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New information

“Have you heard the news about David?”
“Oh, yeah, yet another proof for how selfish he is.”

When new information becomes available, we immediately relate it to what we already know. If there’s a matching story, we fit the data into the story.

Rather than adapt the story to the data.

Because when we look closer, we discover that saying “no” to your support request for the project was for a good reason. He’s going through a rather difficult time and is uncomfortable speaking about it at work.

It’s actually a choice: When new information becomes available then either the narrative has to be adapted to the new information or the new information has to be integrated into the narrative. We either need to change the story so it’s consistent with the data or we interpret the data so that it confirms what we already believe.

The problem is that rewriting a story takes effort and it seems that the more effort it takes to adapt the narrative to the new information, the less likely it is that we actually do it. If it’s easier to interpret new information in a way that supports what we already believe, then that’s what will happen.

Keep that in mind when you try to convince someone. There’s no guarantee that they will interpret your data the same way you do.

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