How can we think independently and not be influenced by other people’s words?

Why do I believe everything others say? How can I have independent judgment?

I think of one thing that happened last year.

Because of my work, I met a trainer. The teacher was going to develop a thematic course on ” persuasion”. My task was to do a thematic interview on this new course. She has a product that sells a lecture course at a very expensive price of over 100,000. The interview lasted for 40min, and the content was probably about her own entrepreneurial experience, how hard she worked, what setbacks she experienced, and how she developed her industry to the present level through speeches and sales. She looked into my eyes all the time when she was speaking, and she spoke very fast. From time to time there were some small body touches. I was gradually substituted into her situation.

The point came, when I went, the purpose was to ” do interviews”; The result was that I wanted to buy her hundreds of thousands of classes ( but I hesitated because I had no money ).

When the interview was drawing to a close, suddenly there was a customer visiting. She got up and left first, leaving me and another colleague in the conference room. My colleague slapped me on the shoulder – I seemed to have just had a long dream and woke up suddenly.

I have always believed that rationality and objectivity are my greatest characteristics, but I was completely different from myself when I was impulsive. The most strange thing is that I went back to sort out the verbatim transcript according to the recording, and the content looked ordinary. In any case, I can’t imagine why I almost wanted to pay for it.

Later, when we met again, it was at another meeting of the teacher. The pattern is that you come to a lecture with very cheap tickets, and at the end of the lecture you will sell the standard class of over 100,000 yuan. As a result, I found that most of the students present showed a similar reaction to mine at that time – they were completely controlled by her story and their emotions followed her words with ups and downs.

I couldn’t close my mouth in surprise.


This is probably my latest experience from ” brainwashing”. Later, I met a friend of the psychological counseling industry association and learned that it was called ” applied hypnosis.”

Such a powerful and dominated experience may not be experienced by everyone, but you must have encountered the following situations:

When you applied for a volunteer, you listened to what other people said about your major. After graduation, your salary was high, so you did not hesitate to choose that major. When you were in college, you saw your roommates and classmates going to clubs and student unions. You also got a hot name and didn’t care that you even had difficulty in studying well. When you brush your circle of friends, you see an article that says, ” all pretty girls have their own property of burning money.” So you save money, save up half a year’s salary to buy expensive bags and cosmetics, in order to be a ” delicate pig girl”; You see someone saying, ” Your peers are abandoning you”; When you enter a community, everyone’s self-introduction is awesome and glittering. You feel nothing like others. Therefore, I made an early rising plan, a reading plan, a fitness plan, a hand-drawn study, a writing study, and everything, but the time is so short that you have learned nothing but to make yourself more anxious. When I wrote microblog, I saw everyone scolding a person. You believe he must be a bad person. Although you don’t know him, you joined the camp attacking him.

You envy other people’s independent thinking and ability to think independently, but when you face every choice, you choose to ” believe it.”


Why is this so?

There are two fundamental reasons.

First, whether it is a brainwashing class or a self-media that creates anxiety, they are too ” aware” of human nature. I don’t blame you for this, because they say so and write so that you can make corresponding responses according to carefully designed links. You just follow their path. People like me who think they are rational have to see all the routines before they can be unmoved.

Second, the information is seriously asymmetric. The motivation behind your decision to go out and pay the bill and forward it must be that you think ” what you said is too reasonable.” The reason why you think what you said is reasonable is mostly that it is a preconceived idea for you. You have not heard other different voices, so you think he must be right.

If you want to learn to think independently and not be swayed by what others say, you must make more rational and less emotional decisions. At the same time, you must break down information barriers and reverse this one-way situation of receiving information.


How can we do this to keep rational thinking and not be rhythmic by others?

First, if you want to be more rational, you must improve your logical thinking. Everything must be done according to the requirements of the cause, and every conclusion must be supported by sufficient arguments.

Teacher Zhao Zhou provided 8 dimensions for analyzing and sorting out information in ” It is enough to read like this”:

The key to analyzing information is to ask about the causes and consequences.

Former ( previous lesson ): why is this important to me? How did he get this information? Cause ( cause and effect ): What assumptions about cause have the author put forward? How are these assumptions verified or excluded? Is there any other possibility? Later ( to see the effect later ): What happens if you follow the information and do it? What is the benefit ( utility ) to me? Results: What are the consequences of not doing so? How serious is the problem of no change?

The key to organizing information is the applicable boundary.

Suitability ( counterproductive ): Is there a contrary view? Are there any instances that do not support this? Use ( conditions of use ): to do this, what specific conditions are required ( considering cost and income, considering attitude and ability … )? Under what circumstances does it not work? Side ( beat about the bush ): was there any similar ( or at first glance similar ) information before? How do other fields / industries / authors view similar issues? Boundary ( Chu River and Han Boundary ): Whether it is opposite or similar information, what is the real difference from this information? Where is the border?

When you are not sure whether the speech you are listening to or the article you are reading is ” really reasonable” or ” inciting emotions”, you can try this method for analysis:

Let’s take an example from my own Zhihu’s answer ” How to Improve Learning Ability”. The case is to use the above-mentioned ” antecedents and consequences, applicable boundary” method to disassemble Mimoun’s then article ” why do I support interns to suspend their studies”:

– why is this important to me? – Well, I ( or my family ) am studying in university, while Mimoun supports suspension, which has something to do with me. Note that if this place is judged to be ” unimportant to me”, you can close this article directly. If you think it is not important to continue to look at it, the next minute will not do you any good except become sunk cost.

How did the author get this information? – Her intern took a major she didn’t like and dropped out of school for her ” liking”. The author supports and thinks, ” You should drop out of school for liking.”

– What assumptions about causes have the author put forward? The author thinks: ① Many courses in universities are too lack of nutrition, wasting time and life. ( 2 ) the most difficult thing in life is to find what you like. if you find it, do it, regardless of the mundane standards of bullshit. ( 3 ) In the Internet era, those wild talents are often the most explosive.

– How do you verify or exclude these assumptions? – for hypothesis 1, she cited some examples to confirm her point of view. Please note here that her sample was put forward to support her own point of view. She did not mention how many teachers in the crowd were ” extremely unwilling” and only vaguely said ” many teachers” without any support from authoritative data. For hypothesis 2, the author did not demonstrate. What do you like? How do you decide if you really like it? Is there a standard to refer to? How to calculate ” found?” This is an unfounded argument. For hypothesis 3, what the ” professor at Peking university” said in the argument was actually said by an educator from Harvard, who attached great importance to basic education. The author’s argument contradicts his own.

– Is there any other possibility? – I may be able to find my ” favorite career” after graduation. I have not only obtained my diploma but also realized my wish. It is also possible to ” fulfill one’s wish” while studying in university. It is also possible that one cannot find one’s ” love” all one’s life. It is also possible that she has dropped out of school and failed in her career of ” liking” and has not become a ” successful person” in her whole life. It is also possible that from tomorrow on, you will work hard and become a student bully.

– What happens if you follow the information? What is the benefit ( utility ) to me? According to the author, I should drop out of school. The possible good result is that I have reached the peak of my life by honing in the society, and the bad result is that I may not get a diploma and accomplish nothing.

– what are the consequences of not doing so? How serious is the problem of no change? – I may maintain the status quo, not bad not bad after four years. It doesn’t seem to matter much if it doesn’t change.

How can we think independently and not be influenced by other people’s words?

Consider again the applicable boundary:

– Is there a contrary view? Are there any instances that do not support this? – yes. The author herself is an example that does not support her point of view. The author is a master of arts from Shandong University. She lets her children go to the best school but supports interns to drop out of school.

– to do so, what specific conditions ( considering cost and income, considering attitude and ability … )? Under what circumstances does it not work? – The author did not give any specific conditions. If I want to do this, I must first consider the cost of suspension. If the ” thing you like” fails, you may have to retake the college entrance examination, which is a bit expensive. I earn money by writing. What if my inspiration runs out? What if readers don’t like what I write? What if I don’t earn enough money to spend? What is the first threshold for the media company I want to go to? These are all factors that I have to consider.

– Was there any similar ( or at first glance similar ) information before? How do other fields / industries / authors view similar issues? – yes, ” reading is useless”. Two of them are: one is that people with higher education work for people with less education; The other is to read many books and forget them. Point one focuses on ” single cause” leading to ” single result”, in fact, the cause of this result is complicated; Point 2 does not take into account that ” the results are diverse”, that is, ” social status and economic income may be different without reading, but only sees the aspect of” forgetting “.

– whether it is the opposite or similar information, and what is the real difference between this information? Where is the border? – Different angles. The focus of this article is on ” ideal” and the two above are on ” cause and effect”. On the contrary, the first few respondents to the Zhihu question, ” How do you think of” Mimoun: Why do I support interns to drop out of school? ” focused on different aspects such as morality, marketing strategy, and economic level.

Second, to reduce information asymmetry, the best way is to have more information sources and more first-hand information.

When you see a hot news on the Internet, don’t just focus on the hot spot itself. You have to see which media released the news and whether some subjective descriptions were used in the report ( in fact, there have been news truth reversals before ). If there are a lot of tendentious subjective descriptions, you will have doubts about the authenticity.

When you really want to learn a subject, settle down and read a monograph instead of feeling that you can do everything after reading a dry article. Paid app for knowledge such as ” get” has many columns that explain a subject ” in a simple way”. these columns are very useful for building interest, but we can’t just stay on ” interest” in learning. I am also a deep user of ” getting”, but I regard its ” listening to a book every day” as a function of ” selecting books” rather than ” replacing reading books”. Take all kinds of master classes and columns as an introduction to interest, learn how they tell stories and condense knowledge points, instead of feeling that they have mastered a subject after listening to the columns.


To sum up:

There are two main reasons for believing others’ opinions easily and being led by others’ words:

First, you are facing a ” persuader” with high skill.

Second, you have too little information and there is serious information asymmetry, so you think it is right to give a message.

To maintain the ability to think rationally and independently, one must:

First, everything goes back to its source, stressing logic and facts.

Second, expand the sources of information and do not believe in the words of one family. Learn from the source of information, not infatuated with second-hand and third-hand knowledge.

It’s easier said than done. I hope everyone can cultivate calm, rational and objective as soon as possible. It’s also a rare growth.