Excellent piece, and I've long held similar thoughts. Beliefs are tied to identity, which is one reason it's hard to change minds. Also, being part of a group (tribalism) meets the primal, psychological need of belongingness. Both result in confirmation bias, which is common in most people (I've seen).

I know that I've gradually changed my mind about some issues over the years - never because of attacks or bullying. Attacks put me on the defensive or made me close down (normal human response). What's helped: Reading a variety of information with an open mind. Asking questions related to what I thought made sense or didn't. Knowing that facts are not permanent (see COVID-19 and its continually changing facts as new information emerges). Acknowledging that science (or other authoritative sources) isn't perfect, but it's the best we have. Recognizing that we should all ask questions rather than take information as irrefutable - even if we trust the source. (E.g., Yes, big pharma is evil, but the industry does good and is often the best we have.)

When people use the phrase, "They don't believe in science," I cringe. It's not that they don't believe in science; they don't agree with it. And it's not all science, it's some science. Not agreeing with science isn't like not believing in the Tooth Fairy. Another commenter said, "And when you say 'science denier' it sounds a lot like 'heretic' or 'blasphemer'." I agree with that statement and that there is a potential for abuse, which does happen. Again, there is no perfect system. It helps if people are aware of that. Acknowledge that science is not infallible, but it's often life-saving. Trust but ask questions such as, "What is my best option at this moment?" "What does the least amount of harm?" Sometimes it's the lesser of the evils. Sometimes you need to leap and hope for the best. We put ourselves in danger just leaving the house, but we do it anyway.

P.S. Wear a mask, keep your distance and follow regulations - if not for your own health, then for those around you, and so you don't look like you don't care about humanity. The longer people protest the advice of what might keep us safe, the longer the pandemic will continue, and the longer you'll go with restricted freedoms. Compromise your comfort now so that it can be over with sooner.

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