Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cognitive Dissonance Rules

      Dissonance is aroused when people are confronted with information that is inconsistent with their beliefs. If the dissonance is not reduced by changing one's belief, the dissonance can result in restoring consonance through misperception, rejection or refutation of the information, seeking support from others who share the beliefs, and attempting to persuade others. Sound familiar?

      In the recent Presidential Elections some of the early Republican candidates most representative of the Tea Party movement excelled in misinformation. It seemed likely they were using Rush Limbaugh or Donald trump and other off-the-wall references, such as the plethora of internet blogs that validate just about any belief, as their source.
      Cigarette smoking is a common example of cognitive dissonance. It can cause lung cancer. Nevertheless, smokers rationalize their habit by thinking only a few smokers become ill, that lung disease happens to very heavy smokers, or that if smoking does not kill them, something else will.
      Religious belief is the most common form of cognitive dissonance.  How many time as someone thanked God when spared some tragedy.  Who should one thank for those that weren't spared? Ah, but God works in mysterious ways.
      Its remarkably easy to fall into the trap of creating bibliographies with content that reinforces personal biases.  Very few people recognize the dangers of their dissonance, maintain an open mind, and actively seek out contrary evidence?  Emotions reject what logic seeks.
      Avoid faulty reasoning caused by cognitive dissonance by seeking credible "root" sources, generally in scholarly journals, that provide the best evidence on multiple positions.  Avoid the "opinion" publications.

For more examples and in depth explanation of Cognitive Dissonance as it applies to skepticism, click here.

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