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3 Ideas in 2 Minutes on Changing Your Mind

Changing Your Mind is an exclusive issue of my free weekly newsletter featuring 3 Ideas in 2 Minutes on critical thinking, practical philosophy, decision-making, mental models & more.

Endowment Effect · Updating Your Mind · Progress

I. Endowment Effect

Comedy legend George Carlin had a popular bit about how we gather and cling to possession; our “stuff” as he put it. We build houses to store them, get bags to carry them from A to B and rent storage if we run out of space. His rant culminated in an observation about how we value our belongings over that of others:

Have you noticed that their stuff is shit and your shit is stuff?

George Carlin

Carlin’s line pretty much sums up the Endowment Effect, which can also be applied to beliefs. Writer Rob Henderson explains:

The endowment effect for beliefs suggests that we assign greater value to beliefs if we possess them.

We see beliefs out there. They don’t have much worth to us. But once we decide to “own” one, we assign it greater value, and become reluctant to relinquish it.

We also tend to decrease the value of beliefs held by others. We denigrate their views in order to bolster the relative value of our own beliefs.

—Rob Henderson, Luxury Beliefs are Like Possessions

II. Updating Your Mind

Granted, beliefs are more deeply held convictions than opinions or attitudes. But it’s not surprising that changing your mind can be painful. Organizational psychologist Adam Grant suggests a perspective change. How about we update our minds instead?

We all have blind spots in our knowledge and opinions. The bad news is that they can leave us blind to our blindness, which gives us false confidence in our judgment and prevents us from rethinking. The good news is that with the right kind of confidence, we can learn to see ourselves more clearly and update our views.

In driver’s training we were taught to identify our visual blind spots and eliminate them with the help of mirrors and sensors. In life, since our minds don’t come equipped with those tools, we need to learn to recognize our cognitive blind spots and revise our thinking accordingly.

—Adam Grant, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know

On a related note, check out my post on 5 Books on Critical Thinking to Help You Develop a Reflective Mind.

III. Progress

Clearly, there are benefits to changing your mind. Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw explains why:

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

Bernard Shaw


Have a great week,