THE COD­DLING OF THE AMER­I­CAN MIND

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GREG LUKIANOFF AND JONATHAN HAIDT Allen Lane, 338pp, £20, Oldie price £15.97

The Cod­dling of the Amer­i­can Mind, a book co-writ­ten by the psy­chol­o­gist Jonathan Haidt and the free speech cam­paigner Greg Lukianoff as an ex­pan­sion of a widely read At­lantic piece on the sub­ject of stu­dent cen­sor­ship and men­tal health in Amer­i­can col­lege cam­puses, has been re­ceived along pre­dictably di­vided lines. At the Guardian Moira Weigel sternly iden­ti­fied ‘a new right-lib­eral dis­pen­sa­tion’, com­par­ing the au­thors to one of their bug­bears, Pres­i­dent Trump. Weigel sum­marised Haidt and Lukianoff’s method­ol­ogy as ‘Seize the data! But not all kinds of data,’ and con­cluded that ‘The minds they cod­dle just may be their own.’

Niall Fer­gu­son, by con­trast, hailed in the Times ‘this im­por­tant if dis­turb­ing book’, flawed, he feared, only in its op­ti­mism: ‘his­tory sug­gests that such cul­tural rev­o­lu­tions are quite slow to sub­side un­less, as in China, they are forcibly sup­pressed. Be­lief in witchcraft took at least a cen­tury to die out after the 17th­cen­tury witch craze…i see lit­tle if any sign of im­pend­ing im­prove­ment.’ Michael S Roth in the Wash­ing­ton

Post im­plored that some sense of pro­por­tion should pre­vail: ‘Mil­lions of peo­ple were mur­dered in the Cul­tural Rev­o­lu­tion. Lukianoff and Haidt de­scribe em­ploy­ees who suf­fered ca­reer dis­rup­tion, some­times soft­ened with sev­er­ance pay­ments.’

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