Cory Leonard

Moderation through Explanation | Ars Technica

In politics on May 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm

The science of moderation? Asking individuals with extreme positions to explain their position seems like smart strategy, cutting through what the authors call “an illusion of understanding”:

Moderation through explanation. Alternately, this section could be called Where Dunning-Kreuger meets politics. Four researchers at three different institutions joined forces to ask a simple question: why is it that people have such extreme positions on subjects that are rather complicated and nuanced? “We hypothesized that people typically know less about such policies than they think they do,” the authors write, going on to discuss their experimental method: asking people with extreme opinions to explain the issue. That brought an end to their subjects’ belief that they actually understood the issue they were otherwise willing to argue passionately about (or, as the authors put it, “undermined the illusion of explanatory depth”). Once people recognized their ignorance, positions tended to moderate.

In contrast, simply asking people to explain why they like their preferred policy kept the illusion intact. “The evidence suggests that people’s mistaken sense that they understand the causal processes underlying policies contributes to political polarization,” they conclude.

via Weird Science bases all of its political positions on ignorance | Ars Technica.


To see how it works, try a difficult social issues with deeply held view and mix in religious belief.

Proven models for dialogue can be found at the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy (FRD), an organization dedicated to inter- and intra-religious dialogue, with which I have been affiliated since 2009 as a member and as a former co-director of the FRD Mormon Chapter. In 2010 and 2012 I worked with FRD and the City of Los Angeles to convene a dialogue of several local religious leaders, including Mormons, from both sides of Proposition 8.

In these dialogues on Prop 8, I saw that FRD’s model, which emphasizes trust, not agreement, really works. I believe that this model can stand up to the even tougher test of intra-religious contention over issues of gender and sexuality within Mormonism. In a nutshell, I think that the FRD approach to dialogue comes down to three ground rules:
1) Assume that the person with whom you are speaking is a person of intelligence and good will.
2) Candidly disclose your motives for engaging in dialogue (both to others and to yourself) and be honest in raising points of sincere disagreement.
3) Share the time equally.

via Melissa Inouye, “Put Your Mormon Where Your Mouth Is”



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