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The Parlia Podcast

On Opinion, with Turi Munthe

Where do your opinions come from? Do we ‘think’ our world views, or ‘feel’ them? And what do our beliefs mean for politics and society? In each episode of the Parlia Podcast Turi Munthe asks thought leaders to share thei
Latest Episode9/30/2020

Why Bias is Rational, with Kevin Dorst

Season 1, Ep. 16
“When evidence is ambiguous––when it is hard to know how to interpret it—it can lead rational people to predictably polarize.”Turi talks with philosopher Kevin Dorst to understand why all our cognitive ‘flaws’ - from confirmation bias and motivated reasoning, through our selective exposure to media, even the prejudice we apply to our analysis of evidence that contradicts our beliefs - should actually be thought of rational behaviour.Ever since the 1970s, when Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky began working on the cognitive / psychological bases of our logical errors, the idea that humans are profoundly irrational has grown in popularity.We think to satisfy emotional needs (the need to feel safe, to belong, to feel better than others) as much as epistemic ones (finding out the truth).So much is certainly true, but - as Kevin explains - it has profound political implications.When we come to believe that humans are irrational, it is only and always those on theother sidewhom we accuse of the flaw; never ourselves. And accusing our political opponents of irrationality - accusing them of intellectual corruption and cognitive breakdown - is a step towards demonising them, and a massive accelerant of the polarisation we see across our political landscapes.Kevin Dorst tells us that story is wrong. Politics and Culture are not maths. The evidence we have for thinking one way or another isalwaysambiguous. The ways we think about politics and culture are, Kevin tells us, fundamentally rational approaches to Ambiguous Evidence.Join us to hear how, and why, and what that should mean for the way we engage with those on the other side of the political spectrum.Listen to Kevin and Turi discuss:Ideological SortingAttitude PolarizationAffective PolarizationAmbiguous EvidenceAnd the pernicious effects of de-rationalising humans“Irrationalism turns polarization into demonization.”More on this episodeLearn all aboutthe Parlia Podcasthere.Meet Turi Munthe:https://www.parlia.com/u/TuriLearn more about the Parlia project here:https://www.parlia.com/aboutAnd visit us at:https://www.parlia.com
9/30/2020

Why Bias is Rational, with Kevin Dorst

Season 1, Ep. 16
“When evidence is ambiguous––when it is hard to know how to interpret it—it can lead rational people to predictably polarize.”Turi talks with philosopher Kevin Dorst to understand why all our cognitive ‘flaws’ - from confirmation bias and motivated reasoning, through our selective exposure to media, even the prejudice we apply to our analysis of evidence that contradicts our beliefs - should actually be thought of rational behaviour.Ever since the 1970s, when Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky began working on the cognitive / psychological bases of our logical errors, the idea that humans are profoundly irrational has grown in popularity.We think to satisfy emotional needs (the need to feel safe, to belong, to feel better than others) as much as epistemic ones (finding out the truth).So much is certainly true, but - as Kevin explains - it has profound political implications.When we come to believe that humans are irrational, it is only and always those on theother sidewhom we accuse of the flaw; never ourselves. And accusing our political opponents of irrationality - accusing them of intellectual corruption and cognitive breakdown - is a step towards demonising them, and a massive accelerant of the polarisation we see across our political landscapes.Kevin Dorst tells us that story is wrong. Politics and Culture are not maths. The evidence we have for thinking one way or another isalwaysambiguous. The ways we think about politics and culture are, Kevin tells us, fundamentally rational approaches to Ambiguous Evidence.Join us to hear how, and why, and what that should mean for the way we engage with those on the other side of the political spectrum.Listen to Kevin and Turi discuss:Ideological SortingAttitude PolarizationAffective PolarizationAmbiguous EvidenceAnd the pernicious effects of de-rationalising humans“Irrationalism turns polarization into demonization.”More on this episodeLearn all aboutthe Parlia Podcasthere.Meet Turi Munthe:https://www.parlia.com/u/TuriLearn more about the Parlia project here:https://www.parlia.com/aboutAnd visit us at:https://www.parlia.com
9/23/2020

Rebuilding Democracy (Pt. 2) - Disagreement and Civility

Season 1, Ep. 15
“Democracy runs on disagreement: it is by means of citizens hashing out their differences that democracy can achieve better political outcomes.”In Part 2 of their podcast, Turi and Bob Talisse follow on from their discussion of Equal Citizenship (and why polarization strains that ideal), to discuss Disagreement and how we build democratic ‘Civility’ to make sure disagreement is working for, not against, democracy.Disagreement is central to the democratic aspiration. Not only does it enshrine the right of individuals to participate in the democratic process, but it is epistemically useful - it helps us discover and articulate new ideas. But how can we argue properly when all our instincts push to defeat the other side rather than build with them?Bob Talisse explains that we're programmed to argue (a good thing) but that we must remind ourselves to do so within the bounds of 'civility'. Not 'civility' in the 19th Century sense of the term, but rather 'Civic Friendship' - anchoring our argument in the idea that we're all building the same civic project together, that our disagreement is precisely what makes our collective experience so much better.Listen in to understand:Deep Disagreements: the kind of differences no reasoning or logic will ever succeed in bringing togetherHow (and why) we privilege winning arguments over learning from them.Performance Debating: why we love to argue, and why we’re so bad at differentiating real debate with playing to the gallery.Why politicians play to their bases rather than try to convince the other side.How we've merged the notion of fact and opinion.Civil Discourse: what it means and how we can work to build ‘Civic Friendships’.And whether COVID-19 might just bring us back together as societies…“The informational environment seems directed at dissolving the distinction between knowing what happened and having a judgment about what happened.”More on this episodeLearn all aboutthe Parlia Podcasthere.Meet Turi Munthe:https://www.parlia.com/u/TuriLearn more about the Parlia project here:https://www.parlia.com/aboutAnd visit us at:https://www.parlia.com
9/16/2020

Rebuilding Democracy (Pt. 1): Equal Citizenship, with Robert Talisse

Season 1, Ep. 14
"Democracy is the thesis that a decent and stable political order is possible amongst equal citizens who disagree, but only if that disagreement is made to work in the service of democracy through civility."In this two-part podcast, Turi and Bob Talisseexplain these core ideas of Equal Citizenship, Disagreement and Civility, why they're so fundamental to democracy, and why they're at threat today.The radical idea of democracy is that a just and stable social order is possible in the absence of political hierarchies: nobody's political participation is worth more than the next person's.It's not just that government must treat us as equals, but that we ourselves must recognise each other as political equals. If we don't, if we begin to see our political opponents as depraved, as morally or intellectually corrupt, we begin to see them as unfit for democracy. We will seek to exclude them from our common democratic project - we enter a 'Cold Civil War'.That is the idea of Equal Citizenship, and it is massively under threat from polarization across the world.Why are we polarized?Our societies have become much more diverse (through immigration) just as our local communities have become more homogenous.The physical landscape has changed: social and physical mobility has meant liberals and conservatives can congregate around each others geographically.Choice has expanded so much with technology that we can self-select for everything: liberals need only read liberal news; conservatives the same.Our political identities mean much more to us than they ever have - stepping into the void left by Religion.As we personalise our politics, so perforce we dehumanise our political opponents.Listen to understand:why Polarization in democracy is a feature not a bugthe critical difference between Political Polarization and Belief PolarizationLifestyle Politics: politics has suffused our consumer choiceshow to tell someone's politics from the number of maps they have at homewhy everyone is incentivised to play extreme politics todayAnd why Bob's father, an ardent Republican, had a Union-man as his best friend...More on this episodeLearn all aboutthe Parlia Podcasthere.Meet Turi Munthe:https://www.parlia.com/u/TuriLearn more about the Parlia project here:https://www.parlia.com/aboutAnd visit us at:https://www.parlia.com
9/9/2020

Why we lie to ourselves, with Adrian Bardon

Season 1, Ep. 13
“The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing”Blaise Pascal,Pensées, 1670The Mind isembodied- it is a bodily function. What causes it to function in the way that it does. What motivates it?And here’s the rub. Because the mind has two, often contradictory, reasons for working.Epistemic: we think for knowledge, truth, accuracy.Emotional / Social: we think to reinforce group bonds, gain status, find safety.This week, Turi talks to Adrian Bardon about Denialism: when the emotional reasons for thinking win out over the epistemic ones. That process is called “motivated reasoning” because our reasoning ismotivatedby emotional needs. It can be deeply damaging to our understanding of the world, and our capacity to engage with each other.Together, they discuss how motivated reasoning works, what animates it, and why it has been so useful to us evolutionarily.They also talk actual politics, and ask why Conservatives have a such a hard time with Man-Made Climate Change, and why Liberals deny the value of nuclear energy.Listen to hear:whyallreasoning is motivatedhow Denialism manifests itself in politics and mediaWhat the core emotional drivers are of our politics and values?why the Coronavirus caused such a challenge to Conservativeswhether we’re happier thinking tribally than thinking rationallyand how you can treat motivated reasoning in yourself.Finally, listen to hear what we can do about Climate Change communication.We don't have time to wait for the science deniers to evolve. How can we avoid an epistemic crisis unleashing an existential one?More on this episodeLearn all aboutthe Parlia Podcasthere.Meet Turi Munthe:https://www.parlia.com/u/TuriLearn more about the Parlia project here:https://www.parlia.com/aboutAnd visit us at:https://www.parlia.com
9/2/2020

John Stuart Mill and Free Speech today, with Nigel Warburton

Season 1, Ep. 12
“John Stuart Mill would be the kind of person who would argue for following people with whom you strongly disagree because they’re the ones that are gonna make you think.”Turi talks with the philosopher Nigel Warburton about free speech and its foundational text - John Stuart Mill’sOn Liberty(1859).Today, all sides of the political spectrum decry attacks on their free expression.Led by Donal Trump, the Right attacks the social networks for expelling them, and mainstream media for spreading lies about them. The Left attacks the systemic inequality of speech - how the white, rich and male dominate column inches. Even the Centrist signatories of the Harpers Letter feel their ability to debate has been shut down by no-platforming and cancel culture.Nigel Warburton takes us back to the earliest defence of free speech, John Stuart Mill’sOn Liberty, to discuss what makes it so foundational to our polities and democracies, and why it’s such a tricky notion to define.Listen to Nigel and Turi discuss:the Marketplace of Ideas (and its problems)‘dead dogma’: why ideas need contesting to stay alivewhy ‘civility’ in debate is over-rated‘Epistemic Injustice’ and why some people’s views aren’t taken seriouslywhy Mill thought you need a diverse society to build the breeding ground for Genius.the Tyranny of the Majority: and why the wrong kind of free speech is so dangerous“Free speech isn’t an absolute - it’s something which we need to rethink almost all the time in relation to every sort of case that emerges”More on this episodeLearn all aboutthe Parlia Podcasthere.Meet Turi Munthe:https://www.parlia.com/u/TuriLearn more about the Parlia project here:https://www.parlia.com/aboutAnd visit us at:https://www.parlia.com
8/26/2020

Why do we believe Conspiracy Theories, with Karen Douglas

Season 1, Ep. 11
“People are drawn to conspiracy theories to satisfy particular unmet psychological needs - epistemic, existential and social.”Turi talks with Professor Karen Douglas of the University of Kent, to understand where conspiracy theories come from.Karen has surveyed all the literature on conspiracy theory. She identifies three core drivers behind the instincts of conspiracy believers, in each instance attempting to satisfy a deep psychological need.Epistemic: the need to understand the world around us. Conspiracy theories appear to give us the answers we’re looking for.Existential: the need to feel safe in our environments and feel a sense of control as autonomous humans. Making sense of the world around us allows us to feel we can dominate it.Social: we all want to feel good about ourselves and about the groups that we belong to. If we’re in a group that’s suffering, conspiracy theories allow us to explain that away.Listen to hear:why narcissists make conspiracy believerswhy people with anxious attachment styles tend to conspiracy thinkingwhether conspiracy thinking is evenly split between Left and Righthow we’re all conspiracy theorists some of the timeAnd whether conspiracy theories do, in fact, alleviate the psychological needs of those you seek to believe themMpre on this episodeLearn all aboutthe Parlia Podcasthere.Meet Turi Munthe:https://www.parlia.com/u/TuriLearn more about the Parlia project here:https://www.parlia.com/aboutAnd visit us at:https://www.parlia.com
8/19/2020

Can we trust what we believe, with Miriam Schoenfield

Season 1, Ep. 10
"A lot of beliefs that are fundamental to who we are and to how we think about the world are influenced by things that appear to be arbitrary and irrelevant to the truth of the matter.”Turi talks with Professor Miriam Schoenfield, of the University of Texas at Austin, to understand whether we can have any kind of certainty about the truth of our beliefs.The children of Jews tend to be Jews, the children of Jains tend to be Jain, those brought up in the liberal agnostic West tend to be liberal agnostics… Much as the children of Liverpool FC supporters tend to support Liverpool. The fundamental philosophical premises of our most cherished beliefs are flawed: we’reconditionedto believe them.Are we epistemologically stranded?Listen to hear Miriam and Turi discuss:Doubt: “something that simply happens to us, without explanation, fluid and wordless”the Gestalt Shift, and how it’s different from just ‘changing your mind’Whether Rationalism is itself a belief systemWhether emotional or spiritual experiences might get us closer to the truth than ‘thought’Why agnostics take smaller risks in politicsAnd whether we ‘learn’ our feelings, in the same way as we ‘learn’ our beliefsMore on this episodeLearn all aboutthe Parlia Podcasthere.Meet Turi Munthe:https://www.parlia.com/u/TuriLearn more about the Parlia project here:https://www.parlia.com/aboutAnd visit us at:https://www.parlia.com