Sunday, March 4, 2018

I'm Listening

It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge.
 - Adolf Hitler

The same part of the brain that responds to a physical threat responds to an intellectual one.
 Matthew Inman

The backfire effect is a known problem. In simple terms, it means that making an effort to change someone's mind on something does more to cement their opinion than it does to change it. There's undoubtedly a threshold (different for each person) where certain ideas are ones that you feel personally invested in, and making a challenge to those incites the backfire effect. Below the threshold, however, and you're probably willing to take a claim with little or no evidence, because it doesn't affect who you see yourself as or your world-view.

Something like (from Inman's example) telling you that George Washington's false teeth weren't made of wood, but rather "gold, lead,... ivory, horse, and donkey teeth." I suspect many people would be willing to accept that without sources (1, 2, 3) because it doesn't affect your perception of who he is.

On the other hand, if I said he had dentures made from slaves' teeth, you'd be far less inclined to believe it, because it supersedes the threshold; it challenges your perception of who Washington is to you. It makes you feel like I'm telling you he wasn't as flawless of a leader as you might perceive him to be.

The world is full of hate.

It doesn't matter who you are or what you believe. If you get upset from somebody tailgating you on the road, a neighbor or friend getting into trouble or being the victim of theft; if you pay any attention to US or world politics... You have felt hate.

There's nothing I can do about the hate. I can't make it go away. I can't say something to encourage you to set it aside. I can't tell you that you aren't justified in feeling that way, regardless whether or not I think it is so, but because challenging your belief in that emotion will only serve to cement it in your mind.

Because you still feel it, and challenging it changes your world-view, changes who you think you are as a person. I can't change your emotions.

What I can do is give you a target. The hate is already there, I just need to sell you a new vector. I don't need to fill you with gas, just to inspire you to take your foot off the brake.

I'm not saying Adolf Hitler was justified or unjustified in his actions. I'm not passing judgment on him or his actions. That's not what I've set out to do with this campaign.

Adolf Hitler didn't create the hate anymore than Donald Trump or Jim Jones or David Koresh. He just gave it a direction, a vector, a target. All those people who are guilty of blindingly following just let go of the brakes and let someone else steer.

The purpose of this post is to say that I have a high threshold. I'm very tolerant of ideas that conflict with my world-view. I want to hear your counter-arguments.

My advertising campaign is targeting people who are running or supporting a movement that is struggling with recruitment. Essentialy, people who found the well of hate that resides within us all, but have failed to appoint a vector.

I want to read your propaganda, your mission statements, your speeches, and your manifesto.

I want to quote you and leaders of your movement in upcoming posts.

And above all, I want you to know: I'm Listening.