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Why We Can Be Dogmatically Against Things We Know Nothing About

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As philosopher John Locke observed: “New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.”So, what limits our desire and capacity to take in new ideas, even when we hold an intention to transform and to grow? What are the barriers to changing our minds and behaviors? How can we develop habits that allow us to explore our own biases? How can we learn to recognize our own intolerance of ideas that refute our prevailing beliefs and opinions?These are tricky questions, but new discoveries in neuroscience, social psychology, and anthropology offer provocative insights into the barriers to transformation. They show us that our views of reality are embedded largely in our unconscious mind. Operating below the threshold of our conscious awareness, our beliefs and assumptions shape our experience, even while we’re busy making other plans.Research from the Cultural Cognition Project (CCP), a Yale Law School initiative, found, for example, that policy and public perceptions, such as those around climate change or nanotechnology, are shaped by cul …

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