July 18, 2024

Learnin’ and practicin’ Street Epistemology

Street Epistemology is a conversational rather than confrontational approach to get people thinking about their beliefs -to see if they’re valid or held for good reasons. The idea was first proposed by Philosophy Professor Peter Boghossian in his book, A Manual for Creating Atheists.

I have often been accused of being too firebrand, as if I could not also be diplomatic. But then people only see me get into these heated discussions with theists who have come to protest atheist events. Those people have come looking for a fight, and I simply give them what they want. For the same reason, I don’t know whether Street Epistemology would work in a venue like Speaker’s Corner in London’s Hyde Park: because those people are charged up and everyone is talking over or past each other. But in a one-on-one setting with a randomly-selected perfect stranger, this can be an efficient grass-roots approach to challenging erroneous falsehoods that our culture has deeply embedded into our psyche since childhood.

Atheist Alliance of America is strongly backing Street Epistemology. And as President of that organization, I have to be fluent in it. So I drove a few hours south and met with Anthony Magnabosco -to have him teach me his craft. He has one of the leading video channels dedicated to this practice. After a bit of prep, he and I walked into the University of Texas at San Antonio to try it out.



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