Jonathan Haidt is a Koch Stooge and The Heterodox Academy is an Outlet for Koch Propaganda

Benjamin T. Awesome
4 min readSep 25, 2021

The Heterodox Academy is purely a right-wing operation. Period. It has no redeeming cultural value and exists strictly to propagate right-wing talking points. It rehashes all the same debunked arguments that Koch-funded and Koch-adjacent nonprofits and media outlets have been making for decades. It has reframed “intellectual diversity” as “heterodoxy” and “political correctness” as “wokeness” or “illiberalism.” And behind it, we find all the same funders funding all the same self-serving right-wing orthodoxy.

Koch Stooges All The Way Down

Let us begin by welcoming Heterodox Academy’s inaugural President, John Tomasi, founder of Brown University’s Political Theory Project. What is the Political Theory Project, you ask? It’s a think tank that was “awarded $1.7 million from the Charles Koch foundation during the school’s 2016 fiscal year to be paid out over a multi-year period.” But perhaps this is just a coincidence. Maybe the Kochs just fund so much stuff that it doesn’t really mean anything. Unfortunately, such idealism is unfounded, as we learn from an investigative report from Greenpeace:


So, strike one is that Heterodox Academy just this year appointed an overt Koch stooge to be its inaugural President. Looks bad.

Heterodox Academy Has Two Founders

Jonathan Haidt is the public face of Heterodox Academy, and by far its better-known founder. But it has two founders. Who is its other founder? None other than Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz. Let’s start with some of the basics here. Rosenkranz’s father is a billionaire. He grew up a child of enormous privilege, attending an elite private school, before going to Yale. Subsequently to that, he clerked for Ronald Reagan SCOTUS appointee, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. There is an interesting story about Kennedy’s clerks, and it goes something like this:


What is The Federalist Society and what does it have to do with the Kochs or Rosenkranz? It was founded in 1982, and some of its early donors included the Koch family foundations. Throughout the years, it has received direct funding from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and several other funding entities associated with the Kochs, including DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund.

The Federalist Society is an influence and propaganda apparatus that serves the interests of the Koch Foundation and of other similar entities, and Rosenkranz is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Federalist Society. What’s more, he is a Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute, which is of course a think tank founded in 1974 as the Charles Koch Foundation, before changing its name in 1976. Cato has long been one of the largest purveyors of disinformation about things such as global warming, campaign finance reform, and public schooling.

Why do we so frequently find progeny of the hyper-wealthy, such as the Kochs and Rosenkranz, who had every possible advantage with regard to their own education, investing so much time attacking the public school system, working to erode basic foundations of scientific knowledge about phenomena such as global warming, and trying to control, manipulate, and contain the opinions and free expression of college students? Is widespread education and scientific understanding that much of a threat to these supposed free speech advocates?

Haidt is No Better

Jonathan Haidt selected a Koch stooge to co-found his nonprofit, he selected a Koch stooge as the inaugural President of said foundation, and he co-authored the bestselling “The Coddling of the American Mind” with a Koch stooge. His co-author for that particular work, Greg Lukianoff, is the President and CEO of FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. As you may have already guessed by the suspicious-sounding name, it too is a Koch instrument, in addition to having ties to multiple other right-wing funding sources.

Jonathan Haidt, despite employing language of understanding and depolarization, has elected to work with some of the most polarizing forces in the United States. If you work for and with a bevy of Koch stooges, then you instantly alienate millions of people, because millions of people are aware that the Kochs are (or were in David Koch’s case) the very archetypes of corruption. They are capitalist nihilism personified. They have crafted countless schemes to divide people along manufactured wedge issues and grew their fortunes at the expense of public well-being.

Paying lip-service to liberal values or honest communication means nothing when you work for and with the worst people on Earth. These people are not principled operators. They are not trying to help the world. Their agenda has nothing to do with improving the education of college students, and when you uncritically recycle their talking points and advocate for them, even while arguing that debate is the best means to disempower bad ideas, you are part of the problem. You are creating division and increasing polarization.



Benjamin T. Awesome

Just the facts: Writer. Gamer. Feminist. Educated in Astrophysics. Professional Gambler. Student of Language. Satanist. Anarchist. He/Him.