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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptic > 24.1 > Coddling Untruths

Coddling Untruths

A Review of The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

Penguin Press, 2018.

352 pp. $28.

ISBN-13: 978-0735224896

A DYNAMIC APPEARS TO BE BREWING, especially on elite university campuses, where people of differing viewpoints are increasingly shouted down and de-platformed by frenetic activists with no interest in articulating counterpoints; the sinful, evil nature of those with whom they disagree is to them self-evident. In many cases these individuals are bombarded with threats to their livelihood, and in some cases, physically attacked, all because they expressed views that progressive activists do not like. For example, when Jordan Peterson resisted being compelled to use specific progressive activist jargon, he was compared to Hitler by activist colleagues and students, and fliers were posted around his neighborhood calling him a “Nazi philosopher.”1 This example illustrates a growing tendency wherein people deemed “privileged” (based on the color of their skin, genitalia, or class status) are reflexively painted as obvious abusers, fascists, racists, sexists, and so on.2

For Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt the attempts to stifle dissenting views on college campuses mark a cultural turning point—a “boiling point”— wrought with a novel level of tribalism, anti-intellectualism, mental fragility, and intolerance of diverse viewpoints. Students, professors, and university administrators are quick to justify attempts to silence and/or punish those with dissenting views because such views are considered imminent threats to the safety of “marginalized” people. How and when did alternative viewpoints and offensive statements become equated with physical harm? How did we arrive at this social climate and where do we go from here? These questions constitute the core of Lukianoff and Haidt’s new book, The Coddling of the American Mind.

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About Skeptic

BEHE’S LAST STAND COLUMNS The SkepDoc: Is Low-Dose Radiation Good for You? The Questionable Claims for Hormesis, by Harriet Hall, M.D. • The Gadfly: Define Your Terms (or, Here we Go Again), by Carol Tavris ARTICLES Making Gasoline from Water: John Andrews and the Invention of a Legend • Online Gaming: A Virtual Experiment in the Dark Side of Human Nature • Duped by Data Mining • How Science Will Explain and Fix Fake News • The Cult of Falun Gong: A Dance Troupe and Victimhood Raises Big Money • The Opioid Epidemic Misunderstood • Why the Human-Centered View Has Not Served us Well • Behe’s Last Stand: The Lion of Intelligent Design Roars Again • Straw Man on a Slippery Slope: The Case Against the Case Against Postmodernism • A Disproof of God’s Existence REVIEWS Reviews of: The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure; The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe: How to Know What’s Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake; Investigating Ghosts: The Scientific Search for Spirits; Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post- Facts, and Fake News; Hoax: A History of Deception: 5000 Years of Fakes, Forgeries, and Fallacies; Truth’s Fool: Derek Freeman and the War Over Anthropology JUNIOR SKEPTIC Quest for the Truth about Dungeons and Dragons