A few days ago I was watching an interview with Jerry Seinfeld in which he changed his mind about something he was discussing with Stephen Colbert. When it happened, Seinfeld observed–as he does–that people rarely change their minds on TV.
It occurred to me that it’s not just on TV. From my perspective, it seems that it’s exceedingly rare for people (including myself) to change their minds about anything substantial.
Instead, you have an opinion that you’ve spent years cultivating, nourishing, and reinforcing. You consume information that supports your opinion, and when you read something to the contrary, you look down on it. You engage more often with people who have the same opinion. Slowly but surely you convince yourself you’re right, and you never waiver.
I’m as guilty of this as anyone else. I’ve been thinking about this topic all day in the hopes of coming up with a time when I changed my mind about something significant, and I couldn’t think of a single example. Health care, immigration, the environment, gender/racial equality, gun control…my stance on these topics hasn’t changed in years.
The closest example I can think of are the various topics covered on Adam Ruins Everything. For most of them, it’s not that I necessarily had a different opinion before watching the show (or any opinion at all), but Adam has debunked some fleeting thoughts.
I think the biggest thing I’ve taken away from thinking about this topic is that for every opinion I have that I seem unwilling to change, there’s someone with the exact opposite opinion who is just as unwilling to change. It doesn’t make either of us right or wrong (as long as we’re talking about opinions, not scientific facts), but at the very least I can relate to their steadfastness.
When–if ever–was the last time you changed your mind on a long-held opinion?