tv Michael Lynch Know- It- All Society CSPAN November 11, 2019 8:30am-9:29am EST
questions we have to answer. >> host: representative yvette clarke, democrat of new york, vice chair of the energy and commerce committee, and also cochair of the smart cities caucus. joe marks of the "washington post," thank you both for being on "the communicators." >> this communicators and all other episodes of this program are available as podcasts. >> for 40 years c-span has been providing america unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events from washington, d.c. and around the country so you can make up your own mind. create by cable in 1979, c-span is brought to you by your local cable or satellite provider. c-span, your unfiltered view of government.
>> and the on c-span2's booktv, more television for serious readers. >> hey there. i'm patricia lynch, an executive director here. i'm also the executive producer of our literary series. i'm really happy you are with us tonight. tonight we welcome public intellectual philosopher michael lynch to the innovation leadership series with his new book, "know-it-all-society." michael lynch is a frequent contributor to the "new york times" among other publications. he's also a professor of philosophy at the university of connecticut. a highly sought after speaker around the world, he's appeared in such prestigious venues as chad and the nantucket project. michael has written numerous
books including the internet of us, and jill lepore all you saw year with her groundbreaking history book has called in the philosopher of truth. now, what's this review? first, you should all pretty much have a copy of the book, okay? it comes with the purchase of your ticket. you should also have a drink. so that's good, too. so michael will replace me here to talk about the book for a bit before sitting down and chatting with the deputy editor of yankee magazine. they will talk for a bit -- i just waved to ian. i didn't have a stroke or something. just thought i would clarify that. and then we're going to turn to you for questions and answers. our event concludes in about an hour and you going to exit the way you came in.
michael, ian and i will go out the big blue door and we will meet you in the lobby when michael will personalize your book if you would like. the line conveniently forms along the bar. yes, in case you're wondering, michael lynch is my brother. before we get started, , a few words of sex. first, thank you for being here. it is great, you do, to see people come to life of the mind events, it's so important these days. i went to thank our lead sponsor, our season sponsors, port place and the river house restaurant also want to thank our contributing partners, the university of new hampshire and the presenting sponsor of innovation and leadership, and our media partners new hampshire public radio and the series sponsors atlantic orthopedics and sports medicine, and bangor
savings bank. let's give them all a hand, shall we? [applause] , technology that c-span is here tonight with booktv. i think david murray will be taking some photographs so all good fun in that. and looking past tonight we have other fabulous writer if it's happening all fall. your tickets, you can buy that to anything that looks good to you including a&e at -- annie through the music calls box office. okay. would you please join me in welcoming michael lynch? [applause] >> thank you, patty, i thank you for coming out tonight to talk about treadmill. i'm going to start with a few remarks and then i will sit down
and will have a chat with ian and a chat with you. so if you've spent more than five minutes or even just five minutes on social media, you will get the distinct impression that americans on either side of the political spectrum just don't like each other very much. and we may feel more polarized though there were actually are. recent studies show on a wide range of issues, americans actually agree almost as much as they disagree, but the same studies show increasingly we regard the people in the other party with suspicion and see them as uninformed, dishonest, immoral. and moreover, we know that they look at us in the same way. we resent them for it. the right calls the left a bunch
of arrogant know what all scum and the left retorts well, that's just precisely the description of the person you elected president of the united states. maybe both sides have a point. maybe in some sense we are all know what awls and that's part of the problem. -- know what awls. i don't think americans have ever been afraid of content. >> would like to think of ourselves as top of the heap, a newborn king of the hill and deserving special recognition because of that fact. but i think if you wanted to pick out the attitude that is really dominating our political interactions now with each other in this country, it wouldn't be confidence. it would be arrogance. the arrogance in particular of self certainty, the arrogance in our own beliefs, the arrogance that our site has it all figured
out. and we don't have to listen to anyone else. now, the idea that this sort of arrogance is a problem, personally or politically, is not a new idea. michel michelle montagne, the 1h century french philosopher and the person who invented the writing for what we now call the essay, he said dogmatic zeal does wonder for hatred but is never brought anybody together. i think montagne knew what he's talking about because he lived through several religious of the worst during the counter reformation to wars that left france lived with corpses from end to end. his response to that was to try to check out a political -- he built himself and ivory tower. you can go visit it. it's not ivory anymore it you can visit. built himself a tower, filled
with books and cast himself as he put into the arms of learned virgins. i don't recommend that strategy. for one thing it didn't really work out that will for montagne. he got himself pulled back into political life. but for another, in a democracy which we're still aspiring to live in, we need to be engaged. an unengaged electorate is no electorate at all. but the warning that montagne gave us, the warning about what he called the arrogance of man which also referred to as the plague humankind, on mankind. that warning is a warning that we need to heed at this political moment. i think there are a couple of different factors that i think play into the rise of what i call it a know it all society. i talk about these in a book and i thought whatever you do now is chat a little bit about some of them.
of course lady in the fort ian and i to dig in and for you to talk to me about. the first factor has to do with our psychology and it has more to do with how we form and maintain our political convictions. a a conviction is not just a deeply held belief. i deeply believe that, i don't know, 2+2 = four equals four, but i wouldn't call that a conviction. a conviction is a commitment to something that matters to you. it's a commitment to the value that yourself i can become your self image, , the kind of person you aspire to become the kind of try buspar to be part of their convictions were belief means identity so indie book i talk about how the philosopher nietzsche, the 19th century german philosopher, had something i think really
profound to say and simple but profound. propounding. >> a quite simple, to say about this. what nietzsche said was convictions have history. what he meant by that is that often convictions don't start out as identity centered values. they start out as passing opinions like the opinion that some people have that climate change is not a real thing. that can start as an opinion but become, nietzsche said, that sort of opinion can become under the right circumstances hardened into conviction. something that becomes reflective of that persons identity and the tribes identity that they want to be part of. one of the things that comes part of your identity that way,, then it becomes really hard to change it because to change it, to change her mind about that is to change your mind about
yourself. therefore, it's not surprising people will, that's right, people will with arctic convictions like the one just mentioned, , they will go to grt lengths to rationalize away evidence, to defend themselves against what they see as a threat. so i i think this idea of conviction, this idea that convictions, morphing out of our opinions in this way, this idea, this insight of nietzsche, is particularly important to focus on when you think about another ingredient in the know-it-all-society, and that's technology. the first thing a talk about is condition, something we all know has been changing. that has to do with how we form our convictions. what happens when we are now able to share our convictions so easily, so quickly when we carry
around devices in our pockets that are designed in part to do just that. a lot of our medical convictions, at least for many people, are increasingly shared and formed online and placed online. police in the way we can on social media sort of keep track of what other people are sort of toeing the party line. the other thing to focus in about technology of the swords were using about information technology is that much of what you read online, the great majority of which encounter online is personalized. the internet is personalized. everything from the ads that come across the "wall street journal" page or the "new york times" to the music comes in your facebook feed is tailored to fit your unique practice, to fit your pre-existing convictions. that's great when you're shopping for a movie to watch on
books or shoes. it's great. it's not so great when you're shopping for fax. when you're just getting the facts that fit your pre-existing convictions, that's a recipe not for bursting a bubble butt inflating it. i think the lesson to draw from this is social media has become something of a conviction machine. it's speeding up the process that nietzsche described, that is a natural sort of process to take opinions and the event into convictions. and that in turn of course is reinforced by the internet personalization which in set rewarding us with constant validation that are opinion survey. after all, if you are doubtful, just google it.
that brings me to the third factor that want to talk about him which i think these other factors are contributing to, or mixing together with. that's the politics of arrogance. arrogance is attractive. it can, especially when you don't know that it is arrogance. it can give you the feeling of power. they can give you the feeling of knowledge without needing real knowledge. it can also be easy to mix up or confuse with confidence, especially when you are feeling threatened or feeling insecure, and insecurity is an attitude that authoritarian leaders have been keen to stoke in the minds of their followers all throughout history. this is a point that philosopher eric made almost 70 years ago in
her book the origins of totalitarianism. what she noticed is that when leaders are wanting to get their followers to really feel as part of the tribe, one of the best ways of doing that is to make them feel like they're under attack. at the same time she said also, i think this is sort of paradoxical but a lot of things that you miss a call to our paradoxical, to make you feel an attack but at the same time make them feel superior. and to justify that superiority by appealing to a historical narrative, and historical narrative whose leader tells it like it is is struggling to articulate carroll cooley articulating in the face of the enemy. so i think this point, this point that she's putting her
finger on, that the followers of a mass leader can be made to feel both insecure and superior also is conducive both the defining characteristic, both in people and in a public, and that is the confusion of ego intrusive. arendt noted this is also the defining characteristic of authoritarian leaders, which she noted, as she put it, have and an ending sense of the own infallibility. they cannot, she said, ever admit that they are wrong. and, of course, -- does that sound familiar? i don't know. she said of course, because admit you're wrong means you
admitting there's something more powerful than you. that a mass leader can't do, she said. speaking to cross the decades to us, she says before the leader can get so much power as to bend reality to their will, their propaganda is marked, she said, by extreme contempt for the facts, because, she said, they view the facts to be whatever they say they are, that the truth is whatever they say it is. that is the confusion, the replacement of truth with ego. okay. so there's happy, happy stuff we're talking here. good dues book, good news all the way around. i talked about three ingredients of the know-it-all-society.
i talked about psychology, talk about technology and i talked about ideology or politics. i say in the book that in order to solve these problems we will have to do some pretty heavy lifting. no surprise that we are going to have to redesign our digital platforms, reengage with her civic institutions but what a want to focus on tonight, i i t to leave you with this, is that these problems, i i was talk at this earlier with some people, some friends backstage, these problems are not just technical problems. they are not just technological problems. they are human problems, and if we're going to solve them we will have to examine our own human attitudes, our own individualized. so let's and with thinking about something that socrates said. so socrates i think was the
greatest philosopher, and the oracle delphi allegedly and infamously told him that he was the wisest man in all of athens, to which socrates famously replied, , the one thing i knows that i don't know anything. now that's a little paradox in itself, but it's not the fetus. he's not saying i can't know anything. he saying he still has something to learn. i still have more to know. socrates, his lesson, was don't confuse ego and truth. truth, truth, truth has been taking something of beating recently. you might have noticed that. rudy giuliani last year said
truth isn't truth. thereby, in one sentence, right, summing up the cynicism about the concept that is eating away at the foundation of our democracy. that's not a new idea either. that cynicism. it goes back even for socrates. man is the measure of all things. man is the measure of all things, which is tempting perhaps into you realize that it is a measure of all things inevitably becomes the man is the measure of all things. it becomes slowly over time the philosophy of thinking that truth is whatever the powerful say it is. once you accept that, critical dissent comes, not just unlikely, but impossible because you can't speak truth to power when the power speaks truth by
definition. but truth actually is not that hard for the concept of understand it. it's really, just to make simple ideas. really wrap it up. one is that believing doesn't make it so. and the other, to paraphrase pam was warning to horatio, is there's more to have and earth and dreamt of in your powerpoint presentation. [laughing] so those ideas, there's always more to know, that's what gives us the essence of truth and is also what gives us the essence of what we might call intellectual humility. which is the opposite attitude from what i've been talking about, arrogance. to strive after intellectual is to strive to see your worldview as open to improvement from the
evidence, from experiences you might not have had but other people have had and they are bringing to the table. it's described to see yourself as capable of learning. it's to remember your inner socrates. thank you. and now let's have a chat with ian. [applause] >> that was great. so we have some work ahead of us, don't we? >> we do. we do. >> but you and i especially, you know, these people, too. try to keep it going. >> i want to start with something come some news that broke today that they house exploit an impeachment inquiry. what you think this means for sort of some of things you're talking about? >> i think what it means is it
points to first of all that we have made reached a tipping point, at a tipping point with regard to particular norms. one of the things i talk about in the book is we are living in an unsettled time. we think we all know this, a time in which not just rules and regulations and laws and so forth seem to be broken or not broken, but norms are unsettled. norms are different than lost. laws are written down, recorded. there's a process, a formal process. a norm is a social custom. it's a way we have in doing things. norms are the sorts of things that back up our laws. right now we are in a time for think were happy to make a choice, and this is what's interesting about today. pelosi was, i suspect, like a lot of us, inking, is this the point in which we got to realize if we don't call that certain
norm violations, certain ways ow just be shifting our norms? because that's the thing about norms. that's the thing. they are social customs. if you stop following them, they cease to exist. so that's what i've been thinking about. >> this is a chance for us to maybe he'll love it and correct the last couple of years last couple of decade ackley? >> i hope so. i mean, one of the worries -- yes, i do. i'm hopeful. i say, i know i was like -- happy face here. i actually and reasonably optimistic in the book, and i think i'm reasonably optimistic that. i think it is a point in which we select time. i mean, the norms, they are still there.
one of the nonce i talk about is the norm of respecting truth. one of the things we've seen is this norm, one which i think a lot of us would've thought was, just like respecting truth, right? our moms taught us that. like that's not a thing that will be challenged, right? nobody is ever going to -- deponent going around and say things like i can help myself to alter the facts and truth isn't truth. no one will say that seriously, right? yeah, we are there now. i think it's a little bit like with regard to the truth which i think has been in danger, it's a little bit like we've been standing outside in the rain with somebody and the person has been telling us that it's not raining, and it is raining. and then they say, well, you say it's raining. hey, buddy, it's writing. and they say, no, it was raining
i wouldn't be getting wet. but you are getting wet. they say, no, it's not raining. it was raining i wouldn't be getting wet. this is a sort of weird conversation. imagine being in a conversation like that. what would you say? you think there joking, crazy. you might just want to walk away. one of the problems right now is there's a tendency by some people want to walk away to be like montaigne. who hasn't been in a situation where you feel like after a particularly trying thank you again, like screw this. where's my tower with my books? right? where's my tower? but that's not helpful and so what i'm hopeful for is that people are going to not walk away but, and this is what maybe today, not walk away but actually deciding that we need
to remember the norms, , we need to remember what our mom told us. >> have you ever felt like escaping to a tower? you have been writing about the staffer more than 20 years. i feel like each book has sounded the alarm a little louder. are you surprised at where we are now? >> yes. i think like all of us theirs, or many of us i think, you do look around and say what? like, how did we get to a point where every day something is said and done in the new cycle that when it just destroyed careers, every day? and that the divisiveness has gotten to a point where, i've been privileged enough to talk to representatives and senators, and one of the things people that are serving down there, many of you i'm sure has had come read about this or had the same privilege, you know, is
that people are not even spending time with one another. there is a a like going to the bar, like, or let alone getting the kids together. people don't bring their kids to washington, d.c. things have really changed. there's no doubt about it. i am surprised of course as you talk about writing batches and technology, i have been writing about that for a long time at a think the norm ranking is gotten to a point when you really do need to stand up and take note of it. and yet in the old days i think i was sort of sounding alarms but it was more like an alarm. it was more like hey, maybe we should pay attention to the fact that -- excuse me, excuse me. could you pay attention? excuse me, you know. i know i think it's gotten to the point where you just need to be very clear, not just with the norm of truth. norms having to do with basic
respect for government institutions and democracy. one of the things that really scares me is recent evidence from the pew research center that you might've seen this, a couple years ago pew as you may know asks a lot of the same questions of people are decades. they are particularly useful because you can track changes in people's opinions about all sorts of things. one of the things they ask people about is do you think democracy is a good thing? which i mean for for a long ti, that's a dumb question. of course it's a good thing. of course they're going to say it's a good thing. now increasingly younger people are saying, not a majority but an interestingly significant plurality of people who are young, that is, for an much everybody than me, will say that democracy is not that great,
maybe we need another form of government. >> wow. >> wow. but if you think about it, basic things like respect for scientific practice, respect for fact-finding, respect for inquiries, respect for truth. once that become something that doesn't really hold traction where people feel that things are broken done so much they can't trust anything, that there is no such thing as investigating the facts, at that point, , yes, how does democracy hold on? .. i know so many people that would benefit from this book
and halfway through, you think wait, i'm one of those people, right? and so, i think you've got me and probably got most of the people here, but how do you reach like the raich maddows and the sean hannity's of the world? >> i was on the show the young turks and they're very strongly to the left. it's interesting, that show, she they started out wanting to do that and and we need to call-- you're trying to say that we should be nice to nazis. i said no, i'm not saying you should be nice to nazis. i'm not saying that. because i say we should listen to other people's opinions, and i think we should, that doesn't mean that i think that you should really try to find what's the good in naziism.
just to be clear about that. in case some of you were wondering. but i think in order to reach people like that, you've got to-- what i try, if it's successful in that case, you be the judge. is to try to remind all of us that listening to -- trying to understand what other people -- where other people are coming from tells a lot about yourself. and i think, many of you if you think about conversations that are increasingly rare and i'm sure all of you had a moment with somebody, with a relative. with somebody in an airport, maybe it started out uncomfortably and probably nobody was convinced by anybody else. maybe you don't talk about politics, you just skirted around the edge, but you have a sense why that person might be
concerned as they are, that's helpful and those sorts of conversations are conversations i think-- frankly, one of the things that socrates, if you read socrates, one of the things he did, he went and he talked to people. yeah, sort of like he was smart about it, but he talked to people. and i think in this time where we're all obsessed with the back mirrors of our phones, staring into that, it helps to remember even if we need an ancient greek dead guy to maybe look up from those black mirrors and-- >> did you emerge from this book different from writing this? >> i think that's a great question. i mean, look, i am a white, middle-aged man, liberal
college professor. so if you look up know-it-all in the dictionary. [laughter] >> you're going to see my face. okay? so, and that was sort of a -- that was not -- i mean. >> you have a killer haircut though. >> you, too. it's -- you can't -- writing a book like this can't help, but change you because it does force you to sort of confront your own biases and prejudices. the chapter hardest for me to write, i'm sure many people will not be happy about it is the book on arrogance of the left. because that was my tribe. it was very difficult to write and the arc that i took in my own sort of thinking by writing that chapter was really interesting, profound. i tell a story there in that--
about being at a barbecue with a scientist, we'd just been to a session on polarization together. he's an expert on it, lots of experts, not going to figure out who it is. but we're talking over beers at his house and he turns to me and he says, you know, yeah, like all of this like, you know, be open-minded stuff i'm all down with that. but i don't know, i just think screw em. and he didn't say screw em, he said a more colorful term and i meant, you know, there's a limit. like -- and at the time i was sort of torn, and i suspect many of you whatever your persuasion can feel that being torn. you want to be like, yeah, yeah. on the other hand, i sort of felt like, weren't we at this
thing on polarization together? and i was like, like you, yeah, yeah, burn the witch, professors unite, that sort of thing. right? [laughter] >> but, also, this moment of realizing, like, wait a second, are you going to walk the walk along with talking the talk? and i think it's very difficult. i do think that looking for those moments of conversation, as banal as it sounds, we're at a point in our republic where there's an act of civic engageme engagement. >> what's been the reaction from some of your liberal friends and colleagues to some of this? >> well, you know, mixed.
i think a lot of people -- i do get this question, so you want us to be nice -- that's even from our friends, you want us to be nice to nazis question so that's why i bring that up now first. and, you know, i think there's been a mixed reaction. i think some people want to -- a common thing is to sort of being politely, like, yes, this is a good idea. but trump supporters are all evil, right? right? and i think that is -- that's the leap that is too far. i think that -- i think it would be helpful if we refrained from making broad generallizations about people as much as we can. i mean, in politics, there is a point at which politicians have to do that and i understand th that. i mean, politics is about, often, making policies and policies are inherently
generallizations, but in those moments of conversation, of real moments, i think it would be helpful to try to not do that. >> there's a -- there's a pretty sobering stat sort of the in the middle of your book, 60% of all shared news stories are not actually read by the people who shared them. i think you will see that. >> none of these people. these people here read every single thing they share. >> i applaud you all. >> what do you think that says about us? >> i think -- well, i think what it tells us is something important about what's happening on the digital media platforms. i mean, this has been writing about these sorts of information technology for some time and this was a revelation to me that it's actually -- what we're doing on social media is not often what we think we're doing. especially when we're sharing content. when we share content, what we
think we're doing is that we think we're, you know, just passing on information that people think, you know, if i share a story, this is a good story and you should pay attention to it and of course, that's what i would do, but-- or the new york times, the wall street journal, but often what we're doing is not that. what we're doing is actually expressing our emotions, and particularly with political content what we're doing is expressing sometimes strong moral emotions like outrage. and you know, the evidence for that, is a, most people don't read what they share according to most studies and the thing that-- the best predictor of whether your post will be shared is whether it has strong emotive content. that's what will get it-- and so that could include things like, having pictures of kittens or kids, obviously,
because that's emotional, but it could also, if it involved strong words, there's been studies on this, this is in the book, words that have, you know, that have, convey, you know, strong moral emotion. those words will-- are good predictors of how much your content is going to be shared. so often, i think what we're doing, we're engaged in-- we think we're playing on social media and we think we're playing by the rules of reason, by the rules of evidence and testimony. but really, we're playing a game, we don't know it. we're playing a different game. we're playing a game where the rules are more like the rules of the water cooler and the playground. and the thing is, is that for people who want to manipulate us, i mean, the best way, the best con is always when the person-- the con artist knows what's really happening and you don't. and so, you know, if a lot of
people don't know what that they're doing on-line is really expressing their emotions. then the people who do know that, it's going to be a lot easier to manipulate the people who don't. and so, that's-- we'll add one footnote to that -- so i was at an event at a national press club, a vp, i can't tell you who it is, a lot of v p's, he said you can share that, but i'll never admit it publicly, i can't verify this so, you know, take it for what you will with a grain of salt, but what he said was their internal data shows that it's actually closer to 90% of people don't read what they share. and he said we're never going to let that data come out because it undermines our business model, but it really doesn't, actually. i now realize.
the business model is not there to allow us to convey information to each other. business model is the idea of convincing what we're doing. connect to each other emotionally. how are we supposed to react to posts on facebook. we have choices where we have every emotion face, happy face, this is how we're supposed to react. anyway-- >> if social media is fueling a lot of this. what do you think should be done? there's talk of regulating it, is that a good course of action? >> i would say, my own view, it's like all of these views, this is a complicated issue, but my own view would be breaking up facebook would be a good thing. i think i'm one of the people that thinks that. we're facing a monopoly. people tell me, you know, if people just say, well, i use instagr instagram, don't, you know--
so there is you know -- i do think it's permissible sometimes to intervene when capitalism starts an enterprise, a successful business is able to start to monopolize a segment of the industry. and i think that might be happening. i mean, i agree it's not -- it's not legally, it's not politically easy to do that. it may be impossible, really with this political climate, but i think that's something we should do. i also think we need to rethink our digital platforms. although i think that's difficult to do. i was saying a minute ago was right. at ted i was lucky enough to have some drinks with some heads of some of the big, you know, digital giants, the big five, and at the time-- this does not make me look very smart, but at the time i was like, really, a couple of years
ago, i was like oh, boy, i have my big moment to tell them what to do and so i did, and this is what i said. i said, imagine -- i was -- imagine that we had, instead of like the emojis, emoticons to react on facebook, imagine if we had three buttons, with unthat said, for things content that is like news story content, justified by the evidence, we could pick that. we could pick not justified by the evidence, and we could pick need more information. [laughter] >> right? and i was like, what do you think? oh, they laughed and laughed, oh, they laughed and laughed so hard. they were like, it was seriously, it was like this, say it again, say it again. when the guy had come back from going to the bathroom, say it
again, tell him. they thought that was hilarious and i realize they were sort of right because of course if we did have that what would happen? those buttons would morph into yay this, boo this. who cares? so i think, you know, this is why i was emphasizing at the end. a lot of it does -- we can't just rest on fixing a few buttons, that's how -- they knew that it wasn't -- they're playing on how we react as individuals. it's a lot of it, you know, social change does require individual change. >> you bring up the topic of gay marriage in your book and i'm wondering if that's the evolution of sort of america's viewpoints on gay marriage. there's something to draw from that. >> i think it's an excellent point and very inspiration for me in that, i think inspiring
what we saw in our lifetime and really just the last decade. if more recently than that, shows there could be actual rational change and it does require, right, both intervention at the institutional level, at the legal level, right? and the political level. it does require that, but it also requires changing our norms back to that again. changing our norms and how do you change norms? how do you change norms of social justice, norms about racism, norms about marriage? how do you do that? well, in part to try to change people's attitudes. their attitudes. not just their beliefs, but how they regard their beliefs and those beliefs of other people. and i think that one of the things that that example does is give us hope that we can do that. it's not, you know, i'm old
enough to think -- remember a time you could be depaired, it's not going to change people aren't going to change. people have changed. not everybody, not everybody. that's too much to hope, but a lot of people. >> so should i feel hopeful? >> you should, you should. >> we've got deep things coming, climate change is going to institute more-- >> you're right we should be depressed. what was i saying? [laughter] >> no, we should be hopeful and i think that we should think of the fact that rational change takes time. it takes an effort on all of oust, and i think we can also be hopeful by looking particularly at climate change right now. we're all, i hope-- well, not all of us,
apparently, some people, as we know from twitter are not inspired by leadership, but many people are, that a teenager could be speaking a voice of reason, right? and also, notice what she's doing, she's telling us that we have to change our attitudes. we have to think differently and that's, you know, that's what we've really been talking about. it's not just-- in order to change some people think well, lynch, i'm concerned about civility and civility is a great thing, i love it be civil to me afterwards. [laughter]. but it's-- civility is just behavior. in order to change action and behavior, you've got to also change what's inside the head. and i think if you listen to her speech yesterday, was it yesterday, to the u.n., that's part of what she's talking about, we've got to change our
minds. >> yeah, well, this is great. let's open it up to the audience for some questions. >> okay. sure. >> i'm 50 years old. i grew up in a house-- i was a registered republican, evangelical family and two and a half years ago, my whole world rocked because i voted for what i thought was the -- and i can't understand and i feel my whole family is divorcing me or i'm divorcing them because when we talk about troops, they talk about the bible and they believe that trump is a product of god and just, i can't understand how i grew up with a whole family who i thought were educated, intelligent, rational people and all of a sudden it's like that's out the window and i
don't know how to be open-minded. i don't know how, because i grew up the same way and i'm -- and they pick and choose things out of the bible to apply to their truth and they think that i'm-- >> doing the same thing, probably. >> yeah. >> so how do you-- >> how do you deal with that? >> yeah. >> that's a great question and of course, that's difficult to give precise advice in this case, but this is the sort of question that i do get and i ask myself, too. i mean, i don't have your life history, but it's a -- it's a much more dramatic version of the sorts of things i think a lot of us sort of face when we have these sorts of conversations. first of all, i just want to say, it's -- i can tell already that you are doing the right thing, which is just trying to struggle to see how to get to a point where you can have some sort of conversation over these issues. first thing i would say is, i think you know this already, is
that it's okay to just continue these moments of trust. i mean, i think it's really, with family of course, you want to keep that and always hopefully going to be there, but it is important sometimes to realize to get to a point where you can start to have conversations about politics. you need to search for the first step, it's okay, to realize maybe that's not going to happen this time. what needs to happen, we need to talk about something that's aside of that, about our concern for our kids, if you have kids, right? and that's -- that, i think, is worth reflecting. there's an another writer, who has been talking a lot about how one bad way of responding to this sort of dilemma that many of us face at thanksgiving and so forth, is to go all in and sort of, as he puts it, overdo democracy. like, we're going to settle this now. before the gravy comes out, we're going to settle this!
right? [laughter] >> yeah. the person you're toasting that year at thanksgiving is not going to be happy. so i think there's a real point about that. on the other hand, i do, to talk more politics, first of all, so in the book i have a chapter on this puzzle about evangelicals because i think a lot of us in the public sphere have been puzzled how evang evangelicals could see trump of all people, trump, as really being picked by god, but you're completely right. my research in talking to people in the evangelical movement, that's very much, you know, not a universal opinion in any way, but certainly a number of people do believe that. very many people believe that. and, but of course, that itself does explain some things.
so the fact that you are listening enough to realize that, of course, your life history helps and you know, is to think of that, well, okay. if people think that, right, then that, that's something that now you need to start to track. and then maybe the discussion is, well, is that on its own grounds a reasonable view to have? so one thing that i've talked about with people, and i got this advice actually from an evangelical pastor who is not a voter for trump, who suggested that one of the things i like to point out is that, well, he's not the best representative. so that's an interesting tactic. rather than take him on with duelling quotes, quote the new york times, quote the bible or whatever particular-- the sean hannity show, right, is to actually talk about those shared values and whether this person is the best representative of it.
because that's an open question, i think. i hope that was helpful. >> sure. i'm in the legislature here. >> oh, great. >> and as one of my colleagues-- >> thank you for coming. >> we disagree primarily on women's issues. it used to be if you disagreed on this, you could work on that, that's no longer the case. said you and i should get together for lunch and see what we agree on. thing that we agreed on was that food was important. >> it's a start. >> but at the end of that conversation i know a lot about him, where he went to school, his wife, his kids. his service career, his job career, on vacation, he doesn't know anything about me. i would say where did you go to school. he would tell me, he didn't reciprocate with well, where did you go to school?
there was no conversation and like i was interviewing him. where am i going with this, how am i supposed to work with this person. i make a point to say, hi, how are you when we're in session, i get a cryptic smile and a grunt. what do i do. i know a number of legislators to say we're going to reach out and try to do this, but it's got to be two ways. how far do i go and basically say what you said before, screw em. >> i feel you. and in this case, it's hard not to read gender politics into it. right? nothing -- my gender is particularly great at talking, all right, men are great are talking about themselves, without asking about anybody else. not all men. ian is the exception. so, i mean, there's that. and, you know, i think it would be interesting.
i just-- of no way of knowing and not saying that it would, it would be interesting is if it was not a he, but a she, right? and i do think that there is-- i mean, actually there's data on this and talking about intellectual e-mail and mark leary at duke has done a psychological attitude. and i know this will shock all of you that men particularly think that they are over and over again in a series of controlled studies, men are much more likely to rate themselves as super intellectually humble and their partners generally don't rate them as highly. where the women are more prone to say, yeah, i can be arrogant sometimes. all right. so, that's not universal, of course. that's not universal. nothing is. but i do think that that may
explain some of what he is going on there. i also think that, you know, it didn't work out with this person and we try again and of course at a certain point, politics plays a role and maybe we turn our attention not to converting the person who is our political opponent, but trying to convert that fabled person who might still be on the edge and i know that right now you know more about this than i do and politics is-- that's a rare beast now days. we are very much, at least effectively polarized which as i mentioned at the beginning. it's also the case that there are people that aren't-- and you know this better than i, too, you can correct me if you think i'm wrong. >> there are a lot of people that don't pay attention that much to politics. those of us who do it sort of for a living pay attention all the time. like everything is like, whoa, this happened. did you see the news in the last five minutes? right? but a lot of people are not like that, they have, you know, they do things and i don't know
what people do other than that, but people do things, i guess. [laughter] >> and you know, i mean, part of what i'm trying to do is to reach, you know, in my own egg-heady way is to reach and not in the way that you would, but as a politician, but to reach people who might be susceptible to hearing about change in attitudes. again, we go back to gay marriage. it's been done. and you know, right, we both know that that attitudes are pretty hardened about that. whereas people of a certain age wouldn't have thought about that is like what? of course that's wrong. all right, and that's changed. >> well, this has been a great conversation. i've gotten a lot out of it. thanks so much. >> thank you, thanks for coming. [applause]