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All About Love
How to Have Impossible Conversations
A Very Practical Guide143
In our current political climate, it seems impossible to have a civil conversation with someone who has a different opinion. Dialogue is shut down when perspectives clash. Heated debates on Facebook and Twitter often lead to shaming, hindering any possibility of productive discourse. How to Have Impossible Conversations guides readers through the process of having effective, civil discussions about any divisive issues--not just religious faith but climate change, race, gender, poverty, immigration, and gun control. Coauthors Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay distinguish between two types of conversations: those that are oriented toward arriving at truth, and those that may require changing the beliefs of people who do not want their beliefs changed (interventions). They then guide readers through the straightforward, practical, conversational techniques necessary for every successful conversation, up to expert- and master-level techniques to deal with hardliners and extremists. With key principles like the "Seven Fundamentals Necessary for Good Conversations," this book is the manual everyone needs to foster connection and empathy with anyone.
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"We live in a time when discussing controversial issues, even with good friends, is becoming almost impossible. Peter and James have written an indispensable roadmap to prevent us from heading off the cliff."--Dave Rubin, The Rubin Report "We have arrived at an impasse. It is everywhere, and feels permanent. As algorithms steer our attention, we are each locked within a warren of echo chambers. Each day, this digital water we swim in causes a deepening entrenchment of our beliefs, and a growing willingness to caricature our opponents. When forced into contact with the other, we are repelled, indignant. How could anyone be so stupid? And we are shocked to discover the one thing that unites us with them is that they feel exactly the same way in return! It is not hard to spot the danger in this dynamic. It undermines the most basic logic of democracy, and threatens to derange the west, if not the world. But Boghossian and Lindsay have drawn up a plan to bridge the divide. They have bottled an antidote: A how to guide for talking to the enemy. Each drawing on decades of experience having impossible conversations, the authors have written what may be the ultimate instruction manual for crossing enemy lines and living to tell the tale. And not a moment too soon."--Bret Weinstein, PhD "This is a self-help book on how to argue effectively, conciliate, gently persuade. The authors admit to getting it wrong in their own past conversations. One by one, I recognize the same mistakes in me. The world would be a better place if everyone read this book."--Richard Dawkins, author of Science in the Soul and Outgrowing God "This fascinating book provides not only useful instruction on how to talk with someone who thinks differently, it also offers a powerful method of questioning and reducing confidence in unsubstantiated beliefs to help people think about what is true."--Helen Pluckrose, Editor, Areo Magazine "There are two ways to participate in civil conversations in our hyper-politicized age -- build a time machine, or read this book."--Marc Andreessen, General Partner, Andreessen Horowitz "In these polarized times, people live inside social media echo chambers of their own extremism, growing ever more self-righteous. This smart, scientifically grounded book, teeming with social and emotional wisdom, teaches how to break that isolation and effectively converse with someone with very different opinions. It will make you more adept at challenging, even changing, someone's beliefs, biases and sacred values. And it might even pave the way for making some of those changes yourself."--Robert Sapolsky, John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor of Neurology and of Neurosurgery, Stanford University "In the course of my work over the past quarter century I have been having impossible conversations with Holocaust deniers, creationists, anti-vaccination advocates, 9/11 Truthers, chemtrail conspiracy theorists, believers in astrology and ESP, proponents of alternative medicine, religious fundamentalists of many faiths, and dozens more people with whom I disagree vehemently. I've gotten pretty good at it but I had no idea what I was doing until I read How to Have Impossible Conversations, a sterling compendium of the most effective techniques of communication. I wish I'd had this important book at the start of my career as I would have saved myself many a fruitless dialogue. This book is the start of healing our contentious and divided age."--Michael Shermer, Publisher Skeptic magazine, Presidential Fellow Chapman University, author of Why People Believe Weird Things, The Moral Arc, and Heavens on Earth, and for 18 years a monthly columnist for Scientific American "In a Free Republic there would be no 'impossible conversations', which begs the question: are we truly free anymore? After reading, listening and conversing with Peter and James, I am convinced that they are the Galileo's,
Peter Boghossian is a full time faculty member in the philosophy department at Portland State University and an affiliated faculty member at Oregon Health Science University in the Division of General Internal Medicine. He is a national speaker for the Center of Inquiry and the Secular Student Alliance, and an international speaker for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. He is the author of A Manual for Creating Atheists. He lives in Portland, Oregon. James Lindsay holds degrees in physics and mathematics, with a doctorate in the latter. He has authored two previous books: Everybody is Wrong about God and Dot, Dot, Dot: Infinity Plus God Equals Folly. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.