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Social/Political Cognitive Dissonance

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posted on Oct, 27 2015 @ 04:09 AM

originally posted by: Dimithae
a reply to: Vroomfondel

I have seen what you are saying on here as being quite true. I could go on and on with examples but won't bother. In answer to your question.....there is no cure for ignorance. If you are being willfully blind,there is no hope for you at all,and you will just have to suffer the consequences for that. Sad but the facts of life. In many situations you see this happen to people who "Get caught with their pants down" because they would not see the threat and prepare for it. Oh well, it culls out those who are determined to be blind.

I think it's important to point out that cognitive dissonance is not the same as being willfully blind. It is an unconscious coping mechanism. The brain is so threatened by the information presented that it blocks it out in order to preserve itself. In doing so, the cortex is bypassed and therefore so is logical thinking. The reptile brain takes over and produces a survival response such as fight or flight. That is why such people attack the messenger or flee from the facts being presented.

A good analogy would be a child that is being severely abused: He or she will unconsciously suppress this information in order to try and remain sane. Sadly, doing so will lead to insanity down the road in the form of a split personality (the brain creates a fictitious omnipotent personality to deal with the fear) or other personality disorder.

So the question remains: What makes certain people able to deal with reality, however disturbing it may be, and others not? It seems reasonable to me that this has a lot to do with past experiences of fear and how these were overcome. It may even have to do with the age of the soul.

There is definitely a spiritual aspect to this. Being able to see and accept what is, without judging. This leads to enlightenment.


posted on Oct, 27 2015 @ 10:06 AM
a reply to: soulwaxer

What makes certain people able to deal with reality, however disturbing it may be, and others not?

I disagree. I think having had to deal with abuse in my own life and an absolutely insane childhood I wouldn't wish on anyone,That when there is a extreme situation that is confronting a person,at some point and time,that person makes a choice. They let the fear over ride all common sense,or they face up to what is in front of them and deal with it. Those that 'choose' to let fear over ride them, then have their brains shut down to cope with what they are in. Those that choose to deal with it keep their heads about them and ride it out as best they can,trying to come up with a plan that will work.

Now once a person makes that choice,yes their brain shuts down and reason flies out the window for them. But at some point and time, even if for a second,they chose not to face things.

This is why I like the show "The Walking Dead". Really it isn't so much about the zombies even though they are there,as it is about how people react in bad situations. You see some people will have the best brought out in them. Others it will be the opposite. They will stab anyone in the back to get what they need. Some will fall apart when faced with the unfathomable.Others will stand up and fight to survive and for others too. You can't help but watch that show and think to yourself,"how would I handle this"? We all like to think we would be a hero and do the right thing,but in a lot of cases that is just not true. I have seen bad situations go down where most people just plain freeze. They are undecided on what to do and just stand there trying to get their brains to work.

This is why I don't depend on others to help me. Its not to be mean or because I think badly of people.It is just that I know that most will freeze up while trying to think of what the right thing to do is. During those precious seconds,you could end up dead. For the record,it is because our brains freeze up like that,that criminals use that to take advantage of people. They know that most people will freeze not knowing what to do.That gives them the time to take their action and run.

posted on Oct, 27 2015 @ 06:01 PM
a reply to: soulwaxer

I think we need to be more careful with the use of the term 'cognitive dissonance'.

The textbook definition is

“the feeling of psychological discomfort produced by the combined presence of two thoughts that do not follow from one another. Festinger proposed that the greater the discomfort, the greater the desire to reduce the dissonance of the two cognitive elements” (Harmon-Jones & Mills, 1999).

How that tends to work in reality, isn't 'willful' but 'defensive' on the part of the ego:

Cognitive-dissonance is just one of many biases that work in our everyday lives. We don’t like to believe that we may be wrong, so we may limit our intake of new information or thinking about things in ways that don’t fit within our pre-existing beliefs. Psychologists call this “confirmation bias.”

from the same source, it's a good little article on the subject.

The article also makes note that

Not everyone feels cognitive dissonance to the same degree. People with a higher need for consistency and certainty in their lives usually feel the effects of cognitive dissonance more than those who have a lesser need for such consistency.

They may, in fact, 'feel' discomfort however they react instinctivly unconsciously - there is nothing willfull about it - it is a product of ignorance. No amount of facts, truth, data, proof, etc will dispel ignorance until someone is willing and able to clearly look at their own areas of ignorance. Only once you see the problem can you proceed to solve it.

I don't really think we are talking about cognitive dissonance so much as communication in general and listening in particular. We all suffer congnitive dissonance, confirmation basises, preferances, beliefs, and other experiences that affect our particular point of consciousness.

In order to work together on anything we have to acknowledge and respect each others 'point of view' and that takes practice. Practice we used to get in school, in meetings of clubs and groups and at work. The point, in any given group, is to reach a practical consenses on a workable solution (for now) to address a common problem.

That is why the 'radicalization' of life in the US has cause a vertual stand-still in progress in many (I'd say most all) areas of public and private life.

It starts in the nuclear family, 50 years ago what father said was the law of the home; those days are past and we have yet to learn how live in families where all voices are heard and respected. This 'can' ,so to speak, gets kicked to small local groups and governments and on up the latter to state, national and international venues.

This process which is ongoing (and creates much cognitive dissonance and 'acting out' by fearful egos) will take centuries, if we have centuries. There is remarkable progress being made but we don't hear about it and it is building momentum but will we survive as a species to see the fruit. Really it's an old way of being together (aboriginal peoples lived largely in this manner, the Quaker's have been doing it formally for over 350 years) and what we see are centuries of collective 'cognitive dissonance' that has created a society cut off from one another and the natural world that sustains us.


Basically - without well-meaning moderate people in government and business we are doomed.

posted on Oct, 31 2015 @ 02:53 PM
a reply to: Vroomfondel
Disconnect among people, and cognitive dissonance is the norm for many, its not subjective or objective, its both and more importantly its fact. Oh! And by "many people" I mean ruffly 6 or so billion people, basically everybody.

Very few are born who would be capable of anything else, basically one in a billion, and even that only up to a point. Its the nature of things, and the nature of the beast, its also how this world operates and that is true on all levels as well...Most else of what you hear and see is merely fluffer...Red vs Blue.
edit on 2pmSaturdaypm312015f6pmSat, 31 Oct 2015 14:54:24 -0500 by galadofwarthethird because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 31 2015 @ 03:13 PM
Part of the problem is a failure to think beyond basic cause and effect. Sure most people can do A causes B, but then we stop. Very few can extrapolate beyond that to B can or will cause C, D, E or F and why that might be.

So when B does actually cause one or more of those secondary effects, it is often viewed as a completely unrelated problem, and those who remind you that yes, we saw this coming are ignored, again and again.

We live in a complicated society. Nothing happens in a vacuum, but no one wants to believe that.
edit on 31-10-2015 by ketsuko because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 1 2015 @ 08:48 PM
a reply to: FyreByrd

I disagree. We dont have to see eye to eye, or even know each other, to show compassion for an injured creature or help an older person carry heavy bags. We dont need to respect or acknowledge anything to work together.

When two people have polar opposite reactions to the same piece of information I believe cognitive dissonance is partly to blame. At least it seems plausible. Consider HIllary's comments on the TPP. She said she changed her mind after reading it. The White House confirmed she never read it. Conservatives asked, "Is there anything she wont lie about?" Liberals insist it is a right wing attack to make her look bad. Forget two political parties, two people cant even see the same simple event for what it is.

I believe that cognitive dissonance is at play here. The liberal is so afraid of their fragile belief system falling apart that any blemish on their icon threatens their very way of life. They cant deal with that so in their mind it is reduced to nothing more than a shameful attack by right wingers to discredit their icon. Cognitive dissonance goes a long way to explain some of this behavior.

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 04:20 AM
I'm coming back to this because an incident yesterday was thought provoking for me.

I was with my stepfamily at lunch (my husbands brother, his wife and my mother in law).
Now, my stepbrothers wife is somewhat of an abrasive person, very vulgar, opinionated, aggressive, uneducated, and lacking in class. Because of this, most of the family tends to keep a distance and not see them very often. But we try to make an effort every once in a while.

In the town they live in (and where we used to) the slaughter house was suddenly closed down because someone covertly videoed their practices and put it on youtube, where it circulated on social media widely within a few hours.

All kinds of animals being sliced open and gutted, bled or dismembered, while still alive and crying out, their methods were obviously inhumane and not adhering to legal standards.

So the subject came up, and my sister in law, mad about the closing decision, began to talk loudly and aggressively, saying that in many parts of the world, this is how animals are slaughtered, her own grandfather does it this way, and there is no problem, so having legal standards is unecessary and wrong. The basis of her argument was- this is how it has been done in the past, so obviously it is the correct way to do it. (the "progress and technology is inherently evil" premise).

For me, her position was so absurd, it wasn't worth responding to. The premise of evolution of technology and social mores was easily arguable for a ten year old (women were once not allowed to vote and people died of polio daily, etc.)
The question of meat quality when the animal is stressed, afraid and suffering is known too- the hormones that get liberated in their body are ingested by us and have various ill effects for the heart, energy levels, cholesterol, moods, etc.
The benefits of humane slaughter methods is beyond asking at this point.

So what blew my mind away and was thought provoking was watching the reactions of the others at the table. They began to agree and nod their heads! I felt like Alice in Wonderland at the mad tea party!

In the car afterwards, I asked my mother in law and husband what they thought about what her opinion, and they were kind of vaguely saying they understood and found it grounded. I pointed out the (obvious) problems with it, and they got pensive and started to say, yeah, I didn't think about that.

From what I can tell, their thinking caps were removed by the body language and yelling emotion she used. Yelling loudly, pointing fingers in people faces, using profanity, made for such a dramatic explosion of emotion, it became contageous and swept them away like a roaring river, so that any individual thought was drowned.
Made me think of Hitlers techniques, and I guess others could imagine other politicians who used the provocation of strong emotion and body language to turn off the intellect in observers.

As much as we can individually strive to stimulate the intellect, and provoke thought in others when we communicate, it seems that the ones searching to turn off that faculty will always be more influencial in the end because provoking thought makes cognitive dissonance arise, and the discomfort can be more easily and quickly resolved with emotional force.

What a depressing idea.
edit on 2-11-2015 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 09:10 AM
a reply to: Bluesma

Very interesting and an astute observation. I can see why it was upsetting.

I think you touched on a facet of this I was considering including in the cognitive dissonance statement called 'group think'.

People are social creatures and feel a need to belong, to be accepted. People also tend to stick to their own kind, birds of a feather, and so on. It is comforting to be around people who think and feel the same way we do. I think that desire affects people when they are taken out of their own element. Whatever the group does is ok as long as we get to be part of it. Safety in numbers. The most vocal and demonstrative often gets the most attention and becomes a de facto leader. People in group think will often do things they would never do alone. A reflection of 'everyone does it' as an excuse. The group is who did it, not the individual, so blame in their opinion is less likely to be placed on them. With peer support and the idea that blame will be shared at most people have little reason to change their behavior or fear the consequences of their actions. This is part of cognitive dissonance. In their mind they have the safety and relative anonymity of the group to hide behind believing their actions will not be traced back to them as individuals.

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 10:26 AM
a reply to: Vroomfondel

Definately a insightful point. I tend to sometimes see a sort of "intellectual laziness"- not having developed the ability to much extent to analyze and organize thought, in order to work through cognitive dissonance that arise, they just fall back on the easier path of empathy.

I don't know if that is accurate, or to what extent, but I can understand how that could happen or become a habit.

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 09:54 PM
a reply to: Vroomfondel

Great post Vroomfondel. I have an idea, and I intend to see this idea to fruition. I can only hope that it yields the intended result to allow people to see the forest and the trees again.

Overall, I get what you are saying. I have friends and family on both side of the political spectrum. Ironically, my Vietnam Vet uncle who is a die-hard conservative is much more respectful to people than some of the raging liberals are. I've found in conversation the liberals are much quicker to call names when you disagree with them.

A better analogy would be the cognitive dissonance it takes to be a NE Patriots fan. All the cheating in the world and they still deny and support the Pats. It's the same mental process that it takes to deny what has happened in the US as well as what is currently happening. No matter what they (TPTB) do many people are locked into being a member of that team - Republican or Democrat, and cheer for their team regardless.

Now for the bad news --> You have to assume that a large majority of people are lost causes. They will never come around until they get that cold, hard slap.
edit on 2-11-2015 by WCmutant because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 5 2015 @ 03:06 PM
In addition to Cognitive Dissonance, I would like to suggest the possibility of the Rashomon Effect. The Rashomon Effect is contradictory descriptions of a single event as recalled by different people.

The effect lay in the belief that each individual's perception and recollection of an event is influenced by their subjectivity. Different people may produce substantially different but equally plausible accounts of an event. The Rashomon Effect is often used in the context of understanding truth(s) and truth-telling in journalism. Two journalists covering the same story may write two completely different versions based on 'eye witness' accounts.

posted on Nov, 5 2015 @ 03:08 PM
The answer you are looking for is confirmation bias and a general unwillingness to consider that the person's own ideas are wrong.

posted on Nov, 5 2015 @ 04:03 PM
I see humans as being ambivalent in nature generally. At least I am aware of my own nature as such.

I'm usually okay with it, until a moment comes when some sort of action is needed - then a choice between my opposing feelings or thoughts must be made. I usually just figure I have to make that decision in a purely pragmatic way.
I have to go with one side or the other, or (what I usually prefer) try to combine them into one solution somehow, through creativity.

But sometimes with others, that choice is facilitated, because someone in front of me chose to manifest one side, so that makes my choice obvious - I'll manifest the other!

I hate bringing up the word "projection", because it gets thrown around and misused in so many ways this days, it is tiresome. It has just become a way to sling mud. But I can't find a better one for the moment.

But others can take on or invite, projections, without meaning to. A cathartic sort of transfer relieves people of internal ambiguous states when they observe another acting out what they are feeling.

It just seems very ineffective, to me, to try to push another to be more like yourself. It just doesn't work. Because whatever the position you are taking - you are taking that place already. They are left with it's opposite.

It is not so much the existence of ambiguous and opposing ideas, thoughts, emotions or drives within you that cause discomfort , as much as identifying too strongly with one side of yourself or another, so that you no longer recognize yourself in others.

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