Beliefs matter because people act upon their beliefs—whether those beliefs are true or not

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When we say “impossible conversations,” we mean conversations that feel futile because they take place across a seemingly unbridgeable gulf of disagreement in ideas, beliefs, morals, politics, or worldviews. We don’t mean exchanges that occur in situations in which some people are absolutely unwilling to speak with you. Extreme examples where people are violent or threatening, or adamant in their refusal to talk or even to listen, are not what we mean by “impossible conversations.” When someone refuses to speak with you, there’s no conversation to be had. No book can teach you how to force someone to converse if they won’t speak with you. (Pg.3)

How to Converse with Anyone, from Strangers to Prison Inmates

1—GOALS Why are you engaged in this conversation?

2—PARTNERSHIPS Be partners, not adversaries

3—RAPPORT Develop and maintain a good connection

4—LISTEN Listen more, talk less

5—SHOOT THE MESSENGER Don’t deliver your truth

Five Advanced Skills for Contentious Conversations How to Rethink Your Conversational Habits

#1—KEEP RAPOPORT’S RULES Re-express, list points of agreement, mention what you learned, only then rebut
#2—AVOID FACTS Do not bring facts into a conversation
#3—SEEK DISCONFIRMATION How could that belief be incorrect?
#4—YES, AND… Eliminate the word but from your spoken vocabulary
#5—DEALING WITH ANGER Know thyself

Bore, n.: A person who talks when you wish him to listen. —Ambrose Bierce (Pg.95)

6—INTENTIONS People have better intentions than you think

Six Expert Skills to Engage the Close-Minded Breaking Through Conversational Barriers
#1—SYNTHESIS Recruit your partner to help refine and synthesize your positions
#2—HELP VENT STEAM Talk through emotional roadblocks
#3—ALTERCASTING Cast your partner in a role that helps her think and behave differently
#4—HOSTAGE NEGOTIATIONS Apply cutting-edge research on hostage negotiations
#5—PROBE THE LIMITS Engage someone who professes a belief that can’t be lived
#6—COUNTER-INTERVENTION STRATEGIES What should you do if someone is attempting to intervene in your beliefs?

Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn. —Benjamin Franklin. (Pg.131)

7—WALK AWAY Don’t push your conversation partner beyond their comfort zone

Master Level: Two Keys to Conversing with Ideologues How to Move Unmovable People
#1—HOW TO CONVERSE WITH AN IDEOLOGUE Switch to moral epistemology
#2—MORAL REFRAMING Learn to speak moral dialects (Pg.157)

One of the most pathetic—and dangerous—signs of our times is the growing number of individuals and groups who believe that no one can possibly disagree with them for any honest reason. —Thomas Sowell, Twitter, @ThomasSowell, July 30, 2018

Beliefs matter because people act upon their beliefs—whether those beliefs are true or not (and it’s far easier to be wrong than right).

When we say “impossible conversations,” we mean conversations that feel futile because they take place across a seemingly unbridgeable gulf of disagreement in ideas, beliefs, morals, politics, or worldviews. We don’t mean exchanges that occur in situations in which some people are absolutely unwilling to speak with you. Extreme examples where people are violent or threatening, or adamant in their refusal to talk or even to listen, are not what we mean by “impossible conversations.” When someone refuses to speak with you, there’s no conversation to be had. No book can teach you how to force someone to converse if they won’t speak with you. (Pg.3)

Nearly two decades ago, one of this book’s authors, Peter, was discussing affirmative action with a colleague (SDL), a white female who described herself as a liberal. As conversations about controversial topics tend to do, it quickly became heated. Then, as is par for the course in these situations, before long it went downhill, fast. Let’s take a look back:

SDL: You keep denying that it [affirmative action] is fair.

Boghossian: Yeah, that’s because it’s not. Who’s it fair to?

SDL: I told you already. Traditionally marginalized groups, like African Americans. They’re coming from a deficit. They didn’t have the same opportunities that you and I had.

Boghossian: But why does that require manufacturing outcomes?

SDL: You sound like a broken record. Because they’re Americans, and they deserve better. You don’t understand because you’ve never had those struggles. You’ve gone to good schools and never dealt with even a fraction of what they deal with on a daily basis.

Boghossian: Let’s say you’re right. I don’t think you are, but let’s say you are. What evidence do you have that affirmative action is a way to remedy past injustices?

SDL: I don’t have any evidence. It’s the right thing to do because—

Boghossian: So you have no evidence. You have complete confidence in a belief for which you have no evidence.

SDL: You’re not listening.

Boghossian: I am listening. I’m trying to figure out how you could believe so strongly in something with no evidence. Do you think African Americans are better off with Clarence Thomas? Do you think it was a good thing that he’s a Supreme Court justice, or would African Americans be better off with a liberal white male?

SDL: You’re [expletive] annoying. Seriously. I can’t believe you’re a teacher.

Boghossian: I’m sorry you feel that way. Maybe if you could better defend your beliefs you wouldn’t be so annoyed with someone who’s asking you softball questions.

SDL: What do you teach your students?

Boghossian: You’re not my student. And don’t get so upset.

SDL: You’re an assh#@$. We’re done.

She was right. Peter wasn’t listening; he was annoying; and he was being an asshole. In this brief exchange, he interrupted, used “but” in response to her statements (probably the least wrong thing he did), shifted topics, and didn’t answer her questions. He was so focused on winning—and even intellectually embarrassing her—that he ruined the conversation and closed the door to productive future exchanges. SDL walked out on the conversation, but she should have walked away sooner.

Conversations between people who hold radically different beliefs about religion, politics, or values have always been challenging. In that sense, the conversation between Peter and SDL wasn’t likely to go smoothly, but it didn’t have to go that badly.

There are good and bad ways to have conversations with people who hold radically different beliefs, and better approaches aren’t just imaginable, they’re achievable. Because our current cultural environment is deeply polarized, it’s even harder than usual to converse productively across these divisions.

Finally, we believe we’re entering an era of renewed interest in effective, across-the-aisle dialogue. People are sick of not being able to speak about controversial subjects and of having to constantly walk on eggshells when voicing their opinions. This book is for those who have had enough. Enough name-calling. Enough censuring. Enough animosity. It provides a comprehensive tool set that enables you to take charge of your conversations. You’ll learn how to intervene in someone’s thinking and help them change their own mind and how to mutually search for the truth. Even with hardliners and ideologues. Conversations that remain civil, empower you, and change even the staunchest of minds are possible—even across deep divides. Here are the tools to have them. (Pg.1-8)

Conclusion

YOU NOW HAVE THE TOOLS TO SPEAK YOUR MIND, UNDERSTAND, and be understood. You are empowered to navigate even the most difficult conversations. But you must use what you’ve learned. The techniques of the previous chapters will be worthless unless you practice. Along the way, expect failure and success. The successes will emerge because you’ve persisted. Some of the techniques in this book will become your conversational bread and butter, and as you improve, we urge revisiting less-used sections and incorporating more techniques. Once you’ve grasped all the techniques, from beginner to master level, you will be equipped to rise confidently to conversational challenges. That said, there’s no urgency. Start slowly. Build your repertoire, pay attention to what works and what doesn’t, and keep practicing, keep talking, keep listening, and keep learning. Above all, take charge. There’s no reason to cower, to be afraid to voice your opinion, or to fear disagreement. You know how to engage people with proven, evidence-based techniques. All that’s left is for you to begin. (Pg.179)

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge. Epistemologists study the nature of knowledge, epistemic justification, the rationality of belief, and various related issues. Epistemology is considered one of the four main branches of philosophy, along with ethics, logic, and metaphysics.
An example of epistemology is a thesis paper on the source of knowledge. (countable) A particular theory of knowledge. In his epistemology, Plato maintains that our knowledge of universal concepts is a kind of recollection.
Epistemology is the philosophy of knowledge. It seeks to answer the questions “What is knowledge?” and “How is knowledge acquired?” Epistemologists are philosophers who are interested in questions such as whether it is possible to have knowledge, what kind of knowledge there is, and how people come to know things.

WE&P by: EZorrilla

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