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? • http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/denial-science-chris-mooney
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?
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?”
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.”