Joining me today is Michael Marshall, host of the podcast Be Reasonable. On his show, Marsh speaks with people who have incredibly fringe views. Whether it’s a ghost hunter or flat Earther, Be Reasonable allows a place for these folks to speak at length on their views. Marsh messaged me after my interview with Trump supporter Dr. Price because of the similarity in that recording to what Marsh is doing on his show. In this interview, Marsh and I have a dialogue about what tactics he uses when speaking to people of vastly different views, and I pick his brain on a number of issues involved. There’s a lot to learn here about how I want to conduct interviews in the future when I’m dealing with someone of vastly different views.
Check out Marsh’s charity goodthinkingsociety.org
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4 Replies to “SIO21: Be Reasonable, with Michael Marshall”
Few comments on this episode. Marsh is awesome, I enjoy both his shows. The conversation you had was really good.
Now some issues:
1. Stop saying you don’t want to talk about Milo and then bring him up, I’ll steal a GAM line, “You’re the podcast(er)” There are a million people you can use as an example.
2. Please avoid strawmen and labels. Try to use actual examples, do not just say the buzzwords. Tommy Robinson is a racist is not an argument. Tommy Robinson said XYZ, and we can decide if he is a racist based on those things he said.
I’ve become numb to the buzzwords, don’t tell me what you think they are, just tell me why you think that is true.
3. Focus on substance over tone. Tommy Robinson sounds reasonable in interviews, but the words he is saying are toxic sludge. Milo is a similar type, but he is so good at presentation people get lost in the fluff and miss the underlying message. The example Marsh gave on the show of the guy who starts with the right answer about male prison rates but how he gets there is fatally flawed. Milo and Robinson due the same thing, don’t let the presentation blind you.
4. Last point, have a little faith in people and trust in your own arguments. You keep saying that giving people a platform might convince people to agree with them. If that is the case so what. Trust in your positions and refine your arguments.
If you cannot beat bad ideas with your ideas then there are 3 possibilities.
A. Your ideas are wrong
B. Your position is correct but your arguments to support that position is poor
C. Their arguments are correct
The reason I support anyone speaking is that I am not afraid of anyone’s ideas. If someone with bad ideas can convince people of the that be truth then I want to fight against them. This is something we do against religion, and I don’t know many atheists that want to silence religion by force they want to do it in the marketplace of ideas. We are winning the battle against religion because our positions are just better.
If your positions are strong then you can beat the anti-feminists. If they are not strong enough you will lose and might be convinced that some of those positions aren’t really that bad.
That is not an exhaustive list. It could be the case that even if one side has bad ideas and bad arguments to support them, they still resonate with people watching and the person builds a following regardless. People are not perfect logic machines, and they become compelled by bad arguments, bad logic, and bad thinking all the time.
We can’t pretend that using good arguments based on good evidence and good logic will automatically win people over, and I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of psychological evidence that shows that this isn’t the case.
“We can’t pretend that using good arguments based on good evidence and good logic will automatically win people over, . . .”
In fact, it’s getting more and more so that you can pretty much assume that that’s not the case. You need an argument that’s going to hit them in the gut and resonate there, because nowadays if it doesn’t ring there, it doesn’t ring. The words almost never even make it to their heads anymore.
I enjoyed this podcast very much and think it has a lot more useful content than many I’ve heard about how to engage people on “the other side”.
I’d just like to correct one thing Marsh said which was that Farage became an MEP because of low Euro election turnout. That’s not actually the reason. The reason is that the Euro elections use a PR system and each party is allocated a number of seats based on their vote %. It’s then up to the party which individuals become those MEPs. The way UKIP do that is the party leader simply decides who that will be. At the time, Farage was the party leader. So guess who was top of the list 🙂
It is absolutely true that he’s never been close to being elected to anything as an individual, and it frustrates the hell out of me that he is portrayed as some kind of representative both at home and abroad.