THE BLOG
09/27/2013 04:19 pm ET Updated Nov 27, 2013

Changing Your mind

I am a scientist, math was my first love. (sorry to all you who noticed my error in defining the Baby Boom years. Thanks to thesavvyboomer; birth years are 1946-1964.) So when I read this report about a Yale law professor's study I was stunned. Appears that even the mathematically inclined, those who understand statistics for example, will ignore data that does not coincide with their political views. Self identified conservatives, when given data proving that gun bans work, wrongly insisted that the bans don't work. Self identified liberals, when given data proving that gun bans don't work, wrongly insisted that bans do work. (Both groups were given made up data.)

So what does this mean? It means that there is no changing people's minds; there is no amount of factual evidence that can be presented that will shift a person off their position. I cannot show you how reducing annuities through a change to the consumer price index will lower the economic activity in the country and is a bad idea. I cannot show you how global climate change and the resulting extreme floods and fires in Colorado and elsewhere are a result of 100 years of overconsumption of fossil fuels. I cannot show you how early childhood education lifts a person out of cycles of poverty. It's all for naught - you are going to believe what you want. And the depressing thing is, so will I. I am a liberal who will also say gun bans work even if I'm given data to analyze that says the opposite. I just can't believe it.

So how do we change our minds? How have we come from believing blacks were savages, not capable of work beyond field hands to recognizing their equal intelligence, drive, and abilities in all fields of endeavor? How have we come to believing homosexuals are not perverts but born into a different direction of sexual longing just as heterosexuals are born into their direction? How have we come to believing women have more to offer in this world than nurturing children, keeping house, and getting everyone to church?

I believe the answer is slow education. The 40 years of Mr. Rogers and "Free to be you and me" changed our expectations - exposure bread tolerance, and finally embracing. A few daring souls put their lives on the line, and slowly, beliefs changed. I don't know if we have time for a slow evolution on beliefs about climate change, economic inequality, gun control, population control, god's choice of best people on earth. But I'll try to keep my mind open.

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