Opening Insights: Renouncing Erroneous Opinions

I may be wrong in regard to any or all of them;
but holding it a sound maxim, that it is better to be only sometimes right,
than at all times wrong, so soon as I discover my opinions to be erroneous, I shall be ready to renounce them. 


How true are the words of  Abraham Lincoln? Yet in reality few of us are able to actually apply his wisdom to our lives. Why is this so...? It is known a the Backfire Effect.

Informational Insights: Change Your Mind

Let's say you're say you're having an argument with a friend about oh, let's say, Obamacare, or even who the best quarterback in the NFL is. You present your friend with a set of facts that you would think would clinch your argument. And yet, while the facts you present clearly contradict your friend's position, you discover that presenting your friend with these facts does nothing to correct his or her false or unsubstantiated belief. In fact, your friend is even more emboldened in his or her belief after being exposed to corrective information.

A group of Dartmouth researchers have studied the problem of the so-called "backfire effect," which is defined as the effect in which "corrections actually increase misperceptions among the group in question."

The problem here may be the way your friend is receiving these facts. Since your friend knows you and your opinions well, he or she does not view you as an "omniscient" source of information. When it comes to receiving corrective information about a public policy issue, the authors of the Dartmouth study note:

"people typically receive corrective information within 'objective' news reports pitting two sides of an argument against each other, which is significantly more ambiguous than receiving a correct answer from an omniscient source. In such cases, citizens are likely to resist or reject arguments and evidence contradicting their opinions – a view that is consistent with a wide array of research."

So when we read a news story that presents both sides of an issue, we simply pick the side we happen to agree with and it reinforces our viewpoint. But what of those individuals who don't simply resist challenges to their views, but who actually come to hold their original opinion even more strongly?

The authors describe the "backfire effect" as a possible result of:

"the process by which people counterargue preference-incongruent information and bolster their preexisting views. If people counterargue unwelcome information vigorously enough, they may end up with 'more attitudinally congruent information in mind than before the debate,' which in turn leads them to report opinions that are more extreme than they otherwise would have had."


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Possibilities for Consideration: No Communication When Nobody Can Hear

  • How do we communicate with people who DO NOT want to see?
  • How do we communicate with people who DO NOT want to hear?
  • How do we communicate with people who ALREADY KNOW (what is right)?
  • How do we communicate with people who DO NOT CARE ABOUT TRUTH, ONLY ABOUT BEING RIGHT?

Add Your Insight:

Although to our automatic brain, change always means potential danger.
In order to calm that brain, it means embracing change
so to turn on the light in our mind and open the door to our true potential.