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Even if gluten sensitivity is a myth, it's here to stay. The psychology of belief.
Last Updated May 19th, 2014

When I told my friend about this new research that suggested “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” may be a myth, she retorted “Well, tell that to my stomach!”

She, like so many others, swears that gluten makes her ill. After years of experiencing seemingly random bouts of bloating, diarrhea, brain fog, dizziness, and hormone imbalance, she discovered that the protein gluten – which is found in wheat, among other things – was making her sick.

I’m no food expert – or Food Babe – so I won’t comment on the validity (or invalidity) of her claim…

…but I do write about psychology. And after watching how people responded to this new research, I couldn’t help but scratch my head. Here’s why:

This research didn’t change anyone’s mind about gluten sensitivity. The people who thought it was a myth screamed, “haha, I knew it!” And the people who thought it made them sick screamed “That study is wrong!” And what we’re left with is a perfect illustration of the psychology of belief.

As business owners and entrepreneurs, we’d be silly to ignore it… because it shows us that when people hold steadfast to their beliefs, we can’t persuade them with research or data. We have to persuade them with something else.

I’ll explain.

The Psychology of Belief

Even if gluten sensitivity is a myth, it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. I’ll tell you why. I’ll also unearth one key principle about persuasion.

But first, let me share the curious story about that time when doctors were killing women in a world-class hospital.

As Stephen J Dubner shares, in 1847, at the Vienna General Hospital, doctors were killing women. But they didn’t realize it. That same year a young Hungarian-born doctor named Ignatz Semmelweis joined the staff and here’s what he discovered…

There were two maternity wards: one staffed by male doctors, the other staffed by female midwives. The death rate in the midwives maternity ward had a far lower death rate. At the time, one theory was that birthing mothers were fragile and being seen naked by a male doctor was enough to kill them.

But Semmelweis knew something was wrong. And that’s when he realized, after an autopsy, doctors were carrying “invisible cadaver particles” from dead bodies to the women giving birth. And he believed these particles were killing the women.

So he decided to test his theory. He suggested that all doctors wash their hands in chlorine solution before assisting a woman giving birth. And when the doctors did, the rate of maternal death plummeted.

Great. Problem solved, right?


His hand-washing procedure was rejected by the medical community, often for non-medical reasons. Some doctors even got insulted, and they refused to believe a “gentleman’s hands could transmit a disease.”

The immediate disbelief from his contemporaries is now known as the “Semmelweis reflex,” which is the the tendency of people to reject new evidence because it contradicts established norms and beliefs.

What’s even more sad is this: it took another 20 years for hospitals to adopt the hand-washing procedure before delivering babies. Countless lives were lost because people refused to accept the truth.

Now, I’m not sure if non-celiac gluten sensitivity is a “life or death” issue. But why do people exhibit this “Semmelweis reflex” when confronted with new research about gluten sensitivity?

And why should you – a business owner, entrepreneur, or startup who’s looking to change the world – care?

Here’s The Big Reason Why People Don’t Change Their Minds When Confronted With New Data

It’s proven that when we’re confronted with information that supports our beliefs, we’re more likely accept that information. And when we’re confronted with information that opposes our beliefs, we’re more likely to ignore – or attempt to disprove – it.

In one case we’re dealing with confirmation bias, and the other we’re dealing with disconfirmation bias. And in the case of this gluten research, what we’re seeing is known as “attitude polarization.”

Back in 1979, researchers carried out an interesting experiment. They got together two groups of people: one group that supported capital punishment, and another group that opposed it. The researchers then provided these people information that either support or opposed their opinions. What happened? People didn’t change their mind. They instead tended to hold their original belief more strongly.

That’s attitude polarization, and it’s why I always say, “You can’t convince people of anything. You can only hope you provide enough information so that they convince themselves.”

In the gluten sensitivity debate, attitude polarization runs rampant. Research and data be damned. If you’re not with me, you’re against me and you’re wrong. A gentleman can’t carry disease on his hands. And a “hater” is born.

As business owners, entrepreneurs, and startups who are looking to change the world, we can’t ignore this. We may try to convince people to buy something that goes against their previously held beliefs about themselves and the world. To convince them, it’s in our nature to “kill them with data.” But as you can clearly see, that NEVER works. Data doesn’t change minds. Especially when that data may embarrass people.

You see, over the last few years, people ran around telling their friends “I can’t eat gluten because I’m sensitive to it.” If data suggests gluten sensitivity doesn’t exist, the people who said these things may feel dumb, silly, or worse, “crazy.”

So these people have vested interest in discrediting the new research at all costs. Some say, “I still get sick.” Others will seek to point out what they perceive as a flaw in the research.

And I appreciate the pushback. The pushback should fire up researchers to run more experiments to find the truth.

Here’s the problem: the counterpoints are raised by people who have a belief and they’re desperately grasping on to their previously held belief.

And as in the case with doctors, and the case with my friend, it doesn’t matter if you’re an expert or a layman, you’re susceptible to putting on a blindfold and ignoring the truth. Even if another credible expert is the delivery vehicle of that truth.

When this gluten study got published, the only REAL response to it should be: “Wow, that’s interesting. We need more data, but maybe he’s right.”

But that’s not what happens. And that’s because, when you want to persuade people of something, you must remember this:

Before You Can Win Their Minds, You Must Win Their Hearts

Master salesmen have known this for 100 years. And persuasion psychology research over the last few decades continues to confirm it.

Before you start pummeling people with data, you must first win over their emotions. Because people change their mind when they feel as if they should, and they justify the change with data.

And that’s why when you’re selling anything – a product, an idea, a service, or anything – you must first focus on getting people to feel the way you feel first, and then you can show them the data to back it up.

Ever wonder why the 1984 Apple commercial remains one of the BEST commercials to date? Because Apple nailed down the fear that IBM was at risk of taking over the world… and buying Apple will help you stop it.

Or have you ever thought about the bidet-style toilet seat (a Japanese toilet seat)? They’re widespread in other countries, especially Japan. But Americans hate them because “they’re gross.”

But that didn’t stop companies from trying to win over Americans. They often ran advertisements that said things like “they use less water (1.3 gallons vs 4 gallons), they’re more hygienic, and etc.” And those advertisements failed miserably. Americans don’t reject the bidet because of logic. They reject it because of emotion, much like doctors rejected hand-washing, and the gluten-sensitive rejected the gluten sensitivity myth.

The solution, then, is to first win over their heart, and then their mind.

If I were a bidet company, I’d ditch the data in the advertisements. Instead, I’d think about my target market, and their hopes, fears, and dreams. And I’d start small.

For example, I’d first go after the coveted 25-35 demographic with discretionary income to spend on things like a bidet. I’d make a simple advertisement that depicted a picture of a man on a date. This man takes his date back to his apartment, uses the bathroom, and discovers unfortunate brown streaks on his underwear.

Guess what? Ain’t nobody want to find brown streaks on their underwear while they’re on a date. They could even create an instagram campaign #endbrownspots. The fear alone would be much more persuasive than “uses less water.”

Now I can’t speak to the effectiveness of a commercial like this without testing it. But this is the embodiment of the point: data doesn’t persuade people who reject something for emotional reasons. So as a business owner, entrepreneur, or startup, it’s your job to meet them on the emotional battlefield, win them over there, and then take them back to the laboratory.

What’s the key takeaway for people like you – entrepreneurs, business owners, and startups looking to change the world?

Attention: If You’re Looking to Persuade People, Here’s What You Must Never Forget

If people have an emotional aversion to whatever it is your selling (whether it’s a product, service, or idea), data and research alone will fail to change their mind.

Instead, you need to figure out where this emotional aversion is stemming from and appeal to that. And you’ll find that convincing a prospect to buy, a person to support your cause, or even persuading your husband or wife to do some chores, will become MUCH easier.

How can you do this?

1. Get into the hearts of your readers and prospects.

Figure out why they believe what they believe. And why they disbelieve what they disbelieve. If you believe your solution (whether it’s in the form of a product, service, or idea) can solve their problem, then it is your duty as a business owner and entrepreneur to do whatever it takes to appeal to them so you can truly help. It’s not manipulation. It’s essential for the progress and protection of your ideal customer.

For the people who are “buying it,” ask them WHY. What persuaded them to take the leap? What did you do that appealed to them most?

For the people who aren’t “buying it,” again, ask them WHY. How did you turn them off? What could you have done differently to appeal to them more? What are they struggling with that they think your product won’t solve?

The information you get from them will be priceless and can make a HUGE difference in your sales copy, product launch, blog and business.

2. Tailor your copy to appeal to their reasoning.

Like I said, when people hold steadfast to a belief for reasons beyond logic, no amount of data or research will work to persuade them otherwise.

No amount of “saving water” or “more hygienic” will convince Americans that they should invest in the bidet. Why? Because they think it’s “gross.” So, appeal to them with something “grosser.”

After you do the research and really get into the hearts of your readers and prospects, you’ll have new vocabulary, new appeals, new reasons, straight from their mouths (or fingers), to use in your copy.

My question to you is this:

What examples can you recall where people ignore the facts and focus on their feelings? Knowing what you know now, how would you change their mind? Leave a comment.

Also if you know someone who can benefit from this, whether they’re a foodie or an entrepreneur, pass this article along to them.

And if you’re looking to build an audience of fans and customers, check out my free ebook “How to get your first 5,000 subscribers.

Note: If you’re curious about the research I was referring to earlier in the article, here you go . I’m putting it down here because people kept thinking I endorsed the research. I’m only commenting on how people respond to it.

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215 comments Leave a comment

Very nice, long and informative post. Its really true that emotion has a big factor in influencing the humanities.

Every superhero movies captivated their loved-ones because these are their weakness.

Howard @ SystemsThinker


Great post, which really is about the topic of epistemology. Epistemology is a word that, even in over 200 comments, hasn’t been mentioned. But it’s a word I think more people should be aware of.

Also, shortly after I read this post, I saw an article and was going to share it because it’s a really good one on this topic. Turns out Scott Paley, earlier in the thread, posted it. But I’ll post it again because I think it’s worth it.

Even the title is great: “I Don’t Want to Be Right”:



The tired and cliche advice “Be yourself” – people listen to it, do it and never get the results they desire.

Michelle Goss

Love this Derek! I’ll be sharing it with my clients. I often talk with people about “meeting your prospects where they are” — emotionally, first. Then, once they feel fully acknowledged and respected, you have an opportunity to point them in a new direction. Your article supports this and has the research (with great stories) to back it up!

I’m a fan of your videos AND these longer articles.

Al Yarbrough

Hi Derek,

I don’t know when you first published this article but I just noticed it today, so I may be a bit late commenting on it, but it’s absolutely right on!

My wife and I run a website in the gluten-free niche called Elegantly, Gluten-Free and we have been struggling with the Semmelweis reflex for years. For instance, we have 3 books the latest of which has a 2nd edition and incorporates everything in the 1st two books plus what was in the 1st edition of the 3rd book.

It’s 200 pages of great material and we got only 5-star ratings on the 1st edition. So, we have been trying to puzzle out why copies of the book don’t fly off the servers and I think that you hit it right on the head.

People don’t want to pay 6-bucks for the PDF or Kindle book to find out how to actually avoid virtually all the pain and misery that goes along with learning to live gluten-free if they are gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive because they think that they can learn how to live and eat gluten-free on their own… How hard can it be, right?

Which works, by the way, about as well as trying to lose weight on your own.

As a side note, gluten sensitivity is a very real condition (there are “social gluten-free” individuals which is a decision and not a medical condition but its not the same thing).

Nearly all gluten intolerance is caused by a genetic, autoimmune disease called celiac disease which damages the small intestine of afflicted individuals whenever they eat something with gluten in it. People with gluten sensitivity get the same symptoms (there are an estimated 300 symptoms… often appearing in “bizarre” combinations) as those with full-blown celiac disease but they don’t get the autoimmune “hit” to their small intestine.

Thanks for the insightful article. I’ll need to think about what I can do to use the teaching to improve the marketing of the 2nd edition of my wife’s book, “Eating & Living Gluten-Free… The Official Guide.”

I’ve followed you for years now and I greatly appreciate your article and thoughts!

Best regards,

Arman Assadi

Great analysis, Derek. You nailed it.

It’s all just a ridiculous cognitive bias, the “backfire effect”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backfire_effect#Backfire_effect

Keep up the great work my man!


It is more than belief. People in the US eat wheat products that contain over 20 ingredients, of which only 4 are actually natural (wheat flour, water, salt and yeast). Of course they get sick from eating these products, but instead of blaming it on the high fructose corn syrup, the MSG, the preservatives, the colorings, etc., the blame it on the gluten.

You can’t change their mind about being gluten intolerant because there is a reality factor that when they eat products containing wheat they get sick.

Jamie Goddard

Hi Derek,

Another Great Post! This post totally supports the book, SPIN Selling! It talks about moving people along the sales cycle by asking the right questions to get people to come to their own conclusions. Highly recommend it.

Aboud Dandachi

Correct on all points, and Ive especially seen this at play in politics and activism. Show people all the data in the world, all the irrefutable proof, and they will still continue to keep on believing what they decided to believe in the first place.


Hi Derek,
I read you 5,000 subscribers ebook and had a huge aha! moment. While I’m a faithful follower of you, I couldn’t figure out how I got here and if you message was really for me. Well, I found out in reading that you came looking for ME. Haha. I’m a massage therapist. Love how you did that. I love you and your work and will probably be ordering one of your products soon.

David Herz

How about parenting (Ferberizing; spanking; time-outs), education (red pens; bells; grades; homework; SATs), and even criminal justice (death penalty; the war on drugs).

I wonder – I often have a political viewpoint – how much of this is a function of our beliefs about society. If it’s a dog eat dog world (Americans tend to see things in line with their “unalienable Rights, . . . Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”), then our world revolves around ourselves. Do people who are more community oriented, or even better who have training in taking the other person’s perspective, have a better ability to influence because they first tune in to what we have in common?

I’d like to know what happens if the researcher and the subject first do something together, dig a ditch, work on a campaign, or even play a game that they both like together. Do they afterwards tend to dismiss the other person’s belief less easily, or do they fall back into their bias and just declare that their new friend obviously got it mixed up somewhere?


As a “GF lifestyler” and an online business owner and constant learner, I am very impressed with how you connected your mission with a hot topic/headline. I must admit, when I saw your FB tease about your upcoming response to the gluten study, I was very intrigued as to what your angle would be. And, as usual with your approach, I was quite pleased!

I’m not commenting here as to my position on gluten and my transformed life upon being off of it. Rather, I’m commenting to commend you on staying true to your business. Once again, you’ve provided great value to your loyal followers (like myself) who come to you to learn how to leverage an understanding of the psychology of people in order to improve our businesses and the value we bring to our respective followers.

Thank you for all you do…and how you do it! 🙂

Star Khechara

This post just reminded me of a phrase I read somewhere..

A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.

I think it nicely illustrates the point about trying to persuade people using their head ‘facts and data’ instead of appealing to the heart.

Star Khechara

Yikes ‘brown streaks’ TMI Derek!

I totally am a fan of using emotion rather than facts (even though I am a fact geek). I’ve always said this about smoking too. All the stop smoking stats are really boring and when I was a teenage girl I didn’t a fig about lung cancer.

But show me a hideous wrinkled old hag face and tell me my face will look like that if I smoke – and you got my attention!

#fagashface (FYI in the UK fag means cigarette) 😉

ps my man is coeliac and I swell up if I eat grains (even non-gluten grains) and I had that since I was a kid before this ‘no gluten’ trend.

AJ & Serenity Services

Hey Derek I really enjoyed this long article! It was a nice change of pace from your videos as I personally like to skim over content and take what I can from it. I would agree that in order to win others over, you have to first win their trust and emotions.


Thinking about that poor guy on a date…you made me want to buy a bidet! Thanks for the awesome post. Because I try not to make emotional decisions I forget how powerful they can be.

Somer Nelson

Really cool article. But I do have to disagree with you on the manipulation part. As a copywriter we are manipulating people. But manipulation is not a bad thing when used in a GOOD WAY. If you look up the actual definition it is… 1.handle or control (a tool, mechanism, etc.), typically in a skillful manner.
2control or influence (a person or situation) cleverly



Men who want to gain muscle usually bad talk bodyweight training (one of my passions as a trainer).

Solution: show them a picture of Mike Fitch?

Scott Paley

The New Yorker just wrote an article on this very phenomenon. Worth checking out.

Why Do People Persist in Believing Things That Just Aren’t True?

Maggie Mata

Winning the hearts and minds isn’t new to me. I actually sent to a three month training course of doing this before I was shipped off to Afghanistan. I can’t say it worked there. LoL.


Hey Derek,

Thanks for writing this great article! I’m a copywriter and I see this often.

I think Simon Sinek touched on this in his book, Start With Why, with the Golden Circle. Your article gave it another angle that’s more actionable 🙂


Dr. David Wilkinson

An interesting article, and whilst I agree with the basic premise of your argument, using gluten intolerance as evidence of your theory is marketing ‘spin’ and not accurate. Dr. Stukus who states there is no such thing as gluten intolerance is technically correct. However he goes on to say it is either yeast or wheat intolerance. It isn’t that the intolerance doesn’t exist, it’s just being miss labeled, so using it as an example of paradigm parallasis is way off the mark, and not evidence of what you claim.

    Scott Paley

    I think you’re missing Derek’s point. He’s making no claim whatsoever about gluten intolerance. Some people believe in it no matter the evidence either way. Some people think it’s complete crap no matter the evidence either way. Derek is writing about this phenomenon and how it applies to marketing. Don’t get hung up on the specifics of gluten intolerance.


substitute ‘belief in human caused climate change’ for ‘gluten sensitivity’ and it works for me.


With all that useful information this post didn’t seem THAT long! I’ve never considered myself much of a salesperson, which I know is something I need to get over. My thought process has been to first tap into potential buyers’ emotions before providing facts, in the hopes that once I do provide those facts they’ll be more attached to the idea and thus more likely to buy into it. This post has inspired me to continue to look even further into what my buyers hope for, what they’re afraid of, etc. Thank you!

Rich Brooks


Another great post. I’m glad your back to writing blogs…I enjoy your writing.

I work with an agency that’s trying to promote vaccinating your children in Maine. There’s a TON of misinformation out there–often touted by celebrities–that is just wrong or false. But like you said, you can’t convince people against their will.

Many are afraid that getting a vaccination will give their children autism, despite all the scientific evidence to the contrary. What might you suggest as a way to overcome this fear? Provide a bigger fear to not vaccinating their kids?

It seems like so far that hasn’t been effective.


I like the written article so much better. I hardly ever click on your videos unless I’m reaaally interested in the subject because I just don’t have time to listen to it. But I can read an article so much faster because I can skip the intro if I want and get to the meat of the article. I know videos are your bread and butter but maybe you can offer a written transcript for those of us who prefer to read. Thanks


Simply awesome…thank you Derek.

I have this issue all the time. I an a natural therapist in New Zealand who uses Flower Essences in combination with other woo woo practices :-). Flower essences are awesome catalysts for emotional change and have been used by indigenous peoples for hundreds of years!… but many people just think they are flowery prissy girly stuff that won’t or can’t help them. A client yesterday, when I suggested they would be of help for his major stress and life issues said ”I’m a bloke and don’t really do that stuff'”. Now I wish I’d said hey how about some kick arse 21st century plant medicine for that crazy stress you are enduring right now, it’ll knock that overwhelm right out of the park…Still hes on my list so I can e-mail him :-).


#EndBrownSpots #StopPoopStreaks Omg, I think I have just fallen out of my chair, this is hilarious! It’s nice when I learn that I’m doing everything right tapping into the minds and hearts of my ICA, and relating with their fears and frustrations and helping them achieve their dreams!

Ron Lum

Some people really do have allergic reactions to gluten. But that number of people is far less than the number of people claiming to have gluten sensitivity. Anti-gluten is pretty much a fad and it seems a lot of people without much knowledge of what it is seem to accept it.

Great article though. I’m always one to take things with a grain of salt, and I expect my propsects to do the same. Always good to tackle the persuasion game with more than one tool.

Konstantina Kanellopoulou

Great information put together here. I work in the area of animal rescue and sometimes it is difficult to get certain people to understand that the way they are treating their animals is abusive. I am going to see how I can apply this. Thank you!


Funny this happened to me when I posted the article on the gluten sensitivity study. The backlash was insane on my facebook. People are really offended by it and quick to post other studies attempting to disprove it.

Naturally as a gluten lover, who went as far as to preach “it makes me skinny” lol, I was happy to see the study.

Thanks for reminding me about this from my psychology studies. I didn’t care enough to fight back over gluten, but I’m going to try and figure out how to apply this to persuade my friends that not continuing to pursue higher education when I can make more money else where is a good idea for me. There must be a way and this might be the key.



I liked you before, Derek, but now I think I love you.

This is article is spot on. I’ve had similar conversations with friends over the psychology of belief and we’ve all come to this same conclusion.

The question becomes how to win hearts over minds? How do we appeal to the emotional rather than the rational? I work in an “evidence-based” field, childbirth education. As an educator, I value the science and the studies. Yet, I see some of my colleagues and my students bite back in much the same way as you describe above.

This has given me food for though with regards to how I approach marketing my childbirth classes.


The really interesting thing about the study, if it’s the same one I recently read about, is that it is done by the same Doctor who reported on non Celiac gluten sensitivity in the first place. After his original research he felt there was a lot left unstudied and many variables not accounted for. The study that I read about talked about short chain easily fermentable carbohydrates (aka FODMAPS) as a possible explanation for the the bloating and discomfort people feel after eating certain types of carbohydrates. Since breads and pastas are on the list of foods that contain this type of carbohydrate, they are going to contribute to the feeling of bloating and since they are high in glutens the belief that the source is the gluten.

I find it fascinating that the Dr., being a good scientist, was not convinced by the first data set and felt the need to go deeper but now the people who glommed onto the study to explain why they felt like crap won’t let go. People are interesting beasts.

George Donnelly

Awesome, thank you. The videos are entertaining but the real meat is in the written form. It can be scanned, annotated, saved to evernote, searched, pondered over, etc.



Great post and please don’t pay too much attention to the “this post is too long” crowd. I love the level of detail and research in a post like this. Is is posts like this that sets you apart from others. Keep up the great work!


Peggy McMahan

I enjoy reading articles more than I enjoy watching long videos. But I watch Derek and read his stuff! He’s entertaining and gives good information. That’s an unbeatable combination.

Markita @ SweshFit

This is a HUGE problem in the weight loss industry. People refused to listen to facts like “diet is a bigger contributor to weight loss than exercise” or “there is no way in the world to target weight loss in a certain part of your body” or “exercises like crunches are pretty pointless for most people”…and this gluten thing hits home for me because I have never bought into the hype of the wheat-phobia that’s sweeping the nation right now.

So, to apply what you’re saying, I think I would need to show images or stories of people that eat better or do large muscle exercises and are super fit or slim. What I shouldn’t do is present evidence or research studies explaining how these exercises are more effective.


Wait… You can’t post an article without a video man, your videos are badass Derek! Lol kidding. Great article.
I just started DMs persuading tattoo artists to grab my portrait program and this one really hit home… Where as some artists were totally awesome and open minded.. A lot of them were also ruthless assholes totally close minded about learning portraits without any reasoning besides “it ain’t my style”
But now it makes sense… Artists are passionate and emotional with their Art and I didn’t get that emotional connection with them… I going to try another approach by messaging them first about any frustrations they have and take time with the interaction. Thanks for your insights


Please stop sharing this article. just stop. I am so sick of seeing it over the internet.
Many people react to FODMAPS and gluten. People can be sensitive to both. Also gluten can stay in your systems for months. This study was over such a short period of time. The subjects could have been sick from eating the fodmaps or gluten the weeks prior.

I tested negative by bloodwork to celiac.

For 12 years I had:
Stomach pain
Immune system conditions
chronic migraines
missed periods
frequent urinary tract infections
cold sores.

I gave up gluten even though I tested negative. I stopped getting sick.

The long list above no longer exists.

If it is in my head then why do I go out to a restaurant and still come home sick after taking as many precautions as I can. I stopped eating out.

Please stop. This is people’s health we are talking about.

Not a way to boost traffic to your blog.



    I have written extensively about this on my blog if you want to read more please go to my Celiac Posterboy blog either on tumblr or wordpress.

    My latest blog entry on Tumblr discusses how the Doctor’s diagnose NCGS as IBS in 84% of patients. It really is ground breaking research.

    Good luck on your journey.

    2 Timothy 2:7

    The Celiac Posterboy by the Grace of God,

    Joe “Rock” Pen Name


    Nicole, I agree with your comments on FOADMaps but I think once you begin burping like a healthy child most of your dining out “accidental glutening” will go away.

    If you are open to an honest inspection of the facts see my latest post “Spouses of Celiac’s are at Higher Risk . . . ” which can not be explained by genetics alone but allows for STRESS as the trigger.

    2 Timothy 2:7

    If you follow the Niacinamide Challenge (see post) you will begin burping in 6 months and while you go once a day now (no gluten) your stool (about the time you begin burping (a month either way) will begin sinking to the bottom a sign of complete digestion. See my post on the “Golden Cross of Digestion”.

    The Celiac Posterboy by the Grace of God,

    Joe “Rock” Pen Name

    Rebecca Byfield

    Why are people focusing on the gluten aspect of this article and not the actual meat – that opinions are not influenced by data but by emotion. Your response here, Nicole, only proves Derek’s point. Derek’s blog is not about health, and has nothing to do with gluten free diets. He used a study as an example. Simple as that.

Claes Staffansson

I deal with this now and than and I agree 100%. You can not convince anyone with facts if they have a belief no matter how wrong it can be. I live in eastern Thailand and the level of education amongst people are low here.

I give you just one example here on what many Thais believe. It’s dangerous to talk in your cellphone during a rain storm… The lightning can hit your phone and kill you.

It doesn’t matter how I explain that it’s not cell phones that can be dangerous, it’s the old style phones with a wire that can lead electricity. They just smile at me and looks like I’m the stupid one. (Not stupid necessarily, but ignorant).

And as usual, a great article Derek, thanks for sharing.


Thanks for the article, Derek! I prefer reading over video and I clicked on the link right away, whereas I tend to hold off videos until I have a bit of extra time later on to watch.

Claes Staffansson

Mark Twain once said: “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”


Derek, you rock! Love the article….and the fact that I’m able to read it as opposed to watching a video. Thanks for making us think outside of the box!

Jody Coss

I know the written info is just the same good info you always give but reading is much more difficult for me. I know I don’t retain it as well. Please keep the videos. I love them.

McKenna Donovan

First, thank you for the written post. Being hearing impaired, I find the videos very difficult to assimilate. (You are fun to watch, but difficult to lip read.)

Second, I love this reminder that the emotional base is where we start with our outreach to our potential clients. It’s not enough to know our business; it’s necessary to know HOW others perceive our business. Very good reminder of the 1984 Apple commercial!


I bet gluten sensitivity is real. But that is only my bet. I cannot prove it. No one can prove the opposite either. It might as well be grain sensitivity or sensitivity to one or many proteins in grains (including the ones in gluten). Is there really a point in arguing whether it is or isn’t real? The solution is to stay away from grains in any of the cases. Celiacs are proven gluten intolerant and they develop many of the same symptoms others non celiacs do, which makes non-celiac gluten sensitivity an obvious explanation. Is it too obvious for you or do you wan’t to explain it in a more complex way just to justify your own beliefs of reality.

Kristin @ Payment Free Life

I really appreciate your written post. I read a lot of blog posts while I’m waiting for appointments and just randomly throughout the day. Sometimes it is difficult to find time for a video.

This post gave me a lot to think about. I write a personal finance blog and work with folks who are at their breaking point. Trying to convince people to change before they hit that point is difficult. I have some great ideas from this post. Thanks Derek!


Excellent article! Finally, someone posts on how integral the principle and process of individual belief is to sales and business in general. I write a lot about this particular topic on my own website, and it never ceases to amaze me how people react to this type of information. It gets all sorts of fun when you explain this to people, and then they deny the power of their own beliefs, thereby reinforcing their own beliefs and either increasing or decreasing their current level of self-limitation. Awesome article, Derek!

Elizabeth @ Rosalilium

I enjoyed the article. It’s nice to read instead of watch. It totally depends on an individuals preferred method of consuming information. I do love the videos as well, but there’s something I enjoy about dipping in and out of an article as I’m multi-tasking in the morning.


I was really happy to finally be able to read. I am in an office where I can’t watch the videos. I have them saved and have missed watching most of them as never seem to have time, or forget about them. I’m glad I can finally be involved and learn from this.

Thank you.

Christine Coleman

Perfect timing as always with your posts! Excellent info. I want to plug organic fabrics on my blog and start a sustainable sewing campaign but I know there will be resistance and I’ve been thinking of ways to get round this, mainly incentives to encourage folks to use organic fabrics but considering your article above, I’m going to approach it differently now, more emotionally.
Thanks again for the food for thought (with gluten of course!). It’s a bitter pill, but I’m going to try to swallow your advice!


I love the long format! While I enjoy your videos I have an I built bias against video on the internet. I can’t consume the information in the way I want to in a video, it is too linear and the pace is dictated by you, not me. It’s like you put my brakes on, prevent me from backing up or skimming g forward.


Derek, I loved this post! So well written and I agree with it totally- there is no point in trying to change people mind using data if they have strong beliefs. For example I am vegetarian for many years but I never get in those “Vegetarians are weak” “Proteins are only in meat” etc cliche arguments, well, because I don’t go around telling other people how mean and dumb they are eating those “dead bodies of innocent animals” and then telling them tons of data to, basically prove that they are wrong and I’m correct. And I see so many people in this field doing so and arguing literally for hours just to… gain an enemy 🙂 I instead focus on being happy, beautiful and active (let’s say running marathons without any arguments changes people perceptions about what is vegetarianisms and can people thrive on it) and mentioning them that I am vegetarian and I live totally well in this way, but telling them that if what they eat works well for them- just keep doing it. In this way I “converted” few people into vegetarians without even convincing them. I currently plan to start a blog on healthy living and vegetarian recipes and still have no plans to include any data section on it, I think silent, good example is what makes them change their minds, and makes them think that they changed it themselves. People never want to loose arguments, even if they somewhere deep there believe that the other side might be saying truth, but it just makes you feel bad/dumb if you loose the argument.


PS – I’ll read your post now 😉


    Can you tell me how to insert a picture into the post … wow, showing my lack of techie skills … always learning.



I haven’t read the study you mentioned and I haven’t even read your post yet, but I wanted to direct you to this eBook Seth Godin wrote, in case you haven’t seen it yet: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2014/03/thinking-about-placebos-a-new-ebooklet.html

Basically, he points out that the story we tell ourselves about a pill, or anything, can be at least as important as the thing itself.

We may be able to prove the pill is useless, but if I believe it works, it can still have positive effects on me.

So maybe the same is true for gluten. Technically, gluten doesn’t affect these people, but since they think it does and they stop eating it they believe they should be “cured.” This belief can actually help cure them.

Godin is of course not suggesting we should stop buying medicine and just use placebos. He is saying that it’s crazy not to take the psychological part into account.

Hope you find it interesting.



Hey Derek
Loved the article, particularly with my backgrounds in natural health, science and psychology. Perfect summary, and I encounter it all the time, when people/clients arrive with a diagnosis. I ask, “How do you know you have X ?”. Depending on where it came from (the information) and how strongly they hold to it, determines how I will be able to work with them. I have found that even if I disagree, I can’t argue with them, so I have to find a “workaround”. In sales, or health, it’s always how they feel!
Spot on assessment,


This reminds me of “street witnessing” for my church years ago when many people exhibited prejudice against us. One brother and I would comfort each other with the remark, “don’t try to confuse me with the facts, I already made up my mind!”


Nice post Derek. This is something we deal with a lot in the skeptical movement. You just can’t persuade people with data and facts, especially when they are emotionally invested to their position.

This post came at a good time. I’m considering of creating my own line of skin care products for acne-prone skin. The company I’m working with has a nice set of products available for white label. The problem is they use parabens as preservatives.

The whole natural health and safe cosmetics movement has managed to persuade people that parabens are dangerous, disrupt hormones and can cause cancer. Of course parabens have a long safety record and there’s no good scientific evidence to show they are dangerous. Their safety has been studied quite extensively.

Simple chemophobia is one reason people fear parabens. People have this notion that chemicals are dangerous and should be avoided (like that’s possible, given that everything is made of chemicals). But I think also the general mistrust of big companies affects this. People believe that the companies use parabens because they are cheap and care about their bottomline more than health of the customers. Can’t argue that such a belief is completely unjustified.

Any ideas on how to tackle this? I recently published a post that used the fear mongering tactics on apples. I was able to ‘show’ that apples contain nail polish, rocket fuel and toilet bowl cleaners. What do you think about such a tactic? Any other ideas on how to tackle this?

On a more general note, do you have other examples of how to apply this technique. Win over their hearts is somewhat vague 🙂

Regarding text vs. video debate. I vote for more text. I rarely watch videos as they take too long, are rarely well done and video is just generally a very bad medium for communicating complex information.

Beatrix Willius

The japanese toilets ARE gross. Can you imagine a toilet with dozens of buttons? No thanks.

Regarding Gluten please read http://chriskresser.com/is-gluten-sensitivity-real:

However, in this new study, the authors specifically isolated gluten and found that there was no difference in symptoms between the patients eating high-gluten diets and those eating low-gluten diets.

This is a significant finding, but to claim that it proves that non-celiac gluten sensitivity doesn’t exist is both inaccurate and irresponsible. It’s a great way to get clicks and generate attention, but it’s an extreme distortion of what the study actually found.

Art Snarzyk


Repeatedly viewing super-awesome videos, then switching to reading text blogs causes serious withdrawal symptoms in most subjects, including…

dry mouth, constipation, endless crying, diarrhea, insomnia and lethargy, erectile disfunction, wonky-eye syndrome, and excess flatulence.

Hey, I’m not saying I agree or disagree – that’s just the word on the street. I’m not trying to convince anyone. 😉


The gluten reference is soo bad.

As though someone that feels like shit from eating gluten is going to feel great when they eat it now just because they “prove” it doesn’t effect ppl.

That’s like trying to emotionally convince someone with bad eyesight that it’s actually good, they just didn’t realise it.

So now they can go on with their day bumping in to things because they’ve been emotionally proven wrong. Awesome!


Another great post, Derek! I love your work and perspective on things. This article and the readers discussion underneath really got me thinking all day about the reasons for this phenomenon of people trusting their feelings rather than facts. I especially liked Iain’s perspective of the influence of our childhood experiences on the way we look at things (which inspired me to jot down some notes for a future blog post, thanks Iain!). As I have come to see it now, I think facts are subject to change, due to the changing nature of everything we perceive as reality. Throughout our current lives we come across a lot of research, overturning previously known “facts”. As a result we tend to conclude (subconsciously), that facts are not to be trusted. Because this is so confusing, we are inclined to go back to relying on our own “inner compass” of feelings and opinions of what we perceive as “truths” at this moment, based on our own experiences and observations.
I have recently started a blog about my own life experiences that have had an impact on the way I feel and see reality now. I am hoping to inspire others to think about their own lives and leave them free to form their own opinions about how we can help change the world into be a better place for all. I am leaving the facts out, just telling my stories, keeping it simple, hoping they can relate better to this, than the many “how to” articles. I never liked “being told”, so I am not expecting anyone else to enjoy that either! For anyone interested, you can find it at: http://happypollyesther.com/


I appreciate the mix of videos and posts. They each have different strengths, and I’m glad you’re doing posts again. Thanks!


This came at such a great time for me in my business. I’ve been thinking, “why can’t I get through to these people”, I’ve been shoving information down their throats but the throat isn’t connected to the heart.

Back to the drawing board with my copy. Thank you!


Your title nailed it: “The Psychology of Belief”. Emotions are key.

The comments are great — you have such a fine following with a lot of opinions. 😉

Personally liked it being written so I can re-read it, just saying.


Derek, Loved the article, just long enough. 20 years ago when I first started teaching art, I thought my job was to teach technique. Learned quickly that it was to convince people that they could learn how to be artists (even if they don’t like doing art) It’s the one thing we think you either have the talent for or don’t. Funny to continue to see where people get their hard core beliefs from.


Oh yes just wanted to say too, I haven’t the patience to watch a video. Much easier and quicker to read.


I think what people are confusing here is ‘gluten sensitivity’ which is imagined, and coeliac disease which is clearly real. The so called ‘persuasive experiences’ are related to poor diet – highly processed foods high in sugar.


    “This is a significant finding, but to claim that it proves that non-celiac gluten sensitivity doesn’t exist is both inaccurate and irresponsible. It’s a great way to get clicks and generate attention, but it’s an extreme distortion of what the study actually found.”


    Worth reading. Kresser is excellent.


      Derek, THANK YOU for a good post on psychology, even if we don’t all agree 100% that you used the best subject matter as your lead-in. 🙂 Your statement, “When this gluten study got published, the only REAL response to it should be: “Wow, that’s interesting. We need more data, but maybe he’s right.”” is exactly correct. It’s what I was thinking of when I read Chris Kresser’s article, linked by David.

      So you’re right, MANY people just stuck to their already held beliefs. But some like Chris took the high road and looked at the whole study in context. Luckily Chris is well-respected in the academic ‘paleo’ community. Yay, science. 🙂


    Ok, Tim, I see what you’re saying. But the point of the post was that people will stick to their beliefs even when presented with evidence to the contrary. So when you bring up the idea that (non-celiac) gluten sensitivity may be a myth, and your friend says, “Tell that to my stomach!”, what emotions would you tap into to persuade that person that their point of view may not be entirely accurate?

Sarah McKay

Great article Derek – I think my favourite piece of yours ever!

As a medical/health writer the issue of confirmation bias is something I come up against all the time. No amount of data will change minds, and often evidence and data and all their nuances aren’t *exciting* enough for most (and certainly not enough for a juicy click bait headline or hook) People want ‘Breakthroughs’ or ‘cures’, not associations between variables.

Have you read Change or die by Alan Deutschman – he discusses how ‘facts, fear, and force’ don’t work rather we need to ‘relate, repeat, and reframe’. Relevant for both science writers, psychologists AND entrepreneurs!


Derek, I’m curious how you would go about persuading someone who believes that they have gluten sensitivity that they might be wrong? Most have very persuasive subjective experiences to back up the belief.


Derek- I’ve seen many articles on this phenomenon and on the gluten stuff (separately). You did such a fantastic job of explaining BOTH within a larger context. And…the WHY of sales and your brown streak example really says so much! I work in medical field where we try to tell people statistics of why they should see us for urinary or bowel issues. However, our industry uses boring statistics. What you share makes so much sense. Thanks!! Great job with this (long-time follower, first-time commenter). 🙂


Psychology aside, you need to research eosinophilic esophaghitis, a/k/a EoE. They may not have it all right about gluten sensitivities, but if you’ve ever seen kids who MUST live on feeding tubes, you’ll begin to appreciate how serious this kind of food allergy can be. It’s truly frickin heart breaking.


Nicely written. Amazing that our beliefs trump logic, facts, and values. We sort, fight, and live for everything that supports those beliefs. Using our hardwiring for stories and emotional interupt of those beliefs is, as you wrote, essential. Thanks.


Thanks for the written article. To tell you the truth I am always intrigued by your email teasers but don’t work at a computer so I rarely watch them. Love the article!

Dakota @ FAQ

OMG this explains everything!!!!

Derek, you are the BOMB!!!

Thanks for an awesome article!

That is all. 🙂


Great lesson, Derek. Thanks.

I spent 22 years in Big Pharma and always had this problem when we used new research to change doctors’ prescription habits. Some would be very receptive and others put up a wall.

The same with staff. Old habits die hard.

Carrie Jolie Dale

Love this! Thank you Derek.

After spending the past several days helping my daughter write an essay for her developmental psych. class, I was starting to actually question my sanity in getting a degree or being remotely interested in psychology and the study of why people do what they do. How I made it through 5 years of psych classes, I will never know. Then again, it was Eugene Oregon.

So . . . . thank you for making psychology interesting and fun Derek!

I often pose this question to my husband when we are confronted with a topic of interest or perhaps conflicting viewpoints on something “Is it the THING, or is it the belief in the THING, that makes the THING, the THING?

So is it that gluten intolerance inherently just is, or is it a creation of a belief? Do our lists grow and do we sell more products due to a belief that we have to appeal to people on an emotional level first, or is it just that way no matter what we believe? I guess the answer depends on what you believe—that is my belief.

I wholeheartedly agree that we create our reality through what we choose to think, feel, believe and to a lesser degree, act on.

So yes, I agree that when considering marketing, creating products or looking for new clients, there is benefit in knowing your audience and connecting with them on an emotional vs rational level—in certain cases, but not all.

But for me at least, I think that some people’s beliefs will be changed or challenged maybe more because we don’t appeal to what they believe, but that we present another way to look at something that they could be ready to shift or change in their lives. It really depends on the person. I think the most attractive and appealing thing, is to watch someone who is truly living in their authentic truth and in their “zone.” These people may be able to shift a belief I have due to their confidence and clairty about what they believe.

Beliefs are meant to be challenged, and maybe just having a great deal of personal clarity can do that. Maybe just being super clear about our beliefs and opinions may actually, in certain cases challenge anothers beliefs that were just ready for an update, shift or makeover.

As far as an example of people ignoring facts and leaning on emotions instead . . . uh, being a mom! I have a gazillion examples.

For those of you who deal with gluten intolerance, I feel for you, I really do! Please in no way take any of my comments as suggesting that it is not a real thing. I get it is real for you and I am 100% compassionate.

Jackie Bledsoe

I have to be honest…I rarely watch your videos. But I clipped this one earlier today, and read it completely just now.

Every once in a blue moon I watch your videos, when your video headline seems to address something I am dealing with or working on right now I watch it, but I’m not really a video person. Since you are into the why of things I’ll explain…

I can read (or write) and digest info faster than I can consume in a video. Yes, sometimes that is through scanning, although I read every word in this article. So, a video scanning is really not possible, and the first thing I’m looking for is how long the video is. When it is too long (that depends on what I’m doing at the time) I don’t watch any of it. And I rarely come back later to watch. I feel videos are just too slow.

With all that said, my preference would be a mix of blog posts (400-600 words) that hit a point and hit it hard and fast, and a mix of videos (2-3 minutes) that do the same. Sprinkling in some 2000 word blog posts every now and then wouldn’t hurt either. It think the mixture would get me to consume all three types versus rarely watching the videos.

Hope this helps…GREAT post by the way!


Good article. I prefer the video so I can listen while I work, either online or in the kitchen!
Yes, please do both. 🙂


I know exactly what you are talking about Derek. You see I have run a website helping women and men in abusive relationships for many years now. My husband and myself healed our toxic relationship and have helped thousands of families do the same.

The problem? Well as easy as it usually is for me to win over the hearts of people who need our help – the government agencies who could direct families in crises our way won’t be swayed. They have a belief that these kind of relationships can’t be fixed and the women are stupid if they don’t ‘just’ divorce. They cling to this as the only safe option even when all the statistics show otherwise. The fact is divorce usually escalates the conflict rather than solving it, putting family members, especially children, at far greater risk.

So despite over a thousand testimonials and statistics that prove the solutions we offer to de escalate the conflict are in fact safer – people just scream “You are stupid if you stay in an abusive marriage, you just have to tell her to leave!”, these people obviously believe they are right but are often bitter and damaged by their own divorce.

I am so busy talking to the couples we help that I don’t have time to try and win the hearts of people who just want to judge and won’t help send the families who need help our way.

Any ideas of how to tackle this bias would be most appreciated as would anyone sharing our website address at http://www.narcissimcured.com

Thanks for bringing this up – I don’t have time for movies but your article was very good.

The people we help often don’t have much money and so any help anyone can offer here promoting our site really would be appreciated.

Deanna {sewmccool}

Certain political “handlers” have this concept down perfectly. They put a nugget of information out there, no matter how completely inane. Then the journalists have to cover it because they need to appear neutral and cover “the other side of the story.” Soon talking heads from both sides are yelling over the issue on the air and in print. Though 97 percent of people realize the topic is pretty silly, soon everyone is talking about it, making fun of it, and putting out memes to show how ridiculous it is.

If the political handler simply tried to throw data at people, no one but their own flocks would have agreed with it. It’s brilliant. Data? Who needs data, right?


Great article. Call me oldfashioned, but I enjoy reading much more than videos. I must be getting old…


I loved this. I read it, in it’s entirety. I actually like it as a great change up. I’ll even be linking it up in a blog post for http://www.DentistryItsPersonal.com. Great content, thank you!


It is amazing to me that people have jumped on here to complain about standpoints on gluten. This is a blog about marketing and the psychology behind it. “This is site about persuasion, marketing, and business for now” Take your gluten issues somewhere else. Great post Derek

    Mimika Cooney

    I think you’re missing the point @Kaleb! Derek’s whole intention WAS to insight a reaction in people so we felt compelled to give our view points. Yes it IS about gluten and politics and whatever else that gets you going. The point is, it was a very successful marketing experiment in using the very aspects about the viewpoints we are all willing to defend no matter the data. The idea is to poke our readers to reaction and to start the conversation because we are emotionally invested in the subject. I’m so glad it wasn’t’ another boring post about marketing blah blah that I see so many other places.


This is quite interesting and now I knew the psychological terminology of what I been saying for quite a while now. I had this conversation in a forum on Linkedin in terms of marketing towards a Caribbean audience. As a Virgin Islands expat, I told the person simply to get to know who they are and not market to what you would want. Caribbean life is all about culture and heritage and they are very, very proud of it. So you have to market towards the culture and the people, not the numbers or the “sale”.

So you know as I was relaying this message to the person, I realize I had to put up or shut up with my own medicine. I reorganized my business image and my wedding stationery/art now speaks from the heart of a person’s heritage rather than just beautiful artwork.

Thanks Derek, for the confirmation.


I like to read through informational articles during my downtime at work. Watching movies with audio can be distracting to my coworkers so I personally very much enjoy the written articles.

Rebecca Byfield

Oh, and great article by the way. Can always rely on you for some deep insight into marketing and life in general. 🙂

Rebecca Byfield

There are so many elements of this article that make me nod my head vigorously in agreement but I suppose I can narrow it all down to a saying my ‘dear old’ mother has repeated since I was a small child: “A person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still”. That’s the case whether you are debating politics or trying to convince someone your product is good. As you said, win them over with emotion, not data. Great example on the Semmelweis reflex too. I remember reading about that case in a book called “None of these diseases” about 20 years ago. Doctors today religiously adhere to his principles, yet in his lifetime, the poor man was shunned and ridiculed by his peers. Sadly, he was committed to an asylum and died 14 days later, after being beaten by guards. It wasn’t until years after his death that Louis Pasteur scientifically proved his theories, and they were implemented into hospitals.

As for gluten sensitivity, I’m no doctor so won’t go so far as to call it a myth. Yet it seems strange to me that today more people have food allergies than at any other time in history. Either mankind is getting weaker, instead of stronger, or there is some psychological explanation behind the increase. Personally, as a layman, I tend to think it’s because we convince women that they cannot eat certain substances while pregnant on the off-chance that their unborn child might possibly be allergic. Instead of babies being exposed to a wide selection of foods through the safety of the placental wall, they are now often not exposed for the first time to whole food groups until they are three years old and the protection of their mothers is long since passed. But that’s just my personal opinion and not scientifically proven.


I prefer reading to videos. I can read an article in half the time it takes to listen to a video. It stays with me longer too. But I am, and have always been, a voracious reader – others not so much. So I agree – it’s good to have a mix, and it’s something we’re going to start doing on our site to show off our products.

Bob Miess

Thank you for this Derek!

Because it was text and not a video, I was able to check this out on my iPhone while riding the bus home today. Otherwise I would have had to wait until I got home.

Very good points!

Allison Rapp

It’s amazing to me how you seem to publish something I’ve been thinking about–without the data you’ve got!–more often than not. I’ve been struggling with how to appeal to my clients for a while, and your examples helped a lot.

Your videos are great, but videos often run at a different pace than my brain, so I loved having an article that I can consume at my own speed and go back when want to find the specific thing I’m looking for.



As a Celiac of 28years, yes way before it was “cool” to be Gluten Free. I have followed what Gluten Free is and it’s effect on Celiac’s and non-celiac’s health for longer than most people have even know what the word gluten means. This study only had 37 people which for a scientific study is a JOKE.

If the study had 100 or more participants it could taken seriously but 37 come on. The FDA mentions 100-300 participants for a basic drug trial how is this research any different?


Great article.

Loved the intro, tie in and reminder that more information and data WON’T change peoples minds (or behavior).

Ignatz Semmelweis also provides an additional warning about what happens when you DON’T change your own persuasion tactics…

…he died a bitter, broken, destitute old man despite being completely correct about hand washing & saving lives.

( I just had a guy a few weeks ago tell me how sales was unethical and no longer necessary…because “good” products and services just sell themselves. *sigh*)


The data suggested that Polio is caused by eating ice cream.

Who funded the study that you are referring to?

Eli Magids

Video much easier for me to consume than a blog 🙂
I know,I am limited,but I accept my limitations. Happy to be part of your experiment.
I love ya Bro,but underwear talk is yucky,but effective.
PS- I just checked my undies…..wear can I get one of those bidets?
Peace Out,

Hannah Jackson

I love your thinking with the bidet! A very clever idea. I read this a few hours ago when you sent the email, and it had no comments – a few hours later I refresh the page and BAM 91 comments!

Lance Gross

I found myself scrolling down to look for the video… and “oh no!” there was no video 🙁 I realize they take a seriously long time to make but they’re so goooood! Which is why i pretty much drop everything to watch them. Look forward to the next one, whenever it comes!

Daniella Renee

Great article! And while I love the videos, articles are actually easier to consume for some. Loving the mix up. Can we expect an interpretive photo gallery next? 🙂


Awesome article. One of the best. Love it!

Martin Russell

Agree about video taking too long – that’s why I almost always download them to watch later, and if not, I watch my videos sped up

Gemma Regalado

I have definitely encountered this. In fact, I encountered it today!

On Thursday, European Union countries vote for the politicians they want to become MEPs. Now, politics is an area fraught with emotion as we all know, and one thing I’ve struggled with is the apathy and disillusionment that UK voters have to voting (64% of the voting public abstained from voting in the 2009 euro elections). So, I did a bit of research and decided on a course of action to get non voters more engaged – submitting blank votes.

I knew just saying, “hey dudes, just vote blank” wouldn’t work, so I created this http://www.voteblankrevolution.com (NSFW!!)

A lot of people got on board straight away, but a few people were very reluctant, saying things like, “people won’t care, it won’t make a difference.” I had to realise that this was simply their way of experiencing the situation. I’m not going to change all minds, but I’ve been in business log enough to know that I don’t want to change all minds – if I can help the people closest aligned to me, they in turn spread the message in their own way and attract a different type of audience.

Great post, Derek

Kamila Gornia

Woah, no video! Now that’s something new. Anyway, I love this topic, Derek. Very fascinating and it just proves why we have to focus on the emotional aspect more than anything. It’s why writing copy with emotion (something I need to do more with my own copy, I’m definitely practicing it more and more but it’s not coming as naturally yet). But yeah – capture their hearts before you try to buy their minds. Powerful stuff.

I love this quote also “You can’t convince people of anything. You can only hope you provide enough information so that they convince themselves.” – So true!


Quoting Seinfeld’s Kenny Bania: This article is gold, Derek! Gold!

Thank you!


Derek, I loved this article-very helpful, insightful and interesting. I’m in the middle of creating a new program, and this is definitely going to help-thanks!


very thought provoking and helpful article. I do like videos, but tend to not get around to watching them. Articles I can scan through to get to the meat of it. This one was all “meat.” Thanks


Although I really enjoyed the article, this would have been a great topic for a video – especially the part where you illustrate the marketing plan for the #brownspots campaign. 😉

Nicely done!


It’s what we are trained to do…
Here in the UK, children are taught that Father Christmas flies in ion a sleigh and come down the chimney to deliver presents on Christmas Eve. Even in houses and flats with no chimney. They accept this belief even though it is at odds with the evidence. And they get the presents if they go along with it!

When they lose a tooth, they leave it for the tooth fairy to take away, leaving some coin in exchange.

Then when they are older, religion comes along, filling them with unquestionable beliefs that are not in accordance with reality – or why would a church need a lightning conductor?

There are plenty of people who will be upset by reading this, which rather makes the point!

We cope with this cognitive dissonance not by revising our opinions and beliefs, but by rejecting facts that challenge our beliefs and opinions, however baseless.

After growing up in an environment where we are required to hold beliefs that are not compatible with facts, we learn to choose facts based on opinion, rather than opinions based on facts.

If a fact doesn’t fit our opinion, it is easier to reject the fact and/or its source than it is to revise our opinion.

I don’t think there is a fix for this.

Mimika Cooney

Well it’s easy to make the gluten thing a laughable topic but when you actually suffer your whole life with excruciating headaches and stomach upsets (amongst many other symptoms) its not a laughing matter. I was diagnosed with Celiac disease after years of being told “it’s in your head!” Now it seems everyone thinks the gluten issue is a joke, no thanks to this dude who make assumptions based on 22 subjects, really?

The psychology does fascinate me though that people believe their symptoms are real when its a matter of choice. I think the Food Babe, Vani, would have a lot to say about it being due more to the poisons hidden in food in the US!

Anyways, sorry for the rant you got me going on this one!


Loved reading a blog like this Derek. Love the videos too but a nice change of pace.
I know the focus is on the psychology of studies but just have to pass on as a nutritionist to anyone interested that those studies were pretty inaccurate and irresponsible. They were testing gluten but we don’t eat gluten, we eat wheat and barley and rye etc. We eat the whole food not just an isolated extract. Specifically in wheat there are a other compounds that are related to the sensitivity and total intolerance issue. Gluten isn’t really the issue, wheat is and gluten happens to make up part of it.



This is awesome. To me, politics & religion are clearly the most polarizing topics. Especially here in Quebec, Canada the whole question of making Quebec a country divides people since forever!

We heard it all. From terrorists clan (FLQ) to “we love you” from the “rest of Canada” during referendums, arguments that spoke to the heart were the strongest and those you heard the most on TV. I’m no political expert, and I don’t want to get into a debate about if “Quebec should become a country or not” but most arguments we heard were about fears or aspirations of both outcomes. We heard the opposite arguments, like:
“we should stay part of Canada because we will be richer”
“we should make a country because we will be richer” … What a mess 😉

In the end, it’s so true: emotion made you choose either side. No data sheet or hard numbers really made an impact. Or if they did, it’s because they were the source/basis of a strong emotional benefit or potential disaster.

PS: I really like the long format post 🙂


Great article, very creative with the Bidet campaign (#endbrownspots) hilarious! I think religion is a great example. Human beings are very divided on this issue due to cultural differences and traditions. As a Christian it’s not my job to convince people that Jesus is the way; however I would be convicted to proclaim what is true for me simply because I believe in what the bible says. Even though we have scientific evidence that supports the teachings of the bible there will still be many who won’t hold the same belief as I do. This is perfectly fine and is why God gave each and everyone of us free will. “Seek the truth and the truth shall make you free” John 8:32, this too can only be a revelation from God and no amount of convincing from others will change that.

Sandy Donovan

Great article!

It is definitely tough to change someone’s beliefs and I teach going after emotions first as well.

But to add to this, in general, people are not really logical. They don’t always understand how to interpret data. The Wason Selection Task shows that only about 10% of the population correctly utilizes deductive reasoning to come to solve a problem (it is a little more complex than that…) – so, yeah, using facts to reason through a problem is clearly not how we solve everyday issues. We have to rely on our emotions, or we’d go into information overload and become so confused.

Loved this article – didn’t mind the lack of video at all – thanks for taking the time to put a post together on a current event.


Phyllis Schmidt

I can’t always listen to a video, but I can read in silence, at my own pace, with or without interruptions. I liked it.


What was that middle part again?

Please stick to your great video fortè….and, with overly-long, repetitive pieces like these, an intermission and treats, ok?


Thanks Derek, I appreciate the article format as I can read it anywhere, while it isn’t always appropriate to play the videos (like kid napping/nursing in my arms).

What I find interesting is appealing to the heart when what you are offering will help/save the person money/etc. and they don’t change. I’m an energy consultant. Electricity and gas, things people use and pay for regardless of economic times. It’s the cases where I can clearly save them on their rate and they decide to keep the status quo is what baffles me the most.

This is when I know I’m appealing to the head, but haven’t won the heart. Still brainstorming on how to add that component to my presentations.


I feel the same way! The test for gluten sensitivity is easy and just see a gastroenterologist and ask for one. I always ask the person if a dr gave them a gluten allergy test and if the answer is yes then it’s believable. If not, then everything Derek wrote about applies!


Thank you! I really enjoyed this post. Well presented. Well thought out. Love it.

Chuck Hagel

Reminds of all the global warming hysteria…

renee baude

After taking SYBR . . . I can see the depth of this article.

I must say the mother match maker in me, paired you with Vani–for about 2 seconds. I’m not sure why I find it so amusing.

As a food blogger I thought this was great, as a student it was even better.

Be Blessed.


2000 words? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

    Elizabeth @ Rosalilium

    I have plenty of time for words.

Lulu Sync

I am not commenting on the validity of the claim –however, there is a video that points out “bandwagon-ing” without really knowing research… come on people don’t just jump off the cliff (ugh just sounded like my parents for a sec)…



Great points about psychology. But I’m not sure how gluten is even in the conversation about whether or not it is real. My son has celiac, which is an autoimmune disease caused by gluten.

So while the article is great, the point you used is a little misguided. Of course, even hard science does change over time. But gluten, at least from the perspective of someone with celiac, is real!

    Derek Halpern

    This is referring specifically to non-celiac gluten sensitivity


      I understand. But the entire issue of gluten is so new and we’re learning so much that to try to separate gluten with the celiac or non-celiac argument is silly, from my perspective. Again, I get your points and obviously you can write about what you want, but gluten is real and we are just scratching the surface and using it in this context (at least for someone who suffers from it) is just a bit misguided. Sorry.


I suspect there’s a bit of a sliding scale here based on commoditization of the solution.

The iPhone was very, very different than other phones, and was adopted quickly. It’s a media darling, to this day. It’s difficult or impossible to deny the results. They’re visible, tangible, and countable.

Miller/Budweiser & other products that are virtually “at parity” have no major differentiators. Because of this, they must rely on emotional arguments to create differentiation and brand loyalty.

…the gluten allergy is one that is difficult for the layperson to scientifically measure (try explaining the intricacies of statistical significance in upset stomachs to my mother). Because of this, it is hard to draw a “clearly better” comparison to a different theory. …thus the emotional argument is born.

Aljoscha Laschgari

Absolutely amazing article. I learned a lot. Convince the heart before you convince the mind. Great!

Stephen Dillard-Carroll

What I’ve found in my business – and perhaps others can attest to this as well – is the aversion to “give it a try” stems from fear. For me it’s specifically the fear of the unknown. Fear that what I do is somehow “evil” or “of the devil”. Or the fear that manifests in the following phrase: “If I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist.” In other words: “I don’t wanna know. Cause if I know it means I have to take responsibility for my actions and my outcomes.”

And while washing your hands before you go elbows deep inside somebody’s hoo-ha gets a big fat “well, DUH!” from both the medical and laymen communities nowadays, it could be said the “fear of being wrong” was at the heart of why, when it was first proposed, it was rejected “out of hand” (*rim shot* I’ll be here all week! Tip your waiters!).

That’s why when I go into new situations where I’m reading someone’s cards and it may not necessarily be the “friendliest” or most open-minded of environments, I’m VERY quick to say right off the bat, “There’s absolutely NOTHING to be afraid of. YOU are in control of your own destiny. The best I or any other psychic can do for you is say ‘if you continue on this same trajectory, this is pretty much what you can expect the outcome to me. Change paths? You IMMEDIATELY change the cards.'” I empower people right off the bat to take control of their own lives and their own paths. That way, regardless of whether or not they feel I was spot on with my tarot reading or full of crap, either way I’ve empowered them by taking away that initial fear factor.

Just something that works for me.


It would be ludicrous for people that have concluded that gluten is indeed a problem for them to be swayed one bit by a single (or even a few) “research report(s)”.

So much of this “research” is funded by special interest or is conducted poorly even today.

Although I get your point the people “not changing their minds” are most likely behaving like rational, intelligent and rightly sceptical human beings.

Probably a bad example to use to make your point 🙂


    I wouldn’t say that it was a bad example, because it supports the conclusion effectively. However, you make an excellent point as well: part of the reason “statiscal” or “scientific” evidence is often ineffective in changing minds is a healthy distrust of the source of the data. These days, it’s hard to know which data to trust, or if an experiment tells the full story for the reasons you mentioned above. Still, conclusion holds true, this can be overcome by earning trust, or validation, or “changing their hearts” as Derek says here.

Tamara Baranova

Great post and I like having just the reading with no video – on occasion. Examples from the UK of polarised opinions: invest in cycling infrastructure vs invest in public transport, immigration from Eastern Europe is bad vs is good for the economy, shopping centres out of town are bad vs good for people and towns, creating academies from public schools is good for children’s education vs it’s a dangerous experiment. And there are many more! Politicians need to read your post as in their speeches they seem to be going all wrong about trying to persuade more people to vote for them!

Ron Kerronian

I really found this article to be very insightful. I know many will complain that it’s too long, but it needed to b e said in this method; that way only those that value vital information will make the time to read it.


A psychologist named Leon Festinger did a great study on this. He observed that when fanatical beliefs are proved irrefutably false, people believe in them MORE STRONGLY afterward.

There are 5 conditions under which this happens, and the two I believe are most relevant to sales are:

– the person must have COMMITTED to the belief, must have taken some action that it would be difficult or humiliating to undo
– the person must have SOCIAL SUPPORT for the belief. A lone deviant is more likely to be convinced than someone who has the support of a group of like-minded people to support one another.

The latter is especially important in the internet age, as people with similar beliefs can easily find (or at least become aware of) each other.

Here’s the full wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_Prophecy_Fails


Gail Robertson

Derek, that’s a very inciteful article. I will point out, though, that the medical field is notorious for making statements which are later proven wrong. Examples: no one dies of asthma (doctors now know that some do); “fibromyalgia is all in the head” (my late husband suffered for many years with it, and my mother had it also for a few years). It might turn out that it isn’t the gluten itself which people react negatively to, but some element of it (say, an enzyme found in abundance in it). Bottom line: Let the doctors and researchers find out the ‘why’ later. If you feel ill when you do something or eat something, stop doing or eating it.

About beliefs and psychology, you’re ‘spot-on’, in my opinion. I just do a ‘workaround’. Example: My mother’s dog had been badly abused before my mother rescued it. So I started massaging the back and at the top of the tail (where they like it), then doing tiny choppings with the side of my hand, which is also very relaxing. The dog loved it, and I kept saying I was ‘beating her up’, etc. in a singsong tone. Soon she became quite happy to get ‘beat up’ and even played a bit.

When a negative association is replaced by a positive association, the more immediate one (the positive one) becomes the stronger memory and emotional attachment.

And that is what you are advocating, I think, Derek. And I know from the above and other experience that it does indeed work.



Dale Rickenbach

I’m done with real estate. I’m going into the Bidet business. Time to start winning over hearts and minds and …

Great post! Well thought out, constructed and supported. Steppin’ out from in front of the screen and putting together a superbly written blog! Who knew? Keep up the great work!


Enjoyed this article – though I’ll admit that the luxury of sitting back and watching your videos has made me a lazy reader :}

Noticed on your site that Social Triggers was featured or mentioned in Psychology Today – I really like that magazine 🙂 Do you have a link to the article you were in? I’d love to read it.

Evan Marc Katz

Dating and relationship advice is filled with people putting the emotional over the rational. People will defend their bad choices all day long, because it’s too hard to admit that they could possibly be wrong. These are the folks who have sex on the first date, exclusively communicate through text, get married in six months out of passion and wonder why things never seem to work out. When you question them, they will cling to their bad choices, instead of questioning their original premises. I always wonder how to win their hearts when they do not seem to acknowledge the logic and statistics that contradict them.


Great article Derek! Reminds me of the Febreze invention story.

Bryan Clark

Just found another example on Facebook today, regarding the EPA approving Pesticides that threaten the health of Bees and even Mammals (aka Us!). It’s a fine example of cognitive dissonance. We hear it’s bad, but keep buying what the giants like Monsanto produce!

    Meredith Laskow

    That’s because Monsanto bought most of our beloved elected officials, for whom the greatest emotional trigger is $$$$$$$. People and bees be damned.


And that is precisely how religion works.


    Also politics. “Debates” in Congress (and everywhere else) consist of just a series of speeches. There’s no real back and forth, no one’s mind is changed, no one is even paying attention. The founding fathers pictured a system in which reason prevails when everything is openly discussed. It doesn’t happen.

Kyle Alm

Bias is the worst human condition, at least that’s my unalterable opinion

    Steve Hansen

    I do not agree with you and cannot be convinced otherwise!

Tres Adames

Examples of companies that use feelings over facts?

Disney. Hands down. Hence why they upped their theme park admission to $96 and people will still pay in droves.

Tjark Hartmann

Great stuff, but hopefully nobody goes into dangerous grounds doing this. For example it’s probably best to avoid religious or controversial beliefs such as a abortion — that’s when things can get messy.

Scott Nixon

Great article Derek!

Climate change is real. Because the US National Academy of Sciences adn British Royal Society said so.


Paleo is almost the same diet as Atkins.



    Scott, I take your tongue-in-cheek and I’ll just comment that Atkins was intended to drastically cut blood sugar levels (and it works great for that) and Paleo is similar only in that it starts with real food like meat, but also tons of veggies – anything that’s not processed is pretty cool. 🙂 Cheers!


I have a natural skin care business and I see this all the time, especially when it comes to preservatives. A few articles say something is bad, then even after real scientific studies are done disproving the original articles, nothing can convince some people that the original articles weren’t really true in the first place. By now, people have changed their behavior and expectations – even the big companies have changed their formulas (a little) and greenwashing becomes the new issue.

I combat this by focusing on what is in my products rather than what is not. I’d never tell anyone their beliefs are wrong but rather focus on other facts in an effort to get people to be more informed personal care buyers overall. People will make their own conclusions, I don’t wish to preach to anyone.


Great article! I enjoyed the written form on this one for sure. Makes it easier to digest the information at our own pace, great decision :). Thanks for always providing valuable information.


Derek, though I’ve followed you for several years and was rather perplexed to see gluten sensitivity show up as part of your article series, I’m rather disappointed that you use cite the FODMAP study which does not at all prove that gluten sensitivity is fake (or a myth). If anything, the study doesn’t prove one way or another if gluten sensitivity is real because it looks at a group of foods (called FODMAPs) which all have a type of fiber known to cause digestive distress in certain people because of how it breaks down. Wheat happens to be a part of the FODMAP family, so sure… removing FODMAPs would alleviate the digestive symptoms.

The problem here is that gluten sensitivity is more than just digestive problems. It affects skin, the brain, the immune system, joints, etc. The study did not look at those effects… only digestive which is what FODMAPs will affect. Therefore, to make a blanket statement such as “gluten sensitivity is fake” simply because removing FODMAPs stopped digestive distress doesn’t add up.

And if I wanted to put myself up there as part of the proof that it proves nothing… I’ve been GF for 6 years… I’m italian and eat tons of onions and garlic (both of which are in the FODMAP family) and have no problems. But removing gluten resulted in massive changes (which I do have a striking Before and After picture (which you’ve talked about) on my site).

I get that you aren’t trying to educate people here about gluten and are using this “hot headline” right now to get people to consider your point of view, but all those articles using that headline are misleading, overreaching, and inaccurate. They make recommendations that are also incorrect such as suggesting people who claim to have gluten sensitivity go get tested for celiac which isn’t actually possible once you’ve been gluten free for too long (as I have).

Clearly you’ll gather from my answer that this is what I do… I am an expert in the gluten free world and find it really sad that a headline gets more attention despite it’s evidence and suggestions failing incredibly short. The power of belief is a strong thing… to that I will agree, but in this case, I’m not sure the use of the FODMAP study (and thus, the gluten sensitivity issue) was the best example to make your case with.

    Michelle Roberts

    Jennifer, you are 100% spot on with your comments. I am baffled as to why anyone cares whether I eat gluten or not, but apparently the topic has now invaded my online business space as well.

    I’m sure there were countless studies back in the day that showed tobacco was harmless, and well….. we all know how THAT turned out.

    A better example to prove the point in this article would have been comparing global warming to the hospital example, but who wants to touch global warming with a 10-foot pole in online business? Besides the fact that this post was surely written to capitalize off the popularity of the anti-GF article that is currently circulating, which is smart.

    Derek Halpern

    Hi Jennifer,

    Did you miss the part where I said: I’m no food expert – or Food Babe – so I won’t comment on the validity (or invalidity) of her claim…

    I don’t know if its real or fake. Like countless other people, I try to avoid it as best as I can because I’m of the mind “Well, it sure can’t hurt.”

    I’m merely pointing out how people respond to that study.


      Derek, I did see the Food Babe part. To me the better question to ask is this : Why are so many people so hell-bent on disbelieving in gluten sensitivity that they’d share and regurgitate the headline (sometime with what seems like glee) “Gluten sensitivity is fake” despite the lacking real hard facts to back it up?

      I think you make an excellent point that beliefs are a powerful thing… but they cut both ways. I often wonder what does come first… is it the science or is it our beliefs which we then use the science as back up? One study doesn’t necessarily make a condition fake nor does it prove it’s existence.

      Anyways… I just wanted to point this stuff out. I admit it’s been challenging to get the word out to these various big media sites (like WSJ and even Fox News (despite having my having a back and forth with the host via twitter about why the study doesn’t prove anything and offering to dispute it)) that what they are reporting is not accurate. It’s sexy to jump on the “gluten free sucks bandwagon”. For those of us with real issues from gluten, it’s sad. But I keep plugging away doing what I’m doing making dents where I can.


        They want to disprove gluten sensitivity because without the masses consuming large amounts of grains that contain gluten we’d all likely starve.

        Adam Roseland

        I don’t know the truth about Gluten either… but you are a perfect example of Derek’s article here. You have written 8 paragraphs in the “comments” section just trying to defend your belief (and your website).

        It makes me wonder if you actually read the article… or just immediately put up the wall of defense.

        Im sure the doctors washing their hands felt the same way you do 🙂


          Adam, your comment is ironic.
          You have stated that you don’t know the truth about gluten, but, having been convinced by an article that has been written by another person who admits that he is not an expert on the subject, you have accepted his belief that a person who believes in a gluten intolerance is the one who is clinging on to a false belief. And having read an educated and well written reply by a person with an alternative belief, who DOES claim to have considerable knowledge and experience of the subject, you are refusing to consider the validity of the view of the informed person, and have instead decided to mock her.

        Derek Halpern

        I hear where you’re coming from and I’m sorry that its hard to get the word out. But again, I’m neither the person nor the medium to do it. This is site about persuasion, marketing, and business for now ;-).

        A site like Food Babe on the other hand…

Solo Salinas

Amazing article and very true. If you’re reading this article with skeptical eyes, I can assure you, you’re not reading it wisely. Good stuff Derek.

What’s interesting to point out is there are going to be people who read this and refuse the information because it goes against their beliefs. Maybe that capturing people’s emotions is evil and manipulative.

We know of course, that’s not true.. unless you’re selling evil.

Like I said though, good read. I’m used to your videos but it’s interesting how I read this whole article. It’s as if this article had a higher perceived value than your videos. Odd because I never read articles.

Shawn Dady

I agree with Jennifer. I love the videos because you’re so fun and engaging, and also because the outtakes make me laugh!
Shawn D.


This is THE HEART of what I feel everyone struggles with. People doing my eCourse right now are repeating over-and-over this astounding phenomenon: they experience resistance to the assignment to the tune of “it will take too long”, “I will appear silly”, “what’s the point of doing it?” Then they do the assignment anyway, actually enjoy it, and get AMAZING realizations and results because of it. And this is not just with one assignment — it’s all of them. Even after they went through this resistance before.

So yes, my teacher coined the expression, “I’ll see it when I believe it” for a reason — because we choose our beliefs over our experience.

What I have found that seems to help is for people to see others overcoming this resistance and the results they are having on the other side. It’s encouraging and motivating to them because I suspect they needed someone else to test the waters first. When they saw it was not only safe but fun and exciting — then they jump in too! Takes me back to my high dive days as a kid…

Thanks Derek!

In lovingkindness,



I usually start my blog posts out with a story related to what I’m going to teach. Is this a good way to make that emotional connection?


Leadership 101 – “People don’t always remember what you say or even what you do, but they always remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou.

Daniel Reifenberger

Anti-vaccination folks focus on their feelings of keeping their children safe, even though evidence overwhelmingly supports the opposite opinion.

I get started by talking to a whole bunch of Anti-vaccination folks to deeply understand their emotions behind the issue.

Then communicate back, using their own language, to show that I understand there feelings on the subject.

Finally, show them that vaccinating their children is inline with their feelings.

Jonathan Westwood

Climate change/global warming: 97% of scientists say it’s real and caused by human beings, but too many of the world’s politicians refuse to accept the science. I’d show them a video simulating the conditions in which their grandchildren would have to live if we continue to do nothing to address the problem.


    With all due respect, more than 97% of the doctors in Derek’s example were convinced that a gentleman’s hands could not transmit disease.

    The models make TONS of assumptions. We have seen over and over again that the models have been incredibly wrong. I think we can say that global temps are up – a little – and that is caused by…. something. To suggest that it’s because of man refuses to acknowledge other factors (e.g. could it be more intense sun activity on long cycles that eclipse the cycle of temperature data that we have? What about the fact that the temperatre monitoring station technology has changed during the last 100 years and the temperatures have not been normalized from that change? What about the fact that data collection is inconsistent?)

    There is a lot going on in this discussion, and I think we need more data and less emotions in this discussion.


Great article, Derek. I actually read this immediately, where as I tend to save the videos to watch later 😉

I see this principle at work all the time as it relates to politics, health, relationships, investment decisions.

Our mind, and our beliefs, are powerful forces to reckon with.

    Derek Halpern

    Interesting that you usually save videos for later.


      Hi Derek

      I usually save the videos for later as well. I can read your copy much faster than watching the videos at work.

      Great article!


        I like the videos also, but most times I pass because they consume too much time. I’ll save them for later and most of the time I will forget about them.

        Now if we could only have a transcript under the video…


I’m starting to talk about business planning using your tactics because I’m noticing quite a polarization in the business community over whether or not they’re necessary. Entrepreneur and Inc. have all kinds of articles espousing both sides of the argument, and it’s time for me to get in on this debate. As a business plan writer and trainer, of course I think they’re necessary, in some form or another – and let’s face it, a pitch deck or a vision board is still a business plan, even if you don’t call it that.

But I can think of countless examples of people ignoring the facts. A good one from Vancouver is the debate over bike lanes. Pro-cycling people constantly push for more and more lanes to increase safetly, ignoring the fact that the way our city has built the separated bike lanes has actually increased the number of accidents that happen where the lanes meet vehicle intersections. Yet the city spends almost no money on improving the intersections! Instead we just get MORE BIKE LANES. (and I’m an avid cyclist myself) Argh! Drives me crazy!


Thanks so much for the insight article, Derek!

Appreciate the humor of your bidet example as well.
🙂 Rodney


I’m gluten free. I know exactly how I’ve spent countless conversations trying to convince people that certain food avoidance and some supplementation for nutrients is essential to stay healthy….”hey look at the stats!”….I’ve been called a kook, that’s not a compliment…but I’ve convinced myself that I like being called a Kook!!! 🙂

However, I have two new companies, a Pet supplements company (above) and Marketing/Business Mgr for my wife’s Naturopathic Clinic here in Toronto…..and we are about to launch a “Corporate Athlete” program. However the obstacle is convincing these guys under stress that they need us….they are the most skeptical. I don’t have a NONDATA answer yet, I’m about to plough thru mounds of data to come up with PPTs but now I’m going to step back. For pet supplements it’s kinda easy, the “love” for animals is amazingly emotional, we sell “happiness” and keep your dogs out of the hospital, but for people, we have to figure it out. Thanks Derek!! Onwards and upwards! Kindly.


    I’m in the health world too and it’s funny how people easily spend a fortune on their pets and cars but not on themselves!


Great post! One of my favorites.

My sister works in a private school and the debate about whether or not vaccinations cause autism is running rampant, again. Parents want to enroll their daughters in the private school. However, some of the girls didn’t receive their immunizations. The school’s policy is that all students must be vaccinated.

The way to change parents minds may be with the following: no immunization, no private or public education. Parents may have to quit their jobs and home school their kids.

Schools are refusing to admit children for the next school year because they don’t have all of their shots. And if you’re from another country, make sure you bring your child’s immunization records with you. Don’t pack them up! Otherwise, your child won’t be enrolled in school, and you’ll have to pay to have the records shipped to the U.S.


    If vaccinations actually work, then why are the officials so afraid of allowing unvaccinated kids into their schools? The vaccinated kids would not be affected even if one of the illnesses supposedly prevented by vaccinations broke out. That would be a surefire way to prove their point.


    Forcing parents to immunise their children by not allowing their children to attend school is not actually changing their minds or belief.

    It’s forcing them to do something that they believe is wrong – it’s not the same thing that is being discussed here.


Great article Derek. I’ve written a few articles on confirmation bias – it’s a particular problem in the UK insurance industry where a relatively dull product range is saddled with the perception that “it’ll never pay out” even though it does.

Lorraine Grula

The entire world of politics is replete with instances of this mindset. It is fascinating to say the least. Emotional triggers seem to always be more effective motivators than intellectual ones.

Bryan Clark

Awesome post Derek – You are spot on!

As a Mindset Coach (helping people shift beliefs), and a User Experience Architect, I notice this all the time (and I often prefer Qualitative research because of the richer insights it provides, compared to “the numbers”).

The comments below the Apple 1984 commercial on YouTube, are a perfect example of people emotionally rationalizing and defending their identities to avoid change. The “Apple Haters” won’t even consider trying an Apple product, even if it’s truly better for them. They cling to their Google and Samsung (and nothing wrong with that). I’ve personally owned both Apple and Samsung phones, and perhaps due to my user experience filter on the world, I appreciate the intricacies of Apple’s devices – so it’s right for me. But, I don’t buy things from them just because they made it.

I think a lot of people buy Technology devices like Smart phones based on “Dumb” logic (or lack thereof – they fear change and hold onto their emotional attachments).

And it’s funny you should mention the bidet! No joke, I was just thinking of that the other day. Know where I can buy one? 🙂 Thanks for all you do, and Blog That Converts rocks!


Loved seeing the reaction to this article when you posted on Facebook and love even more seeing how you used it for this post. Such a great lesson to learn in just that! Great article, thanks.


Attitude polarization is everywhere, especially with fan bases of competing, similar products.

Budweiser / Miller

White Sox / Cubs

Vitamix / Blendtec

How do you change their mind? I think the opposite approach is better. Make zero attempt to change their mind.

Strengthen their resolve by standing steadfastly with YOUR pole. Don’t discredit their side. Don’t waiver, either.

Take your side with bold conviction. They may not change. But, you’ve effectively entered their hearts and minds.

And that’s a win.

Plus, anyone who originally shared your belief now sees you in higher regard.

Good things,

P.S. No video?

    Derek Halpern

    No video for this. But ill still run video regularly 😉



I am an old time reader. I love psychology and how YOU have taken it to such “practical” levels.

But this article, Derek, THIS article right here!

Just wow. It is so beautifully and powerfully mixed together with data and logic and emotion… that I can’t even differentiate between them! You, sir, have now won over a vocal fan.

Rivka Kawano

Great article Derek! I have seen this happen over and over. Which is why the first step to persuasion is not speaking, but listening. 🙂

Also, I think acknowledging people’s experience is critical. So the gluten researchers for example could focus on the fact that something is making people sick and how important it is to isolate what it really is so that we can help more people. You don’t want to let the real bad guy get away because the wrong one is in jail kind of thing.

It will be interesting to see where this goes!

    Darcy Jones | The Supper Model

    Like this take @Rivka – and very interesting article @Derek- read it twice and definitely has me thinking about how to apply this to my fashion, food, beauty and lifestyle blog in a smart way since the space is so saturated with fashion/style type bloggers– since I am not selling a particular product, I am selling me as a brand or rather me as the go-to stylist to help you beautify your life…
    I now will be asking everyone around me who reads style blogs what they don’t like, do like, want, and WHY! Thank you.

    @TheSupperModel (Twitter Instagram Facebook)

    Jing “Jing-jing” Lam

    Indeed. Listening is better than talking.

      Dave Edwards

      I like that angle! I imagine these feelings are normally born out of a pain (either real or imagined) and a a need to hold something or someone to blame. A quick way to cast doubt on pre held beliefs would be to suggest that they ‘have the wrong man’! Then adjust their focus and your point of view could then be heard more clearly and with less bias. Thinking in these terms has really been beneficial for what I’m trying to achieve in the health and fitness world…thanks Derek 🙂

    Derek Halpern

    You’re right on both counts


Politics – People will believe whatever they ‘feel’ and any data you present is of course wrong.

    Jennifer Schade

    Religion! I was raised in a household of devout Jehovah’s Witnesses!

    I loved it!

      Eyram Sotome

      You are proving the point of this article.

      Don’t bash Jehovah because you don’t want to serve him. Unlike most people who are reading this article, he actually cares about you (and so do I).

      Be brave 🙂


I can only assume that your “changing it up” here is some kind of psychological experiment to see how many people will actually read the article. It’s too long! lol Bring back the videos! 😉


    Yes you’re right. Who’s got time to read these days 🙂

    Kamila Gornia

    Haha I thought the same thing, Jennifer 😉

      Anne Michelsen

      Me, too! Loved this post – and sneaked it in between projects on a busy day. I would have passed up a video as too time consuming!


    I really missed your longer articles, so thanks for that! 🙂

      Meredith Laskow

      I personally prefer reading to video. I can read an article of this length faster than I can listen to a video.

      I skip over 50% of the videos because I perceive of them as taking too much time. Also, some days I just can’t take one more byte of sound coming from anywhere.

      Maybe have a written transcript of your videos? That way, everyone can process information how it best suits them.

      Thanks for your good work!

    Derek Halpern

    Don’t worry. The videos aren’t going anywhere.

      Kingsly Tan (@kingslyctan)

      The story is so well stated. As I’m reading, I kept thinking of the republicans who keep on deny climate change… No amount of data can persuade a polarized people.

      Thanks Derek.


        But Kingsly isn’t that what’s great about this post, it means we CAN change their minds, we just have to reach their hearts and save the data for when they’re listening…

      Diane Dennis

      Thank you so much Derek for the written version vs. a video. I do love your videos, they’re a lot of fun, but due to some of my problems related to my Autism I am unable to learn from videos, I need it written. So again thank you so much!


        You should have both video and a transcript.. i didnt have enough time to read it all… lol

          Allison Rapp

          Mitch– from someone who does have videos AND transcripts of them… the video takes a quite a bit longer than reading the words. 2,000 words is LONG video, so if time is the issue… unless of course, you don’t have your eye Derek every second of the video.

      Lisa Robbin Young

      Videos are great for quick takeaways, but I like digging into the meat of the research and referencing the deeper content. Thanks for changing it up, Derek.


      Thank goodness. I read and write all day long. Anymore than that and I’m just done. lol

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