I Think The Gun Helps

Jonathan Haidt says that our children’s brains are being rewired. His theory, promoted mos

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  1. Avatar for jrs jrs says:


    I was convinced by Haidt’s takedown of Odgers and other academic critics. Haidt references some large randomized interventional studies as well that have surprising results.

    First comment to that Haidt essay has a similar flavor to the Izzard quote:

    As a teacher I saw the wolves arrive in my classroom around 2011-12.

    The wolves came in and stole my students’ most precious asset – their attention. The usurpers were too smart, too manipulative and brazenly uncaring. Here I was, at a teacher’s salary, pitted against youthful MENSA app developers in Silicon Valley whose pay scales and IQs exceed mine by factors of 100.

    I saw the “causation” unfold right before my eyes.

  2. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    This is really good! Where is this, @jrs ?

  3. Avatar for jrs jrs says:

    By Jim Geschke in comment to Haidt’s OP:

  4. Rusty this is one of my new favorite pieces.

  5. In a piece that’s simply packed with great lines these are the ones that stand out:

    To the contrary, we think that many, if not most of the potential harms being done here exist not at the individual level but at the Epimemetic layer of society. That is, we suspect but cannot prove that the always-on dopamine machinery of social media-connected smartphones affects the individual more through how that machinery changes social norms, conventions and the way in which information is consumed.

    The way that social media has transformed communication from one-to-one to one-to-everyone changes how we construct ideas, how we think and how we respond to memes and stories. That change is every bit as significant, I think, as the advent of spoken language, written language and the propagation of language following the invention of the printing press. We have all been rewired collectively. Again.

    As a reminder, Mrs. Yuppie teaches high school students and hooboy do her kids consume information in ways that she never dreamed of. And she graduated from high school in 2015. Not 2005, 2015. A lot has happened in a very short span of time. We have not even begun to scratch the surface of the harm being done, nor are we in any position culturally or politically to be able to face the reckoning that may well be coming.

  6. This is a brilliant and nuanced note - and wildly entertaining - that deserves an audience. I am sure Eddie Izzard would describe the writing as “fabulous.”

    I initially thought this was written by Ben and even tweeted as much before realizing the byline and deleting the tweet.

    Lines like “sorry, MAGA, you’re about as ‘conservative’ as drag queen story hour at the Berkeley independent book co-op” remind me so much of how I amused myself with writing as a bored pre-smartphone teenager.

    Beyond that, this is nuanced in a way that doesn’t play well on twitter. It navigates the pitfalls of both dismissing the role of smartphones and overstating their impact, but also offers a genuinely useful framework for how to think about issues. How does one tweet about this?

    PS - Vox/The Verge has a new podcast called Power user which addresses the culture of technology, and the latest episode delves into Jonathan Haidt’s book. I only listened to a few minutes, so I can’t recommend it one way or another, but I assume the experts will be there to inform us how to think about the topic.

    PPS - I also love the reference to the tension with a certain “gun control-favoring partner” as a great model for a constructive small c-conservative/small-l liberal dynamic.

  7. Purely as an observation, in the UK knife crime is an urban problem.

    It is common to own firearms in rural communities.

    Murderous cultures kill people.

  8. Rusty,

    This is the kind of writing that gets us across the ravine with the least amount of suffering.

    It’s full of “nuanced tripwires,” in a good way, that bring both sides of the widening gyre into discussion. Denoting, with the metaphorical rubber hammer of words, while connoting understanding of both sides.

    You understand “their” side, thank you. It’s called respect.

    The same respect a parent hopefully gives a two year old child on the floor of the supermarket, arms flailing, screaming at the top of their lungs, in the sugar coated breakfast aisle. ‘Yes, yes, I know, it’s not fair……’ And if that doesn’t work, hitting them back has been used for millennia…… Both ways are rationalized as, ‘this is for your own good.’

    I see a resemblance to City of God Series, where your comments weren’t meant to destroy Christianity or science, but to make it better.

    It not about the guns. It’s all about the guns.

    Huckleberry Jim, Epsilon Theory’s useful idiot.

    One more:
    ‘……These people and their arguments are very silly. We will not revisit them again unless it is very funny that we do so…….’
    Thanks for the comic relief….

  9. I always enjoy Rusty’s writing, and I really appreciate his wit, but I unexpectedly laughed loudly enough that my wife came in from the other room to ask me what was so funny.

    “We can simply observe that there are only 24 hours in the day (citation)”

  10. Wait a minute, I’m being rewired with them.


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