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Sunday Meeting

We will watch and discuss Bill Moyers and Jonathan Haidt discussion about:

“How Do Conservatives and Liberals See the World?”

“Our country is more politically polarized than ever. Is it possible to agree to disagree and still move on to solve our massive problems? Or are the blind leading the blind — over the cliff?”

Moyers and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt talk about the psychological underpinnings of our contentious culture, why we can’t trust our own opinions, and the demonizing of our adversaries.

Here are some quotes from the discussion for you to consider and comment on:

“When it gets so that your opponents are not just people you disagree with, but… the mental state in which I am fighting for good, and you are fighting for evil, it’s very difficult to compromise,” Haidt tells Moyers. “Compromise becomes a dirty word.”

“We all think, you know, morality is a good thing, justice, ethics. And I wanted to get across the sense that, let's just look with open eyes at human nature. And right, morality is part of our nature. And morality is, makes us do things that we think are good, but it also makes us do things that we often think are bad. It's all part of our groupist, tribal, judgmental, hyper-judgmental, hypocritical nature. We are all born to be hypocrites. That's part of the design.

“Our minds evolved not just to help us find the truth about how things work. If you're navigating through a landscape, sure, you need to know, you know, where the dangers are, where the opportunities are. But in the social world, our minds are not designed to figure out who really did what to whom. They are finely tuned navigational machines to work through a complicated social network, in which you've got to maintain your alliances, and your reputation.

“And as Machiavelli told us long ago, it matters far more what people think of you than what the reality is. And we are experts at manipulating our self-presentation. So, we're so good at it, that we actually believe the nonsense that we say to other people.

“…Well, if people work hard, they should succeed. If people don't work hard, they should fail. And if anyone bails them out, that is evil. You should not bail people out who have failed, especially if it's because of lack of hard work, something like that. So as the right sees it, government is evil because it keeps punishing success, with redistributive policies, okay, take from the successful and give to the unsuccessful.

“And it keeps rewarding failure by giving out welfare and other payments to people who aren't working. So what I've found is that fairness is at the heart of both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party. But because the words have different meanings and they relate to additional moral foundations, that's why they're really, very, very different moral views.”

Haidt apparently started out thinking the conventional liberal thing that conservatives are a bit stupid and if only they would smarten up a bit, then they would realize the only way we can all live together in the long run is that we all have to make sure that all of us are pretty much equal and have access to all the benefits of our wonderful consumption oriented society. But as he studied this way of thinking, especially from a standpoint of morality, he came to somewhat different conclusions. On Sunday we will start our video sharp at 10:30 so we will have time to watch and discuss it before we have to evacuate at noon.

All are welcome to attend. After about half an hour of coffee, tea, and socializing, we discuss topics of interest to our members. Keep up to date with our current topics at

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  • Ian B.
    Executive Director of BCHA, Co-Organizer

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