The best exploration of this idea that I’ve found is by Skeptical Science and called “The Debunking Handbook”. In a few easy to understand pages they lay out how to address bad information without reinforcing it.
Of course, this guide is aimed at one-way communcation; blogs, articles, and presentations.
For conversations with friends, I’ve had some successes with the Socratic Method. You have to approach the conversation with a genuine desire to understand their views, try to avoid making any critical statements, and ask sincere questions. If you both walk away with a better perspective, that’s all you can hope for. NOBODY changes their mind on the spot, the best you can do is to leave them with some questions they weren’t able to answer. You have to be willing to leave it there, and wait a few weeks for them to mull it over.
Often times, I didn’t know I had changed a mind until months or years later when they let me know. You may not be able to change minds, but you can Inception them.
If anyone else had had succeses changing minds, or has had their mind changed about an unscientific topic, I want to hear from you! I’m working on an interview series called “What Changed Your Mind” and I’d be happy to have you participate. Feel free to reach me by email, twitter, or here in the comments!
Study after study shows that directly confronting opinions only causes a backfire effect.
All the cool kids get pertussis!
There has to be some way to change her mind.
I hear measles are F-U-N!
You're not really helping.
Don't worry Timmy, you're just covered in tickles!