Let’s Agree to Disagree

A blueprint for building bridges instead of walls

Nolan Higdon and Mickey Huff are the featured guests as they bring us commentary on their new book, “Let’s Agree to Disagree: A Critical Thinking Guide to Communication, Conflict Management and Critical Media Literacy.” The book is part textbook, part guidebook, and full of inspirational examples of people who made an effort to listen, learn, and create communication rather than disagree and walk away.

Learn how to create constructive dialog that will enable better communication, but also recognize the greater landscape where media away our thinking. By using inflammatory rhetoric that reinforces ideological differences with the intent to divide, rather than to understand, our news media drives higher ratings, higher profits, and more division.

Huff and Hidgon challenge us to step away from these external forces, develop critical thinking skills, and engage with others. By providing examples and clear steps to create dialogue, they show us that our democracy is dependent upon the everyday citizenry to engage and understand. We must participate to make a difference.

Show Notes

Lets Agree to Disagree at Amazon


[00:00:00] Mickey Huff: That’s what we’re actually trying to model in the real world is that you are going to run into difficult situations. You are going to run into people with whom you disagree or don’t even like, um, but there are things you can do about it that don’t involve, um, you being a hammer and every problem being a nail.

So, you know, we are hopeful at the end of the day, even, even though there are many challenges we face.

[00:00:30] Bumper Intro-Outro: Welcome to Endless Coffee Cup, a regular discussion of marketing news, culture, and media for our complex digital lifestyle. Join Matt Bailey as he engages in conversation to find insights beyond the latest headlines and deeper understanding for those involved in marketing. Grab a cup of coffee, have a seat, and thanks for joining.

[00:00:51] Matt Bailey: Well, hello, dear listener, and welcome to another episode of the Endless Coffee Cup podcast. I’m your host, Matt Bailey. And we’ve got another great show. Really friends of the show should recognize Nolan Higdon. I was talking earlier that whenever Nolan pitches me on something I’m own all the time, because I love what Nolan brings and some of the research here, and over COVID, apparently, Nolan, you’ve been, like, very, very busy writing a book.

[00:01:22] Nolan Higdon: Very productive, yes.

[00:01:25] Matt Bailey: Well, I’ve got coauthors Nolan Higdon and Mickey Huff. Mickey, you’re, you’re the newest to the show. So, if you could introduce yourself and also, what was it that made you take on this project of the book “Let’s Agree to Disagree?”

[00:01:40] Mickey Huff: Thanks for the opportunity, Matt. It’s a pleasure to be here. I’m director of Project Censored and president of Media Freedom Foundation. I’m a professor of social science, history and journalism, and we put out a book every year at Project Censored on media censorship, and the, the, the news that didn’t make the news, we analyze why.

This book that we’re talking about today is the second book I’ve done with Nolan Higdon. The first was “United States of Distraction” that looked at a history of sort of how we got to where we are in, in today’s hyper-partisan sort of landscape with media silos and sort of really noisy media culture.

And one of the things we did out of that last book was we tried to have prescriptions for how people could navigate sort of in this noisy media landscape, and that’s where “Let’s Agree to Disagree” came from. It’s a critical thinking textbook that merges many of the different things that we’ve been teaching. And again, it’s hopefully prescriptive in terms of giving people things that they can do to mitigate complicated, difficult, and controversial subjects, and so that people can have constructive communication and dialogue around them.

[00:02:51] Matt Bailey: Great. Great. I love that because as I was reading through it, I felt like it, it took me back to my journalism days at school and learning through the different bias and, you know, all the rhetoric is coming back in my head, but yet, what I found very, very valuable is that you contextualized a lot of that into, you, you know, the modern things that we’re dealing with right now, issues of race, gender, and the hyper-partisanship. Really, that was, how you worked that in, I thought was a, a great way of making this so relevant for what we’re going through right now.

[00:03:28] Nolan Higdon: And as your listeners will know, I’m Nolan Higdon, and, um, love being here with the Endless Coffee Cup folks, always a pleasure to be on the show. I love your listeners. And of course, I’ll pick up where, where Mickey left off. Mickey and I have been collaborating for, for more decades than we care to admit at this point. But, uh, you, Matt Bailey, you actually played a role in this, in this text.

When Mickey and I were finishing up our last book and I went, went on book tour with that and then “The Anatomy of Fake News,” we kept getting this response from people about how, you know, “I, I like your book. I get it. The media has got a problem. I get it. I need to do more to spot fake news, but how do I talk to people who I disagree with or, or talk to people who already believe fake news?”

And it got to the point where Mickey and I were, were sharing our notes after book talks, whether we did them solo or together and saying like, “We keep getting this question. This question apparently is not being answered sufficiently. Why don’t we try and write a book about it?” And that’s really where the book germinated from, but a lot of the early ideas Mickey and I had, you know, we took out into our interviews, and Matt, you were always great for, just, any topic we could bring up.

And we could break it down, we could debate it no matter how controversial. And even at some points, I didn’t really know where you stood, Matt. You just made, like, an environment where it was cool just to throw ideas off each other and, and test evidence. I thought, “There, there’s something here. There’s a hunger for this, you know, there’s something we can do with this.” And so, you were really helpful in may, in bringing this book about, as well. And that’s why we made sure to note in the, um, acknowledgments the help you provided.

[00:04:55] Matt Bailey: I appreciate that. Thank you. Wow. I, I, I did not get to the acknowledgements part ’cause I was busy cramming for the show, but wow. Thank you. I, I, I mean, that’s so awesome because that’s the type of atmosphere I want here is, is, you know, we’re not always going to agree, but the point is having the discussion.

And, and, you know, as you go into the book, it’s respecting views and, and, I, I guess the attitude is, “I’m here to learn. I don’t know everything. I don’t,” you, you know, so, if, if that’s one thing that I can really put across to the listeners is just that willingness to, “I want to sit and listen and learn. And without judging, I just want to hear what you have to say.” So, wow. That is so cool. Thank you so much. I appreciate that. I appreciate that.

[00:05:41] Nolan Higdon: So, it wasn’t just sitting in front of the screen writing. I was also on the, uh, the podcast circuit with Matt. Got that done during COVID, too.

[00:05:48] Matt Bailey: Yeah, we got a couple things. One of the things that you started the book with, and I thought it was really a great way to start, is you started with a couple of myths about disagreements. And the one that jumped out to me is that the myth is that conflict is abnormal. That anytime I disagree with some, someone or, or I have a problem with someone, that that’s abnormal and, and what you pointed out is no, we always have conflicts. It’s harmony that’s unusual.

That really, I, I think, set the tone for the book and it really captured my attention that, you know what? As humans, we do have this, I, I would call it a fantasy that we’re all supposed to agree and when we have conflict, that’s unusual. That was an amazing way to start the book. I, I, how did you come to that and, and why did you start the book with, with the myths?

[00:06:45] Nolan Higdon: Well, we, you know, we, as you pointed out, we really wanted to lay the, the groundwork for what was coming afterward. And we talk a lot about in the book about the way that there are these real, these real problems, right? There is false information that is influencing people. There are hateful ideologies out there. There are, you know, hate and harm being done to people.

But some of the solutions, the problem with them is that their goal is this fantasy, that we’re going to eradicate all conflict somehow through mass censorship, let’s say, or something like that. And, and our point was like, “No, you’re never going to get rid of conflict, you know, the real solution here is to make this conflict more constructive.” And that way, we hope this, this book would be, uh, a great guide for folks who want to address these problems and actually succeed in mitigating them versus have this kind of fantasy of eradicating all conflict.

[00:07:32] Mickey Huff: Yeah, Matt, if I could add to that, subtitle of the book is, “A Critical Thinking Guide to Communication, Conflict Management and Critical Media Literacy.” So, you know, there was something to be said there. As you noted, there’s this idea that we glide through life effortlessly and everyone is high-fiving us along the way and we’re back-patting ourselves, congratulating ourselves for all the great things that we’re doing.

And then when we run into some sort of bump in the road or this ripple in time, we’re completely astonished that, that paradise is in, in, in jeopardy. And, you know, we, we, we don’t have the skills at the ready to navigate that or to, to adjust to those situations because our culture doesn’t really help us prime, it doesn’t prime us for those situations.

The way that media in particular model conflict is negative, often hostile, everything gets boiled down to a fight or a binary. And arguing is not about fighting. It’s about explaining, it’s about understanding, it’s about communicating, and it’s also about listening. And critically listening and empathetically listening in a way that isn’t just, you know, sort of a pause where, uh, you’re talking, but I’m just waiting to jump in and get the next dig in. It’s, it’s not about that.

It, it’s about, to be cliche, we talk about this in the book. The importance of, of this ability to disagree is rooted in constructive communication. It’s rooted in critical thinking. It’s also rooted in understanding the media ecosystem so that we see how the messages from our established institutions are aimed to divide us and stoke hyper-partisanship rather than help teach us how to navigate, uh, conflicts.

And so, we want to build bridges, not walls. You know, we, we spent a lot of time here in the last several years, hearing a lot about walls and people building walls. Meanwhile, the infrastructure of the United States literally has collapsing bridges. Not funny, but the, the, the imagery there is, is important. Sometimes the physical world gives us these signs that are too obvious to ignore.

[00:10:00] And I, I think that we, and so, what Nolan and I set out to do in this book is, is we tried to, to, to normalize the fact that you’re not going to agree with everybody about everything. This doesn’t mean that you need to be a doormat or accept abuse, but it means that we all have to meet people where they are and best express where we are so others can meet us, so that we have some kind of common center or common ground where we can then build on differences.

It’s important that if we recognize that we have things in common, struggles in common, that we can then build on the things where there are, where we differentiate, where we, where we part from one another. And, and that’s the, that’s the part of dialogue or conversation or our daily interactions that our society doesn’t, doesn’t prepare us well to, to, to really address how that, how that should go or could go. And for a lot of people, it blows up and then they get averse to confronting different people or different ideas.

[00:10:55] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:10:55] Mickey Huff: And that pattern continues, and the longer it continues, the more people don’t interact with others with different ideas. And then the more we go back to that high-fiving, then, then our daily past or our confirmation past, confirmation bias, our social media silos that only feed us the things that, that make us feel good. And unfortunately, in order to have a healthy society, we need to be able to understand how to deal with the things that don’t make us feel so good, to, for lack of more sophisticated language.

But this kind of a textbook is geared toward anybody. Anybody can benefit from practicing the skills and, and the things that we lay out in the book. And that’s, this isn’t some pretentious ivory tower exercise. Uh, this is basically a guide on how to be a decent citizen in a purportedly free society.

[00:11:43] Matt Bailey: Oh, absolutely. I, you know, as I’m going through that and, and Mickey, a lot, so much of what you’re saying, you know, I, I’ve, one of the regular, uh, guests on my show is an educator, Norah Jones. She’s been on, not the singer, she’s an educator. But we talk about language, and also, we talk some about the, the education system and how, why aren’t we preparing children through education to be critical thinkers?

Uh, you know, that seems to be, as you said, not just to participate, you know, on, on other things, just politics, but this is just daily struggle. This is something you’re going to have to deal with day after day. And those critical thinking skills are tools that you can use through the rest of your life. And so, why we aren’t equipping and preparing people earlier, at an earlier age to be able to encounter things that they may not agree with, but be of a mind that, “I’m going to listen and I’m going to learn. Why don’t I agree with this?”

And, you, you know, having that conversation or just simply listening rather than shutting everything down. I just don’t, I agree with you completely. We’re not equipping people to do that. And we’re seeing the results of that right now.

[00:13:03] Nolan Higdon: We, and Matt, if I could jump in there real quick, that’s a great, that’s a real great point. And that’s where, um, you know, Mickey and I actually started. This book is really geared toward the use in the, in the classroom, although it’s accessible for anyone to, to read. But we really wanted to, to kind of push our, our colleagues to make the classroom a space, uh, that welcomes debate and controversy, but in a constructive way. It tries to shy away from sort of, you know, multiple choice or dogmatic type styles of teaching. It really teaches critical thinking.

And, you know, we were, we were concerned, uh, to be honest in the last 5 or 6 years. We’ve heard from different, different educators, you know, say things like, “I can’t reach certain people. I can’t reach certain types of people.” I thought, you know, “That’s kind of an astounding statement for an educator to make. Like, the whole reason we are educators is ’cause we think the classroom is an opportunity to reach people, to, you know, develop skills, and, and things like this.”

And, and so, we want to say, like, there, there is a way to do this. You can introduce these controversial topics into the classroom and, and do it in a constructive way. If you give it sort of the, the planning and the responsibility that, that it deserves. And we, we tie this to the idea that we’re not just doing this for, for anything’s sake. Critical thinking, like you mention, applies to everything. And, and in particular, we frame the book around democracy, right?

This idea that your, your democratic responsibility is to reach out, try and change minds, build coalitions, put pressure on those in power. It’s not to virtue signal and pat yourself on the back for having the greatest idea. Democracy’s unfortunately a 24-hour a day job. If, if you want a, uh, less intensive government responsibility, join an authoritarian regime, they’re always looking for new members who don’t have to think or act or do anything.

But in a democracy, you’re, you’re always being asked to, to do something and it, it’s important work, not only to change minds and build coalitions, but, but to do that, to reach out to people you disagree with is the only way we can really develop empathy, and we talked about this in the book. You know, these are humans on the other side of the screen, and these are humans on the other side of the ideological side of the spectrum.

And these recent polls that show American’s number one fear is other Americans is, is, is not conducive to a democracy. We, we need to be able to see the humanity, you know, reach someone on a human level and hopefully get rid of, get rid of or tease out some of the false beliefs or hateful ideologies in them, but as well as ourselves. And this is something we really emphasize in the book.

There’s a lot to be said about other people in this country. Right? I could say a lot of things about my, my fellow country people. But, uh, there’s also a lot of work I could do personally. And that’s what the book is geared toward, is thinking about, “Well, how do I contribute to destructive dialogue? You know, how do I sometimes take the layup and, and choose the article that fits my political bias versus wrestling with the, the nuances of disagreement and things like that.” And so, we hope this, this text is as much about thinking about other people it is about thinking about yourself, particularly in a classroom context.

[00:15:53] Matt Bailey: It’s a great, great point. And I, I, that gets to, I think, a lot of what you started, you know, you started early in the book, but also came back to it is that, that confirmation bias of, “This fits what I agree with so I’m going to run with it,” but also, even deeper is that, “Everything’s about me, and I’m going to take it all personally, because if this person does this, I,” you, you know, and, and the classic example if someone who cuts me off on the road, I’m angry, I’m upset, not knowing a thing about the situation, but it’s all about me.

So, you, you know, we, we start with that, but how much has the, the emphasis on the individual, the, the individual autonomy, and then we magnify that with social media, how much has that reinforced some of the negative conflict management strategies that you outline of, of avoiding, competing? How, how, do you see? I, I, I, you know, long question, number one, has the emphasis on the individual, magnified through social media, how does that emphasize negative management strategies in conflict?

[00:17:06] Mickey Huff: Well, the, the analogy you just mentioned a moment ago, Matt, the, the sort of the, the road rage example there, about sort of hearing. Imagine if you will, you’re involved in that incident, you have your perspective. The other person that is purportedly causing such rage in you, that’s another perspective. Your perspectives are likely not the same.

What about the third party? What about, let’s pretend there’s a third party watching all of this. Let’s call that third party, oh, I don’t know, the media. And how they frame that incident really is going to communicate to others in a way, it’s, uh, frame it in a way that’s going to, it may show cause, it may show blame, it may insinuate something.

If that media doesn’t come and talk to each of the parties, hear things, figure out, “Well, what did you think happened? What did you think happened? Where’s your evidence about this?” we’re probably not going to come to, to any kind of real actionable conclusions that lead us to say, “Oh, that was my bad,” or, “Oh, you did this.” And in other words, what, what are we going to learn? We’re just going to learn that we hate each other, and we cause each other problems.

Now, back to social media, back to hyperindividualism, the United States is a very hyperindividualistic place. Uh, this whole mythology from the, from the fallacious, pull yourself up from your bootstraps, right, looking at you, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, you know, born into a, a mining family. Anyway, I digress.

Um, the idea that, that we’re in it on our own is very counterproductive to teaching people the skills they need to live among and with others in society. And I’m, I’m coming back and connecting this to media because much of what we think we understand about the world comes through these frames, these prisons, these lenses. And we try to find the ones that look best to us, right?

And that’s that confirmation bias part, but it’s really important to understand that I am not the only person in the world. There are many other perspectives different than mine that are valid. And we also need to then understand that we live in this digital era where media magnify mostly things, accentuate differences. They frame them in ways that are negative or that spark conflict, that, that demand resolution, but resolution doesn’t usually imply compromise.

[00:20:00] What’s celebrated in our culture is victory or dominance, right? Or being the first. Forget second place. There’s no, there’s nothing other than first. And the media do-, to reinforce that in subtle ways and then in overt ways, but 24/7, all the time. And I wanted to, to, to juxtapose two points from our book very quickly and then hand it back over.

At one point in the book when we’re really critiquing media, we went back to the 60’s and we looked at Malcolm X. And one of a, a really well-known speech he gave, he said, “The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make the criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal.”

[00:20:28] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:20:29] Mickey Huff: “This is the press, an irresponsible press.” He goes on to say, “If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” Now, let’s think about how media frame what goes on in our society, and then let’s juxtapose that with what Nolan and I hope to champion as a way of dealing with that kind of a frame.

And we go back to Thich Nhat Hanh, the late Buddhist monk, in “The Art of Communicating” who said, “When we say something that nourishes us and uplifts the people around us, we are feeding love and compassion. When we speak and act in a way that causes tension and anger, we are nourishing violence and suffering.”

Well, let’s put those together and let’s think about what the media, us, what do they model? And how can we take lessons from someone like Thich Nhat Hanh, that, that help us repackage, reframe, and rethink about not just individually who we are and what, what our place in the world is, but how do we fit in to this hyperpartisan, uh, conflict addled reality that’s constantly beamed at us through media?

What we do is we go and show constructive communication patterns and strategies will help us navigate these differences. And we suggest that one of the things that we need to do is seriously attenuate our media habits so that they are more in accordance with this kind of a communication style rather than the, “I’m right, you’re wrong no matter what,” model, because that isn’t going to get us very far.

[00:22:12] Nolan Higdon: Yeah, and there…

[00:22:13] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. Wow. Go ahead, Nolan. Yeah.

[00:22:15] Nolan Higdon: Yeah. I was going, just to, to pick up on that. Kicking the wood, Mickey said to like this individualistic question, you know, I’m old enough to remember 10 years ago, right? Shortly after the Arab Spring, there was all this sort of, you know, real savvy propaganda efforts by social media companies to say, like, “Look, you can, you can like and share your way to democracy. You can, you can overthrow autocrats on these social media platforms.”

And, you know, those of us who studied media were already skeptical, of course, but in the, in the decade since, you know, every independent research that I’m aware of has, has shown that at best social media amplified existing organizational efforts, it never created them.

And so, I bring this up because after, you know, 10, 12, 13 years of hearing that social media is this tool of democracy, we forget that a lot of young people have internalized that. A lot of old people have internalized that. And they really do think they’re doing the work of democracy and social change through social media. And in there, we sort of memory hold the idea of what real democracy necessitates, which is we have to have dialogue. We have to have difficult conversations. We have to organize. We have to take risks. We have to put pressure on those in power. And so, a lot of that is simply just missing from our democracy.

So, I say that to say that a lot of what Mickey and I wrote is not new stuff. You know, people aren’t going to read who are familiar with democratic movements and be shocked at the stuff Mickey and I came up with. But we’ve sort of neatly packaged these arguments with, with contemporary examples that account for some of the changes in digital media to say, like, “Look, we, we have to change our behavior if we want a democracy.” ‘Cause what we have right now is just this individualistic virtue signaling where all the power is getting in the hands of fewer and fewer people at the expense of the many.

And so, I think that speaks to your individual question is we need to recognize the necessity of the collective. I, I’m not going to defeat climate change by becoming a vegetarian. I, I’m not going to stop racism by signing the email on my campus. Uh, you know, I’m not going to get, you know, gender equity by sharing the right article on Facebook. These things just simply aren’t going to happen. It’s going to take more collective action and pressure.

[00:24:15] Matt Bailey: Wow. I love that. Absolutely. I, you, you know, I love you used examples of tweets from congresspeople, you know, from our government. And, you know, I remember, to your point, years ago, people saying, “Every, every elected official should be on Twitter because now we can interact directly with them.” And now I’m of the opinion that no elected official should have Twitter because it just amplifies some dumb ideas and things that they’re going to wish they never said.

And so, you know, I’d just rather you, my opinion, I’d just rather you do your job than get on Twitter because what I see from our elected officials on Twitter is absolutely shameful. I, you, you know, you’re elected to go work with people to get things done, and yet you’re using this platform to demonize, to dehumanize, and to ridicule. That goes against everything that you were elected to be there for. And so, you know, I find it horribly offensive when I see some of the things that come out. And then, of course, you know, to your point, Mickey, the media loves this because that becomes the news. Not, not actual policy, but name-calling becomes the news.

[00:25:34] Mickey Huff: Well, fallacies are the low-hanging fruit of our media ecosystem. Again, it’s the, “I’m right. You’re wrong no matter what.” And the use of social media, I mean, look, forget Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes. We’re down to whatever it is, 200 and some characters, you know, we’re, we’re well into the soundbite world of a few seconds. And if you can’t say something erudite and brilliant and, you know, profound in a few seconds, most people can’t.

It, it takes time to develop arguments. It takes time. It’s time to look at evidence, but it’s just far too easy to go on Twitter or on social media and have the gotcha moment, the zinger moment, uh, everyone’s a standup comedian, you know, for 15 seconds to distill back to Warhol instead of the 15 minutes.

[00:26:20] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:26:21] Mickey Huff: The way of, it becomes a stand in for what people think is actual political communication discourse. You know, and much of this is banal, it’s banter, you know, locker room talk, uh, you know, we could go on with the different kind of examples, but, you know, politics doesn’t need to be in the gutter. It doesn’t, uh, that, that, in other words, the media really shine the light on some of the worst elements of, of that communication.

And it’s got eyeballs. It gets advertiser dollars, right? And it keeps something going, right? You know, all, the, the outrage machine, right? Media operates, like, as an outrage machine. And if it can constantly push one of a couple human buttons, fear, anger, uh, hope, pleasure, it, it’s pretty simple, right?

Edward Bernays over, uh, nearly a hundred years ago talked about pulling the wires that control the public mind, right? Uh, a small group of intellectuals, a small group of cultural producers. These are people in the media, the political class, the corporate world. If those, if those people can sort of keep us fixated on 1 or 2 or 3 different things, they can basically guide the direction that society goes.

And now we have things like Twitter. Yeah. We have things that Aldous Huxley and George Orwell could only dream of in their horrific dystopian imaginations, but now we have them at our fingertips. And not only do we have them for our pleasure and displeasure, we have them as a matter of course in terms of how we interact with each other on a daily basis.

It’s really hard to even imagine for some people what it’s like to communicate with folks without this thing, this phone, without social, “How do I possibly communicate to somebody that isn’t on social media?” Well, it’s much more anti-social media. It’s, it’s, it doesn’t really work to build connections. It’s based on algorithms that drive people apart, or that put people in echo chambers or silos. And I think that we have to come back, right, to understanding what the role of media happens to be. And, and on the one end of the spectrum, you know, we have the pie in the sky, I guess, if you will.

The society of professional journalists. The talk about a code of ethics with, with, within the media, that we should have journalists that seek truth and report it. They act independently, they’re accountable and transparent. They minimize harm. Wow, did I say that? Minimize harm? Well, take a look at any news broadcast and ask yourself that question. “Is this, is this broadcast minimizing harm? Is this tweet from some political character minimizing harm? Or is it actually acting to do something very different?”

And if that’s the case, we have to go back to basics and say, we don’t really have a functional free press. We have a constant outrage machine, a distraction machine. And until we really address these multiple parts of our media landscape and our media and communication ecosystems, until we actually teach people and give them the tools to think critically and independently, not telling people what to think, but helping them learn how to think critically and independently on their own, until we’re able to do that, we’re really left with this mess, this noise.

And, and, and it really takes some skills to conduct it, to turn it into music to our ears, so to speak. And so, when we hear things we don’t like, we’re like, “Oh, that’s cacophonous, that’s dissonant. I don’t like that.” What we do in this book is we try to teach people how to be better conductors, better composers if you will, to continue with that analogy, you know, and, and ultimately learn how to agree to disagree.

[00:30:00] And, and we think that that’s a really powerful way of looking at communication, critical thinking, the role media play in modeling that and what our roles in that, not just individually, but how our role plays, we, we play this together. We’re together. Right? Nolan and I did this book together and we, we, we, we had so many people influence us, and Nolan mentioned you earlier, Matt.

There are so many people that are part of the dialogue Nolan and I are having this book that that’s what we’re actually trying to model in the real world is that you are going to run into difficult situations. You are going to run into people with whom you disagree or don’t even like, um, but there are things you can do about it that don’t involve, um, you being a hammer and every problem being a nail. So, you know, we are hopeful at the end of the day even, even though there are many challenges we face.

[00:30:39] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. Oh, that is such a great point. I, I appreciate that so much because, and, and, and, you know, it, it almost is like this self-isolation and like you said, it’s, it’s the echo chamber, it, it, it’s I want it, I’m feeding what I want, and, and sometimes it’s under the guise of, “Do your own research,” which I, I hear a lot. And it, it, it, it’s just very odd that doing your own research sometimes involves excluding anyone who doesn’t agree with you. I, I see that among the same people who are doing that.

But, it, it, you know, to your point, it, it brings me back to one of the, I would say probably one of the earliest, uh, memories of why I, I value this open conversation is there were two very specific instances when I was in college of, one was listening to a speaker who I didn’t agree with anything. I was almost furious at the end.

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[00:33:32] Matt Bailey: But rather than acting out, and I didn’t have social media. I wasn’t on Twitter right after, did, we didn’t have Twitter, we didn’t have social media. I had to sit and process. I had to deal with it.

And then, shortly after, you know, I was in a situation where I was in The National Guard and I got partnered with someone, couldn’t have been more different from me, but yet, grew up less than 10 miles away. And we had to sit together and talk because there was nothing else to do for 8 hours a day. We, we were both medics in The National Guard, and we had to sit at range duty and just get to know each other. And that was challenging.

So, there were just things that happened that caused me to realize, “I don’t know anything. There’s, there is a world going on that I thought I knew what it was, and I don’t know anything.” And it, and it really hammers home, you know, what you, what you two, that democracy requires an informed citizenry. It requires people seeking out to know, “Why don’t I agree with this? What is it that is within me? What is, what’s my situation and why is it so different?” You speak to that so well in the book.

[00:34:44] Nolan Higdon: Yeah, it’s a, it’s something we really wanted to make sure we, we tackled, you know, Mickey and I are hardly like, you know, pining for the good old days in the book, right? There, you know, we’ve, we’ve made a career out of critiquing media, you know, throughout U.S. history so there, there’s plenty of critiques to go around. So, for young people who are, are frustrated with the, the old guys bashing on social media, no, this, this has been, you know, a problem we’ve, we’ve talked about.

Social media in, in my estimation and Mickey and I wrote about this, right? It’s, it creates some new complication. So, it’s just a different kind of problem in, in a lot of ways, but, but a problem, um, nonetheless. And you pointed out, for example, used to be able to, like, forced to have to encounter difference. There was campus speakers or people you had to work with or, or students at school who just, you know, drove you nuts ’cause they didn’t see the world you, the way you did and they were making you uncomfortable by, by challenging it.

Now we’re in kind of a really unique situation. We’re increasingly digital tools and this definitely happened during COVID or accelerated during COVID. You’re able to basically customize your communication experience to block out anybody that you think you don’t like or disagree with. And what, what happens there, and this where I think we get into a real big problem that relates back to polarization is we now have opinions about a caricature of the other side, ’cause we never actually encounter the other side.

So, you know, our ideological allies are able to create a caricature. These include the ideological allies and news media who create a character of our opposition. And so, now we can speak in like these generalities of, you know, 75 million people, and do it and, and, you know, nobody challenges us. We, we start to internalize this idea of “The Other” and, and social media is just, uh, accelerating that problem.

And so, I, I like to tell folks that if the research is, is pretty clear, right? Like, if you have an issue that you care about, whatever your number one issue is, if your, you know, want to combat racism or climate change or sexism or homophobia, Islamophobia, whatever it may be, social media is probably not the best venue to give that issue the respect it deserves.

If you actually care about that issue, you’re really disrespecting it by putting it on social media because you can’t break down racism in 140 characters. You know, to your point, you can’t just react to something about racism by posting. You need to really think about it. You need to think about how it connects, what’s the right response, and those types of things. And social media is just simply not, not conducive to that.

I do have to say, and I know, Matt, this is some, well, something you know very well, but our conception of social media, our conception of search engines, they don’t have to be this way. The economic context in which they were developed made them exist in a very narrow way. So…

[00:37:21] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:37:21] Nolan Higdon: …social media, when it’s for a profit, you know, takes a lot of church in the gambling industry to make us more divided, to make us more addicted, to make us more feel, fearful, more hateful. Search engines make us more, uh, confirmed in our biases, but it doesn’t have to be that way. So, sometimes we conflate, like, the, the creation of digital communication with, like, these platforms. Really, the platforms and the economic context in which they were created are the problem. The tools, themselves, may not be a problem.

[00:37:50] Matt Bailey: No, absolutely. And, and this gets to, you, you know, podcasting as a medium, which we talked about on a previous episode that podcasting, I guess, is considered a form of social media, but yet, you know, it can be used in a way that creates conversation, that, you know, develops more understanding.

A, a great example of this is I listened to a, a podcast called the American Optimist, Joe Lonsdale, who is an unabashed capitalist, but he had, uh, representative Ro Khanna on, and I’m a fan of Ro. I had never heard about him, I’d never heard him. And they’re going down talking about things they agree with, that disagree. I think Joe realized, “We actually agree more than we disagree.”

And I love what, what Ro said, that he stays away from social media, because, “If I say something negative against something else, it’s going to prevent me from reaching across the aisle to someone who could be a potential ally for a policy position.” And, you know, and, and that, that struck me because he’s looking at a long-term relationship. He’s looking at building long-term results rather than that, as you said, Mickey, that short-term gotcha that gets the headlines. And this is why I think I’ve never heard of Ro prior to this. And now I love him. I, I, I’m like, I’m like, “Why? I wish this guy were in Ohio.”

[00:39:21] Mickey Huff: I, I spent plenty of time in Ohio, but, with the college there. But it’s definitely, this is also just, you just reminded me by mentioning Ohio, the, the, the, the kids of Howard Zinn did, uh, “Wherever You Go, There You Are” book. I think there’s a lot to be said with that and I’m going to come around to this. The root of this is about what are our values? We all have values. In fact, in many cases, we share the same values. We just don’t always hierarchically rank them the same way based topic to topic or issue to issue.

[00:39:57] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:40:00] Mickey Huff: And I think what you’re saying about Ro Khanna, and I, again, I, I’m not a big fan of, of people across the spectrum, mostly because they’re forced to act in ways that the system is ironically against the public interest. But this is an issue about inverted totalitarianism, uh, and we’re, we’re not talking about that right now. But within that system, isn’t it rare to see people that make an effort to connect dots…

[00:40:26] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:40:26] Mickey Huff: …where they have some agreement and then build from there, even if that means, “Oh, there’s a setback here for me today. I didn’t get the things that I thought I needed today, but I left the door open and then tomorrow, it, it, it’s another day and I can reach out and I can continue that dialogue, continue that conversation.”

You know, I hate to keep mentioning the bridges and the walls metaphor, but bridges take time. You have to build them, you have to maintain them. Walls, one and done, you know, there, it’s not hard to build walls. I mean, I guess Trump had some challenges during his presidency, but he built other walls, metaphorically speaking. He built a lot of walls.

And that’s part of the problem is that I am going to get back to the title of the book is “Let’s Agree to Disagree,” when Nolan and I were writing this, we actually started out, we thought, “Okay, we’re going to hit people over the head with the tool kit. We’re going to have critical thinking, fallacies, here’s…” You know, when we got through, through the book and look, look back at it, Nolan was like, “You know, this isn’t in the right order. Because if we don’t address the communication issue and conflict mitigation issue, then we’re not really going to get to the critical thinking stuff.”

And so, we really emphasize communication. And a big part of communication isn’t just about talking and I, this, I’m repeating what I said earlier, the educator in me, but we have to learn how to critically and empathetically listen. And we talk about Daniel Dennett, the philosopher that talks about the ways that you can empathetically listen. And he, he, he gives, you know, a few of, of what should you be doing when you’re listening to somebody? It’s actually pretty riveting when you look at the list that so few of us actually seem to follow it.

We, we all think we’re hearing and we’re, but we’re really just waiting till it’s our turn for the gotcha moment. And, and a big part of what we talk about in the book is slowing down, being willing to have the hard conversations, and, and Matt, you said something that really resonated with, because I’m 51 and, and I didn’t grow up with Twitter or Facebook or any of this stuff. I grew up where you had to sit next to whomever wherever you were in school or at a job or whatever. And you had to make it work with the person that you were with, you know, I mean, or you didn’t, and, and that doesn’t go well. Who wants to do that?

And, and, and what you said, Matt, is at the end of the day, hard as it might be, by the way, I sat in some of those college talks back at Youngstown State University having to endure Edwin Meese III talk, you know, how, how pornography was everywhere, and it was going to ruin our lives. But at the end of those talks, I was better for it because I understood more of what I disagree.

And I got to practice asking the right kinds of questions, the sex of the person, that person that we’re stuck with and, and, and, and go through and, and figure out, “Well, what did you agree with?” or, “Why did you not like when they said that?” or, “Why are we different in this respect?” And, and I think social media, it doesn’t want to afford us the time or opportunity to do any of that.

[00:43:51] Matt Bailey: Yeah.

[00:43:51] Mickey Huff: And I think that that’s really one of the root causes of how people have literally forgotten how to disagree, how to talk with different people, the degree to which many don’t honor it or don’t think that it really matters. And then that cycle continues and societally, in a democratic culture, as Nolan and I argue in the book, that’s very negative. And we have to very consciously pull ourselves out of that kind of a, of a downward spiral of a habit, that negative inertia, and we have to move it in a different direction. And in order to do that, in ironically, and it, it does individually start.

It starts with me. It, it starts with, “How do I choose to react? How do I, do I even need to have an opinion or a hot take on this? Does it really matter? Is the mic always on?” Yeah, those are the kind of internal questions we have to ask ourselves. And then we also have to think, “Well, how would I want to be talked to or treated, or how would I want someone to understand me in this particular case?” And we have to reciprocate and afford people the same kind of things that we would hope, like, for ourselves.

[00:45:04] Matt Bailey: Oh, absolutely.

[00:45:05] Nolan Higdon: Could I, could I…

[00:45:06] Matt Bailey: Go ahead, Nolan.

[00:45:06] Nolan Higdon: …pick up on that, that, that topic of reciprocity that, that Mickey brings up, too. You know, we talked about how all, all participants have to be willing to be in dialogue. So, you know, when we contact some folks about the, and bring up our book, you know, they’ll say like, “Well, I can’t talk to so-and-so.” Well, you’ve already, you’ve already sort of taken yourself out of it, right? You have to make yourself available and then determine whether or not the other person is available.

And Mickey and I also really knew our audience very well. So, one of the things we, we put in the, the text, because we know much of our audience, you know, sees things through an identity lens and we, we recognize the importance of identity, the expression of power, um, that comes with identity.

So, the critical thinking portion of the book talks about critical theory and how to consider power in dialogue and how it’s expressed in many forms, but identity in particular and, you know, Mickey and I were sort of, you know, looking at this and looking at the scholarship, we were thinking to ourselves like, “You know, here’s, here’s two white credentialed men writing this book. What reaction is that going to get, uh, from telling people they need to have these tough conversations?”

So, we, we started to look through the, the scholarship and research with a particular eye toward, “Hey, are there people who don’t look like me, who don’t have the same class status, don’t have the same gender and race identity, who don’t have the same sexuality, who are saying these things?” And we found a ton, ton of examples from scholars, from activists, and we put them in the book. So, those are the examples you get in the text.

Like you said, you get Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. You get some Daryl Davis who’s an African-American man who tries to talk Klansmen out of joining the clan. You, you get sports stars like Malcolm Jenkins and Drew Brees. You get trans activists in Massachusetts and Florida, climate change activists that are, so we, we really tried to emphasize that there’s a diverse coalition that sees the value in this, that, that’s begging for this. And educators in particular, but all of us, you know, I think have an obligation to make this space available. It’s right for democracy. It’s right for, uh, the citizenry.

[00:47:06] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. And yeah, I, I love the examples in the book. And, and Mickey, to your point that pre-social media, if I’m in a room and I say something stupid, I had to deal with, with the fallout of that. I had to learn what was acceptable and not acceptable in social conversation, in social settings. But with social media, I can put it out there, and to some it’s an echo chamber, to some they might get called out. So, I think maybe some of the isolationism over the past couple years has led to this reinforcement of, “I can say whatever I want.”

But I think, Nolan, the, the, the examples that you gave, it, it, Daryl Davis’ example, and, and what stood out to me both in the case of Malcolm Jenkins and Daryl Davis was this, “I’m sure they were angry.” You know, you, you look at, you know, what Drew Brees says, but, but maybe it was, I, I look at it differently. They had the humility to say, “You know what? We have to have a talk. We have to sit down and talk this through.”

And, and now, Daryl Davis’ case, his audience, you know, I’m sure didn’t want to have that conversation, but he initiated it, they followed through with it, and it developed into a relationship which ultimately had an amazing outcome. Malcolm Jenkins goes to a teammate and says, “We need to have a conversation.”

That, what I found interesting about both stories is it started with a humility because I, you know, that, “We need to have a talk.” So, instead of just getting angry and throwing down more words, it’s the invitation to a conversation in both cases read, led to just an amazing result that was much more positive. That was so much more impactful for everyone involved because of that willingness to talk. I, I thought your, your use of examples throughout the book, like you said, and finding people different from us and showing, “Here’s how they did it.” That was so, so powerful. Great examples, guys.

[00:49:15] Mickey Huff: The key is they, they did it. Yeah, and that, that, I’m going to riff on this verb “democracy.” It’s not a spectator sport as we talk about in, in the book. At the end of the book in particular, we say, “Look, this isn’t just some abstract exercise. The real test is in the real world. It’s, it’s how do you implement the things we go through in the book and how can you use these things to enrich your life, and then, by extension, those around you?”

[00:50:00] So, we actually play with the word “critical,” which isn’t negative, right? It’s a, it’s a exploratory. Being critical is being curious. It’s also being compassionate. So, we break down the letters of the word critical as a sort of guide. The first C is, “Create Constructive Dialogue.” Well, that’s just, that’s what you were just talking about, Matt. Somebody in these situations sat down and said, “We need to have constructive dialogue around this issue.” Because just simply saying, ‘You’re racist,’ or saying, ‘You’re not as good as me,’ whatever variation of that, we have plenty of that. Plenty of variations to go around.

[00:50:34] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:50:34] Mickey Huff: But that’s not, that’s not moving the needle further toward social justice. It’s not moving the meter toward a more democratic and participatory and inclusive society. And so, we literally have this list that begins with “Creating Constructive Dialogue.”

“Reflect on Communication Practices.” That’s number two. C R I, “Inquire.” Be a critical thinker. It, don’t just say, “Other people aren’t thinking critically,” do it yourself. Show or lead by example how that, what does that look like? Test theory, spot ideology, be aware that people have values and visions and beliefs. What are they? Why do they have them? What are my own? Where did mine come from? Right? Understanding implicit and cognitive biases is a big part of that.

Investigate media. Don’t just take things at face value. Critique the content. What, is this fake news? Is this actually journalism? Does it follow the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics? Is somebody leading me by the nose to try to get me to some conclusion before I have a chance to even think about it? This is what we mean critiquing media and critiquing content.

Then we have to assess, analyze, and evaluate the media that we use. And then lead by example. Democracy isn’t a spectator sport. And so, we need to bring, you know, our A game to the table, our communication skills, our critical thinking skills. We need to share our, we need to share transparently where we get our information. We have to tell people how we interpret that. And then we have to give opportunity to respond to all of it.

[00:52:23] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:52:24] Mickey Huff: Uh, or to slightly add to it or to even change the direction slightly. It took me a few minutes to talk about that list, let alone implement it. So, this is something like anything else. I mean, I’ve been lifelong musician. I, I didn’t just pick up the guitar or the piano one day and start riffing around on Bach inventions, you know, and I wasn’t ripping Yngwie Malmsteen until I was playing for a few years, you know, but that’s because I spent 8 hours a day doing it because it mattered. I got something from it. We all have something to get from being critical thinker, constructive communicators. The more we actually try to do it, strangely, the better we might get at it.

[00:53:11] Matt Bailey: Yeah. Like anything, it’s, it’s you’ve got to practice it and, and, and critical thinking and dialoguing, they’re not natural. It’s, it’s, it’s natural to, like you said, conflict is natural. Being absorbed in my own beliefs, my own ideology, that’s natural. It’s unnatural to break out of that, and like any muscle, it takes strengthening, it takes working out, it takes practice to make that happen. I, I love how you use that, you know, “critical” to create that. That is just a fantastic mnemonic to keep that in mind and, and develop that.

One thing I want to ask about, we’re, we’re kind of, I can’t believe, this, this has gone so quick. I have so many more questions. We may have to do a part two on this because I, I, this is, I think this is the issue of our day is number one, dialogue, number two, media literacy. These are so interconnected as, as you put out in the book and, and as you’ve talked about here.

I, I want to ask one last question to, to close out with, and, and that is the danger of allowing tech to self-regulate. Of saying, “Let’s ask the tech companies to, you, you know, be our truth enforcers,” or, “Let’s let their algorithms pull out what, what,” you, you know, “Let’s let them regulate.” What’s the danger of allowing the tech companies to manage what, you know, the speech we think we may not agree with, the speech we think is fake news. I, I’m going to kind of just throw the ball into the court and let you guys hit it back and forth on that one.

[00:54:51] Nolan Higdon: Wow, that’s a, that’s a big old juicy grapefruit for me and Mickey on that one. But yeah, you know, there’s a lot of different, um, things we could say about that. One in particular that, that comes to mind right away is that we, we need to remember how much people have fought to protect freedom of speech. You know, this has been given up lives. This has been court battles. This has been violent protests. This is something that was, you know, hard earned and won from, from people of diversity of backgrounds have fought for this for centuries.

So, it’s, it’s very important in that sense. It’s also a very necessary tool for democracy, right? How can, you know, how can we learn that the, the elite are not, are mismanaging the country if we’re not allowed to talk about how the elites are mismanaging the country? You know, how can we make unpopular ideas popular if we’re not allowed to discuss them?

And so, in that kind of context, giving freedom of speech to companies that don’t have democratic oversight is really a dangerous thing. These companies have their own interests, right? Their own economic bias, their own political interests. And if you’re someone who those interests run up against, you’re a prime target to get censored.

And I know my, my, you know, lefty brothers and sisters out there are listening and saying like, “Nolan, but we got to get rid of Alex Jones. We got to get rid of the white supremacists. We got to get rid of the orange fascist.” Yes, in an ideal world, um, I would like to have, not have those voices amplified so much, but, but the reality is, even though some of those voices are being taken down, a lot of progressive voices who are challenging the status quo are being demonetized, shadow banned, thrown down the memory hole.

This included a conference that I, I co-organized, the Critical Media Literacy Conference of The Americas, which ironically hosted a keynote by Safiya Noble on “Algorithms of Oppression.” YouTube took the conference down, you know, it took us down ’cause she was challenging big tech, as we all were at the conference. There was no painful ideologies or, or no, um, sort of, the marginalizing any individuals. We were so simply critiquing big tech, and so, big tech took us down as a result.

And so, I think we, we need to get a lot more sophisticated and serious about tech in this country. We need to really think about its connection to democracy. And, you know, if we want a democracy, you, you have to protect it, as I said earlier, 24 hours a day. You, you can’t just come in every 4 years and choose between red. It’s a 24 hour a day job.

[00:56:58] Matt Bailey: Right.

[00:57:00] Mickey Huff: So, the case people will say, “Well, these are, these are private companies, and they have a right to determine what the rules are for people to participate or use them. They, they, they, I think they coyly fall back on, on phrases that have more legalistic history like “community standards,” then they don’t define them. They just impose whatever they think they are at a given time based on which way the wind is blowing or whatever the political litmus test of the day is.

We just saw this happen not long ago, where Roku and DirecTV decided that you didn’t need to see RT America anymore. You don’t need to hear any critique of American imperialism. You don’t need to hear any perspectives that are Eastern European or Russian in particular. You don’t need to hear about historical context of the United States, NATO, Russia, and Ukraine. They just wipe that out. Because, it, it’s like a Neo-McCarthyism. You know, it’s like the third Red Scare.

Actually, Nolan, this would be the fourth, we wrote about that. We wrote about the rise of Russiagate, you know, the cottage industry of MSNBC and democratic party. That’s very divisive and unwise in terms of a strategy, getting people to fear something. And there’s a hundred-year history of this anti-Russian sentiment in the United States, right? So, it’s a real easy go-to bogeyman, right? It’s real easy to do. And, and, and, and Putin is an oligarch, and he is authoritarian and so, that’s not hard either, right?

But we have our own oligarchs. We have our own authoritarian characters. And by the way, they tend to be corporate persons, right? These corporate persons that get to decide what you and I get to hear or read or see, Matt. And, and the idea that because it’s not prior restraint of government interfering with what we’re allowed to hear or see, it’s private companies, we just say, “Oh, well, the marketplace of ideas, they’ve decided.”

No. Well, they have, but they shouldn’t have that unaccountable authority. They should not be allowed to effectively encapture the public comments or the public square of the digital era, and then decide who’s allowed to come there and hang out and say anything. Barring, of course, the idiot that’s coming in and stoking violence or, you know, there, not all speech is protected, right? But we’re talking about that kind of community standard.

[01:00:00] And if you take a look at where these tech companies got, it’s censorship by proxy with, does, it, it should invite us to rethink the prior restraint arguments, is because if it weren’t for the government and tax money, and particularly the Pentagon, the so-called Orwellian Defense Department, we wouldn’t have an internet. We wouldn’t have these companies. That’s where they all got started, through DARPA. So, there’s direct public investment into what becomes these companies through these technologies, but then they just run off to the banquet and say, “Well, don’t tell us what to do. These are our private, uh, uh, right?

Another example of why that’s such a fallacy is none of these companies were bootstrap. You know, all these folks that were involved had some privilege, they all had thumbs on the scale. And in many cases, having the thumb of the Pentagon on the scale is going to outweigh anything else. So, I’d invite people to rethink the idea of what these alleged social media platforms claim they’re doing or allowed to do.

And if you go to places like YouTube, now, they have a news shelf. It’s all legacy and establishment media. There’s no independent or alternative media voices, none of that. I’m guessing media is desperately trying to reclaim control of the narrative. They want to be the sole curators of what’s discussed and not, what is the myopic area of disagreement, black, white, yes, no, blue, red.

And they want to leave it at that. Anything else is too nuanced, too gray, and too complicated because we’re human beings. We are naturally curious, and once we realize we don’t have to be locked into that myopic center, strange things can happen. We can get critical, we can get creative, and we can be compassionate about the ways we navigate this. Just act in ways that we’re dictated to on high from our dict-, from our, from our big overlords on some digital plantation.

[01:01:28] Matt Bailey: I love it. I knew I was throwing a, a softball out to you guys, but absolutely. I knew that was coming. No, I, Mickey, you’re outlining, I mean, exactly the, the amount of funding that went into this and then all of a sudden it becomes private, and we have no ownership and I think that even gets to, you, you know, an even deeper issue of government funding and what are the responsibilities of companies who receive government funding then to the public?

And I, I think, and that gets to, you know, an issue that I, I think, you know, one of the things that, you know, when I’m talking to people I don’t agree with, one of the things I always want to try and start with is, “Where do we agree? Let, let’s find that first thing with that,” and, and not so much, “What do we agree on?” but, “What do we want to achieve?”

And I’ve seen where people on both sides of the spectrum, they’re arguing, they ultimately want to achieve the same thing but from their personal history, from their background, they see that it needs to be achieved with different means, and it becomes a binary thing at that point. What I know, and then there’s what I don’t know. And, and when you remove yourself from that binary thinking, that there’s, there’s a hundred ways we could solve this. There’s, some are not so good, some are good, and some are better. And the only way you’re going to do that is working through and listening to what others have had.

So, I, I love how, you, you, you know, democracy is not a spectator sport and it starts with that willingness. It, and, and I love how you guys put that down. It, it starts with me. It starts with me to be willing to initiate conversation instead of react and shutting people down, which, as, as you’ve shown is, is, is really how our, our mass media operates because it’s a profitable way to operate.

So, guys, uh, thank you so much for, for coming on the show. I’m going to push it back to you, you know, one last time for closing thoughts, but thank you so much for coming on the show and having a great conversation. I wish we didn’t have to end, but I know an hour long is probably enough for most people to handle at this point.

[01:03:44] Nolan Higdon: Well, thank, well, thank you as always, Matt. Really, really appreciate it. Thanks for creating this, this space. I mean, this is exactly the type of space that we’d like to see more of, and, and the book advocates for. And I hope, uh, you know, listeners will pick up the book, check it out, reach out to Mickey and myself for any questions, especially educators who are interested in how to use the book. We have resources and things like that. But thanks a lot to the whole podcast universe. Appreciate it, Matt.

[01:04:08] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. Thank you, Nolan.

[01:04:09] Mickey Huff: Yeah, Matt, I, I, I echo everything Nolan just said and have, have, have been echoing in, in my headphones, but, so sorry if I, I’ve been off a little bit with some pauses and so on. But I would just, uh, reiterate Nolan and I are more than happy to hear from, from people in, in your audience.

You can go and check out the other work we do at projectcensored.org. You can contact me through there, mickey@projectcensored.org. As Nolan said, we have a lot of resources. We have a lot of free critical media literacy resources for educators. We’re in this to share and we’re in it together. And while it does start with me, as you said, Matt, the conversation quickly needs to go beyond me and involve all of us.

And I think, I think that because of people like you having this kind of a space, to me, this is like a model of what that can look like. And if people would only look at this and say, “Wow, that wasn’t painful,” maybe they’ll actually try to do it themselves. So, thanks again, Matt. Appreciate it.

[01:05:15] Matt Bailey: Absolutely. Oh, I love it. Guys, this reminds me of, uh, something I saw a couple months ago when all the, the library and, and book bans were happening, what was, I forget the quote, but it’s, “A good library has something to offend everybody.” And I absolutely loved that quote because how else can you challenge if you don’t expose yourself to what other people think and what other people’s viewpoints, there’s no way you’re going to grow. There’s no way you’re going to, uh, really challenge yourself to understand and move on, uh, and, and better yourself as a human.

So, guys, thanks again. What a great conversation. And, uh, dear listener, I challenge you, go out, get the book, “Let’s Agree to Disagree.” That’s authors Nolan Higdon and Mickey Huff. And if you like this type of content, let me know. Like us, give us a review on your favorite podcast service, and until next time, I’m Matt Bailey with the Endless Coffee Cup.

[01:06:13] Bumper Intro-Outro: This podcast is heard along the Marketing Podcast Network. For more great marketing podcasts, visit marketingpodcasts.net.

Featured Guests:

Nolan Higdon

Author and university lecturer of history and media studies.

Nolan Higdon

Mickey Huff

Director of Project Censored and president of the nonprofit Media Freedom Foundation

Mickey Huff