Dialogue: The American Multiverse

Sep 4, 2017

Protesters are removed from a Donald Trump rally in North Carolina in March 2016.
Credit Associated Press

If you think to yourself, "What kind of person believes that malarkey?" whenever you scan through your Facebook feed, consider this: Right now, someone is probably thinking the very same thing about you. 

"But wait!" you protest. "The facts are on my side! I'm not one of them."

Bad news. We all are, to one extent to the other, one of them. To some degree, that's normal. Differing points of view are necessary (and inevitable) in a complicated democracy. But what we're going through right now is different. Voices from the White House advocate "alternative facts" and routinely decry negative reporting as flat-out fake. Libtards and broflakes insult each other on social media. For every alt-right, there's an equal and opposite alt-left. Or is there?

What happened? Where did the consensus go? And how do we handle conversations and interactions with people who seem unmoored from reality? And what the heck happens when we feel our reality itself is shattered?

There's the rub. Reality isn't a solid, inviolable concept without variation or error. It's personal. That's the crux of Brooke Gladstone's e-book The Trouble with Reality, which came out in May. On this edition of Dialogue, Gladstone talks with host Brandon Hollingsworth about the parallel universes we seem to inhabit, and how they developed.

Then, the conversation continues with three in-studio guests: Aaron Astor, a history professor at Maryville College, MC sociologist Tricia Bruce and University of Tennessee communication professor Courtney Wright.

BONUS CLIP: In this snippet, Brooke Gladstone wonders what course the American multiverse will take.

Audio from today's show will be posted before 4:00 p.m. ET.