Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

8.27.2013

Seeking the Middle Ground

This makes a lot of sense, but it's rather counter-intuitive and not obvious.  And also, I'm thinking, not easy to implement and adopt as a regular habit.

Want to Win a Political Debate?  Try Making a Weaker Argument

The arguments people make are those that appear the strongest to themselves and the people who already agree with them. But such arguments tend to be meaningless to people who disagree.

How does this happen?

It starts with the universal desire to protect against threats to your self-image or self-worth. People are driven to view themselves in a positive light, and they will interpret information and take action in ways that preserve that view. The need to maintain self-worth is one reason we attribute our failures to external factors (bad luck), but our success to internal factors (skill.) . . .

 . . . The takeaway from all three studies is that information is more likely to have the desired effect if, on net, it doesn’t lower a person’s self-worth.

Research by Nyhan and Reifler on what they’ve termed the “backfire effect” also suggests that the more a piece of information lowers self-worth, the less likely it is to have the desired impact. Specifically, they have found that when people are presented with corrective information that runs counter to their ideology, those who most strongly identify with the ideology will intensify their incorrect beliefs. . . .

How does all of this play out in a real-world policy debate? Imagine you’re a dedicated social liberal who is attempting to show a conservative friend the joys of gun control. You put your trump card on the table right away: Gun control saves lives. All evidence from around the world and within the U.S. points to that conclusion. You smirk, knowing that there’s no way somebody can deny that argument.

But things appear different to your friend. The upshot of your argument is that he has spent years supporting a set of policies that kill people. And yet he knows there’s no way that could be true because he’s a good person who wants what’s best for the world. So what you’re saying has to be false. It’s not even worth considering. . . .

If you’re trying to convince a friend to change his views, it might be worthwhile to go against your instincts and hit him with all your weakest points.

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