#48 John Gable Do You Know How Biased You Are? John Gable of AllSides.com

"At the end of the day everybody is biased," says our guest, John Gable, founder CEO of AllSides. "You're biased by what you know. You're biased by what you know and you're biased by your entire human existence before then."

AllSides is unique in how it covers the news - displaying stories on its front page - from different points of view. It urges readers to "engage in civil dialog and discover a deeper understanding of the issues."

The left-hand column at AllSides has stories from liberal-leaning sites (New York Times, Huffington Post, Salon), the right column features conservative-leaning media coverage of the same event (Fox News, The Blaze). The centrist column plays things down the middle (USA Today, Christian Science Monitor).

"Part of what we do is help people understand that they are biased as well," says John.

With deep experience in technology and his former involvement in political campaigns, he understands how so many of live in a bubble - only listening to those we agree with. And why that's a threat to our democracy.

Solutions:

#43 Joan Blades Part 2 - How to Speak With People You Disagree With

 

This episode looks at the simple, highly personal way that living room conversations allow people of different viewpoints to really hear each other.

A progressive activist, Joan Blades was deeply involved in starting MoveOn.org in the late 90's. More recently she has also worked on ways to encourage respect and dialog among liberals, independents and conservatives.  She is the cofounder of LivingRoomConversations.org.

In part one last week (episode 43), we looked at why Americans need to find new ways to speak about our differences, such as visiting websites with opposing political opinions, and having conversations that are not vindictive.

"It's actually really fun having a living room conversation," says Joan. "They're more fun than if you have a bunch of people around that you know what they're going to say.  We get to laugh about our differences once we understand what's going on."

Among the first conversations the group had was a discussion on climate and energy. "One of the problems progressives have right now is that if they run into someone who doesn't believe in climate science, they roll their eyes."  As soon as you do that, "you've lost your conversation," Joan says. "Nobody listens to anybody."

Here are some of the topics we raised in this episode: 

  •  LivingRoomConversations.org has simple for ground rules each meeting - encouraging participants to be curious, show respect and take turns.  
  • Listening to people is the best way to get people to listen to you. 
  • These conversations are not debates. Instead of winning, the aim is come up with solutions.
  •  LivingRoomConverstions.org guidelines are open-source. People can use what works for them.

#42 Neighbors Divided Over Politics: Joan Blades: How Do We Fix It?

This show is another response to the deep partisan divide in America - part one of a fascinating conversation with Joan Blades. 

Much of our political campaign has been dominated by personal insults, name-calling and dogma.  Voters have rewarded politicians who use anger and blame others for the country's problems.  Individual citizens are part of the problem and the solution. 

"We live with the dysfunction of partisan behaviors and believe we must and can do better," says Joan, co-founder of Living Room Conversations She makes the case for personal dialog across party lines, arguing that it's a key part of changing the way all of us think about politics.

A strong progressive, who co-founded the liberal activist group, MoveOn.org in  the late 90's, Joan makes the case for listening to those you don't agree with. 

"It's actually really fun having a living room conversation," she tells us."They're more fun than if you have a bunch of people around and you what they're going to say."