Hidebound views on subjects such as the climate crisis and Brexit are the norm – but the appliance of science may sway stubborn opinions
“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters of religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s,” wrote Mark Twain.
Having written a book about our most common reasoning errors, I would argue that Twain was being rather uncharitable – to monkeys. Whether we are discussing Trump, Brexit, or the Tory leadership, we have all come across people who appear to have next to no understanding of world events – but who talk with the utmost confidence and conviction. And the latest psychological research can now help us to understand why.
Simply asking why people support or oppose a policy is pointless. You need to ask how something works to have an effect
You are more likely to achieve your aims by arguing gently and kindly. You will also come across better to onlookers