[…]I think you also have to be willing to examine evidence that undermines your working theories. I think you can’t dismiss discomfiting arguments out of hand. I think you have to be willing to disagree with those in your own camp, but not so much that you become the one unscrupulous partisans trot out to advance their agenda. I think it’s always a bad idea to laud your own penchant for the boldly counter-intuitive. When I hear people bragging about being politically incorrect, I start yawning; the elegant argument speaks for itself.
These tools, paired with personal experience and interest, allow people to assume a kind of sincerity that they otherwise might not. We spend so much time hoping for conversation, without realizing that a certain ground must be established to make that conversation real. You need to have credibility with your audience. The moment you have to list out your accolades, is the moment you realize, rightly or wrongly, that you have none. […]