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Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions

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Discussion Questions

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  1. Discussion Questions • Mooney writes, “We push threatening information away; we pull friendly information close. We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself.” • What does he mean by this? What makes data “threatening?” How do we believe what we believe? •

  2. Discussion Questions • Mooney writes, “Head-on attempts to persuade can sometimes trigger a backfire effect, where people not only fail to change their minds when confronted with the facts—they may hold their wrong views more tenaciously than ever.” • Has this ever happened to you? If head-on argument is often unsuccessful, then how are people persuaded? When do people change their minds? What’s an issue where you’ve changed your own mind? How did it happen?

  3. Discussion Questions • Mooney concludes, “If you want someone to accept new evidence, make sure to present it to them in a context that doesn't trigger a defensive, emotional reaction…In other words, paradoxically, you don't lead with the facts in order to convince. You lead with the values—so as to give the facts a fighting chance.” • Is this a helpful way to engage diverse publics? A productive way to make connections to people? Or is this manipulative? Would Wayne Booth call this “bad rhetoric?”

  4. Terministic Screens • “Even if any given terminology is a reflection of reality, by its very nature as a terminology it must be a selection of reality; and to this extent it must function also as a deflection of reality”  • In brief, much that we take as observations about ‘reality’ may be but the spinning out of possibilities implicit in our particular choice of terms.”