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mattbrowne's avatar

What does it mean to be convinced?

Asked by mattbrowne (31585points) December 1st, 2010

How do we get this feeling of knowing?

(inspired by a book I’m reading right now)

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14 Answers

kenmc's avatar

You get it by being so certain that nothing can dissuade you.

Being “convinced” can be a very dangerous thing.

iamthemob's avatar

For me, being convinced implies or connotes a feeling that I held a belief that was contrary to or different from the one I am convinced of now…

…therefore, there’s a shift in perspective.

flutherother's avatar

Being convinced of something means you feel you can stop thinking about it.

whitenoise's avatar

You will love this article, I feel. It is about our astonishing ability to know whether we know something.

marinelife's avatar

@whitenoise That was a fascinating article. Thanks.

@mattbrowne I think that being “convinced” of something means that you believe in it. If you will, you lay it down in the area of the brain where “truths” are stored.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, a great article indeed. Thank you! Especially the part about the feelings of knowing which illustrate the power of our emotions. Here’s Robert A. Burton’s thesis and I wonder what you think about it:

“Despite how certainty feels, it is neither a conscious choice nor even a thought process. Certainty and similar states of knowing what we know arise out of involuntary brain mechanisms that, like love or anger, function independently of reason.”

Quite remarkable, I think.

whitenoise's avatar

I am always frustrated by the-tip-of-my-tongue feelings. It is however to me that meta-cogintion is one of our minds features that we have indeed no real control over. Knowing what we know is a feature in our brain that is very useful and has puzzled me for a long time already.

We often just seem to know that we know.

I liked your question because to me it points at the wonders of our brains and our inability to truly distinguish between our conscious mind and all the wonderful parallel processes that allow us to experience consciousness.

In a way, it is akin to not listening at all in a noisy environment and all of a sudden be able to have heard a complete phrase, after you realize it is relevant to you, merely some part of your brain deemed it relevant. i hope that makes sense… still. :)

wundayatta's avatar

Convinced? I guess that means the evidence really supports the proposed model. Of course, there’s always going to be a little doubt, but I don’t think you need perfect evidence to attain the level we call “convincing.”

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Great Caesar’s ghost, I think what causes people to be convinced is more off logic than memory. I can tell you a certain chemical is cold, if I can show you by the facts, get it to freeze water, or I can show by logic that it is indeed cold it can be convincing to someone. Many things we don’t need to be convinced of because out personal experience leads us to it. I don’t have to be convinced that a bee sting is painful or poison oak is uncomfortable because even if I have not gone through it myself I surely know and have seen plenty that has gone through it and the discomfort they had.

When the fat hits the skillet you are convinced because the facts or logic of it sounds plausible enough for you that you accept it. People believe in tarot cards, reading of tea leaves, charms and talisman, astrology, reincarnation, etc. because they see facts that causes them to accept what they see as proof. If they see a new grandchild that has the same laugh and mannerism as the grandfather that died 2 years earlier they see what they believe is the grandfather reborn and allow themselves to be convinced that those traits the new child has that are very similar to the late grandfather is proof that it is the grandfather returned. In short, we get convinced because we use whatever to allow ourselves to be convinced.

Jeruba's avatar

I’m reading this book now too. Let’s have a good discussion of it, you, me, Laureth, and anyone else who wants to join in, when we’ve finished reading it.

mattbrowne's avatar

Absolutely, @Jeruba. I’m at page 100 right now.

Jeruba's avatar

It also dovetails interestingly with some of the information in Jonah Lehrer’s How We Decide about the role of emotions in the brain functions involved in decision-making.

laureth's avatar

And now that I found this question, I’m following in case anyone else comments. :)

Y’all may also be interested in this book: Predictably Irrational.

mattbrowne's avatar

Thanks for the tip @laureth

I’ve finished the Burton book. I think @Jeruba wanted to create a discussion around it.

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