BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS

SCIENCE OF HATE

March 25, 2021 Dana Lewis Season 3 Episode 20
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
SCIENCE OF HATE
Chapters
3:01
Prof. Matt Williams
46:58
Prof. Todd Mei
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
SCIENCE OF HATE
Mar 25, 2021 Season 3 Episode 20
Dana Lewis

Hate is turbo charged in the pandemic, and in the age of the internet. Incidents of hate crimes are off the charts and why?
Where do we begin to hate and how do we manage prejudice?

Is hate hardwired?  Thankfully it's not.

On this Back Story host Dana Lewis talks to Matt Williams who has just authored The Science of Hate.

and Philosopher Todd Mei on how he's coaching companies on reaching employees even in a pandemic to foster a better workplace and how we can all improve public discourse.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Hate is turbo charged in the pandemic, and in the age of the internet. Incidents of hate crimes are off the charts and why?
Where do we begin to hate and how do we manage prejudice?

Is hate hardwired?  Thankfully it's not.

On this Back Story host Dana Lewis talks to Matt Williams who has just authored The Science of Hate.

and Philosopher Todd Mei on how he's coaching companies on reaching employees even in a pandemic to foster a better workplace and how we can all improve public discourse.

Speaker 1:

Constantly asked the question. Is it more hateful now than ever before? Um, obviously it's a very difficult question to answer because you , you need to be able to measure these things. And it's actually quite hard to measure. In fact , uh , most countries across the planet, pretty bad measuring hate the UK is exceptional at it. Um, which makes us look terribly hateful on paper, but ultimately it's important, right? When you go in and start trying to break down where the hell does it come from? Absolutely. So, you know , we've got a hate crime rates , 10 times out of the U S

Speaker 2:

Hi everyone. And welcome to backstory. I'm Dana Lewis, inland hate crimes are at record levels at scenes Asians attack, black Americans, victimized women. What on earth motivates someone to lash out at a person or their property in a school, on the street in the workplace, just because they have different skin color or a different accent or come from a different part of the country or the world is hatred hardwired into our brains, or is it learned ? Prejudice is certainly instinctive dating back thousands of years. Why does the internet foster and spread hate? Did an American president help set the conditions for division and hatred? The FBI said in 2019 hate crimes in the United States Rose to their highest level among large American cities, New York city had the largest increase in reported hate crimes against Asians. Last year, according to the analysis of police data by the center of the California state university, San Bernardino, there were 28 such incidents in 2020, up from three in 2019, according to New York police department data on this backstory, we talked to the author of the science of hate and talk through the tipping point at the intersection of prejudice and hate traversing the globe and reaching back through time and a modern philosophers guide to understanding our prejudices and balancing our brain to steer away from hating anyone. Public discourse needs a recalibration.

Speaker 1:

All right , professor Matt Williams has just written a book called the science of hate and he joins me now from, I believe you're in Cardiff Wales. Nice to meet you. I mean, let , let me give you a little better introduction. Um, because you're a professor of criminology at Cardiff university, you've conducted, you know, a lifetime of research on crime and speech , uh, the ethics of artificial intelligence and cyber crime. You've advised , uh , research on the, the UK home office, the ministry of justice , uh , Commonwealth and development office, the us department of justice and Google among others. And you also something called the hate lab, which I want to talk to you about a multi-million pound global hub for data and insight to monitor encounter online, hate speech and crime. And you've conducted the largest dedicated study of hate victimization in the UK. So how does it feel first of all, to be one of the foremost experts on hatred? I mean, it's , it's a pretty dark,

Speaker 3:

It does. I feel exhausted after that long. I really done all that. Yes. Um , so thank you for that, that, that the introduction , um, that, that red light, my CV right there.

Speaker 1:

Well, it's , it's important because it wasn't just some book that you decided to ride. I mean, this you've spent a career in this and you've probably decided, you know, I should put it together in between , uh , you know, I put some pages together and put it together in a book, but it's, it's important that it wasn't , uh , you know, you didn't write something about dogs and cats and then went on to the science of hatred. This has been a life's work. Right. So it's really worth listening to you.

Speaker 3:

It has, yes. I mean, it, it it's been about 20 years, so at least, you know, hopefully a quarter of a lifetime. Um, and it's, it's been a lot of intensive sort of scientific , uh, sort of discoveries of my own work, but also reviewing other people's work. And it , I guess it stems from my victimization , um, as a young man who just finished his degree in sociology back in the late 1990s and to celebrate the , the , the , the end of the degree, I , I kind of went to London, celebrate, we pair up with friends, I should say. And , um, we were stepping out of a bar , um, and I was jumped by three young men. Um, I fell to the floor. I had a split lip. Um, wasn't entirely sure why that happened at the time, but as they were moving away from me , uh, one of them SPASS out a homophobic slip , and it became very clear to me then the bed Toms me because of the bar I was in, which was actually a gay bar. And I was a victim of a hate crime in that, in that very moment. First time it ever happened to me, I'd never had any kind of experience on that before up to that point. And it really stuck with me. I was going to become a journalist at that point. I was going to go on to do a master's in journalism. Um,

Speaker 1:

So there's something positive in , in everything. And even if it was a terrible assault, at least you, you chose a wiser fee .

Speaker 3:

Maybe it , maybe you could tell me , uh , but ultimately, you know, the, the nagging feeling I had in my mind, why did these three men target me in this way? What was it? Would they hate something about me? You know, was it, was it, was it my homosexuality that they , they hated so much that they felt like they had to seek me out, you know, and attack me. It was opportunity because, you know, you could tell that they had targeted that Bob, because then you can kinds of fantastic . Um, and ultimately that just kind of preoccupied my mind, it's such a long time. So how did you, how did you learn not to hate because out of that, one would think you were, you would have been gone from being a victim, to somebody being pretty angry yourself. That's a really good point. Uh, and it's some, sometimes the reactions you hate is, is the same attitude, emotion directed back at the perpetrator. Uh , we see that happen all the time we see with ISIS attack is terror attacks in the UK. We ended up, we ended up seeing lots of spikes in hate around the country because , uh, the individuals that feel targeted by the attack, it it's hackle , Western, Western ideals, et cetera, by ISIS. Um, is it direct , tack on their identity? And in turn, they go into the streets and attack people who look like the perpetrators, they got at the same kind of skin, they're possibly the same kind of dress. And they're taking their frustrations out on people who they think are like the attackers. So there's this part of weird cyclical process where hate, can breed more hate than it's kind of a cyclical. They call it a cyclical radicalization process sometimes. And you're seeing it now as far right . Attacks on mosques, for example , uh, but other kinds of attacks by the far right . Even down to the individual level, but I personally didn't hate, but I was angry. I was upset. Um, it was really destabilizing. I was anxious for a time. Sometimes I think the anxiety has never left me. I think I may have had a , of sort of PTSD like symptoms maybe , um , stemming from it. And it really did mess with my head for quite some time, so much so that I abandoned, wanted to become a journalist and then decided,

Speaker 1:

So you've written this pretty incredible a book that I've spent the last couple of days, reading about learning, not to hate and how to fight hatred. So I thought maybe we could change the title of your book, but obviously I'm a journalist. I'm not very good at marketing. So I probably wouldn't sell as well. The question is, is hate hardwired or is it learned? And it, it seems to me, it's a bit of both. I would have said, it's just learned, but after flipping through your book, I mean, there are some chemical reactions. We have that hardwire to some extent prejudice , uh, which then can, if you fuel it, the wrong way becomes hatred.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Well, put it this way. When, when I was trying to figure out the difference between me as a victim and my perpetrators, I wanted there to be something concrete that explained the difference between me and them . Um, it w it would be what would've been comforting to me to have known that somehow there was something in their wiring that was fundamentally , uh, alien to me in some way. Uh, but what I found on that journey that trends are your journey of figuring out the science behind it all is in fact, there's, we have more in common than what separates us, you know, and what we have in common actually includes our , our biological wiring and our neurological wiring. So you're , you're correct in stating that there are elements to our biology and our neuro , uh , chemistry that, that prepare us to hate, but we aren't born hating. We do learn, Hey , we have to learn to hate, but when we're born, where were we born with the pizza base, if you like, and that pizza base essentially includes a predisposition to like people like ourselves, what that like ourselves is depends. It can be white and black can be straight or gay. It can be male or female, but it can also be fans of a certain kind of TV program goes as another, or it can be fans of a certain kind of pop star versus another, that grouping is arbitrary. And it entirely depends on the context, but whatever that group, it might be, be it race, sexual orientation, gender, or anything , uh , actually quite frivolous. We have a predisposition to liking people in , in those groups that we occupy it's called the , uh, the minimal group paradigm. It was designed by a psychologist called Henry Townsville . And ultimately you can be arbitrarily put into a group that's completely meaningless and still favor that group in terms of splitting resources between two

Speaker 4:

It's, how you navigate safety. There's some situation , a very crude way of what journalists refer to a situational awareness, which has been passed onto us from security people that surround us , um , learning to see maybe a threat coming. Um, but it doesn't mean you hate no it's so that's , we got on the road until it poses a threat.

Speaker 3:

So it's an evolved mechanism. You're right. It's an evolved mechanism. There's one reason why out of , out of, out of, so , out of how many species that were on the planet at any one point in time where the only human species , uh, in existence, right? So there are lots of species that didn't make it. Um , we made it and that's because we are expert threatened detectors. We, as homosapiens are threatened detecting machines , um, we needed that threat detection mechanism to survive. And that fact detection mechanism works best in groups . Groups allow you to cooperate, and they allow you to know who to trust. And when you are faced by a threat, that group bonding ensures that you don't get people fleeing and running away to save their own lives. They actually stay to fight for the group. So ultimately this sort of preference for the in-group is an innate characteristic, but it doesn't necessarily then mean that everybody who has this, which is everybody is hateful. We do have the capacity to hate. We all have the internal wiring, the pizza base , as I described the capacity to hate, but for it to get towards hatred, you need to add all those toppings on. And all those toppings come from media, parents, socialization, experiencing loss in life , uh, accelerating events like terror attacks all the way through to AI and the internet. And I call those in the book, the accelerants .

Speaker 1:

And there's a lot, I mean, there's a lot in your book that, unfortunately, we're not going to have time to go into about the internet, but it's one of the, one of the reasons I wanted to interview with you because do an interview with you because it is driving so much of what sticking place. So here's one of the paragraphs in your book at the beginning, I think the current rate of the breakdown in social relations across the world is arresting. It is no coincidence that the storing hate crime figures are found in countries where the extreme right is rising. The trend is fueled by the internet revolution and its corruption by mass individuals, the far right and state actors, which is important because in your book, you talked about the fact that there are millions of tweets driven by

Speaker 3:

States right now. Absolutely. And this is, this is the , the uniqueness of the situation, which we face. I'm constantly asked the question. Is it more hateful now than ever before? Um, obviously it's very difficult question to answer because you, you need to be able to measure these things. And it's actually quite hard to measure heat . In fact , um , most countries across the planet are pretty bad. Measuring hate . The UK is exceptional assets , um, which makes us look terribly hateful on paper, but ultimately we just

Speaker 1:

It's important, right? When you go in and start trying to break down where the hell does it come from ?

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. So, you know, we've got a hate crime rate, 10 times out of the U S which is hard to believe given the differences in populations and the nature of division in those countries. Um, ultimately yes, accounting is, is, is, is a fool's errand in some ways, because you're never going to capture the true amount of hate . Why is that ?

Speaker 1:

I mean, I , and I understand the hate lab takes a look at a lot of this traffic on the, on the digital space, but why is the UK 10 times what the us is? I didn't, I didn't realize that

Speaker 3:

Primarily because , uh, we've had a lot of legislation come in and since around 1998 , um, which specifically recognizes certain forms of hate crime against , uh , uh, uh, for race, for sexual orientation, for disabilities , uh, transgender identity and so on. Um, what that's allowed us to do is record it , um, from relatively early on compared to some other countries. But the definition of it is particularly interesting. It's called a victim-centered definition, which means if a victim or a witness fields they've been targeted because of their identity, then ultimately it must be recorded as such, you know, the police can't come in and say, well, I don't think this is a hate crime because it's not up to them. Now that creates an interesting dilemma because let's say, say , uh , last year we had 106,000 hate crimes recorded in the UK compared to the U S is 7,300, which sounds crazy. Um, but over the 1,106,000 , only around about 10% of those got to the crown prosecution service and got taken through to the courts. And only around 78% of those eventually got prosecuted for hate crime. So we've got like 5% of that, 106,000 actually get successfully prosecuted. And that's partly because we allow victims to say, they feel they've been attacked by hate boy when it comes to the evidence very often it might be lacking. So they may not be a verifiable evidence that, that ,

Speaker 1:

And in fact, most countries don't even have, they don't even defy defined crimes as hate crimes. They don't even attempt that legislation, right?

Speaker 3:

Oh , Japan doesn't even bother, you know, so interestingly Japan thinks it's a relatively homogenous , uh, ethnically homogenous country, but it's not, it's actually quite diverse. And because of this, this , this strange insistence by, by their government, that it's a , it's a very relatively harmonious on the margin there's culture that they don't need hate crime legislation , um, which is a peculiar position to actually take. But ultimately, yeah, I mean, most countries do something , uh, but there's a lot left over that actually don't record a hate crime at all. Um,

Speaker 1:

Record hate crime in terms of, I think it's important to record it because then you're able to deal with it. You're able to track it. You're able to understand the phenomenon that's taking place in your society, but is it important to prosecute it as hate crime?

Speaker 3:

I think so. I mean , I mean, legislation, when it's introduced, it does more than just kind of the practical legal stuff. It , it communicates to your population that the state standards are this kind of behavior. It's a communication tool as well as a practical tool . So when a hate crime law comes into power, I mean , we've got the, we've got as agenda means being discussed in parliament currently. Um, and there's a reason to follow that. Um, ultimately what it's communicating though to women is that we will not tolerate this kind of behavior anymore as a state. And we recognized the finishes problem of , uh, sort of anti anti women rhetoric , uh, sexism, et cetera, as it permeates through society. So ultimately it's a communication tool as well as something that might actually be useful in a court of law. Now, if we do end up legislating for gender based hate crime, my suspicion is we won't have that many cases before the courts with our son, but we won't have that many because I dare say the, the, the bar that they'll introduce will be quite high as it is for most hate crimes, actually. And so what you're left wondering, well, what's the point in doing this? And very often it is, it is this communication device. It's going to say we won't stand for this anymore and we will actually legislate against it . But when it comes to , you know, does it have teeth, most take college station, doesn't have teeth. And, and only in the extreme cases of the acts of mass murder and terrorism, do we, do we see , uh, the hate crime legislation being used was full of fat . So in the U S for example , um, the big difference in numbers is mainly because the police don't record it as well. In certain States, they don't return their , their , their statistics to the FBI when they're asked to , um, and ultimately people don't report their cases to the police. We don't perceive maybe that they'd been a victim of fate , or they think it's a lost cause what's the point in reporting it because the police were a racist organization. Anyway, I'm just going to get secondary victimization. If I go to the cops and say, I've just been attacked because of the color of my skin. So there's other reasons behind why those numbers are lower and they do exist for the UK too . But the main reason is that the victim centered definition,

Speaker 1:

I've been scrolling through my notes from your book. And I can't find what I wanted to find, but tell me if I got the wrong impression that even when you define it, even when you call it out , um, sometimes you will see more of it, not less of it

Speaker 3:

In terms of reporting, or do you mean in terms of , uh, just , uh , me and you seeing something on the streets, and I'm saying something about it

Speaker 1:

In terms of reporting it, I guess, and trying to fight it online as well.

Speaker 3:

So, I mean, obviously if you , if you have a recording mechanisms in place, you're going to see more in the statistics. Ultimately there's , there's three ways in which this happens either you have an increased amount of perpetration , and sometimes if you legislate against a certain kind of activity that can actually frustrate people who have prejudices. So if you legislate against , uh , gender-based hate crime , you may find those with extreme attitudes towards women actually perpetrating more hate crimes.

Speaker 1:

Those of us with a tolerant mindset can become more liberal when challenged by hate speech. And those of us within tolerant mindset can become more conservative when challenged by counter hate speech.

Speaker 3:

Yes, yes. So ultimately it kind of builds on what I was just saying there . And ultimately what that essentially means is that when we call that out online, or we call it out on the street or in the pub, for example, wherever it may be, individuals can react in a relatively negative way. They, they're not going to change their minds immediately, unless they're, unless they're kind of escalating towards a more extreme position, when you might call them, you might call those individuals, you know, they haven't made up their mind yet whether or not to go down the dark path of, of the far right. And, and so they're vulnerable to intervention, but if you get somebody who's pretty entrenched in their beliefs , um, and you know , to be, to speak about this kind of stuff in public and online, potentially you have to be pretty much on that sort of way towards radicalization to some extent then, because you've invested so much in that belief. And because your in group now consists of a lot of people that share those same thoughts to have that challenge is actually quite destabilizing. So your first to that is defend my position, defend my moral standpoint, my viewpoint defend my fellow, my fellow in group, in a sense. So that initial kind of kind of speech can actually generate more hate speech as they tried to defend their position, but over time, and, and it being used potentially in ways that might undermine that , that process. For example, if it's, if it appears to be one of their own saying it to them, it can start to make them question their beliefs. So if they're white male , um, if another white male challenges them , that that can have a greater effect than if it's a black female challenging them , for example. So if so, if it's someone from their in-group telling them they're wrong, then they, they do tend to think twice. And this is, this is a really interesting finding in , in terms of terrorism. Uh , the best way to talk down a terrorist is not to get the, the negotiator from , from the local police service or whatever it might be to talking to donors to get one of their own, to talk them down . So it's to get somebody who is like them, who has maybe being a terrorist in the past to actually come onto the scene to try and talk them down. If you're in that situation, that's the only way really that's the only effective way you can kind of talk someone out of that position.

Speaker 1:

That's complicated. Isn't it? When, when you , when you start getting into the white supremacy online, or, you know , trying to get people out of Q Anon , um, complicated analysis found according to your book that the 2016 election of Donald Trump was associated with one of the greatest increases in hate crimes in recent American history. Why is that because of his comments, like the China flu and, you know, white supremacist rallies saying they're all good people, and is it because of his rhetoric or, or was he feeding off something else that was larger than himself? Even?

Speaker 3:

So the interesting thing about, about when Trump came to the presidency in 2016, during his presidency on average, Americans became more tolerant of immigrants, believe it or not. So if you were to measure across the whole of the state and were random sample, the findings suggested an increased, increased level of tolerance. So what we're talking about here is a particular pockets of Americans that are, I would call this activated by Trump's . So these are individuals who have prejudices already , um, and Trump allows them to release their prejudices for periods of time. He is saying, it's okay to feel how you feel. You may be frustrated because you've lost a job. You may be frustrated because you've lost your home. You maybe it's a straight too , because at the same time that happens, lots of immigrants have come into your town and cities, they have jobs and homes. You feel somehow that they are to blame, and I'm not telling you you're allowed to feel like that I'm the most powerful man in the world. So as soon as that toxic mix comes together, certain individuals feel like they can start releasing those frustrations to hate speech and potentially attacks on the ground . So the , the evidence suggests and there's , most of this research has been done by economists. So they, they, they, they actually control for a dizzying array of variables we're looking at, and they try to, they try to , they're trying to find reasons to explain it other than Trump, before going direct, but trying to prove the Trump was, was the blame. And so they try to try to disprove the hypothesis, you know , with , with all these various measures. But what they found in the final model was that they couldn't rule out the role of Trump and his ascendance, the white house, and to make it even more convincing, they actually tied, you know, almost week by week, every time he mentioned something anti-Muslim or anti Hispanic, there was a corresponding increase in hate crimes on the ground. And they introduced this really interesting , uh, control instrument , uh, which was, you know , when did he go golfing? Because when he's golfing, he doesn't tweet that often . So ultimately what they're saying is every time he goes golfing, actually we we've , we ended up finding the hate crimes actually going down. Uh, and so it was an interesting moving , but ultimately, yeah, I mean, we , we've also found the same with Brexit , um, and the effect that had to be UK , um, and it clearly had the determining role. It wasn't just more people reporting it. Wasn't just people , uh, are the police recording it better? There were people, the more people on the streets perpetrating, how do you feel about COVID

Speaker 1:

Walk down and now time spent online feeding into, you know, this explosion of hatred online, because people are just getting drawn down these little rabbit holes and spending a heck of a lot more time.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. Well, as a criminologist, this was like some great global experiment for us in some ways, because in no , that period in history, have we had the opportunity to study a social phenomenon like crime and lock everyone in their homes for three months to see what happens. You know, it was actually an interesting opportunity for science acknowledging the horror of COVID and the deaths that have occurred across the planet, obviously. Um, but at the same time, it, it, it, it, we turned our attention to what other effects it was having beyond illness. Um, we did see crimes on the streets go down quite a bit. So burglary theft, the kinds of crimes you'd expect to go down, went down, people weren't coming into contact with offenders or their property. Wasn't coming into contact with offenders and people weren't leaving their home . So they will no homes to verbal, but conversely, we saw this great crime displacement. So instead of the great crime drop that we expected crime was displaced online. So instead of , uh, burglaries and thefts , we saw a massive hike in frauds , but also a significant increase in online hate speech.

Speaker 1:

And what about now, suddenly people are coming out more, are you worried that that displacement , um , was, was kind of, you know, like the boiling pot that, that somebody tried to keep the lid on and suddenly now in Atlanta, you know, we see eight people shot in , in these massage parlors in less than a week later in Boulder, Colorado , um, the shooting in the supermarket of 10 people. And it seems like it's suddenly has exploded this violence certainly in America.

Speaker 3:

Well, those two examples, obviously they , they , they may have happened anyway, but , um, we did see it the end of the first lockdown on the UK, an incredibly large spike in race, hate crimes on the streets. So it looks, if you look at the graph, it actually looks like a lockdown ends. And then we get a massive, significant spike in racing on the streets. Now it's hard to say if that was frustrations, we also have black lives matter. Don't forget , uh , during the end of lockdown, the first lockdown in the UK, which could have , uh, influenced that spike. But ultimately it does, there is a story to tell there potentially about frustrations that were , uh , being, being vented online and mental health yeah. And mental health. And then , and then it expanding onto the streets. So for example, we, we found a 650% increase in anti-Chinese , uh, tweets , uh, after Trump first used the term, the Chinese virus back last March , um, astonishing rise. I mean, some of the things we're saying were truly horrific.

Speaker 1:

I mean, the assaults that have taken place on the streets .

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. So it seems like what's been happening online , uh , during lockdown is now manifesting on the streets. And, you know, ultimately I hate crimes occur because of a perception of threat. Usually, as we talked about earlier on, so ultimately there are two kinds of threats . You've got your realistic threat, which is the economic fat potentially, and then symbolic threat, which is a threat to culture and identity. Um, COVID-19 like other kinds of threats as a health threat, but ultimately it's a health threat , uh, which has been weaponized and racialized by people like Donald Trump. Um , combining those two things together, results in this overall sense of anxiety and fear by some people on the only way they can vent dime-sized interference by targeting in this case, Chinese people.

Speaker 1:

I want to talk to you about just before I let you go. Some of the solutions that you talk about in the book, because I mean, while you do lead us through a lot of dark corners of hatred, there are , you know, there is some light at the end where you talk about possible solutions, but the biggest problem thirsting for the largest solution, again comes back to digital media right now. And I'm struck by some of the studies that you present in there, some of the numbers , um, it it's, it's depressing how prevalent hate is , um, and how difficult with these bots that, you know, give us our echo chambers of, of what they think we might want to hear to engage us more , uh, for longer periods of time in the end, you know, PR dish out more hate and more hate. And , uh, th that's it's, it doesn't seem like there's a heck of a lot of good news right now about what's happening by the big tech companies to try and reign this in.

Speaker 3:

I mean, Facebook tells us they removed 81 million , uh , hateful tweets last year , um, mostly by automated automated methods and moderation. Um, that, that is almost 10 times what they were moving four years ago. Um, so they use that probably a fraction of what's on there

Speaker 1:

To the point that as you even note in the book members of Facebook that were assigned to curate some of this bad material, I mean, had to be treated for PTSD and in the ensuite Facebook and had an out of court settlement. I mean, it's that it's that it's a toilet. It is that bad. What people have to even professionals engaged in trying to monitor that and curate the nasty stuff off them .

Speaker 3:

So I think, I think Facebook's kind of transparency reports and the other companies do this too, or an attempt to disarm the problem in a way and indicate to us that they're doing something, but they're not doing enough. As you said on Facebook, this will be over a billion posts every day, Twitter there's over 500 million tweets a day. Um , God knows how many YouTube posts that are in terms of comments and so on. Even though hate, it's a small fraction of all the communication, maybe 1%, but even 1% of 5 billion is too much to even comprehend. But ultimately the internet is the accelerant of hate that I think separates now for when I was attacked 20 years ago. Ultimately, what we're saying is, is hate on steroids. If you're kids being weaponized in some ways , uh , as you said, state actors are in the game of dividing us. Um, it's, it , it makes sense in a way to divide the population to distract them

Speaker 1:

Reason , we'd better get a handle on this because it's, you know , democracies

Speaker 3:

A hundred percent. I mean, the bot issue is quite separate in some ways from the alone sort of Wolf individuals spreading the bot stuff really does need to be tackled by Facebook, Twitter, and so on and so forth. They really have to tackle that themselves. It's really something that we can't, we can't do much about that's problem that can be solved, but it will take , uh , Facebook and Twitter to do that. They have removed a lot of accounts by the Russian internet research agency and , and some by China and some of the middle East. Uh , but they've got to keep on top of that. Um , I think, I think the election meddling scandal obviously sped things up in terms of dealing with interference from state actors, and that we're seeing a more coordinated response by Facebook and Twitter, but they could go further. But for me , um, it's not, we can't let Facebook and Twitter, the big tech giants Mark their own homework anymore. We've allowed them to grade their own homework for far too long. They tell us they're doing really well, but what's happening in society would say something quite different. So ultimately we need civil society responses to this. We need to actually become more responsible as citizens. And for example, become what I call hate crime or hate speech , uh , online first responders.

Speaker 1:

No , you know, I'm just, I'm just looking at the , the end of the book where you talk about that, because that struck me in a very personal way, because I've covered as I was a crime reporter. And that's where I started my career in Toronto. And I covered the war, you know , uh , extradition of one of the, the first Nazi war criminals in Canada and, and the stories of, of Jews who had been locked in, in , uh, in , in those camps and had lost loved ones. And this whole idea that you become hate incident, first responders, when we see it, you have to call it out. And I tell my kids that it's like, you don't, you don't even giggle in an embarrassed way when somebody uses a certain word to describe a race or religion or an ethnic group, you call it out and say, I don't, I don't stand for that. And I don't accept that.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. And you know, if we were in , um, a pub, a bar and you heard someone say something , um , to another person because of their race or their, or their sexual orientation or their agenda, you call it out. I mean, in most situations I've been in people actually call that stuff out increasingly , um, maybe 20 years ago it would be, it would be ignored, but increasingly people do call it up . So we're no longer being these kind of , um , inactive bystanders we are now. So we take an active role in establishing around this , what the codes of decency are. You know, this is, this is the pub I come to and it's my local. And you don't say that in this park , you're not welcoming with those opinions. Why aren't we doing that on Facebook? Why aren't we doing that on social media, Twitter, et cetera. I think, I think some people do, man . I think some people do I do. I think some people do and ultimately we all need to be engaging more readily, you know , and I think I'm trying to think where where's the online space that I would look to see where this kind of self-governance actually works quite well. And there's not many of them, but one of them that does seem to come across to me that works quite well is Wikipedia. So if you think about Wikipedia is a self-governing system , um, you know, it doesn't work for profits. It relies on people like me and you for its success. Um, ultimately if we govern it, we have standards around what is acceptable and what is not on, on Wikipedia. If false information ends up being uploaded, it's removed within minutes. Usually , um, this disinformation doesn't stay up there for long, ultimately because we are policing it. We have this kind of virtual volunteer police service that kind of check on stuff on a regular basis to make sure that it's fact checking, correct. It's got a source. Why can't we use a similar kind of responsibility as similar kind of system to police Facebook and Twitter, et cetera. It works for Wikipedia and other digital comments, but why aren't we seeing unfold on, on, on social media and what generally,

Speaker 1:

You also talk a little about conscious effort to manage yourself. You know, when you see somebody different from you , um, it can take the form of prejudice or hatred, and you have to be conscious of what, of how you're thinking about a particular person , uh, and then manage that.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. We, we are all prejudiced. I mean, even the most woke of us to use a term that's quite popular currently, even the most , most of us are still prejudiced in ways that we don't fully appreciate or understand, Oh , this is prejudice, not against , um , you know, things like race and sexual orientation. It can be things like age, alternative subcultures , uh , it can be anything. And we have a particular viewpoint stored away in our brains that we access when we need to access them. And usually that's fine frequently, but these are, these are often crude bits of information. There are bits of information that we've stored from childhood, et cetera, from exposure to culture, but also exposure to our peers and our parents and so on and so forth because our brains are not, they're marvelous, but they're not that great at processing all the information out there in the world, they create mental shortcuts and mental shortcuts. So what I want get us through the day, it's how we navigate the world around us. But the problem with mental shortcuts is that ultimately they fail us in terms of trying to understand other cultures as completely as we should. And the only way to get around that actually from, from my experience is to engage with people different from us. But when you,

Speaker 1:

I find it difficult socially, I mean, not socially, but on social media, because I have to say there was a moment on social media where I just kind of, because I don't want to be surrounded by people who hate that. I purged a lot of my social media in terms of certain political group , um, that I thought was stirring hatred and was denying free vote and democracy. And so I kind of purged a lot of that out of my , because I just thought I didn't want to have that in my social circle at the same time, you know, I was trying to tell myself sometimes what you have , you know, you have to listen to why they think that way, and you have to try to understand how they got there. Uh , but it's hard work.

Speaker 3:

What you , what you did though , is exactly what everyone else tends to do. So ultimately when you're exposed to all viewpoints, you kind of recoil in horror

Speaker 1:

Depends how alternative they are. Right. I mean, I, it's just not somebody had a different political view, but I mean, if it's really like a hatred , uh , view or in any way smells of sexism or racism. Yeah. I mean, I'll, I'll push the unfriend unfriend button in a second.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. And , and that's a natural reaction. They might do the same to you. You know, anyone who was overly liberal, they might be, I can't listen to that stuff anymore. Experiments have shown every time we are exposed to these really alternative viewpoints, we get more entrenched in our own. Um, so, you know, bursting your filter bubble. Isn't as straightforward as we might like to think, right. Just being exposed to alternative viewpoints actually doesn't achieve much, certainly online. So when does that leave us? Well, I've spent the last

Speaker 1:

Let's end with that, but I think that's really important because it does this just get a tighter and more vicious circle or tell me where you see some, some light at the end of the tunnel in the science of hate, which is which as I said, could be entitled learning, not to hate.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. I do have faith in humanity as a, as a, as a scientist. So even though I spend most of my time looking at the darkest parts of human behavior , um, I am quite an optimistic guy. So that says something right. I, you know, that's not my personality, I don't think, but ultimately

Speaker 1:

It probably is your personal gain .

Speaker 3:

You know , I spent 20 years trying to figure out why it was attacked that day. And at the end of the book, I say, do you know what ? I've got more in common with the guys that attack me than what separates us? You know, there are things that happened to them that , that my experience diverges with, but ultimately had, I experienced some of the stuff that they had. I could be committing the hate act instead of researching hatred. And it's , it's all about the experiences that people go through. And once you understand that it's a deeply human experience, what the haters do and what the people who challenged the haters do, then you understand that there is capacity for change. And I think ultimately , um, as, as, as a human race, we get it right most of the time. And I believe in the wisdom of the crowd, I believe that, you know, when we see hate speech online, there's more people that attack it than support it usually. Um, and that's the really bad stuff. Um, but ultimately when it comes down to it, I think being encouraged to challenge your own preconceptions of other groups, and that includes other political groups who may disagree with being challenged, to think like them put yourselves in their shoes, truly understand where their frustrations come from, et cetera. It humanizes them in a way that we might otherwise not, not regularly do, but also helps us understand where their , their process is coming from. And ultimately, I think once you understand it, which is what I've been trying to do, you can start to challenge it in more nuanced ways .

Speaker 1:

Yes. I mean the , but there are limitations, right? I mean, if you were talking about, if you were talking about Nazi Germany in the late thirties and forties, I mean that , that tolerance has its limitation, where at a certain point you have to reject them

Speaker 3:

Egypt. You do. And I think we , we categorize sort of hate profiles. Um , so we have kind of the mission offenders, the ones you're talking about that these make it, their life's goal to hate . Um, they, they engage in what I call the pull behavior. They pull people towards them to attack an extremities . So that's kind of the higher end of the hate spectrum. If you like the others engage in what I call push behaviors, they push people away instead of pulling them towards to harm. And this push away, there's more kind of like a deep prejudice potentially , um , going right down to like prejudice. I mean , to be a retaliatory or defensive haters. So they, they retaliate against what they perceive as an attack on themselves or their group. All they defend in terms of, if someone invades that territory and they feel threatened by that they, they defend that territory. And these, these haters don't tend to be full-timers and part-timers, they've got other things to do with their lives and what they tend to be are the ones that you can actually change their minds, the mission haters, very difficult to change their minds. You see it happen, but not as often,

Speaker 1:

Are you worried? And I don't mean to cut you off, but are you worried about the mission haters being pushed to new and fringe platforms rather than being called out on mainstream platforms as is now happening in America?

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. Well, most of, most of our research five years ago was on Twitter , um, because it was all happening. So all the hates seem to be there. Uh, but he got his act together, introduced hate speech policies , um, started to reject people. Um, they've kind of been displaced. Um, they've gone to other platforms they've gone to parlor before we shut down. They'd gone to gab for CHAM , uh , bits you'd telegram. And so you've got these internet backwaters now where all this kind of murkiness is, is kind of going on and you've just got like-minded people around you. You've got anyone challenging your thoughts and you just , it's this kind of radicalization rabbit Warren, as you , as you said yourself earlier. So what we see is just a moving of the somewhere else, and it's not really addressing the problem on Twitter, Twitter, just though we'd rather not have these folks on our platform. Um, so let's just , let's just ban them instead. A more progressive , uh, solution would be let's deal with this issue by somehow engaging with these individuals to see where these frustrations are coming from . But of course it's not Twitter's responsibility to do that. Um, so they did the kind of thing that made most sense economically for them. But yeah, the one good thing about maybe a project for the heat lab , maybe. Yeah. Maybe, but one of the, one of the things that is done is really pushed them all into one place. So we now know where to look. We know where to look . We know where to look on telegram on pitch shoot and so on and so forth. They're all in one place. So ultimately you get this kind of sustained level of intolerance on these platforms on Twitter. It used to go up and down ebb and flow and flow around events and so on . But now on, on bit shoots and for channel , et cetera, it's a constant level of hates and it's pretty high. Um, and, and I did, it does worry me because the finishing schools for the mission haters, they , they tend to be these spaces where, you know, you can be radicalized in under 90 days and who knows how many other far-right terrorists are going to emerge from these sites. I know for a fact that, you know , uh , Twitter and Facebook are very, very quick to remove all ISIS terrorist, propaganda off their sites, a great success story, in fact, but they're not as being proactive as proactive. And certainly they're , the more fringe sites are not doing very little when it comes to this kind of radicalization. So it is a very one-sided, it seems in terms of what they're capable of doing and what they're willing to

Speaker 1:

There were not very good on white supremacy is what you were trying to say.

Speaker 3:

That's pretty much what I'm saying.

Speaker 1:

All right, professor Matt Williams , um, and the author of science of hate and , uh, Matt, great to talk to you. And I, I think it's a really important book to understand your own prejudices and how you process them and rebalanced them. And, and then also even, you know, even how I talked, I was talking to my kids about hate and where we get these ideas from. And , uh, it's, it's well worth reading and, you know, better you than me spending my career learning about it. I think it's heavy lifting, but great job. Thank you very much. All right . Todd Mae is a professor of philosophy and he's been on backstory before and we welcome him back. Hi Todd. Hi Dana . Thank you for having me. So I , uh , just so people know you , I mean, you're very experienced and you've taught at Kent university and then now you're in the U S helping businesses make a difference with respect to their vision values, ethos, and culture. Um, and , uh, are you engaging with business lot right now

Speaker 4:

Or is it difficult?

Speaker 5:

It's very difficult. Obviously businesses have other concerns , um , with respect to their own success and viability , uh , during the pandemic and with different kinds of economic constraints. I do have one client I'm working closely with that takes , uh , personal development of its employees very seriously. So that's been fun and I'm trying to roll out a new project with them. That's based on a kind of podcast type of interview , uh , for the employees to see where they are, how they're progressing to get a better sense of their life as a story that they can reflect on. So I'll see,

Speaker 4:

Think businesses now as they're emerging, as they're emerging from lockdowns and from, you know, I mean, lockdowns , as we talked about just before we started this interview, that there are a lot different than the United States, depending on where you are in a different times, they've been stricter, but in general, people have had to work from home and they've been, you know , not , not able to socialize and not be part of the normal workplace fabric. So how do you advise businesses to bring people back into those kinds of corporate structures? Um, even if it's hard to do it physically.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. So if any kind of physical meetings precluded, then obviously everyone has heard of zoom fatigue. And if the only way to keep employees on the same page with one another is through a zoom meeting, the companies really have to change the, the fabric and the spirit of a zoom meeting, and often having an external moderator to introduce certain kinds of questions or exercises helps out quite a bit. And sometimes those exercises can be slightly related to work. Sometimes have nothing to do with work whatsoever. They can be tune building exercises, or they can be simple puzzle exercises such as , uh , what was your favorite film when you were a child and would you still like it today? If you had to watch it again, and that generates a discussion and co-workers get to see employees in a different way. And what's key to these kinds of exercises is not just the kind of water cooling exercise that's talked about, but also the visibility of employees with one another, making sure that when an individual worker is doing his or her own tasks , uh, the other coworkers are visible, not just in terms of being a coworker , but in terms of a safe, psychological space of having a open door, someone to go to if something's gone wrong, or there's a question. So those , uh , external exercises or those externally facilitated exercises can help build that kind of that trust and comradery amongst a group

Speaker 4:

Corporation I'd want to have taught me in there. So, especially now, I mean, people are spending so much time , um, isolated and on the internet. Um, and philosophically, do you have kind of a , a Bible for people, maybe a short one where you say, you know, this is how you balance your head when you're going on social, because you, you can't dive too deep in that pool without also coming to the surface, taking a big breath and stepping back from it.

Speaker 5:

Yes, I think what's key is identifying safe, psychological spaces and knowing what kind of communities you're engaging with. So you have to have those kinds of social media communities, communities where at issue is not going to be something political or potentially upsetting. It's going to be something you're interested in from, in terms of a sport or hobbies . So for example, I love wind surfing and the two wind surfing groups I belong to on Facebook are absolutely positive encouraging. Uh, and people are sharing their experiences and everyone's talking about different wind surfing conditions , uh , sharing advice and so forth. And then of course, if people want to engage with political discussions, especially on Twitter or Facebook, it's very important to remember that most people are just reacting as opposed to considering what's being said. So, for example, I wrote a recent blog on the issue of slavery reparation in the United States, which is a hot topic. And I introduced the notion that there are different kinds of justice as we can speak about. So it's not just reparation the other ways of going about recognizing what's the harmful effects that have, that have resulted from slavery. And the threads on Facebook were very interesting. I think maybe one person , uh , by virtue of their comment showed evidence that they had read the blog. Everyone else was just weighing in on what they thought was good or bad. And that was it. And so I think one has to recognize when those are, those are the statements and just really divorce oneself from that, and try not to get emotionally attached to them.

Speaker 4:

Philosophically, how do you look at hatred , um, in the workplace? It , it probably is more difficult to identify. Uh, how do you look at hatred online? How do you look at hatred on the street? I mean, they're all extensions of one another.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. So the , uh, there's no agreement amongst philosophers, of course. But one way of looking at hatred is kind of in a very neutral way. So hatred is just described as an effective orientation of the person. So a mood emotion, or a feeling, and that that orientation can be virtuous or vicious. So for example, if I have a hatred of bigotry or a hatred of misogyny, we would see that as a good thing, because we would be sensitive to those situations where somebody was being disadvantaged by the actions or words of another, when hatred becomes directed for the wrong reasons, then that's when it becomes problematic. And so philosophers are trying a lot of philosophies have different approaches. My own approach comes from within a branch of philosophy called hermeneutics, which is interested in the art of understanding and interpretation, dialogue , and texts. And what the hermeneutic philosophers like to do is isolate what it is that problematizes hatred or problem with ties is the , uh, emotional orientation of the person. So in other words, something's coming in or interfering or intervening before the emotion is taking effect and directing that emotion in the wrong way, for whatever reasons, there might be good or bad reasons. And these philosophers talk about prejudice, not prejudice in a pejorative sense of being a bad bias, but prejudice as a cognitive or existential , uh , aspect of a person. So you have , uh , hate as an emotion and you have prejudice as a cognitive orientation. And what they mean by that is everyone has prejudice. Everyone has a particular way of understanding the world, which one's inherited through one's family, one's history when Colt one's culture. And there are certain prejudices that we're aware of and certain ones that we're not, but these prejudices are what allow us to have traction on the world. They provide the window or the Vista by which we can relate to others. And the issue for hermeneutics

Speaker 6:

Is sometimes a very narrow window, unfortunately,

Speaker 5:

That's right. And so the issue is being able to have a method or a way to identify when a prejudice is vicious, and also to be aware of the fact that there are prejudices you will not be aware of, and you may never be aware of. And those, I think a lot of people know by now in terms of cognitive biases, those things are just operative. Um, and it takes a lot for us to recognize that ,

Speaker 6:

Like , what would be an example of like a real life example of that,

Speaker 5:

Of a cognitive biases , there's simple ones in which , um , if you go through cognitive bias training, they show you various slides, which seem like , uh , visual illusions, but your brain will want to make things look familiar to you. So you might see shapes, and you might think that all the shapes are the same size that they're showing you. And in fact, one's bigger than the other, but your brain is trying to make that scene look familiar. Now in , in a social context, what will happen is that , um, your brain will try to cope with what's unfamiliar. And this is the big problem with prejudice and hatred, and so wants to make things fit. And so you might just be having an interview with another person who might be of a different gender, race, or religion, whatever it might be, and you just block out or don't notice the differences. And so you treat them , uh, in a way that you think you ought to treat them as the same kind of person, which could be good or bad. Uh, and I just saw a recent , uh, show , uh, the view where they had an , uh , an AI professor talking about how there can be prejudice within AI programs, where , uh , someone who's white might be programming , automatic cars, self-driving cars, and they don't , uh , they don't look at the program to make sure that it takes into account. People have darker colored skin. So when the car is driving around, it may not notice people have dark skin and may cause an accident, but it wouldn't be a good thing. Now , it wouldn't be a good thing. So the idea is recognizing that prejudices can be hidden. And then when you, when you encounter something unfamiliar, that is when a prejudice is going to be most active, because you're going to try to find a way to either accommodate what's unfamiliar or create a distance with what's unfamiliar. And so those are the moments where there can be a lot of misunderstanding on this reading of what the person is doing or what it , what an object is. And that's when you can get emotions that can exacerbate the situation. If you can't quite understand what's unfamiliar, that could emerge in terms of irritation or just because

Speaker 4:

It's unfamiliar, it doesn't mean it should be a threat. You shouldn't necessarily process it as a threat, right? I mean, situational awareness might alert you to something that is different, but that doesn't mean that you should automatically put that in the threat file and then react with prejudice, react eventually with anger and maybe physical anchor

Speaker 5:

That's right. And there are different techniques, props self-help techniques that one can cultivate to help with that. But if you look at a lot of indigenous cultures, they actually have certain ethical practices or techniques to help with this. And if you look at just the Abrahamic phase , so , uh, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, one of their main tenants is the tenant of hospitality. And this, if you view it from the, from the perspective of what's unfamiliar, I know religion goes both ways, but if you look at the, if you look at the hospitality is a virtue, then you can see the way which if it's cultivated in the right way, when one encounters a stranger, or indeed in certain tales , the enemy, or the person with one with whom one doesn't get along with, then if hospitality comes first, one must admit them into the personal space or the house and treat them as a guest. And those are the kinds of things that are very interesting. If cultures can look into their own historical resources and maybe find ways in which they can bring this to the fore of how to cope with encounter and identify things that are unfamiliar and not push them aside, but find productive and constructive ways of engaging with them. I think we'd be a lot better off.

Speaker 4:

How do you take that into a real life situation? Like on social media where, you know, maybe hospitality might be not excluding that person or deleting that person, but maybe including them in conversation or in your social group. Um, even if you're unsure exactly who they are or what they represent. But I mean, th the idea is just kind of being open, right. And not, and, and, and being curious about other people, is that it?

Speaker 5:

Yes. And I don't think social media is very good at cultivating that in its current form and it conceals it. So I think what we have to have regardless is a stronger foundation that stands outside is not connected to social media. And these are the things, everyday conversation and stories. There are two ways that come to mind. One is learning different ways of listening and engaging with people. And this often works best in person because in person you're accountable, you're face to face . I mean, that's very difficult right now in the pandemic, but , um, it's something I think that provides a good measure. And , um , it's something that a lot in negotiators and psychologists talk about. And so when one's engaged in one of these conversations that matters , uh, perhaps one can switch to this mode of, instead of offering a reaction or response where one tries to convince the other side that they're wrong, or that, that oneself is right to simply engage in the mode of listening and asking questions, as opposed to asserting of view or judgements . And through those questions, they can be critical of course, but they should be constructive. The idea is that you don't come to the decision who's right or wrong. The aim is not to find out who's right or wrong, the aims to find some kind of common ground. And if you think about when negotiators, you very skilled negotiators that are the two parties are coming to opposite ends, skilled negotiators, won't come out and start arguing the other party down. They will try to figure out what exactly the other party's position is to ask questions, to see where they can actually meet up. And once they can meet up, then things can, then things can move forward. The other cultural, the other cultural resource there's of course are our positive constructive narratives. And , uh, the , uh, professor Richard Keirney who's at Boston college runs this thing called , um, I forgot the name now it's , it's not Facebook, but it's a pro it's. It's , uh , it's a project where he has people from different groups, often at risk groups telling their stories. And through those stories, the idea is hopefully that they find some common ground and , um , he was giving a talk the other day. And he, he talked about this phrase. I think a lot of people know it's called the chance in arm. And it's a very interesting one, but it's comes from an historical incident. And I think it's around the 15 hundreds or the 15th century. And there's two , uh, families. I think it's the Fitzgeralds and the butlers are , may be wrong on that. But these two families absolutely hate each other. And , uh , one of the families pulls up inside of a , uh , farm or some kind of a building and they won't come out and the feed is continuing. And one person from the other side basically comes over and puts his arm through a hole in the wall to the other party and says, look, I'm putting my arm through. We can continue fighting if that's what you want to do, you can chop my arm off. If not, you can shake my hand. And so those kinds of stories are interesting. They provide a resource and of course

Speaker 4:

She never told us the ending man

Speaker 5:

Piece , but not only as a narrative source, but also symbolic source, that if here's a story where you can possibly relate some kind of instance, you're in, and that might allow you to come up with your own symbolic gesture with another person. And it may even that symbolic gesture may just be being silent and listening to them. But so it'll depend on the context as you're describing, but if we can be aware of these kinds of resources and that we have to respond in a very dynamic way to the challenges and unfamiliar Terri unfamiliarity, is that present themselves to us. I think we'd be a much more capable and engaging with other people. And then hopefully that will have a knock on effect, a positive one with how we engage with people in social media.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. And to understand reality, sometimes you just got to shut up. And the, you know, when I was a crime reporter, they used to do, I used to sit in courtrooms where the judge would charge the jury where they would instruct the jury. And the first thing that they would tell a jury is at the beginning of, you know, these are murder trial . Some of them that would last three and four months, don't say a word in the jury room about what you think, because you express your opinion. You actually close yourself to a lot of information and it becomes an exercise sometimes in your ego. Um, and you, you miss a lot of value and maybe that's what social media has become. And I'm sorry to keep taking you back to social media. But I mean, a lot of our discourse in the public square has migrated onto the internet. And that's what that is become. It's kind of like, you know, you need to say something, you need to have an opinion, otherwise, why are you tweeting? Or why are you expressing yourself? But actually you don't have to do you , you can ask questions on there and you can be open to other people and ask them why they feel a certain way. And you can actually, you can actually explore rather than draw borders on them .

Speaker 5:

That's right. And always be aware that most social media encourages reaction as opposed to consideration and deliberation. Um, and I think if one's aware of that, one will be a little bit more hesitant just to click the like or dislike button, and also be aware that there is social media is good for some things, and maybe it can be a conduit to more , uh , to healthier communities of discussion that occur offline or in online in some other form than just simply tweeting. Or

Speaker 4:

Do you think that prejudice is growing? Do you think that hatred is growing in , in parallel with that, or as an offshoot of that?

Speaker 5:

I do my own perception of it is that it is, and I'm not sure how accurate it is because of course, whenever there's an incident involving hate , um, there's , uh, you know, it becomes a big issue. It becomes representative of the state of affair , but of a nation or a culture. And of course everyone cannot, but help reacting to it and re some reactions are very measured. Uh, some very considered make good points and some not. And I think , um, what can only really help the situation is some kind of education or self-education and about the resources and techniques , uh, about how to ask and listen. And I think that's the only way out of it, whether it comes through family education or whether universities really focus on the liberal arts side. I know I've mentioned this before in a previous interview, but focusing on, on civics and virtues, not not saying this is how you have to be, but introducing civics and virtues as a topic that students can study as a historical artifact and will never go to university, then there can be other for I'm . This is I'm , I I'm really progressive minded and people can go to vocational schools or they can pursue a job which doesn't require university education, but it would be a wonderful world in which you had different layers or stratifications of free education. So , uh, and there'll be incentives wrapped up with it. There'll be different ways to teach things like philosophy and the arts that are embedded or engaged with a practical sewer. So if you're a mechanic or if you're , if you're a veterinary surgeon, or if you're a shoe cobbler, there'd be ways there are many creative ways where you can introduce different topics to people. And all it provides , all that's necessary is , is to have the education and provide the incentives for people to go out there and meet other people. And if they can meet other people from different walks of life in these courses, you have a much healthier, much more capable society because you already, you already overcome one, an enormous hurdle. And that is you've already started to meet other people who have similar interests. And there is a forum now for discussing these kinds of interests or even disagreements. And that is in the, in the classroom

Speaker 4:

Last word to you on, on prejudicial behavior. Is that something that you obviously feel that that's the key building blocks in leading towards hatred? Do you confront a prejudice? Do you engage prejudice? Do you, how strongly do you speak out against it or how, you know, whether you're in the workplace or wherever, what , what do you think you have to do with it philosophically?

Speaker 5:

I think I , I think it's always situational. I think the, the regular , the ideal is to always be strong and stand out and speak against it. One has to assess to what extent that's putting oneself at risk. Uh, so I do think one has to be courageous and also very , uh, savvy or clever in terms of how to deal with the prejudice. Obviously, if you're in a crowd and you're putting yourself or others at risk , um , you know, my experience is if I've been the target of prejudice, usually it's my friends who feel the most offended, not me, and they're willing to stick the stick, their necks out. So there's always other , there's always things to consider. There are many different ways to tackle it , um, whether it's in the workplace, through human resource channels or EDI. Um , but I really do think if, if there were an array or diversity of education, levels of education provided that would already take away a lot of the hurdles and obstacles that we face today ,

Speaker 4:

Does this get personal Todd? Because I assume you have an Asian background. Yes . Right now in America. I mean, we are experiencing, you know, this horrible incident that just , uh , took place in Atlanta, the , the, the assaults on Asians because of COVID-19 and some of the comments that were traced to the former president, Donald Trump about the China virus. And I mean, there , there has been a real backlash , um, on Asian-Americans . And so, you know, it's, it's one thing to talk about hatred in a philosophical way in a classroom, but, you know, you you're , you probably think about it on the street there as well, and it becomes personal.

Speaker 5:

Yes, it does. And , um , I have to admit that , uh, here I am speaking as a philosopher, but certainly in personal situations I've reacted , um, differently than I thought or than I ought to have. I've often related when I teach ethics, often relate personal stories to my students. And , uh, there was one time where basically , um, I had to engage in some very aggressive self-defensive behavior because I was being targeted. Um , this was back in Britain, believe it or not at a train station at night. And , um, I D I just felt like I couldn't walk away, but I felt like there was a way I was gonna deal with this and it ended up working and it actually ended up promoting discussion at the end as opposed to fighting. And I was very surprised cause I thought , um, this is not going to end very well. And , um , and I'm very much aware of it in today's climate. Um , obviously as a Chinese and Japanese background, and I've always prepared myself mentally for some kind of confrontation, but hopefully it cooler heads prevail. And , um, it just depends how you can assess yourself in the situation and whether there's actually harm or danger , uh , that's imminent in that situation. But I think the best thing is to try and find other channels to deal with this directly and indirectly , uh , through communication as opposed to direct action.

Speaker 4:

Well, thanks for sharing that. And , uh, you've got lots of really great ideas about sort of how to, how to approach hatred. Some of it, some of, some of that hatred, not always so overt, but you may sense it's there, but , um, you know, stop Asian hatred is a great hashtag in the last, in the last month, but in general, you know, the philosophy of , uh , being open and listening to people. I mean, I really think you're right . We are losing that in public discourse and that's, that's dangerous. And you made that point in another interview and you've touched on it again today. So thank you for that. Thank you, Todd . Great to talk to you.

Speaker 2:

Thank you. And that's our backstory on the science of hate and hopefully by understanding what makes people hate. We understand how better to fight hatred. Please subscribe the backstory with Dana Lewis podcast and share this. And also my newsletter, Daniel Lewis got sub stack.com . Thanks for listening. And I'll talk to you again.

Prof. Matt Williams
Prof. Todd Mei