A wall with layers of half-peeled posters stuck to it. unsplash-logoManolo Chrétien

What Are the Facts?

Making Arguments and Changing Minds

Did NASA fake the moon landing? Are vaccines safe? Should we forbid smoking in public? Is Elvis still alive? Is climate change a threat to Americans? Is the government secretly controlled by a Deep State?

How do we make up our minds about issue like these? How and when do we change our minds? And how on earth can we convince other people to change their minds when we think they’re wrong?

This class examines the way we as individuals—and Americans more broadly—find and process information, decide what to trust and what not to believe, and make up our minds about issues ranging from what to eat to how to vote. We explore the different ways people approach facts, authorities, and even outlandish conspiracies, and we hone our own ability to read generously, think critically, and embrace opportunities to examine our beliefs. We also investigate the extent to which it’s possible to change someone else’s mind, and develop strategies for writing in ways that have the best chance of changing other people’s minds.

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