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Psychology & The Mind

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K. Cunningham

K. Cunningham San Francisco, CA Member Since 2002

Kerry

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  • "Why Good People Are Divided - Good ..."

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    By and large, I think this is a good and even an important book. In it, Haidt very clearly lays out the research that supports the view that human beings have been endowed by evolution with 6 moral intuitions, or foundations. The moral intuitions are innate, which Haidt clearly explains does not mean fixed and immutable, but, rather, arranged in advance of experience. We don't all have a fixed set of moral intuitions, but there is a limited palate from which experience may paint the picture of how we perceive the world.

    The most important part of Haidt's research and the argument of this book is that liberal and conservatives share these moral intuitions but tend to emphasize them very differently, and it is the different emphases that cause the divisions among us. In brief, liberals tend to assign moral weight to issues of justice (is it fair - does everyone have an equal chance) and harm/care (does it cause harm to another - bad; or does it help another - good). Conservatives share these intuitions, but their take on justice is different. For a conservative, justice is determined by proportionality. Each according to his/ her contribution, not his/ her need. In addition, everyone, but conservatives to a much greater extent than liberals, also feel that questions of loyalty (to one's group/family/country), authority (obedience), and purity/ sanctity (as in not mixing this with that) are moral issues. A sixth intuition concerns liberty. Here again, however, liberals and conservatives differ in how they think about liberty. Liberals wish to be free of constraints applied by other members of the group, while conservatives think of liberty as freedom from government.

    As a framework for parsing arguments between liberals and conservatives, I think this is extraordinarily helpful. What Haidt and colleagues argue is that when we disagree with our ideological counterparts, the disagreements arise from differences in the weight we apply to these moral intuitions. For liberals, there really are just two primary moral issues, fairness and harm/care, while conservatives also value authority, loyalty, purity and liberty to a great extent.

    Importantly, Haidt argues that each of the moral intuitions has been vital to the evolution of human culture. While those among us who are liberals care more about justice and care, without the other intuitions, we would never have achieved the groupishness and hence the culture that separates humans from other animals. It is primarily the conservative intuitions that have been responsible for providing the glue that held groups together over our evolutionary history, and it is as groups that human beings have generated a culture that has distanced us from our primitive ape cousins.

    Not much to take issue with there.

    Ultimately, however, Haidt explains that his study of morality produced in him a sort of conversion from liberal to moderately conservative, having discovered the value of groupish moral intuitions. He also cites research showing that conservatives are better able to take the view of a liberal into account that vice versa, and invites liberals to try to broaden their view to include these other intuitions. His suggestion in this book and elsewhere is that more conservative voices should be added to the intellectual debate over the role of moral intuitions in society.

    So here's my problem with that. 1) I am liberal and have a hard time, as he says, understanding how the groupish intuitions might continue to retain their value as moral intuitions in the modern world. It seems to me that many of our greatest problems today have to do with the oversized role of these moral intuitions in buttressing parochial concerns (issues of importance to my group only), leading to inter-group conflict.
    2) I am a member of a group (gays) that has been and still is legally disenfranchised in this country, and that disenfranchisement is largely justified by referral to the moral intuition purity. I can't marry my partner, because too many people in this country believe that to allow me to do so would somehow violate the purity/sanctity of heterosexual marriage. So, I can't get behind it. Of course, that is my parochial concern, but I can point to similar concerns that would affect nearly everyone. Purity/Sanctity, in my view, is a moral intuition that has outlived its useful life.
    3) Too much of Haidt's argument has the flavor of a naturalistic fallacy. One is committing the naturalistic fallacy when one deems something to be good on the basis of it being natural. Another way it is expressed is when a person assumes that something ought or should be a certain way solely on the basis that it is that way in nature. Haidt's argument is more subtle than saying that because people are endowed with six moral intuitions, therefore all six ought to be valued equally. But, for may taste, his argument still relies mostly on the argument that because these six moral foundations were all critical for the development of what we consider to be civilized society, that they are all to be consulted in policy- and decision-making now. Much of our civilization consists of norms and rules for curbing natural instincts. The instincts that continually reify parochial groupishness, ie, the conservative moral intuitions, are among the natural instincts that I believe must be curbed. An alternative take is that the moral foundations are fine as is, but the groups to which they are applied must be continually enlarged to include everyone, and then perhaps everything. Clearly, this circle-enlarging has been occurring and will likely continue. That's great. But, shouldn't we also work to limit the sway of the intuitions that, while historically vital, are presently harmful or at best of dubious value for large swathes (i.e., anyone not in the majority) of our society today?

    More

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

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs)
    • By Jonathan Haidt
    • Narrated By Jonathan Haidt
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    (494)
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    In The Righteous Mind, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores the origins of our divisions and points the way forward to mutual understanding. His starting point is moral intuition - the nearly instantaneous perceptions we all have about other people and the things they do. These intuitions feel like self-evident truths, making us righteously certain that those who see things differently are wrong. Haidt shows us how these intuitions differ across cultures, including the cultures of the political left and right.

    Douglas says: "A Brilliant And Insightful Book!"
  1. The Righteous Mind: Why G...
  2. .

A Peek at Doug's Bookshelf

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43 REVIEWS / 262 ratings Member Since 2010 69 Followers / Following 4
 
Doug's greatest hits:
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow

    "*The* Book on Behavioral Decision Theory"

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    I've been a junkie on this topic ever since I took the first class Richard Thaler (Author of "Nudge" and heavily cited in this book) ever offered on Behavioral Decision Theory. Kahneman and Tversky are the great pioneers of the subject. Kahneman's book does not disappoint. This subject is so important it should be required reading.

    Kahneman does an excellent job of making the subject clear and understandable. The narration is excellent. This is a first-class effort in every way.

  • The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Should Not - and Put Ourselves in Great Danger

    "2 books in one"

    Overall

    The Science of Fear is really two books appended to each other. The first half is an excellent book on the psychological factors that cause fear, and how humans cannot calculate risk correctly.

    The second half is an excellent political diatribe about how the public has been deceived by both ends of the political spectrum -- with special mention for the Bush administration's clear intention to deceive. This second half should have been a second book called "The Politics of Fear".

  • Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril

    "Preachy Collection of Stories"

    Overall

    Heffernan's book is a collection of interesting stories and research on willful blindness, but it suffers from two flaws. 1. It lacks coherence. While the book has a clear subject, it's like a brain dump on the subject. The author doesn't pull the information together in a way that forms a coherent narrative. 2. It's preachy to the point that it's annoying.

  • The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies - How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths

    "Starts Strong, Then Wanders"

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    The Believing Brain starts strong, delivering on its title promise about why people believe such strange things. Then the author begins to wander. By mid-way the book starts becoming a recap of material from other books.

    The section on politics particularly wanders. For an extended section it's about the author's own political beliefs, and subtly why those beliefs are rational, implying others' beliefs are not.

    From there the book goes on to discuss cognitive biases, the history of science, and the scientific method. All of these topics are much better covered in other books specific to those subjects.

Trick Brown

Trick Brown Proud and ashamed to be from the Empire State. 10-03-13 Member Since 2013

Just enjoying my readin', 'ritin', and 'rithmatic.

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  • "If you just want to know..."

    25 of 32 helpful votes

    The Reason I Jump is a book written in 2006 by a 13 year old child with autism. In it, he attempts to answer the basic questions one might ask of someone with a spectrum disorder. That is, if they weren’t too uncomfortable to ask such questions. I don’t normally review non-fiction, but I do follow science and the autism spectrum disorder has been featured a great deal in science during the past 15 years. And thanks to wackos, like Jenny McCarthy preaching nonsense about her mommy instincts being better than science, many people think autism is caused by vaccines despite numerous clinical studies to the contrary. The truth is, science has not completely determined the causes, though genetics seems to be a dominant factor. That digression aside, I decided to read this book because I don’t really know anybody with autism. I don’t know much about the disorder at all, and when I heard about this book, I thought it an excellent time to get some information straight from the source and what better source than from a child?

    David Mitchell has a child with autism and a Japanese wife. These two circumstances led to his spearheading the translation of this monograph from Japanese to English, so if you enjoyed this work in English, you can thank him and his wife for wanting to help get this information to English speakers. An introduction written by David Mitchell appears at the beginning. I think he works a little too hard at trying to describe what it is like to have autism and should have stuck to what it was like being the parent of such a child. Regardless, his words did not detract from the rest of the book. I felt it appropriate to give him his due for his contributions to the publishing process, but that also means I have to ask why he threw in his two cents since we’re effectively reading to get a first hand account, not his interpretations of what it is like to be autistic.

    The Reason I Jump is not written as a narrative. It is a simple list of frequently asked questions. Or, as I said above, questions people want to ask, but would feel too uncomfortable, or maybe fear it too politically incorrect to ask. But Don’t get me started on the PC nonsense. It is this sort of nonsense that prevents people from asking these questions when the answers would aid in understanding.

    The book is actually quite refreshing I often find personalized accounts annoying to read because they constantly have to appeal to some sense of over stylized humanity. Apparently most accounts have to have some bizarre human angle to get people to “care” about it. I find it strange that people aren’t interested in something just for the sake of knowing. This is the primary reason I don’t read a lot Human interest stories. They may have an element of reality that most find alluring, but they’re written like fiction and it always makes me wonder what it is they’re leaving out or what is being embellished for effect. I don’t want fairy tale embellishments, I want the straight talk and this is exactly what this book provides.

    Naoki Higashida cannot speak (at least at the time he wrote the book) but he could communicate by pointing at a laminated card with letters, so no doubt the economy of the book is due to the slow method by which it was written. In my opinion, long drawn out narratives should be antithetical to much non-fiction since the goal is to communicate ideas. One would think the author and the readers would want to get to the point.

    If you think that a child, or in particular, a child with autism couldn’t possibly challenge a “neurotypical” person’s understanding of their own world view, I would wager something in the first dozen questions and answers will open your eyes. Speaking of eyes, that is one points he makes. He is/was always told to look someone in the eyes when speaking to them or being spoken to by them. He effectively begs the response question: Why would his understanding of the words be improved simply by making eye contact? Too true! Just because “normal” people feel compelled to garner social cues and other information through eye-contact, why do we insist the same action will/should have the same effect on someone whom we all agree does not process the world in the same way?

    Naoki Higadisha describes people’s voices as being close or far away, like a dandelion or a mountain, only the actual distance does not determine how people with autism hear the voice. He doesn’t get into the factors that determine the distance of the voice at any given time, but rather he gives some simple advice to help a speaker draw their voice closer. He asks that you say “our” name first, so they know they are being spoken to. A simple elegant solution to a situation so both parties can relate.

    “What’s the worst thing about having autism?”

    “Would you like to be normal?”

    Numerous “Why do you do this or that” questions are all examples of the types of insights Naoki Higadisha tries to answer. He does not pretend he can answer all these questions for every autistic person, but he gives his most reasonable guess. No doubt there will be questions you’ll feel should have been asked and answered, but I think that’s just a by product of being inquisitive. A person will ask several questions for each one answered on any topic, if they are truly engaged.

    The book is fairly short and ends with a short story written by Naoki Higashida. I won’t spoil any of that for you and end my review with a simple recommendation. If you would like a bit of insight into how a different set of people think and perceive the world, and how you should interact with them, this book is a good start.

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    The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Naoki Higashida
    • Narrated By Tom Picasso
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    Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, The Reason I Jumpis a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.

    Janice says: "Cracking the code"

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    • By Robert Greene
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    Ellenberg chases mathematical threads through a vast range of time and space, from the everyday to the cosmic, encountering, among other things, baseball, Reaganomics, daring lottery schemes, Voltaire, the replicability crisis in psychology, Italian Renaissance painting, artificial languages, the development of non-Euclidean geometry, the coming obesity apocalypse, Antonin Scalia's views on crime and punishment, the psychology of slime molds, what Facebook can and can't figure out about you, and the existence of God.

    Bonny says: "Mathematics is the extension of common sense..."
  • How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain (






UNABRIDGED) by Gregory Berns Narrated by LJ Ganser

    How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Gregory Berns
    • Narrated By LJ Ganser
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (28)

    How Dogs Love Us answers the age-old question of dog lovers everywhere and offers profound new evidence that dogs should be treated as we would treat our best human friends: with love, respect, and appreciation for their social and emotional intelligence.

    karen says: "Where is the information?"
  • The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind (






UNABRIDGED) by Michio Kaku Narrated by Feodor Chin

    The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Michio Kaku
    • Narrated By Feodor Chin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (414)
    Performance
    (380)
    Story
    (381)

    For the first time in history, the secrets of the living brain are being revealed by a battery of high-tech brain scans devised by physicists. Now what was once solely the province of science fiction has become a startling reality. Recording memories, telepathy, videotaping our dreams, mind control, avatars, and telekinesis are not only possible; they already exist.

    Gary says: "More breadth than depth"
  • Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning (






UNABRIDGED) by Peter C. Brown Narrated by Qarie Marshall

    Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Peter C. Brown
    • Narrated By Qarie Marshall
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    To most of us, learning something 'the hard way' implies wasted time and effort. Good teaching, we believe, should be creatively tailored to the different learning styles of students and should use strategies that make learning easier. Make It Stick turns fashionable ideas like these on their head and will appeal to all those interested in the challenge of lifelong learning and self-improvement.

  • Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being near, in, on, or under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do (






UNABRIDGED) by Wallace J. Nichols, Céline Cousteau (foreword) Narrated by Wallace J. Nichols

    Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being near, in, on, or under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Wallace J. Nichols, Céline Cousteau (foreword)
    • Narrated By Wallace J. Nichols
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    In Blue Mind, Wallace J. Nichols revolutionizes how we think about these questions, revealing the remarkable truth about the benefits of being in, on, under, or simply near water. Combining cutting-edge neuroscience with compelling personal stories from top athletes, leading scientists, military veterans, and gifted artists, he shows how proximity to water can improve performance, increase calm, diminish anxiety, and increase professional success.

  • Consciousness and the Social Brain (






UNABRIDGED) by Michael S. A. Graziano Narrated by Sean Runnette

    Consciousness and the Social Brain

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Michael S. A. Graziano
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
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    (0)
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    What is consciousness and how can a brain, a mere collection of neurons, create it? In Consciousness and the Social Brain, Princeton neuroscientist Michael Graziano lays out an audacious new theory to account for the deepest mystery of them all. In Graziano's theory, the machinery that attributes awareness to others also attributes it to oneself. Damage that machinery and you disrupt your own awareness. Graziano discusses the science, the evidence, the philosophy, and the surprising implications of this new theory.

  • Authoritarian Sociopathy: Toward a Renegade Psychological Experiment (






UNABRIDGED) by Davi Barker Narrated by Darryl W. Perry

    Authoritarian Sociopathy: Toward a Renegade Psychological Experiment

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 22 mins)
    • By Davi Barker
    • Narrated By Darryl W. Perry
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    This is the fifth draft of a renegade psychological experiment on authoritarian sociopathy, specifically on police brutality. We aim to show the world beyond a shadow of a doubt, that power corrupts absolutely, and corrupt authority deserves no obedience.

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  • Talking to Alzheimer's: Simple Ways to Connect When You Visit with a Family Member or Friend (






UNABRIDGED) by Claudia J. Strauss Narrated by Adriana J. Kahwaji

    Talking to Alzheimer's: Simple Ways to Connect When You Visit with a Family Member or Friend

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Claudia J. Strauss
    • Narrated By Adriana J. Kahwaji
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    Alzheimer's can have a devastating impact on a patient's close relationships and all too often, family members and friends feel so uncomfortable that they end up dreading visits, or simply give up trying to stay in contact with the patient. This book offers a wealth of practical things you can do to stay connected with the Alzheimer's patient in your life.

  • How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist (






UNABRIDGED) by Andrew Newberg, MD, Mark Robert Waldman Narrated by James C. Lewis

    How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Andrew Newberg, MD, Mark Robert Waldman
    • Narrated By James C. Lewis
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
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    (1)

    God is great-for your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Based on new evidence culled from brain-scan studies and a wide-reaching survey of people's religious and spiritual experiences, neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, MD, and therapist Mark Robert Waldman offer the following breakthrough discoveries: Not only do prayer and spiritual practice reduce stress, but just 12 minutes of meditation per day may slow down the aging process.

  • Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight, A Psychiatrist's Own Story (






UNABRIDGED) by Loren A. Olson MD, Karen Levy (editor) Narrated by Loren A. Olson

    Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight, A Psychiatrist's Own Story

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Loren A. Olson MD, Karen Levy (editor)
    • Narrated By Loren A. Olson
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    Dr. Loren A. Olson has frequently been asked two questions: How could you not know that you were gay until the age of forty? Wasn't your marriage just a sham to protect yourself at your wife's expense? In Finally Out, Dr. Olson vigorously answers both questions by telling the inspiring story of his evolving sexuality, into which he intelligently weaves psychological concepts and gay history.