Why have human beings’ brains evolved to discard perfectly valid information when it does not fit their preferred view? This seems like bad engineering, so why hasn’t this glitch been corrected?
Cognitive scientists have proposed an intriguing answer: our brain assesses new information in light of the knowledge it has already stored, because in most cases that is, in fact, the optimal approach. More likely than not, when you encounter a piece of data that contradicts what you believe with confidence, that piece of data is in fact wrong. For example, if I told you I had observed a pink elephant flying in the sky you would assume I was either lying or delusional, as you should. It is a reasonable strategy, but it also means that confidently-held opinions are difficult to change.
It’s incredibly difficult to change your mind about a topic once you’ve already bought into a preferred answer. Even more so when part of your cultural identity hinges on that belief. In the follow up article, Tali Sharot recommends finding common ground that works in the favor of both parties. Seems reasonable to me.