At the risk of pandering, I must say that you are a very smart and thoughtful group. I’m so lucky to have you as readers and listeners. Last week I asked you to indulge me in a thought exercise, in the hopes of learning more about how we think, how we persuade, and how we are persuaded. It’s part of my deepening interest in understanding the distinction between good and bad faith arguments. It is an exercise, ultimately, in citizenship. To that end, I asked you to answer two questions:
The response was overwhelming. That request for input generated more responses than any prior note. Many of you didn’t just dash off a quick answer; you answered with rigor and detail. One response ran to 1600 words, almost twice as long as my note. I am still processing your emails, all of which I found illuminating, but I have a few initial observations.
First, you generally shared my frustration over the sad and worsening state of discourse in our country. As Paula wrote, “These times have exacerbated my frustration as I listen to not ‘real’ argument or even discourse as much as a litany of logical fallacies and unsupported in any way platitudes and confirmed opinions; and that is all most of it is - unsupported opinion founded on some vague internet or TV pronouncement by some unqualified talking head or individual.”