I would argue that effective meaningful communication is itself both an art and a craft, so it is perhaps wholly appropriate for an artist to create something that does just that.
What is the Story Here?
Back in 2017, Artist Rebecca Fox and also Street Epistemologist Anthony Magnabosco had display tables at the QEDCon conference in Manchester next to each other promoting what they were doing. They discovered that what they had on offer resonated, and so they collaborated and combined. Anthony took Rebecca’s graphics and turned them into the following YouTube clip .
It was recorded on 1st Oct and then released on 4th Oct 2018…
Rebecca Briefly lays out her Backstory here …
About ten years ago I went through a pretty intense period of questioning and reevaluating my beliefs about the world.
I didn’t mean to demolish and reconstruct my whole world view, I just wanted to look into this idea my colleague had about fluoride in the Australian water supply. But once I started looking into that idea I found other people who were curious about what was true, they called themselves skeptics and they had a seemingly reliable method for assessing claims about fluoride and everything else.
The method has three main aspects: attention to logical coherence, awareness of human biases and respect for reality.
Once I embraced these principles they took on a life of their own, whether I liked it or not (and I often didn’t) I found myself applying them to my everyday choices to my ethical positions and to my religion. I started with something easy, a kooky idea my obnoxious colleague was always going on about, and ended up changing my beliefs and my life.
When I first read about Street Epistemology I thought ‘that’s what I do!’. I ask myself the questions that street epistemologists ask other people: Why do you believe that? How confident are you in that belief? What if compelling counter-evidence presented itself? Are you sure?
‘Are you sure?’
I also thought ‘I can’t do that’. I’m not the sort of person who can talk to strangers about beliefs, conversations about the weather are stressful enough.
But I know how valuable being encouraged to interrogate your own epistemology is, and having read widely in the field of behaviour change I appreciate how remarkable Street Epistemology is. I wanted to contribute to a movement that I think has huge potential to change individuals lives and society as a whole.
Movements need metaphors, movements need art. Especially movements based on abstract concepts that demand meta-cognition and depend on complex philosophical terminology. Art makes complicated ideas graspable and, art is something I can kinda do.
Epistemology is a tricky word, if we can explain it simply as talking or thinking about our tower of beliefs, it’ll still be difficult to do but I’m hoping we’ll be more inclined to try.
Anthony Explains how they collaborated
Rebecca and I met at QEDcon in Manchester, England in 2017 where each of us were tabling: me and several other volunteers for Street Epistemology, and she for her amazing line of skeptic-themed comics. We kept in touch since the event, vowing to work together in some capacity. When Rebecca showed me her short ten-page SE-inspired comic, I instantly wanted to help her reach a larger audience by converting it to video. This project challenged my video editing skills like no other, and for that I am grateful. I’m really happy how this project turned out, hope her creative work inspires more people to look into SE, and am eager to work with Rebecca again soon.
- Anthony’s Page on it all is here.
- Rebecca’s Page on it all is here.
Two other links …
If you liked Rebecca’s “How to change minds” graphics, then you will probably also like “How to be Reasonable”. This is also very highly rated …
“This is one of the most reasonable, charming, useful — and concise! — guides to becoming a reasonable human you’ll find. It’s a tonic and a roadmap in these unreasonable times, and it will make you smile — and think.” – Carol Tavris, well-known social psychologist and public intellectual
“How To Be Reasonable is an approachable, engaging, beautifully-illustrated and wonderfully-observed introduction to irrationality and what we can do to escape it. I loved it.” – Michael Marshall, Director of the UK’s Good Thinking Society
If you are curious to find out more about Street Epistemology, then …
- The FAQ is here.
- A Link with pointers out into the online SE community can be found here.