About the author

Matt is the author, co-author, secondary-author, ghost-author, and non-author of articles, speeches, book chapters, and even entire books! Next will be the bestseller "Losing My Religions." Currently, he is President of One Step for Animals; previously, he was shitcanned from more nonprofits than there is room to list here. Before Matt’s unfortunate encounter with activism, he was an aerospace engineer who wanted to work for NASA to impress Carl Sagan. His hobbies include photography, almost dying, and {REDACTED} He lives in Tucson with Anne and no dogs, no cats, and no African tortoises (although he cares for all of these).

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Why Facts Don't Change Minds

Full article; excerpts:

“People are embraced or condemned according to their beliefs, so one function of the mind may be to hold beliefs that bring the belief-holder the greatest number of allies, protectors, or disciples, rather than beliefs that are most likely to be true.”

We don't always believe things because they are correct. Sometimes we believe things because they make us look good to the people we care about....

Any idea that is sufficiently different from your current worldview will feel threatening. And the best place to ponder a threatening idea is in a non-threatening environment. As a result, books are often a better vehicle for transforming beliefs than conversations or debates.

In conversation, people have to carefully consider their status and appearance. They want to save face and avoid looking stupid. When confronted with an uncomfortable set of facts, the tendency is often to double down on their current position rather than publicly admit to being wrong.

Books resolve this tension. With a book, the conversation takes place inside someone's head and without the risk of being judged by others. It's easier to be open-minded when you aren't feeling defensive.

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....

“Every time you retweet or quote tweet someone you’re angry with, it helps them. It disseminates their BS. Hell for the ideas you deplore is silence. Have the discipline to give it to them.”

Your time is better spent championing good ideas than tearing down bad ones. Don't waste time explaining why bad ideas are bad. You are simply fanning the flame of ignorance and stupidity.



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