Harvard historian Jill Lepore on what “Why We’re Polarized” gets wrongHistorians in the News
tags: Jill Lepore, historians, Ezra Klein
Jill Lepore is a Harvard historian, a New Yorker contributor, the author of These Truths, and one of my favorite past guests on The Ezra Klein Show. But in this episode of the show, the tables are turned: I’m in the hot seat, and Lepore has some questions. Hard ones.
This is, easily, the toughest interview on my book so far. Lepore isn’t quibbling over my solutions or pointing out a contrary study — what she challenges are the premises, epistemology, and meta-structure that form the foundation of my book, and much of my work. Her question, in short, is: What if social science itself is too crude to be a useful way of understanding the political world?
But that’s what makes this conversation great. We discuss whether all political science research on polarization might be completely wrong, whether Fox News is a “villain” in the polarization story, and whether I am morally obliged to delete my Twitter account. We also talk about the missing party in American politics, why I mistrust historical narratives, media polarization, and much more.
This is, on one level, a conversation about Why We’re Polarized. But on a deeper level, it’s about different modes of knowledge and whether we can trust them.
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