On Polarization, Mutual Understanding and Bogus Disagreement

On Polarization
United We Fall argues that polarization isn’t a bad thing at all if it merely means that strong – even irreconcilable – differences persist amidst heated argument.  On the other hand, polarization is a problem if it means that argument is not even taking place.

On Mutual Understanding
Why do we listen to our opponents so infrequently? It’s often because we radically misunderstand them. And of course that’s because we haven’t listened to them. After all, how many lefties have decided what conservatives believe by reading or listening to fellow lefties?  Too many. And how many cultural conservatives get their ideas about what a feminist is by talking to feminists? Also too many.

Bogus Disagreement
In the United States the biggest threat to mental freedom and informative political speech is not censorship. Instead it’s bogus disagreement. Some forms of disagreement are obviously bogus, like an election campaign “conversation” between the President of the United States and “ordinary Americans.”Less obvious bogus are discussions of public policy issues that are based on materials provided by a single advocacy or policy organization, rather than by a group of people from several organizations that represent radically different points of view.

More Types of Bogus Disagreement:

  • Debates or disagreement sessions with too many limits imposed on who can speak and what can be said
  • Discussions of an issue that don’t include, or at least honestly invite, obviously relevant and strongly held points of view, (they leave protestors out in the street)
  • Interviews hosted by people who interrupt, badger, and ridicule their guests without giving them a real chance to speak and be heard
  • Conversations where all are expected to agree at the end, or where the “correct” outcome is treated as a given (many “workshops” take this form)

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