I wanted to talk about the challenges of political discourses, and there are a bunch of them. Hopefully this discussion will go down well. I don't think this discussion will be particularly productive, but it's an interesting and insanely complex subject that is driven by complexities of the brain that we have some ideas about, but we don't have a firm understanding of it. I have a couple of categories of issues on my mind, but feel free to add some of your own.
Perceptions: people see what they want to see/what they are conditioned to see.
I noticed something interesting when I saw a couple of people sharing the same news article on facebook in completely different friend groups. What I saw was that the people responding came to the same erroneous conclusion. The article was about a legal immigration event, and several people came to the conclusion the article was about illegal immigration.
This isn't about a media source feeding false information, but rather that the people reading made some assumptions that to them satisfied their understanding of the article.
Ultimately people don't read carefully, and they may come to the wrong conclusion if things aren't spelled out.
Media Bias: People who are writing for any source of media will always have their personal biases, they'll also be subject to the previous issue that they'll tend to see what they want to see. Both of these things mean that even when the person is trying to be honest, they'll still manage to mislead people. They're not intentionally trying to lie to people, but that's the end result.
It's made even worse when you add in the factor that there are some people who do intentionally lie. People who have benefactors who want their interests protected.
Partisanship: People often give the benefit of the doubt to people they agree with. If you're conservative, and Donald Trump says X, and Obama says X, chances are pretty good that you'll give Trump the benefit of the doubt and you won't give Obama that benefit of the doubt. You'll say Trump was tired that day, and that's why he said something dumb. And you'll say it's proof Obama is dumb. Stuff like that. Sometimes people really do deserve the benefit of the doubt, sometimes they don't. Because people really do get tired and say dumb things, and additionally there really are dumb people out there that don't deserve the benefit of the doubt.
Not everyone is partisan, but a lot of people are.
Combination: Media bias can lead to perceptions. If you watch enough X media, you'll start to have your opinions form by X. This isn't an evil intention. It's literally just what your brain does. You take in information, your brain changes somehow due to that information, and it continues from there. For example I've often seen conservative commentators complain that Hollywood is trying to change your opinion on things like gay marriage. And they'll back it up by showing that some movie led to a greater acceptance of gay marriage. The reality is no, that's not Hollywood mind control going on. That's a natural process your brain undergoes. Again, you take in information, your brain chemistry and wiring changes, you can come to different conclusions. It has nothing to do with Hollywood or anything else. Your brain starts doing that, when it becomes a brain. And it continues doing that until you die.
The point here is that all the previous factors don't just work in isolation. They feed into each other.
The even worse thing is that everyone is affected by these factors and more to some degree. There are ways to make some of these factors less impactful, but even still it ultimately makes it difficult to have an truthful conversation. Because even if everyone is acting honestly, you can still come up with incorrect conclusions. And those conclusions can lead to even more incorrect conclusions.
The point here is that it's impossible to have a factual, truthful political debate. We're imperfect creatures, even if everyone was being honest.
So what can be done about this?