An EconTalk Podcast Listening Guide

Arnold Kling on the Three Languages of Politics

Listen to the EconTalk podcast Arnold Kling on the Three Languages of Politics and consider these questions.

1. In his newest book, The Three Languages of Politics, Kling identifies what he calls three heuristics that people employ in discussions of politics. What are these three heuristics, and how does Kling characterize each one?

2. Roberts suggests an example to Kling to illustrate the above categories- immigration. How does Kling suggest adherents of each of the three “languages” approach the issue of immigration?

3. Kling describes the tendency of individuals to see the world along a single axis as part of a process of achieving “closure.” What does he mean by this, and to what extent do you agree?

4. What does Kling (and Roberts) suggest as the best way to get others to subscribe to your worldview? Do you agree that this is the most effective strategy, and why?

5. To what extent is it possible to inhabit more than one of these three axes, or worldviews, over the course of your life? Have you inhabited more than one? What might cause people (perhaps yourself) to move from one axis to another?

6. To what extent is it possible to employ an alternative axis when considering a particular issue? Similarly, as Roberts asks Kling, are there some issues, such as terrorism, that necessarily occupy a single axis for all?

7. Roberts suggests to Kling that Kling’s book exerts a “calming influence.” What does Roberts mean by this?

8. Kling believes that life today is more politicized than in the past. What evidence does he give to support this claim? To what extent do you agree with him?

9. Roberts asks Kling how he thinks the three languages of politics affect discussions of economic policy among economists. Describe Kling’s response. Are you persuaded by Kling’s description?

10. Kling asserts that conservative scholars are given much less margin of error in their research than others. Why does he say this, and to what extent do you agree?