Sigh...people just don't listen...so how will they change their minds?

I'm not sure how I ended up on Scott Adams' blog last week, but this post really resonated....for a number of reasons.
First of all after 2 years at UChicago, I agree that an exposure to a lot of economists/economics will change the way you think forever. You're constantly questioning why you're thinking in a certain way, why you're believing what you do and under what circumstances that belief will change.

It can make life a little more complicated, but oh-so-much more interesting.:)

Anyway, the main part of Scott Adams post is about cognitive dissonance. He described his reaction to an episode of the Real Time with Bill Maher show, where essentially an economist made an unconventional argument: (i.e. the cost of measures we're taking to fight global warming may basically not be worth it.) I don't know if the argument is true, but the data to prove it definitively false isn't there either. Its a classic economic argument.

It should've been heard, debated and (given Maher's guests positions) politely, logically disagreed with. But instead, well I'll let Scott Adams' post do the talking...er...typing...er..

The Danish economist’s argument doesn't fall into the established views about global warming. He wasn't denying it is happening, or denying humans are a major cause. But he also wasn’t saying we should drive hybrid cars, since he thinks it won’t be enough to help. He thinks we need to make solar (or other alternatives) more economical. That’s the magic bullet. His views don’t map to either popular camp on this issue, and it created a fascinating cognitive dissonance in Bill Maher (a fan of hybrid cars) and his panelists.


I was watching that particular episode too (stumbled on to it) and thought the same thing, especially when these guests proceeded to mock the economist to applause from the eager studio audience. Of course, my thinking was not as eloquent; more along the lines of "Wow, you guys are acting like a bunch of jerks."

Smart people (well. kinda smart) on Bill Maher's audience just didn't seem to "not understand" the economist. They didn't seem to hear him at all, and so they just proceeded to mock and dismiss him..... He never stood a chance. How can you make an argument to people, when their default settings mean they don't even really hear your argument?

I just realized (as I was typing this!) that I've seen that before in life; at school; at work...I've often thought to myself either
  • wow...dude is stubborn
  • wow...dude is stupid
  • wow...I'm not doing a good job making my argument
Its not that people don't get it; people's defaults don't allow them to start trying. So the take-away for me from this was to be able to recognize that, and so try a more methodical approach to convince people about your differing viewpoints.

Oh...and I also annoyed at myself for the blogging drought.

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