Comedian Bill Maher doesn’t pull any punches. On Friday’s edition of “Real Time,” Maher landed yet another body blow to the ‘left’ as he identified the “rot” coming from “academia.”
During a conversation with his weekly HBO panel, this time comprised of Jonathan Haidt and Laura Coates, the topic of the scandal that saw the crypto-sphere more frenzied than normal moved to the fore.
Maher noted that Sam Bankman-Fried, the scam artist behind FTX, a crypto exchange platform, had two parents who were professors at Stanford during his childhood. Bankman-Fried’s mother wrote an article in 2013 entitled “Beyond Blame”. The “Real Time” Host mocked the article and suggested that it was progressive ideas like these that influenced the “Millennial Madoff” personally.
“The philosophy of personal responsibility has ruined criminal justice and economic policy, it’s time to move past blame,” Maher quoted from the article.
“Is it really time?” he jeeringly asked. “Personal responsibility is bad? And blame, that’s a thing of the past? No wonder this guy’s a f***ing crook. You were raised wrong, you were raised wrong, a**hole!”
Haidt, a social psychologist and author of “The Righteous Mind” and “The Coddling of the American Mind,” is one of the seminal figures addressing the cultural divide, and influence of social media. Haidt said, with much irony, that research has shown that of all the different disciplines, books about ethics are the least likely to be returned to the library.
“There’s no sign that thinking and reading and studying ethics makes you more ethical, and one thing it does, is that it makes you very, very good at post-hoc justifications of whatever the hell you want to do,” he said.
“Kinda what religion is also,” Maher retorted.
Haidt also cautioned that the levels of polarization and groupthink of opposing sides has reached dangerous highs. “The more you hate the other side, the more you can justify anything because ‘they’re an existential threat to the country, and if we have to invade the capital to overturn the country’ or whatever, you see it on both sides.” Haidt warned that as the gulf between the two sides becomes increasingly irreparable, a “liberal democracy” will be unsustainable.
“When historians look back on our time, they will not divide us into red and blue and Republican-Democrat. The things that were wrong with us were wrong with both sides in different ways. I do think they manifest in a more dangerous way on the right,” Maher said. “But on the left, there is a rot, and it comes from academia, and it filters down. Am I wrong about that? That’s where it’s all coming from.”
Haidt suggested that intellectual institutions such as universities, medical establishments, and the court systems can only thrive when there is “viewpoint diversity… if I say something and then people are going to challenge me.” Haidt continued to say that a lack of diversity in these disciplines can lead to ‘structural stupidity’, a term that garnered laughter from the crowd.
“When everyone’s on the same side, and someone says something crazy like, ‘How about if we stop punishing people?’ and other people are afraid to object because that would seem to put you against a certain sensibility, and when that happens is a thing called ‘structural stupidity,’” Haidt explained.
He illustrated his point, saying, “You get really smart people, but you put them together, and they can’t think straight, and they say stupid things from the left that just play really well on LibsOfTikTok and give the right-wing lots of ammunition.”
“And you get Onion headlines as policy,” Maher replied.
Haidt and Coates also turned their attention to social media, a sort of ideological breeding ground for the aforementioned problems. Neither guest let their children have social media accounts. Haidt called for middle schools to prohibit students from having cell phones on the premises altogether. Coates likened Instagram to “walking out your front door and saying ‘anyone think I’m cute today?'”
We need a strong norm: keep phones and social media out of middle school. Puberty is an extra-vulnerable time of increased brain plasticity. I made that case on @RealTimers, along with @thelauracoates. Please forward to middle school principals:https://t.co/Mq4EX989tN
— Jonathan Haidt (@JonHaidt) November 20, 2022
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