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Old November 13 2012, 09:34 PM   #1
Mary Bailey
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What would it take to make you change your mind?

Ongoing studies into how people make decisions and form opinions are increasingly coming to the discovery that human beings are not the logical, rational creatures we would like to think. Most key decisions are primarily informed not by complex weighing of pros and cons, but by emotional impulse.

Neurological studies are showing that when people debate or discuss topics they are not looking to listen and learn, but to reinforce previously held views. (Like they needed MRI scanners for that - members of any internet forum could have told 'em!) And people are actually predisposed by their brains to hear and note those things which support their own views, and to be 'deaf' to those things which contradict them. So that prat who is ignoring the facts in your debate is in fact predisposed to notice one set of facts, while you're predisposed to notice a different set.

Which brings me to the question: what would it take to make you change you mind? On any topic - you call it: religion, politics, liking or disliking a person, your favourite biscuit... what would make you rethink your opinion and actually face the awesome truth "I could be wrong"?

I'm sure there will be people here so confident in their own beliefs and opinions that they cannot imagine anything would cause them to rethink their view. But I'm challenging people...

What would it take to make you change your mind?
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Old November 13 2012, 09:42 PM   #2
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Re: What would it take to make you change your mind?

My boss actually greeted me with a joke this morning that he knew I'd like, "Ever since I learned about confirmation bias I've been seeing it everywhere!"


This is a topic I am very interested in! I love learning about the human brain, and especially the ways in which our own minds deceive us. I know I am victim to the same fallacious reasoning, emotional judgement, and biases as everyone else, but I do strive to make myself aware of that and to learn as much as I can. So for me, substantial and sound evidence is all it takes. I don't tend to have a problem admitting when I'm wrong (so long as I can recognize it).
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Old November 13 2012, 09:49 PM   #3
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Re: What would it take to make you change your mind?

I'm constantly re-evaluating everything, so it doesn't take a whole lot.

I actually have done a complete 180 on both politics and religion. For both, I was raised one way. However, given a chance to consider both subjects I came to the conclusion that what I'd always thought was right, actually wasn't (for me).
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Old November 13 2012, 09:57 PM   #4
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Re: What would it take to make you change your mind?

I've already done so, on many things. When I was in high school, I was a fundamentalist Christian who believed that he was as straight as an arrow, conservative to a fault, and as morally and ethically chaste as any holy man.

We see how that went, didn't we?

Like Ood Sigma, I am constantly evaluating and re-evaluating everything. If I am given sufficient cause, and the data to support it, I will change my mind.
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Old November 13 2012, 10:14 PM   #5
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Re: What would it take to make you change your mind?

Interesting topic. I've certainly been in situations where I've concluded something like that myself, independent of reading actual studies. That people can be emotionally predisposed to notice one set of facts or evidence while downplaying or ignoring another seemed the only explanation for some behaviours I've seen from highly intelligent people. It's particularly notable when I'm evidently predisposed towards "the other", but find myself in a minority - and sometimes I believe I can see why most people's emotional instinct would pull them the first way, which helps.

I think everyone's mind is engaged in the process of fending off instability, nihilism or other threats to our ability to function by drawing on deeply held convictions regarding what's important to us, and the mind doesn't take kindly to those security structures being threatened. It's a matter of psychological survival. Thus, someone who is otherwise very quick to accept new information or consider new points of view can react with uncharacteristic aggression to something that undermines whatever it is that gives them that security. Emotional need and the comfort of safety overrides the other impulses to learn, consider and explore, I think.

What differs between people is what those "untouchable" things are - for some people it won't be politics or religion at all. However, to a lot of people, I think, it's still tribal identity in some form that offers assurance and stability, so the need to promote and defend the boundaries of that identity leaves them slow to accept challenges to their politics, religion, family structure, cultural traditions, race and all the other things that feed into that identity. Of course, what they consider threatening differs quite a bit, from simply having to confront someone different in the most vulnerable/intolerant through various degrees of interpreting other people's assertions or actions as an assault on them (rightly or wrongly). But I think that everyone has this need to hold certain understandings and aspects of identity sacred, whether its tribe/politics or not, and changing your mind on whatever it is is always going to be a tall order, regardless of how otherwise logical and open-minded you are.

I guess it depends on what exactly the emotional centres of your brain have latched on to. In my case, I'm intrigued by what I see as a positive process of personal growth that's nonetheless causing me considerable problems, because I think that in challenging my dysfunctional thinking regarding myself and my relations to others, I'm in the process of undermining my own defensive structures against that instability and nihilism. I knew who I was throughout adolescence, but that sense of what defined me and my personal history wasn't healthy. Yet, nonethless, I think that formed the core of my identity. I was a scared and hurt little boy who was rejected by the group and wasn't worth anything, and who was angry over it. It's quite telling that most things other people get heated about - politics, religion, history, etc - I was usually very chill about except if it in some way touched on my own identity as an adolescent male trying to find a place in the world. Then suddenly I was in there, eyes red and teeth bared. Because while I don't go in for the tribal mindset the way most people do, I'm still like everyone else in that regard - my brain clung selfishly to the security that came with knowing who I was and what was important, and nothing could be permitted to threaten that.

In a sense, I've been "changing my mind" a lot this last year, and I've had to learn to let go of strongly-held assumptions as they've revealed themselves to be less than healthy. The patterns into which I'd set myself in adolescence I've had to challenge (it's an ongoing process, two steps forward, one step back, etc ), and I've needed to confront a lot of my perceptions regarding what's important to me and how I construct my sense of my own life and history. Move into something healthier, having come to terms with my past. And the irony is that there's a troubling side effect to this positive awakening - I'm fending off a lot of nihilism and insecurity and general panic at present, because, I believe, I've basically been cleaning out the part of my mind that provided the sacred and the secure. And it needed cleaning out, no doubt about it. But now I have to replace it.

Does this make the slightest kind of sense?
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Last edited by Deranged Nasat; November 13 2012 at 10:34 PM.
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Old November 13 2012, 10:16 PM   #6
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Re: What would it take to make you change your mind?

I'm way too wishy washy on most things, but I'm stubborn as hell on the rest. If something violates my idea of what's fair, I get angry and dig in my heels.
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Old November 13 2012, 10:18 PM   #7
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Re: What would it take to make you change your mind?

^ And smash.
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Old November 13 2012, 10:19 PM   #8
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Re: What would it take to make you change your mind?

What would it take to make me change my mind? Insight. Intelligence. And humour never fails
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Old November 13 2012, 10:25 PM   #9
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Re: What would it take to make you change your mind?

Kestra wrote: View Post
I'm way too wishy washy on most things, but I'm stubborn as hell on the rest. If something violates my idea of what's fair, I get angry and dig in my heels.
Wishy washy isn't actually that bad a thing to be:
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Old November 13 2012, 10:31 PM   #10
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Re: What would it take to make you change your mind?

I remember a wise old colleague saying to me "As I get older I get more and more certain about fewer and fewer things". I find it interesting how many things were once central to my belief structure or identity just don't seem to matter much any more, but there's that handful of things I'd fight tooth and nail for.
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Old November 13 2012, 10:32 PM   #11
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Re: What would it take to make you change your mind?

I will change my mind if I'm proved wrong.

Problem is, I've never been proved wrong. It's a curse I have to bear.
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Old November 13 2012, 10:33 PM   #12
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Re: What would it take to make you change your mind?

what will make me change my mind is my partner for example i say we are not going shopping she says yeah we are. we go shopping
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Old November 13 2012, 10:33 PM   #13
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Re: What would it take to make you change your mind?

We all get stuck in our ways to a certain extent. Some of us are more resistant to change than others, but a fair few people will relspond to a well reasoned and logical argument that is stripped of emotional language.

Emotional based arguments or an argument coached in emotional terms, can get a similiar response from the other party.

Centuries ago most people believed the world was flat, that viewpoint has changed. Most people today believe in the Theory of Evolution and one point that was tantamount to heresy.
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Old November 13 2012, 10:42 PM   #14
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Re: What would it take to make you change your mind?

RevdKathy wrote: View Post
I remember a wise old colleague saying to me "As I get older I get more and more certain about fewer and fewer things". I find it interesting how many things were once central to my belief structure or identity just don't seem to matter much any more, but there's that handful of things I'd fight tooth and nail for.
I would imagine that in your youth you build a simple structure from what you judge to be good materials, a structure that will stand strong and provide a foundation for your perceptions to dwell in. You don't have much at hand at the moment, but this is going to be the base of whatever it is you build, so it must be sturdy. Appearance-wise it will be limited. As you live your life and experience a variety of things, you build on the original design more and more, taking it off on tangents, experimenting here and there, and that original stark, strong but limiting structure becomes lost under an eclectic collection of design features and interior decoration that is comfortably diverse and wonderfully confusing. You don't need to be so certain and sure now, because you've long had a home where you once were building a house.
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Old November 13 2012, 10:58 PM   #15
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Re: What would it take to make you change your mind?

I only change my mind if its 100% proven that I'm wrong, otherwise nope, no way.
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