What changes minds?

It was  00:30 2008-09-13 – when I decided to start writing this. Crazy? So what.

I’ve been thinking about what changes people’s minds about things. For example what changes your mind about accepting something, believing something or doing something. Why the heck am I interested in that? Because of my statement that “The human mind can move mountains, yet there is no mountain as immovable as the human mind“.

But somehow minds do change. And over the last few hours it’s been at the back of my mind to list the things that I’ve seen or heard of that change minds.

  1. Culture
  2. Shared experience
  3. Force of authority
  4. Compelling logic
  5. Pain and suffering
  6. Feedback from multiple others
  7. Direct experience
  8. Traumatic events/experiences including pain or suffering
  9. Kindness
  10. Threats
  11. Time
  12. Leaders

I’ve decided to stop there with the list, because there is an important observation that ‘reason’ and ‘evidence’ are not on the list. And that’s interesting in itself, because I have little faith in ‘reason’ and ‘evidence’ changing minds. Logic is sometimes taken to mean ‘reason’ but the two are not the same. People can and do reason outside of the rules of logic. When I say evidence I mean some kind of research; something that is very very reliable. Why do these two factors not change minds? Because minds are free to find alternative reasoning or to disregard evidence.

So that led me to think about the things can cause minds to resist change. I think this could be a big list.

  1. Fear
  2. Uncertainty
  3. Anxiety
  4. Tradition
  5. Culture
  6. Shared experience
  7. Personal experience
  8. Image of one’s self
  9. Habit
  10. Lack of time to update knowledge, think or effect change
  11. Inability to see the consequences of change
  12. Lack of perceived benefit for self or loved ones
  13. Narrow focus on basic human needs
  14. Narrow focus on life
  15. Personal characteristics – e.g. stubbornness, laziness

Okay – I’m gonna go away and think some more about this. If anyone out there has other ideas do post up some comments.

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