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Suppose I had someone who didn't believe climate change was real, or a problem worth working on. And then they become convinced that it is a real and critically important problem, and even devote a lot of their energy to mitigating that problem. It seems natural to me to say that they've been "converted", since not only have they changed their beliefs, but they have done so in fundamental way which has lead to meaningful changes in the way they live their day-to-day life.

But I don't like the connotation that this is a religious issue, as opposed to a rational, scientific issue. I would like to be able to say things like "I'm trying to convert people to being climate activists". Is there an alternative?

A few alternatives I sort of like (but I'd still like something better):

  • recruit
  • mobilize
  • win over
  • Closely connected: the usage of 'conversion'. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 1 at 19:10
  • What's wrong with: I am trying to persuade young people to become climate change activists? – Walter Mitty Jan 1 at 19:57
  • Are you seeking a noun for the change of mind that somebody undergoes (as the title implies) or a verb for the activity of changing somebody's mind (as the last part of the question implies)? In other words, is the focus on the person whose mind is changed, or on the person who is working to change somebody's mind? – jsw29 Jan 3 at 15:46
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Convert is fine. But if you want something else, try “reformed” though its not less religious. Just don’t let religion stymie your language. Its a losing battle man.

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Honestly, I think that the most suitable word here is "convince".

According to Lexico, the definition is as follows:

convince transitive verb

1 Cause (someone) to believe firmly in the truth of something.

So, you would be able to say, "I'm trying to convince people to become climate activists".

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Though Lexico includes the religious sense in the definition of proselyte

proselyte noun

  1. A person who has converted from one opinion, religion, or party to another.

it is possibly so unusual that that sense is backgrounded. Indeed, Lexico lists it second.

Years ago, the following narrower sense was most common (though not very common):

1.1A Gentile who has converted to Judaism.

Proselytization / proselytisation is the corresponding noun, 'the attempt to re-educate / convert (etc)'.

Proselytize / proselytise is the corresponding verb.

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