Ignored Facts in Difficult Conversations
Updated: Feb 9, 2022
I've had a hard time understanding some viewpoints of late. I want to understand alternative opinions but often don't feel like we're all working toward the same thing. When I see or hear an issue, I want to know all sides of the story and I want to consider all the facts. For some reason, we've seen an increased willingness to ignore facts that challenge our assumptions. Why do we maintain beliefs that are not supported by facts? Why do we place our opinions above those of experts in their field? What is happening inside of us that allows us to build these walls blocking out information we don't want to hear?
Opinions are simply ideas or, as defined, "views or judgements on something, yet not necessarily based on fact or knowledge." When we want to see something—often based on a conviction—we become entrenched in our belief irrespective of truth or legitimacy. Scholars call this, "confirmation bias" and it is absolutely blinding. We actively refuse to adopt, accept, or even acknowledge the information needed to make an informed decision. In fact, we only see what we want to see and have little difficulty ignoring what we don't. It seems contradictory information is easier to ignore than it is to accept, yet acceptance of new info means we may need to change our viewpoint, and that just sounds like too much work!
Every day we see news stories, memes, and postings on social media where assertions are made that blatantly ignore relevant and pertinent information. It wasn't long ago behaviors like banning smoking indoors and seatbelt laws were controversial despite their obvious health and safety benefits. Fortunately, we now recognize and accept these laws are for our own safety and those around us.
We'll never have all the answers, but we can and should strive for the best answer based on information available!
As we consider other controversial items today (ex. vaccines, elections, January 6th, religion, policies, healthcare, higher education), we engage in difficult conversations that require involves possessing some level of expertise over the topic. Science, facts, and deductive reasoning are real, whether we like it or not. We are both lazy and weak when only acknowledging select information that supports our beliefs while actively disregarding other equally relevant details. We'll never have all the answers, but we can and should strive for the best answer based on information available!
With today's heightened stress, our best option is to terminate conversations with those who refuse to integrate all of the facts or choose to ignore opposing perspectives. All of our time is too valuable to be bickering back and forth with people we care about. Heck, most of the time we're not listening anyway. We're waiting to jump in to share our side of the story. Rather than argue and risk losing relationships with friends or family, diffuse the situation and change the topic to the best sports teams or greatest movies of all time--topics we can all agree on. Hahaha.
And remember, we're in this together.