Village SquareCast

Intellectual Humility in a Polarized World

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Episode notes

Dr. Kurt Gray of UNC Chapel Hill joins us for this timely and intriguing discussion about intellectual humility. Simply put, we'll be exploring the importance of knowing you might be wrong (gasp! yes, even you), why this is so important, and what we can do about it to help build human connections and bridge our divides.

At a time when complex technology of all sorts is exploding and voluminous information about the world is at our literal fingertips, one commodity in oddly short supply is intellectual humility. And in these polarized times, we've become shockingly convinced that somehow our political allies can decipher reality with utter clarity and it's only our ideological foes who are thoroughly, utterly and so very dangerously WRONG.

Kurt says our brains are designed to notice patterns and make generalizations to keep us safe, not so much to find truth with accuracy, and this design quirk leads to us overgeneralizing what we think we know in unproductive ways. He brings a strong argument that this describes you too, sorry (you'll actually be as entertained as you can be when you're learning just how deluded you are). We'll imagine what we might achieve together if we remember to restore intellectual humility to our politics, to our planet, and to our lives.

Kurt is an Associate Professor in Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he directs both the Deepest Beliefs Lab, which studies beliefs around morality and religion, and the Center for the Science of Moral Understanding. With Harvard's Dr. Daniel Wegner he is the co-author of the book "The Mind Club: Who Thinks, What Feels, and Why It Matters."

Discussion facilitated by Christine White, Executive Director of The Village Square.