Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Facts Don’t Change People’s Minds. Here’s What Does

Here are some extracts from an article I read that I feel are insightful and my comments on them.

As a result of the well-documented confirmation bias, we tend to undervalue evidence that contradicts our beliefs and overvalue evidence that confirms them. We filter out inconvenient truths and arguments on the opposing side. As a result, our opinions solidify, and it becomes increasingly harder to disrupt established patterns of thinking.

My comment: Yes, when people would like a certain idea to be true, they end up believing it to be true. They then reject any idea, as insightful as they may be, that casts doubt on their idea. They collect evidence by selecting what suits them and discard whatever challenges either their existing believe or what is commonly believed because it was ‘discovered’ by a top researcher.

 “Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.” John Kenneth Galbraith

“We believe in alternative facts if they support our preexisting beliefs.”

My comment: Yes, but there could be other matters besides preexisting beliefs affecting the decision not to accept. Including the following:
i.                     One of them could be EGO. Why should ‘we experts’ on education agree with what someone who is not even involved in education had discovered? What will the public think of us? Let us squash this.
ii.                   Monetary gains. I think I should leave this to your imagination.

“If facts don’t work, how do you change a mind–whether it’s your own or your neighbor’s?
We’re reluctant to acknowledge mistakes. To avoid admitting we were wrong, we’ll twist ourselves into positions that even seasoned yogis can’t hold.”

My comment:This is a little difficult for me to understand.  I have no problem accepting facts, contrary to my belief, that have been revealed to me and it makes sense to me. I have said many times that whatever I know about teaching disengaged students is what I have learned from my students. When I am wrong, I just accept it, say sorry and move on. No one other than me will ever remember this after a few months. I think we often worry unnecessarily about what this or that guy will think when in actual fact no one cares. 

“A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still” - Dale Carnegie.

“Make a point to befriend people who disagree with you. Expose yourself to environments where your opinions can be challenged, as uncomfortable and awkward as that might be.”

My comment: This is easier said than done especially when the battle is between ‘David and Goliath’. No one actually knows that Goliath is blind – in my case I have a few Goliath to contend with. (Read the latest book by Malcolm Gladwell – 'David and Goliath'. If I may promote him now, he writes books that are well worth reading.)

“Marc Andreessen has a saying that I love: “Strong beliefs, loosely held.” Strongly believe in an idea, but be willing to change your opinion if the facts show otherwise.”

My comment: Excellent suggestion but difficult for most brains to do because of brain plasticity.
 “The one thing we know about plasticity, which is the capacity to adjust and adapt, is its greatest when the brain is immature, and it is less as the brain becomes more mature.’ (Shonkoff J.)

Ask yourself, “What fact would change one of my strongly held opinions?” If the answer is “no fact would change my opinion,” you’re in trouble. A person who is unwilling to change his or her mind even with an underlying change in the facts is, by definition, a fundamentalist.
In the end, it takes courage and determination to see the truth instead of the convenient.
But it’s well worth the effort.

My comment: Agreed.

Here is an interesting find for your info.
“If a woman's sexual and reproductive health are in good working condition, the first sperm to cross the finish line (enter the egg) succeeds in fertilizing it."Helper" sperm can also be credited for easing fertilization by allowing this particular sperm access to and contact with the mature egg during its trip. With conception initiated, the now fertilized egg sets off some mechanisms, such as thickening of cervical mucus and hardening of its outer surface (zona pellucida), to block all other sperm from entering the egg.”

“The human mind is a lot like the human egg, and the human egg has a shut-off device. When one sperm gets in, it shuts down so the next one can’t get in.” — Charlie Munger


Unknown said...

Simply put. This problem arises from a disease call "Intellectual Arrogance" period.

Luqman Michel said...

Thank you for your comment. Much appreciated. In future you could add a nick-name. Any nick name so that I may be able to address you with that name.
Wish you well.