Changing minds

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Changing minds
Changing a tire makes sense. The car won't go much further on a flat tire. Changing a mind is nearly impossible. Imagine being asked to believe in a different religion, lifestyle, political view, stereo opinion, subjective vs. measurement-based, etc. Recently, a generous forum member posted snapshots showing the image improvements on his LCD television when powered by a Power Plant. It wasn't long before an equally generous forum member pointed out that the methodology used wasn't all that scientific and thus might be more convincing if done differently. The battle lines had already been drawn. Both posters were right. The first was doing his best to show what he was seeing. He's not a scientist. He's someone doing his level best to share with us what he sees (or hears). The second person pointed out that it wasn't scientific and thus the subjective review didn't resonate with him. The difference in image quality was apparent and obvious to the first. That attacks the worldview of the second. Let me share a story with you that illustrates what I am referring to. A decade ago when we used to participate in CEDIA (an industry-only home theater tradeshow), we were trying to demonstrate the same differences as the first poster showing his photos. We bought two identical big screen TVs at Best Buy, set them up side by side, did our best to make sure both their settings were identical, used an HDMI splitter to feed them both the identical image from a DVD player. We powered one from the AC power in the booth, the other with a Power Plant. The difference in the image was obvious to anyone walking by. We didn't announce which was what. We simply asked which was better, then pointed to the back of the TV so they could see the setup. Of course, the self-proclaimed experts (you think audiophiles are bad, try changing the mind of a CEDIA-certified video expert) who could not wrap their head around the idea a power supply could make a visible (or audible) difference came by. Of course, they saw the difference. But, it didn't make sense to them because it didn't line up with their worldview (how could AC power matter?). It challenged what they believed to be true. When that happens, we humans typically turn to one of several main avenues of dismissal: the test wasn't conducted in a properly controlled environment, it was performed by amateurs, or the more common, it was rigged. I mean, think about it. We all do this regardless of which side of the fence our belief system lies. Either the data is incorrect (or inadequate), we're too stupid to get it, or we're being fooled. (note, the idea we might be wrong almost never enters the picture). Over time, a few open minded folks (open minded typically means you haven't yet formed a strong opinion) came by and were fascinated by the display, asked good questions, collected info, and moved on. Near the last day, a return contingent of about 6 arm-folded video experts came back to the booth demanding that we provide proof (after all, we were the outliers challenging their industry). Stymied for a moment because the "proof" was right in front of their eyes, I suggested we swap monitors on the fly. Simple. If one was rigged then the good image should stay with the rigged set. I am sure you know where this is going. The better image was clearly visible on the other set. It had moved with its power source. Out of the 6, only one looked like a lightbulb had gone off. The other 5 stood there, arms folded, and said they had been fooled by the quickness of the test and the bias inherent in knowing which would be "expected" to be better. In other words, it wasn't a blind AB performed by a neutral party. I share all this simply to point out that the idea of changing someone's mind about what they believe is nearly impossible. As open minded as we believe each of us to be (me included), the truth is it's nearly impossible. We're so imaginative and resourceful when it comes to explaining and defending our worldview that even with hard evidence from people we trust we still don't switch. A more generous approach for us all would be to try our best to be a bit more welcoming of counter viewpoints and opinions. It's hard, but perhaps valuable.
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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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