Monday, April 1, 2013

The Laws of Persuasion: Facts Won't Take You Far

Part 2 of a 5-part series

If you want to change customers' beliefs, remember facts won't take you far.

So said German philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein in his 1951 book On Certainty.

Wittgenstein wondered why we trust, for example, the facts in a physics textbook.

It isn't because we understand them (we may not), but because we know how textbooks are written (physicists repeat various experiments and report their findings to peers).

The facts in a physics textbooks reflect a set of beliefs that a community accepts as true.

But what would you say to someone (a shaman, for example) who didn't accept physics?

Would you argue that his belief is foolish?

If you did, you'd be offering reasons his belief is foolish based on your belief in physics.

That won't get you very far.

To win the shaman's heart and mind, you must forget facts and focus on your vision.

"At the end of reasons comes persuasion," Wittgenstein says.
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