Why we don't change our minds in arguments

  (21 April 11)
  by

How often have you gone into an ‘argument’ with someone holding other views saying to yourself “I’ve got the facts and I’ll convince him/her by the weight of my argument”?

 And how often did this not work out that way?

 Climate science is the example of this par excellence these days. People on both sides shake their heads that others can’t see the ‘truth’ as they see it. And they vilify the other side as money-wasters or planet destroyers.

 We’ve read about how strong pre-existing views are held by others and how hard it is to get them to change their minds. Turns out it is almost impossible.  And this even in the sciences where objective truth is supposed to be the norm.

 In this piece the literature on psychology, neuroscience and related disciplines is mined deeply to show us what’s going on. Some fascinating experiments are reported.

 What I’m now waiting for is a report on how we get to be as bloody-minded as we seem to end up. Is it genetic or cultural? How much of each? But that's another story. For the moment just how one-eyed we are in arguments or discussions. 

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