Because none of us have direct, unfiltered access to the truth. Because human beings would’ve died off millenia ago if our brains were wired to give us “just the facts, ma’am.”
Because “the facts,” by which you mean the physical universe, never act purely in our favor. Far more often, they work against us.
Back then, we were smaller, softer, and slower than every other predator in the jungle. Today, we are born into debt, addicted to food that doesn’t nourish us, and drying out our planet faster than we can find a way off of it.
The only reason why human beings have prospered so far is our ability to tell stories. Especially to ourselves. We can only survive the challenges to come by finding the right stories to tell ourselves.
The good news is that human beings frequently do things that are impossible. We do these things because they make sense in the logic of our stories. In fact, our impossible feats almost never feel impossible in the moment. We only look back afterwards and say, “Wow, how did I pull that off?”
This is not to say all stories are created equal. Plenty of stories are junk. Plenty of stories will lead you right back to the chaos and suffering of “the facts.” Some stories, bizarrely, will make your life even worse than that.
The solution then is not facts, but a better story. To cut off another human being from story, which is our lifeblood and birthright, is cruel. No wonder people bristle when you tell them to “face the facts” or “be realistic.” You might as well ask them to handle raw sewage without gloves.
If you want to change someone’s mind about something, you will fail. You will fail the first 100 times, at least. You will have to fight for every scrap of attention and goodwill you are asking for, because you are asking them to risk death for an unclear reward.
Still, if you are committed to the long game, and you believe it’s existentially important to change the other person’s mind, here’s what you can do: tell them a better story.
Tell a story that is more daring.
Tell a story that is more vivid.
Tell a story that is more heartfelt.
Tell a story that is more thoughtful.
Tell a story that is more playful.
Tell a story that is more detailed.
Tell a story that is more exciting.
Tell a story that is more breathtaking.
Leaning on “the facts” is lazy. It ignores your innate human gift. You were designed to do better. You will be happier, more powerful, and more fulfilled if you embrace storytelling.
For the record, the greatest scientists who ever lived were all master storytellers. They advanced the scientific community by telling their peers stories about their findings. They didn’t fold their arms and glare at them, saying, “these are the facts.”
It’s always their opinion, because their opinions come from their story.