The Backfire Effect

The Oatmeal Cartoon By Matt Ingram On The Backfire Effect 600x1087px Mq.Jpg
An excerpt from Matthew Inman published May 3, 2017 of The Oatmeal on the backfire effect (full cartoon) inspired by author and podcaster David McRaney’s three-part podcast series on The Backfire Effect.

The Backfire Effect

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.

McRaney recorded a three-part series on The Backfire Effect that built on his excellent article on the topic. The podcast series is a great listen.

  1. Podcast 093 – The Backfire Effect – Part One
  2. Podcast 094 – The Backfire Effect – Part Two
  3. Podcast 095 – The Backfire Effect – Part Three

If you want to get right to the point about how you can best compensate for the backfire effect listen to his third episode, How to fight back against the backfire effect.

And good luck, we’re all going to need luck, more fact checking, and a healthy dose of self-awareness if we’re going to make it through the next few years.

~ julian

GrandCentral bug and the ultimate GrandCentral Hack

Hurry GrandCentral guys please fix this one ASAP!

I’m addicted to GrandCentral, the one-number service that rings all your phone numbers at once plus a whole lot more. I’ve got a bug to share with my fellow GrandCentral users and a few points that you might find helpful in using the service.

Don’t miss my GrandCentral call recording hack at the end of this post – you can use it to keep your service providers honest when you cancel their service and they later magically deny having heard from you.

First the bug

The problem comes if you disconnect one of your phone lines and forget to update GrandCentral. Like a lot of other GrandCentral users I typically have 3 to 4 phone lines hooked up to my GrandCentral line:

1) home
2) office
3) primary mobile
4) secondary mobile

My secondary mobile is the one that I use to evaluate mobile phone carriers and phones. It changes frequently. The other day I disconnected my latest trial phone with a Helio Fin (awesome features / boring as hell) and Helio Drift (fun as hell but missing a few things) and forgot to take the number out of Grandcentral.

The result? Complete failure.

No ringy dingy on any phone even though ALL my other lines were operational. If my friend and I hadn’t been IM’ing I would never have known. GrandCentral, please fix this. I recognize that people don’t all carry second cell phones and change them all the time but your GrandCentral users DO change their numbers – it’s a primary reason people want a SMART number platform like GrandCentral in the first place.

I’ve used one-numbers or SMART numbers for a long time. I still use Accessline as my drop-dead-reliable-one-number and so does IBM. Er, I guess that means I have two one-numbers which is kind of sad. But I’ll keep Accessline for the $20 a month I pay for it until GrandCentral is completely out of beta and 100% bug free. Then there’s the question of what Google will do to GC. Hmmmm, let me guess – text link ads everywhere on the web site and voice over ads when you call in to check messages. That will drive us to pay money for their service just to shut the ads off. No problem, I’m in!

And here’s why I’ll pay.

Three things I love that are unique about GrandCentral

  • Lets you transfer live calls to your other phones.  You need to walk out the door to a meeting or to get your kids and you’re no longer chained to your office phone. Never be late again. 🙂
  • Let’s you record in-bound phone calls for podcasting or the ultimate in note taking (don’t worry it tells your callers even if you forget to, saving you from an embarrassing trip to jail). I have a hack for this for outbound calls (see below)
  • Listen in to callers leaving you a voicemail with the ability to pick up and take the call at anytime. It’s like your ol’ mechanical answering machine from 1982 but without the fake wood grain and all the vagaries of microcasette tapes.

The outbound call recording hack for GrandCentral

aka AT&T/Sprint/Verizon/Comcast/Adelphia/Time Warner/DirecTV

Now on to that hack for recording outbound calls. These instructions sound convoluted but they’re really not. If you can handle using two phones and a web browser then you can do this. The only requirement is that you have two phones and since you’re interested in GrandCentral this should be a no-brainer. These instructions assume you’ll make the outbound call from a land line at your home or office but it works with any combo.

  1. Login to GC web site and head over to settings
  2. Uncheck your land line phone from the list of active phones (you don’t need to delete it – just uncheck it so it won’t ring when someone calls your GC line)
  3. Now call your own GC number from the landline phone you just unchecked in your GC settings
  4. Your cell phone rings. (power user tip: put it on vibrate for a cheap thrill)
  5. Answer your cell phone, it is YOU after all. Now mute your cell phone.
  6. Now from your land line place a three-way call to the person/company you want to record. Don’t forget to join the calls – usually by hitting the TALK or CALL key again on your phone keypad.
  7. When you get your party on the line explain that you want to record the call. Then hit the 4 key on your cell phone (hitting 4 on an inbound GC call turns call recording on).
  8. Record away
  9. When you’re done you can simply hang up both of your phones or you can hit 4 again to turn call recording off. If you want to turn call recording on/off during the call just use 4 to toggle. Great when your client wants to trash their boss!

Since Google purchased GrandCentral they’ve demanded that GC avtivate an automated greeting when you turn call recording on to prevent untold litigation against the Googleplex. Smart move since call recording is illegal in some states when you don’t tell the other party you’re recording them.

about that jail thing… 

Now, I’m not suggesting that you do this, but for those of you in states where IT IS legal to record conversations WITHOUT telling the other party you can always turn call recording ON at your cell phone BEFORE you make your three-way call. The message about call recording will come on but since you haven’t dialed your other party they’ll never know. Now you three-way the person you want to call and record. Again, user-beware, check your own local, state and federal laws before considering this.

Keep in mind that the power in call recording really serves you BEST when everyone knows. It’s not just a question of staying on the right side of the law. For example when you turn on voice recording for note taking purposes both you and your other party relax. You both know that you won’t miss something important. I use this all the time with web site design so I can make sure I’ve nailed down all my action items. And if you’re podcasting it’s really easy to download the file from GrandCentral and then edit it in your favorite recorder.

Second, when you’re calling someone like a service provider to get help or cancel your service you WANT them to put their best foot forward. Call recording DOES that. If you cancel, you can rest assured that the customer service rep who has just heard a message saying that they’re being recorded WON’T “forget” to cancel your service. And if they’re bold enough to do so, or if they make an honest mistake, you have a record of your conversation.

No other smart number service has ever had this much power. It’s no surprise that Google bought them. Keep up the good work GrandCentral.

p.s. If you need a beta invite I’ve horded a few.

[tags]Grandcentral smart-number, one-number, call-recording[/tags]

Netcast: Better Productivity – Less stress. Tips on how computer LCD size and background light increase productivity and lower stress

Gabcast! #3

Here are my Netcast Links:’s Leo Laporte and Amber Mac Netcast on MacBreak Weekly 11: iPhone Home
Merlin Mann, of productivity and life hacking goodness on 43Folders (I read him all the time)
Computer World article: “Could a 30-in. monitor help you do your job faster?” on Pfieffer Consulting study commissioned by Apple (this story has a link to the pdf of the full Pfieffer study) article (pdf) on reducing eye-strain, glare and stress from your computer display
Scott Bourne, publishes iLifeZone (also featured on’s netcast) publishes a blog on getting the most out of your Mac and recently launched a blog on podcast gear that I’m interested in checking out (right now in fact).

My first Podcast using Gabcast

I want to give a shout out to Ronald Lewis, who I found via way of Newsvine, for introducing me to Gabcast. Here’s Ronald’s Gabcast channel if you want to have a listen. This is my fist podcast using their service and so far, so good. I had no trouble setting up a channel, posting this podcast using their phone podcasting tool or publishing it on my blog. I’m interested to try their conference calling feature to see how reliable it is. Given that it’s a paid service, and I won’t have to use my phone’s three-way calling feature to conduct interviews as I’ve done with Odeo, I suspect it will be more reliable to use. The conference call service gives you 30 free minutes to try it, after which it is paid, which seems like a fair shake Gabcast’s part.

Gabcast! #1

Time to try Gabfest

I’ve introduced you to some of my good and bad experiences using Odeo to podcsat with over the phone. I came across another podcasting tool that now has support for both phone recording and wordpress. So, here’s a test post featuring a podcast from Gabfest that talks about some of their new features, including the addition of WordPress support.

Gabcast! Gabcast News #9 – New Flash player and WordPress and TypePad support!

We have a new Flash-based player to listen to mp3’s. We now support WordPress and TypePad blogs. The ability to add remote mp3’s to your channels!

The value of a blog – a unique podcast with my Dad

Dad and I were talking yesterday about blogs and some of their communication characteristics and what makes them valuable. One of the things I love about my Dad that makes him truly unique is his ability to connect history with current events and topics in a highly entertaining and educational way. I reckon that he honed his oratory skills as a college lecturer over 20+ years and that’s why he does so well with it. On the other hand, his style wouldn’t get him anywhere if he didn’t have all that interesting content to go along with it. If you want to hear a ten minute snippet of this phone call just click on the Odeo link below and listen on your computer.
My Odeo Podcast

Testing, Testing, 123

I performed a test of Odeo’s podcasting tool today with Max. Specifically I wanted to see how their phone-podcasting tool worked so that I can use it for recording various phone interviews I perform. I’ve got one tomorrow on hurricane protection for my blog with a VP of Engineering over at a well known public safety organization. Should be fun for Julian the Cub Reporter. 😉

Here’s a link to play the mp3 file of my podcast in your browser. You can also right click on the link and download the mp3 for your iPod or other mp3 player. One last option: You can also click on the ODEO link to go to their site and listen there. My ODEO phone podcast test

powered by ODEO

You can also subscribe to my RSS feed and play this podcast directly from iTunes or another audio enabled RSS tool by clicking on the RSS link on the footer of my blog.