Strategies for dealing with naÔve contrarians

  (03 October 15)
  by Greg Spearritt

John Carr writes:

It is a common situation in casual conversation to be confronted by people with ‘a little knowledge’ but very strong opinions. Their arguments are often founded on the evidence provided by ‘someone on the radio’, ‘a TV documentary’ or ‘a thing I read on the internet’. This evidence has confirmed their strong belief that ‘wind turbines cause heart disease and migraines’, ‘fluoride leads to thyroid problems’ , ‘immunization causes autism’ and the like. The same people have strong evidence that ‘Nine-Eleven was a CIA/Jewish plot’, ‘payments for Halal certification are funding ISIS’ and ‘the Masonic Lodge is masterminding domination by a world government’, possibly led by Prince Phillip AK.

I’ve recently spent some time with a couple of such people and wondered what SoFers would recommend as strategies for dealing with them. One rarely has enough time for a re-education program focusing on science and history, even if one had sufficient knowledge of their current subject of concern. If I do have a bit of time, I sometimes try telling them about ‘probability’ and peer-reviewed research, but this usually results in instantly glazed eyes.

What I did say to one contrarian was something like, ‘Look, if you want to convince people, you at least have to know who said it; who was the writer or speaker or what was the web-site where you found the information? I don’t know if this did any good, but I felt better for having given some fairly simple good advice. We all follow it ourselves, don’t we?

What strategies have other people found useful in countering the dogmatic but naïve contrarian?

1 comments

I can assure you mate I spent hours and hours studying 911 with a huge pile of books ; my very first thought on 911 was inside job . I yelled it out to the kids as I was driving them to school when I first heard the news. I was not influenced AT ALL by any one seeing I heard no one else's opinions. I research all "conspiracy theories " in great depth before I believe using my Mensa mind. Same with belief in a creator and the total impossibility of a single cell , more complex the a vast city in it's design, being created by chance . So not all of "us" fall into your criterior. Then I guess you are among "friends" such a one who used my belief in the government spying on our communications ( as Snowden proved) to get a bribed doctor to falsely section and drug me into a zombie in 2005 after a found massive perjury this asshole was making at the Supreme Court involving the millions he was stealing. Birds of a feather will stick together 272

Posted by Giselle Wilding

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