June 9, 2022

You Can Change Someone’s Mind But Are You Sure You Want To? | David McRaney

We all know someone who believes in conspiracy theories and we wish we could change their mind. It is possible. There are techniques that can work to transform how people think. But what we love about our conversation with David McRaney is that he adds in a Step 0 to the process and asks “why do you want to change their mind?” 


Are you open to changing your own mind? If you have any interest in changing someone else’s mind, you should be open to changing your own mind too. To effectively collaborate with others and compassionately explore differences in opinion, we need to accept that our minds too can be changed.


We are delighted to welcome our esteemed guest David McRaney to this, our 300th episode of Behavioral Grooves Podcast! David takes a fascinating dive into why exactly we hold our beliefs, the science behind each of us seeing the world through slightly different lenses, and the stark reality that truth is tribal. While this is a long episode of Behavioral Grooves, you may just find yourself wanting to listen again as David’s detailed explanations are mind-blowing. 


David McRaney is a science journalist and creator of the podcast You Are Not So Smart which explores self delusion and motivated reasoning. His excellent new book (coming out June 2022), How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion, and Persuasion” carefully unravels the science and personal experience of transformed thinking. 


Remember the dress that divided social media a few years ago; was it blue and black or white and gold? David explains exactly why some of us saw it differently and adds a new experiment about perception to the mix - crocs and socks! 


Conversations like David’s are the reason we produce Behavioral Grooves Podcast. It is a labor of love for us, and so, we really appreciate any financial support our listeners can provide, through our Patreon page. All donations help us continue the work of producing the podcast weekly. If donating isn’t an option for you, don’t worry, you can write us a podcast review which helps promote our show to other listeners. Thank you.



(4:18) Welcome and speed round questions. 

(11:18) How minds change vs. how to change minds.

(14:35) How is elaboration different from learning? 

(27:27) Mini Grooving Session on the difference between beliefs, opinions and attitudes.

(34:09) Why do you want to change someone’s mind?

(41:03) The moment David realized he should question why, not just how to change minds.

(52:55) Mini Grooving Session on why to change minds.

(57:27) Why some see the dress as gold & white and some see it as blue & black.

(1:18:28) Mini Grooving Session on the dress and the crocs.

(1:22:15) Truth is tribal. 

(1:35:33) Mini Grooving Session on having a social safety net.

(1:40:38) What was the catalyst for David becoming interested in conspiracy theories?

(1:46:19) How to get people off the conspiratorial loop?

(1:51:23) What musical artists would David take to a desert island?


© 2022  Behavioral Grooves



David McRaney’s book, “How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion, and Persuasion”: https://amzn.to/3NvGMPp 

David McRaney: https://www.davidmcraney.com/ 

You Are Not So Smart Podcast: https://youarenotsosmart.com/podcast/ 

Why We Fight WWII Films: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Why_We_Fight 

Hugo Mercier “The Enigma of Reason”: https://amzn.to/3H1UoiN 

Episode 53, John Sweeney, Everything Is a Story: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/john-sweeney-everything-is-a-story/ 

“SURFPAD”- Exploring the roots of disagreement with crocs and socks: https://blog.pascallisch.net/exploring-the-roots-of-disagreement-with-crocs-and-socks/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=exploring-the-roots-of-disagreement-with-crocs-and-socks 

Wallisch, Pascal & Karlovich, Michael. (2019). Disagreeing about Crocs and socks: Creating profoundly ambiguous color displays: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335127865_Disagreeing_about_Crocs_and_socks_Creating_profoundly_ambiguous_color_displays

Take the crocs and socks test: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/crocPerception 

The dress: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_dress 

Episode 178, Kwame Christian On Compassionate Curiosity, Social Justice Conversations, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/kwame-christian-on-compassionate-curiosity-social-justice-conversations-and-cinnamon-toast-crunch/ 

Change blindness: https://youarenotsosmart.com/2009/11/06/change-blindness/ 


Musical Links 

Radiohead “No Surprises”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5CVsCnxyXg 

Colin Stetson “Spindrift”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJHr2DlRog8 


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