How to have an impossible conversation

Recently I found a review of a book by Peter Boghossian and James A. Lindsay, titled Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide (2019). Here’s an excerpt from the review:

In our polarised political climate, people on opposite sides of an ideological divide often consume different media, follow different pundits, consult different sources. Since sensationalism sells—colourful lunacy is entertaining—each side indulges in nutpicking. If you’re too ensconced in your echo chamber, it can quickly seem as if the others are mostly ridiculous cranks at best, dangerous madmen at worst, while your side are reasonable, calm moderates. Reassure your interlocutor that you don’t approve of the extremists on your team. Don’t use this as a bargaining chip—I’ll disown our extremists if you disown yours. What the authors call a “transactional” approach will make you seem like a petty and cynical point-scorer. Just agree unequivocally that there are people on your side who go too far and distance yourself from them. This also potentially allows you to make common cause with your conversation partner by appealing to values that transcend partisan differences: “civil society, productive dialogue, and compromise over extremism.”


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