Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The Coddling Of The American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt


In this nonfiction work, authors Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt believe that through good intentions, society is protecting young people from dissenting views and this is resulting in the group becoming more fragile, anxious and easily hurt.  They believe that college campuses are the proving ground of their theories and that dissenting speech is now commonly crushed in various ways.  That leads to individuals who don't get the strength of hearing opposing viewpoints and being able to determine their own lifeviews through the sifting of various facts about issues but rather a weak defense of only one viewpoint.

They believe that three untruths fuel this movement: the untruth of fragility, the untruth of emotional reasoning or always trust your feelings and the untruth of us versus them.  This leads to actions such as disinviting speakers with unpopular thoughts, safe spaces, calling out microaggressions and witch hunts of professors who say anything that can be interpreted as hurtful.

The authors offer some solutions to these issues.  The first is prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child or don't make life so easy that the child never gets to grow up by facing difficulties.  Next is your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own thoughts, unguarded which discusses the use of cognitive behavioral therapy or identifying thoughts which falsely weaken the individual through negative self-image.  The third is the realization that the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being so the insistence that all the moral good is on any one side an it's proponents is false.  The solution of helping schools to oppose the great untruths offers specific suggestions for all levels of education.  The fifth suggest is to limit and refine device time and the last is to support a new national norm or service or work before college.

This book was a National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction finalist and a New York Times Notable Book of 2018.  Readers will find much to think about in the great untruths outlined as well as some of the solutions.  It is no service to our children to protect them so much that they are unprepared to make their way in the adult world.  This book is recommended for nonfiction readers.

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