Episode 26 | Trump Evangelism

Trump Evangelism is not what you think.  In this episode we tackle the question, “How do you talk about truth with people who believe everyone has their own truth?”  [BONUS MATERIAL] Mike leads a discussion on Steve Bannon and the Alt Right.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. bradyhartog says:

    Hey Sacred Skeptics,

    After recently becoming a fan of your work (and a Sacred Skeptic myself), I listened to your latest episode, “Trump Evangelism.” Admittedly, I was concerned by that title, and especially the description: “It’s not what you think.” I was relieved when I listened in and found it really wasn’t what I thought! Indeed, the episode contained extremely valuable insights, especially concerning the alt-right (which, a few weeks prior, following the nomination of Steve Bannon, I had hoped you would eventually discuss).

    Nevertheless, I had a serious issue with this episode. Usually, Sacred Skeptics does a fairly good job of suppressing its bias (or acknowledging it, as was done in Episode 25). This time, however, there was a moment when a bias was quite obvious—I might even say blatant. Around 22:15, during the discussion of Steve Bannon and the alt-right (and in particular, his BuzzFeed interview and his view on capitalism versus crony capitalism), Rick interjects:

    “That is a key distinction [between capitalism and crony capitalism]. And Mike, let me just say this, because, I’ve become recently a fan of Marcus Lemonis and the MSNBC show, uh, “The Profit.” And, anyone out there who has sympathies with socialism, and anyone out there who you’re skeptical—skeptical of capitalism, you should watch the episode, “The Profit in Cuba,” and see just how incredibly destructive socialism is, and how life-giving capitalism is—not crony capitalism!—but capitalism.”

    I don’t point this out because I disagree. Actually, I do agree. I think capitalism is “life-giving” in the same way that human free will is “life-giving”: while it permits sin (just as capitalism, because it involves substantial risk, is responsible for poverty), it is also the only way for meaningful interpersonal relationships to exist (that is, through love).

    However—

    Calling capitalism “life-giving” in such a limited context—in such an interjection irrelevant to the main topic of the discussion—makes it seem as though there is a bias according to someone who disagrees with this point of view. Suppose Kim Jong-un listened in to this episode. Would you not want him to become a Sacred Skeptic? Then you must respect his point of view on economic systems. At present, I imagine he would have dismissed Sacred Skeptics altogether as being overly biased because of such a remark.

    My suggestion to you: if you are going to make such claims, allot time in the episode to justify them. If there is no time, or making such a claim was unplanned, then leave it in question. Resolve to discuss it in full in a later episode. Or, if you have already discussed it in an earlier episode, and you are simply restating your conclusion, refer to that episode. Otherwise, it would not just seem that you had a bias—you would most certainly have one, and to those to whom that bias might be offensive, you lose influence—they might dismiss you altogether—and their pursuit of the truth is ultimately hindered.

    Again, I don’t bring this to attention because I disagree, or that I am particularly sensitive to such issues, but because I support the mission and values of Sacred Skeptics. It’s important that as you encourage the pursuit of truth, you appeal to as wide an audience as possible. To this end, you must not make such remarks that introduce conclusions yet to be drawn. I’m not saying you cannot discuss topics and make stipulations that are offensive to some—ultimately, many of them will be—but every point, down to the very last detail, must be supported.

    I’m preaching to the choir! I’m certain this was only a small mishap unlikely to happen again in future episodes. Yet again: was it indeed a mishap? Am I wrong to think this remark introduced a bias into this episode? I’d love to hear back from you. Thank you for all you do, Sacred Skeptics.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brady,

      First, thank you for listening. Second, thank you for taking the time to engage us with such a measured, well thought out response. We love that! You are right to recognize that we have biases. Our intent is not to be dispassionate reporters of information. Rather, we intend to humbly and courageously follow the truth–whatever it is, wherever it leads. Sometimes, like with the crony capitalism v. capitalism distinction, we will share our conclusions.

      We are happy to do that. No conversation has the time to accommodate exhaustive research or case-making. Rather, conversations, even books and research papers limit the scope of what they intend to build a case for and assume other conclusions. It’s not that those conclusions don’t warrant case-making, rather it would be the subject for another time. We bank on the cumulative case of all that we produce, not singular episodes. It’s our method and model to immerse our listeners in our perspective via a series of conversations. This is cumulative case-making. To date, we have 26 conversations aired. That comment, taken with previous episodes on socialism v. capitalism (plus hypothetical future episodes) are part of the cumulative case.

      Not to mention, the comment made was a parenthetical thought, which then directed listeners to a resource to further make the case. I would classify that as an audio form of what is commonly found in books and research papers and scholarly articles, i.e. footnotes. It’s a way to address a relevant subject, with supporting resources, yet without the time to presently address it further.

      Thanks for the challenge. Thanks for the encouragement. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify our method and model. Keep listening and keep engaging with us.

      Rick

      Liked by 1 person

      1. bradyhartog says:

        Rick,

        Thank you for the quick reply. I’m humbled and edified. You’re absolutely right pointing out that it would not be feasible (indeed, perhaps impossible) to entertain every school of thought on every issue (to “accommodate exhaustive research or case-making”).

        I was wrong to think this was a “bias”—I suppose there were numerous other “biases” I didn’t identify because they were likewise previously drawn conclusions and assumptions, but based on reasoning which I had already investigated, decided upon, and happened to agree with.

        I understand now the “cumulative case-making” model of Sacred Skeptics. It’s still unfortunate that there have to be points left unexplained for lack of time in a singular episode, but this, of course, is a natural limitation. You make this limitation reasonable: half an hour is plenty long for an episode, both on your part and mine.

        I think, then, I’ll accept your challenge and check out that episode of The Profit, for you certainly accepted mine. Thanks again. Looking forward to more listening and learning.

        Brady

        Liked by 1 person

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