Greedy Goblin

Friday, January 6, 2017

How to convince someone who thinks you are [some bad thing]

Let's say that someone thinks you are dumb. Or racist. Or feminist. Or sexist. Or KKK member. Or SJW. Or troll. What can you do about it to restore your good reputation?

That's a simple question: nothing. People are in full control of their thoughts and there is nothing in the World you can do about them. The very idea that you can change someone's thoughts is literally the tinfoil hat conspiracy (the tinfoil hat protects the user from brain-controlling waves). People will think what they want to think.

But people sometimes change their minds! - you think. Yes, rationals do it after seeing facts, socials after experiencing cognitive dissonance. But your personality is not an objectively measurable fact, nor it really affects anyone. A rational can read up on the bad health effect of feasting chocolate and a social can feel bad for being fat and stop eating it. But you are being and not doing. You can do things that theoretically contradict the bad trait (for example you can get a STEM degree which is not the sign of being dumb) but that only forces people to acknowledge the act and not the trait. You'll be a dumb person who somehow cheated his way to a degree in their eyes.

The sooner you realize that you have zero control over the perception of you in others, the sooner you start to ignore it and both feel and live better.


Carson 63000 said...

Even cognitive dissonance ain't what it used to be. See Nyhan and Reifler's study regarding the "backfire effect", whereby presenting facts which contradict strongly held beliefs can actually reinforce those beliefs rather than undermining them!

Harusame said...

How about if for example, it was said that you are bad at a language. (which may be true and having very low proficiency)

Then you learn the language to native proficiency.

Wouldn't this force the people to accept the obvious trait of speaking well in another language rather than acknowledging the act of learning it only?

I agree that you can not force the thought on the person but I think this would convince them that you are in fact good in the language.

Provi Miner said...

Wow another 100% miss. you can not change how others feel about you after they experience you however you can change how they "feel" about you after they finally meet you. I can't number the people I had good or bad opinions of that changed after being around them, and it wasn't that I changed for no reason. The reason for the Perception change was based on facts or really good lie's (I have used both lol). Lets say I hear how gob is a horrible person with a victim mentality who's only goal is to break things without fighting..... He is a bad a person. So one day while mining I get ganked and the ganker sends me a link to a gob article on how not to be ganked I read it (its good) so then I read about afk missioning and its better, then I start to read more some I agree with some I don't what does matter is that gobs has moved from a paranoid ass hat that everyone talks about to a pretty interesting personality and I have some common interests with. Did I change my mind? yes was it caused by what gobs did? yep 100% so in effect you changed my perception of you.

Anonymous said...

feminist = [some bad thing] ?

Hanura H'arasch said...

Well, what do you do if a family member/your boss/significant other thinks you are [some bad thing]? It's relatively easy to ignore strangers, but it seems a lot harder to ignore the opinion of people who matter in your live.

Pim said...

Anonymous asks, "feminist = [some bad thing] ?"
In many people's minds today, feminist = female chauvinist = sexist.
In the past, the word did not mean that, but times are changing.

Gevlon said...

@Harusame: "bad at language" isn't a personality trait, it's a judgement on something objective (one can take a formal language exam). You can change those.

@Provi Miner: so a mining guide can change your opinion about someone being a horrible person?

@Hanura: if your boss/wife think you are horrible... well, that's how people get fired/divorced.

Esteban said...

Something like 'racist' is no more a personality trait than being bad at a language. It's a judgement based on statements and actions. If someone who is racist recants their prior views and remains consistently not-racist from then on, they can rebuild their reputation over time. In fact, there can be a bit of a 'prodigal son' effect in play - people like converts because they can credit conversions to the sheer objective strength of their ideas.

You may object that (unlike with language proficiency) there is a different standard of 'racist' in an Alabama pub from that of a Berkeley lecture hall, but the principle remains, even if the breakpoint changes from group to group.

Gevlon said...

@Esteban: like Jeff Sessions, who is "racist" after 40 years from his latest remotely racist act? The problem is that good language usage is a proof of being good at a language. Not behaving racist isn't a proof of not racism, he is "surely" racist, just hides it in public.

Caldazar said...

There is a saying: 'You can't prove a negative', which is very correct in most of such social label cases.

Unknown said...

Feminism = Cancer, a well established fact.

Hanura H'arasch said...

@Gevlon: but doesn't that mean that socials are right in caring what others think about them? After all they might not be able to change an already established opinion, but they can make sure that nobody would even connect them with [insert bad thing] because it's "obviously ridiculous".

Gevlon said...

@Hanura: no, because their effort is futile. Just see how everyone is "racist" among the USA conservatives, despite did nothing for it. Socials would be right if they could change the public opinion of themselves and use it for their benefit.

Esteban said...

@Gevlon: Contrast Sessions with the late Senator Robert Byrd, who was an actual member of the KKK (not just said he liked them at one point) and was one of the senators who tried to stop the Civil Rights Act of 1964 via filibuster.

Byrd admitted what he did was wrong, apologised, and worked to make amends. By the end of his life and legislative career, he had endorsed Barack Obama for president (over Hillary Clinton) and had received a 100% score for his Senate votes in his final term from the NAACP (one of the main American political organisations devoted to defending the rights of people of colour). Upon his death, he received many warm statements from black political leaders, who called him a champion of civil rights.

That's the kind of thing 'recanting' means. Sessions never did anything like that. His voting record has always remained consistently anti-minority and I cannot think of a single gesture of goodwill he has ever made.

Anonymous said...

Humans are social beings. We communicate. Communication influences our actions.

Someone thinks you are bad person and tells you that. Thanks to that, you think you cant do anything about it. There you are wrong. You influence that bad person no matter if you do something or not. So long you or your ideas are alive, so long you will influence people, want it or not. So your question, "What can you do about it to restore your good reputation?" converts to "Is doing nothing restores best way to restore your good reputation?". It might be effective way to some people, but i think respectable communication gives often better results. Persuasion is artfrom itself, and there are many techniques to use or abuse. You will influence other people and its your choice how and how effectively you will influence them. You can do nothing, but you can do something too!

Anonymous said...

Agree & amplify (to ridiculous level)


Because people today are stuck in their worldviews and no matter how many facts, statistics and proof you show them, it won't change anything.

So just own it, make a joke and don't take other people too serious.

Anonymous said...

The deeper question is, why would you care what others think in the first place?

A racist who is a racist will admit "yes I am a racist, have a good day".

The only reason to even try to change it, is because such a person has probably done a racist act, yet denies it. A comparison is usual case of a pirate downloading movies, when told they are depriving the creators of income, they get emotional and deny it and rationalise etc. Why they don't say "yes I want a free movie and don't care who I rip off"? Not like they realistically will get imprisoned with half the country doing the same.

Edge cases occur, i.e. Ellen Degeneres being accused of racist for photoshopping herself onto a black runner, but these are quickly dismissed by virtually everyone as absurd and forgotten. If someone is accused of being an -ist or -phobe repeatedly over many years, perhaps time to admit its true, and simply admit it.

Gevlon said...


Provi Miner said...

@ gob's nope your anti gank was the first part the mining guide was the second hit of crack (the one that locks you down) and then I started visiting pretty much every day point is/was you are interesting I never played BDO but I read most of it, same for wot and lol. your posts moved me from thinking you mittens mirror to realizing you and I can agree on far more than just eve.