[extropy-chat] Changing Other Poster's Minds

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sun Apr 29 10:12:08 UTC 2007

Heartland opines on his prospects of getting folks to see the truth,
and quotes first

> Eugen:
>> I wish I could murder that thread. It never goes anywhere.
> Define "anywhere." I hope you don't define it as, "everyone
> involved adopts Eugen Leitl's position."

I dunno; but he's right in the sense that you almost *never* see anyone
change positions in real time.  That is, you never see anyone say, "Oh,
thank you!  Now I see the light!  How could I have been so mistaken?
Thanks for straightening me out!"

That *never* happens in deep political or philosophical discussions
because (a) emotions are involved (b) positions have been years or
decades in the making, and contrary information has during all that
time filtered out, and (c) even when our position is irrevocably
weakened, we rationalize in order to preserve the integrity of our
beliefs (i.e. wholeness of them), and in order to avoid losing face.

> I used to think I could convince someone of my beliefs about
> survival in a matter of few posts.

Ha!  Evidently you never engaged in political arguments with the 
same people over years.  I had the good fortune while I was a 
Christian conservative of talking at length nearly every school
day with a Deist liberal from age 12 to age 17.  The symmetry
of our positions was quickly obvious to us, and neither considered
the other simply wrong.  We each realized that we were---although
Thomas Sowell's wonderful phrase had not yet been coined---
struggling with a deep conflict of visions.  Anyway, I learned at a
very tender age that neither "a few posts" nor many hours' discussion
is going to change anyone's mind.

But that is *not* the same thing as saying that minds never change.
See below!

> The reality is that it takes many steps to change someone's mind.
> At each step you need to convince him/her of some point that is
> necessary to build your argument. It's a slow process that could
> take years or even decades depending on how emotionally
> attached a person is to his/her irrational beliefs...

Tch, tch, tch.  You don't get it.  The other beliefs are *not* irrational.
I wish that you and John Clark could see this. It's possible that they're
not even incorrect.  It's possible that it's a "conflict of visions" sort of

But change of mind *does* happen, and here is how.  I hope in the
present discussion, for example, that as soon as it ends and you have
a chance to think about other things for a few years, the awkwardnesses
of some of the things that you have had to assert to us will unconsciously
begin to tell on your beliefs.  (Naturally, you are entitled to hope that the
same thing happens to us.)  It takes at least months, more often, as you
say years, and it can take decades.

But it does *not* mean that the discussions are futile. They not only
accomplish what I just described, but allow each of us to analyse and
consistentize (if I may coin a term) our positions, and within our own
schemes seek a more rational stable position.

> So even though a casual observer might think that no progress is
> being made, this debate moves forward (if we ignore the hecklers).


> I admit that it moves forward at snail's pace but that shouldn't surprise
> anyone. After all, people are intimately connected to their ideas of
> survival and abandoning them involves overcoming emotional obstacles
> which takes a long time.

Quite right.

> And besides, it's fun to talk about these things and argue (politely)
> with people. 

Evidently :-)

> If you don't want to play, then don't play but stop planning on taking
> away our ball. That would be totally not cool.

Well said.


> Lee:
>> I may disagree with someone's opinion, but I will defend to
>> the death their right to be understood correctly.   :-)
> ..and you are doing it admirably, I might add. :)

Thank you!

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