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Countering False Narratives

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Good morning and welcome: to my colleagues here on stage, to the family members who have joined us today, and—especially—to the Yale College Class of 2020. 在场的各位同事、各位家长,特别是2020届耶鲁大学新生们,早上好!欢迎你们! Twenty‐twenty—a term that inevitably brings to mind perfect eyesight. And now that all of you are wearing 2020 as your class label in Yale College, I am confident your intuition and your mental acuity will develop here to an equivalent level of strength. The admissions office assures me that everything possible has been done to guarantee this outcome. 提到“2020”,不禁令人畅想美好的未来。现在它将成为你们在耶鲁大学的班级代号。我相信你们的感知与思维都会在此得到发展。为此,招生办公室已确保一切就绪。 Nonetheless, I’d like to reflect—on your “first day of school”—about what might impede your insight and what might advance it in the course of your education here. 不过,开学第一天,我还是要谈谈你们在耶鲁学习期间,什么将影响你们的洞察力,什么又将使其得以提升。 For many years, I taught introductory psychology to large numbers of freshmen. In the part of the course devoted to social psychology, I would ask my students to consider what we know about helping others in various kinds of social situations. Specifically, why is it that we offer assistance, or fail to offer assistance, in emergencies? 多年来,我为很多新生上过《心理学入门》。讲到社会心理学部分时,我常会要求学生思考人们在各种社会情景中帮助他人的事情。尤其思考在危急时我们对他人提供及未能提供帮助的原因各是什么。 I would begin with the tragic and well known case of Kitty Genovese, a twenty‐nine‐year‐old woman who lived in Kew Gardens, Queens, and was murdered there in 1964. Her case received enormous attention and commentary, and you have probably heard some version of her story. As reported in the New York Times, thirty‐eight individuals watched the murder from their apartment windows, but only one called the police, and by then it was too late. 通常我会从著名的凯蒂•吉诺维斯(Kitty Genovese)悲剧案件讲起,1964年,这位住在纽约皇后区丘园的29岁女性遭到了谋杀。这起案件受到了广泛关注和评论。可能你们对这个故事也有所耳闻。据《纽约时报》报道,当时有38个人从自家窗户目睹了这起谋杀,但其中仅一人报警,且为时已晚。 Over the years, I have described this shocking incident many times. So have other social psychologists teaching similar courses, and so did the social scientists who sought to explain how witnesses could exhibit such callous indifference to a horrific crime taking place before their eyes. 数年来,我多次向学生描述这起令人震惊的事件,许多其他社会心理学家也教授过类似课程。社会科学家们试图解释为何目击者们会如此冷漠,对眼前这样可怕的罪行视若无睹。 Here’s the trouble: the standard account of the Kitty Genovese case is wrong in some of its crucial details. 问题在于:标准版中关于凯蒂•吉诺维斯案件的一些重要细节记录有误。 Kitty’s brother, Bill Genovese, produced a film last year called The Witness. In it, he documents that 去年,凯蒂的哥哥比尔•吉诺维斯制作了一部名为《目击者》(The Witness)的电影,其中,他的记录如下: some bystanders were not indifferent: one witness shouted out the window at the attacker, another witness held Kitty in her arms as she died, and several called the police during the attack. 当时, 一些旁观者并非冷漠无情,袖手旁观:一名目击者在窗口大声呵斥袭击者,另一名目击者在凯蒂死时怀抱着她,还有几人在袭击过程中报了警。 So what does it mean that social scientists have been retelling an incorrect version of this story for over fifty years as a paradigmatic example of extreme bystander indifference? Well, among other things, it means that inadvertently we have been perpetuating what could rightly be called a false narrative—a version of events that, while partly true, had been shaped, in this case by a newspaper report, to elicit strong negative emotions like anger, fear, or disgust. 那么,社会科学家为什么要在过去五十年中不断讹传这个故事并以此作为冷漠看客的极端范例呢?暂且不论其他,这至少意味着我们在无意中被错误表述误导了——这种表述尽管部分是真实的,整体上却歪曲了事实。在以上事例中,为了引起诸如愤怒、恐惧或厌恶的强烈负面情绪,报纸歪曲了对原事件的报道。 As an investigator of human emotions, I know that even the most negative feelings can be important to our survival. Anger effectively signals that a goal is being blocked. Fear motivates caution and preparation. Disgust moves us away from things that can make us ill. However, sometimes our friends, family members, politicians, advertisers, pundits, and others look to manipulate our emotions for their own purposes. Anger, fear, and disgust can be highly effective ways to drive eyeballs to websites, consumers to products, or voters to the polls. 我研究人类情绪,明白即使是最负面的情绪都对我们的生存至关重要。愤怒能有效反映出目标遭到了阻碍;恐惧使人谨慎并加以准备;厌恶使人们远离令其不适的事物。然而,有时我们的朋友、家人、政客、广告商以及权威人士等会出于各自的目的而操纵我们的情绪。愤怒、恐惧和厌恶这些情绪可以有效地吸引人们去关注某个网站或商品,或者吸引人们投票。 My sense is that we are bombarded daily by false narratives of various kinds, and that they are doing a great deal of damage. In a national election season, you do not need to look very hard to find them. 我们每天都受到各种“错误表述”的严重困扰,而且这些“错误表述”正给我们带来极大的损失。在大选期间,随处可见。 It is not my purpose today to mock the biggest “whoppers” or award “Pinocchios” for the biggest distortions. Rather, I am only hoping to persuade you that advocates on any side of a question can be tempted to exaggerate or distort or neglect crucial facts in ways that serve primarily to fuel your anger, fear, or disgust. 今天,我并非在嘲笑那个“弥天大谎”,也没有赞赏那些歪曲事实的“匹诺曹们”。我只希望你们能明白,那些主张任何一方立场的人为了煽动你们的愤怒、恐惧或者厌恶情绪,都有可能会夸大、歪曲或者忽略重要的事实。 If I am correct, then an important aspect of your education here will be learning how to recognize and address these kinds of accounts. In the course of that, you should pay especially close attention to the narratives that seem to align best with your own beliefs. To the extent you hold strong political or cultural or religious or economic beliefs, you will simply be like all the rest of us if you gravitate toward explanations that seem to provide confirmation for those beliefs or to demonize those who hold different ones. All of us are strongly predisposed to accept accounts that align with the opinions we already hold, and to ignore or dismiss those that do not. Social media, the blogosphere, and the political process are increasingly drenched with such narratives, inflaming our negative emotions and presenting real barriers to reasoned investigation, productive exchanges between differing views, and the search for common ground on the most challenging problems facing our global societies. 倘若事实如我所言,你们在此接受教育的一个重要方面就是要学会辨别和应对这些错误表述。在此期间,你们需要特别当心那些看似最符合自己价值观的表述。尤其当你们拥有坚定的政治、文化、宗教或者经济观念时,如果你们选择去支持那些看上去证实了你们观点的解释,或者是去妖魔化那些与你们价值观不同的解释,你们就会和其他人一样(被错误表述迷惑)。我们都强烈倾向于接受与自己既有观点相符的表述而忽视或者摒弃那些不相符的表述。社交媒体、博客圈以及政治活动日益充斥着这样的错误表述,它们煽动我们的负面情绪,并且正在妨碍着理性调查,妨碍着不同观点间富有成效的交流,也妨碍了我们在面对全球挑战性问题时寻求共同立场。 So, you are now embarking on an ambitious and hopeful effort to understand the world, your place in it, and what you can contribute to forward progress. How can you address the seductive power of false narratives, especially in a time when grave mistrust on many sides seems to be fueling ever more of them? 而今你们雄心勃勃,希望满满地开始理解世界,寻找自己的位置,探寻如何为人类进步作出贡献。在这个疑云重重,“错误表述”愈演愈烈的时代,该如何应对它的诱惑? It will not surprise you that I am highly aware of false narratives circulating about students like yourselves and higher education in general. I have a thick shelf of contemporary books assuring me that students at elite universities are merely excellent sheep, that a liberal arts degree is a ticket to unemployment, that truly inspired and courageous learners drop out of college to found tech companies, that millennials cannot make decisions without consulting their parents, that college professors have uniform political views, that students these days are fragile hothouse flowers, that it is not possible to achieve an inclusive campus culture without giving up on free speech, and that our colleges and universities are cut off from reality. 不用诧异,我十分了解在你们之间乃至整个高等教育过程中流传的“错误表述”。 满书架的当代书籍都在告诉我:名牌大学的学生们仅仅是“优秀的绵羊”;文科生毕业等于失业;真正富有灵感和勇气的学生都从大学退学去创立科技公司了;“千禧一代”离了父母就没法做决定;大学教授的政见千篇一律;现在的学生脆弱如温室的花朵;如果不放弃言论自由就不可能拥有兼容的校园文化;我们的高等学府脱离了现实。 In response, I want to claim that your Yale education will not only enlarge your imagination, advance your knowledge, and propel your career, but also that it will be absolutely critical to your capacity for playing a positive, leadership role in these increasingly polarized and fractious times. In particular, you are about to be taught by outstanding teachers and mentors, whose lives and careers constitute a powerful witness for the value of a disciplined, reasoned, and careful search for light and truth. 针对以上言论,我要说,在耶鲁受到的教育不仅会丰富你们的想象力、增长你们的学识、激励你们的事业,还对你们在日益分化和浮躁的时代发挥积极正面的领导作用至关重要。特别是,你们将受教于优秀的教师与导师,他们的生活与工作有力见证了人们自律、理性和审慎地追求光明和真理的价值。 What unites our faculty (from engineering to economics to English to environmental studies) is a stubborn skepticism about narratives that oversimplify issues, inflame the emotions, or misdirect the mind. No one is free of biases, of course, but as a community of scholars we subscribe to the ideal of judicious, searching inquiry in the service of reasoned discourse about the matters we investigate and care about the most. We would be lost as academics without this ideal, and our global societies would be lost if universities stopped being places defined by this ideal. 我们全体教师(无论在工程学、经济学,还是英文或者环境研究领域)都有一种坚定的怀疑精神,我们怀疑一切过分简化、煽动情绪或者误导思想的表述。当然,没人能完全摆脱偏见,但是作为学者,我们遵从自己明智的理想,为了理性地表述我们的研究和最为在意的事,我们力求审慎。如果学界没有这一理想,我们将会迷失。如果大学失去这一理想,世界就会迷失。 I could supply you with a long list of the Yale faculty who have spent decades of their lives in laboratories, archives, libraries, and field settings collecting evidence to challenge some received notion, some distorted narrative, or some common wisdom that turned out to be highly questionable. Here are some examples: 我可以列举许许多多耶鲁大学的老师,他们十年如一日地在实验室、档案馆、图书馆和实际场景中收集证据用以挑战已被人们广泛接受的观点、歪曲了的表述以及那些十分可疑的常识。下面这些例子便是如此: many people assume that our legal system was built almost entirely on a secular tradition. But Yale’s professor of medieval history, Anders Winroth, counters the false narrative that contemporary legal reasoning is a radical departure from medieval canon law by showing that in many ways it is rooted in it. 许多人认为我们的法律系统几乎完全建立在世俗传统之上,当代的法律质询彻底地背离了中世纪法规,耶鲁中世纪史教授安德斯•温若斯(Anders Winroth)反驳了这一错误表述——他证明了在许多方面当代法律其实都起源于中世纪法规。 Important cosmologies of the past depended on the assumption that the planet Earth is unique in the universe. Astronomy professor Debra Fischer has discovered many “worlds” (called exoplanets) orbiting around “suns” in solar systems spread throughout our galaxy. 过去重要的宇宙理论都建立在一个假设之上,即地球在宇宙中是独一无二的。天文学教授黛博拉•菲希尔(Debra Fischer)却发现了许多其他“世界”(外星行星),它们环绕着银河系太阳系统中的“太阳们”(外星恒星)运转。 Medical researchers assumed for many years that gender has little to do with the prevalence and course of most illnesses, and that findings from studies with men automatically generalize to women. Carolyn Mazure, the director of the Women’s Health Research Center at Yale, has been investigating critical differences that gender makes in a wide range of biological systems and translates those findings into new health practices. 多年来,医学研究认为性别与多数疾病的传播和发展无关,与男性相关的研究结果自然而然推广适用于女性。耶鲁大学女性健康研究中心主任卡罗琳•马祖尔(Carolyn Mazure)一直在研究性别在各种生物系统中引起的重要差异,并将这些研究成果运用于新的医疗实践中。 Most classically trained economists have modeled human decisions as the result of careful calculations of costs and benefits. Nobel Prize winner Robert Shiller has emerged at the forefront of those who challenge the idea of rational individuals and markets, forcing major revisions to the theory of human behavior on which his field is based. 很多传统经济学家认为人们是经过仔细计算成本与收益后才作出决定。诺贝尔奖得主罗伯特•希勒(Robert Shiller)率先挑战了理性个人与市场理论,大力推动修正经济学领域中的人类行为理论。 When I was a graduate student in psychology, the dominant narrative held that humans learn virtually everything from experience. But psychology professor Karen Wynn has been teaching us that human infants have surprising innate capacities. Five‐month olds appear able to make rudimentary arithmetic calculations. And psychology professor Laurie Santos, the new head of Silliman College, has been showing us that monkeys, too, seem pre‐wired for such complex states as resentment, envy, and cognitive dissonance. 我在攻读心理学硕士时,这个领域的主要观点认为人类学到的一切都源于经验。但是,心理学教授凯伦•怀恩(Karen Wynn )告诉我们婴儿有着惊人的天赋。5个月大的婴儿居然就能进行最基本的算数运算。西利曼学院新任院长、心理学教授劳里•桑托斯(Laurie Santos)向我们展示,猴子也先天具有诸如愤怒、妒忌以及认知失调等复杂状态。 I will close my list of examples by referencing professor of African American and American studies Hazel Carby. Her first book, Reconstructing Womanhood, was an exceptional exploration of the ways in which 19th century black women writers in America confronted and transformed the domestic and literary ideals of womanhood in white society. Professor Carby wrote a telling remark in her foreword to a book called Silencing the Past, highlighting the power of challenging false or incomplete narratives about the marginalized: “We learn how scanty evidence can be repositioned to generate new narratives, how silences can be made to speak for themselves. . .” 最后,我还要提到非裔美国人及美国研究教授哈泽尔・卡比(Hazel Carby)。 她的第一本著作《重建女性时代》是一种卓越的探索,研究了十九世纪美国黑人女作家在白人主导的社会中,如何应对和转变女性的家庭和文学形象。卡比教授在《让过去沉默》一书的序言中强调,要挑战对边缘化群体的错误或片面表述是相当困难的, “我们知道,如何让不足的证据通过重组产生新的表述,如何让沉默自述……” People naturally construct narratives to make sense of their world. I have been concerned to point out that in times of great stress, false narratives may dominate the public mind and public discourse, inflaming negative emotions and fanning discord. In our times especially, a wide array of instantaneous transmissions rapidly amplify such narratives. As a result, we sometimes find that anger, fear, or disgust can blind us to the complexity of the world and the responsibility to seek deeper understandings of important issues. 人们本能地通过建构表述来理解自己的世界。在面对压力时,错误表述会影响公众的思想、操纵舆论、煽动负面情绪、激化矛盾,对此我十分忧心。尤其是在我们的时代,大量的即时信息传播会扩大错误表述。因此,有时候愤怒、恐惧或者厌恶使我们无法看清这个复杂的世界,无法深刻理解重要的问题。 One point of your Yale education, then, is for you to become a more careful and critical thinker—to learn the difficult, painstaking skills you will need in order to evaluate evidence, to deliberate more broadly and more carefully, and to arrive at your own conclusions. 因此,耶鲁教育的重要内容就是让你们具有更加审慎的批判性思维——通过艰苦的努力学会如何评估证据,如何更加广泛和细致地思考,最终得出自己的结论。 More particularly, Yale is a place for you to learn how and why to gravitate toward people who view things differently than you do, who will test your most strongly held assumptions. It is also a place to learn why it takes extraordinary discipline, courage, and persistence—often over a lifetime—to construct new foundations for tackling the most intractable and challenging questions of our time. You have come to a place where civil disagreements and deep rethinking are the heart and soul of the enterprise, where we prize exceptional diversity of views alongside the greatest possible freedom of expression. 更重要的是,你们将在耶鲁学会如何以及为何要去理解那些与自己意见不同的人,他们将会挑战你们曾经深信不疑的见解。你们也将在此明白我们为何需要强大的自律、勇气和耐力——往往穷尽此生——才能建立起新的基础来解决我们这个时代最棘手最具挑战性的问题。在耶鲁,我们重视异见和深思,我们赞赏观点的多元性和言论的最大自由。 So I trust that you will begin immediately to seek out what is best about this place: the faculty and staff and peers who will both inspire you and prepare you to become the investigators, visionaries, and leaders the world so sorely needs. 我相信你们将会立即发现耶鲁最为宝贵之处:那就是这里的师长和同学。他们会激励你,使你做好准备成为世界迫切需要的研究者、有远见的人和领导者。 None of us here can hope for a better world, or even for a more inclusive and exhilarating learning community at Yale, unless we succeed at this mission. You are in fact what gives us hope. You are why we became educators. You are why we are here. 唯有完成这项使命,我们才能有望拥有一个更好的世界,才能在耶鲁建立一个更加兼容、更令人振奋的学习群体。事实上,你们给予了我们希望,你们就是我们教育的根本,就是我们相聚于此的缘由。 Welcome to Yale! 欢迎来到耶鲁! 译注: 1. 凯蒂•吉诺维斯案件: 1964年,美国纽约29岁的凯蒂•吉诺维斯在回家的路上被人袭击。《纽约时报》刊登了这起案件,称当晚虽然有38名邻居听到吉诺维斯的呼救声,仅一人报案,其他人都选择沉默。 2. “优秀的绵羊”: 《优秀的绵羊》是耶鲁大学教授威廉•德雷谢维奇写的一本书,书中认为美国精英教育培养出来的学生大都聪明,有天分,斗志昂扬,但同时又充满焦虑、胆小怕事,对未来一片茫然,极度缺乏目标感。 3. 《重建女性时代》 即Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist 全称:《重建女性时代:非裔美国女作家的兴起》 邓梦寒 (译注)


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