The following checklist, found on pages 155–56 of Alan Jacobs’s excellent book, How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds (affiliate link), is a worthy addition to “Rapoport’s Rules” and “Adler’s Advice” (mentioned in my previous post, “Help me come up with ‘rules for conversation’!”).
Emphasis added in bold.
- When faced with provocation to respond to what someone has said, give it five minutes. Take a walk, or weed the garden, or chop some vegetables. Get your body involved: your body knows the rhythms to live by, and if your mind falls into your body’s rhythm, you’ll have a better chance of thinking.
- Value learning over debating. Don’t “talk for victory.”
- As best you can, online and off, avoid the people who fan flames.
- Remember that you don’t have to respond to what everyone else is responding to in order to signal your virtue and right-mindedness.
- If you do have to respond to what everyone else is responding to in order to signal your virtue and right-mindedness, or else lose your status in your community, then you should realize that it’s not a community but rather an Inner Ring.
- Gravitate as best you can, in every way you can, toward people who seem to value genuine community and can handle disagreement with equanimity.
- Seek out the best and fairest-minded of people whose views you disagree with. Listen to them for a time without responding. Whatever they say, think it over.
- Patiently, and as honestly as you can, assess your repugnances.
- Sometimes the “ick factor” is telling; sometimes it’s a distraction from what matters.
- Beware of metaphors and myths that do too much heavy cognitive lifting; notice what your “terministic screens“ [See pages 90–91] are directing your attention to-and what they’re directing your attention away from; look closely for hidden metaphors and beware the power of myth.
- Try to describe others’ positions in the language that they use, without indulging in in-other-wordsing. [See pg. 106: “We see it every day. Someone points at an argument—a blog post, say, or an op-ed column—and someone else replies, ‘In other words, you’re saying … ‘ And inevitably the argument, when put in other words, is revealed to be vacuous or wicked.]
- Be brave.