FWDThinking Episode 6: Rhetoric and Reasoned Debate

Published On Oct 13, 2020

All opinions expressed in in these episodes are personal and do not reflect the opinions of the organizations for which our guests work.


While there are myriad shared problems for which government can provide good solutions—from public safety to healthcare to education to child support—trust in public institutions is at an all-time low. Around the world, spurred by political divides and the rise of cheap, unregulated digital communications, countries are arguing about the role of their leaders, and the balance between the individual and the collective.

In response to this crisis of trust, we’re a deep dive into resilient democracy this year. As we’ve been programming FWD50 this year, we’ve spoken with literally hundreds of amazing public servants, academics, civic tech leaders, and innovators. Many of them will be taking our stage in November.

One of my favourite pastimes is introducing two people who should have known one another for years—and watching them discover how much they have to discuss. I met two such people, and needed to get the two of them together—and that’s what this episode of FWDThinking is about.

Jamie Joyce is cataloging all of the big arguments in the world to give us a framework to understand Wicked Problems like climate change, and controversial arguments. And Dr. Yin Yin Lu—who describes herself as a communications scientist—did her Ph.D on the rhetoric of Brexit. Properly understanding the structure of arguments and the role of rhetoric in making good decisions as a society is essential, so it was an immense pleasure to introduce two people who’ve been tackling the same problem from different, but complementary, ends.

Get ready for a wide-ranging chat in which we talk about Daniel Kahneman’s System 1 and 2 thinking, neuro-linguistic programming, behavioral economics, and even the nature of truth. We did math puzzles, and I got shamed for fear-mongering clickbait. It was excellent.There’s no good way for me to properly summarize the conversation, and I don’t want to paper this post with out-of-context quotes, so you’ll just have to listen to it for yourself. We actually kept talking for quite a while after the end of this recording; if you want more of them, they’re both part of our 2020 FWD50 faculty!

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