You will struggle to convince someone of something they are cognitively unable to comprehend.

The concept suggests that no matter how much you try to persuade or explain an idea to someone, if they don’t have the capacity or ability to understand it, they won’t be convinced. It is not just about the lack of knowledge, but also about the lack of capacity to perceive or comprehend a particular concept.

It is essential to acknowledge that people have different cognitive abilities, experiences, and backgrounds that shape their perspectives and beliefs. Therefore, what might be evident to one person may not be as apparent to another. For instance, a complex scientific theory may be easily understood by a trained scientist, but it might be challenging for someone who doesn’t have a scientific background.

This concept highlights the importance of understanding your audience when you are trying to convey a message. If you want to convince someone of something, you need to tailor your message to their level of understanding. This means using language that is appropriate for their level of education or expertise, breaking down complex ideas into simpler ones, and providing relatable examples that they can relate to. Having said that, there will always be concepts that are beyond some people’s ability to understand.

There is also something to be said about the role faith and trust can play in convincing people, and the implications. Individuals without the ability to comprehend a particular concept, regardless of the reason, can choose – and often do – to put their faith in a person they regard as an expert or a source of truth. Many factors contribute to this trust in others, none as powerful as our sociological tradition, i.e. we trust experts because that is our tradition as a society.

Although trust by tradition has worked well over time, trust in authority, even that of thought, has eroded in time. When people feel they cannot trust authority, they quickly and perhaps sentimentally seek to fill that gap. Trust by tradition might have worked before the age of information, when people’s access to new information was restricted to publications.

In the age we live today, trust has come full circle. We trusted people before because we realised it’s better to trust than not, because it works out better for us in the long run. Then we trusted people because they studied a particular subject and became experts. Now that we are at the end of the cycle, where will we turn next? Alas, the concept opens up more questions than answers.

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