Saturday, September 16, 2017

Be Humble

Russ Roberts is worried about the state of the US, especially the degree of division and hatred between the factions. His advice for all of us:
When the world is increasingly uncivilized, take a step toward civility.

Don’t be part of the positive feedback problem. When someone yells at you on the internet or in an email or across the dinner table, turn the volume down rather than up. Don’t respond in kind to the troll. Stay calm. It’s not as much fun as yelling or humiliating your opponent with a clever insult, but it’s not worth it. It takes a toll on you and it’s bad for the state of debate. And you might actually change someone’s mind.

Be humble. Shakespeare had it right: There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy. You’re inevitably a cherry-picker, ignoring the facts and evidence that might challenge the certainty of your views. The world is a complex place. Truth is elusive. Don’t be so confident. You shouldn’t be.

Imagine the possibility not just that you are wrong, but that the person you disagree with could be right. Try to imagine the best version of their views and not the straw man your side is constantly portraying. Imagine that it is possible that there is some virtue on the other side. We are all human beings, flawed, a mix of good and bad.


Anonymous said...

I would not live in a world in which Richard Spencer is right. Most of us are civil. But those who are not and follow such as Spencer — they are not going to heed such pretty words.

John said...

Richard Spencer is a fringe character, not a worthy opponent for anyone serious about politics. Focusing on him can be a ready excuse not to deal with all of the sane people who disagree with you. One of the key bits of this advice is to focus on the best version of what you oppose, not the worst.