P320 Entry: Winning Hearts and Minds with Positive Thinking

The-power-of-positive-thinking

by Mad Cow

As an engineer, I lead a data-driven life. My days are spent pouring over piles of information to try and understand the complex interactions taking place in our products and making conclusions to try and optimize or troubleshoot them. When it comes to defending our 2nd Amendment rights, I pull my hair out trying to understand why people just cannot see the facts in front of them. How can anyone not understand the benefits of our natural, civil, and constitutionally protected right to keep and bare arms? The answer is simple, and has been mentioned many times before . . .

They let their emotions guide their path (and actively prey on the emotions of others to further their cause). So imagine my interest when the article ‘I Don’t Want to Be Right’  popped up in my news feed. Could this help me understand how anti-gunners can hold fast to their convictions in the overwhelming mountain of proof to the contrary?

According to the article, the study of why people persist in their false beliefs is a fairly new area of study. It seems to me like the sample sizes are small enough that any conclusions should be taken with a grain of salt. Still, here a few interesting snippets:

When there’s no immediate threat to our understanding of the world, we change our beliefs. It’s when that change contradicts something we’ve long held as important that problems occur.

In other words, if you already think guns are scary and evil, it’s harder to consider facts or logic that shows that these inanimate machines are a benefit to society.

If information doesn’t square with someone’s prior beliefs, he discards the beliefs if they’re weak and discards the information if the beliefs are strong.

Which means Shannon Watts will probably not see the light anytime soon. For those who hold on dearly to their emotions, facts aren’t the end-all be-all of persuaders. So, what can we do to help those who won’t see the facts? The answer is positive thinking. Seriously.

Could recalling a time when you felt good about yourself make you more broad-minded about highly politicized issues, like the Iraq surge or global warming? As it turns out, it would.

The researchers found that self-affirmation (thinking about positive past experiences) made people more open to the truth. But how useful is this?

But, despite its unwieldiness, the theory may still be useful. Facts and evidence, for one, may not be the answer everyone thinks they are: they simply aren’t that effective, given how selectively they are processed and interpreted. Instead, why not focus on presenting issues in a way keeps broader notions out of it—messages that are not political, not ideological, not in any way a reflection of who you are?

So for those out there who can’t be persuaded by the cold, hard, sweet sweet facts, can we appeal with our own emotional arguments? Can we appeal to everyone’s desire to feel safe and peaceful in their home? Can we shout, louder than ever, about how defensive gun uses save the lives of countless law-abiding citizens every day? Can we share the stories of women who are able to go home to their children because of their concealed carry gun?

Don’t get me wrong, please keep feeding me data. I can’t live without it. But when it comes to winning over the middle ground, let’s use all of the arrows in our quiver, including appealing to their emotions.

comments

  1. Very thought-provoking and well written.

    Kudos, sir.

  2. avatar Arthur says:

    Sorry to be a grammar Nazi….’keep and bear arms’

    1. avatar Jack says:

      We also pore over (not “pour over”) information–but hey, it’s the Internet.

      1. avatar Nick D says:

        Information is like gravy. I pour it over everything.

      2. avatar BDub says:

        I’m surrounded by idioms!

  3. avatar doesky says:

    Uhhhh….If you had been listening to Dennis Prager you would have already known this about 20+ years ago.

    In fact he has already had Jonah Goldberg do a 5 minute Prager University coarse on it.

    The coarse details one manifestation of this disorder called “social justice” where…”What sounds so caring and noble turns out to be something very different. ”

    http://www.prageruniversity.com/Political-Science/What-is-Social-Justice.html#.U6NSsrH5PBI

    As Prager says ….Leftism is a feelings based ideology. The left doesn’t care about results but rather how they feel about what they did.

  4. avatar g says:

    QUOTE: [So for those out there who can’t be persuaded by the cold, hard, sweet sweet facts, can we appeal with our own emotional arguments? Can we appeal to everyone’s desire to feel safe and peaceful in their home? Can we shout, louder than ever, about how defensive gun uses save the lives of countless law-abiding citizens every day? Can we share the stories of women who are able to go home to their children because of their concealed carry gun?

    Don’t get me wrong, please keep feeding me data. I can’t live without it. But when it comes to winning over the middle ground, let’s use all of the arrows in our quiver, including appealing to their emotions.]

    This is an excellent point, and one of the reasons I enjoy blogs like TTAG – hearing other gun owners’ stories, and opinions.

    It’s great that we have the facts on our side, but you’re correct in that gun owners can also use our own personal and emotional appeals to win over folks in the middle as well. I’ve seen it work in person, many times! A smile, friendly demeanor, and a willingness to listen goes a long way still to building relationships. You don’t have to convert somebody every time you speak to them – but you can definitely wear them down over time! Heh heh.

    1. avatar SpeleoFool says:

      That’s pretty much the cornerstone of what I’ve been doing to convert (or at least expose) people. The message is basically, “Hey, I own guns. How would you like a safe experience either shooting or visiting a gun store / gun show to see why so many people are into firearms? It will be fun.”

      I thoroughly enjoy helping people work through their fears whether it’s hoplophobia or something else. And that all starts with a polite & respectful discussion leading into setting up a safe experience, which is inevitably a positive one since it marks a personal triumph for the person facing their fears.

  5. avatar Ralph says:

    Wingnuts cannot be won over. That’s what makes them wingnuts.

    Undecideds can be led into the light by demystifying guns. Take an undecided shooting. You will not only place them on the path to enlightenment, but you’ll save money during the range session because they will shoot less than you.

  6. avatar Bob Watson says:

    The Hysterical Mother will see the light if and when she is paid to see the light. If we do not take up a collection and buy her off, it probably will be a long time.

    If I could ask one question of any of the leaders of the civilian disarmament complex it would be this. Why do you want law abiding citizens to be raped, beaten, robbed and murdered?

    1. avatar Rich Grise says:

      I’d rather ask them, “Why do you hate America?”

  7. avatar doesky says:

    Can we shout, louder than ever, about how defensive gun uses save the lives of countless law-abiding citizens every day?

    The problem is that the other side has 98% control of the media, universities, television, and movies. The Left’s ever-droning drumbeat says that our POTG thinking is SIXHIRB.

    SIXHIRB= Sexist, Intolerant, Xenophobic, Homophobic, Islamophobic, Racist, and Bigoted……another Pragerism

    Witness the “74” number joining the left’s bed of lies even though the Commie News Network has debunked it.

    With Hilary’s latest comments we have to add a T for Terroristic. SIXTHIRB

  8. avatar Accur81 says:

    Gun control, Feinstein, and Hillary Clinton all make me feel bad. Finding a good deal on ammo, hitting my target, and going hunting all make me feel good. I’m totally in touch with my emotions and stuff.

  9. avatar dwb says:

    Agree 100%. The psychological term is “Cognitive Dissonance.” As in: “That awkward moment when someone that smokes pot regularly tells you that banning guns will keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”

    If someone repeats hyperbole for too long (Concealed carry = wild west shootouts) it becomes a deeply held belief sometimes because the alternative (“I’m an idiot”) is kinda humiliating. Presenting facts actually can make it worse, you are basically pointing out how stupid they are for saying this for so long. Sometimes presenting facts just results in rationalization (Here is a pretty good example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Camping).

    Most people I know don’t like guns because they don’t like the idea of violence. Who does? That’s why I preach deterrence. It gets them out of the fear of being shot and puts them into the mindset of avoiding conflict.

  10. avatar rlc2 says:

    Just keep aiming at the reasonable middle.

    That segment is growing as more Millenials realize how they were used,
    and as more and middle aged working Dems shift sides,

    both realizing what an absolute nightmare the Dems have created with the ACA takeover of one-sixth of the economy, under central government control, simply doesnt work.

    The pattern is the same whether its civil rights, press freedom, the economy, government executive action, or foreign policy.

    Broken promises, lying, criminal abuse of government power, from DOJ in Zimmerman to Black Panthers, to Civil Rights division hiring, not to mention F&F, Benghazi, NSA spying on all Americans, on the AP, to the high crime of abuse of IRS powers to target political enemies,
    and now the VA plus Bergdahl debacle means everyone gets it that the WH and its enablers in the Dem Party and StateRunMeida, simply dont get it, they are living in a bubble, and cant manage their way out of a community organizing bingo nite in an elder care home.

  11. avatar Haiku Guy says:

    It is not people’s beliefs about guns that are the problem.

    The problem is that people believe that the government will protect them and care for them.

    They pay tremendous amounts of money in taxes to make that happen, and the government tells them every day that it is true, and that the government really does love them and care for them.

    For many people, it may be the only caring relationship they think they have.

    But an armed population runs counter to that argument. If the population is armed for self defense and for political power, that means that people are responsible for caring for and protecting themselves. If it is necessary to maintain an armed population as a counterbalance to government power, it means that government does not love them and care for them.

    The existence of guns pulls the leg out from under their entire understanding of their relationship with their government and their society. You can’t expect people to give that all up lightly.

    Which is why I say that this is a cultural problem. We need to make people realize, once again, that an American is somebody who takes care of himself and his family, and that the government is, at best, a necessary evil, to be as circumscribed as possible. Once people have this understanding once again, guns will be as natural to them as air.

  12. Lifehacker recently featured an article called “Can Rational Arguments Actually Change People’s Minds?” I agree that we should use this new field of study to inform the techniques we use to get our message across. http://lifehacker.com/can-rational-arguments-actually-change-peoples-minds-1590008558

    1. avatar Illinois Minion says:

      Interesting article. Need to find a better environment to read/digest the points noted in it. Could be useful in conversations meant to challenge beliefs, or responding to attacks upon my beliefs .

  13. avatar Illinois Minion says:

    I wont engage in attempting to force those who are vehemently opposed into to changing their minds. Those who are open to engaging my thoughts and logic will do so of their own volition. That is my chance make them want to be a part of this movement.

    Just like forcing a bullheaded child to accept they are wrong, time, patience and opportunity is required address the situation. To go heavy handed and dictate the term of their acceptance is counter to my understanding of a democracy.

    I will seek out those who are on the fence and challenge their thoughts on why is it bad. that can be revealing in why some people are opposed.

  14. avatar Mad Cow says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful discussion here! This’ll teach me to skip a day at TTAG…

    Keep on winning hearts and minds, you’re all fighting the good fight!

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