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Exclusive: Adam Ruins Everything Explains Why You’ll Never Win That Facebook Political Argument

In this exclusive clip from next week’s episode of Adam Ruins Everything, we discover why it’s unlikely that all of your best persuasive reasoning and finest logic and well-researched take-downs will persuade anyone to change their mind.

The episode, which airs on TruTV 8/29 at 10 PM ET/PT, is called “Why Proving Someone Wrong Often Backfires,” and seems particularly well-timed. If we thought America’s election season was bad, the Discourse only seems to have grown worse and nastier as of late. I admit I sometimes fall victim to politically-chared social media debates myself, usually to emerge madder than I was going in and with fewer Facebook “friends.” Because, as Adam discovers, trying to change people’s minds is too often a losing battle.

Herein we watch as Adam boxes and learns the truth about “the backfire effect,” a.k.a. the psychological phenomena that the more you prove someone wrong, the more firmly they entrench in their position. Reason would have it that a well-argued point—or actually showing proof that your argument is correct—should win your “adversary” over. But humans are not naturally reasonable.

“When you try to change someone’s mind, the other person often feels attacked. Being proven wrong actually activates the same area of the brain as real physical pain. … Being proven wrong often hurts so much it causes a fight or flight response.”

I now understand everything about Facebook comment fights that has until now eluded me. Thanks, Adam. I think.

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Kaila is a lifelong New Yorker. She's written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.