Changing Minds and Fluid Identities

There is a good deal of public discussion, prompted by our political situation and challenges surrounding Covid19, about whether citing facts is effective at getting people to change their minds.

Many people argue that facts aren’t sufficient—one must appeal to emotions in order to be persuasive. But I think this isn’t quite true. Facts can persuade but only when a person is open to having their mind changed.

If you see your beliefs as bound up with an identity you must defend, then you’re likely to resist facts and twist data to rationalize your beliefs. But if you treat ideas as hypotheses to test, then you can use data to update your beliefs. The difficulty is that some beliefs are bound up with our identities, and it’s hard to treat one’s identity as a hypothesis to be updated.

Perhaps this is an argument for fluid identities.

Published by Dwight Furrow

Wine, food, and travel writing, philosophy, aesthetics

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