Having a "line of retreat" -- feeling like the world won't end if they change their mind -- is part of it.

But the problem, here, is yet more general. A lot of people at my local meetup are people who I trust and like, and who accept the value of updating on evidence -- and even show respect for someone changing their minds! Even in discussions with these friends, I notice fear and loss when I lose a friendly argument. Admitting that you are wrong is a loss of status, even if only your interlocutor is watching. Every argument has aspects of status... (read more)

Admitting that you are wrong is a loss of status, even if only your interlocutor is watching. Every argument has aspects of status competition.

It's a loss of status, to whom?

I've heard that expressed before, but I am usually immensely impressed by someone who can see that they are wrong and admit it, particularly if I already think they are a smarty pants. Sure, you've lost the battle, which is often just a big swinging dick contest anyway, but you've won the war. Grasping an argument and being able to see that you are wrong is much more impressive than... (read more)

1John_Maxwell8yI think if you program yourself thoroughly enough with the idea that you are a judge of the evidence (like Ferris in this [http://lesswrong.com/lw/gt/a_fable_of_science_and_politics/] story), instead of being a soldier, you can change your mind in an argument without status loss. As soon as you start acting just a tiny bit like a soldier, defending one position and attacking another, you are going to feel pressure to do it more and more. You want to stop the cycle before it starts. If your friend introduces some new evidence or argument you're unfamiliar with, say "that seems plausible", and adjust your degree of belief in response to the argument immediately. You don't lose status because you just weren't aware of the argument. Another idea is to work on learning to use phrases like "that seems plausible", "I could see that", "all right, I gotcha, [restate or extend opponent's last statement here]", etc. that let you change your public position without losing status.

How can people be actually converted?

by yttrium 1 min read5th Feb 201294 comments


Have you ever convinced a religious person to become atheistic? How did you do this? How long did it take? Were the people in some sort of life crisis, or were they just living along?

This is probably a quite difficult task of persuasion. So stories how people were successful at it could be very interesting to improve ones' persuasion abilities.

Relatedly, it might be interesting to know what religious groups have gathered on techniques to convert people to their religion - are there some manuals/techniques floating around?