What is the “Backfire Effect”?

During my lifetime, I have met and continue to meet and interact with people from all walks of life. There are two major topics that I try to avoid discussing: politics and religion. When it comes to both and I am respectful, tolerant and understanding of all points of view.  My background, experiences, and upbringing will just not allow me to take one position and never budge from it.  So I tend to be more eclectic and reject labels.  I have lived and traveled all over the world and seen and experienced too much to be that intractable. That’s my story and I am sticking to it!

Several months ago I was listening to NPR and heard that once people take a stance, 90 percent of the time they are not likely to budge. People are not very likely to change their views even when convinced otherwise.

Below are excerpts from two online articles about this.

Dr. Alex Lickerman writes in  The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-in-world/201003/getting-people-change-their-minds

“Changing another person’s mind is literally one of the hardest things to do in the world. Think of how many conversations you’ve ever had in which one of the participants decided the other was right and abandoned their previous views altogether. It almost never happens.

Why? Because even though ideas flit in and out of our heads like mosquitoes, ideas that are believed cling with electromagnetic power. Once we believe an idea we develop an emotional connection to it, not to mention a commitment to it—as if to a person—and often become attached to it with a strength we often don’t realize has little to do with the merit of the belief itself. And once we’re attached to anything—whether a person, place, thing, or idea—giving it up is extremely hard.”

I provide another article on the Backfire Effect


“In a perfectly rational world, people who encounter evidence which challenges their beliefs, would first evaluate this evidence, and then adjust their beliefs accordingly. However, in reality this is seldom the case.

Often, when people encounter evidence that should cause them to doubt their beliefs, they reject this evidence, and strengthen their support for their original stance. This occurs due to a cognitive bias known as the backfire effect. The Backfire Effect is a phenomenon where people who encounter evidence that contradicts their beliefs, strengthen their support for those beliefs, despite the new evidence to the contrary.

  • This effect has been observed in various scenarios, such as people supporting a political candidate more strongly after negative information about that candidate is released.
  • The backfire effect is a type of confirmation bias,that occurs because when people argue strongly against unwelcome information, they end up with more arguments that support their original stance.
  • There is variability in terms of when people are influenced by this effect, but since this variability is difficult to predict, it’s better to act under the assumption that the backfire effect will play a role in people’s decision-making process.

Now you may have a better understanding of why some people do not and will never agree with you, no matter what compelling evidence you provide, or vice versa.  Un

The World Cup: Diversity Wins!

Soccer is my favorite sport. I have played my whole life and coached kids from five years old all the way up to the college level.  I was a much better coach than I was a player. The last month or so has been World Cup fever all over the world. I was able to watch many of the weekend games and watched the final yesterday. France won! The French team was the perfect example of international/ethnic diversity, with names like Griezmann, Mbappe, Pavard, Pogba, Fekir, Hernandez, to name but a few. It was a beautiful thing to see players from all over on the world stage claiming the biggest prize of them all. The French team has players with roots from all over the world, but most of them were born in France. Migration has certainly played an important role here. But it goes beyond soccer and permeates the entire society.

In many developing nations, soccer is the only way out of poverty for many youngsters, While education is the key, many, because of circumstances, are not able to obtain an education. When I was a child we played barefooted on rocky ground; and many still do. We used anything round we could find when a soccer ball was not immediately available. I remember the piecing together of paper and tape, using rotten oranges and much worse. It’s just what we did. In many European nations, soccer is used as a tool for integration and a ladder out of poverty. The French and Belgians are great examples of such integration.

The World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world. Yes, it is bigger than the Olympics and the Super Bowl. This is both in terms of number of fans and in economic terms. Soccer continues to grow as a sport here in the United States. Just yesterday, after the World Cup, there was a Major League Soccer (MLS) game between the Atlanta United Football Club and the Seattle Sounders Football Club; the Atlanta stadium was filled with a record 72, 200 fans. These U.S. teams also have a diversity of international players.

While my two favorite teams, the United States and Ghana did not make it to the World Cup this time, there is still hope for 2022. Meanwhile there is some poor kid living under dire and challenging circumstances, just like a Pele or Mbappe, who will show up on the world stage to show the world that in soccer, all things can be equal. Many times, diversity emanates from migration, so migration has its role in any nation. I end by saying that the United States is the greatest nation in the world because of our diversity. And France is the greatest soccer nation in the world today because of the diversity of their soccer team. Diversity wins!