Pursuing the Excellent Life
April 14, 2021

Introduction to the Rational Ignorance Podcast

Welcome to the Rational Ignorance Podcast! In this episode, Andrea and Craig discuss their goals for the podcast, and what listeners can expect to gain from listening (in business speak -- the value proposition). We're new to this, so we appreciate your indulgence as we work out any problems. Thanks for listening!!

Contact us at rationalignorance@pm.me, on Twitter - @RIPodcast.


[00:00:00] Hi folks. This is Craig van. Slike welcome to the rational regrets podcast, where we talk about facts, values, and living life. Hi everyone. I'm Andrea Christelle, a philosopher and outdoor enthusiast who lives in Sedona, Arizona. And I'm a business professor, author, and rancher who lives in the middle of the woods and eras Louisiana.

We're here to have fun, practical conversations with smart, interesting people to help us cut through the noise and get to what really matters rational. Ignorance is an idea from economics. That basically means there is a limit to what we need to know. So we'll skip the small stuff, focus on what really matters and separate the wheat from the chaff.

Andrew, what do you want to see people get out of this podcast? Why are we doing this podcast and why are we doing it the way we're doing it? What I want to get out of this podcast is a better understanding of how you're thinking about the same things that I'm thinking about. Um, because I think [00:01:00] that, um, are you sure, you're sure that there's some dark and twisty paths in there.

No it's, um, maybe we should explain to people that if, if you and I were Venn diagrams, there, there would be. There would be considerable filled in spot where we intersect, but there would be some non-trivial parts where we don't intersect. I think we've known each other long enough and have done enough things together to where I, I think there's a, a pretty, at least on my part.

There's a very deep mutual respect for you and your, your mode of thinking. So even if we don't agree. I find that I almost always learn something and often adjust kind of the way I'm thinking about something after trying to understand the way you're thinking about something. So, yeah. And we'll leave it to the listeners to, to, uh, guess who's on what side of what, but I don't think it'll be [00:02:00] hard.

Yeah, no, I think that's, that's really right. And I just like you, when I like gain respect for your, and for other people's views, I think that, um, look, if it comes right down to it and we talk about the most basic ethical consideration, it would be just acknowledging the dignity and decency that every person has.

And if you take that as a fundamental premise, then you're going to say, I'm not going to dismiss anyone out of hand. I'm going to really try to understand why that person is thinking the way they're thinking and why they're doing what they're doing. That doesn't mean that at the end of the day, I'll always agree with them, but we should give each other a chance.

And I feel like in the world today, the, you know, many media outlets that we have, um, seem to be taking a point of view where we're really encouraged to dismiss and deride, um, uh, competing points of [00:03:00] view, rather than trying to deepen our understanding. And I think, um, when we actually talk to people rather than talk about them, You know, talk with them and try to understand where they're coming from.

We can often find that what we heard wasn't necessarily what they meant. Yeah. And so. Uh, I think that what we can do in this podcast and what we hope will be a model for other people to do is to talk with people and work through ideas rather than talk about people and dismiss them and, and that, and that's, and we want to do that.

And not only so that we can understand the ideas, but so that we can restore. Uh, fundamental, you know, ethical commitment towards one another, as people walking around in the world. [00:04:00] Oh, that's a, that's very well said. Um, you, you used an interesting turn of phrase there it's very common competing points of view.

And I think we could, we could probably do an episode unpacking that word or that word competing or that phrase. Uh, because what, what we want to do in terms of companies cheating is we may start off with views that are in opposition to each other. And we often do, and we have our casual conversations, you know, we're, we're kind of starting off at a different place.

And what we try do is not get bogged down in the fact that they're opposite, but try to look for where there's something in common. And I think. Both of us. And I think most people want to uncover. What's really true. You know, what's the best understanding of some state of affairs [00:05:00] and where we get into trouble.

And I, and I know you didn't mean the phrase this way, but if we look at it as a competition where I've got to win, and the way I win is that you lose, then all we do is hold onto our current. Ways of thinking, if we look at it as we've got these, these opposing points of view, but I'm going to be intellectually, uh, humble enough.

And Tracy would laugh with me thinking of myself as humble at all, but she often says my great humility is only exceeded by my tremendous modesty. So the, but, but if we, if we think of it as a competition, which is the way it gets put out there, most of the time. Then we don't get anywhere. But if we think about it as I'm, we're starting off from views that are at least somewhat in opposition to each other and compatible with each other and try [00:06:00] to find what the real truth is.

Often we'll arrive at a third point of view, which is superior to either one of the original starting points. And, and so I think that's one of the things we're going to try to do in this podcast. And we won't, we probably won't get there very often, but we're going to try to move towards that, that synthesis.

I don't even want to call it a center because it may not be in the middle. You know, it may be on one side or the other, but we want to try to come to some synthesis. That's at least closer to the truth. Then maybe our starting points were. Yeah, I think, and, and who knows? We might get there quite a bit. I mean, I think that we'll get there today because you just pointed something out to me.

That's, that's very valuable. Um, in, in the phrase competing points of view, it's one that I use often, but had never really. Um, thought about carefully before, because I, I use it as a [00:07:00] shorthand to not say opposite point of views. I use it as a way to illustrate that there are often multiple points of view for any issue, not just to binary points of view, because we can often see thing as, as oppositional, uh pro-life or pro-choice, or.

Red or blue, you know, and so I say, you know, competing points of view to illustrate that there are multiple ways we can usually come at something, but multiple is much better. And what I didn't realize that was embedded in competing is the very idea of competition. And as you pointed out that there must be winners and losers.

And I think that that is a paradigm that is very popular. Um, in our culture, but I, I think that one that, that, um, May or may not always serve us best. And I'm just thinking of one of my favorite examples, which is the grand Canyon, just one of [00:08:00] the, you know, I want to say most beautiful places, right? Like, you know, in comparison to other places.

Um, but, uh, you know, why compare it? Why not just appreciate it for it. Um, beauty and grandeur. And I often think about a question that's asked so often when people come to this part of the country and, and, and it's a reasonable question because they have limited time and they have to decide what to do with that limited time.

Should I visit the North rim or should I visit the South rim of the grand Canyon? Nope. Which is better. Right. As if there's a competition between them. And, uh, it, it was in, uh, you know, a conversation with a friend of mine who was Hopi. Um, they, and they just laughed at that because it's so, um, Not the way in which they notice and appreciate these places.

It's not to put them in competition or [00:09:00] try to rank them as better or worse, but to try to understand each one on its, on its own merits and per being what it is. And so I think even saying like multiple points of view creates a different framework for. For understanding different viewpoints in the world and, and a recognition that it's possible that multiple points of view could exist.

Harmoniously side by side without necessarily being in competition. Right. And so I think part of what we want to do here is just have these dialogues to, to, to have a listener, right point out, you know, the full import of what you're saying. I, I so many times referred to competing points of view, but until you really heard that and gave it back to [00:10:00] me, right.

That created an opportunity for me to really analyze. That's what I was saying. And I knew what you meant, you know, we know each other well enough to, I know I knew you didn't realize that you didn't mean competition in that way, but, uh, but I think it, it was a good, um, that makes me sound very humble. It was, it was a good way to kind of get to the, one of the points of our podcast is that we want to try.

To, to come to some better understanding of the truth, uh, through, through this back and forth. And, you know, we'll argue sometimes and we'll we'll challenge each other. And, but, but that's the way that we learn. That's the way we improve the way we think about the world is through these kinds of discussions and dialogues.

And, and so what, what we're going to do is we will often use topics that are. Pretty current and interesting [00:11:00] right now, like one of the, one of the, um, one of the, the episodes we're going to have with the season one is going to be about misinformation and fake news. We've got Dr. M Amber Heinz Lee. That's going to talk about that with us.

Well, some of the things we'll get out there, won't just be about. Misinformation and fake news, but we're going to try to bring up points that can be applied to other areas that might be more enduring. And Andrew, are you still there? Yes. Okay. Okay. Your video cut out, but that might be my internet. Oh, okay.

Yeah. So I'm, I'm definitely here and yeah, and I, and I think, you know, as we uncover these different, um, Points of view. I think that will be helpful, helpful to us if we're open-minded, if we come to this being open-minded and I know I try to be open-minded about, about most things, but I [00:12:00] am a human being.

And so there are some things that I'm not very open-minded about. I mean, one is the possibility that there is any, uh, goodness as possibly associated with Donald Trump. I not sure it's pretty subtle on that one, but, but in general, right. And we can only appreciate, uh, you know, multiple points of view that will have some value for us if we're open to the possibility of being wrong.

And even if not like, Oh, being dead wrong about something right. Being open-minded to expanding. Our ideas about something or adjusting our ideas about something. And I think that we're trying to get at the, the virtue and the developmental access, um, really sort of like the personal growth that's associated.

With modifying our viewpoints. I think there's so much emphasis on, you know, being [00:13:00] right or, you know, being the one that, um, prevailed rather than being the person who, who grows or expands or modifies. And so by being open-minded, um, we can be willing to do that. Yeah, absolutely. And so I think that brings up a really important point that I would like for us to consider for a minute.

And that's who shouldn't listen to this podcast. If you're looking for ammunition that will help you win arguments for one position or another. And you know, you might pick something up, you can use more podcasts, but frankly, it's going to be a waste of time and it's going to be a waste of your time. Go listen to somebody else.

But if what you want to do is try to understand the world, not just with respect to what's going on right now, but also understanding and improving your understanding of how to think about the world and how to think about some of these difficult issues. And you come at it from a perspective of. [00:14:00] You know, I've got my beliefs and I've got my assumptions and I'm not ready to give up on those, but I want to, at least at a minimum, understand how to understand other people.

Then I think this is a good podcast for you. I, you know, I think we're going to cover some really interesting topics and we both have different ways of viewing some of these and our guests will bring other ways of viewing these sorts of things, but. The people that are going to get the most out of this podcast are ones who want to improve their ability to understand what, what you just said.

You know, that's, that's who needs to be listening. And that's really who we're directing the podcast towards. If you want to have some Fox news, CNN debate or something like that, go listen to something else. I mean, you know, we'll take you in our listener counts, but really you're not going to get much value out of what we're doing.

Right. But if you are tired of that and you've had enough of it, then, then we will offer an alternative. And I think that that really, what that will be is sort of a journey of ideas and like how [00:15:00] people sort of naturally and spontaneously. Move through, uh, the, the sort of thinking about and creating meaning.

And that, that really is the process of dialogue. Um, and David Boehme does a great book on dialogue, and you got really curious about, you know, how it is that people can misunderstand each other so often knowing how it is. People have such difficulty, you know, Coming to understand things in the same way.

And he's got this great etymological breakdown of that term, which is where he sinks like a DIA die. I just think like going through something and logos, which is the term for word, but like that, not just word, the meaning of the word. And it's, it's like, When dialogue occurs when two or more people sort of go through the meaning of a word together and sort of figure out like what, what it means to the other person or other people around and then [00:16:00] how that shifts.

And so it's like, this is this journey of discovering what someone else actually means. And inevitably, when you engage in that practice with someone. Your own ideas shift a little bit too. And so it's, this really it's like this development, not only of the idea, but a personal development for everyone involved.

And so that will be for each of us, but we hope for the listeners too, to quote Steve jobs, you know, the journey is the reward. So we hope that we, and, and you, the listeners will end up in a spot where there's better understanding of whatever. But really the value is in the process of getting there because w what, I'm going to use a word I don't really like, but it's, it's apt, you know, we're going to use current topics as the vehicle for our dialogues, for our, for our discussions, but really we're trying to get at evergreen concepts, like the idea of, you know, trying to understand our [00:17:00] biases.

And I don't necessarily, I don't necessarily mean bias in the way it often gets used, but we all have our, our way of viewing things and so better. We understand those a better, we can understand how they're affecting, how we view the world. You know, we've all got assumptions that we base our beliefs on.

You know, there are assumptions. We don't know whether or not they're right. And so things like understanding how to uncover these, these deep, hidden assumptions or these biases that shape our beliefs. That's what we, that that's the evergreen, that's the enduring part that we hope will carry you through whatever the world might throw at you somewhere down the road.

Yeah, that's absolutely right. We want to question our assumptions and our biases, and it's easy to say, but can be really challenging to do. And that's why it's helpful to have a friend and someone to talk to who, who you respect. But you know that, you know, I, I think the way you put it, Craig was perfect.

Like, if we were like Venn diagrams, [00:18:00] there would be, you know, significant overlap and non-trivial parts that we're not overlapping. Right. And so, so why is that? Right. And, and to sort of like question, you know, there's areas where there's not complete overlap and about obvious things like, you know, maybe how we feel about, um, gun owner, gun ownership, for example, and, and less obvious things like we were talking about earlier, like whether a piece of wood should be considered a table or a bench.

And when we see a piece of wood, we probably view it one way or another. And, um, some of these more abstract questions can be really interesting to consider because they can help us understand other beliefs that we have about less trivial matters. Well, that's right. So, so when we do get abstract, it's always going to be, well, hopefully, always going to be.

With, uh, the goal of trying to apply it to [00:19:00] something that's more concrete. And so, yeah, it's a, you know, this isn't a philosophy, although there'll be a lot of philosophy in it. But it's not just for these, what, what the would commonly be called philosophical questions. And that's another one we should get into at some point, because that's a misused phrase, but yeah, we, we want to be, at the end of the day, we want to be practical.

Right. And I think that, you know, we'll both bring, I think always as everyone does, like who we are into this conversation. And so part of it will be philosophical. Part of it we'll have a practical business perspective of it. You know, part of it will be shaped by our genders and where we live. Like we'll bring our own unique perspectives to it, but, um, certainly these philosophical questions, um, not only can they be helpful for and have a practical benefit, but also it's fun.

It's just fun. Like when you look at your table and you think like that wouldn't have to be a [00:20:00] table, I could actually sit on that or use that as a bench. Or if I got really cold, it could be firewood. What, what could that table be? What are all the possible ways I could imagine it? I mean, part of that is, is just fun and it's like the creative pleasure of, of using our minds.

And so I don't, I don't think we should, uh, feel like everything has to be strictly utilitarian. Part of this should just be a good time. Right, right. Remind me in some future recording, uh, to tell you how I used a door as a sledgehammer back in my younger days. So yeah, it's somewhat unfortunate, but kind of funny story, when I'm talking about philosophical questions, you know, I'm going to leave this hanging, but that doesn't mean what most people think it means.

Right. Yeah. So we'll, we'll, we'll, uh, we'll leave that for now. Uh, but anyway, that's what you can expect. Any last words, um, it just I'm really looking 
[00:21:00] forward to this. And I think that, you know, by doing this by really respecting other people's views and, and trying to understand them, if we do that with an open mind and gives us an opportunity to question our assumptions and biases.

And give us an really crazy opportunity for new insights and personal growth, and we're going to enjoy it. Uh, we hope you do too. The rational ignorance podcast is sponsored by Sedona philosophy, a completely unique tour company that uses Sedona's amazing natural environment to unlock personal growth and insight.

Explore nature, culture and history with a philosophical twist, visit Sedona philosophy.com to learn more. Thanks Craig. If you enjoyed this podcast, hit the subscribe button, please rate, review and tell your friends until next time.