Don’t try to change minds (directly)

I have some stock advice for anyone trying to change anyone’s beliefs: just don’t! Don’t try to do that, not directly. Hardly ever. It depends on the person and the situation, but less than you’d hope.

Strongly held beliefs rarely yield to challenges or new information. Hell, even weakly held beliefs are stubborn brain barnacles. When they do change, it’s almost always a slow process, and it’s just dumb luck if you happen to get involved when someone hits their tipping point. Most attempts to change people’s minds will go badly, especially at first.

The best I think anyone can ever do is just to be sensible and charismatic advocate of your own ideas, rather than a critic of anyone else’s.

(Publishing is another matter: in that case, people are coming to you, and they only keep reading if they’re interested. They are in the driver’s seat. Scratching that debunking itch is one of the main reasons I write for a living!)