Category Archives: Pelham’s Laws

Why Is It So Hard To Get People To Correct Themselves When They’re Wrong?

I’ve been working on this title question for over 12 years, but I’ve never taken a stab at putting all the answers I’ve collected in one concise article until now. The goal of this article is to be brief, while also giving a wide-scoped treatment of the question. So here we go!

SCENARIO: Suppose someone is wrong over a matter of fact or logic or morality, and you have got the facts and logic and sourcing together to prove to them all day long that they’re wrong.

QUESTIONS: Why is it so often so very difficult to get people to correct themselves? That is, to say, “OK, I see I was wrong, and I’m changing my position.”? What is it about people that makes this difficult?

Continue reading Why Is It So Hard To Get People To Correct Themselves When They’re Wrong?

Pelham’s Rule of Screaming

Screaming is for emergencies. It is for situations such as those in which the dad needs to bring the gun, or for which the fire department needs to be called. It is not for play any more than dialing 9-1-1 is for play.

Screaming is not for playing tag.  Nor is it for expressing delighted surprise.  It is not for story time or puppet shows—not even for scary ones. It is not for a wasp flying in the house or a non-venomous snake being handled by the zookeeper. It is not for backyard play or water balloons or for the pool—unless someone needs to go to the hospital.

Screaming is not for events to which one does not mean to invite the attention of everyone within earshot.  So if you don’t want me looking over the fence to find out what your kids are screaming about, then you need to teach them not to scream in non-emergencies.

Children can learn the appropriate time for screaming just as well as they can learn the appropriate time for any other manner of speech. And they can learn this from a very early age. There is no need to wait until their teen years to teach this—by which time they would have learned it themselves from direct observation and reflection.

Screaming is for emergencies—quite like car alarms or road flares.  So if you don’t think it’s a big deal that your kids are screaming for 30 minutes in the McDonald’s Playland, then I hope you won’t find it a big deal if I set off my car alarm to honk for 30 minutes on the curb in front of your house, or if I toss a lit road flare into your garage just for fun.

No, I wouldn’t really do such things.  But then, I wouldn’t let me kids go around screaming, either.  And that’s pretty much my point.

Non-emergency screaming is a needless breach of the public peace, and I would like to think that this fact would be self-evident to rational adults.

Pelham’s Law of Social Dissonance

In a relativist culture, the more beliefs one person communicates to another, the greater the likelihood that dissonance between their conflicting beliefs will spur the listener not to like the one communicating.

In a culture (or subculture) in which people derive their beliefs by varying (relativistic) standards, it should be expected that relationships will be navigated and maintained by the careful avoidance of those topics that create the most dissonance.  Thus does the relationship take on a fragile and defensive nature—more one of protecting the peace than of exploring or learning.  The partnership must be maintained through the careful Continue reading Pelham’s Law of Social Dissonance

Pelham’s “Hacking” Epiphanies

Some paradigms disappoint because they turn out to be simply dysfunctional, while others seem to work immediately upon adoption, fulfilling our vision for them in a most satisfactory way.  But then there is a third kind of paradigm.  This sort is not flawed, but will not work well without one or more complementary paradigms also in play.  This is the type I’ll be describing in this article. Continue reading Pelham’s “Hacking” Epiphanies

The Sole Reform Fallacy

I have coined the term Sole Reform Fallacy (or Sole Remedy Fallacy) to name a cognitive error I have seen frequently in play with regard to politics and religion.  Here is its definition.

Sole Reform Fallacy—the error of judgment by which a proposed act of reform that is both needful and useful is shunned because it alone will not solve the entirety of what is perceived to be wrong.

Here are three examples of this cognitive error in play. Continue reading The Sole Reform Fallacy

What is My “World View”?

Every once in a while, someone inquires about my “world view”.   Here it is:

  1. There is nothing unreal in the entire known Universe, with the one exception of what happens in the imaginations of humans.
  2. Humans often get trapped in the unrealities that they (or others) have imagined, and attempt to practice or to adhere to those unrealities in the real world.  This is and has always been, in every known case, bad. Continue reading What is My “World View”?

The Activist’s Curse

The activist’s curse lies in the following rhetorical question:

If I can change my mind, and if you can change your mind, who are you and I to unilaterally declare that it is too late for the rest of our society to change it’s mind, too?

Because it is obviously possible, no matter how improbable it may be, the honest activist may not excuse himself from the cause by pretending that it is impossible to succeed in changing the minds of others.  Rather, he or she must face the reality that if he opts not to try, it is because he or she does not care enough to expend the energy necessary to determine whether it is possible or not.

The very possibility of reform is like the proverbial carrot being dangled in front of the horse’s nose to coax him ever forward.  So forward I go, as if on parade by those who would rather lie about the possibility.