Book 46: The Coddling of the American Mind – Johnathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff

‘The Coddling of the American Mind’ discusses in detail how three bad ideas, or ‘great untruths’, have infiltrated higher education and compromised the education system both in America and abroad.

The ‘Untruth of Fragility’ (what doesn’t kill you makes you weaker); the ‘Untruth of Emotional Reasoning(always trust your feelings) and the ‘Untruth of Us versus Them’ (Life is a battle between good people and evil people) have all conspired to create college campuses that are intolerant hotbeds of shaming, intimidation, ‘witch-hunts’, micro-aggression and identical ideology.

Welcome to the woke world of ‘safetyism‘ — a world where emotionally fragile students want protection from ideas that make them uncomfortable. We now see ‘safe spaces’, trigger warnings and the de-platforming of controversial speakers. Lecturers are diluting content for fear of offence and the students themselves are suffering from a range of mental health issues as this type of overprotection deprives them of opportunities to develop resilience.

The authors describe exactly what has led to the current situation and the numerous ways it is affecting the education that students receive.

The authors also make several recommendations to push back against these trends —one of which involves learning to reliably identify the ‘nine cognitive distortions’ (mentioned on Thursday) to enhance independent critical thinking skills.

This book came from an article of the same name that ran in ‘The Atlantic’ in 2015. You can read the article for free here.

Or listen here:

This is a wise, practical book that is crying out to be read. There is a sense of deep dissatisfaction in higher education these days that is feeding a variety of protest movements around the world and driving political discord and intolerance. This book gives educators, parents and the students themselves a clear perspective on what is actually happening and some tools to start moving back in the right direction.

Highly recommended.

7 thoughts on “Book 46: The Coddling of the American Mind – Johnathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff

    1. All in the book! There’s like six threads to the backstory…polarisation in politics,, rising rates in depression and anxiety (probably due to social media n more so in girls), paranoid parenting which is linked to a decline in free play for young kids and bureaucratic college administrators…


  1. Does it go over too much political correctness? I’m not suggesting to offend everyone but the sheltering from reality cannot be helpful.


  2. I read the Atlantic article, what a doozie. Thanks for the book review and links. It will have to be on my list. Definitely have my own theories to add to the matter, but I’ll refrain as I let it percolate. Important stuff, nonetheless, and I hope more and more Americans become aware of what’s happening and do something about it.


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