How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion, and Persuasion

David McRaney | 2022
Posted in: Epistemology Psychology

“McRaney synthesizes science and storytelling in summarizing what we know about the plasticity of our thought processes; evolved to be useful for tribal survival but horribly inaccurate for debating what is truth in our contemporary environment.. As one example, the solution to The Dress (black/blue or white/gold?) online debate seems to lie in whether individual viewers are predisposed to presuming natural or artificial light sources. Similarly, he notes how the seemingly sudden acceptance of marriage equality was the result of a decades-long societal shift from a primary purpose for marriage to support procreation (increasing the tribe’s odds of survival) to one of personal fulfillment for both partners. He describes deep canvassing and street epistemology based on his journalistic experience shadowing practitioners; the keys are to probe with open-ended questions. A recurring question: on a scale of 0 to 100, how certain are you in that belief? Very few people offer 100, and many will shift their estimate after a twenty-minute conversation. While most of the storytelling has to do with advocacy groups who are indeed seeking to change other people’s minds, the ideas in the book provide useful tips for Braver Angels seeking to open minds (the first step to change) rather than to change minds.

Also note the ‘Discussion Guide’ – a survey of issues, and brief explorations of key ideas – provided by the author:”