I recently finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s new book “The Bomber Mafia“, about how aerial bombing shaped World War Two, and a few quotes stuck out to me — somewhat unrelated to the book itself.
I shared last month how I was surprised to see people double-down on false truths on social media, but these insights from the book helped shape that perspective. I still find it entirely inappropriate to continue to push an untruth simply to fit your agenda, but I better understand where it comes from.
In talking about Frederick Lindemann, advisor to Winston Churchill during the war, a biographer said of him:
He would not shrink from using an argument which he knew to be wrong if by doing so he could tie up one of his professional opponents.
In Lindemann’s case, this was seemingly more of a strategy for argument rather than defending ignorance. However, this also ties into a thought from Leon Festinger, a social psychologist:
The more you invest in a set of beliefs – the greater the sacrifice you make in the service of the conviction – the more resistant you will be to evidence that suggests you are mistaken. You don’t give up. You double down.
It can lead to tough outcomes, but it’s worth fighting through the temptation to hold your ground when you know you’re wrong. Changing your mind based on new information will make you a better person, plus you’ll have unique insight in seeing things clearly from both sides.