That's Not True!

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

You've probably run into them at some point... People who claim to be open-minded and say they enjoy a good argument, but who really just like to have their own arguments bolstered. Try to disagree, and they want no part of it. Susan Jacoby calls this "Talking to Ourselves" in an op-ed over the weekend in the Los Angeles Times. She joins us on the Opinion Page today to talk about why it seems more Americans are unwilling to listen to opposing views.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Maybe its just my age but since becoming politically active in the early 2000's, I've noticed quite a bit of people seeking out people/sources who tell them what they want to hear, and when it doesn't happen, the source in question is instantly "biased". It's unfortunate that in order to get an "objective" idea of a subject you have to somehow aim in between two absurd extremes, that only play off of, and criticize each others self-perceived biases. NPR, keep on keepin' on.

Sent by Daniel Ross | 3:50 PM | 4-21-2008

i think the big problem is that way views are presented - with insults and degrading the other side.

which is why i will miss William Buckley. he was one of the few conservatives i could listen to because he was respectful of the other side.

and it's also why i liked g gordon liddy. i totally disagree with him, but i can appreciate anybody with his views who can be friends with al franken and larry king.

Sent by Dan | 3:55 PM | 4-21-2008

I applaud Megan, the Christian lady who called and talked about listening to NPR to try and understand the other side. Your comments are a true testament to the strength and quality of your faith, and I would just guess that you value love and fairness very highly.

Sent by Fred | 3:55 PM | 4-21-2008

I'm an elitist; I have no problem with being one. I love Susan Jacoby and her writing, however I thoroughly disagree on this point. So, sometimes the people you usually agree with - you can also disagree with. Sometimes people are quick enough not to listen excessively to opposing views to understand them. If I immerse myself in every opposing view, there will simply be no time left for anything else. This is not the cause of intellectual problems in the USA it is the obviousness of a modern world. People are out of the closet, the silent tolerant politeness of the past is eroding and isn't this just the result? Perhaps people have a little more freedom to express exactly where they stand then before. I think Susan takes the view, that if people are exposed to in-depth thinking on all sides of the issue that they might make some better choices, and quite frankly come around to her side, unfortunately I don't put that much faith in people. Perhaps, I've just lost hope, or perhaps there isn't hope to be had.

Sent by Scott Millar | 4:07 PM | 4-21-2008

Great story, but why's it not on your show's page? I want to share it with my friends!

I loved the idea of listening to views other than your own, and, appealing as it is, it will be a very, very tough task to separate me from NPR. It's not just opposing views I'd have to face elsewhere - it's the screaming heads, the flashing graphics, the sound effects, the bad grammar, the flawed logic. Ewww, no, I don't think so.

And a note on the speaker who said that NPR had a reputation for being slightly Liberal: Aren't objectivity, respect for others' views and beliefs, and the understanding that your own views are not inherently superior, by definition, Liberal tenets? I'm not being facetious - I don't think that John Hagee or Osama Bin Laden would support said tenets.

Sent by Brian Tristam Williams | 4:42 PM | 4-21-2008

While I am not usually interested in being a captive audience while someone lectures on a point of view I know I don't agree with, I am always eager to listen to two (or more) people discuss a subject from different points of view--intelligently, articulately and with respect for the other(s). I do not like to listen to debates that include talking or yelling over each other or personal attacks.

Sent by Kathleen | 5:58 PM | 4-21-2008

I've Noticed this problem in myself. I used to be an independent whom would have voted for McCain in 2000. over the last few years I've found that I no longer turn to the unbiased out lets of news groups such as PBS' The News Hours or The BBC's World Tonight and I became part of the base, listening to
Airamerica and watching programs like Countdown, news sources that say what I want to hear. When a political story breaks I can't wait to hear it filtered through my favorite radio host. "Spin-free". Yet both Keith's team and Airamerica would have you believe O'Reily and Rush's Listeners are delusional and can not make up their own minds with out them, but do the Liberals that fall prey to compulsively tuning in to only their programs not fall under the same definition?

On another note, i enjoy, from both sides, when a caller who doesn't agree with their ideals is blasted, confronted, and normally hung up on and used as fodder instead of any opportunity for bi-partisan talks.

Sent by David | 9:19 PM | 4-23-2008

Thank you to Scott Millar and Brian Tristam Williams' comments. I am half way through Susan's book, "The Age of American Unreason", and thoroughly agree with her view that we tend to gather with those we agree. And why not? Don't you find it harder and harder to express your opinion, on ANYTHING, and not have someone, even a friend or loved one, argue with you? Like your opinion, or anyone's opinion, is fact?! The only FACTS are events which can be accurately recreated by anyone, over and over again with the same expected results. Opinions are not wrong and they are not right: they're something you believe to be true. Just because you believe it does not make it true. Take the Tooth Fairy, for example.

Since it seems impossible to express an opinion without having to argue its merits and "factuality", is it any wonder we migrate toward those whom agree with our opinions? It's safer than facing those whom disagree.

Sent by K. M. Stoddard | 12:06 PM | 7-29-2008