Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.” – Leo Tolstoy

In other words, more than often it is a hassle to convince a man on something he already has a prior belief in.

Humans by default, are herd animals. They need to socialize, to fit in, to bond, earn respect and approval to survive; and to cut even one off from this societal dependence is not possible.

Different humans believe in different things. Some deny climate change and other disagree over topics such as abortion or vaccines, while many believe the Earth to be flat: everyone has a truth of their own.

Understanding the truth of a situation is important, but so is remaining part of a tribe, and to man, his beliefs are like a tribe he belongs to, and to ask one to change his beliefs is the same as asking him to abandon his tribe.

And man being a social creature requires social acceptance to fit in, so whether he lets a fact change his mind or not, is entirely dependent on whether the said fact is socially acceptable, rather than factually accurate.

We don’t always believe things because they are correct, sometimes we believe things because they make us look good in front of society. That would explain why we tend to look the other way when our parents say something offensive.

Our social relations and connections impact our absorbency greatly.

The readiness of the mind, the information being given, the subject through which said information is being given, all determine whether someone would believe in something said to them.

Humans are irrational creatures. Unlike robots and artificial intelligence (that can be programmed to learn), we attach emotions, ego and pride to our beliefs and hold onto them despite their weak link to reality or social standing. Being able to win an argument, more than being factually correct helps people gain status in society.

The fear of feeling or look like you’re wrong, feeling confused, or insecure results in reluctance to learn.

Thus facts, in many cases don’t change our minds, and whether we change, or spend our time finding proof that we do not need given change, is an inter-personal debate.


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