Reliably Austin
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Streaming troubles? We've made changes. Please click here on for more information.
Each week on Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, explore different aspects of human behavior and the brain.

Why Some Beliefs Are Beyond Debate

I am absolutely certain that I’m right and you’re wrong, so because of this certainty, I will argue my belief, which I believe to be correct, however long it takes to convince you to submit to my superior correctness. 

Have you ever encountered such a fixed and inflexible perspective of a belief in a person who disagrees with you on something?  Of course you have.  We’re only human, and it’s part of the nature of our cognitive patterns to want to hold onto certain beliefs with a very firm intellectual grip.

On this week’s episode of Two Guys On Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke analyze the differing approaches to holding a belief and how those different approaches affect interaction in society. Essentially, this comes down to two fundamental ways of holding a belief: You can have a firm grip, or a loose one.

As you can probably already assume, or may know from personal experience, the air-tight grip on differing beliefs between two people on opposing sides of an argument will often lead to intense disputes. 

In western culture, many prefer the individualistic mindset, which sometimes makes it difficult to consider it culturally acceptable to change your mind.  It’s often perceived as a sign of weakness to believe one thing one day and then, based on some new learned information, believe something different the next.  Therefore, we often hold firm to our beliefs for the sake of not seeming weak.  We want to be right.

In more collectivist cultures there is a contrasting approach which values commonly shared attributes in the same society over an individual perspective being proven correct.  In those societies, resolution to a dispute is sought eagerly to preserve the sense of commonality shared between people.  Being right is not as important as being of the same tribe.

It’s important to remember, of course, that your perspective is just yours and there is an infinite number of other perspectives on any issue.  What you choose to believe is just that: a choice.  Maintaining that clarity of your beliefs will probably go a long way in preventing heated disputes in life, and will likely enrich discussions you may have with people who have a different perspective.

Rebecca McInroy is an award-winning show creator, host, and executive producer for KUT, KUTX, and KUT.ORG.
Related Content