Sat, 30 July 2016
Cass and Bob have a conversation with former guest Benjamin Hicks. He was our first guest on episode 3, after Bob and Cass interviewed each other on episodes 1 and 2. Ben is one of those guys that is just a sweetheart. He’s humble, he’s a beta, he’s got a big heart, he wants the best for everyone. He’s got a conservative brain and a brilliant brain. He’s a career computer guy nerd genius, and we love him. You can hear his deconverstion story there, and today we’re discussing estrangement, animosity, and othering that is so prevalent in today’s western zeitgeist. We saw it in the Brexit, we’re seeing it in the public appeal of Trump’s racist rhetoric. In what universe would someone so incompetent and with such lack of self-awareness rise to popularity like he has? And the tension between the Hillary supporters and the Sanders supporters within the democratic party. The estrangement and distrust between black and brown people with police officers. The widening chasm between the rich and the poor in class warfare. The amassing of guns because we’re so scared. The success of terrorists to truly infect the world with terror. It’s working! When people are out in public, in traffic, out shopping, we don’t feel the brotherhood of man, we don’t feel the warmth of community—unless we’ve quarantined ourselves in gated communities with only people of our own ethnicity.
These are subjects that scholars have tried to understand for millenia. Scholars that look at the brutality of the world and human depravity and instead of just accepting it as the norm they’ve asked questions like why do we act this way? What narratives are framing our paradigms that put as at such odds? I personally expected that once I got out of elementary school, this childish behavior would finally stop. It didn’t. So I thought, well, after high school, that’s when people will be mature enough not to act this way. Nope. College? The workforce? Adulthood? Nope. Maturity has not happened to us yet. And today, we discuss the works of two scholars who’ve come up with some theories, supported by research, that prescribe some insights. This talk is far from a comprehensive view of their work, so I want to prescribe the work of two scholars for those that are truly interested in some possible solutions to our current social discord:
One is Jonathan Haidt. He’s a social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business. His academic specialization is the psychology of morality and the moral emotions. Haidt is the author of two books: The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (2006) and The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012), which became a New York Times bestseller. He was named one of the "top global thinkers" by Foreign Policy magazine, and one of the "top world thinkers" by Prospect magazine.
The second is Ernest Becker was a cultural anthropology who earned his PhD from Syracuse University and became a professor at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. In 1973 he published The Denial of Death for which he earned a Pulitzer Prize. A year later he died of cancer at age 49. Also, the book, The Worm at the Core, by doctors Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg, and Tom Pyszczynski, is about the research done to support Becker’s theories.
We taped this episode on July 29th, 2016. If you’re liking our show, please subscribe to it, give it 5 stars, and/or leave a review on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, you can support us monetarily on a per episode basis through our Patreon page. That’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast. Or leave a donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com.