Martín Carcasson Presents 'Tackling Wicked Problems: A Call for Deliberative Engagement'

On February 1, 2019, we had the pleasure of hosting Martín Carcasson, Director of the Center for Public Deliberation, and his presentation ‘Tackling Wicked Problems: A Call for Deliberative Engagements’. The presentation analyzes the underlying issues, ‘wicked problems’, can be resolved by science.

View the full presentation here.

An excerpt from his presentation:

What are ‘Vulcans’?

Carcasson: That booked argued there are 3 kinds of citizens. Hobbits don’t care and stay home, hooligans care but are hooligans (disruptive, overly emotional, angry, etc.), and Vulcans, they argued are what pro democracy theorists argue the ideal citizen is. It is from Star Trek. Vulcans (Dr. Spock) are purely rational beings, no emotion. All decisions based on logic.  He argued against democracy because he said democracy theories believe when hobbits get involved, they become Vulcans, but the 200 years of the US democracy show that hobbits generally become hooligans.

I agree with him that our political system tends to produce hooligans, precisely because most of our processes, as I argued, tend to bring out the worst in us. But I disagree that “Vulcans” is the ideal citizen we seek. So I argue to replace the Vulcan with the Wise Collaborator.  The wise collaboration is wise (i.e. able to make good decisions despite incomplete information) and focused on collaboration (so  they don’t give up their interests, but they realize their interests are likely to be best served working well with others). So one of my long term projects is to shift civic education to focus on the development of wise collaborators as the ideal. Right now, the ideal is often the “informed and engaged” citizen, but, like the author, I would argue that informed and engaged often leads more to a hooligan. They think they are informed, but are likely misinformed/biased, thus they engage badly. We can just teach kids they need to be advocates and activists, we need to teach them to build the skill set to elevate the conversation around them and help their organizations and communities make better collective decisions.


Hayden Koch