In his moral psychology keynote, Jonathan Haidt tackles the hyper-partisan climate of U.S. politics by exploring the dynamic pros and cons of having moral thoughts.
Haidt begins by outlining two impending disasters: a set of asteroids headed for the United States and the federal debt crisis. Due to the hyper-partisan nature of U.S. politics at the moment, the country is not coming together around common goals (deflecting the asteroid and harnessing the debt) as humans have done in the past.
Haidt, a psychologist who studies morality, points out the old adage "morality binds us and blinds us." This principle means that the ideas and beliefs that bring us together also blind us to ideas outside that framework and that causes distortion. He gives examples in nature of species that work together to build massive structures like bees and termites, before wrapping the concept around the current issue of the United States government's dysfunctional behavior.