Changing Minds and the BackFire Effect

Changing Minds and the BackFire Effect

I Couldn’t Believe!

I remember a few years ago when talking to a chiropractor, he told me about John of God from Brazil.  John of God is a healer who channels many spirit guides to commit a huge range of medical miracles.  The chiropractor told me that John of God attracts thousands of people from all over the world.  He told me about the experience, how he had to wait in long lines to see him.  He described the “visible operation” he had chosen, and told me that he had been cured.   The story seemed so beyond my belief system that I developed an unfavorable view of this chiropractor.   I was so uncomfortable with the story that I wanted to roll my eyes and run away.   I kept my distance from him (for other reasons as well) after that.

This isn’t the only time I’ve run from information presented to me.  I rolled my eyes at the Law of Attraction for years!  And when someone told me in the early 90’s that physicians had done a hemispherectomy on a child, and that it wasn’t expected to result in serious consequences, again, I rolled my eyes, and decided that he was rather naive.

I’m not the only one that runs from information that falls outside of their belief systems!

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How our Brains Foster Wrongful Convictions

How our Brains Foster Wrongful Convictions

Wrongfully convicted

Back in college my social psychology professor, Elliot Aaronson Ph.D., told us a story over 3 lectures that had us absolutely riveted. It was about a young man Bradley Nelson Page (not to be confused with Dr. Bradley Nelson), a UC Berkeley student who had been accused of murdering his girlfriend.   Dr. Aaronson led us through all the factors of the interrogation that led Page to a false confession of her murder.

That story left me with a sense of awe about how effective persuasion could be.  But it also left me profoundly disturbed about how it could be used, and the implications it had on our “justice” system.

We heard how the police used various mechanisms we discussed in class to force Page to concoct a story that allowed them to frame him.   As a college student, Page could have never imagined that the police would lie and use such manipulative tactics to force a confession!   He later recanted his confession after he was given enough space and rest to think clearly.

But his recanting wasn’t sufficient.

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What To Do When They Won’t Listen

What To Do When They Won’t Listen

She won’t listen!

Christine was in a new business partnership with 2 others in Arizona.  She lived in Portland, and was stressed about this partnership.  Her partner in Arizona took on more much responsibility than she could reasonably do, and important procedures were missed and not attended to.  Christine tried to persuade her that she could do the accounting, and that they needed to have an overarching plan about how to distribute responsibilities.  But her business partner was too mired in what she was doing to listen.    She was stressed and frustrated by the potential consequences of what she foresaw happening with the business.   She needed to be heard and valued, but she was starting to worry that regardless of what she did or said, her partner wouldn’t listen.

We talked about how to get her needs met.

I told her

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Why We Lack Control Over Our Thoughts

My friend Jim Kellner performs “mental magic”  to audiences around the country.   Technically, he’s a stage hypnotist and a couple of weeks ago, he did a performance where he hypnotized a few people, including a friend of mine, Brian.     Here’s just a little taste from the show.  (Warning:  you might not want to drink anything while watching.  It could get messy!)

 

I talked to Brian a few days afterwards, and asked him how it was, and he said, “it was the weirdest thing, but I don’t remember anything about it!”.   I just remember waking up and feeling really relaxed!

I confess, as a person that is less susceptible to hypnosis, I marvel that some people can get that deeply hypnotized.   Furthermore, his shows really awaken my curiousity! What is going on in their brains that make them so highly suggestible?

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