Summary of Why It’s Worth Listening to People You Disagree With

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Why It’s Worth Listening to People You Disagree With summary


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Why would activist Zachary R. Wood encourage you to sit down to a pleasant, or even not so pleasant, conversation with someone whose views radically oppose your own? In brief, Wood believes that these uncomfortable conversations represent opportunities for learning and the first step toward social change. getAbstract recommends Wood’s bold, eloquent talk to academics, activists, mediators, and others interested in improving communication between opposing individuals and groups.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why engaging with controversy is uncomfortable but necessary, and
  • What you can gain by listening to offensive views.

About the Speaker

Activist Zachary R. Wood advocates social change through dialogue. To that end, Wood is president of a student group called Uncomfortable Learning.



Don’t avoid controversial, opposing or even offensive views. Instead, treat dialogue about these ideas as an opportunity for “uncomfortable learning.” Take, for example, sociologists Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein’s 1994 book The Bell Curve, which posited that on average, certain races are more intelligent and prone to success than others. Or, consider political commentator John Derbyshire’s 2012 article advising nonblack families to safeguard their children by teaching them to avoid areas or events “likely to draw a lot of blacks.” Even when ideas are harmful, engaging with them is fruitful. That’s why, in 2016, activist Zachary R. Wood invited Murray and Derbyshire to speak at his school – providing a podium for the ideas that Wood opposed.

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