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Most of us are so entrenched in what Deborah Tannen calls the "argument culture" that we don't even realize how it has corroded our spirits. Consider how we describe problems today: "the battle of the bulge," "the war on drugs," "the battle of the sexes." Tannen examines this compulsive use of combative rhetoric in the media, in politics, in our courtrooms and in our classrooms. She notes, "To prove you're objective, you have to be critical; to prove you're smart, you have to attack; to make a name for yourself, you have to stake out a position." The argument culture encourages us to distort facts, waste time and limit our thinking. It keeps us in an adversarial frame of mind, all the time. Yet Tannen is optimistic that we can find new ways to approach the world, citing concrete evidence that a turning point may be right around the corner. (hosted by Michael Toms)
Deborah Tannen is University Professor and Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University.
She is the author of:
To learn more about the work of Deborah Tannen go to www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/tannend/.
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