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Don’t Try to Convince People of Anything

  1. If they don’t believe it already, there is no reason your telling them to believe it will make them believe it
  2. If they believe it because you say so then they are going to be dependent upon you in an unhealthy way
  3. You might encourage them to lie to you about what they believe
  4. You might encourage them to lie to themselves about what they believe
  5. You might be wrong and you will have misleading them on your conscience.

It might be okay to convince people about factual matters, or matters in which they can check for themselves easily.  But the “no convincing” rule definitely applies to questions of religious, artistic, or political opinion.

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7 thoughts on “Don’t Try to Convince People of Anything

  1. noah says:

    I like to think you can push someone over the edge. Like if they were already really close to believing something, then just a little tap will get them to fall face first into it.

  2. Politics doesn’t come under factual matters? Sure, part of politics is ‘I like X’, but the way they get X falls under factual matters – they might be able to get X in a different way that factually doesn’t get in the way of someone elses ‘I like Y’. Where Y is ‘not being murdered’.

    In the end I think people suffer from a ‘build only’ mindset, often enough. Take your rule number five – suppose someone had sold me on the idea it’s not on my conscience at all. If I hadn’t been sold on that already, I could take #5 on because frankly #5 is a belief itself. But having been sold on the other belief, can I go backwards?

    Belief just seems to go in roughly the direction it started with.

    Star trekking across the universe, always going forward, cannot find reverse!

    • Occasionally it is. Like if A says “Let’s pay for the military by putting a 1% tax on wine” and B says “Your numbers are way off — the military costs 10 trillion dollars and a 1% tax on wine would only generate 10 million dollars.” But interestingly in those case B should welcome the correction, while typically in political discussions A’s criticism will make B angry, cause him to call A a scoundrel etc.

  3. Susan says:

    If it’s a factual matter, and the other sees the facts, then no convincing necessary. If it is factual, and he doesn’t see it, why waste time convincing him? If we state something to be true as we believe it is and the other takes it as factual, it’s on them to check the facts on their own. I wouldn’t feel guilty. – – – – – Have you read the short book “The Children’s Story” Written by James Clavell? It’s a 20 minute read and gave me chills. Sometimes facts aren’t needed to convince a population to reject everything they knew to be true.

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