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The Coddling of the American Mind
"The current movement is largely about emotional well-being. More than the last, it presumes an extraordinary fragility of the collegiate psyche, and therefore elevates the goal of protecting students from psychological harm. The ultimate aim, it seems, is to turn campuses into 'safe spaces' where young adults are shielded from words and ideas that make some uncomfortable. And more than the last, this movement seeks to punish anyone who interferes with that aim, even accidentally. You might call this impulse vindictive protectiveness. It is creating a culture in which everyone must think twice before speaking up, lest they face charges of insensitivity, aggression, or worse. [...] The dangers that these trends pose to scholarship and to the quality of American universities are significant; we could write a whole essay detailing them. But in this essay we focus on a different question: What are the effects of this new protectiveness on the students themselves? Does it benefit the people it is supposed to help? [...] Today, what we call the Socratic method is a way of teaching that fosters critical thinking, in part by encouraging students to question their own unexamined beliefs, as well as the received wisdom of those around them. Such questioning sometimes leads to discomfort, and even to anger, on the way to understanding."
academia  education  haidt  usa 
october 2018 by lucastheis
Does Paul Krugman Understand Intellectual Diversity?- Nick Phillips (Quillette)
(The article begins with a reflection on Paul Krugman's argument that
there is no reason to hire conservatives for a magazine (e.g. Kevin
Williamson) because either they have prostituted themselves to
populist conservatism or they have no influence. From later in the
piece:
Other commentators have assumed, like Krugman, that elevating
reformicons, moderates, and other idiosyncratic thinkers isn’t
worthwhile because Republican voters don’t actually care what people
like Ross Douthat have to say. This is partially the fault of
intellectual diversity defenders who market the concept as a way to
‘understand what the other side is thinking’ and shatter the echo
chambers that led to Trump’s election. That project has great social
value, but it’s not the same value that intellectual diversity is
engineered to create. )
Here's the money quote:
Intellectual diversity addresses a fundamental problem in human
cognition: we seek out information that confirms the views we already
have. As Jonathan Haidt has argued, this instinct is well-adapted to
creating intra-group solidarity, which is useful when competing for
power with other groups. But if the goal is to seek the truth, it’s
poison. If everyone in your group shares the same biases, that group
will block new information that doesn’t conform to those biases. Since
no one is right 100 percent of the time, this dynamic guarantees that
falsehoods will persist.1
One solution is to attempt to purge individuals of their biases. But
cognitive psychologists don’t yet understand how to do this. The only
method that reliably solves the confirmation bias problem is to create
groups made up of individuals with different biases. In such an
environment, countervailing biases checks one another, prodding at
weak points and raising questions a colleague didn’t think to ask.
This dynamic is highly adapted to truth-seeking, because it forces
every person to justify their biases on grounds other than tribalism.
Once we understand intellectual diversity this way, we can clearly see
that left-leaning publications do their readers a service by elevating
ideas that challenge prevailing assumptions. Progressive orthodoxies
have often been wrong: entire generations of the Left’s most
accomplished thinkers devoted themselves to Marxism. No progressive
should feel confident that their side’s leading lights are truth
personified. Instead, they should wonder what other falsehoods are
lurking behind the group confirmation bias.
ayjay  diversity  Haidt  academy 
may 2018 by mgubbins

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