Analysis & counterpointsThinking is hard

A rational person’s 1-minute guide to why rational thinking often fails to persuade people [Thinking is hard series]

This article is part of the Thinking is hard series from Buster Benson, offering insights into the cognitive biases that distort our thinking, and exploring related topics such as debate, persuasion, and systems thinking.

We believe so strongly in the idea that logic, evidence, and data are the only acceptable tools for persuasion, that we feel bewildered and frustrated whenever we interact with someone who doesn’t hold these same values.

Frustration leads to less than kind communication, because it’s very difficult to be frustrated and kind at the same time.

Those who are repeatedly belittled and trapped by self-identified logical/rational thinkers will create new values and beliefs to protect themselves because nobody likes feeling belittled and trapped.

And those values and beliefs will not be exactly illogical, just designed to reject anything valued as fact/logic by the opposition.

Enter: denialism. Which also happens to be the first stage of grief.

For those who value and believe in the power of rationality as a thinking tool, it becomes rational to revisit rationality as a method of persuasion, because it fails to produce results.

It’s time to toss that hypothesis and look for a better one, just like we’re asking others to do.

Can we move past denialism on this topic, through anger, and right into bargaining, depression, and eventually acceptance? I think so.

In fewer words:

Source: Logical is licenced by CC BY-NC 2.5.

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Article source: A rational person’s 1-minute guide to why rational thinking often fails to persuade people. Reproduced by permission.

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Buster Benson

Thinking is hard. Platform product lead at @SlackHQ. Also helping a bit with @coachdotme, @NaNoWriMo, @750words. Previously @Twitter and @Amazon.

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One Comment

  1. Well, yeah… I have run into this problem a whole lot… I never really thought of myself as a …. super scientifically minded person… I mean, I obtained a B.S. in Psychology…. .. when other’s told me to become a veterinarian when I was young… because I loved horses… I opted to work at Belmont Racetrack…as a groom for 8 yrs… then went back to school to get that degree… and more in special Ed…. SO, Didn’t ever think I would want to get down and dirty with climate change facts…I mean, would not have occurred to me before that I would LOVE to read about climate… or about peak oil… but, I soaked up loads of material since about 2004 … and then, try to explain it to people… I DO TELL THEM…. you may not really get the gist of what I am saying because you do not have the back ground info .. .you would have to study on your own … do your own home work… to get the BIG PICTURE… most of the time… they yawn… or nod… or laugh or ARGUE…… some, find it interesting I can tell, but I have never really had anyone come back and be excited about what they learned …. on their own…. out of site out of mind…

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