Polls show 2/3 of Republicans believe the insurrection was a false flag operation, which is psychologically no different than believing the Earth is flat or that highly evolved dinosaurs who survived the asteroid now control world governments from a secret base on the moon. 1/10
Humans are motivated reasoners, and all conspiracy theories begin with a motivation stronger than the pursuit of accuracy (often a fear of authority or sense of powerlessness), in this case, the motivation is to assuage cognitive dissonance in service of reputation management. 2/
The events at the Capitol formed two competing attitudes in the brains of many Republicans: [It is good to be a Trump supporter ]/ [Trump supporters seem like bad people.] That dissonance can be assuaged by simply believing that the people who did this aren't Trump supporters. 3/
Once committed to a dissonance-reducing causal narrative, one gets trapped in The Conspiratorial Loop -- all evidence to the contrary is part of the conspiracy, and any lack of evidence is part of a coverup. There is no bottom-up escape, only top-down via metacognition. 4/10
The good news it that you can encourage that metacognition in others. The most important thing is to avoid facts, abstractions, and conclusions. Focus on the other person’s processing instead. In psychology they call it “technique rebuttal” as opposed to “topic rebuttal." 5/10
The best methods for technique rebuttal (deep canvassing, street epistemology, motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, smart politics, the Socratic method) all follow roughly the same routine: 6/10
1. Establish rapport (no shaming). 2. Ask for a claim. 3. Ask for a measure of confidence in this claim. 4. Ask what reasoning supports this claim. 5. Ask what justifies this reasoning. 6. Then explore if those justifications are strong enough to support that level of confidence.
Sometimes a single conversation will lead to a complete a 180, but more often one conversation slightly reduces or increases confidence in the claim, or shifts an attitude supported by the claim a smidge more positive or negative. 8/10
Don't get frustrated. That still counts as changing a mind, and it encourages active processing and the sort of metacognitive introspection that opens the door to further conversations and change. 9/10
All of this is part of my upcoming book, How Minds Change, which covers a lot more than the psychology of persuasion. Updates on that later this year. In the meantime, you can listen to my podcast hear the experts who told me all these things: omny.fm/shows/you-are-… 10/10

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More from @davidmcraney

25 Jun 20
Psychological research is pretty clear on this: Reason ain’t logic. We feel first and reason second. Reasoning is literally coming up with reasons for the things you feel for the sake of justifying to others your feelings and the behavior (or plans to behave) they generate.
Coronavirus: you feel X or Y about masks, then you go looking in your head for reasons to justify that feeling, then you produce an argument for your position, and if challenged, you search for information, preferably from people who agree with you, and make another argument.
You repeat this process until you can walk away feeling secure in your reasoning, or until you can’t justify yourself and begin to doubt it. In studies, about about 13 percent of the information you encounter during this process must be counterattitudinal to generate doubt.
Read 6 tweets
21 Jun 20
Psychology and neuroscience agree, the research on this is clear. The more intelligent you are, and the more educated, the better you become at rationaling and justifying your existing beliefs and attitudes, regardless of their accuracy or harmfulness.
There is evidence to suggest this is because we are social animals first and individual reasoners second, a system built on top of another system, biologically via evolution. Why does that matter?
Because we depend on our groups to come to a consensus via deliberation and argumentation before we pursue goals or settle on attitudes. Reasonings role is produce biased arguments for your own perspective. Basically, all culture is “12 Angry Men” at scale.
Read 5 tweets
11 Feb 20
Lions love catnip. They will do all the things a house cat does when near it. Eleven million years ago, they shared a common ancestor from which evolution passed down a brain that now contains a menagerie of shared responses and drives. Big or small, cats do what cats do. 1/18
Natural selection tinkered with the felines separately over the years, with different results, otherwise you'd see more people walking pumas in the park. 2/18
Jaguars, leopards, lynx - they all exhibit similar behaviors to the felines who live in apartments: kneading, face rubbing, flopping, purring. The point, again, is behaviors are the output of brains, and brains are built by genes. Share genes, share brains, share behaviors. 3/18
Read 18 tweets
24 Nov 19
“That confirms my suspicions.” -- everyone's reaction to the impeachment hearings. For many, this has been touted as yet more evidence we are living in some sort of post-truth era, despite the fact that this is how humans have reasoned since before we painted on cave walls. 1/5
We have always been motivated reasoners, and as primates we are highly motivated to avoid social costs, so while reasoning the pursuit of belonging goals will always take priority over accuracy goals if accepting counterevidence threatens our reputations among trusted peers. 2/5
I think the frustration that "facts don't work," mostly comes from people in professions that pursue accuracy goals or identify as members of evidence-based communities. In those groups, you are able to satisfy your belonging goals by signaling your pursuit of accuracy goals. 3/5
Read 6 tweets
16 Jan 19
Positions vs intentions: Before you attempt to change someone’s mind, ask yourself why you want to do that. Why do you want to persuade them?When you think you know, share your intentions up front. 1/10
If you don’t do that, people will assume your intentions. Whatever they assume will become your “actual” position in their minds, and you run the risk of not having the conversation you intended.
If they believe that your position is, “You are gullible/stupid/deluded/in the wrong group/a bad person,” then of course they will resist. They think you want to damage their esteem/ego/self/identity. Motivated reasoning takes over, and the facts will now be irrelevant.
Read 10 tweets
30 Oct 18
The mechanisms of motivated reasoning will ALWAYS be with us. But social media is a new environment with no natural predators where the bestiary of biased thinking can proliferate. Confirmation/disconfirmation bias are invasive species, and the ecosystem is out of balance. 1/8
The persuasiveness and pervasiveness of fake news, alternative facts, filter bubbles, and in-group/myside bias isn't new. Some of the oldest research in psychology quantified all these tendencies in the 1950s: "They Saw a Game" by Hastorf and Cantril demonstrated this well. 2/8
The solution will never be more facts, or better facts. That's the information deficit model, and it doesn't work. The solution is better arguments. We were shaped by natural selection to be persuaded by them. Reasoning is social. We are social animals. More: @hugoreasoning 3/8
Read 9 tweets

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