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Culture War Field Manual

(a work barely in progress)

Our world is more connected than ever before, but that has brought with it a seemingly endless variety of information and opinion sources. Instead of coming together, we are becoming more tribal. We are dividing ourselves into identity groups with opposing worldviews and even different facts. The result is unnecessary conflict and an inability to solve our shared problems. We are in a state of “culture war”.

But we can move forward in peace, and with a sense of fairness. We can make our lives fundamentally better. There are basic principles we’ve known since the Enlightenment, that when embraced and extended, will allow us to live together in community once again. To construct a shared understanding of reality, bridge our differences and rebuild our institutions. But it requires a deeper commitment from all of us, toward greater curiosity, empathy and integrity.

Documenting the Problem[edit]

Democracy Fund survey

The Purple Project for Democracy

How Liberal Values Help[edit]

The only assumptions are:

  • No One Gets the Final Say
  • No One Has Personal Authority

For it all to work well, at the personal level, we must encourage greater:

Integrity: We must fight for even the unpopular truths, but also change our minds as appropriate

Curiosity: We must truly want to know what is factual to the best of our ability, in the world and ourselves

Empathy: We must care enough to understand each other and take collective action to improve our conditions

Better people require better institutions.

As a society, we should focus on: Community | Attention | Knowledge | Education

Liberal Institutions[edit]


Regular Dialogue About Our Lives

There is a growing realization of our cultural divide. It's not healthy for us as individuals to hate others or to be unable to appreciate other perspectives. And as communities and nations, democracy is unsustainable without an ability to understand each other and find compromises. We must have deep conversations over time in real life. When you understand the life experiences that made a person who they are, it becomes much easier to accept their opinions. Relationships develop. With friends who see the world very differently, we naturally become less reactionary. All of life becomes less black and white. That's a better, and necessary, way to live.


Greater Autonomy Over Our Minds

Our understanding of the world is determined by what we pay attention to and that's now ever more well understood by those trying to manipulate us. We must do a better job of managing it for ourselves and even others.

Social Media

Social media is a way to manage our attention, and what we pay attention to changes who we become. So it's vital that any platform we use be as democratic as possible. Open, free, transparent, without algorithms or advertising. We should be allowed total control to follow or block whoever we want. What we experience should be determined by the people we trust enough to follow.

But once we have that, and the #fediverse is our best option yet, with great power comes great responsibility. We play a part in the collective shaping of the entire culture. We must choose to invite in honest perspectives we disagree with. We must learn to filter out bullshit and unnecessary antagonism. Demand a higher quality of art and analysis from everybody.

My vision is that we can then go on to better integrate our curated feeds into all the media we consume and our application interactions. No longer will we give free range to TV, radio and application programmers we don't yet recognize as having been attention algorithms all along. Once all the sources are competing on equal footing, we take back control.


While we are all limited by our personal experience, we have methods and peer review to ascertain facts. But it takes time and resources. If we don't pay people willing to both do that work and be transparent about it, our society at large will be either more ignorant or misinformed on purpose. This pertains to science and journalism, but also the great art that tries to tell us how it feels to live another person's life.

News Literacy Project?

Supporting the Search for Truth

Culture War Radio is an independent, ad-free, production. I believe that the future of all media should be open access, distributed directly and supported with small (possibly recurrent) donations. This value-for-value business model keeps creators accountable only to you, instead of to the companies who pay for advertisements/distribution or promotion. It also represents a refusal to sell your valuable time. Nobody should treat you as the product to be sold to the highest bidder.

This business model essentially functions on the honor system so if you have found value in this show/site, please contribute to make sure Culture War Radio can continue. *For now, complexity mostly requires the use of technology corporations to facilitate the financial transactions:

But someday, it should be decentralized like the #fediverse.

Epistemological Crisis

Truth-seeking Exercise:

regulator and expert body (blue-ribbon body) gather together, take in competing claims from different people (different firms, self interested people, academics etc) and sort through those claims while showing their work (how they arrived at a conclusion), publish that conclusion along with their work, along with registers of their interests so you can see bias, everyone is bound by strict ethical guidelines, with a rule of law of fallback positions for when new facts come into evidence to decide when we should revise our understanding of the truth. - Cory Doctorow

when you can't trust the process, instead of having the rule of law, you have the rule of man. you find someone who says a thing you know to be true, that turns out to be true, and you follow them. [] You follow people where they lead you once they show you that they know one true thing. - Cory Doctorow

Why Do People Believe the Earth is Flat?

Conspiracy Thinking

Not enough competition in knowledge creators with sufficient public attention (increases the odds of different perspectives)

Actual conspiracies (if it has happened before, it can happen again)


A More Rational Approach to Life

Reason is the path out of darkness. There's a basic level of knowledge and critical thinking that must be embraced by all the people of a society to make progress possible and avoid the worst ideas becoming a social contagion.

Q: why does everyone need a better liberal arts (civics?) education?

A: to have a better society (live well with others and participate in self-government), we need people who are living examined lives. but an examined life is lonely without deep interaction with other people doing that also. living a modern life built around failing values is painful. so we need to build up regular community interaction and art that encourages people to live examined lives. with the world's information at our fingertips via the internet, education should focus more on how to think and access good information than memorization. that's also necessary because the internet gives us unlimited options in what to believe. the loss of gatekeepers means we must get better at filtering out bad information and spreading facts and proven valuable perspectives.

NOTE: the icons of cool are those who argue that the cultural norms should change in some way that is proven correct later on.

Q: what's the mental framework needed to live righteously

A: an education is the building of our understanding of reality and how best to live by engaging in good faith dialectic on as many topics relevant to our lives as possible. because we are limited in time, we must also incorporate what has been learned from others who went through this process before us, relying on the wisdom of (mostly dead) crowds to decide which of these others' thoughts to consume. hopefully, we can also in engage in small group dialectic about these sources at the same time. it is inherently a social process that we must do with appropriate skepticism.

Humanities | Social Sciences | Civilization | Natural Sciences | Math | Arts | Language

what's needed in a society

what's needed to be happy

See also[edit]


Notes Template:Reflist

Bibliography and further reading Template:Refbegin

  • Adams, Ian. Ideology and politics in Britain today. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998. Template:ISBN.
  • Alterman, Eric. Why We're Liberals. New York: Viking Adult, 2008. Template:ISBN.
  • Lost Connections
  • Kindly Inquisitors
  • The Righteous Mind

People Template:Reflist

  • Chomsky, Noam.
  • Wallace, David Foster.
  • Harris, Sam.
  • Greenwald, Glenn.

Podcasts Template:Refbegin

  • The Joe Rogan Experience
  • No Agenda
  • Team Human