A Curious Case of Human Weakness: ‘Why Facts Don`t Change Our Minds’

by Mahima Bhatnagar
Human weakness

Humans have an uncanny capacity to err. But our faculty of reason instead of delivering us from such predicament prevents us from rectifying errors. Prevention of misinformation sounds utter nonsense, not worth the trouble. Why facts don`t change our minds is a curious case of human weakness.

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Are humans born as such, to live with the weakness? Or is it that human reason is confined to argumentation, not to looking into the heart of the matter? Or are we prejudicial enough to let facts not have their course into our minds?

Confirmation Bias: A Human Weakness

The impressions, psychology researchers say, external circumstances leave on our minds, real or fictitious, tend to remain unwavering. Once formed, impressions take not long to turn into rock-solid beliefs. Attempts of our mind to refute information going against our beliefs reinforce the human weakness.

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In psychology, including human behavior, there is a concept that human beings are not as rational as thought. They act irrationally quite often. And use the phrase ‘confirmation bias’ to define the human trait of biased consumption of information.

It says that humans consume information which conforms to their beliefs, or already held ideas. Any information, which proves their beliefs wrong, or belittles their opinions, is rejected outright.

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Cognitive scientists argue that human reason emerged as a counter-cheat mechanism, an instrument to keep one’s self safe from the deceits of fellow human beings. In fact, our daily observations prove them right. The reason is being rampantly used to win an argument. However flawed it might be, matter not.

What Happens In Politics When Facts Don`t Change Our Minds

Things turn ugly as we bear the brunt because the same attitude guides our political matters as well. Our political opinions don`t come from intense research on issues, or from deep understanding. It empowers political parties who exploit this human weakness and turn it into an effective political campaign.

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They know that their followers, who are ardent supporters of the party, will never question their policies because not questioning strengthens their own impressions and ideologies, as a result, come to have a staunch belief in its infallibility.

Humans search objectivity, correctness, in beliefs and ideologies of others existing outside their own belief system. The criticism ruling parties hurl at opposition parties or allegations members of one party level against members of another party prove the same beyond any doubt.

So the possible explanation to the question, why facts don`t change our minds, lies in that our minds barely accept information other than that satisfying our own beliefs, opinions, and ideologies.

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