In 2017, I was interviewed by Emma Green of the Atlantic about my book How To Think. Here’s an excerpt:
Green: Ideologically speaking, people are often stuck in their own “truths” — they’re like circles in Venn diagrams that don’t necessarily overlap. Your proposal of generous listening and consideration is almost impossible to imagine.
Jacobs: You’re right that it is hard to envision. What I’m trying to do is slow people down. One of the most important passages in the book is where the software developer Jason Fried is wanting to argue with a guy who is giving a talk, and the guy says, “Just give it five minutes.” If we could just give it five minutes — even five minutes — we might be able to cool down enough to say, “Maybe this is different than what I first thought,” or “Maybe there’s a point here. Maybe this isn’t completely insane.”
Green: Is the right or the left more to blame for this fracture?
Jacobs: They’re bad in different ways. There’s a smugness on both sides. But I am more worried about the condition of the right in America right now. I think the primary moral fault of the left is a kind of smug contemptuousness toward people who don’t agree. And I think that’s a bad fault. But the primary fault of the right at this moment in America is wrath. I worry about the consequences of wrath more than I worry about the consequences of contemptuous smugness.
After re-reading this today, I have two thoughts. First, things have gotten worse. Second, the Left now our-wraths the Right.