Effects Of Yagnya ,Agnihotra, Scientific Study Results

There are two types of offerings in the Fire in Hinduism,Yaga and Yagnya.

Yaaga is one conducted with a Purpose, to fulfill a desire.

Yagnya Being performed

Yagnya is conducted because it is to be conducted, a Duty, A Categorical Imperative as Immanuel Kant puts it.

Yagnya is to be performed with a sense of detachment, anticipating nothing in return.

Fire is chosen to perform Yaaga and Yagnya because Fire has Five Unique Qualities , called

‘ Panchagnividya’

  1. The flame of fire always goes upwards.It implies that despite immense pressures of fear and temptations our flame of wisdom, and foresight should ever be kept-alight and up-turned.
  2. Anything coming in contact with fire becomes fire itself, indicating that we , having been a part of Reality,God, become One with It.
  3. Fire accumulates nothing, reminding us that ,in Life we accumulate Nothing
  4. The residue of fire are ashes making us remember that we turn to Ashes thereby reaffirming the Impermanence of Life.
Types of Yagnyas.


The Seva Yagna — altruist service of the society is a noble example of Yagya.

The Gyan Yagya, The Comprehension of True Knowledge.

Vak Yagnya, Speaking Good of others, never ill of others.

Mano Yagnya, thinking of only Noble Thoughts,

Hearing only that which is Good for All (Bhadram karnobi Srunuyaama Devaa-Rig Veda)

Seeing only those that are Noble.

Vak Yagnyena Kalpatham,

Mano Yagnena kalpatham’

Sakshur Yagnena Kalpatham,

Srothram Yagnena Kalpatham (Sri Rudram-Chamaka Prasna)

In Purusha Suktha Brahma is offered as Havis, offering to Fire by the Devas.

‘Yath Purushena Havisaa Devaa yagnya mathan vatha”( Purusha Suktham)

Purusha Suktha speaks about the evolution of the Universe.


The Prana Yagya implies — the service of saving the lives of people from suffering and agonies and inspiring liveliness and respect for life in them. A variety of such Yagyas are described in the Shastras.


Benefits of Yagnya.

Yagya is also glorified as “Yajóoaya Sarvakaamdhuk” meaning, “Yagya is the source of fulfilling all desires”.

“Agni Mºde Purohitam” The first revelation of Rig Veda of is said to have given knowledge of kindling fire toYagya is also glorified as“Yajóoaya Sarvakaamdhuk” meaning, “Yagya is the source of fulfilling all desires”. .

Yagnya is the primordial source of the Forces of Nature and this is explained in the Purusha Suktha.

The efficacy of Yagnya, Scientific study Results.
3. Purification of Environment by Yagna
The industrial wastes, rapid urbanization, deforestation, air and water pollution,
disturbances in the ozone layer -formation, radioactive waves etc., have
destabilized the human, animal and plant life cycles. The ecological imbalance
caused by these acts of ‘civilized men’ has resulted into disastrous threat not only
to human survival but to the life as a whole on our planet.
Till recently it was accepted that research into science can furnish answer to all of
man’s problems. Today we find increasing number of diseases including
malfunctioning of body organs due to increasing severity of pollution in the
atmosphere. Ozone layer depletion has been causing ailments like sunburn, skin
cancer, cataracts and weakening of the immune system. Viruses are becoming
drug-resistant and showing consistent growth trends.
Experimental studies show that the incidence of physical ailments, sickness and
disease are reduced in the houses, where the
Yagna (Agnihotra) is regularly performed because it creates a pure, nutritional and medicinal atmosphere. Itrenews the brain cells, revitalizes the skin, purifies blood and prevents growth of pathogenic organisms.
Agnihotra is basically a healing process. ‘Heal the atmosphere and the healed
atmosphere will heal you’— is the Modus Operandi
Purification of environment through the constituent electrons of the substances
fumigated in the Yagna is an obvious effect of this process [2-4]. The observation
of some distinguished scientists is note worthy in this regard.
Dr. Hafkine has mentioned that — “mixing ghee and sugar and burning them
creates smoke which kills the germs of certain diseases and secretion takes place
from some glands relate to the wind-pipe, which fill our heart and mind with
Sugars present in Havishya have great power to purify the atmosphere. It kills
the germs of T.B., measles, smallpox and cow-pox — remarks Prof. Tilward.
According to Dr. Shirowich, a Russian scientist has remarked that (i) Cow’s milk
contains great power of protection from atomic radiation; (ii) Houses having
cow-dung covered floors enjoy complete protection from atomic radiation; (iii) If
cow’s ghee is put into Yagna fire, its fumes lessen the effect of atomic radiation to
a great extent.
The medicinal fumes emanating from Agnihotra have been observed by
researchers in the field of microbiology to be clearly bacteriolethal in nature.
These eradicate bacteria and other micro-organisms, which are the root cause of
illness and diseases. This must be the reason why the incidence of physical
ailments, sickness and diseases becomes less in the households, where
Agnihotra is regularly performed.
Even without going into detailed chemical bacteriology, it can be stated that
performance of Yagna leads to purification of air. This takes place in the
following four ways .
3.1. Removal of Foul Odors:
As already stated, under steam volatilization, the various volatile oils get diffused
in the surrounding atmosphere along with steam and smoke. Since these oils have
distinct good smell, the foul odors are automatically replaced. This aroma can be
experienced easily in the surroundings when
Yagna is performed due to diffusion of substances like thymol, eugenol, pine, terpinol and oils of sandal-wood, camphor and clove.
3.2. Removal of Bacteria:
As stated under products of combustion, the partial oxidation of hydrocarbons
and decomposition of complex organic substances produce formal aldehyde
which is a powerful antiseptic. It is also interesting to note that germicidal action
of formaldehyde is only effective in the presence of water vapor which is also
produced in large quantities in Yagna.
 The use of formaldehyde spray for disinfecting of walls, ceiling etc., is common and such a spray is automatically produced when
is performed.
The oxidation of hydrocarbons also produces formic acid and acetic acid both of
which are good disinfectants. Use of formic acid for preservation of fruits and that
of acetic acid in preserving vinegar is a common practice.
The antiseptic and antibiotic effects of fumes of
have also been examined
by conducting suitable experiments on rabbits and mice and it has been
established that fumes emitted in Yagna are powerful antibiotic.
Agnihotra ash purifies and cleanses the water making it fit for drinking
3.3. Removal of insects:
There are non-bacterial parasites like flies, ringworm, dice, fleas etc., which are
immune to bactericides, which are also harmful to other living beings.
Such insects which are generally immune to ordinary reagents. However they
either get killed or are driven away, when they come in contact with the fumes of
volatile oils like camphor diffused in the environment.


3.4. Effects on Plants and Vegetation:
The disinfection of air is not only useful to animal life but also helps plant’s life
though the bacteria responsible for diseases in both may be different. The
aromatic substances during Yagna get diffused in the air and offer protection to
plant life against harmful organisms. This ensures healthy plant growth.
Agnihotra’s atmosphere and ash can be used as adjutants in the ‘Natural
farming’ methods — also known as the Agnihotra farming methods. It is a
holistic concept of growing plants in healthy atmosphere and maintaining
ecological balance by performingAgnihotra(Yagna) in the middle of the farm
and using theYagna – ash as a fertilizer. It is not only safe and productive but also
holistic in its approach towards environment.
3.5. Role of CO2 generated in Yagna:
Consignment of the wood and other organic maters to flames has been always
controversial because of generation of CO and CO 2 and increase
in consequent ‘green house’ effect. It had been argued that performance of
Yagna also produces CO and CO2. It should be noted here that the way in which theSamidhas and Havishyaare burnt in. Yagna is a process of slow combustion at higher
temperature. While the burning of coal in factories or in the household fire
involves rapid combustion. where oxygen is sucked in large quantities and
enormous CO2 is emitted. In the slow combustion taking place in the process of
Yagna, small quantity of O2is utilized meager CO2 is emitted that poses no threat
to the environment. In fact whatever CO2 is generated it is readily absorbed by the
surrounding vegetation and CO 2 cycle is strengthened [4].
The other important aspect is the fact that CO 2produced in
Yagna is not alwaysfree CO 2 but it remains mixed with other aromatic oils and antiseptic products. It therefore, acts as a vehicle in transporting such products to distant surroundings.
The use of CO 2 as a cerebral stimulant to assist the patients suffering from lack of
ventilation is common in medical world. Its use to control and cure many mental
disorders is also known to medical science. Small amounts of CO 2 inhaled by the
persons performing Yagna acts as a stimulant and more and more aromatic
fumes are inhaled which help in curing mental disorders.
Particularly effective results with respect to the elimination or reduction in
radiation were achieved through Yagna fire and ash. These observations are
made by Dr. L. Maela Anatoninhowska of Poland after using P.S.I. techniques.
Results of Some Recent Experiments:
A group of scientists led by Dr. Manoj Garg, Director, Environmental and
Technical Consultants and the Uttar Pradesh pollution control board conducted
experiments during the Ashwamedha Yagna at Gorakhpur, U.P. These
experiments were set up at about 20 meters east from the
Yagnashala. The samples of 100 ml each of water and air collected from the surroundings were analyzed using high volume envirotech APM-45 and other sensitive instruments.
A summary of their results ( [1] – Akhand Jyoti, Sept. ‘97 p.22) is presented below:
In Air Samples (unit mg per average sample)
Instant Level of Sulphur dioxide Level of Nitrous Oxide Before Yagna 3.36 1.16
During Yagna2.82 1.14 After Yagna 0.80 1.02
Bacteria Count in Average Water Samples
Before Yagna 4500
During Yagna 2470
After Yagna 1250
Minerals in the Ash (Bhasm) of Yagna
Phosphorous 4076 mg per kg. Potassium 3407 mg per kg. Calcium 7822 mg per kg.
Magnesium 6424 mg per kg. Nitrogen 32 mg per kg. Quispar 2% W/W
These results clearly support the claims made about the role of
Yagna in control
of air pollution. The Deputy Director, Agriculture had submitted a technical
report based on such results, recommending the use ofYagna’s ash as an
effective fertilizer.
Comparable results were also obtained by the scientific experiments conducted in
about 27 large scale Yagnasorganized by Shantikunj, Hardwar in India and
abroad during 1993-1995
Citation and for Details.





The Definition Of Brahmin,Duties.

The Motto of Brahmins.
The Motto of Brahmins.

This is in continuation of my earlier posts on Caste.

I had explained how the word caste is not of Indian origin and the fact that these concepts are not be found anywhere in the Religious or philosophical texts of the Indians.

Also how Gandhi muddled the waters by inventing a new term Harijans to segregate them by another name.

Ambedkar tried in vain to prove that Untouchability began with the yard stick of Cow eating and meat-eating.

As indicated earlier, the Society was organised on the basis of dispositions and tendencies, both genetic and shaped by the environment.

Basically , on the basis of the three Gunas and their interplay,Sathva, Raja and Tamas, three tendencies and dispositions were noted.

The calm, knowledgeable and ascetic and selfless-Sathva

Active’ Go-getters, protectors, emotional and Compassionate at the same time-Rajas.

Dull, Mentally not sharp,lacking in initiative, can do a job assigned,Indifferent, bordering on Amoral,Tamas.

All the three qualities are present in every man and these keep on changing in the individual every minute and one has to strive to keep the right balance.

Based on the predominant disposition observed for a reasonable period of Time the Society was grouped as under.

The Brahmanas.

The real word denotes’ one who has realized Brahman, The Reality”

Later this was used to denote a group that practiced Compassion, selfless service and was knowledgeable.

They were entrusted with the responsibility of teaching the Community of Value systems and pray for All.

They were not paid.

The Society took care of them in kind, grains. cloth,shelter, land by the Kings.

Those who have these characteristics are Brahmanas , not every one who calls him self a Brahmana..

Brahmins were not expected to save, nor hod properties of their own,.

This sloka tells us who a Brahmin is.

“Adhyaapanam Adhyayanam
Yajanam Yaajanam Tathaa
Daanam Pratigraham Chaiva

Adyayanam-Pracctice of reciting the Vedas, with meaning.

Adhyaapnan-Teaching of the Vedas along with the Astras(scientific Arms) and Satras(Ordinary weapons of war)

Yajanam-performance of the Yagnas and Yagas.

Here there is a small difference between a Yagna and Yaaga.

While a Yaaga is performed with a specific wish to be fulfilled, as a Puthra Kameshti for begetting a Good offspring, Yajna is performed expecting no results, performed because it has to be performed as sanctioned by the Vedas.

This one can take as the modern equivalent of the Categorical Imperative of Immanuel Kant.

Yaajanam-Performing these for others.

Dhaanam-Donating to others, Philanthropy without expectations.

Pratigraham-acceptance of Dhaana from others, here one is not expected to anticipate of ask for Dhaana.

Acceptance of Dakshina is mandatory so is non demand of Dakshina.

A Teacher is expected to accept what the parents of the children offer, they are forbidden to ask.

In certain case, like Santhipani asked of Lord Krishna , it is to demonstrate the valor his ward.

Those who ask a specific Dakshina are treated with contempt, like Drona who was  called a Kshatriya for having demanded Dakshina from Ekalaiva( This is one of the reasons)

On top of this, a Brahmin is expected to have realized Brahman, The Reality.

This is how the Brahmins are defined in the Sastras,

Nowhere a Brahmin is called a Brahmin because he is born of Brahmin parents.

‘Universe A Master Computer Controlled’. Confirms Indian Thought.

Recent Studies on the Universe speculate that there may be 10,500 Universes with different laws of Physics.

Based on String Theory this Study suggests that we might be a controlled by a Master Computer Programme with set patterns.

There could be a Super Computer controlling the Universes.

This Theory may be new to the West.

Indian philosophy ,asserts this Principle at different levels and systems.

1. Advaita.Or Non-Dualism postulates that the Universal basic Principle is One and That is called  Brahman.

This Principle is the essence of Being,Knowledge and Bliss.

The world as we see it is an Illusion(Maya).

(This Illusion is called as ‘Avidya or Nescience’ at the individual level and ‘Maya’or Illusion at the Macro level)

It is not to say that it does not Exist.

It has a Relative existence with in the laid down parameters.

The other Existence is called Absolute ‘where the words do not reach, nor thoughts operate’.

At this Absolute level, there are no Attributes or Qualities ,to use a common word.

This is Called the Nirguna Brahman.

Then what about the World we see and Live?

As said earlier it also Exists,though in a limited sense, with the qualities that can be perceived by the organs provided to us and also the make up of the External universe.

These Perceptions we have of our Daily Universe is limited in Space and Time, that is Finite,for we have the Mind is limited by its inability  to perceive without reference to Space and Time.

Immanuel Kant put it simple ‘Time and Space are the Goggles through which we perceive’

So the Universe is Finite for we conditioned to perceive the limited or the limited Nature of the Universe.

The different Universes that exist are regulated by other Laws and the Perceptive organs and the Laws are totally different.

There are 14 levels of Existence, each being controlled thus.

2.Theory of Karma. Karma means action.

Every action performed produces equal and opposite reaction.

When we complete an action, we have excluded the other choices presented to us.

Any choice presented has a set pattern.

So when only one option is taken the balance remain.

Action is a form of energy and once available can not be destroyed but can be changed.

Hence the opposite reactions for our actions and the remaining actions remain even after completion of action.

This remnant  Energy , since it originates from the Doer, the reactions are limited to the Doer alone.

This in short is the abstract of Karma Theory.

Karma is of three kinds.

Sanchita Karma-Total accumulation of the reactions of the actions of the  individual.

What ever we under go is due to a portion of the Karma that is taken out of the totality, Sanchita Karrma.

This Karma is called Prarabda Karma

The balance of the Sanchita Karma will take its course.

Then what about the actions we perform?

This is called Kriyamaana Karma which will yield results and to use banking term, will be credited or debited to your account.

An extension of this thought proves the existence of Life after Death and Rebirth.

As the quality of actions and consequently the reactions differ , one is assigned to different levels of Existence.

Buddhism,Jainism.The Theory of Karma is applied more stringently.Things differ from each other because of the rate at which they vibrate,

Higher the vibration subtler it becomes.

Lower it becomes Gross.

Actions create vasanas and vibrations and these results assign one to different levels of existence and worlds.

For more details please read my blogs filed under Indian Philosophy,Religion,Hinduism and for a detailed explanation of Time Theory refer my blog Time a Non Linear Theory.


“Imagine the situation where we get a big enough computer to simulate our universe, and we start such a simulation on our computers,” said professor Martin Savage, a physicists working on the project. “If that simulation runs long enough, and have same laws as our universe, then something like our universe will emerge within that simulations, and the situation will repeat itself within each simulation,” he said.

The current understanding of string theory indicates that there are 10,500 universes with different laws that determine the behaviour of particles within them, he said.

“So it is certainly true, that with enough computer resources, theorists would like to explore these universes ,” he added.

Explaining how the experiment works, physicists claim that finite computer resources mean that space time is not continuous but set on a grid with a finite volume, designed to create maximum energy subatomic particles. The direction these particles flow in will depend on how they are ordered on the grid. They will be looking at the distribution of the highest energy cosmic rays in order to detect patterns that could suggest that universe is the creation of some futuristic computer technology.

And if it does turns out that we are mere players in some sort of computer programme, they suggested that there may be a way to mess with the program, and play with the minds of our creators. “One could imagine trying to figure out how to manipulate the code, communicate with the code and questions that appear weird to consider today,” he said…


The point that we can manipulate the master code is fallacious as the Finite can not manipulate the Infinite .

Some things never change. Physicists call them the constants of nature. Such quantities as the velocity of light, c, Newton’s constant of gravitation, G, and the mass of the electron, me, are assumed to be the same at all places and times in the universe. They form the scaffolding around which the theories of physics are erected, and they define the fabric of our universe. …

In recent years, however, the status of the constants has grown more muddled, not less. Researchers have found that the best candidate for a theory of everything, the variant of string theory called M-theory, is self-consistent only if the universe has more than four dimensions of space and time – as many as seven more. One implication is that the constants we observe may not, in fact, be the truly fundamental ones. Those live in the full higher-dimensional space, and we see only their three-dimensional “shadows.” …

In fact, string theory allows for a vast number – 10,500 – of possible “worlds” with different self-consistent sets of laws and constants. …

The constants are a tantalizing mystery. Every equation of physics is filled with them, and they seem so prosaic that people tend to forget how unaccountable their values are. Their origin is bound up with some of the grandest questions of modern science, from the unification of physics to the expansion of the universe.


After measuring alpha in around 300 distant galaxies, a consistency emerged: this magic number, which tells us the strength of electromagnetism, is not the same everywhere as it is here on Earth, and seems to vary continuously along a preferred axis through the universe,” Professor John Webb from the University of New South Wales said.

“The implications for our current understanding of science are profound. If the laws of physics turn out to be merely ‘local by-laws’, it might be that whilst our observable part of the universe favours the existence of life and human beings, other far more distant regions may exist where different laws preclude the formation of life, at least as we know it.”(science Daily.com)


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Time ,Non-Linear Theory. Indian Thoughts 1

Time is a very difficult topic ,so is Space.

No clear definition of Time has been set as of Date.

The interchange of the Terms Space and Time is a challenge to the known laws of Physics.

When you observe the Black Holes  where time stops and runs backwards ;

when you notice the movement of extra particles in the sub atomic ranges as in Bosun experiment;

when you have Time Warp proved by Quantum Theory and Mechanics;

when you find the that the receiving by the earth the light from the Star does not prove its existence, rather that it did exist depending on the time taken by the light to reach the earth,

you are astounded and you are forced to reexamine your known Theories of Physics.

Well Indian Philosophy was aware of this fact and it has observed that the .OBSERVER HAS AN IMPORTANT ROLE AS THE OBSERVED, FOR TO OBSERVE SOMETHING THAT TRAVELS AT A VELOCITY THAN THAT OF LiGHT, THE OBSERVER NEEDS TO MOVE INTO THAT PLANE OR the results will not be correct.

Instead of looking at the Universe from  the outside Indian Philosophy looks at the instrument that perceives these phenomena;one such instrument is the Mind, which also has the elements that make up the Universe..

Mind is treated as on sense organ(for details please read my blogs on Hinduism).

Now let us look into the concept of Time.

Different perspective of Time.

Changing views of Space and Time along the world line  of a rapidly changing Observer.

In this animation, the vertical direction indicates time and the horizontal direction indicates distance, the dashed line is the spacetime trajectory (“world line”) of an accelerating observer. The small dots are arbitrary events in spacetime that are stationary relative to each other. The events passing the two diagonal lines in the lower half of the picture (the past light cone of the observer) are those that are visible to the observer.


Galilean transformation
Galilean transformation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


World Line Change.

The slope of the world line (deviation from being vertical) gives the relative velocity to the observer. Note how the view of spacetime changes when the observer accelerates. In particular, absolute time is a concept not applicable in Lorentz’s spacetime: events move up-and-down in the figure depending on the acceleration of the observer.

Indian Philosophy recognizes the limitations of human mind and abilities. It knows that one is restricted by space and time, which does not afford him the luxury of understanding things as they are. Any perception or understanding is conditioned by the twin spectacles of Space and Time (Immanuel Kant in Critique of Pure Reason.)

To understand things as they are is beyond human ability. Let us say that we want to know whether there are any particles that travel at a higher velocity than light. (It has been proved theoretically that they exist).If we want to prove them by direct experience rather than inference, we need to be in motion in tune with the particle traveling faster than the velocity of light (Einstein circumvented this problem by theorizing that if an object were to travel at a higher velocity than that of light, it would no longer remain matter. (Theory of Relativity.)

Imagine, we travel at a higher velocity than the velocity of light, not withstanding the fact that we may no longer remain as matter, what happens?
We may be able to observe the particle traveling at a higher velocity than light. But, in the process of observing this phenomenon, we no longer remain in our normal original state. That is to say we have changed our plane of existence to that of the object traveling at a higher velocity.
This means to understand, in the realms of Higher Physics, if one needs to observe things of a different coordinates, one needs to move to the same level of existence.
That is to say our existence coordinates or parameters vary. This leads to different level of Time as this involves motion at a higher velocity than the one we are in. This admits the differentiation of time, determined by two factors-the point from which one observes and the point at which the observable exists. In short to understand higher velocities one needs to be at the same velocity to observe in real-time.

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We Rationalize, Not Reason

The Brain

I came across an interesting Article which states that we Rationalize and not Reason.

To me it seems correct.

When we choose anything, we, if we reflect, rationalize.

We are driven by instincts, Feelings and Emotions.Any choice depends on and is driven by these.

As we have mores and Social respectability to consider, we rationalize, not Reason while making a choice.

We rationalize our decisions, consciously later, more to ourselves .

The Organism chooses what is Right for its survival.

We are driven to decisions, that’s all.

All of us have Dispositions and these are not determined by us.

The Dispositions determine our Attitude, Attitudes our Desires and Desire actions.

This has ben brought forth in the Bhagavad Gita.

All of us are born with Three Gunas(loosely translated,Dispositions)

These interact with each other constantly and we behave.

There is no such thing as inactivity for all of us ar driven by thees Gunas.

So any decision that we take is purely instinctive and we justify it later(an euphemism for Rationalising)

This we call as Reason,

Theer is interesting sequel for this in The Bhagavad Gita.

Lord Krishna advises Arjuna to fight for Honour, Wealth and Name.

He later says that is always better to do one’s Duty;yet the results his actions are not in his hands alone;even if he does not do it, things will happen;attachment breeds anger when thwarted; anger breeds indecision, indecision leads to the Destruction of the Intellect and destruction of the Intellect ensures the Destruction of Man;then adds it is ideal that one Realises Reality forgoing every action , nay, the resolve to get the results;the best way is through Knowledge,then Surrender to God.

Confusing, isn’t it?

Arjuna tells Krishna that since all actions be-get results because of which one is born and has to go through the pain in Life, he will not perform any action;hence no results and no birth and no pain.

Krishna tells him that no such activity is possible as we are driven by Gunas and He, the Supreme Lord that He is, after having been born. is not beyond action.

And adds a punch line ‘Is there anything in the world that is not Mine and is there any thing I need?

Still I perform action, because I can not help it’ Bhagavad Gita -Chapter 2)


Jonathan Haidt’s new book makes a well-reasoned case against reason. It persuades that the power of persuasion is overrated. It opens minds to the near universality of closed minds. Does Haidt’s convincing theory affirm or rebut his argument? My brain hurts.

Western philosophy has been worshipping reason and distrusting the passions for thousands of years,” the University of Virginia psychology professor writes. “There’s a direct line running from Plato through Immanuel Kant to Lawrence Kohlberg. I’ll refer to this worshipful attitude throughout this book as the rationalist delusion. I call it a delusion because when a group of people make something sacred, the members of the cult lose the ability to think clearly about it.”

Intellectuals confuse a more ideal state of affairs for the way things actually are—reason is more often than not rationalization, a justification for ideas developed not in the brain but in the gut. Haidt’s antecedent here is David Hume. Reason plays servant to man’s whims. Man forces the facts to fit his beliefs rather than the reverse. It’s no wonder that ideas that work marvelously in our minds fail miserably when applied to the world outside our heads. How a theory makes us feel, not whether it works, is the most important prerequisite for our acceptance of it.

Were athletes to seek rule by the strong or models rule by the beautiful, intellectuals would clearly see naked self-interest masked as reason. But Haidt finds other smart people to be no more reasonable in their use of reason. Intellectuals seek rule by the intelligent. The Righteous Mind explains that the rationalist delusion is

the idea that reasoning is our most noble attribute, one that makes us like the gods (for Plato) or that brings us beyond the ‘delusion’ of believing in gods (for the New Atheists). The rationalist delusion is not just a claim about human nature. It’s also a claim that the rational caste (philosophers or scientists) should have more power, and it usually comes along with a utopian program for raising more rational children.

Intelligence is a virtue. So are prudence, integrity, humility, and courage. People who possess the first trait, but lack the latter ones, tend to downplay the importance of their weaknesses and inflate the importance of their strength. The limitations of intelligence are never as glaring as when highbrains advocate intelligence as the panacea for everything. But it is not the intelligence of Haidt’s fellow liberals that he indicts. It’s their morals.

Haidt helped devise a questionnaire that gauged moral views by eliciting test-taker responses to statements in five categories: care/harm, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation. Haidt likens these moral groupings to the five taste receptors of the tongue (sweet, sour, bitter, savory, salty). It turns out that liberal receptors failed to engage on questions of loyalty, authority, and sanctity. Conservatives, on the other hand, reacted to all five moral categories more or less equally. Haidt’s conclusion is that his fellow liberals are morally tone deaf. “Republicans understand moral psychology,” Haidt concedes. “Democrats don’t.”

It gets worse for liberals. Haidt and colleagues asked their subjects to answer their questionnaire as if they were liberals, as if they were conservatives, and as themselves. Liberals don’t know their political adversaries nearly as well as the right knows them. “The results were clear and consistent. Moderates and conservatives were most accurate in their predictions, whether they were pretending to be liberals or conservatives. Liberals were the least accurate, especially those who described themselves as ‘very liberal.’ The biggest errors in the whole study came when liberals answered the Care and Fairness questions while pretending to be conservatives.” Liberals see caricatures when they see conservatives.