In this Talk of The Week we have Peter Ellerton as our guest. Ellerton is a director of the University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project and a lecturer in critical thinking and education. He started out as a high school teacher of physics and philosophy, and then made his way into academia with a growing interest in the public understanding of science and the nature of rational public debate.
Happiness is linked to deep talk
Looks like introverts got it all right – researchers definitely claim there is a connection between happiness and meaningful conversations (and engaging in less small talk). While it is not entirely clear whether having meaningful discussions makes people happier or if its simply the happy people who engage in deep talk, developing our conversing and debating skills surely won’t hurt.
Meaningful way of debating
People tend to avoid having meaningful debate as it is easier to shut down the other by giving them a derogative label or by simply telling them to check their privileges. Or, why not just accuse them of playing the thought police? The outrage people have against ideas opposing their own is so strong it makes any rational conversation nearly impossible. The sad truth is, declaring certain ideas as politically and socially treacherous has led to many political and economic victories in the past and it is still common practice that people are very much invested in validating their own truths and dismissing the truth of others. However, for a greater truth, we need to consider different viewpoints and try to build something out of them – empathy, humility and actually hearing out your opponents can, in fact, lead to much greater victories.
Still, there might be some trouble in paradise: do we possess the maturity to enter this meaningful debate, knowing we might need to say good-bye to our deep-seated beliefs and ideas? I think that, if we manage to do so, and if our politicians manage to do this, we can pave the way to a happier future.