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How to challenge dogma

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Why People Believe in Conspiracy Theories – And How to Change Their Minds

"You might be tempted to take a lead from popular media by tackling misconceptions and conspiracy theories via the myth-busting approach.

Naming the myth alongside the reality seems like a good way to compare the fact and falsehoods side by side so that the truth will emerge.

But once again this turns out to be a bad approach, it appears to elicit something that has come to be known as the backfire effect, whereby the myth ends up becoming more memorable than the fact."

"To make matters worse, presenting corrective information to a group with firmly held beliefs can actually strengthen their view, despite the new information undermining it.

New evidence creates inconsistencies in our beliefs and an associated emotional discomfort. But instead of modifying our belief we tend to invoke self-justification and even stronger dislike of opposing theories, which can make us more entrenched in our views."

"Meanwhile, to avoid the backfire effect, ignore the myths. Don't even mention or acknowledge them."

"Also, don't get the opponents gander up by challenging their worldview. Instead offer explanations that chime with their preexisting beliefs. For example, conservative climate-change deniers are much more likely to shift their views if they are also presented with the pro-environment business opportunities."

"One more suggestion. Use stories to make your point. People engage with narratives much more strongly than with argumentative or descriptive dialogues.

Stories link cause and effect making the conclusions that you want to present seem almost inevitable."

"All of this is not to say that the facts and a scientific consensus aren't important. They are critically so. But an an awareness of the flaws in our thinking allows you to present your point in a far more convincing fashion."