Required reading for anyone who is sick of the political name calling and soft bigotry that permeates every single political post on social media. Written in an entertaining and adequately humble style, The Righteous Mind provides a well-researched, scientific answer to the question, “Why can’t we all just get along?”
Unlike most non-fiction books these days, which all seem to have a short essay’s worth content that’s then spread over twelve repetitive chapters, Haidt carefully builds his thesis bit by bit. It’s not until the final chapter that he finally gets down to the nitty gritty of Democrats vs. Republicans. The book starts by demonstrating that we are not purely rational in our decision making: intuition steers us and it’s only post-hoc rationalization that makes us think we have arrived at a reasoned decision. Then it goes on to define the moral “taste buds” upon which we build our moral frameworks. Liberals are very sensitive to care/harm while mostly ignoring other receptors like loyalty/betrayal and sanctity/degradation. Lastly, we are shown that humans are both individualistic and groupish. Given the right circumstances we trigger our hive switch and work (and evolve) as a groups. Finally, it is all tied together to show how understanding these principles might lead to more civil discourse and a better understanding of those with whom we disagree.