Podcast Recap (September 2018): Coddling, Positive Relationships and Free Will

by Scott Barry Kaufman, October 5, 2018 in Blog

This month at The Psychology Podcast we discussed the importance of viewpoint diversity with Jonathan Haidt, the key elements of positive relationships with Sarah Algoe, and whether we’ll ever be able to figure out the mysteries of consciousness, free will, and God with Michael Shermer and Philip Goff. Have a listen below!

The Coddling of the American Mind with Jonathan Haidt

Dr. Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Dr. Haidt’s research examines the intuitive foundations of morality, and how morality varies across cultures— including the cultures of American progressive, conservatives, and libertarians. Haidt is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis, and of The New York Times bestseller The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. His third book, co-authored with Greg Lukianoff, is called The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting up a Generation for Failure.

In this episode we discuss:

  • “The tumultuous years” on college campuses from 2015-2017
  • Wisdom and its opposite
  • The three great untruths
  • The main aims of Heterodox Academy
  • The importance of exposing students to opposing views on campus
  • The detrimental effects of moral amplification
  • How moral foundations theory helps explain political divides
  • The common humanity of liberals and conservatives
  • The psychological function of having a common enemy
  • How social media amplifies tribalism
  • The rise of antifragility
  • The net effect of “callout culture”
  • The importance of play in early childhood
  • The importance of cognitive behavioral therapy and sharpening your intuitions
  • The importance of both racial/ethnic minority diversity and viewpoint diversity
  • How to help young people flourish in college

Positive Relationships with Sara Algoe

Dr. Sara Algoe is associate professor of social psychology at the University of Virginia. Her expertise spans emotions, relationships, and health psychology. Her basic research questions illuminate the social interactions that are at the heart of high-quality relationships. These include giving to others, expressing gratitude, and sharing laughter.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The main components of “positive interpersonal processes”
  • The effect of gratitude on the other person in relationships
  • The importance of context in positive psychology
  • How positive and negative emotions can co-exist simultaneously
  • The “find, remind, and bind” theory of gratitude
  • The importance of gratitude in everyday life
  • “Meta” positive emotions
  • The essentials vs. luxuries of well-being
  • The validity of gratitude interventions
  • “Gratitude burnout”
  • Appreciation vs. gratitude
  • The need for evil to define the light

Solving the Mysteries of Consciousness, Free Will, and God with Michael Shermer and Philip Goff

Michael Shermer is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University where he teaches Skepticism 101. He is the author of New York Times bestsellers Why People Believe Weird Things, The Believing Brain, and Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality & Utopia. Goff conducts philosophy and consciousness research at Durham University in the UK. His main research focus is trying to explain how the brain produces consciousness. His first book, which was published by Oxford University Press, is called Consciousness and Fundamental Reality. Goff is currently working on a book on consciousness aimed at a general audience called “Galileo’s Error: A Manifesto for a New Science of Consciousness” which will be published in August 2019.

In this episode we cover the following topics:

  • Is reasoning the ultimate route to truth?
  • What if human rational faculties can’t comprehend the ultimates realities of existence?
  • Will the hard problem of consciousness ever be solved?
  • Panpsychism as a scientific alternative for explaining consciousness
  • The latest neuroscience of consciousness and its implications for understanding the hard problem of consciousness
  • The insights that can be gleaned through understanding subjective experience
  • Will we ever discover if free will exists?
  • To what extent can our understanding of cognitive neuroscience and genetics can elucidate the extent of our free will?
  • The possibility for “free won’t”
  • Can science ever solve the mystery of the existence of God?
  • How can the science of consciousness, free-will, and God help alleviate fundamental existential concerns of humanity?


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