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It’s Called “The Backfire Effect” – But It’s Probably Not Real.

So last week I learned that my last post relates to a psychological phenomenon called the “Backfire Effect.” It’s a little more specific to one aspect and explores just how, when people are presented with evidence against their own beliefs, they tend to hold their beliefs more strongly.

I came across it because my husband like stopped eating his dinner abruptly one day last week because he remembered he needed to finish reading this post from The Oatmeal. Learning can happen SUDDENLY and WITHOUT WARNING at any time, people…

I liked Matthew’s poetic conclusion at the end:

“Because this universe of ours is so achingly beautiful. And we’re all in it together. We’re all going in the same direction. I’m not here to take control of the wheel. Or tell you what to believe. I’m just here to tell you that it’s okay to stop. To listen. To change.”

I also learned another thing, that I had previously read about this effect a log time ago via my favorite weekly email & knowledge blog, Brain Pickings:

Article: The Backfire Effect: The Psychology of Why We Have a Hard Time Changing Our Minds

(And now I’m reminded even more why I need this blog to help me filter and make sense of my own damn reality…)

I also found it interesting that as I was Googling around for more information about this thing I noticed that Wikipedia wanted to direct my search to “Confirmation Bias” instead of this “Backfire Effect” which is, again, related but not the same actual phenomenon. But hey, RationalWiki has our backs with a basic definition…

ALSO also, I noticed that time-to-post really is of the essence, I see a lot more results in my Google search thank when I started this post like 6 days ago, including this one from Mashable just 2 days ago…


ArticleThis comic about the ‘backfire effect’ went viral — but there’s a huge catch



A peer-reviewed study was tried again last year and this effect couldn’t really be replicated. Making it effectively a thing that was observed once before but if it can’t be repeated it’s not a science thing.




I guess this single little adventure pretty clearly illustrates this new quest I’m on for accumulating “good” knowledge.

I started realizing how difficult it had become to tell what was true or not on the internet. I found more and more that were floating across my newsfeeds in various social networks were starting to collect in my mind like a plaque and ideas and opinions were forming and flowing that I hadn’t ever really, consciously thought through.

I think that is an important root of why many of us are frustrated trying to communicate online right now as well, we have all sorts of things from people we know shaping us that we didn’t necessarily consent to or seek out. And for relationships, that’s weird.

Previously we only knew much of anything about people we deliberately sought out and it generally required a sacrifice our own precious time & space to do so.

Now, instead of only being able to collect as many thoughts from others as printed materials we could read from them or direct conversations we could have, we are passively letting our minds be shaped by endless streams of emotithoughts as we are lying in our beds eating 4 day old delivery pizza or sitting on our toilets–the most intimate and otherwise private of spaces we afford ourselves.


This has an effect I’m now working to untangle. As frustrating as just this one post was for me to spend a few extra minutes researching and several days procrastinating on, taking back ownership of my learning is a frustrating fight I’m now consenting and seeking.


Introduction: Learn Like You Intend To Teach

Do you ever feel like you’re out to sea with all of the stuff there is to know in 2017?

With more information than ever before available any time you want it, are you pretty sure you know nothing and have completely devolved into cave(wo)man only capable of knowing what you want to eat and how to communicate exclusively with emojis? 🍕💩🍷😴 🔄


(While binge-watching Game of Thrones of course.)

Okay, I don’t expect that any of us feel we’ve really become THAT incapacitated yet. Hopefully… But maybe you’re like me and you feel like your anxiety is on the rise & though you WANT to know more things, you are less able to make choices about what and how to learn?

Though The Paradox of Choice has recently been challenged, I still kinda feel it, man… like, surely I’m not the only one who’s walked into a frozen yogurt shop like ever and felt like this…


Okay, here’s a quick bit of background on me.

Or actually, my husband.

I have the great fortune of being married to a man who has a big, giant brain. He is my favorite human ever but while he is loving and kind and smart his brain is just so gigantic that sometimes I feel kind of dumb talking with him, though I know that’s not the case.

The primary difference between us (besides maybe his insane ability to multitask) is that he has developed the powerful life skill of learning with intentionality and he summarized it to me like this:

“Learn like you intend to teach.”

Then he strolled back to his post on the mountainside, greeting weary travelers and imparting his timeless wisdom.

Dude. Dude.

That’s what this blog is about.

I’ve decided to start a blog and learn me some stuff instead of just giving up and hunting down local teenagers for some Adderall. While still tempting sometimes, that shit’s scary — though apparently it can be mitigated with some neuroscience…which I just learned, hey! This blog thing is already working!

This is a place for me to center my online experience and where I can explore what I’m learning & share it in simple, meaningful ways.

For myself and hopefully-maybe-possibly for you, too.

What kinds of things are you trying to learn these days but feel like you’re really sucking at? Please tell me about it in the comments!