Friday, October 21, 2011

Changing Minds, Part II

[Read Part I below first.]
It occurs to me that the way the facts are presented may have something to do with whether they are successfully received or not. The Archie Bunkers aside, if the "fact" is presented helpfully; e.g., unthreateningly; then they have a better chance of success.
But apparently it makes no difference. We can like the person telling us, maybe even like the way he is telling us, but we simply won’t accept his facts, figures, points. We will rationalize the new input away.
That "rationalize" is an interesting word. Its quaternary meaning is "to think rationally." What birthers do, for instance, when faced with reality, it to "exempt" themselves from it. Deniers exempt themselves from rational discourse.
We all have our own set of biases. Even when they cause suffering or death, we cling to them. Sometimes the result is to cleanse the gene pool, although the powerful sometimes take the rest of the pool with them. Most recently, Gaddafi tried to maintain his biases and his demise was preceded by many other deaths. Saddam Hussein similarly went down with his biases. Hitler caused perhaps the most famous Gotterdammerung because he couldn’t change his mind.
Is there a fix? If there is one, then it likely revolves around what company we keep. Do we only talk to people who agree with us? Do we only watch media outlets that tell us what we want to hear? If we like what we hear on FOX, then we should take a look at MSNBC also. Lovers of religious works should also read Christopher Hitchens or Sam Harris. The gullible should read and
A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows. — Samuel Clemens


  1. I apologize for being late with my comment. I love both of your posts, part one and part two, Changing minds. You have eloquently expressed thoughts that are identical to my own. It is almost like you have read my mind and then plagiarized it. We must have the same chemicals in our brains!

  2. Must be the shared birth date--everyone born on 23 Jan is probably a little bit crazy.
    Thanks for the comment. I have a bunch of material backed up in the que and need to find the time to update this blog (not to mention the book chapters).