Page 141 - MODES of EXPLANATION

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the other hand, car crashes happen every day and almost everyone knows someone who has been
seriously injured in a vehicle accident, whereas it is far less common to know someone who has
been killed or seriously injured in a plane crash. So salience – how juicy a story is, and plane
crashes and large disasters are very salient – is remarkably effective in convincing someone that
there is a threat to be avoided.
Better communication
It is important to recognize the need to take multiple perspectives on a problem, because we do
not have any perspectives that cover all of the waterfront. However, the problem is not just taking
multiple perspectives; the problem is realizing that each perspective will contain its own true or
revealing facts and biases. How do you get all of the perspectives together to neutralize the biases?
You can do that if you have a number of people from a number of different perspectives and you
get them to sit down together and work on a problem, although that does not always work if they
are too different in perspective.
This is often a problem in communication between people in the humanities and those in
the sciences: too many aspects of their worldview are too different. That should not be the case,
though. One of the great benefits of a liberal education is that it traditionally has included both the
humanities and the sciences, and Europeans have often admired the greater breadth of American
post-secondary education. Of course, now we have watered down science for those in the
humanities and sometimes, unfortunately, watered down the humanities for scientists and
professionals, so we may be giving away our advantage. From what I understand, businesses are
more interested in hiring people who have the capability to acquire professional training but the
judgment that comes from a broader exposure to literature and the humanities. At the same time,
if you put off acquiring any professional competence or any math or science until college, it is
already too late. You are not dead in the water, but you have a very hard row to hoe because you
have to learn how to see things through the other lens. That is the benefit of taking multiple
perspectives and a robust approach to explanation.
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