An insightful discussion of the social-science research on the decision-making processes to help us overcome the biases that divide us. Our social unity is under attack from extremists on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Often the loudest and most influential public voices today are also the most divisive. Amid the din of conflicting claims, accusations, and counteraccusations, voices of moderation can no longer be heard. Radical speech is creating hazards for civil discourse and even for governance. Under such conditions, how will we ever find common ground to advance the needs of the nation? This psychologist presents answers to this question in this insightful discussion of the social-science research on the decision-making processes of those who endorse extremist beliefs. A key finding of this research is that extremism causes selective hearing and biases our very ability to form objective judgments. In fact, radical speech leads to radical hearing and impedes our willingness to consider moderate viewpoints.Based on these findings, Reich presents seven principles whereby we can reduce or eliminate the toxic influences of extremist rhetoric and selective hearing. These include becoming aware of how emotion affects our judgments, accepting the fact that we live in a diverse society where differing points of view are common, and detecting when extremist rhetoric is designed solely to attack its opponents. If knowledge is power, then the best antidote to toxic speech is increased scientific understanding of how our judgments are formed. By making the latest social-science research on this important subject accessible, Radical Distortion takes a crucial first step toward creating a more civil society.
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|Title of eBook: Radical Distortion|
|Release Date: 10-16-2012|
|Publisher: Prometheus Books|
This eBook download is available in the following formats:
|Parent title||Radical Distortion|
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Chapter OneDELIBERATE DIVISIVENESS
Under ordinary circumstances, our social relations, our bonds with our family, our friends, our community, even our ties to our nation should be our most precious national resources and should be treated accordingly. Our connectedness with our society should be a wellspring of our resilience as we try to adapt to our fast-changing and challenging future. But these are not ordinary circumstances, and our unity is under attack. There are people in our midst who are intent on destroying it, who deliberately want to divide us from each other. And they are succeeding in significant ways. This is an amazing and depressing phenomenon. It is amazing and depressing because some of those people are being paid millions of dollars to do this. They have been raised to the exalted status of media stars. With their radical and polarizing speech, they are the loudest voices of our times. They are so successful that voices of moderation are being drowned out.
But this is not "news." Our national unity perpetually seems to be a fragile thing, threatened when events unleash our emotions and make us question our relationships with each other. A recent tragedy in my sister city of Tucson, Arizona (I live in Tempe), highlights how tenuous our unity truly is. On a beautiful Arizona morning, Saturday, January 8, 2011, our US representative from Arizona's Eighth District, third-term congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was holding an open "Congress on Your Corner" public meeting with her constituents in a Safeway® parking lot when a man, later identified as Jared Loughner, opened fire with a handgun. Representative Giff...