- 028 - Tribalism Isn't the Problem
On this episode I’ve got an interview lined up for you that I did with Bob Froehlich, who hosts the Thinking Clearly radio program and podcast over at KMUD community radio in Redway, California.
Our topic was critical thinking and tribalism, very much in the vein of what I’ve been talking about in my recent sketchbook video series titled, appropriately, "Critical Thinking and Tribalism".
(To see the first three videos in this series, follow the links in the show notes below).
If you’ve been following my work a certain amount of this will be familiar, but in this interview we covered some new topics relating to tribalism and polarization that I haven’t discussed before; for example, the distinction between ideological polarization and social polarization; evidence that social polarization along political lines has increased dramatically in recent years, especially in the US; and some discussion of the causes of this increase in polarization.
We also answer a couple of live call-ins from listeners!
We hear a lot of talk about the "rediscovery of tribal psychology "in recent years, but my view is that it’s misguided to think of tribal psychology per se as the problem.
The problem facing us today is how our tribal psychology operates when polarization becomes extreme.
So the more pressing issue is to understand the psychological and social factors that increase or decrease polarization.
In This Episode:
(0:00 - 4:25) Introductory remarks from Kevin
(4:25 - 1:50) Introductory remarks from Bob Froelich
(5:56 - 6:34) What is a tribe?
(6:34 - 7:00) What is tribalism?
(7:40 - 9:15) What prompted me to engage with this issue of tribalism? How is it relevant to critical thinking?
(9:30 - 13:16) What is "tribal psychology"?
(13:16 - 15:47) Examples of group identities that can become tribal
(15:47 - 19:50) Tribal psychology as an evolutionary adaptation for human survival
(20:00 - 21:13) In-group solidarity and out-group antipathy/hostility
(21:13 - 22:27) Good news: tribal identification may be hardwired, but tribal categories are flexible
(22:27 - 26:15) The importance of signaling to demonstrate membership in and solidarity with tribal groups; the rationality of tribal solidarity; signaling as unconscious cognitive bias
(26:15 - 29:35) The distinction between tribalism and polarization, and why the problem is polarization, not tribalism
(30:23 - 34:50) Ideological polarization versus social polarization; evidence for increasing social polarization; shout-out to Lillian Mason
(34:50 - 35:30) Social sorting and segregation as a cause of increased social polarization
(35:30 - 37:05) Loss of viewpoint diversity as an obstacle to critical thinking
(38:05 - 40:25) What can be done to foster more productive relationships between in-groups that have become more polarized?
(40:25 - 42:30) What's ahead for me, what I'm working on right now
(43:27 - 47:45 ) Caller 1 - concerns with using the word "tribe" and "tribal" in this context when Native Americans and First Nations Peoples use that term to identify their political and social groups
(48:37 - 50:40) Caller 2 - wants me to write a book!
(50:55 - 52:12) Wrapping up: there's a broader story to be told about the forces that are exacerbating the problems discussed on this show
References and Links:
- Thinking Clearly Radio Program
- Videos in my Critical Thinking and Tribalism series:
- Lilliana Mason's homepage, and her book, Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity
- My Patreon support page
- Critical Thinker Academy (criticalthinkeracademy.com)
- 2018-06-12 20:15:27 UTC