Why Can't We All Just Get Along? Bring Your Questions for Righteous Mind Author Jonathan Haidt

"Morality, by its very nature, makes it hard to study morality," writes the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt. "It binds people together into teams that seek victory, not truth. It closes hearts and minds to opponents even as it makes cooperation and decency possible within groups."

His new book is called The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion and it is absorbing on so many levels. (It addresses some of the same ideas in a Freakonomics Radio episode called "The Truth Is Out There ... Isn't It?") Here's a Times review; here's one from the Guardian.

I'm pleased to say that Haidt has agreed to take questions on his topic from Freakonomics readers, so ask away in the comments section and as always, we'll post his answers in short order.

Why Does the Worldwide Financial Crisis Fester So?

In today's Journal, David Wessel nails it. (If you ask me, Wessel nails it consistently.) First, he asks the question that needs to be asked:

It has been two years since the flames were first spotted in Greece, yet the blaze still hasn't been put out. Now it has spread to Italy.

It's been five years since the U.S. housing bubble burst. Housing remains among the biggest reasons the U.S. economy is doing so poorly.

On both continents, there is no longer any doubt about the severity of the threat or the urgent need for better policies. Yet the players seem spectacularly unable to act.

What's taking so long?

Radio in Progress: Political Word Watch

For an upcoming Freakonomics Radio episode, we've been doing some research on media bias. We came across this paper by Northwestern researchers, part of a growing body of work that uses computational analysis to turn political speech into data. Simply by examining speech patterns, the researchers were able to predict the political affiliation of U.S. Senators with 94% accuracy.

They broke down the nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs most common to each party. For instance: liberals use the adjective “gay” while conservatives favor “homosexual." Adverbs preferred by liberals include “disproportionately,” “ecologically” and “indiscriminately”; conservatives favor “morally," "objectively” and “constitutionally."

Australia's Rising Political Star Is an Award-Winning Economist

My good friend Andrew Leigh is the winner of the Young Economist Award, granted every two years to the best Australian-based economist under the age of forty. It’s really a rather splendid achievement. And entirely well-deserved.

Andrew’s career has been quite extraordinary. You see, economics was neither his first career, nor is it his current career. He began life as a star lawyer—clerking for the Aussie equivalent of the Supreme Court, and joining one of the big city firms. He then moved on to his second act as a policy advisor for the center-left politicians in both Australia and the UK, and a think tank in the U.S.

Finally, he began his third act, as an academic economist.

Why Politicians Tweet

Two economists from the University of Toronto have taken a closer look at who uses Twitter in the U.S. Congress. While generating followers is an obvious motivation for politicians to tweet, Feng Chi and Nathan Yang found that geography and party lines play a part too.