the biggest communication problem is listening (or not listening)

ODD THE WAY THINGS WORK OUT: I was cruising Facebook earlier this morning and stumbled over a poster. This was before my caffeine intake, usually a bad practice: two mugs of Trader Joe’s Dark French Roast with a dollop of honey is how I jumpstart the day!

It was a rather well-known statement by a famous scientist to which I took a wee exception:



So I commented and got a response from the man (let’s call him DPB) who had uploaded the poster to his Facebook page. DPB and I had a couple of back-and-forths that left me uncertain as to his intent: was DPB making a point beyond my ability to grasp it, or was DPB just one of those confrontational people that found his place in the sun (where there’s hope for everyone) on the Internet?

So I visited his Facebook page and I found what appears to be a kindred spirit in DPB!

I agreed with most of the issues that he addressed on his page and also found the poster that sits at the top of his page: “The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.”

Here’s the Facebook conversation between the two of us:

NU: Hmm, if all scientific hypothesis and theory require falsifiability, then at any given moment everything we think is true about any given topic may not be so, so then how can it always be “true”?

DPB: ‘Truth’ here is an incredibly scrutinized and highly objective reality. Any notion of truth requires assumption and language and no truths have been as honest and pure as the pursuit of science.

NU: A “highly objective reality” that changes with the acquisition of new knowledge.

DPB: That would be the emphasis on ‘highly’. Can anyone name anything that remotely represents an objectivity so universally? Not even anything close.

NU: Okay, we eliminate one word and the statement remains so: An “objective reality” that changes with the acquisition of new knowledge.

DPB: Can you nail down what constitutes reality in a sharper more connective way?

DPB: You can’t eliminate that one word and compare it, that is entirely the point!!

NU: Um, (1) I may not understand your question; (2) if I do, I think we may agree on everything but the choice of Mr. Tyson’s words.

DPB: His words are oversimplified to make the same point. He does not have much patience for people’s bizarre distancing from science and the shared search for shared ‘truths’. His words in the meme need interpretation, kinda like our dialogue. 

The point of this post is to illustrate that two people who initially disagree on Facebook need not necessarily lock horns in eternal battle or reduce one another to name-calling . . .