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This means something along the lines of:

To obstinately persist in going about things the wrong way.

This could be translated as just being stubborn but I don't think that's as poetic. Is there a more idiomatic way of saying so?

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  • Are these the answers you're looking for? Idiom for being stubborn about an opinion
    – Laurel
    Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 10:26
  • Most suggestions seem to focus more on refusing to be be persuaded [to change current behaviour], but for an expression more explicitly referring to current behaviour having a negative rather than positive effect, there's beating one's head against a brick wall. Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 11:29

3 Answers 3

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Although not exact equivalents, the following words and phrases convey the idea of (negative) persistence:

  • Deaf to reason: "sticking to an opinion, purpose, or course of action in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion"
  • Pigheaded: "willfully or perversely unyielding, obstinate". Also bullheaded and wrongheaded.
  • Pertinacious: "adhering resolutely to an opinion, purpose, or design. Perversely persistent. Stubbornly tenacious"

Depending on the context, you can also use dig one's heels in, hell-bent or dogged.

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Does Albert Einstein's "definition of insanity" sound familiar? It is a popular quote: definition of insanity Idiomatic - yes, Poetic - maybe not so much.

Einstein’s classic definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This famous quote is attributed to Albert Einstein though there is evidence that it first appeared in a Narcotics Anonymous publication in 1981 as “Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.”

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There's a phrase that describes an idea that someone is obsessed with, beyond all reason, to the extent that it is a psychological problem: Idée fixe. The phrase is French in origin; in that language, it literally means "fixed idea".

An idée fixe is a preoccupation of mind believed to be firmly resistant to any attempt to modify it, a fixation. ... Although the afflicted person can think, reason and act like other people, they are unable to stop a particular train of thought or action.

An example taken from the above-linked Wikipedia article is taken from a book about the early-2000s War on Terror:

Iraq was portrayed as the most dangerous thing in national security. It was an idée fixe, a rigid belief, received wisdom, a decision already made and one that no fact or event could derail.

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