Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cognitive Dissonance is Our Friend

As I understand it, cognitive dissonance is the discomfort one feels when that person’s strongly held beliefs conflict with facts that the person encounters. Articles I’ve read like to use the example of cigarette smokers who can read right off the pack that smoking is bad for their health, yet they always have an excuse for continuing to smoke. So if we could get more people to recognize the cognitive dissonance in themselves, they might stop to analyze the facts and make more rational decisions.
Of course, the more one has invested in maintaining their errant belief, the more likely the person is to avoid cognitive dissonance; which goes a long way toward explaining the actions of creationists. So the people that need to understand this concept the most are the ones least likely to even listen and the more I write about this the more discouraged I get. Now I’ve completely forgotten the whole point of this post.
Anyway, I’m going to endeavor to keep cognitive dissonance in mind so I will be less likely to stick to dumb opinions that don’t fit the facts and when I encounter a person who begins a sentence with “I refuse to believe…” I’ll hit them with a brick, because they won’t listen to the facts even if I try to inform them.

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