Incentives are powerful. With the right incentives, people will do things that without those, they wouldn’t normally do. If it meant hurting my attacker in order to save my life, I would like to assume that I would commit to defending myself as a matter of self-defense even if I normally do my best not to physically hurt others. With the right incentive, protecting myself, I’m willing to harm my attacker to save myself.
People react to incentives because it makes sense for them. There is an advantage to doing what you’re being incentivized to do. It may be an economical advantage or a moral or social one, but incentives are done because it’s rational. People can judge all they want, but when the right incentives are utilized, it’s much harder to say no because there’s less to lose and a lot more to gain.
The world is entering a post-truth society now that most people are unable or even unwilling to discern what’s fake or not. The US government is playing the propaganda and lying game as they’re incentivized to in order to keep power. The Propaganda ban was repealed back in 2013, so it’s easy for fake news to spread. However, it’s disheartening now that even when you tell the truth, you’re considered a liar because it simply does not fit with the narrative that another wants. Confirmation bias is strong. Even if you use facts and logic to argue your point, many times to the point of bombardment, people’s emotional selves feel attacked and so they’re reluctant to even entertain the other thought because it’s not the truth that these people are seeking, but they’re seeking to make a point with their minds and hearts closed. Thinking is hard work and to look at things in a more logical sense while balancing the emotional is tough. People rather take the convenient way out, which is what’s happening. There is a regression sprouting in society rather than progression.
On the other hand, I suppose it’s hard to ask people to be fine with discussing their beliefs because of how personal things can get. Our beliefs shape our entire lives and having them attacked is unpleasant.
“People select their own reality by deliberately avoiding information that threatens their happiness and wellbeing….while a simple failure to obtain information is the most clear-cut case of “information avoidance,” people have a wide range of other information-avoidance strategies at their disposal. They also are remarkably adept at selectively directing their attention to information that affirms what they believe or that reflects favorably upon them, and at forgetting information they wish were not true.” (CMU).
This makes sense on a biological level in retaining a sort of self by trying to make their reality reflect on how they view the world should be. The mind can be fragile and susceptible to being persuaded things on a mass scale even though it may not be objectively true, it’s true in the minds of the people.
One thing that people are often doing now is refusing to meet the person they’re engaged with halfway should they originally start off antagonizing each other.
“An implication of information avoidance is that we do not engage effectively with those who disagree with us,” said Hagmann, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Social and Decision Sciences. “Bombarding people with information that challenges their cherished beliefs — the usual strategy that people employ in attempts at persuasion – is more likely to engender defensive avoidance than receptive processing. If we want to reduce political polarization, we have to find ways not only to expose people to conflicting information, but to increase people’s receptivity to information that challenges what they believe and want to believe.” (CMU).
At this point, there doesn’t seem to be a way that not only exposes people to conflicting information, but increases people’s receptivity to information that challenges what they believe and want to believe. They don’t want to because to do so has to acknowledge that things are that bad in the first place. Denial as a defense mechanism is used, especially when you feel that you’re being attacked for your thoughts. By people’s own refusal to look at the facts and be rational, you can never have an effective conversation. It doesn’t work because at least one party doesn’t want it to work.
To this point of arguing with people, I felt like I constantly wanted to continue arguing with them whenever I saw them on my personal Facebook. So severely limiting my time on social media was actually a better idea than I thought. I’m surrounded by folks on my personal social media who I not only disagree with, but they themselves actively refuse to research effectively what they’re arguing about. They don’t apply critical thinking most of the time. It’s mostly my mistake in assuming that people critically think about a lot of things they randomly post on social media, especially with all the memes and not wanting to take things seriously because they can afford to play with other people’s lives because it doesn’t personally affect them. I mean, it’s Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit where there’s no guarantee that I’m actually talking to someone who has studied what we’re talking about. There’s been countless times that I’ve actually scrolled passed fake news that people continue to believe in because why not? It confirms what they believed to be true all along. Even after it gets debunked such as vaccines cause autism, people still believe in it. Or how people deny climate change is real and think it’s a Chinese hoax. Some of these people don’t remember things like the Great Smog of London in 1952. That’s less than a hundred years ago.
You honestly can’t debate with people who have already made up their minds. You either accept what they’re saying as the truth because they’re right and you’re wrong, or you’re right so you don’t engage or you disengage when you realize that they’re talking about things they clearly did not think through when you’re easily able to spot the inconsistencies they use in their arguments. It’s easier to eventually figure out when you’re talking to someone that actually knows what they’re talking about, especially when you have the internet at your fingertips to do some research of your own.