Here is a very interesting article by Tom Jacobs in Pacific Standard magazine about how we make logical arguments about real life ideas based on facts. He quotes research from The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showing that contradictory evidence causes us to change evidence sources, not our minds.
This reminds me of work I read long ago by Nisbett and Ross about belief perseverance in the face of contradictory evidence. What I remember from that research is that contradictory evidence wasn’t as helpful as we would hope in changing opinions. In fact, the stronger an opinion, the more likely that evidence would be used to make it even stronger.
In the end, this gives me little hope for our ability to improve our society through reasoned discourse. I think we’re in big trouble unless we, as a society, can find common ground despite our differing beliefs since it’s very hard to change encrusted beliefs.
note that this is a much shorter version of what is expected, but it gives an idea of what we’re doing