Updates to the Article Library, New Course Outlines, and More
August 14, 2019
Good morning! (It's morning as I write this at least ...).

Here's some Argument Ninja Dojo news:

1. The Move is Complete (?)

Not really. We're still in a temporary rental cottage while our main rental home is being renovated. I expect we'll be here another two weeks. 

The upsides are great (lovely location, less distraction, etc.), the main downside from a work perspective is that the internet is pretty basic and shared throughout the home, including the folks occupying the lower floor. So it's okay for streaming optimized video like Netflix, but horrible for uploading larger files to a server (e.g. a video file), and unreliable for group video chats. Our community video chats will have to wait until I've moved into our permanent location.

2. Updates to Article Library > Tribalism and Polarization

Within the Argument Ninja Dojo there's a bundle of "courses" called "Article Library", where I've been moving articles and transcripts from podcasts and videos. (FYI, these are only available to Level II and above subscribers.)  

One of these is a course titled "Tribalism and Polarization", and there I've added text + graphics versions of my videos on tribalism and polarization ("The Dangers of Tribalism", "Our Tribal Intelligence", and "In Our Tribe We Trust").
I've recently added text and graphics for the three videos that were part of my Politics and Tribal Psychology series ("We Can Value More Than One Kind of Thing", "Attention, Focus and Exaggeration", and "How Politics Makes Us Mean and Stupid".

I've also added the text from Argument Ninja Podcast episode 034, "Understanding the Causes of Polarization", which looks at three "depolarization initiatives" and talks about how they diagnose the polarization problem.

3. Progress on the Next Podcast Episode

"Part 2" of the podcast series on theories of polarization has been in development for far too long, but I'm making progress. And I've published the first three sections of it in the Article Library > Tribalism and Polarization course.

So at the time I'm writing this, I haven't recorded this podcast, but you can access part of the content that will show up in the podcast when it is published.

The plan for this episode includes:
  • An introduction to the epistemological challenge of understanding complex social phenomena (like polarization) (note: this section reviews the elements of an "argument matrix" and frames the challenge using this language)
  • An overview of the polarization models of three political psychologists/theorists:
    • Karen Stenner: The Authoritarian Dynamic
    • Eric Kauffman: Whiteshift
    • Francis Fukuyama: The Demand for Dignity
  • An overview of a very different kind of polarization model, one that focuses on how cognitive biases interact with a certain kind of "meme" (what Dan Kahan calls "antagonistic memes")
This episode is big enough that I'll need to split it into two podcast episodes. 

But I've got the first three sections, up to an incomplete discussion of Kauffman, posted on the Dojo site. 

4. Outlining the Argument Ninja Dojo Courses

My approach to producing the five new Argument Ninja Dojo courses is different from how I've done things in the past. They're playing several roles within the bigger picture:
  • For most people, going forward and into the near future, they'll be their first exposure to the Argument Ninja philosophy. I have to design them with this mind.
  • They'll each have a theoretical side and a practical, skill-building side.
  • Still, they have to function as stand-alone, self-teaching guides. 
  • I'm designing these for the online format, but also with a future print book in mind. So the text + visuals part will be the raw material for assembling a book. Each of the courses will function as a chapter in this book. 
  • There's a five-five-four structure:
    • Five courses
    • Five sections within each course
    • Four sub-sections within each section
  • Each of the five sections within each course is going to have an accompanying short (1 minute) video. Think of it like a video trailer for the section. These videos can be put on YouTube.
  • I need to write the text versions first. The video comes later, once it's clear what's in the text version, and in the section as a whole.
  • I need to think about review questions and practice exercises to accompany each section. 
So organizationally, it looks like this:

The video link is to a Google Sheets doc were the audio-visual scripts will be designed:

I'll have some assistance with developing the visuals (with team members I've come to know through consulting work). Working within a collaborative environment has become more important for me as time goes on.

I'm not going to share the whole outline for these courses here, but just to give you a sense of things, here's the section list for the Way of Knowledge course:
None of that is too surprising if you've been following me. Some of these will give me an opportunity to expand on points that I've only touched on in the past (like the topic of mental models). 

I'm excited for what's coming up, I hope you are too!

Have a great day!

Write a comment...
Joachim Walewski

Hey Kevin,

Thanks for the detailed update. I hope it also helps you to write such updates.

Kevin deLaplante

Thanks Joachim!

Anthony Barra

Hi Kevin, thanks for the updates. I wanted to share this with you and any fans of your polarization work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUNHj5eh7BM I can't promise anyone will like it, but it does complement some of your work without overlapping the content.

Kevin deLaplante

Thanks for the link share Anthony! I did see this on my timeline recently (did you share it on Twitter?). Yes, Rebel Wisdom and several other sources are in my list. In cataloguing different models or theoretical frameworks for understanding and managing polarization, these folks are reminiscent of the "new age" tradition that blends philosophical, psychological and spiritual orientations, with a focus on reforming internal consciousness as the best means of dealing with these external crises. They're a distinct "bucket" within my catalogue of buckets, with some interesting overlaps with other approaches that focus on psychological self-awareness, cultivating empathy and developing communication skills (like OpenMind, and others I've talked about on the podcast). A distinct but close "branch" of the argument matrix :)

Anthony Barra

That is a very clearly put, thank you. Looking forward to your notes on Kaufmann, among others, but especially him. Simple though it is, his 'multivocalism' proposal (prediction?) is likely the best idea out there.

Kevin deLaplante

And just to be clear, the Level I subscription includes access to the Video Library, and all the videos that are the basis for the articles I'm talking about in this post. So, the articles aren't available to the Level I subscribers, but the original videos are.

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