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I'm Right and You’re an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean it Up
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Book Recommendations > Are you prepared for a paradigm shift in the way you think about environmental issues?

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message 1: by Rod (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rod Raglin This book is changing the way I think, which was exactly as stated in the title.

There are issues that are too important to me to go unresolved, even if I have to concede what I always considered the moral and empirical high ground.

I now, somewhat reluctantly, realize that if I feel passionately for something I'm probably not thinking clearly - not seeing the full picture and other people's (that would be the idiot's) valid points of view.

I urge you to take a look at this book and consider your approach to vital issues you're involved with, especially if you're interested in climate change and a way forward.

The debate is stalled, and as the title says the public discourse is toxic.

We need a paradigm shift in our approach.

Are you up for it?


message 2: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6043 comments Mod
The big picture always contains elements that are unseen or unreported. If everyone knew all details they would be able to make up their minds on various issues, but some people are always going to stay with 'the way we've always done it' or 'what benefits me right now'.
Do you have anything specific you'd like to share from this book - which I have not seen so far.


message 3: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1577 comments Mod
Rod, the folder 2016 Book Reads is for book discussions. If you want to lead a discussion on this book, please feel free to do so. Perhaps you could summarize some of the main points.


message 4: by Rod (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rod Raglin Thanks to Clare and Jimmy for their suggestions on a more productive discussion of "I'm Right and You’re an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean it Up" by James Hoggan.

The premise Hoggan advances is that the most pressing problem society has is not climate change, but the pollution in the public square - where "adversarial rhetoric and polarization is stifling discussion and debate creating resistance to change and thwarting our ability to solve our collective problems."

In a summary of interviews with outstanding thinkers he reveals "the importance of reframing our arguments with empathy and values to creating compelling narratives and spur action", - fancy words for really taking into consideration your opponent's point of view.

I'm hoping members might read this book or comment on my comment on state of public discourse. Right now in my part of the world there's a fight to halt the building of a pipeline and limit the number of oil tankers that ply our coast. It seems to make sense to me since the burning of fossil fuels is a threat to our existence and yet environmentalists are going to lose this fight.

Why?

According to this book it has to do with our approach.

I'm interested in what the members think.


message 5: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 2000 comments It seems like it used to be where you needed to state a reason along with saying no, one couldn't just say no. Now it seems like if a reason is given for saying no, it just adds fuel to the disagreement.

--most pressing problem society has is not climate change, but the pollution in the public square--

I was following you up to that point and then the conversation seemed to veer off course.

The overall problem planet abuse is shaped like a pyramid. To my way of thinking, climate change, and "adversarial rhetoric and polarization" are not at the top of the pyramid. Pollution started all of this. Both natural and man made. They interact with each other in uncontrollable fashions. Climate change and adversarial rhetoric are symptoms, farther down the side of the pyramid, not direct causes. Treating symptom's never cures anything.

The question is do you use to get the point across to everyone? Fear, comedy, satire, empathy, rewards, common sense, plain facts, or setting an example? The problem is one would probably have to use every one of those strategies to reach everyone. Seems like everyone is looking for a one size fits all solution for everything, with a coating of for the common good.

A real time scenario would be the coal mining situation. Do you have worthwhile jobs for everyone who would lose their jobs if coal mining was immediately stopped? Green slogans are nice, but do you really think you can convince someone to lose everything for the cause while you gain everything you want in the situation without losing anything?

Most people seem to think it is the future we are talking about, with plenty of time to debate things. I think the process we are striving to avoid has already started and we are now simply reacting to what has already started happening. I guess we want the luxury of debating how to react to what is happening in real time, which works, so long as it isn't happening to us.


message 6: by Annis (new)

Annis Pratt | 80 comments This is an interesting discussion because I have been working in the area of Environmental Justice (I live near Flint, Michigan so we are working on water affordability) and the issue of the Eco Elite came up, in a way. Not so much "I'm right and you are an idiot" as white folks telling Detroit community groups what the white environmentalists have figured out is the thing to do. No Way Hosea! We are following a local group's suggestion for action instead.
Also, in the Citizens Climate Lobby, we are trained to approach non-environmentalist legislators with the following process: 1) a compliment for some action they have done 2) 90% listening to what they say 3) one ask, based on where we think there is common ground. In this way we have seen Republican legislators open themselves to civil conversation and even introduce an Environmental Bill in the House of Representatives!
So, how we talk ties in directly to what we can do about pollution and global warming.


message 7: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1577 comments Mod
I was in another group discussing politicians. Every single person hated "politicians." I think that is so destructive. Let me quote my response to them which may fit a bit here:

I always give as an example Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. She has been a dedicated public servant for many years. When she was governor, I will never forget when she came to my GED class and encouraged my students in night school. These kids were dropouts who never voted and offered nothing in return to her, but there she was. A great woman, and a great politician.

Supposed I said to you, "I hate schools. I hate kids. But I want to teach your children." That's what's happening in the Republican party. They have promoted hatred of government and politicians and have been a negative force. They win elections on being negative. The result, in my view, is a disaster for the country. And it's too late for them to backtrack on the result: Donald Trump.

To convince me, you have to provide more specifics. Not all of "Congress" is responsible.



message 8: by Annis (new)

Annis Pratt | 80 comments Yes, I like your response. It is witnessing to how the issue works in your life rather than attacking. In talking about yourself and not pointing a finger at your politician hating friends, they were able to be open to what you were saying. In my theory, once the emotions get roiled, the neo-cortex gets aborted.


message 9: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6043 comments Mod
Here we have the Green Party and when the party got enough votes to be able to gain a minority share in a coalition government, they were able to make positive changes.


message 10: by Jan (new)

Jan Greene (jankg) | 187 comments Rod wrote: "Thanks to Clare and Jimmy for their suggestions on a more productive discussion of "I'm Right and You’re an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean it Up" by James Hoggan.

The ..."

Hi,
I have not read this book, but I think the state of public discourse is dangerously bad and a threat to the survival of reasonable participation in democracy.

"the importance of reframing our arguments with empathy and values to creating compelling narratives and spur action", - fancy words for really taking into consideration your opponent's point of view.
I agree with this quote completely. In the 90s and early 2000s I was a group facilitator for school improvement teams made up of district administrators, building administrators, teachers and parents (in some cases students). Most of my work centered on creating safety for people to talk to each other in ways that the "other" could here. At the same time, I was a diversity facilitator - often going into fairly polarized situations. In both cases, I was successful in helping people resolve issues ONLY when I was able to help the participants feel empathy. Often it was compelling stories that broke down resistance on both sides. Empathy and not being judgmental about the other person's point of view, I think, are crucial in getting people to take action or change harmful practices.


message 11: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1577 comments Mod
In my school, I worked on a team promoting positive behavior reinforcement. We encouraged positive comments of praise rather that constant negative comments. Praise a student for being on time rather than only complaining about a late student.


message 12: by Clare (last edited Oct 27, 2016 12:51AM) (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6043 comments Mod
Positive reinforcement works well with children and animals in my experience.
I make a point of sponsoring the local children for sponsored walks, readathons, school fun day, school sports day, charity collections etc. Every time I will chat to the kids about the activity, what it is about, what it supports, if they'll have fun. When they see adults they know supporting the activity this helps them to understand that a community can help everyone.

I prefer to do this rather than support large charities which will only waste my money by mailing me with requests for money.


message 13: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6043 comments Mod
Re the coal mining issue, this was a great bone of contention in the UK during the eighties. Partly it was a union power issue. Miners went on strike for a whole year.

Anyway, the communities were not well off when strikes were on or mines closed, and many found little other work so young people invariably went to cities.

Today, the health and safety laws and environmental laws, are so strict that I doubt a coal mine could be opened in Britain; or not a profitable one. There was some talk of re-opening one in Wales, but I really think they would have been bringing in Turkish workers or something. A generation later, young people who have known other options don't want to spend their lives down a mine.


message 14: by Rod (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rod Raglin Thanks to Robert, Annis, and Jan for your contributions.

I am totally impressed by the well consider and illuminating (at least for me) comments from everyone. It seems many of you are a way a head of me not only in this type of attitude but also in the implementation of it.

Many of the quotes and teachings Hoggan uses in this book also suggest that having the facts of your side is not necessarily an advantage to resolving the issue. Especially if we use facts to beat up on our opponent.

Here's one of the quotes from an interview he conducted;

"Get clear on your values, and start using the language of values. Drop the language of policy.
- George Lakoff, linguist and cognitive scientist

At the end of part one Hoggan suggests that attacking people's motives and intentions, even if they seem suspect, fuels their resistance and it can lead to gridlock and despair - which is the opposite of what those seeking climate change want.

I'm about to read part two, entitled Speak the Truth, But Not to Punish and am looking forward to the solutions he proposes.


message 15: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy | 1577 comments Mod
Sometimes it is just so difficult to discuss climate change with opponents. For example, some deniers I know are now pointing to Anarctica. Here are some articles:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/20...

http://www.ecowatch.com/whats-going-o...


message 16: by Jan (new)

Jan Greene (jankg) | 187 comments Jimmy wrote: "In my school, I worked on a team promoting positive behavior reinforcement. We encouraged positive comments of praise rather that constant negative comments. Praise a student for being on time rath..."

Yes, that was something we did too.


message 17: by Brian (new)

Brian Burt | 426 comments Mod
Clare wrote: "Here we have the Green Party and when the party got enough votes to be able to gain a minority share in a coalition government, they were able to make positive changes."

We have a Green Party here in the U.S., too. And -- based on their platform -- I'm very much inclined to vote Green in the upcoming presidential election!

U.S. Green Party Platform


message 18: by Bob (new)

Bob Rich | 16 comments Jimmy wrote: "Sometimes it is just so difficult to discuss climate change with opponents. For example, some deniers I know are now pointing to Anarctica. Here are some articles:

http://news.nationalgeographic...."

I have actually run a workshop on how to move the attitudes of climate change deniers. You have to consider well-known and understood psychological reactions like cognitive dissonance.
The way is to find some source of agreement, and then use that to lead them to question some of their preconceptions. For example, they may be upset by plastic in the oceans killing fish and birds, but see it as an isolated problem. Agreeing there, we can go on to other things driving species extinctions like overfishing, and oil pollution of oceans...
:)


message 19: by Anne (new)

Anne Ipsen | 96 comments Among those I know (in Cambridge MA) the biggest problem is not persuading them that climate change is real, but that it is not useless to do something. Opinions range from those that are "too busy", "it's hopeless", "I can't think about it" "I'm too old to care" to "I'm doing my bit through X.org. We all see the elephant through our own limited senses. How to empower people away from panic? I am finding
Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're in without Going Crazy inspiring.


message 20: by Jan (new)

Jan Greene (jankg) | 187 comments Rod wrote: "Thanks to Robert, Annis, and Jan for your contributions.

I am totally impressed by the well consider and illuminating (at least for me) comments from everyone. It seems many of you are a way a hea..."


Rod, I constantly need to remind myself of the two points below...even though I know and agree with them!!
:
"Get clear on your values, and start using the language of values. Drop the language of policy.
- George Lakoff, linguist and cognitive scientist

At the end of part one Hoggan suggests that attacking people's motives and intentions, even if they seem suspect, fuels their resistance and it can lead to gridlock and despair - which is the opposite of what those seeking climate change want.


message 21: by Jan (new)

Jan Greene (jankg) | 187 comments Anne wrote: "Among those I know (in Cambridge MA) the biggest problem is not persuading them that climate change is real, but that it is not useless to do something. Opinions range from those that are "too busy..."
Hi Anne, Thanks for the suggestion.


~☆~Autumn♥♥☔ | 44 comments The way I see it the biggest problem is birth control! There are just too many people! Its very depressing. On the news last night we heard about a mountain lion that had moved under someone's deck as we are slowly moving into their habitat. But I want to get away from people who use Round-up, pesticides and other toxic chemicals as I am very sick with Environmental Illness due to them.
There are thousands of people like me and I was just reading some of the problems on The Green Canary at yahoo.


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