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Thread: How to change the mind of the wingnuts - psychology

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jokodo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    I largely don't think you do change the mind of wing-nuts, for a number of reasons. One of the bigger ones is that a major component of political affiliation is genetically inherited.
    The history of human migrations tells a different story.

    Some of the reddest counties in the eastern half of the US are in the Appalachia region - in large part settled by settlers from the Scottish Lowlands. Some of the bluest patches are the very places where Polish and Irish Catholic immigrants make up a large proportion of the current population's ancestral stock.

    If you know the first thing about European politics, you'll recognise that present-day Poland and Ireland are much more conservative than present-day Scotland, and the Lowlands in particular. Now, unless you want to claim that Poland and Ireland selectively saw the more liberal part of their population emigrate, and the Lowlands selectively parted with their more conservative denizens, you got a problem.

    If you do claim that, I'd like some evidence. Actual evidence, not vaguely related studies that don't really show what you're claiming but make it seem somewhat plausible when coupled with a few additional assumptions you also find plausible.
    Well, actually, you don't need to reach that far back. All you have to postulate is that in modern day people have been self-assorting into political enclaves. Which is actually happening. For example, if I were to draw a stereotype of someone from West Virginia, they would be very liberal, hippie musician types. Of course, that's because those were the sorts that left West Virginia to come to a city on one of the coasts.

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Fine strands are fine if they are strong like those of spider webs. J842P your thread is exceedingly weak not spider web-like at all. Almost no WVians came to any coast and the music you speak of actually comes from further south and west. Not saying your thesis is wrong, just saying that your example sucks.

    I'm pretty comfortable with the idea of those able self sorting and and those not able staying home on the one hand. For those those dreading where they are I'm comfortable with those not able to survive where they are shifting to otherwise whether it be climate or income be driving reasons.

    I'v always been guided by the tendency of those in the MW building shelters and systems to protect themselves from tornadoes whilst those in warmer southern climes being more likely to accept tornadoes as the will of God. Both groups ten to be conservative and God fearing, it's just that those who have to cope with cold seem to be more motivated to do something. Climate is a factor in some social behavior. Yet, politics and religion seem similar in both. For example On the left coast we've become used to recruiting engineers from the midwest and actors from the south even though both regions are based on farm driven needs for skills and capabilities.

    It's when you get down in to the dirt of us versus them one needs to put dampers on the impulse to resort to such as genetics.

  3. Top | #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    BTW if one lives in a community dominated by bullies and they burn crosses in front yards being a racist is probably a very rational move by white males in particular. Invisibility helps.
    I should change my terminology. The behavior can be very rational, what I mean is that it's not necessarily rationalized, or even better - consciously chosen. This is the trap I think many of us fall into when we speak of changing minds. It starts from the presumption that political positions have been deliberated over in the first place, and aren't a product of both genetic and social forces.

    The case of someone sitting down and deliberating over a choice using data and evidence is very uncommon. People have affinity to both liberal and conservative positions for a variety of reasons, I would argue that those reasons rarely arise from a full understanding of the positions themselves - on both the liberal and conservative side.

    It's an important point because if you want to change someone's behavior you're not overcoming some kind of error in logic, you're overcoming the sum-total of genetic and social forces that lead to the position. If humans were fully rational and acted to the benefit of the species as a whole (they don't), then you'd just need to converge on people who believed the wrong things and talk to them for a while. Obviously in practice this doesn't work, and nobody really believes it can or else they would be knocking on doors rather than acting predominantly online.

    To me Rhea's question frames the problem from the wrong angle - the question isn't how we change minds, the question is how we limit fallout from various political positions. For example, liberals typically do attain higher quality of life for their electorate, but liberalism taken to the extreme can cause problems - modern Greece, the USSR come to mind. Conversely, conservative thought taken to the extreme can also cause problems - the U.S. being the obvious example.

    So the problem isn't so much convincing people to believe the right things, it's forming a government that doesn't allow the worst aspects of both liberalism and conservatism to be realized. This is exactly what we have in Canada. When there's a majority it can cause problems, but generally there is natural restraint on our parties who've formed government. In result Canada is somewhat centrist, and very well-functioning.

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    OK I'm going to focus on two oF your points. Test. See if you can find them.

    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    It's an important point because if you want to change someone's behavior you're not overcoming some kind of error in logic, you're overcoming the sum-total of genetic and social forces that lead to the position.

    To me Rhea's question frames the problem from the wrong angle - the question isn't how we change minds, the question is how we limit fallout from various political positions.

    So the problem isn't so much convincing people to believe the right things, it's forming a government that doesn't allow the worst aspects of both liberalism and conservatism to be realized. This is exactly what we have in Canada. When there's a majority it can cause problems, but generally there is natural restraint on our parties who've formed government. In result Canada is somewhat centrist, and very well-functioning.
    You, the individual, are really up against it in most modern societies. Think about dictators and democracies with social elites. Change can take place there very rapidly. That is primarily because in societies the governed give control to others in order, primarily, to lead lives with few stresses. Even if this isn't entirely correct it serves for what follows.

    Example: Life was becoming dangerous because of rising popularity in the carrying of knives in public in Mid 1800s England. Government wasn't working, police was failing, citizens were leaving the streets in fear of harm. However the upper crust became irritated in guests being assaulted at parties. So they established etiquette for removing knives from being worn at these gatherings. Well, nobody wanted to be excluded just because it was fashionable to wear knives at their party throwers shindigs. Knives more or less disappeared without legislation in months.

    In dictatorships the fullf orce and power of government is at the whim of the dictator which leads to similar results. When too many citizens die from jumping off ten story buildings into snow banks in Moscow causing many gang fights about how the jump was monitored. If dear leader arrests everybody nearby very harshly and publicly the rest get the picture.

    Point, what you hate isn't what people think and say it is that social norms often tend to let the aggressive have too large a megaphone permitting them to act out. What those who actually have power and sway over fashion and bravery and trust, and citizenship,need do is find elites or means to curtail such excesses. News reports. News does not need to report lies or accusations aimed at causing dissent and fear. One can speak all one wants,but the public microphone need not rebroadcast it. Currently in the democracies news has become for profits so normal pay collars aren't in place when 'leaders' refuse to lead. Rather these sources of information distribution are permitting publication of fear and lies into public discourse without the normal paywall commercials demand from spouting of them.

    It's a mess up of the free press allowing influence from 'political speakers' in the name of profit to permit such toxic stuff. The people who spout defund this and that need to refine what they mean in simple terms that will engage people. It's about time we start hearing Policing is to serve and encourage safety rather than to militantly protect.

    Finally, in conclusion, as a footnote, a final remark of two or three or ....

    Mahar tonite opened up the problem of specific elites (leftist,democratic, intellectual, yada yada) becoming toxic as being a problem for the notion of managing social tone.

    I agree. I think those who want to change the course of mood and discourse can manipulate moods through commercial means as the professional sports unions are now doing. We should use take a knee and black lives matter. We should emphasize policing is defusing situations, serving, providing community support, while military force is to be used only against our foreign adversaries.

    No american, whatever her political bent, should never be the target of american safety and security forces with lethal or injury causing tools.

    Naive, yes in the extreme only.

    Almost all civil problems can be resolved with minimum force. I'm in favor of large 5 to 15 feet high loads of foam - fire retardant comes to mind - being unleashed on violent crowds. I would like to see sticky stuff balloons being launched into large crowds to stop foot traffic after proper caution have been issued. Get rid of batons. Issue instant glue guns permanently affixed to the officer to quell rioters. Nothing worse than a person with super glue on his hands getting stuck on himself or a friend ending his participation in meanness.

    The riot control vehicle becomes peacekeeper clown cars and trucks featuring sticky, gummy, and foamy. Nothing stops a riot like an outbreak of laughter.
    Last edited by fromderinside; 08-09-2020 at 05:02 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Genetic outcomes are the outcome of random experiments. To suggest that political preferences are genetically determined suggests political preferences have been a thing for thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of years. I'm pretty sure authoritarian regimes of various sorts were the thing during late probably varying between strength and wit dominance during the hunter gatherer era. Mind really began to matter when agriculture came on the scene. Now we're moving into an abundance catastrophe capability era.

    Do you actually think genetics is leading this evolution? Politics is a process where choice enters into social decisions. Social decisions are rightly likely to be common preference molded. However common preference changes with the weather, or any survival factor, literally. Such is not genetic determination.

    Humans have been in a rapidly evolving mode for the last two million years suggesting continued stress on fitness. Constancy isn't among the things that cause genetic tendencies to vary. So any notion that such as politics, a fairly recent happenstance among humans, is driving choice seems a bit far fetched.
    I haven't claimed that political preferences are genetically determined, I've claimed that they're partially genetically determined. This isn't a personal theory, this is a topic I've researched, the literature exists. I'd suggest starting here.
    You did however opine that changing the minds of "wingnuts" is pretty much a futile exercise, and stated the genetic component of political affiliation as a major reason for this belief of yours. This conclusion doesn't follow from the premise of a partial genetic determination - only from a near complete one.

    Claiming it does is like claiming that preventive medicine is useless because health in old age is partially genetic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    The riot control vehicle becomes peacekeeper clown cars and trucks featuring sticky, gummy, and foamy. Nothing stops a riot like an outbreak of laughter.
    Thanks for the post, interesting read.

    I'm a believer in historical determinism, for the most part. I recall reading once that human history is a subset of ecological history, and I think that pretty much nails it. The condition of most countries in 2020 can be traced back to the rise of Europe (which was mostly environmental), and the region's own environmental situation in recent history (a few hundred years). There's something a bit anthropocentric about the belief that we can log on to Facebook and influence the world with any significance. Certainly we have influence, but the major forces of the world are so much more powerful, and have so much more inertia, that I think the overtly political may need a bit of a reality check.

    Even if we accept that large segments of people do enact change sometimes, if we extract ourselves as an individual, such movements likely would have happened anyway in response to other events. Point being that there is a mental benefit to letting go of responsibility for the world. For the most part, what's going to happen is going to happen anyway, and we're only causing ourselves angst with the delusion that we can do anything.

    To me political conversation happens anyway because a) we have too much energy to burn and b) it still benefits those taking part in a number of ways. There is no real motive to look at 'changing minds' objectively, because people like playing the game.

    So to tie back to your post, I think we mostly just need to ride the wave of the period we're born in. At any point in history there has been problems, at any point in the future there will be problems, and we can try to chip in a bit, but I think history being largely determined relieves a bit of pressure and stress from one's life. I see so many people drive themselves crazy with anxiety and fear, and it's really needless. Just let go and enjoy the world one finds oneself in.

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    Here's my standard short spiel about how to persuade people of stuff:

    If the person you're talking to is honest, there is some set of concerns that lead them to hold the position they do. These need to be addressed in order to change their mind, and to address them, you need to know what they are. Therefore, the first step in changing someone's mind should usually be to ask them a lot of questions about what they believe and why, and to listen very carefully to the answers.

    Once you've done that for a while, hopefully you will have figured out what the person's concerns are. At this point you are going to present the case for your alternative position (uh, you do have a case, right?) in a way that is targeted at the specific concerns that lead that specific person to hold the position they do.

    If your case addresses their concerns fully, and they're honest, they will probably change their mind.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Torin View Post

    If your case addresses their concerns fully, and they're honest, they will probably change their mind.
    In the case of our right wing, they have convinced themselves since the 60s that the media is always biased against them (starting heavily in the Goldwater era), constitutes a liberal elite (starting in the Reagan era), and are simply liars spinning false narratives every day (starting heavily in the era of "The press is the enemy of the people!")
    They've gaslit themselves. They've reached the tipping point of irrationality where no evidence of Trump's zany theories and lies can get through. At its worst, this distancing from reality leads to the QAnon phenomenon, but there's plenty more in social media where Q came from.

    Sure, there are extemists on the left. However, I fail to see anything on the left equivalent to a movement leader saying, as the Pres did this week, that the only way "they can take this away from us" (i.e., a Nov. victory) is "by rigging the election." (When we talk about rigging the elections, it's based on what DeJoy has actually been doing for the last two months.) I fail to see any statements on covid as illogical and counterproductive as the stuff Trump has handed us. And there is nothing on the landscape right now as vile and lunatic as the plague of QAnon, which actually accuses the elite left of running child sex rings and eating children. This has reached the merchandizing level among Trumpies -- it may be a minority, but it's not miniscule.

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    I like this, so I'll quote it in full.
    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - Wikiquote
    So the way I have conversations with people of opposing beliefs is I don't try to convince them of anything. So that's the first step trying to win people over. Stop trying to enter a conversation thinking that you're gonna like aah-ha them into changing their mind. I think that you know, we've kind of lost the art of conversation. So when I enter a conversation with someone I actually try to learn more about where they're coming from. Like I try I actually use it as an experience... let's say I'm talking to someone who's saying something really racist and they don't even realize that they're saying something really racist. I ask some questions because I'm interested. I'm fascinated by that. How does that work, you know? I don't do it in a way that's like mocking but I ask questions. We have to learn to really disarm ourselves in these conversations. First of all because we approach them with so much hostility and they get mad and we get mad and all of these things and so part of it is like emotional work and The second part of it is intention. Like what are you trying to get out of this conversation? And if you're just trying to argue with someone, it's not gonna work You know, you believe what you believe they believe what they believe. So I think the thing that we have to do is try to have a good faith interaction of trying to learn more about where the other person comes from because often what I find, is that when I do win people over It's almost never in the conversation itself that I've won someone over. Its that I have a conversation with someone, I asked them some critical questions and I calmly explained to them: well, this is where I'm coming from and this is why I believe what I believe why do you believe what you believe? And you kind of like leave the conversation but very often that person will sit on what you said and they will sit on the fact that you respected them and gave them space and then very often I've had interactions like that and I'll run into that person again a week later a month later and they said you know what? You said something that I really thought about and I changed my mind...But if you rush in, you know fully-armored up, attacking them and making them feel defensive they will never listen to anything that you have to say. So it's really about learning how how we can have a conversation again.

    Alexandria Ocasio Cortez SXSW 2019, Youtube (10, March 2019)
    In short, don't try to rhetorically beat people into submission, and don't expect to have some rhetorical triumph.

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    This topic came up today in the letters section of the blog electoral-vote.com .

    To wit:
    B.B. in St. Louis, MO, writes: When interacting with members of a different political persuasion, it may be helpful to keep in mind a comment from one of this site's more conservative readers that being told what to do will merely make him feel defensive and dig in his heels. As a health care provider, much of what I do is to try to encourage behavior change. Whether getting a patient to quit smoking, to eat a more balanced diet, or simply to take their medicines, behavior change is at the heart of all these healthcare strategies. And yet nowhere in medical school was I ever taught how to bring behavior change about. There is perhaps a naïve notion that simply explaining to a patient the health risks associated with their current behavior will bring about an "Aha!" moment and you will have made a convert for life. This does not happen.

    Whenever you tell a patient "You should..." or "You must..." you will immediately cause them to become defensive and dig in their heels. More success can be obtained with a technique called Motivational Interviewing, and I recommend reading Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change by William R .Miller and Stephen Rollnick. The idea is that rather than telling someone what behavior they must adopt, you ask them a series of questions that allows them to come to that conclusion themselves. With smoking, it usually follows along the lines of "Can you tell me some of the health risks associated with smoking? What do you suppose you could do to avoid those risks? How would you go about making those changes? Are there any specific barriers or obstacles that stand in your way?" Occasionally you will run into patients who insist that there are no health risks associated with smoking, at which point you note down that they are in the pre-contemplative phase of change and that prescribing nicotine patches will be a waste of time.

    In politics, I imagine the conversation would usually follow along the lines of "Can you tell me what issues are of importance to you? Are there any policy changes that you think might bring about improvement?" If they propose something that seems outlandish, then you might follow with "That is an interesting suggestion. What would it take to convince you that might not work?" Directly challenging a belief system is not likely to be productive, but by encouraging someone to challenge their own beliefs, you might stand a chance.

    I suspect that the large current interest in conspiracy theories stems from the American myth that with sufficient hard work, anyone can become successful. Members on the fringe know that they are working hard and deserve to succeed, therefore if they do not then it must be because a conspiracy is working against them.
    I found this to be an interesting and useful insight, especially the bold example conversation. This continues to be an area of interest for me, and I think I'll get that book. Indeed, having these kinds of conversations can help the questioner as well as the questioned.

    There ARE ways to get a real discussion to happen, and to engage people in ways to actually "do the research", but they may not be easy.

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