Friday, May 30, 2014

Writing a fictional ethnic minority

Dealing with race is scary for a lot of people, because of what I'm calling the "vacuous critics" problem.  There are so many people saying terrible things about race, that people are afraid of opening the doors to those people, or worse, being that person.  But I'm not sure that this fear serves us well in "post-racial" US, where most people of my generation refuse to acknowledge that racial issues still exist.  In particular, it doesn't serve people well when they try to write fiction.

There's the easy way of including ethnic minorities in fiction, which is to mention or imply a character's ethnicity, and not make anything out of it.  And then there's the hard way: dealing with a character's ethnicity with the nuance that the issue deserves.

In my novel, I take the easy way with several characters.  But then I also take the hard way, inventing an entire ethnic minority, which includes two main characters.  It's a way of talking about race, without talking about any race in particular.

Now, I'm not exactly coming from experience here, since it's my first novel and I've written like 10% of it.  But it seems to me the first step to creating a nuanced ethnic group is to write out their history.  I decided that there were maybe three qualitatively different ethnic histories (in the US--there might be even more outside the US).

1. There are Native Americans, who lived here before Europeans moved in.
2. There are African Americans, who were imported as part of the slave trade.
3. There are immigrant groups.  Some of these groups (eg Irish, Italian) eventually got conglomerated into "white", while others groups probably never will, because they're not light-skinned, or otherwise look different.

I thought it would be easiest to write an immigrant group, since the others might require more radical alternate histories, and I'm not feeling quite so adventurous.  Furthermore, the first two histories would read as thinly veiled metaphors for Native Americans and African Americans, so it almost seems like you should just be writing about the real deal.  Lastly, I'm more familiar with immigrant issues, being half Asian.

I guess I just inadvertently invented an Asian American subgroup based on my own experiences!  Oh well.  It's basically impossible to write something that would generalize to all ethnic groups, even just to groups within the US.

The issues of the ethnic group don't have to be complicated.  Here's a really basic and ubiquitous issue for immigrants: First generation vs later generations.  Bam.  Here's another one: stereotypes.  Another: feeling distant from, and inferior to white people.  Easy.  At least in theory.

And then there are more difficult issues.  For instance, I'm inventing a religion.  But most of the characters are not part of this religion, they're Catholic because they were converted by colonists.  Colonialism is super complicated.  Luckily, in a work of fiction I don't need to deal with it explicitly, I just want it in the background to the story's events and dialogue.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Confusing causality and moral responsibility

In the days following the shooting at UC Santa Barbara, many of my friends are arguing about the meaning of the attack.  Is this reflective of a larger culture of misogynistic violence?  Should violent crimes be used to launch political points, or is this unfair?

In these arguments, I'd like to point out a distinction that many people often overlook.  Determining the cause of an event is not the same as determining who or what deserves blame.  (No, this isn't the first time I've discussed this topic.)

Let's talk about another problem, the more general problem of violence against women.  Many people react to this problem by advising women on how to be more safe.  Don't wear revealing clothing.  Don't walk alone in the streets at night.  Don't hang out at bars or clubs.  Don't drink too much without some friends to keep you safe.  Don't lead men on.  Carry pepper spray, learn some self-defense.  As a counterreaction, feminists argue that violence and sexual assault are not caused by women's failure to take safety precautions, but are instead caused by people who commit violence against women.

A friend of mine once said feminists seemed to be denying that women played any causal role whatsoever.

I don't think this is true, though, since I've never seen feminists say women should never take any safety precautions.  Rather, there seems to be some conflation between causality and responsibility.  In a sense, women have no moral responsibility to take safety precautions, because the truly moral thing would be to end rape culture.  And since moral responsibility is conflated with causality, feminists sometimes speak as if women's behavior plays no causal role whatsoever.

And this is understandable, because people on the other side conflate causality and responsibility too.  If someone says, "But surely women who hang out at bars are at higher risk of violence!" then literally speaking they are making a claim about causality.  But one strongly suspects that they are trying to make a claim about moral responsibility, trying to say that women should change how they socialize in order to reduce risk of violence.

In general, every event is caused by many many things.  The shooting at UCSB was caused in part by the flapping of wings of a particular butterfly in 1984.  What's more, in general it doesn't make sense to ask which causes played a greater role than other causes.  If this butterfly didn't flap its wings, that would have prevented 100% of the shooting, so the butterfly is 100% of the cause, but that just doesn't make sense, now, does it?

Usually, we're only interested in causes that have a much clearer connection to their consequences.  We simply can't control all the butterflies, or predict what effects they will have.  So the butterflies are best treated as random background.

But even when we confine ourselves to causes that clearly connect to their result, this is insufficient to assign moral responsibility to the cause.  Moral responsibility is basically a tool we use to get more desirable results in society.  We hold people morally responsible when we think that this could influence behavior in similar situations, and that this will result in better outcomes in the future.  In order to hold a behavior morally responsible for some outcome, it must have a causal relation to the outcome.  But the fact that a behavior causes an outcome does not necessarily mean it should be held morally responsible.


Let's consider a few points of view on the UCSB shooting.

Some people resist assigning any moral responsibility to killing sprees.  There are simply too few of them, and it seems like no matter how we reconfigure society and its moral values, we may never be rid of them.  Holding people morally responsible will be futile, and change nothing.  It's not that shootings don't have causes, it's that we can't influence those causes with moral language.

Some people have held the MRA, PUA, and incel communities responsible.  The general idea here is that while we may not be able to eliminate shooting sprees, we may be able to mitigate the more general problem of violence against women by countering misogyny among men.  Basically, countering misogyny is something we should be doing anyway, but here we have a prominent example of violence explicitly motivated by misogyny, so let's make hay out of it.

Some people argue that it's caused by mental illness, or by the shooter being "crazy".  However, it is not clear that people suffering from mental illness are any more likely than people who don't to commit violent crimes.  Upon a brief search, I could not find any meta-analysis backing up such a claim (even in the case of schizophrenia, the link is questionable).  So this fails as a causal claim.

But it fails even more as a moral claim.  I don't think people intend to hold mentally ill responsible, but perhaps they intend to hold poor mental health care responsible.  But this assignment of responsibility does not lead to a better outcomes.  It has the unintended effect of stigmatizing mental illness, which discourages people with mental illness from seeking help.  Further, it could worsen the problem of violence against people with mental illness, which meta-analyses show is a real problem.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Internal harmony is the first casualty

I remember years ago, when I learned from a trans friend how the trans community has such nasty conflicts.  I'm talking, way worse than the atheist community.  Transgender people and intersex people didn't get along, trans men and trans women were always clashing heads.  And then there are factions of "classic" transsexuals who disidentify with "transgender", and who deride transgender people as crossdressers and autogynephiliacs.  There are also actual crossdressers who get beaten up by everyone.

Don't take my word for any of this, all my information is probably out of date.  But I had the strong impression of great internal conflict.  It seems to correlate with the great amount of oppression experienced by trans people.  This just begs for a general theory: External oppression of a group causes internal conflict.

This would be difficult to prove, since it would require many subjective judgments about how nasty internal conflicts are, and how oppressed different groups are.  Let's not even go down that route.  Let's talk about mechanisms and consequences instead.

Here's one example of a clear mechanism.  I heard a friend talk about how he was openly gay in high school, and how so many classmates derided his masculinity for this.  Then there was another gay student who was actually very effeminate, and he hated that guy for proving stereotypes right (now he knows better).  The femme guy, however, hated the butch guy for enabling the bullies.  A simple stereotype divided them into those who confirmed the stereotype, and those who did not.

There's another phenomenon, where people have strongly negative reactions to some attitude, and adopt a dogma in response.  Internal conflicts among feminists show many examples of this.  The prominence of abortion makes many people think feminism is about choice (but it really isn't).  The prominence of rape culture makes many people say that rape is about power (but it isn't just).  I do not mean this as a criticism of feminism, but as an illustration of how we are all fallible.

I also recently observed that as a person of color, I often feel uncomfortable about criticizing other people of color who speak about race.  This is due to a culture of suppressing criticism.  But that culture is there for a reason, and that reason is that there are many many people who don't have a very deep understanding of race, and yet will dominate any critical discussion about race.  To avoid all the vacuous critics, people are always on edge about any critics, because there just isn't an easy way to distinguish vacuous critics and helpful critics (and not even the critics know which ones they are, not even I know).

These are just three mechanisms.  I welcome more ideas.

I propose that this is one of the reasons why social justice communities have a bullying problem.

But I cannot propose a solution.  There isn't really an escape in sight.  We can't just tell people to be nicer to each other, because the problem isn't just that people are mean.  Often, external oppression precipitates problematic attitudes within the community, and these problematic attitudes are worth being angry about.

Solving this problem would be akin to solving the problem of human conflict in general.  So unfortunately, I think we're stuck with it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The destruction of meaning

So next month, my boyfriend and I are moving together.  That means I have to move all this origami too.  Some of it won't survive.  They fade, absorb moisture, become floppy, and fall apart.  What to do?

In Unit Origami, origami master Tomoko Fuse lovingly describes what she does with old origami.  She burns it, watching the colored flames.  I love it.  I think it might be a fire hazard though.

The second brillouin zone of the fcc structure

This is the model that's closest to death.  It's very big, and made of 96 pieces.  Plus it's one of the early ones I invented on my own, and I wasn't very good at creating something stable.  It has been sagging under its own weight for quite some time.

Jackson reveals yet another practical application

I chose a simple method of destruction: drop a textbook on it.  I mean, I have all these textbooks nearby, it was a natural idea.

Modern origami art

The destruction of origami is the destruction of meaning.  Here, we have so many squares of paper.  Here, they are shaped into avatars of symmetry, by fingers and planning and imagination.  And here, they become a so many pieces of paper again.  Here, they go into the trash, alongside discarded wrappers and tissue paper.  Not only does it no longer have any meaning, it never had any meaning, and was never even an "it".

The destruction of meaning is deeply meaningful to me.  I have a personal association between sentimentalism and a kind of mindless materialism.  Hoarding material objects with non-material significance.  When the objects are finally gone, their meanings, and we, are set free.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Post-labor sci-fi

In my writing update, I mentioned an idea for a speculative sci-fi novel which I scrapped.  The underlying concept was that I wanted a post-labor economy, where robots and unlimited energy have taken most of the jobs.  Since jobs are the main way money is distributed, the abundance of free labor impoverishes people.

Incidentally, there was a recent article on 3 Quarks Daily which covered this same idea (via The Barefoot Bum).  So there are people who speculate about this in real life.  And sure, I speculate about it in real life too.  I agree with the idea that there are a lot of bullshit jobs in our society, and I would prefer if instead we had fewer work hours.

In my invented world, when all the jobs disappear, it's primarily the service workers who remain.  Robots can't replace the human touch, or the gracious smile.  Everyone else survives on what little welfare that the upper class begrudgingly grants them.  Presumably there's lots of propaganda to persuade the public that welfare is a moral hazard.

But if I were to speculate for the real world rather than for a story, I'd think that service workers would lose their jobs along with everyone else.  I mean, if robots can replace engineers and business managers, of course they could also replace service workers, smiles or not.

But leaving service workers allows me to create a society where politeness and etiquette form a sort of cultural currency, valued above and beyond their real worth.  A thousand rules of etiquette bloom, and a college education is the only way to understand them.  Personality defects would practically become disabilities.

It's sort of a commentary on the way that anything produced by upper classes are seen as the Highest Art, while anything enjoyed by lower classes is unfashionable.  Like the way that classical concerts are seen as the highest forms of music, above modern rock or even classical music recordings.  Or the way that baby names tend to start among upper classes and migrate down to lower classes (and also from male to female!).

Anyway, it was a cool idea, but I'm really not keen on speculative fiction.  I write so much nonfiction that I'm used to striving for accuracy.  So if my story were speculative, I'd spend too much time on little details that don't make the story any better.  And then I'd feel bad about not being a good enough fortune teller.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Writing a novel: Month 1

My first month of seriously attempting to write fiction was a success in the most important respect.  Whenever I sat down to write, I really enjoyed it!  The rest hardly matters at this point.

My first writing session, I just wrote a bunch of random thoughts, which coalesced into an alternate history story.  Around the end of WWII, aliens settle on the moon and proceed to ignore us.  This kickstarts the space race, where both the US and the USSR try to be Earth's first representatives to the aliens.  In the 1950s, the US makes it to the moon, and of course the first thing they do is steal alien technology.  In the next decades, the US reverse-engineers fusion power, which wins them the Cold War prematurely.

With a limitless supply of energy, this makes the US a utopia, except that economic disparity means it's only a utopia for some.  There is a three-tiered class system, with aristocrats, service workers, and the unemployed plebeians.  Service workers use their smiles and good manners to provide the one thing that free energy cannot.  The plebeians of course are stereotyped as ugly and rude.  As for the aliens, they don't figure into the present story for... um... reasons.

Wait, didn't I want to write a slice-of-life instead of speculative sci-fi?  Also I couldn't think of a front-story to go with the back-story.  Well, let's scrap that one then.

It's okay, I got another, which I'm sticking to.  My new story follows a main character, and a sequence of relationships (not all romantic) with four different people.  I guess the main character is ace--I mean, of course--but that's not really the point of the story.  It's a story primarily about friendships, especially friendships gone wrong.

For some reason, I'm really attached to the idea of describing characters, not directly, but through the limitations in their perspectives.  Thus the story is told in 3rd person limited, occasionally alternating points of view.

This is the kind of story with lots of characters.  Each major character is also associated with a different group of friends.  For example, the first relationship is a childhood friend, who happens to be part of an ethnic minority (to be invented).  Their transethnic friendship is strained by the fact that they both now have ethnically homogenous groups of friends.  yada yada I'm not giving it all away, anyway I haven't written it yet.

Um, would anyone be willing to be a test reader?  Not right away of course. So far I've just written a rough outline, and part of the first chapter.

I will share more updates in the future.

Monday, May 12, 2014

"Deeper" causes for bad religion

Most liberals think that religion is never the true source of a person’s bad behavior. Even when jihadists explicitly state their religious motivations—they believe that they have an obligation to kill apostates and blasphemers, and they want to get into Paradise—liberal academics, journalists, and politicians insist on looking for deeper reasons for their actions. However, when people give economic, political, or psychological reasons for doing whatever it is they do, everyone accepts those reasons at face value.
This is a quote by Sam Harris in his interview of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.  I think I have only ever talked about Sam Harris on this blog in the context of criticizing him, but I give him credit here for offering an interesting idea.

The idea is that we can offer plenty of reasons for bad behavior.  But if you ever suggest that religion as a reason, liberals won't settle for that.  There's got to be some deeper reason.  This is especially easy to say about the Middle East, where there are lots of political and economic pressures that I don't understand that must go into the equation.  But why are political and economic reasons "deep" while religious reasons are not?

It's very hard for me to say anything about the Middle East, since I know so little about it.  So let's try asking the same question about the US.  Why are Creationism, climate change denial, and anti-science in general are so common, and well-organized?

You could probably come up with lots of economic and political reasons--Corporations stand to gain a lot from preventing environmental regulation, so in a democracy they have to sow doubt about climate science and science in general to get votes to go the right way.  And you could come up with religious reasons.  Evangelical Christianity is a fairly obvious explanation.  Belief that the endtimes are imminent may play into climate change denial.  Are the political and economic causes "deeper" than the religious ones?

To a limited extent, religious reasons may actually explain more than the polical/economic reasons.  The things that need explaining are: who is doing the most active denial?  What particular things do they deny?

But even if religion is a "shallow" reason, why does that mean it's not worth talking about?  Dismantling religion may not dismantle the "root" causes of anti-science, but it may deprive anti-science of one of its tools.  If we only attempt to attack the "deeper" issues, well, those issues may be so deep that we won't make much headway.

And while my standards prevent me from saying much about the Middle East, I should point out some relevant biases we have with respect to foreign nations.  First, we see foreign nations as monolithic.  So if there are terrorists in some foreign country, we blame it on the conditions of the country rather than blaming it on the qualities of that particular group (such as their religion).  Second, we see foreign nations in simplistic terms, wanting to reduce all trends to just a few factors.  Of course the Middle East is affected by the particulars of its religions, and of course it is affected by many social/economic/political factors.  Why can't all of these things be causes simultaneously?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Nintendo nooooo

In video game news, Nintendo will soon release Tomodachi Life in North America and Europe.  It's a "whimsical life simulation" which allows you to import avatars of you and all your friends and watch them have wacky adventures, including romantic pairings and marriage.

This is significant because it forces Nintendo to take a stance, to either include same-sex relationships in the game, or not to include them.  I'm not sure when this last happened to Nintendo.  They don't make an awful lot of life simulations.

Unfortunately, Nintendo appears to be taking the wrong side.  There was a "Miiquality" campaign to let Nintendo know how much we want this feature, but Nintendo issued a tone-deaf response, saying they "never intended to make any form of social commentary", and that it "was not part of the original game that launched in Japan".

I seriously considered buying Tomodachi Life, because I like Animal Crossing: New Leaf.  But whatever desire I had before, the lack of same-sex relationships kind of kills it.  Not because I want to boycott it to make a political statement (there's blogging for that), but because it would honestly give me less enjoyment.  It would be very jarring and uncomfortable to see all these alternate versions of myself and my friends, all forming male-female pairings.  I and many of my friends are queer!

For many queer people, heterosexual relationships were the kind of thing forcefully pushed upon us by unsupportive parents and grandparents.  And now this game is pushing it too?  Nope, not gonna play that.

In the comments of Polygon and Kotaku, many players mount defenses of Nintendo, saying that they have to pay attention to the bottom line, and make the game that players will want.  I find this to be strange argument.  Yes, it is true that Nintendo does not deserve exclusive blame for making exclusionary games.  Some of that blame belongs to consumers, who either prefer or tolerate exclusionary games.  In the Japanese version of Tomodachi Life, I mostly blame the Japanese consumers.  In the rest of the world, I blame consumers as well as the Nintendo localization teams.

But wait, aren't the people making this argument themselves consumers?  Are they trying to shoulder the blame themselves??

I mean, who exactly do they think these consumers are, who are stopping same-sex relationships from appearing in games, movies, and fiction in general?  It's very convenient to think that the blame belongs to such conservative groups as Focus on the Family and Million Moms.  But when I look around the gaming community, it's much more common to see people who argue, "Don't blame the game creators, they can't do any better in this market!"

People think they know what heterosexism and sexism looks like, but they're wrong.  It's not an angry gang beating people up in the street (at least, it isn't only).  It's a million people shrugging their shoulders saying, stop complaining, nothing can be done.

Update: Later, Nintendo had a highly positive response.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Putting the cart before the horse: homophobic but ace-positive

This post was crossposted on The Asexual Agenda.

Last week's linkspam saw an article about asexuality on Conservapedia.  Among other things, the article notes AVEN's "alliance" with the GLBTQ community.  You know what's coming next:
This ignores the fact that the Bible condemns gay and lesbian sexual desires but does not condemn asexuality (so long as it is not a form that substitutes sexual self-stimulation for sexual relations between man and wife).
Conservapedia is a US Christian conservative wiki which has already been widely criticized for many years.  I think it is giving too much credit to Conservapedia to talk about this one article (which is the work of only one editor in any case).  Nonetheless, the article reflects some of my fears about how asexual visibility goes over among American conservative, LGBT-negative audiences.

To the point, having people accept asexuality, but not gay and lesbian people seems wrong.  Almost as wrong as accepting asexuality but not accepting asexuals who like self-stimulation.  Like they haven't accepted asexuality at all.

But hold that thought for a moment, as I critically examine it.

It seems absurd to suggest that every social movement should wait for every other.  Should asexuals wait for people with autism?  Should people with autism wait for black women in the US?  Should black women in the US wait for black women in Africa?  Should black women in Africa wait for submissive men?  Should submissive men wait for people who can't find jobs?  Should people who can't find jobs wait for asexuals?  Demanding that every social change should wait for every other is really a way to demand we keep the status quo.

It's also worth noting that it doesn't go both ways.  Accepting asexuality without accepting homosexuality seems gross to me, but accepting homosexuality without learning about asexuality seems like a small step forward.   It's fine when people learn about bisexuality before asexuality, but when people at an ace workshop ask what bisexuality is, I mentally facepalm.  But isn't this just reinforcing the power structure in the queer movement, putting gay and lesbian people at top (despite them neither having the most problems nor being the most numerous)?  Or is it perhaps expressing the prejudice that asexuality is "complicated" while gay men are "simple"?

I submit that the ordering is partially based on practical considerations. Gay and lesbian activism is much older and more widespread than asexual activism.

But aside from that, it just goes against our whole messaging.  To start, we don't want to be put on a pedestal.  That includes homo/bi/pan- romantic aces, who do not want to be put on a pedestal just because they are not homo/bi/pan- sexual instead.  (Plus some of them may seek homo/bi/pan- sexual partners, and may even have sex with them.)

Another thing is, we are not just a community of asexuals.  We also harbor many who are Unsure or Ambiguous.  People think that an asexual identity might be stifling, as if it prevented people from exploring their sexuality.  Asexuality is not stifling, but you know what is?  Not accepting homosexuality or same-sex sexual behavior, dammit.

I am grateful that I don't have to spend any time spreading asexual visibility among LGB-negative conservatives.  If anyone has tried educating LGB-negative conservatives, I'd like to hear from you.  Is it as frustrating as I imagine?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

How to argue

If there's one thing I learned about blogging, it's how to keep the scope of each post narrow. The question "How to argue?" defies this rule.  Nonetheless, I will hammer out some thoughts which I hope are useful (even though they are not supported with arguments), and which could be expanded in separate posts.  Please raise your hand if you're interested in me expanding any particular thought.

A bit about my perspective.  I am very non-confrontational.  I hardly ever argue offline, and not so much online either.  Although I have a lot of persuasive writing, so that's something.  Also note that I've fully swallowed a particular piece of skeptical ideology: I believe in only developing argumentative skills that are more effective when deployed by the correct side than when deployed by the incorrect side.

90% of arguments are crap.
Sturgeon's law says 90% of everything is crap, and that applies to arguments as well.  It follows that you are justified in being selective about which arguments to participate in.

It's worth pointing out that the most common failure mode is when arguments are not arguments at all.  Sometimes it's a different kind of conflict entirely.  Sometimes, people just explain their own opinion, and fail to offer any arguments for it. I wish people wouldn't try to pass off assertions as arguments, but on the other hand it seems like people don't spend enough time on assertions.  I regularly get commenters who are unable to explain their opinion, and unable to understand mine.  Obviously that stuff needs to be worked out before any productive argument occurs.

Argue from shared beliefs.
It's an Objectivist fantasy that arguments are built upwards from fundamental assumptions about reality.  Human knowledge is more like a web of interconnected facts and opinions.  You should think about who your audience is (whether it's the person you're arguing with, or bystanders), and either find out or guess what your shared beliefs are.  Travel along the web from these shared beliefs towards the main subject of your argument.  If that's too far to travel, argue about something else.
Be tactical, but honest.
Tactical arguments are not synonymous with dishonesty.  For example, if your opponent believes A, and you disagree with A, you can still use arguments like, "If A, then B.  So you should agree with me on B, if not A."  For instance, sometimes I concern troll people (ie give advice to people I disagree with), and this is basically an attempt to argue based on the opponent's assumptions rather than my own.  Whenever I do this, I am open about my role as concern troll.

Don't tell your opponents what they believe.
If you happen to be wrong, that's the quickest route to loserville.  If you're right, your opponent may decide that they don't believe it after all, and whoops you're in loserville again.  We do need to make guesses about our opponents (especially if they're no good at explaining themselves), but try not to be too brazen about it.  If necessary, clarify that you are guessing their opinion, and ask if your guess is correct.

Treat scientific evidence as a trump card.
If the opponent presents a study, and you don't have the time or desire to check it, consider folding.  If you do have the time and desire, check a) whether the study really says and implies what is claimed, b) whether the paper has questionable philosophical assumptions or methodological issues, c) whether the paper is authoritative, and d) whether there are superior studies out there.

People see themselves as essentially good.
This is such a strong cognitive bias, that it's better to work around it than to counter it, at least within any given argument.  What people most need to hear is that they would not be bad people if they decided to change their minds.  And this is often true; people make mistakes, and do bad things without being bad people.

People won't change their minds in front of you.
This is another strong cognitive bias that is better to work around.  What people most need to hear is that if they change their mind about one particular argument for their beliefs, that doesn't mean they need to change their mind about the entire belief.  This allows people to change their minds without changing their minds.

Tell your opponent something they didn't know.
One acceptable moment for people to change their minds is when they receive new information.  It's a plausible excuse for why they were previously wrong--they were simply unaware of a relevant fact.

Don't gloat when people change their mind.
Another thing is that people will sometimes change their mind when they think you're not looking.  For instance, "shifting the goalpost", when it's not employed disingenuously, is just that.  I do not recommend discouraging shifting the goalpost unless you think your opponent is being disingenuous.

Consider losing the argument.
Even if you don't really think you lost.  There is some underrated power in being the loser: the loser chooses when to leave.  You can get out of an argument that is either not fun or not productive.
And of course sometimes you really will be wrong.  In those cases, you are probably affected by the bias where you don't want to change your mind in front of people.  Losing even when you don't think you lost is a good way to give yourself the opportunity to change your mind--or not.