Eli5: Why is it easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled?

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Eli5: Why is it easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled?

In: 634

Generally speaking it’s because it’s usually embarrassing to be fooled by someone and (usually) makes you feel like you’re stupid. Most people aren’t going to enjoy that and will deny they’ve been totally fooled.

People don’t like to feel dumb or bad. If they’ve been fooled, they’ll feel dumb or bad. Easier to resist person convincing them they’ve been fooled.

To fool someone is to convince them of something they either didn’t know before or that they already believe. If it sounds good and or appeals to their [ideologies/beliefs/biases/fears/attractions/religion/anger/hate/conviction/etc etc] they’ll likely believe it.

People need to be vigilant in their objectivity, critical thinking, and empirical reasoning. For the things we believe in and the things we don’t. However, dumb shit don’t get an equal platform to proven science.

Short answer: Our brains are weird that way.

Long answer: Our brains have a network of internal processes designed to freeze out information. This can form cognitive bias responses that can actually lead people to disassociate facts from reality. This response is especially powerful when trying to change opinions, the brain can actually try to “protect” itself by believing something even stronger when presented with opposing evidence. This is why when a person is fooled and you try to convince them it can often have the opposite effect that you intended.

This can even lead down dangerous paths such as full on delusion and paranoia where people believe obviously false things. They believe that the world itself has bent around the false reality, but the brain itself is the culprit.

I think it has to do with people’s pride about being smart, but also with a combination of the anchoring effect (the first information you hear about something has more weight in your decision making and you use it as a reference for all new information) and the sunk cost fallacy (you have already invested a lot in something, so you don’t want to abandon it. In reality the time or money you’ve invested in something isn’t coming back so you shouldn’t really consider it in future decision making).

It’s much easier to learn something than it is to unlearn something.

They learned the person to be trustworthy. Unlearning that is difficult for many.

Because we are not as rational as we believe.

Psychologists conducted experiments to prove this, which is why marketers, politicians, con artists, and others take advantage of this aspect of human nature.

If you want to learn more about the principles of human nature, I recommend reading “Influence” by Robert Cialdini.

The book explains how these principles work and how they can be controlled. Giving us the ability to defend ourselves against those who want to take advantage.

You can only fool people with what they want to hear, such as “you will be rich without effort because I’m giving away my secrets to you for some reason”, but if you tell them something that negates that fantasy you’re telling them exactly what they don’t want to hear.

Conversely if they are among the first people to know the truth about a conspiracy then they will gain an elevated social status whereas if they are proven wrong they will merely be known as somebody who used to believe in something bizarre and that would lower their social status.

Usually you fool them about something they already believe or want to believe. To convince them they were fooled means their prior believe or wish was wrong.

In all people there is a phenomenon that the first idea, thought, or opinion on a subject is easiest to solidify. Any change after that is significantly more difficult.

We have a few things that go against us that are apart of being human. The first is we tend to believe the first information over second or third. The next is we are stubborn. Once we make a decision on a world view we view it as the only way forward. Lastly. When we come into contact with new information our brains literally hurt.

So new information is like eating ice cream. If you eat too fast your head hurts and your brain throws away the ice cream.

Further reading:

Anchoring effect https://www.pon.harvard.edu/daily/negotiation-skills-daily/the-drawbacks-of-goals

Overconfident bias (how you get duped also see dunning Kruger) https://www.schwabassetmanagement.com/content/overconfidence-bias

If you fool someone, they don’t know they’re a fool.

If you explain, you’re telling them they’re a fool and forcing them to accept their foolish status.

Fooling someone usually just means that you convinced them to trust you and believe you. Super easy if you agree with what they want to hear.

Convincing someone that they were fooled involves getting them to trust you, convincing them to reject their trust of someone they already trust, convincing them that a “truth” in their mind is false, a “truth” that they might have spread and convincing them that what you are saying is actually true.

Then they are embarassed.

People see their decisions and conclusions, rightfully or wrongfully, as direct reflections of them as people. To admit you were fooled is to admit that you failed and people are ego protecting creatures. It takes practice to admit you were wrong-headed about something. It is why it is so hard to convince people of something even if you have objectively proved your case, as it were. There is all of your reality that you are shining on them, but that is easily outweighed by the other person’s ego.

So, if you find yourself needing to convince someone of something that is opposite of what they believe, you have to use ego soothing language. The Japanese call this ‘saving face’. Give them the ability to change their minds in a way that paints them in a positive light. When you hear about people whining about those who ‘tell it like it is’, really aren’t complaining about what people say, rather that they say it without first soothing the other person’s ego. And, honestly, if you want to get along in this world you do need to learn that skill. Trust me, it has taken me years to work that out.

Confirmation bias. It’s easy to make people believe stuff they kind of already thought. Case in point: vaccine safety. It’s scary to have someone inject something into your body, and it’s not unreasonable to consider it to be potentially dangerous. With that in mind, it’s very easy to convince a lot of people that they are dangerous by just making things up…their suspicions are confirmed, they feel smart for have correctly suspected something,

To admit that one has been fooled is to acknowledge that one has made an error. Whereas one can be fooled without acknowledging an error.

It doesn’t matter if you are fooled or not it is just easier to gain a new belief than to change one you already have.

Confirmation bias.

People want to believe things they are pre-disposed to believing.

A good example is getting a ‘2nd opinion’ from a doctor about a medical condition..

When you should think of it as ‘2 first opinions’ but our brains are so used to confirmation bias, we see the 2nd opinion as less valuable, or useful, in order to ‘confirm’ the 1st opinion. This is because we chose the person to give us that 1st opinion. It doesn’t make that doctor automatically right simply because we chose them.

1. We are biased towards things we think we SHOULD believe, or things the people we trust believe, or things that support our existing viewpoints – this is called “motivated reasoning”
2. We are biased towards the FIRST thing we hear about a topic, because it takes additional mental effort to disprove the first thing and re-learn the second thing than it does to learn the first thing.

[https://www.apa.org/news/apa/2020/fake-news](https://www.apa.org/news/apa/2020/fake-news)

because youre not just trying to convince them that 2+2 is not 5,

you have to convince them that they themselves are wrong for thinking that 4 ones equal 5, therefore attacking not the truth but the person themselves and their own self. .

People get fooled by stories which are made to follow narrative rules, wrap up nicely with no loose ends and are believable and satisfying. When you try to replace that with reality which doesn’t fit human narrative, is full of loose ends and makes no concessions for believability or satisfaction you’re fighting an uphill battle.

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Eli5: Why is it easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled?

In: 634

Generally speaking it’s because it’s usually embarrassing to be fooled by someone and (usually) makes you feel like you’re stupid. Most people aren’t going to enjoy that and will deny they’ve been totally fooled.

People don’t like to feel dumb or bad. If they’ve been fooled, they’ll feel dumb or bad. Easier to resist person convincing them they’ve been fooled.

To fool someone is to convince them of something they either didn’t know before or that they already believe. If it sounds good and or appeals to their [ideologies/beliefs/biases/fears/attractions/religion/anger/hate/conviction/etc etc] they’ll likely believe it.

People need to be vigilant in their objectivity, critical thinking, and empirical reasoning. For the things we believe in and the things we don’t. However, dumb shit don’t get an equal platform to proven science.

Short answer: Our brains are weird that way.

Long answer: Our brains have a network of internal processes designed to freeze out information. This can form cognitive bias responses that can actually lead people to disassociate facts from reality. This response is especially powerful when trying to change opinions, the brain can actually try to “protect” itself by believing something even stronger when presented with opposing evidence. This is why when a person is fooled and you try to convince them it can often have the opposite effect that you intended.

This can even lead down dangerous paths such as full on delusion and paranoia where people believe obviously false things. They believe that the world itself has bent around the false reality, but the brain itself is the culprit.

I think it has to do with people’s pride about being smart, but also with a combination of the anchoring effect (the first information you hear about something has more weight in your decision making and you use it as a reference for all new information) and the sunk cost fallacy (you have already invested a lot in something, so you don’t want to abandon it. In reality the time or money you’ve invested in something isn’t coming back so you shouldn’t really consider it in future decision making).

It’s much easier to learn something than it is to unlearn something.

They learned the person to be trustworthy. Unlearning that is difficult for many.

Because we are not as rational as we believe.

Psychologists conducted experiments to prove this, which is why marketers, politicians, con artists, and others take advantage of this aspect of human nature.

If you want to learn more about the principles of human nature, I recommend reading “Influence” by Robert Cialdini.

The book explains how these principles work and how they can be controlled. Giving us the ability to defend ourselves against those who want to take advantage.

You can only fool people with what they want to hear, such as “you will be rich without effort because I’m giving away my secrets to you for some reason”, but if you tell them something that negates that fantasy you’re telling them exactly what they don’t want to hear.

Conversely if they are among the first people to know the truth about a conspiracy then they will gain an elevated social status whereas if they are proven wrong they will merely be known as somebody who used to believe in something bizarre and that would lower their social status.

Usually you fool them about something they already believe or want to believe. To convince them they were fooled means their prior believe or wish was wrong.

In all people there is a phenomenon that the first idea, thought, or opinion on a subject is easiest to solidify. Any change after that is significantly more difficult.

We have a few things that go against us that are apart of being human. The first is we tend to believe the first information over second or third. The next is we are stubborn. Once we make a decision on a world view we view it as the only way forward. Lastly. When we come into contact with new information our brains literally hurt.

So new information is like eating ice cream. If you eat too fast your head hurts and your brain throws away the ice cream.

Further reading:

Anchoring effect https://www.pon.harvard.edu/daily/negotiation-skills-daily/the-drawbacks-of-goals

Overconfident bias (how you get duped also see dunning Kruger) https://www.schwabassetmanagement.com/content/overconfidence-bias

If you fool someone, they don’t know they’re a fool.

If you explain, you’re telling them they’re a fool and forcing them to accept their foolish status.

Fooling someone usually just means that you convinced them to trust you and believe you. Super easy if you agree with what they want to hear.

Convincing someone that they were fooled involves getting them to trust you, convincing them to reject their trust of someone they already trust, convincing them that a “truth” in their mind is false, a “truth” that they might have spread and convincing them that what you are saying is actually true.

Then they are embarassed.

People see their decisions and conclusions, rightfully or wrongfully, as direct reflections of them as people. To admit you were fooled is to admit that you failed and people are ego protecting creatures. It takes practice to admit you were wrong-headed about something. It is why it is so hard to convince people of something even if you have objectively proved your case, as it were. There is all of your reality that you are shining on them, but that is easily outweighed by the other person’s ego.

So, if you find yourself needing to convince someone of something that is opposite of what they believe, you have to use ego soothing language. The Japanese call this ‘saving face’. Give them the ability to change their minds in a way that paints them in a positive light. When you hear about people whining about those who ‘tell it like it is’, really aren’t complaining about what people say, rather that they say it without first soothing the other person’s ego. And, honestly, if you want to get along in this world you do need to learn that skill. Trust me, it has taken me years to work that out.

Confirmation bias. It’s easy to make people believe stuff they kind of already thought. Case in point: vaccine safety. It’s scary to have someone inject something into your body, and it’s not unreasonable to consider it to be potentially dangerous. With that in mind, it’s very easy to convince a lot of people that they are dangerous by just making things up…their suspicions are confirmed, they feel smart for have correctly suspected something,

To admit that one has been fooled is to acknowledge that one has made an error. Whereas one can be fooled without acknowledging an error.

It doesn’t matter if you are fooled or not it is just easier to gain a new belief than to change one you already have.

Confirmation bias.

People want to believe things they are pre-disposed to believing.

A good example is getting a ‘2nd opinion’ from a doctor about a medical condition..

When you should think of it as ‘2 first opinions’ but our brains are so used to confirmation bias, we see the 2nd opinion as less valuable, or useful, in order to ‘confirm’ the 1st opinion. This is because we chose the person to give us that 1st opinion. It doesn’t make that doctor automatically right simply because we chose them.

1. We are biased towards things we think we SHOULD believe, or things the people we trust believe, or things that support our existing viewpoints – this is called “motivated reasoning”
2. We are biased towards the FIRST thing we hear about a topic, because it takes additional mental effort to disprove the first thing and re-learn the second thing than it does to learn the first thing.

[https://www.apa.org/news/apa/2020/fake-news](https://www.apa.org/news/apa/2020/fake-news)

because youre not just trying to convince them that 2+2 is not 5,

you have to convince them that they themselves are wrong for thinking that 4 ones equal 5, therefore attacking not the truth but the person themselves and their own self. .

People get fooled by stories which are made to follow narrative rules, wrap up nicely with no loose ends and are believable and satisfying. When you try to replace that with reality which doesn’t fit human narrative, is full of loose ends and makes no concessions for believability or satisfaction you’re fighting an uphill battle.