Video: Jonathan Haidt on the Coddling of the American Mind

In September 2015, Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff published “The Coddling of the American Mind”, an article examining the student-driven movement to scrub universities of words and subjects that might cause offense.

Within a few years, tensions over “unsafe” words on campus briefly grew violent as the problems continued to escalate. Haidt and Lukianoff continued to explore the movement and its origins, publishing a book by the same name in 2018.

In this recent talk at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, Haidt explains three of the six causes of the emergence of this new moral culture of “safetyism.” He dives into how paranoid parenting, decline of free play, and the growth of bureaucracy and moral dependence have contributed to the attitudes of current college students.

Sheltered from any specter of harm as children, the youth of America are experiencing risk at later ages than previous generations. This lack of exposure means that as they grow older, they can’t adequately assess risk—leading many to equate words and ideas that they disagree with to physical harm.

On top of that, Gen Z is being taught that their feelings are always right. The problem is that we are all prone to emotional thinking and confirmation bias. Being challenged with opposing views is necessary to grow mentally stronger and shouldn’t be immediately dismissed as wrong or evil.

Watch the video to hear Haidt explain how we got here, how social media made it worse, and what parents and advocates can do to help.

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