Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Overcoming confirmation bias among conservative voters

Cartoon that illustrates how conservatives react to the facts about socialism

Since the 1950s conservatives have been successfully redefining Socialism from "state ownership of the means of production" to be anything that helps average people cope with the excesses of capitalism.

Millions of people are angry because the political and economic system is not working for them, which is how Trump got elected. But Trump's economic policies are no different than what the GOP has done before; cut taxes for corporations and the rich, more money for the military-industrial complex, while also cutting "entitlements" and privatizing government services for the benefit of private corporations. 

The amazing thing is that so many fail to understand what's really going on while being easily manipulated by bigotry and trigger words like "socialism."

Harry Truman Quote About Socialism

The question is, what to do about it? How to reach people who are so totally enveloped in the conservative/Fox News bubble? They automatically reject any factual information that conflicts with their preconceived notions. Even when their beliefs about a particular subject have been totally refuted, these people simply will not accept it, because when you challenge someone's beliefs about one issue, you are also challenging their entire worldview.  

This is what is known as “confirmation bias,” the tendency people have to embrace information that supports their beliefs and reject information that contradicts them. Of course, confirmation bias is not exclusive to any one political persuasion and in order to be fully informed, it's not enough to seek out alternative views. One must also have an open mind and be willing to consider those views as being valid.

We can't undo what conservatives have accomplished over the past 70 years of filling people's heads with lies and half-truths. So, don't bother trying to persuade others with "facts" that challenge their entire worldview. 

The way to overcome confirmation bias and change stubborn minds is to identify shared goals first and then try to build on that, while avoiding emotional triggers.

Sure, that's much easier said than done, but we already know what doesn't work and we are paying a heavy price right now for failing to modify our approach to persuading others.

Deplorables for Trump 2020
This is how easy it is for name-calling by
one side to be used as a badge of honor by the other.


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