People like to believe that they’re logical, rational, intelligent creatures. Then again, people like to believe in Noah’s Ark, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny as well.
The fact is that when people make a decision, they often do so with no idea whether they’re making the right decision or not because they have no idea how much (or how little) information they actually have to base their decisions on.
Because people don’t know how much they know or don’t know about a given topic, they can only make decisions based on incomplete data. The problem isn’t that everyone uses incomplete data but that far too many people believe they’re making rational decisions based on complete information.
That’s like crossing a busy highway, believing you’re invincible to getting hit by a car, and then getting hit by a car. The moment you fool yourself into believing you’re 100% right when you’re not, that’s where the problem comes in.
Once people make decisions based on incomplete data and fool themselves into believing they’re making obviously logical choices using complete data (when they’re not), the next slippery slope to delusional thinking occurs when people identify with their choices.
Instead of making a decision (based on incomplete data and being aware of it) and being willing to look for facts that may contradict their beliefs like a scientist testing a hypothesis, most people come to a decision based on incomplete data, then identify with their decisions.
If you confront these people with facts that contradict their beliefs, they’ll simply ignore any and all facts. Once many people make up their minds, they’ll actively and rabidly resist changing their minds because that would mean admitting they were initially wrong, and being wrong means a loss of identity and ego.
So the next time you run across a Donald Trump supporter, don’t bother parading facts to make your case because facts will never change the mind of someone who steadfastly believes they’re always right all the time. Facts simply remind them that they could be wrong and admitting being wrong is a direct threat to a person’s identity.
Can you change someone’s identity? Nope, and because far too many people associate their beliefs with their identity, you can never change someone’s beliefs either, even with a mountain of facts. As long as you threaten someone’s identity, they’ll never listen to you and will likely dig in and further entrench themselves with their mistaken beliefs because holding on to a mistaken belief is far better (in their minds) than admitting they could possibly be wrong.
This innate fear of being wrong is what limits people. As long as you’re afraid of being wrong, it’s far better not to try anything at all. If you do nothing, you’ll never be wrong. (You’ll never be right either, but that’s besides the point with people who fear being wrong.)
If you fear being wrong, you’ll defend your beliefs with violence if necessary. Education and facts can never overcome stubbornness and fear, and that’s exactly what motivates so many people.
Confronting people with facts will never change their minds because they’re already convinced that they’re already right. Trying to change someone’s fixed mind is like trying to change the mind of a rock. The only difference is that a rock still has the possibility of changing for the better.