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  • The Coddling of the American Mind

  • How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure
  • Written by: Jonathan Haidt, Greg Lukianoff
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Haidt
  • Length: 10 hrs and 6 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (1,014 ratings)
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The Coddling of the American Mind

Written by: Jonathan Haidt,Greg Lukianoff
Narrated by: Jonathan Haidt
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Publisher's Summary

A timely investigation into the new "safety culture" on campus and the dangers it poses to free speech, mental health, education, and ultimately democracy

The generation now coming of age has been taught three Great Untruths: their feelings are always right; they should avoid pain and discomfort; and they should look for faults in others and not themselves. These three Great Untruths are part of a larger philosophy that sees young people as fragile creatures who must be protected and supervised by adults. But despite the good intentions of the adults who impart them, the Great Untruths are harming kids by teaching them the opposite of ancient wisdom and the opposite of modern psychological findings on grit, growth, and antifragility.  

The result is rising rates of depression and anxiety, along with endless stories of college campuses torn apart by moralistic divisions and mutual recriminations.   

This is a book about how we got here. First Amendment expert Greg Lukianoff and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt take us on a tour of the social trends stretching back to the 1980s that have produced the confusion and conflict on campus today, including the loss of unsupervised play time and the birth of social media, all during a time of rising political polarization.    

This is a book about how to fix the mess. The culture of “safety” and its intolerance of opposing viewpoints has left many young people anxious and unprepared for adult life, with devastating consequences for them, for their parents, for the companies that will soon hire them, and for a democracy that is already pushed to the brink of violence over its growing political divisions. Lukianoff and Haidt offer a comprehensive set of reforms that will strengthen young people and institutions, allowing us all to reap the benefits of diversity, including viewpoint diversity.    

This is a book for anyone who is confused by what’s happening on college campuses today, or has children, or is concerned about the growing inability of Americans to live and work and cooperate across party lines.

©2018 Greg Lukianoff (P)2018 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

“Our behavior in society is not immune to the power of rational scientific analysis. Through that lens, prepare yourself for a candid look at the softening of America, and what we can do about it.” (Neil deGrasse Tyson, director, Hayden Planetarium, and author of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry)

What listeners say about The Coddling of the American Mind

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I was with Haidt until he continued the lie...

I was following along in agreement until Haidt replayed the same lie the media has been telling for years, that Trump didn't condemn the white supremacists and neo nazis at Charlottesville. He did. Watch the full speech. After I heard that lie I can no longer trust that proper research was done for the rest of the data.

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12 people found this helpful

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Two of today's great minds at work.

Every teacher, professor, parent, government worker, public intellectual, and preferably person should have this book!

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Finally! A balanced explanation of the iGen/Generation Z so distressing the rest of us

I have noticed an increasing lack of space in public discourse for critical debate and appropriate skepticism of social justice advocacy that verges on group think, public shaming and tactics used in Germany in the 1930s. As Generation X, I was taught to “trust no one, the truth is out there”. With children immersed in the internet, they have developed thin skins and soft brains easily manipulated by the corporate sector and ideologues. We don’t celebrate achievement anymore but whine about grievances. Social cohesion is being ripped apart and the first signs of trouble come from our university faculty and students. As the authors point out, it is time for some tough love. Be offended and learn to attack positions not people. This is a great book to identify the problems and present some solutions.

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Waste of time and money

I could not get very far into this book. The authors are trying to show how the psychological development of youth has been impaired by attempts at safety. Instead of using data on the brain, culture, or psychological trauma, they use data on peanut allergies to attempt to prove that we need to introduce young people to dangers at low levels. They mention that the wealthier a nation becomes the more allergies they have. What he does not mention is the change in infant mortality rate in wealthier countries. Or the longer life span.

I fail to see how an entire generation can be the most violent, with the most school shootings, and the most time spent on violent video games, while at the same time being "too coddled". The (straight white male) are quite certain that forming a professor to call a student by their desired gendered pronoun is creating a place for them that is "too safe" and prevents growth.

However, it does not tie in even with their own (badly analogised) references to childhood allergies, as college age students are actually adults, not babies with developing immune systems. So even by the writer's own bad analogies, refusing to accommodate the requests of college age students for inclusion is like feeding an adult with peanut allergies peanuts because feeding peanuts to babies reduces the percentage of allergies within a group. (Even though it does not eliminate or even alter allergies in adults)

I see no evidence of actual research into the problems at hand. References were to newspaper articles. NO studies into the actual groups being spoken about were conducted.

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Backed Up by Solid Data #Audible1

Important read for so many people. This needs to be "woke"! Authors are very effective communicators and have lots of data to backup their claims. #Audible1

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Not well written

If this were a scientific journal and not an audiobook, then maybe, but I believe this was written by academic types that don’t know how to simplify their work so that a less learned reader might be able to easily understand. Their stories used run on and on with minimal control, and you really lose the point of what they’re trying to convey. I only got about a third into the book, and I just can’t finish it. There seems to be some good points hidden within a huge sea of info that needs to be simplified and made to be far more direct.

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Must read for parents and educators

I will be sharing this book with my friends and family. great insight into young adults and why they do the things they do.

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This should be mandatory reading in schools

Having only recently graduated university, I can greatly relate to the anecdotes shared in this book.

I've always considered myself to be somewhat of a centrist. I'm from Alberta, a liberal, and have always voted for either the NDP or Liberals. (The UCP is far too right for me.)

Even considering the fact that my voting decisions mostly line up with most of my classmates, colleagues, or profs, I was always frightened to speak my own opinion or even SLIGHTLY criticize the left considering the potential threats of suspension, expulsion, or just being called out as a racist, transphobe, homophobe, ableist, etc. and having my professional reputation ruined.

When I say this book should be mandatory reading in schools, I mean for the students as well as the administrators.

It does a phenomenal job logically breaking down the horrifying "us vs. them" mentality and pseudo-moralistic tendencies in the modern world.

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Such an enlightening and important book!

the content is useful and very well thought out. I like that they provide context, supporting evidence, discussion from various perspectives, and then possible solutions. great read!!!

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so informative

I had to re listen a few times. I didn't want to miss a thing. Parents and students alike should read/listen to this book.

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  • TJ
  • 2018-12-02

Only Praise

I listened to this one directly following a conservative perspective book on diversity. I knew right away that the authors were liberals from the way they spoke about Obama (or didn’t speak) vs the way they spoke about Trump. This however was the only way to know because the evidence presented was very fair, far more fair than the previous book I read with many overlapping themes. I am a conservative who really believes in the great lessons espoused in this book. We need far less antagonism and reaction on left and right if we want to remain a functional republic. I really believe this is what’s best for our nation and children.

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  • LG19
  • 2018-09-22

Enrich Understanding

As a Hockey Coach for the Past 12 years, I have experienced changes with kids of all ages. Bluntly put, the change is NEGATIVE. Kid's ages 5 - through College who I coach and interact with are having more and more trouble with dealing with adversity and that is simply because of the safety nets at every turn of their lives. Moreover, athletes in general tend to be more successful in life because of the life skills learn through sport which directly correlate to the books crucial concepts that help people develop and evolve as thoughtful individuals with comprehensive thought processes. I think every coach, parents and students in HS/College should read this book. Break the cycle of fearing failure. Fail and fail often and continue learning from your experiences to develop yourself and your mind.

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  • JBroadnax
  • 2018-09-25

superb book.

I really loved the insights in this book. Not Conservative or Liberal, just honest. Both sides will be uncomfortable and both will have moments to cheer. If you read the whole book you can't help but be impressed.

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59 people found this helpful

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  • Darrel Bishop
  • 2018-09-06

A Triumph.

An excellent description and history of the current social trends (outrage culture, safe spaces etc.) that have become pedestrian on US university campuses. The two authors have a tone that is clear and informative and a concern for the truth of the matters they bring forth. This book is not an attempt to tickle the ears of anyone of any political persuasion but is directed to everyone who has a stake in seeing our country succeed in the statements of our founding documents.

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  • Wayne
  • 2018-09-08

Ambitious and worthwhile social psychology book

The three great untruths: (1) That which does not kill us makes us weaker. (2) Trust your feelings. (3) Life is a battle between good people and evil people.

I listened to The Coddling of the American Mind because I'm a fan of the work of the two authors. Social Psychologist Jonathan Haidt released The Righteous Mind in 2012. It is easily the best social psychology book I have ever read. The subtitle promise, Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, is fully delivered in The Righteous Mind. Greg Lukianoff in the founder and current leader of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). FIRE is a very effective organization that takes on cases of individuals who have suffered abusive punishments by universities. In 2015 Haidt and Lukianoff wrote a very long article in The Atlantic magazine with the same title as this book. The book expands the article dramatically by delving further into both the definition of the issues and recommendations for solutions.

I rate The Coddling of the American Mind only 3 stars because it seems to me that some of the recommendations lack adequate scientific basis, specifically for its over-dependence on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)and its questionable redefinition of igen (Internet generation or Generation Z). But make no mistake; I strongly recommend The Coddling of the American Mind although I consider it a work in progress. My comment about the authors' use of CBT should not be taken as a criticism of CBT itself. CBT is the gold standard of modern psychotherapy.

My Audible library now consists of approximately 2500 books, 90% fiction mostly of the mystery/thriller genre, and I have now written 2160 reviews. I've decided to stop reviewing all books I listen to choosing instead to write only occasional reviews. However, as I have done for several years I continue to follow Audible listener Shelley's reviews for recommendations of novels of my favorite fiction genre.

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  • R. Marq
  • 2018-09-28

Great follow up to a great article

I read the article of this in The Atlantic and thought it was great without noticing the authors. I later hear John Haidt on a podcast with Sam Harris talking about this and immediately downloaded it. No regrets. It’s just as good if not better than the article. Very balanced and super insightful. Great for understanding a large part of what’s going on in American politics and great for any parents raising the next generation.

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  • Philomath
  • 2018-09-07

The consequences of overprotection

“Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child” this book is a gem, and should be required reading for all parents, specially those that have the means to provide everything for their children.

Sometimes we think we are protecting our children when in actual fact we are hindering them by not preparing them for the world. Children are by nature resilient “anti-fragile”. This book is about letting strengthening their capabilities by providing a challenging environment where they learn to accept to fend for themselves intellectually when they are right, and understand that they can also be wrong.

There are different point of views that have merit and require a voices and most of all listening ears. The views of the author are the antithesis of the us verses them toxic mentality that has plagued our society through the filtering bubbles of social media, where opposing views are not only not tolerated but heckled creating an environment of hate and dividing people.

Our children are our future. We should expose them to the other side, so that maybe they don’t make the mistakes that we too commonly do, the intolerance of an objector, the unchallenged righteousness of our beliefs. We are right they are wrong, we are good they are evil.

A great book, supported by facts and good evidence. Highly recommended.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-09-26

Oh so needed of a book by teachers and students alike

I recently graduated from an American university. I first hand experienced the three untruths this book outlines, I saw the pendulum swing voraciously towards safetyism.

The Coddling is a well researched book coming at an important time. Teachers in college and below as well as students in college and below should read this book.

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  • Frank
  • 2018-09-16

Helped me have compassion

This book helped me understand and have more compassion for young people who I previously dismissed as unhinged snowflakes. It helped me understand why they're engaging in illiberal behaviors. Perhaps I can now engage them productively, instead of using mockery and derision.

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  • Jarrod R. Smith
  • 2018-12-04

An even handed evidence based approach

The book is written in an even handed unemotional manner, it relies heavily on scientific evidence rather than ideological speculation, and offers actionable items to address the problem both at a personal and societal level.

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14 people found this helpful