Monday, July 7, 2008

The Clustering of the Like-Minded

The small town dynamic continues to perplex me. And these days I'm still better at collecting others' thoughts than expressing my own. Maybe soon I'll have the luxury to sift through it all and pound out some coherent ideas, but currently that's not an accurate reflection of my mental map. There's not even a table of contents up there right now.
We don't get NPR in our town. It's on an AM station out of Columbus that I can sometimes pick up if I'm driving, but usually Olivia is with me, and the constant buzzing is too much to ask of her. So tonight, Brett fixed me up with a speaker loud enough for me to listen to the NPR Program Stream off my computer while working around the house. Thank you Brett, you've changed my life again. Within minutes, Talk of the Nation was coming through clear as a bell.
Tonight, Guy Raz was talking with Bill Bishop, the author of a new book called The Big Sort: How the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart. The big idea is that we tend to live, work, and play with people who think just like us. Bishop suggests that this practice is doing us, and our society at large, a great disservice. It's keeping us from engaging in legitimate discussion on all important issues. It's perpetuating ignorance. Before we recognize what's happening to us, we get entangled in group think and only see the opposition as absurd.
Here's the link to the interview which also includes an excerpt from the book. Joel, you'll be getting this in the mail soon- happy birthday, and welcome back. I'm checking it out at our library tomorrow (or I should say, I'll be requesting it through interlibrary loan).