Why facts don’t convince us


We like to think that we’re moral, rational creatures who live sensibly based on the information we receive.

The truth, as always, is a lot messier than we would like.

We can see this when we’re confronted with information that doesn’t match our world view. When we see facts we don’t “like”.

We dismiss, rather than verify.

If we do look into the issue in question, our first instinct is to simply seek out information which confirms our existing point of view. Confirmation bias.

We’re just not creatures of fact, we’re creatures of narrative. Of stories.

We each have a personal story we tell ourselves. In our personal story, we’re a lone, rational protagonist struggling against an irrational and unjust world.

And we all have the same story.

Not only do we act in accordance with our story, but our beliefs and story perpetuate each other.

Rarely if ever, will our story changed with purely by facts. Raw data we don’t like just becomes woven into the “irrationality of the world” in our story.

Facts can’t dent the cliffs of our personal story, but a counter narrative has the power to reshape and reform our story’s landscape.

The next time you’re planning to try to convince someone to change their mind, think about the narrative.

Think about their story, think about your story.

Don’t disregard your facts, but don’t fire them out like bullets. Weave them into the fabric of a compelling story and you’ll be more likely to win both hearts and minds.