My guess is that humans have always had a hard time changing their minds. Maybe it’s because there’s a lot that goes into committing to a belief, making it super hard to adopt a different one. Or maybe our egos hang onto those beliefs, even when that belief gets rocked hard, because it’s so tough to admit that what we used to believe was incorrect.
I was always fascinated with how hard we hang onto what we deeply believe. Combine that with my fascination with how the human mind works, and it gets easier to see how we can look at the same exact thing, event, or scenario, as someone else, and see it so much differently. We simply do not like to change our minds.
This clinging to deep-rooted beliefs and ideologies has never been as apparent as it is right now. I recently read an article in the Washington Post in which the author argues the importance of acknowledging the impact natural immunity has on reinfection and vaccine necessity. His point was that if the emerging data and science is supporting the fact that those who have had COVID-19 demonstrate increased protection from reinfection, and thus get less benefit from getting a vaccine, we need to start acknowledging that fact.
After reading that last sentence, based on your current beliefs, you are either encouraged by those words, or angered by them. Hold those emotions for a moment, because I haven’t gotten to my point yet.
It was reading the comments below the article that made me realize, more than ever before, that minds seldom change. There are many reasons minds are difficult to change, but the comments people were posting indicated that they weren’t even given a chance to change. And it is not because the information wasn’t worthy of changing minds, but because the information gets interpreted a certain way as it goes into the brain, preventing it from being belief-changing. I know that last sentence was confusing, so let me say it another way. Specific details, facts, and points get either ignored or highlighted based on your belief system as you read or hear information.
In the comment section below the article, people were making arguments that it was reckless, unsafe, and irresponsible for the author to suggest that we purposefully get COVID-19 to get that natural immunity that is proving to be protective. The problem? The author never suggests anything like that. The discussion involves those that have already had the virus.
I’m only using this example because I just read the article and comments, and it is what prompted me to write this article. And it moved me to re-commit to making sure that I not only keep an open mind when listening, reading, or discussing serious issues or important topics, but that I make sure I take in all the information as it is being presented. We need to be careful not to ignore some information, emphasize other information, and skew some of that information in a way that is different from how it is intended in order to fit our current beliefs.
The bottom line is that you are likely set in your ways. Our beliefs are often long-lived and deeply rooted. I find that facts, studies, and new information aren’t changing minds. If your mind is set, it is set. There are some very, very serious issues affecting each and every one of us right now, unlike any other time in history. I have no vested interest in however you navigate this pandemic. But be very careful to listen to all of the information with an open mind. Really hear what others are saying, the points they are making, and the position they take, and then argue if you must. But make your arguments specific to the information received. Don’t let emotions plug your ears or cover your eyes. We need discussion, dialogue, and communication right now more than ever. Open your eyes… open your ears… and most importantly, open your mind. The health, well-being, and survival of our species depends on that.