It was in this article that one of Benchley’s more popular quotes first appeared, a quote that is the sole purpose of this post. Well, the actual purpose I have for publishing this quote is to illustrate my own genius in avoiding the work I am supposed to be doing at this very moment.
I first heard the parable of the Two Wolves on an excellent Podcast (iTunes) called The One You Feed. The One You Feed is a weekly podcast created and produced by Eric Zimmer and Chris Forbes that explores various topics related to creating a life worth living by interviewing respected authors, researchers, teachers, mental health professionals, spiritual gurus & other thought leaders about their particular areas of expertise. You can donate to their show on Patreon.
It’s getting harder to find factual information these days. But even when you do get the facts, you’re far from out of the woods. If the new facts challenge your deepest convictions, your brain can double-down on your existing beliefs and reject the facts. It’s a psychological phenomenon known as the backfire effect.
When we come across things on social media and the web these days, we’re all on high alert for propaganda, manipulation, “fake news,” and outright lies. It’s easy to fall into a blanket rejection of alternative viewpoints. And that’s a failure. We owe it to ourselves to deal with reality, even when it’s inconvenient and makes us uncomfortable.
If you’re interested in learning more about the backfire effect, listen to the podcast series linked below from David McRaney, of the You Are Not So Smart podcast.
Here’s more on the backfire effect from David McRaney.
The Misconception: When your beliefs are challenged with facts, you alter your opinions and incorporate the new information into your thinking.
The Truth: When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger.
Matthew Inman recently published one of his trademark Oatmeal cartoons on the backfire effect. As I was laughing my way through Matthew’s cartoon I was thinking about the aforementioned You Are Not So Smart (YANSS)blog, book, and podcast series, from David McRaney. McRaney’s work is where I first learned about the backfire effect. After finishing the cartoon, I noticed that Matt credited David’s work as inspiration for his cartoon.
Matthew’s cartoon on the backfire effect is up to his normal high standards and well worth the three minutes it will take you to scroll through it while you lie to yourself about when you’re going to finish your next project.
McRaney’s reporting on the backfire effect (along with his other work on bias and fallacies) is approachable and provides insight into the latest understanding and research on psychology and neuroscience. His journalistic roots ensure that his citations and the experts he interviews are first-class.
I’ve just returned from the Dave Matthews Band Fan member site (The Warehouse) on my annual quest for tickets to the two DMB concerts that they perform in West Palm Beach.
The Warehouse allows members to request tickets before they go on sale to the public. This is the 13th year of going to DMB concerts with my love Shannon. This year would have marked the 14th year of Dave concerts for us but DMB didn’t tour in 2011 (the only year that Dave and his mates didn’t tour in over 20 years).
Now we wait and see what kind of seats we’ll get in the fan lottery (seats are divvied up by seniority in the DMB fan club). Wish us luck! Last year we had the best seats we’ve ever received and it really made for an amazing show. This puts me in mind of our upcoming anniversary of meeting in Phoenix – our 14th.