Coddling of the American Mind

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felixfabulous
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Coddling of the American Mind

Post by felixfabulous » 09 Jul 2019, 15:43

Just finished this book and would highly recommend it (especially if you have young kids). In many ways, we (as a collective society) have failed Generation Z by instilling in them what the book calls the three great untruths: 1. what does not kill you makes you weaker (avoid pain); 2. always trust your feelings; and 3. Assume ill-intent (not giving people the benefit of the doubt). This and a culture of safetyism has left a lot of kids ill-prepared for real life and struggling with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide.

Although the book does not talk about religion or the LDS Church, in many ways it reinforces a lot of the values that I think make the Church worthwhile. These values are taught in our youth programs and I think we do a better job than most at giving kids time for unsupervised play, getting them outside and forcing them to interact away from screens (it does say kids who go to weekly religious services have lower rates of depression).

But, some alarm bells did go off on 2/3 great untruths. I really dislike the us vs. the world narrative that we often espouse. I get that it's important to have a group identity and common enemy (Satan), but I think this type of thinking gives us a persecution complex and makes us insular and isolated (a common criticism of the Church). I also worry about the negative light in which we paint former members, like they are contagious and should be avoided at all costs. I think that is problematic.

We also score low points on "always trust your feelings" but use that in terms of the spirit. I dislike the narrative that we've had in some recent talks (like President Oaks) where the speaker says that secular learning and critical thinking should be left aside when looking at religious truth. That is tough in our Church where so many truth claims are tied to historical data that can be independently confirmed or denied. I think that a religious truth like "God loves me" is felt with the heart more than reasoned with the mind. But, unfortunately, things like faith-promoting miracle stories can be proved or disproved with historical data (as things like the CES letter are good at pointing out). The message seems to be "ignore the data and trust your feelings." I think that can set people up for a faith crisis when they encounter data. We've used protecting testimonies as justification for hiding data in the past or misrepresenting historical data. It is also problematic when people use the spirit as a sort of trump card to settle debates. In some cases, people make poor life decisions based on what they interpret as spiritual impressions, but may just be feelings.

nibbler
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Re: Caudeling of the American Mind

Post by nibbler » 09 Jul 2019, 18:15

felixfabulous wrote:
09 Jul 2019, 15:43
Just finished this book and would highly recommend it (especially if you have young kids). In many ways, we (as a collective society) have failed Generation Z by instilling in them what the book calls the three great untruths: 1. what does not kill you makes you weaker (avoid pain); 2. always trust your feelings; and 3. Assume ill-intent (not giving people the benefit of the doubt). This and a culture of safetyism has left a lot of kids ill-prepared for real life and struggling with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide.
How about a mirror image of each of the three great untruths mentioned:

1. what does not kill you makes you weaker (avoid pain);
1. what does not kill you makes you stronger (you have no excuse when dealing with pain);

2. always trust your feelings;
2. never trust your feelings;

3. Assume ill-intent (not giving people the benefit of the doubt).
3. Assume good intentions (give people the benefit of the doubt).

It could be a pendulum swing effect. People that were raised to believe what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger could have been harmed by that mindset, so they go out of their way to pass on teachings to avoid pain. People that placed too much trust in their feelings and got burned may want to protect the next generation by teaching them to not trust their feelings. People that assumed others have good intentions and ended up in situations where they were conned or abused may believe that being wary of others is the safest way forward.

Take those examples and reverse them, people that always took a default position of mistrust may come to feel that it hurt their ability to connect with others, so they decide to pass on the torch of being more trusting and hopeful. etc.

It may all be people passing on advice that they feel will help the rising generation avoid pain that they've experienced. But again, either side of those if taken to an extreme can create problems for people.
felixfabulous wrote:
09 Jul 2019, 15:43
But, some alarm bells did go off on 2/3 great untruths. I really dislike the us vs. the world narrative that we often espouse. I get that it's important to have a group identity and common enemy (Satan), but I think this type of thinking gives us a persecution complex and makes us insular and isolated (a common criticism of the Church). I also worry about the negative light in which we paint former members, like they are contagious and should be avoided at all costs. I think that is problematic.
Yeah, I hear it every single Sunday now. It's hard to say whether it's real or imagined, a healthy mixture of both I'm sure. People may feel alone and isolated all week when in "the world" (when among people that disagree) so our meetings become a refuge of sorts. Somewhere people can go where they feel everyone agrees with them, so it's safe to let the guard down and open up.

I'll often feel persecuted myself when in our meetings while listening to the language people use to describe the out groups. I think there's a perception that everyone present is on the same page, but that isn't always the case.

One thing I will point out... people in Sunday School may be venting from their experiences while out in the world in much the same way we come here and vent about our experiences in Sunday School. I'd want the orthodox Sunday Schooler to cut me some slack for things I've vented here, so I should try to cut them that same slack when they're venting about the people that drive them nuts (me). :smile:
felixfabulous wrote:
09 Jul 2019, 15:43
We also score low points on "always trust your feelings" but use that in terms of the spirit.
That's a tough and I'm hearing it a lot lately. There's the well known quote:
If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.
Blame it on the assume ill-intent of my generation ;) , but sometimes that's how it feels when the subject of doubt comes up - leaders acknowledging (to some degree) that the facts may not be on their side so the focus is shifted towards feelings. It works for some, not for others. I do wonder though, does the advice to trust feelings or facts depend largely on whichever one we believe supports our current beliefs or do we genuinely feel that trusting one will bring us closer to god than trusting the other.

Here I'd say that the D&C suggests both. Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind (facts maybe) and in your heart (feelings maybe), by the Holy Ghost.

But church leaders may see "facts" (in quotes to acknowledge that facts are subjective and often depend on perspective) as leading people away so their goal becomes to get people to focus on their feelings, which they believe will help people stay, which they also genuinely believe is ultra-important because remaining tethered to the church is the only way to be saved.

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Cadence
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Caudeling of the American Mind

Post by Cadence » 06 Aug 2019, 11:31

It’s not popular in today’s culture but I am a believer in boot straps. Life to a great degree is what you make it.

Some need help. Some need lots of help. Many don’t need nearly as much help as they ask for.


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Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction--faith in fiction is a damnable false hope. Thomas A. Edison

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: Coddling of the American Mind

Post by hawkgrrrl » 06 Aug 2019, 16:09

I did a post based on this book a while back: https://wheatandtares.org/2018/11/27/fa ... -football/

To give the quick version of the post, a problem I had with the book (which I did enjoy overall, but feel it's got this serious flaw) is that it doesn't do enough to question male privilege and status quo. The book has a conservative bias that was pretty glaring.
The chapter starts by talking about two types of justice that humans seem hard-wired to demand:

Distributive justice: people are getting what is deserved, based on their contribution
Procedural justice: the process by which things are distributed and rules are enforced is fair and trustworthy

Violating these principles of justice results in outcry and pushback. However, the other inherent problem is that elements of these are subjective and personal experience for someone in a minority group will often differ greatly from someone in a majority group. There is also some question about how different contributions are valued. Ultimately, the underlying problem is that existing systems favor status quo. You have to make a case to change what currently exists, and to do so, you have to convince those in power who currently benefit from the status quo. That’s a tough pull.

“Humans naturally favor fair distributions, not equal ones; when fairness and equality clash, people prefer fair inequality over unfair equality.”
The book shares the story of a university that has a women's rowing team that is fully funded, and a men's rowing team that receives no funding. The book calls this a fairness issue, but the reason for this problem is that the school's funding is required to be distributed equally to men and women in athletics, including football which is strictly male and the most expensive program the school has! So it's "unfair" that the male rowers aren't funded, but it's not unfair that football takes up all the funding for athletics. Right.

But I also had positive things to say about the book in a different post I did. I agreed with the points about the trigger warnings being overused and counter-productive to healing. https://wheatandtares.org/2018/12/04/da ... -violence/
The book points out the flaw with something called Emotional Reasoning. When we take our emotions as “facts” rather than “information,” we are prone to going quickly down a rabbit hole of fear and feeling unsafe. The qualities of this thinking include:

Catastrophizing. Imagining the worst case possibility as likely or certain to occur.
Labeling. Using terms like “rape culture” and “microaggression” for accidental or unintentional slights, even if these terms help to bring a societal issue to the forefront.
Overgeneralizing. Assuming that the idea behind the emotion we are feeling is widespread and powerful.
Dichotomous thinking. Seeing people as either good or bad, not misinformed or scared or flawed, but actually seeking our demise.
I do think these trends are recent over-corrections in some cases, but I do think it's too easy for conservatives to dismiss the concerns of minorities and women. Labeling, IMO, is something we should pay attention to because you can't correct a problem if you don't name it and acknowledge it, and racist and sexist attitudes proliferate in society because we don't take it seriously enough. But I do agree that dichotomous thinking is an issue, particularly with younger people understanding older people.

My parents are in their 90s. My mom especially is racist in many ways. She uses terms we don't use any more. She makes it a point to say when a black person is "good" or "nice" like it's a pleasant surprise. She and my dad didn't buy a house once because they found out that it was in a "black neighborhood" (the very real byproduct of codified racial practices like redlining that made race discrimination completely legal and continued to hold back black people from access and success). But when my sister was in 3rd grade, she had a teacher at school who tormented a black student, forcing him to stand outside in the cold without a jacket and calling him racist names in class. My mom went to the school about it, complaining that this behavior was unacceptable. When I told my kids that story they were shocked. Maybe grandma wasn't a racist after all! They don't always understand that 1) people are complex and enigmatic, and 2) the past is a foreign country that we can't and don't fully understand, and that's where old people live.

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