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.