A man convinced against his will
Is of the same opinion still.

It's been my experience that it's impossible to change someone else's mind. (The best you can do, in some cases, is inform someone when they're factually wrong, and even then you have to just hope for the best.) So what are arguments--or, to use the more civil term, "debates"--good for?

I've found that one of the best side effects of wholeheartedly debating something is that it helps to make very thoroughly clear to yourself what your own position is, and what you think supports it. Looking closely at this may help you change your own mind, but you'll never attribute this to the person you're debating with.

The following subjects are completely impervious to changing someone else's mind about:

Psk: I really do mean argument as in reasoned debate. If you can "sway" someone's mind they probably didn't have a rooted opinion for you to "change" to begin with.

Arguing with people won't change anyone's mind. Most often, getting into an argument with someone of opposing opinion will only serve to increase conviction in your own point, at least in the short term. Most humans have a lovely stubborn streak that, when challenged, makes us hold tighter to our own arguments, even if the arguments are without fact or sense. It is easier for me to think that you are an idiot while we "discuss" the state of affairs than for me to admit to you that I am wrong. In most situations, that would be a loss of face.

However, I agree with Muke that in the long run, you may change your own mind after having mulled over the points your argument opponent has made. I know that in past, I have vigorously defended some opinion against one person, yet when faced with another person on the same topic, I have used the points made by the first person as if they were my own.

Humans are flawed. Logic is not the strong point of most people I know.

Does anyone else see the irony in arguing over whether arguing changes other people's opinions?

Informed opinions should change as further information is received.

It is my opinion that refusing to alter or change completely your viewpoint, after being presented with facts to the contrary is the acme of stupidity.

Maybe this node should have considered whether rhetoric can ever change opinion, as it seems many public debates these days are about rhetoric, soundbites and spin as opposed to a clear presentation of the facts.

It seems to me that issues such as abortion, gun control in the US, tax reform and the environment are dominated by groups who predominently use rhetoric to try and persuade others. They mix in just enough fact so that their arguments sound authoritative, but for the most part they are simply expertly crafted speeches given by skilled orators. It also helps that most of the time the speeches are directed at followers of their cause, and the aim isn't to persuade people to change their minds, but to reaffirm their beliefs (and therefore donate more money to the cause).

The line between fact and opinion has been blurred to such an extent that it can be difficult to spot especially when it is difficult to judge the veracity of facts presented.

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