Think about the art you’ve enjoyed in your life: the novels, the television, the music, the poetry, the sculpture, the paintings—the list goes on. Now try to imagine a scenario in which none of this art had ever been made. What would we lose in a world like this?
Are people cruel because they lack empathy? Is cruelty always a matter of seeing others as less than human? Or are there some who simply enjoy seeing people suffer? These are some of the questions we’ll be tackling in this week’s show.
Conspiracy theorists think quasi-rationally, but their thinking only goes in one direction. Because conspiracy theorists are less analytic, their thinking tends not to override their starting intuitions. So how can we alleviate people's tendencies to adopt irrational conspiracy theories?
How should we respond to the suffering of those who vote against their own best interests? Is unadulterated cruelty a good political strategy? Or does a just social order depend upon our ability to empathize with all human beings?
In between honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and inaugurating Donald Trump, we remember one of our greatest civil rights leaders and anticipate the presidency of an unabashed exploiter of racism, arguably a racist himself. But what is the right emotional reaction to racism? Empathy? Outrage? Or pity?