You're not what you think you are!


Lisa Charlotte Rost at #rp17

It's never been easier to access information, knowledge and data. Yet, we still we vote Trump, don't vaccinate our children, don't believe in climate change. What happened? Lisa Charlotte Rost sets out on a journey, in search of our minds.

Where do false beliefs come from? Why is it so hard to get rid of them? And how can we encourage believing in the truth? For years, designer Lisa Charlotte Rost has been engaging with data, numbers and statistics. She has committed herself to data visualisation and data journalism. At re:publica she explains why we cling to wrong ways of thinking and how we can convince others of a different reality.

We don't want to change…
For starters we need to understand the origins of false beliefs, says Rost. Her theory: people believe fake news and “alternative facts” because they become a trademark of one's own identity. Rost calls this “tribalisation”. By demonstrating which team you're on, you cling to your own identity supported by the belief patterns of your environment. “We want to make sure that we are good members of the “tribe”,” says Rost. It's not about truths or lies but instead about trust.

“The more information we are exposed to that contradicts our belief patterns, the more we cling onto them”, according to Rost. There will always be some evidence that support our views. 

….but we can.

But even so, Rost remains optimistic that you can break free of these patterns. Curiosity is the key for change. “If you are interested in a change, then it is much more likely that you will take part in it”, so Rost. It seems hard to let go of old thought patterns and the influence of your surroundings or to show others a new perspective. But for both there are solutions: asking questions, being open and empathetic; by continuously reinventing oneself. “Change your attitude”, says Rost. “You're not what you think you are!”

She doesn't want to talk anyone out of having a strong opinion – in spite of what being flexible offers. “Don't stop believing” encourages Rost. The best is “strong beliefs, loosely held”: a strong position, which however you are prepared to revise.

By Ivy Nortey, Rachelle Pouplier

Photo credit: Gregor Fischer (CC BY-SA 2.0)