If you can’t make your opponent’s point, you don’t truly grasp the issue

(Originally posted on the Engagious Blog.)


Opponent messaging challenges comic

@seanbland reminds us about the flaw of “False-consensus bias” – the assumption that other people are like us: that what we are, what we like, the ideas we cherish, are “normal.” (Well, duh.) We surround ourselves with people like us, watch shows that confirm our views, read books and articles that we agree with—so everybody is like us, because that’s the information available. Those weirdos on the Other Side that believe different things and vote different ways—they’re just dumb. Not like us.

Except maybe we should entertain the very real possibility that the Other Side is made up of people, not weirdos; and maybe they might perhaps have good reasons for thinking the way they do; and, again maybe, if we listen we might learn a little something.

“If you wish information and improvement from the knowledge of others, and yet, at the same time, express yourself as firmly fixed in your present opinions, modest, sensible men, who do not love disputation, will probably leave you undisturbed in the possession of your error. And by such a manner you can seldom hope to recommend yourself in pleasing your hearers, or to persuade those whose concurrence you desire.” –Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin


For more on this topic, check out our recent post on Political Tribalism.