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Unchanging Minds

Unchanging Minds

I have nearly 1,000 “contacts” with my constituency annually: Newsletters, blog posts on two different blogs (the one you’re reading is my public blog), videos, podcasts, cartoons, social media posts, articles and so forth. All of these are free. The feedback about the topics and I discuss and value I provide is overwhelmingly positive, which isn’t so much a testimony to my brilliance but rather the obvious fact that people who follow me and read my stuff are inclined to do so. That 1,000 number is what I produce, I have no idea how many people read, view, and/or listen. I don’t really care.

Of course, about ten percent of my feedback is respectfully in opposition, and that’s fine, I learn a lot. (Maybe twice a year I receive something that’s nasty and delusional.) Here’s what I’ve found when people aren’t questioning my opinion (e.g., Sandy Koufax was the greatest pitcher in history, or a sports car isn’t a sports car if it has an automatic transmission) but rather the unassailable facts (there is no Loch Ness Monster, most Covid deaths today are of the unvaccinated population):

• They quote sources who are in a small minority but support their chosen position, and ignore the majority of sources (confirmation bias).

• They cite a single example close to them and generalize it (my uncle knows a virology student at Tufts….).

• They are protecting closely held, personal beliefs (from their religious affiliation to the excellence of their spouse’s cooking).

• They have created  a neural pathway which generates an automatic, unthinking response (eating raw fish is dangerous). (Then why do the Japanese have the longest life expectancy?)

I make no vast point here, except in dealing with the public and marketing my services for over 30 years in diverse media I’ve found the difference today is the tendency not to listen to others but to solidify and defend one’s own position, despite any and all evidence to the contrary. Hence, politics today: I’d rather be successful in an incorrect position than admit you’re right and change my mind.

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Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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