Cover image for
I'm right and you're an idiot : the toxic state of public discourse and how to clean it up / James Hoggan with Grania Litwin.
Hoggan, James, 1946- author.
Gabriola Island, BC, Canada : New Society Publishers, [2016]
xxi, 249 pages ; 23 cm
"Just as the natural environment can be polluted, so too can public discourse. I'm Right and You're an Idiot examines the sorry state of today's public square, showing how polluted, polarized conversations discourage people from taking action on critical issues such as climate change, and demonstrating how we can clear the air and become more powerful and effective communicators."--
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Other Titles:
I am right and you are an idiot
Other Authors:
Litwin, Grania, author.
0865718172 (paperback)

9780865718173 (paperback)


Material Type
Call Number
Book HM1166.H716r

On Order



Clearing the air: reclaiming public discourse in a polluted public square

The most pressing environmental problem we face today is not climate change. It is pollution in the public square, where a smog of adversarial rhetoric, propaganda and polarization stifles discussion and debate, creating resistance to change and thwarting our ability to solve our collective problems.

In I'm Right and You're an Idiot , author and David Suzuki Foundation chair James Hoggan grapples with this critical issue, conducting interviews with outstanding thinkers from the Himalaya to the House of Lords. Drawing on the wisdom of such notables as Thich Nhat Hanh, Noam Chomsky, and the Dalai Lama, his comprehensive analysis explores:

How trust is undermined and misinformation thrives in today's public dialogue Why facts alone fail -- the manipulation of language and the silencing of dissent The importance of reframing our arguments with empathy and values to create compelling narratives and spur action.

Our species' greatest survival strategy has always been foresight and the ability to leverage our intelligence to overcome adversity. For too long now this capacity has been threatened by the sorry state of our public discourse. Focusing on proven techniques to foster more powerful and effective communication, I'm Right and You're an Idiot will appeal to readers looking for both deep insights and practical advice.

Author Notes

James Hoggan is president of the Vancouver PR firm Hoggan Associates, chair of the David Suzuki Foundation board, and founder of the influential website DeSmogBlog. He has also served as a member of Shell Global's External Review Committee and is author of Climate Cover-Up and Do the Right Thing.

Table of Contents

Daniel YankelovichRoger ConnerCarol TavrisJonathan HaidtDan KahanGeorge LakoffBruno LatourJoel Bakan and Noam ChomskyAlex HimelfarbJason StanleyBryant WelchAdam KahanePeter SengeOtto Scharmer and Anne GiardiniRenee LertzmanPaul SlovicMarshall GanzKaren Armstrong and Joan HalifaxThich Nhat HanhThe 14th Dalai Lama
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Prologuep. xvii
Part I The Polluted Public Squarep. 1
Section A Smashing Heads Doesn't Open Minds
1 Like Ships In the Nightp. 5
2 The Advocacy Trapp. 13
3 Mistakes Were Made (Bur Not By Me)p. 21
4 Morality Binds and Blindsp. 33
5 Why We Wane To Be Misledp. 41
Section B A Failure to Communicate
6 Facts Are Not Enoughp. 49
7 Matters of Concernp. 55
Section C Duped and How
8 The Self-Regulating Psychopathp. 67
9 A Case Study: Foreign-Funded Radicalsp. 77
10 Assault On Democracyp. 89
11 Silencing the Voices of Othersp. 95
12 Gaslighting Blurs Our Realityp. 101
13 Summary: The Polluted Public Squarep. 107
Part II Speak the Truth, But Not to Punishp. 117
Section D Leaning Into the Future
14 Power and Lovep. 121
15 No Fish? No Fish Sticksp. 133
16 Listen Deeplyp. 145
Section E The Mighty Tool of Public Narrative
17 The Myth of Apathyp. 157
18 Psychic Numbingp. 165
19 Sometimes David Winsp. 173
Section F From the Heart
20 The Golden Rulep. 187
21 Speak the Truth, But Not to Punishp. 193
22 We Need Warmheartednessp. 203
Epilogue: Lessons Learnedp. 213
Endnotesp. 223
Indexp. 241
About the Authorp. 249