ashlee Wright says:

      Same here! I feel like everyone was making this book sound amazing and so, I was expecting to read it quick and grasp the concept easily but that was not the case. I ran into my first problem when the book explained some of the most famous psychology experiments. I had already known about those so I began to skip over the sections where Haidt explained these experiments. I found out quickly,I had to read every page and every word if I was going to be able to follow along and understand the book. By the time I had reached the end all the confusion in the beginning had disappeared however, I was expecting for there to be little to no confusion at all.

      • Molly Baragwanath says:

        I also found that this book was very hard to understand! I thought the use of language was too intense to follow along with! Some parts of the book were much easier to comprehend than others. Although, when I could understand what I was reading, I did think the book was more enjoyable!

  4. Paula Pires says:

    I extremely agree with Kenneth’s statement also, Mr. Haidt demonstrates a great writer. Mr. Haidt spends the entire first part of his book understanding and accepting people’s point of view. One of my favorite part of Haidt’s book was the reason behind why he chose the name of the book in the first place. Haidt’s reason was to “convey the sense that human nature is not just intrinsically moral its also intrinsically moralistic, critical, and judgmental.”

  5. Marissa Garcia says:

    The thought that “our bodily states sometimes influence our moral judgments” is something that really stuck out to me, because of how true it really is. Not only did Alex Jordan prove this in his experiment, but if you think about it we prove it to ourselves in everyday life. The sense of smell was a good test, the fact that when people smell foul odors they become harsher in their judgments, but this could be done with almost any of the senses. For instance one time my family and I went to a restaurant which had very dimmed lighting and made the overall mood a different atmosphere. By the fact of the lighting my parents began to complain because they did not feel comfortable and automatically assumed that their food was going to reflect this feeling. Their elephant began to lean one way before they could even read the menu, or taste the food. Their judgments on everything became very critical. Once they did get their food and realized it was very good, their elephant leaned the other way and they began to compliment the restaurant and realize they did like it but were too quick to judge. People do this everyday, if they are not in a good mood, then everything in the world around them pays the price and they sometimes can miss out on a good experience or meeting an amazing person.

  6. Kristen Furtado says:

    I personally enjoyed this book as a whole. It was a heavy read, but overall it was entertaining and enjoyable. One thing that struck me when i first looked at the book was the little excerpt on the front cover: ‘why good people are divided by politics and religion.’ As I read, I always kept that in the back of my mind. As we all know, the book was entitled ‘The Righteous Mind’. What I noticed while reading the introduction was that Haidt gave a description of the word ‘righteous’ and described it as “just, upright, virtuous.” He also came across as to say that nowadays it has “strong religious connotations.” Maybe I put too much thought into this, but it made me think about how, maybe, Haidt’s reasoning behind naming the book ‘The Righteous Mind’ instead of ‘The Moral Mind’ was because his views are more religious than say, political.
    Growing up I went to church every Sunday and went to a Catholic School, so I know how some may think (or not) that morality and religion go hand in hand. Like how some people may think not going to church on Sunday is morally wrong but others don’t think anything of it.
    There is an example of this morality and religion connection on pages 16-20. Haidt explains, through his research, that morals are different in every society and culture. He talks about, specifically, the Indians versus the Americans in what would be morally right and wrong. Some of the ideas he gave just seemed so morally wrong to Indians but seemed to just pass by us as Americans. For example, ‘a widow in your community eats fish two or three times a week’. We don’t even care if a widow eats fish every day, but morally for Indians that’s wrong, culturally and religiously wrong.
    What I am trying to get at here is that there is a possibility that Haidt did his research and wrote this book with a religious thought process behind him. Does anyone else think this?

  7. Laura Polizoti says:

    I have heard other similar quotes to “We are 90% chimp and 10% bee,” but before reading this book I never understood what the quotes really meant. Now understanding and knowing that this quote defines us as humans, I feel that I am able to connect on a personal level. I used to play on a basketball team; we were told that the goal is to win, and have fun of course ! Naturally our human instinct is to make our self a better basketball player.I wanted to make as many baskets as I could, even if that means having to hog the ball. This individualistic goal is to get your own game statistics as high as possible, except the trick to becoming and staying a good basketball team is to forget about your own individual goals. The coaches turn on the “hive switch,” to turn everyone’s goals from individual to groupish. This group goal is to make the team good as a whole and to become undefeated. This new goal means that you may have to sacrifice bettering your own game stats, in order to better the whole team. The 10% bee doesn’t always come naturally to humans, which is why we may have to train to be able to excel in groups. In this case, we have basketball practice almost everyday in order to learn to work as a team. Once the group learns to work well as a team, then the team will start to increase the chance of a positive outcome. This made me understand the hive switch and that I really could find that 10% of me and work in a group.

  8. Angela Oduro says:

    Honestly my favorite thing about this book is the example story sections.These fabricated stories that were told to Haidt’s “subjects” were intriguing and allowed me to connect with his points being made. Haidt sharing these mini stories in the book was a brilliant idea. It gave way to a new way of thinking and allowed us to join his journey of finding out how the mind works.

    • Chantia Williams says:

      I agree with Angela. I loved the small stories. They helped me to understand what Haidt was trying to prove. The scenarios were different, not what I would have expected and they actually made me think. They were also disturbing and I praise Haidt for doing that because how else would you get people’s true reactions unless you push them out of their comfort zones.

  9. Laura Polizoti says:

    The world is strongly divided by religion and appears it will not change in the near future. People become fanatics about their beliefs and confirmation bias locks them in even more. People explore examples that confirm their belief and overlook evidence that could prove otherwise. Haidt mentions confirmation bias briefly and that many morals aren’t based on evidence, but on emotion. Will Storr agrees with Haidt and also talks about this in his article “What makes fanatics tick?,” in the Psychotherapy magazine. People unconsciously use confirmation bias almost daily. If people became aware of this bias, they might not be so stubborn and could have an open mind.

  10. Joe Mariano says:

    Sorry all, but the analogy of the rider on an elephant is like the mind divided, the rider’s job is to serve the elephant, is lost on me. What? The mind is divided like the rider on an elephant? What does that mean? “The job of the rider is to serve the elephant.” Wait, what? Wouldn’t that make the elephant an ineffective mode of transportation? I digress. The point is; bad analogy. I just can’t understand what point he is trying to make with that one.
    Human nature is 90% chimp and 10% bee? At least here he draws some parallel between bees and the need to lose ourselves in something larger to make the group more effective as a whole. But why 10% and why bees? This just makes me think of drones that work until their death for the common good. Most of Haidts analogies are nonsensical. I am finding the book frustrating. I’m willing to admit it may be lost on me, perhaps as I painfully move through the book I will get a better understanding . How very Haidt of me to being open to changing my mind.

    • Carly Pelissier says:

      I understand how the analogy does not make sense to some people. What I did to understand the rider and the elephant was apply it to everyday life. Haidt says that the rider is the rational mind, like thinking and reasoning, and the elephant is the emotional and impulsive mind, similar to jumping to conclusions and impulsive reactions. When you meet new people, your elephant is your prejudger. You automatically start picking out appearance reasons why you like or dislike this person, instead of waiting and rationally getting to know this person. Another example is waking up to your alarm in the morning. When it goes off, your elephant immediately turns it off without realizing your rider is trying to remind you to wake up for something. I hope that helps you understand it!!

  11. Sandip Kaur says:

    The Righteous Mind was actually quite interesting to me because it discussed morality. I believe that it is extremely important for people to respect others decisions and their point of view because everyone tends to judge others because they are not in favor of it. This book teaches and demonstrates others perspective on situations.

    • Tyler Mallon says:

      I completely agree with that. The Righteous Mind made me think about morality in a completely different way than I ever have before. Haidt did a great job explaining how the human mind works.

  12. Sandip Kaur says:

    Haidt does an excellent job at showing us why people do certain things and what it is exactly that is going through their mind at the moment. We, as people, usually tend to lack the ability to comprehend others actions but this book has taught me to try to look at the issue and try to understand why one is performing such actions. Prior to reading this book I was not as understanding and accepting towards everyone, however, I have been more accepting regrading others after reading this book.

  13. Vincent Chambers says:

    I believe that Haidt did a magnificent job showing us why some people do certain things and act certain ways. Some people are a little oblivious to what’s going through the thoughts of the minds of other people and he really portrayed why.

  14. Tyler Mallon says:

    I believe that Haidt does a great job explaining how people are like an elephant and an elephant trainer. Their morals are like the elephant and people are like the the elephant trainer and they will say anything to try and make sense of the what the “elephant” is doing.

    • Anthony says:

      Your right, he did explain the elephant and the rider well!In my eyes, I pictured the elephant to be a person’s thoughts and mind. As for the rider, he represents the average everyday person. The elephant signifies the people, not just mentally, but physically and emotionally. In order to serve the elephant the rider must take risks and think critically in order to find the path for the elephant.

  15. Michael Ciambelli says:

    Chapter 12 “Can’t We all Disagree More Constructively?” was one that really stuck out to me. Haidt explains the differences and reasoning behind “weird” people and “non-weird” people. It’s one of my favorite chapters because I agree with most of what Haidt said on the subject of different trends in society.

  16. Suthida Frank says:

    Intellectual diversity was frowned upon at my high school. I remember we always learned things from a liberal side and we were taught that the conservative decisions and ideas were stupid to consider. I agree with Haidt that there needs to be a balanced exposure to the two sides in .education so that students can come up with their own morals.

  17. Suthida Frank says:

    Haidt’s idea that the parts need to come together as a whole is an effective solutions to inaction in social, economic, political, and financial problems. Naturally we want to pursue individual goals but if society looks at things on a much larger scale, solutions can be made and used much quicker. However, being drawn to your own party’s common views or the views of those who are similar to you religiously, economically, socially, or even racially, prevents progress.

  18. adam lariviere says:

    I liked how they brought a little bit about phycology into the book when talking about piaget. They also discussed nature vs nurture debate is argued but both sides are wrong.

  19. adam lariviere says:

    The Righteous Mind was a pretty interesting book. Its a book about morality and to get you to look at the book soon as it starts Haidt discussion how peoples morality differs between different areas. The example he used is buying a chicken having sex with it and then eating it.

  20. marvey mathurin says:

    At first I thought this book was not going to be interesting but I was wrong. Haidt’s discussions helped open up my eyes. I always realize how quick people are to judge but never quite understood why, but reading his elephant and rider discussion helped me notice the mental process people take to judge.

    • Brady Martin says:

      I as well learned a bit as to why people jump to conclusions and get almost hostile when there views are challenged in a way that differs from there way of thinking. I did enjoy the chapter that spoke about how to win a argument and how you have to come off more accepting of persons view and then slowly ease into presenting your own instead of putting it all out at once and overwhelming them into a argument.

  21. marvey mathurin says:

    Overall this book was an amazing. Chapter 3 “Elephants Rule” was by far the most interesting chapter for me. I agree with everything Haidt says and how it reflects our society. We all need to stop letting the elephant make the judgments for us. Start sitting around and opening up to the advice of the rider.

  22. Jayla says:

    In the beginning when Haidt is explaining the Rodney King tragedy and the aftermath of it, I came to realize that what most of what he is saying is absolutely true. I think it is hard for people to get along because we are very judgemental, critical, and moralistic. Most believe that they are right in everything they do and refuse to acknowledge the fact that people do, think, and live differently. Just because it is different, it doesn’t mean that it is wrong. People don’t like to agree to disagree, they’d rather argue, fight, or start wars. A lot of the thighs we do or say are also taken out of context because certain things and words hold different values depending on where you are. A lot of things can also be altered in order to benefit a person or groups belief/moral system.

  23. Jayla says:

    Reading this book was like a flashback to my high school senior year in sociology and psychology. We had discussed the matter of nature vs. nurture and I honestly was split between the two. I do believe that in some things we are born with a blank slate, but we also develop certain ideas naturally. Now, I think that all three: nature, nurture, and rationalism, all play a part in developing our morality. I believe that we are born with a blank slate that is filled with all of these ideas from the people and things around us. After we reach a certain age we began to self construct what we think is right or wrong.

  24. Natalia says:

    In the beginning of the book I was kind of thrown off by the examples that the author gave to get his point across. As the book progressed I thought that the examples that were given were necessary to get the point across and show the reader how people morals can be different.

    • Chris Birolini says:

      I totally agree, during first couple chapters I had to go back and read it again to see if what I just read was what was printed on the page or if I was losing it.

  25. david cheever says:

    I thought that this book was very hard to understand at times because the language was intense and the author jumped around a lot.

  26. Laxmi Fernandez says:

    After reading this book i have a different perspective with my actions because it shows how we always try to cover our selves from trouble and instead of facing them.

  27. Anthony says:

    The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt provided a lot of great points and examples, but I didn’t really enjoy the book that much. I felt as if it was completely biased towards his point of view rather than another persons perspective. Some things that he stated may have sounded great to him, and maybe some people may have agreed, but another person may not have agreed on his points. I know i didn’t agree on his point about the bees vs. the chimps. He basically was saying that chimps are more individual rather than helping people. The bees are more helping, just like in their little bee community, they contribute. I don’t believe that we are 90% chimps and 10% bees. I feel like we all differ depending how we are raised.

  28. Chris Birolini says:

    This book seemed like it was going to be a hard read and i thought i was going to fall asleep after every sentence, but it was actually really interesting on what is was talking about and how it got its point across. I liked how Haidt not only expressed his own views but also the views of every single living person out in the world.

  29. Cassandra DaSilva says:

    It really is helpful to read and acknowledge the different aspects of different topics as written in this book. Sometimes we do not take the time to see all sides of the story; we sometimes just see it only our way and end the the story there. This book really presented conflicts that is discussed throughout different races. The best part was that he explained each aspect and gave us an understanding of the division that is amongst the human environment. I’m glad that Mr. Haidt didn’t look down upon the different beliefs of politics, religion, culture, and the surrounding conflicts in between these topics. This book is really good for us to read because its teaching us how to make decisions, how to be open-minded with different situations that are presented, and to be understanding because sometimes our moral judgement may close our minds to new things. Not only is it good for us but it’s good for everyone because it doesn’t focus on one crowd target its speaking all crowds.

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