Have you ever had an unproductive conversation where you felt like you were talking past each other? Where you felt like the other person wasn’t being reasonable about their beliefs, but you didn’t know how to get to the bottom of that?
Street Epistemology is a set of techniques for understanding other people better and having productive, fun conversations about sensitive topics. Once you become proficient in the method, you can turn the lens back upon yourself and refine the accuracy of your own beliefs.
- Intro to Street Epistemology
- Street Epistemology: Kiana (first ten minutes)
- Raena Believes that Extraterrestrials are Here to Help Us
This week, try to find an opportunity to ask one person some variation of “Why do you believe that?” or “What makes you think that?”. Follow it up with something like “How did you determine that was a good reason for believing this?” or “What method did you use to come to that reasoning?”
Think of a belief you hold that influences your life in some way. It doesn’t have to be controversial, but we will use it to practice with during the cohort breakout.
Discuss how your conversations went this week.
Afterwards, discuss the personal beliefs selected in the Pre-Meeting Assignment. Pick one person to question the belief holder and use the Street Epistemology techniques described in the instructional material.
Be sure to take breaks to ask for feedback on whether you are following the principles properly and to get ideas on how to best move the conversation forward. Try to spend about five minutes per belief, and then change to a new pair of belief holders and questioners. However, if the conversation naturally peters out, don't try to force it.
If you run out of topics, pick a video from this playlist and watch it as a group. Discuss what you think the questioner did well or did poorly in the video. Consider what level each question hits at: what, why, or how. Also remember the PART breakdown: pausing, asking, repeating, and not telling. How well does the questioner maintain a mixture of PART? What questions could they have asked that would have been more effective at shedding light on the answerer’s beliefs?