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Have you ever changed someone's mind about a controversial issue?

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James Radcliffe
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Have you ever changed someone's mind about a controversial issue?

Post by James Radcliffe » July 4th, 2019, 8:27 pm

I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has ever changed someone else's mind, or has had their mind changed by someone else, about a controversial issue--i.e. an issue that would be widely regarded as a matter of opinion, not of fact. Ideally, this would be an issue that the person who's mind was changed had already formed a strong opinion about before their mind was changed.

I would greatly appreciate any information that can be shared about this kind of experience.

Thank you in advance.❤️

Kaz_1983
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Re: Have you ever changed someone's mind about a controversial issue?

Post by Kaz_1983 » July 6th, 2019, 9:36 am

Even if you did, they would never admit that you have, so how would you know.. in the first place.

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Re: Have you ever changed someone's mind about a controversial issue?

Post by Felix » July 6th, 2019, 10:42 am

The persuasive powers of reason are feeble, and beliefs are often deeply ingrained or heavily invested in, so it generally takes a radical shock to change someone's perspective - a dose of ayahuasca, a paranormal lightning bolt, the bite of a werewolf, incomprehensible tragedy, etc. And love can do it, if the person is open to change....
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Re: Have you ever changed someone's mind about a controversial issue?

Post by Thomyum2 » July 6th, 2019, 11:50 am

I do agree that if you set out to change a person's mind about something on which they 'had already formed a strong opinion', then it's unlikely that you'll see much in the way of results, at least in the short run. But I have had experiences where I will share my thoughts or convictions about something and find that after a good deal of time, sometimes years later, I'll discover that those words have stayed with that person and that they have come to understand what I had said in a new way and led them to change their understanding over time. I guess that the converse has also been true, that I have listened to someone's point of view and their words have resonated with me and come back to me time and time again, and that I've found that though I may not have understood them at the time, their words have come to make sense in light of later experiences I've had in life.

I think it's a little like the old saying that 'you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink'. People have to make their own choices about what they think and believe. You can open a door for them and give them an opportunity they may not have known they have, but they'll only make the change when the time is right for them.

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Re: Have you ever changed someone's mind about a controversial issue?

Post by James Radcliffe » July 6th, 2019, 9:47 pm

Thomyum2 wrote:
July 6th, 2019, 11:50 am
I do agree that if you set out to change a person's mind about something on which they 'had already formed a strong opinion', then it's unlikely that you'll see much in the way of results, at least in the short run. But I have had experiences where I will share my thoughts or convictions about something and find that after a good deal of time, sometimes years later, I'll discover that those words have stayed with that person and that they have come to understand what I had said in a new way and led them to change their understanding over time. I guess that the converse has also been true, that I have listened to someone's point of view and their words have resonated with me and come back to me time and time again, and that I've found that though I may not have understood them at the time, their words have come to make sense in light of later experiences I've had in life.

I think it's a little like the old saying that 'you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink'. People have to make their own choices about what they think and believe. You can open a door for them and give them an opportunity they may not have known they have, but they'll only make the change when the time is right for them.
In the situation you were describe where one person, over time, changes their mind so that they eventually agree with someone that they originally disagreed with, how confident are you that they changed their mind because of what the other person said, as opposed to they changed their mind regardless of what the other person, but just happened to remember that the other person had said it long ago?

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Re: Have you ever changed someone's mind about a controversial issue?

Post by Greta » July 7th, 2019, 5:39 pm

I don't think changing another's mind is realistic. Generally, debaters aren't actually speaking with each other but to the gallery, using their opponent as a foil for the points being made.

None of these arguments would play out the same way if it was just the two people alone without an audience.

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Re: Have you ever changed someone's mind about a controversial issue?

Post by Thomyum2 » July 7th, 2019, 9:49 pm

James Radcliffe wrote:
July 6th, 2019, 9:47 pm
In the situation you were describe where one person, over time, changes their mind so that they eventually agree with someone that they originally disagreed with, how confident are you that they changed their mind because of what the other person said, as opposed to they changed their mind regardless of what the other person, but just happened to remember that the other person had said it long ago?
I would not be confident of that at all - who can know exactly what exactly happens in the mind of another person or even in one's own mind? But just as the words that others have spoken to me have played a role in the development of my own thoughts, so have I also been told, and am confident, that mine have done the same for others.

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Re: Have you ever changed someone's mind about a controversial issue?

Post by Thomyum2 » July 7th, 2019, 9:58 pm

Greta wrote:
July 7th, 2019, 5:39 pm
I don't think changing another's mind is realistic. Generally, debaters aren't actually speaking with each other but to the gallery, using their opponent as a foil for the points being made.

None of these arguments would play out the same way if it was just the two people alone without an audience.
If you really want to understand how to change a person's mind about something, I would not look to debaters or politicians, since they do exactly what you're saying - they 'preach to the choir', so to speak. I would instead look to professional salesmen/saleswomen - they are the real experts in persuasion. A truly adept salesperson can change a person's mind without that person ever being aware that it was not of their own choosing. Arguments are not as effective a tool as is the ability to show a person that what you are offering is what they really need.

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Re: Have you ever changed someone's mind about a controversial issue?

Post by Greta » July 8th, 2019, 12:48 am

I changed a few minds in the past, and had others change my mind.

However, today people just tend to dig in. It's a new culture of zero compromise.

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Re: Have you ever changed someone's mind about a controversial issue?

Post by James Radcliffe » July 8th, 2019, 1:24 am

Greta wrote:
July 7th, 2019, 5:39 pm
I don't think changing another's mind is realistic. Generally, debaters aren't actually speaking with each other but to the gallery, using their opponent as a foil for the points being made.

None of these arguments would play out the same way if it was just the two people alone without an audience.
That's the kind of situation I'm specifically interested in, one-on-one discussions.

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Re: Have you ever changed someone's mind about a controversial issue?

Post by James Radcliffe » July 8th, 2019, 1:42 am

Thomyum2 wrote:
July 7th, 2019, 9:58 pm
Greta wrote:
July 7th, 2019, 5:39 pm
I don't think changing another's mind is realistic. Generally, debaters aren't actually speaking with each other but to the gallery, using their opponent as a foil for the points being made.

None of these arguments would play out the same way if it was just the two people alone without an audience.
If you really want to understand how to change a person's mind about something, I would not look to debaters or politicians, since they do exactly what you're saying - they 'preach to the choir', so to speak. I would instead look to professional salesmen/saleswomen - they are the real experts in persuasion. A truly adept salesperson can change a person's mind without that person ever being aware that it was not of their own choosing. Arguments are not as effective a tool as is the ability to show a person that what you are offering is what they really need.
Great point! I can't believe I didn't thought of that.

Of course I had more in mind a more philosophical change-of-mind rather than an economical change-of-mind. I assume the principles are the same, but for some reason, I wonder whether what works for a salesperson (even an honest one) would work in a philosophical discussion.

Take, for example, this Ben Franklin quote that your post made me think of:

"659. Would you persuade, speak of interest, not of reason."

Of course, I don't believe this is the only way persuasion takes place, but I suspect that in the case of salespeople, Franklin's method is the primary method followed. However, in philosophical discussion, "speaking of interest" is a far less viable option.

So, I guess my revised question is:

"Have you ever changed someone's mind THROUGH REASON (as opposed to interest), or had somebody change your mind through reason?"

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Re: Have you ever changed someone's mind about a controversial issue?

Post by James Radcliffe » July 8th, 2019, 1:48 am

Greta wrote:
July 8th, 2019, 12:48 am
I changed a few minds in the past, and had others change my mind.

However, today people just tend to dig in. It's a new culture of zero compromise.
What were the mind-changes about? Did it happen right away during a conversation, or after thinking about what was said over a period of time? Do you remember anything special about the mind-changing conversations? Something special about the person you were talking to, something they said, their demeanor, the situation the conversation took place in? When do you think this "new culture" started?

I'm really interested in this subject. I don't want to pressure you into saying anything you're not comfortable with, but any details, big or small, that you would be willing to provide, I would really appreciate and think I would benefit from.

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Re: Have you ever changed someone's mind about a controversial issue?

Post by Mark1955 » July 8th, 2019, 2:32 am

I suspect I've sowed a lot of seeds of doubt over the years, based at least on the ammount of kick back I've received but you first have to ask if there's a mind to change, Socratese' 'A life unexamined' etc.
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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Re: Have you ever changed someone's mind about a controversial issue?

Post by Greta » July 8th, 2019, 6:39 pm

James Radcliffe wrote:
July 8th, 2019, 1:48 am
Greta wrote:
July 8th, 2019, 12:48 am
I changed a few minds in the past, and had others change my mind.

However, today people just tend to dig in. It's a new culture of zero compromise.
What were the mind-changes about? Did it happen right away during a conversation, or after thinking about what was said over a period of time? Do you remember anything special about the mind-changing conversations? Something special about the person you were talking to, something they said, their demeanor, the situation the conversation took place in? When do you think this "new culture" started?

I'm really interested in this subject. I don't want to pressure you into saying anything you're not comfortable with, but any details, big or small, that you would be willing to provide, I would really appreciate and think I would benefit from.
Crikey, it's hard to remember. The biggest for me was a vegetarian who changed the way I ate ever since. I still eat meat, but far less than before. The biggest going the other way was a believer became agnostic after I pointed out the logical problem with perfect spirits being sent to Earth to be refined and then returning Heaven perfect again. I asked what was the point of that and he was honest and sincere enough say he didn't know and soon changed his mind.

These are the key qualities - honesty and sincerity.

Most people online, however, are not so honest, andthese things happened before we entered what I think of as The Gaslighting Era.

People too often argue like a prosecutor or a defence lawyer - from one side only. They will omit inconvenient information and deny what they know is true - that's the job of the "other side". If found to be wrong they will find a way of not admitting it - be it denial, distraction, turning the question around etc.

That is politics, not philosophy. In philosophy we want to come as close to truth as we can manage, including the inconvenient ones, the ones that undermine your cases.

Now, in the Gaslighting Era, those who are wrong can be right if they don't give an inch. People have realised that there actually is no social punishment for lying any more. Once being a proven liar reduced your social status. Now lying is just seen as strategy, perfectly acceptable but you can't admit.

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Re: Have you ever changed someone's mind about a controversial issue?

Post by Jklint » July 8th, 2019, 7:58 pm

One hears the expression "My country right or wrong". In philosophy forums which are mostly matters of speculation and generally only suppositions dominate not having much by way of fact to underpin it, it's the 'personal opinion' which rules, right or wrong, regardless of how absurd it may be or the consequent absurdities given as reasons to defend it. The ones most inclined to subterfuge in this respect are those who can no-longer reasonably or logically uphold their views and in response ask for "proof" that the counter view is correct even though such ratification may not be possible and only a probability estimate identifies the more reasonable outcome.

In debate, to grant credibility to different perspectives requires far less obstinacy than most can manage. If instead they read a corresponding view by someone famous or well-known, its acceptance is more often assured by being much less personal than it would be in any online duel of point and counterpoint. That's the hypocrisy of it. If the likes of Carl Sagan or the incessantly quoted Albert E. were involved in public forums without others knowing who they are, many of their views would be instantly challenged but if known, that credibility gap would dissolve completely.

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