Thank you to everyone who recently followed me.

As a gift, I offer this thread on how to communicate with conservative relatives.

We still have some holiday dinners with science-rejecting, racist, sexist, homophobic uncles, so let’s get to it. 1/ #FactsMatter #Resist
We have to understand why our conservative relatives think the way they do.

This comes down to three concepts:
1. Confirmation bias
2. Unconscious incompetence
3. Illusion of explanatory depth

Let’s take them one at a time. 2/
First, we have confirmation bias

Confirmation bias is the search for information that conforms to one’s preconceived notion of 'truth.' Think of your favorite Fox News viewer who only seeks out information that confirms his ‘truth’ and disregards information that does not. 3/
There is some evidence people get a rush of dopamine (the addiction chemical) when they come across information--true or not--that confirms their point of view. So people can literally get addicted to bias-confirming (mis)information sources. 4/
Next: unconscious incompetence.

People don’t know they are NOT knowledgeable on a certain topic.

Don’t get cocky, we all have unconscious incompetence. We aren’t aware of it until it gets pointed out to us. Can you explain how a toilet works? A zipper? A cylinder lock? 5/
This brings us to the illusion of explanatory depth. (Sounds like a great magic trick you’d see in Vegas, doesn’t it?)

Think about your reaction when if you could explain how a cylinder lock works. “Sure, you just put the key in and then the thingies inside line up…” 6/
In some domains this illusion is just fine. We don't need to know exactly how a cylinder lock works in order use it. 7/
But when it comes to politics, climate change, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, vaccinations, the 2nd amendment, a border wall (the list goes on), this illusion of explanatory depth becomes dangerous. 8/
So what can we do to communicate more effectively when faced with others' confirmation bias, unconscious incompetence, and illusion of explanatory depth?

Simple, market the message. 9/
Understand that conservatives and liberals process the world in very different ways.

A recent study showed that conservatives focus more on negative stimuli and respond accordingly, suggesting they have more of a "threat-oriented biology." 10/

cambridge.org/core/journals/…
Another study provided evidence that conservatives also have a "need for certainty" and an "intolerance of ambiguity." This explains their stance on many issues including gun ownership, immigrant bans, LGBTQ discrimination. 11/

faculty.virginia.edu/haidtlab/jost.…
Invoke nostalgia, and the return to a "better" time.

Conservatives love the thought of "restoring" America to its former glory. Even if the aim is to restore a glory that never existed. 12/
Another study found that conservatives donated more to a hypothetical environmental charity that aimed to restore the planet to a previously healthy state, rather than one that favored preventing a future disaster. 13/

scientificamerican.com/article/make-e…
Appeal to emotion. Merely providing statistics is ineffective.

Think about this: citing the statistic that a person's chance of dying in an airplane crash is one in 11 million will do nothing to quell the fears of a terrified air passenger clutching his armrests on takeoff. 14/
Exploit the illusion of explanatory depth. If someone makes an untrue claim, ask for a deeper explanation. This may expose some unconscious incompetence. Hopefully, exposing their lack of knowledge will lead them to recognize a gap. (Long shot, I know.) 15/
In summary,

1. Understand that conservatives and liberals process the world in very different ways
2. Invoke nostalgia, and the return to a "better" time
3. Appeal to emotion
4. Exploit the illusion of explanatory depth

Hope this helps in some way! 16/END
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