Why Facts Don't Matter

Why do politicians and their followers dig in their heels and cling to their beliefs even when there is overwhelming factual evidence to the contrary? Everyone has, and is entitled to, an opinion. But what about facts? Most people aren’t going to change their opinion because now more than ever facts don’t matter. 

Why? It’s less politics and more science about how the brain responds.

Let’s begin with this: you build your opinions to keep you safe. It’s the primitive brain. Psychologists call it “motivated reasoning,” “confirmation bias,” or “cognitive dissonance.” Still, in an exchange with someone who has a mistaken belief about any topic, and when the facts are laid out to them thoughtfully and without being confrontational, the conversation often hits a brick wall.

It’s the same with any of us selling a product or service, or raising money. If there is a wall surrounding an opinion, it’s not going to move easily because most people resist changing their opinion.

Why? At an early age we start taking in information, all a part of life experiences. We takeaway feelings about many things. Remember the Maya Angelou quote? “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” We accumulate life experiences. We turn raw, meaningless data into judgments, views and opinions.

And we’re stuck. Just like politicians and their voter followers. The other side is always wrong. Once something is added to a belief system, it is defended from change.

And as marketers, we’re stuck with the challenge of changing people’s opinions who haven’t drunk your Kool-Aid yet. The human mind instinctively, unconsciously, and earnestly resists change. 

What to do?

Remember: you’re trying to create new long-term memory grooves. Which means you may need to approach more slowly and deliberately, working your way through, first, glance-and-forget messages, then short-term memory, and finally, the most desired of all, the coveted long-term memory.

My recommendations:

1.    Understand underlying feelings
2.    Build trust
3.    Make it simple to understand
4.    Stories can help
5.    Stir emotion

Give your prospect plenty of opportunities to feel good about themselves and their decisions, and you may be able to open the door with enough facts to change an opinion.


Gary Hennerberg

After a lot of years in marketing and sales, this is what I know works:

Stories sell. Think unique. Stimulate emotion. Close deals. And here are a few other gems from my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code.” Know the persona, interpret your offer and let your prospect give themselves permission to buy. That’s how the brain is wired. It’s how people think.

What else? When I’m not breaking down complex topics (or ones marketers over-complicate) into easy-to-grasp stories that sell, I crunch numbers. Manage projects. Write. Teach. Lead.