I identify individuals who don't currently subscribe to a contrarian belief. I give a random half of them one kind of argument for this position, and the other another kind of argument for the position. I compare belief change in either camp. There are more components to the study, but I'm not interested in defending the research methodology.
Agreed. There’s no value in spreading this opinion
Your assumptions about the research interest are incorrect (although likely no fault of your own, as I was being vague intentionally). The actual experiment tests different argumentative techniques on certain kinds of positions, depending on the initial level of background support that a position has (contrarian or conventional).
See the comment I made at the top of the thread:
"To be clear: this study is about testing different argumentative techniques on different kinds of positions (conventional vs contrarian). It's not about the overarching reasons why someone who already subscribes to a contrarian position might have been persuaded by it in the first place."
You are misinterpreting the purpose of the study, and then accusing me of missing something fundamental that makes you doubt everything about my epistemic value. The actual study involves an experiment in which different sets of arguments are offered for the same contrarian position in a between subjects study of belief change. The truth value is not actually relevant to me — just the kinds of arguments people find compelling, conditional on whether the position is contrarian or conventional.
The problem is that I can’t possibly have the expertise to discern which of the contrarian positions are true, and if I were to try to independently arrive at my own conclusions, I would invariably end up deferring to experts and authorities on the subject, which would, in most cases, be the non-contrarian position. My current simple method for operationalizing contrariness is simply looking at how popular a given belief is, across the relevant social groups you ascribe to.
At the current moment, I’m not interested in having to be the arbiter for deciding what is true for particularly complex topics. (Indeed, the research has nothing to do with this question, as it's about testing the persuasiveness of ARGUMENTS -- contrarian and conventional are just two factors that are varied). Initially, I was interested in only generating contrarian positions that were decidedly untrue (eg vaccines cause autism, or the moon landing was faked), versus more ambiguous contrarian positions, but most of what I’m interested in are the unpopular views that are plausibly compelling — at least on the first hearing.
This is a good example, and it’s one we currently use
Any domain works
Point taken. I've edited the main body to limit editorializing. I have a hypothesis, and that hypothesis is rooted in survey data suggesting highly educated people are more likely to entertain beliefs that are inconsistent with majority opinion. I’m not concerned about the truth value of these contrarian positions, just why certain arguments in support of them appear appealing to certain kinds of people (and if that’s experimentally testable).
To be clear: this study is about testing different argumentative techniques on different kinds of positions (conventional vs contrarian). It's not about the overarching reasons why someone who already subscribes to a contrarian position might have been persuaded by it in the first place.