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Humans need an accurate view of the world to survive. If your model of reality is different from the actual world, then you struggle to take effective actions each day.
However, truth is not the only thing that matters to the human mind. Humans also seem to have a deep desire to belong.
Humans are herd animals. We want to fit in, bond with others, and earn the respect and approval of our peers. Such inclinations are essential to our survival. For most of our evolutionary history, our ancestors lived in tribes. Becoming separated from the tribe—or worse, being cast out—was a death sentence.
Convincing someone to change their mind is the process of convincing them to change their tribe. If they abandon their beliefs, they run the risk of losing social ties. You can’t expect someone to change their mind if you take away their community too. You have to give them somewhere to go. Nobody wants their worldview torn apart if loneliness is the outcome.
The way to change people’s minds is to become friends with them, integrate them into your tribe, and bring them into your circle. Now, they can change their beliefs without the risk of being abandoned socially.
Years ago, Ben Casnocha mentioned an idea to me that I haven't been able to shake: The people who are most likely to change our minds are the ones we agree with on 98 percent of topics.
If someone you know, like, and trust believes a radical idea, you are more likely to give it merit, weight, or consideration. You already agree with them in most areas of life. Maybe you should change your mind on this one too. But if someone wildly different than you proposes the same radical idea, well, it's easy to dismiss them as a crackpot.
There is another reason bad ideas continue to live on, which is that people continue to talk about them.
Silence is death for any idea. An idea that is never spoken or written down dies with the person who conceived it. Ideas can only be remembered when they are repeated. They can only be believed when they are repeated.
I have already pointed out that people repeat ideas to signal they are part of the same social group. But here's a crucial point most people miss:
People also repeat bad ideas when they complain about them. Before you can criticize an idea, you have to reference that idea.
Why do you want to criticize bad ideas in the first place? Presumably, you want to criticize bad ideas because you think the world would be better off if fewer people believed them. In other words, you think the world would improve if people changed their minds on a few important topics.
If the goal is to change minds, then I don't believe criticizing the other side is the best approach. Most people argue to win, not to learn.
The brilliant Japanese writer Haruki Murakami once wrote, “Always remember that to argue, and win, is to break down the reality of the person you are arguing against. It is painful to lose your reality, so be kind, even if you are right.”
When we are in the moment, we can easily forget that the goal is to connect with the other side, collaborate with them, befriend them, and integrate them into our tribe. We are so caught up in winning that we forget about connecting. It's easy to spend your energy labeling people rather than working with them.
I am interested in ideas be it primitive or modern
What's going on here? Why don't facts change our minds? And why would someone continue to believe a false or inaccurate idea anyway? How do such behaviors serve us?
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