We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
In a contemporary, and often unacknowledged, rebooting of Freud, many psychologists have concluded from such findings that unconscious associations and attitudes hold powerful sway over our lives—and that conscious choice is largely superfluous. “It is not clear,” the Baylor College neuroscientist David Eagleman writes, “how much the conscious you—as opposed to the genetic and neural you—gets to do any deciding at all.” The New York University psychologist Jonathan Haidt suggests we should reject the notion that we are in control of our decisions and instead think of the conscious self as a lawyer who, when called upon to defend the actions of a client, mainly provides after-the-fact justifications for decisions that have already been made...
When you track the publishing history of the psychologists pushing this and who they in turn cite for support, you inevitably run smack dab into socio-cultural activity theory. A desire in other words to use education to change perspectives and how people think and minimize logic and herald emotion so that political and social transformation become possible. Not only do you get to avoid violence to gain your revolution, you also get to avoid the ballot box. Plus most of the revolutionaries are getting paid by taxpayers.
I have also read Haidt's book and it is his personal desire to have cognition be more of the Oriental view that includes emotion that the Western rational view. He also shows up as involved with some of the positive psychology social and emotional learning programs used with students. In particular PATHS--Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies.
Use education to weaken the rational mind and then assert ed needs to change because the rational mind is not what is in charge. That's how you get social transformation of the prevailing culture.
Robin, be not quick to generalise about Mr. Haidt. He has drifted into siding with conservatives over liberals over the years and is challenging many ideas that have been nearly unassailable in the academy. He is an adventurous thinker and may be excused for much.
In our quick decisions, the involuntary nature is largely true. We do not rethink our entire worldview at each traffic light, and we respond in ways that stretch back not only into our long-past training, but even (gulp) our inheritance, both genetic and prenatal. We do then rationalise it instantaneously. But I do not think the evidence is that strong that the conclusions we reach that are more thoughtful are mere illusion. We seek advice, we change our minds, we make lists of pros and cons, and we are influenced by a variety of voices. I am a fan of Haidt's but am influenced by Robin's disapproval. Robin is suspicious of Haidt but may reconsider on the basis of my comment.
I suppose it is at least possible that these extended exercises are all for show, to reassure ourselves and others that we are rational actors. But the burden of proof for that would have to be quite high.
Assistant Village Idiot
Village-you are correct in the nature of most people's decision-making, but that does not change the fact that educators have deliberately targeted the capacities of those who would like to be rational. Probably not coincidentally, one of the institutions very active in pushing this view is the College of Education at UVa. See especially Robert Pianta's work.
I know the publicity for the book said Haidt sided with conservatives, but my opinion of that given the book's actual statements is that you ended up with AEI hawking a book that explicitly stated the traditional concept of the mind.
When I talked about the SEL, I was talking in particular about Haidt's work with Mark Greenberg. The idea behind positive psychology is that you can push for socially transformative mindsets via education, and not have a philosophical debate about it. Parents and taxpayers simply will not recognize in time that the definition of what constitutes student achievement has been radically redefined and has nothing to do with knowledge acquisition anymore.
I am not being obstinate to be disagreeable. Haidt's book pushed an agenda that was explicit if it was read cover to cover in Haidt's own words, but it did not make it into the reviews.
I have coined the phrase mind arson to describe what is being foisted in K-12 and higher ed.