Masthead member Justin recently asked us to investigate “the best science on persuasion.” Social media, he says, can feel like Thanksgiving dinner, with people on either end of the political spectrum talking past each other, never getting anywhere. Today, we’re looking at the art of persuasion. I asked a writer—Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic—and a psychology professor—Matt Feinberg at the University of Toronto—the same question: How do you change someone’s mind? Then, to close us out, Conor reflects on a few articles that succeeded in persuading him to see an issue in a different way.


Staff writer Conor Friedersdorf is known—both in the Atlantic newsroom and in the wider world—for his “level-headedness” and “willingness to explore all sides of an issue,” as Michael put it on our Facebook group. I asked Conor and Feinberg, a professor who specializes in political attitudes, to reflect on the best methods of persuasion.

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