On episode 036 of the Argument Ninja podcast I talk about the difficulty of judging how much we really understand about the causes of complex social phenomena—even if we do lots of research and self-study.
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Here's the link to the podcast post page with show notes.
To help make the case I’m continuing my survey of different theories of the causes of the increase in social polarization that we’re currently experiencing.
On this episode I look specifically at the work of two social scientists who have written extensively on this topic:
- Karen Stenner on the “authoritarian” personality type. Her 2005 book The Authoritarian Dynamic can be read as predicting the expansion of right-wing populism that contributed to the rise of Trump and Brexit. Stenner’s work has been influential on Jonathan Haidt’s analysis of polarization.
- Eric Kaufmann on the effects of immigration on polarization in white majority countries. His latest book Whiteshift explores how demographic shifts are driving cultural conflict, and how this will likely play out in the longer run.
But before I get to these topics, I give some Argument Ninja Dojo updates (not so relevant if you're reading this, since you're already a member of the Dojo!), I do a recap of episode 034, and present a conceptual model using the language of argument matrices to help think about the epistemological challenge of understanding complex social phenomena like polarization.
00:00 – 01:22 Introduction
01:22 – 06:31 Argument Ninja Dojo Announcements
06:31 – 11:45 Recap of Episode 034
11:45 – 14:41 Outline of What’s to Come
14:41 – 23:40 Argument Matrices and the Problem of Calibrating Our Knowledge
23:40 – 25:48 The Epistemological Challenge of Understanding Complex Social Phenomena
25:48 – 42:44 Karen Stenner: The Authoritarian Dynamic
42:44 – 01:04:35 Eric Kaufmann: Whiteshift and “Multivocal” Nationalism
01:04:35 – 01:07:56 Reasons to Think We Know Less Than We Think