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Martin Sandbach

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Fri, Oct 16, 2015 - 08:14 AM

Is Using the Socratic Method the Best Way to Belief Revision

When you see friends, family, facebook friends who appear to believe ideologies that appear to be not evidently true what is the best technique to get them to question, doubt or research their own beliefs. Is asking questions about how they know using the socratic method the best or what about making jokes or ridicule? Would providing scientific citations and asking them to read be best?


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Bo Bennett, PhD
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Bo Bennett, PhD

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About Bo Bennett, PhD

I am the host of this show :) For my complete bio, please see http://www.bobennett.com.
PrintFri, Oct 16, 2015 - 01:02 PM
The Socratic method is certainly and excellent way to help someone revise their beliefs. However, there are many factors that are involved in the effectiveness. For example, if there is an adversarial relationship between the two parties arguing, or if the questions are being asked in what is perceived to be a snarky or demeaning tone, it is more likely to trigger the cognitive bias known as the backfire effect, which makes the person even less resistant to influence. While statistically, the Socratic method might be the most effective way (I base this on professional opinion more than data), some people might respond better to other tools of argumentation such as being presented with facts, education, and even ridicule. I like to use a variety of techniques and see what is working for the person, and then focus on that technique.
Bo Bennett, PhD
My Latest Book: https://www.uncomfortable-ideas.com
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David McDivitt
Saturday, October 17, 2015 - 01:39:38 AM
A good argument is to explain facts have a life cycle. Many people think there is a one-to-one correspondence between facts and reality, and there is only one reality whether or not anyone knows what it is. What this does is generate cognitive dissonance. If there is a reality, what's the probability what we think aligns with reality? It is the chance of being wrong, especially the chance of sounding like an idiot in the presence of others when expressing what is thought, that sets up the cognitive dissonance, causing people to overly justify what is thought to self and others. Explaining how facts have a life cycle helps reduce this cognitive dissonance, and with less dissonance there is less need to justify beliefs and opinions. And when people don't have such a need to justify themselves they can listen and carry on a conversation more easily.

Things are not set in stone. It is not necessary to know exactly how things are set in stone. Dissuading static concepts and the probability one may not be properly aligned with those concepts, goes a long way to improving dialog. Until this is done, it does little good to discuss what is right or why anything is.

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