Jonathan Haidt - The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012), 3/10

Haidt's writing is enjoyable and entertaining, and much of the book is worth exploring even as an exercise of thought. His discussions concerning the elephant and rider concept of the human mind are interesting and compelling, but unfortunately his conclusions and motivations behind his research are methodologically questionable. The conclusions drawn clearly stem from biased studies, initially hidden behind a thin veil but practically confessed to the reader at various stages. The discussion of religion is also a clear defense without a pure philosophical search for truth, only pointing out inconvenient weaknesses in contemporary science-based literature. This doesn't add much to the wider discussion and does not provide insight to educated readers. There are better, more impartial resources for students of philosophy to learn about the concepts discussed in the book such as rationalism, moral foundations theory, developmental psychology, Platonic philosophy, and religious texts. If you pick out these concepts and do your own informed research, you will likely learn a lot more and come to more rational conclusions yourself without needing to filter through Haidt's flawed perspective. Does the book answer the question it poses: Why good people are divided by politics and religion? Partially and half-heartedly, leaning into cherry picked evidence and suppressing important viewpoints that may explain some of the harsh truths Haidt avoids. Haidt often falls prey to the common pitfall of quote mining and moral suppression without crossing over into the realm of obvious offensiveness but compromising the philosophical process too often to be worthy of any praise. Engaging and pointed writing give The Righteous Mind a strong readability but the book does not carry any lasting significance outside of entertainment.