John Inazu: Humility, Tolerance, Patience

We disagree. These disagreements matter. Still, we can find a better way than conflict. Let us move towards one another from here.

John Inazu's work brings us to fundamental questions about how we as a society engage one another. How do we treat the people with whom you disagree on the most important issues? Do we insult them or exclude them? Do we dehumanize them?

Or could we find a better way?

Can we live together across our differences? Do our differences prompt dialogue where we can understand one another? Could our response to them humanize us? And humanize those with whom we disagree?


The struggle to find common ground is much more difficult when there isn’t agreement about basic facts and basic concepts of reason and logic. I can enjoy a game of baseball against any team, but how can you even play if one team arbitrarily decides that balls are actually strikes and foul balls are actually home runs, but only when it benefits them. How can we communicate with people when we don’t share a common reality?


I bet he is a popular professor :slight_smile: It was a good talk. I’ve definitely thought about a lot of those things this week; this talk seems providential with what’s going on in the country.

From the blog:

I affirm evolutionary science, and many others here think that evolution is implausibly impossible.

Did you mean “implausible and/or impossible”? Or did you mean that thinking evolution is impossible is implausible? :wink: I couldn’t tell if it was a misuse of the adverb or quite what you meant.

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This is another excellent interview. The discussion about the role of higher education really resonated with me, and is so important right now.

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Just ordered the book. Thanks!

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What caught your attention on this one @sfmatheson and @Jordan?

I thought Inazu was pretty pragmatic in the interview. It was aspirational, but not just theoretical. As I look out at almost every sort of public conversation (certainly in American politics) I see these idea of intellectual humility, tolerance, and patience as being so important, and yet difficult to cultivate. How do we do this better? For me, this forum has been a huge help. Just practicing, post after post, thread after thread, helps gain experience in seeing how people respond and helps build confidence that these aspirations are worth while.


I haven’t listened to the interview but I like what I have read here a lot. Humility, tolerance, and patience are easy things to proof text and easy to write platitudes about, and IMO it is all too easy (for everyone) to begin to feel that those virtues somehow involve being polite when someone is lying or endangering. Note that I wrote “feel” there. But it seems that Inazu is going deep on what these things really mean, and this seems the kind of book that a humanist might use as a devotional. I look forward to reading it.


I enjoyed the talk and article’s applying these values/aspirations to this forum.

What are the deliberate practices that help cultivate these values?

And what feedback are we getting if we’re getting closer to those ideals? How would I know if I’m doing better over time or if as a group we are doing better? Are there specific badges or other concrete markers (hearts/likes seem to tend to be more about agreement of a proposition rather than agreement about the peaceful science value or process it demonstrates; though I know some seem to use it for that too).

One thought: especially for newcomers, can we be given examples of “model posts” and “model threads” with a short description of why they model what we’re trying to encourage here?

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