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25517 Posts in 9753 Topics by 980 Members Latest Member: - Roots Dawta Most online today: 82 (July 03, 2005, 11:25:30 PM)
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Author Topic: Thoughts on Cognitive Dissonance  (Read 1702 times)
Yann
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« on: September 03, 2004, 09:02:12 PM »

I came across this quote in an essay on cognitive dissonance:

Quote
"…humans have a deep abiding need in their psyche to be consistent in our attitudes and behaviors; we want to feel in agreement and unified in thought and action. Inner harmony sounds good to everyone, and so it was Festinger’s view that when we feel a disharmony, or dissonance, within ourselves, between two factors, we strive to decrease this tension by either changing our original thought, giving strength to the opposing thought, or letting go of the behavior. All three techniques are in the name of decreasing dissonance because it is threatening to experience such a large crack in our rationale that dissonance often creates"
(http://www.colorado.edu/communication/meta-discourses/Papers/App_Papers/Jean.htm)

While I agree with the conditions that cause people to experience this phenomenon, I must say I do not think they have got it absolutely right. Festinger insists that in order to minimize or erase the tension created by cognitive dissonance, humans either change or modify their original thoughts to accommodate the new information or abandon the old ideas completely.

I think Festinger has greatly underestimated the human WILL to blindness. In my observation, most people try to invalidate the informant or the information itself in order to keep their 'sanity' intact. Another paper speaks of 'mode 2' thinkers (http://www.propaganda101.com/SocialPsychology/cognitiv.htm), those who respond to logical arguments with emotional ones. They use emotional thinking and arguments to attempt to counter and invalidate the conflicting truth. They play on their own existing fears and those of others to attempt to get them to come over to their side; the fewer people who accept the new information, the easier it is to invalidate.

Another flaw in the theory (as far as I have read thus far) is that it appears to theorize in a vacuum without taking into account the sociological and economic conditions that may cause reactions to cognitive dissonance to differ. I think a level of comfort and privilege assists in the rejection of conflicting information. Not only are privileged ones used to having their opinions, ideas, ideologies be the standard and the unchallenged, but they sometimes may have more to lose psychologically and materially by accepting conflicting ideas that challenge the status quo from which they benefit.

When one is comfortable, one is more willing to discredit the incoming information, because it is the source of dissonance. Privileged ones do not like to accommodate, to accept their own wrongs or to let go of ideologies that held them high. The U.S is a classic example of this. More Americans believe their President because they have more to lose by accepting that not only is he a liar, but that their way of life is a lie. They have more to lose psychologically (as far as they see it) by realizing that their great society was built and continues to be fed by racism and exploitative capitalism. Even further than simply accepting the lies of one man, it is near impossible for them to accept the lies of a national ideology that has held them superior. Other whites are often not too far from this regardless of their nationality.

Those who have little to lose materially, are used to being the oppressed, those who exist in a perpetual state of discomfort find it easier to accept information that disproves or discredits the existing ideologies as it is these ideologies that have oppressed them anyway. Often, those in a state of discomfort move faster to truths. They react with an urgency that only the oppressed can feel and move much more quickly towards action. Those who have much to lose in matter, more often than not, will fight and kick and scream against it. It is the ultimate irony to me that most people while they claim to want freedom, if given a choice, with inevitably choose slavery.

It is no wonder that some of the most revolutionary thinkers, the most critical insightful journalists have come, especially in this age of expanding media capacity, from the Third World. When you are quite aware of constantly being lied to and by whom, the truth is far easier to see.

It would then appear that people are crazier than we may have previously imagined them to be. Our privileged elite, the ones that run the countries, make the decisions and create and uphold the ideologies are walking, talking lunatics. They are running from the voices in their heads, existing is a perpetual, near schizophrenic state of cognitive dissonance, wailing and screaming in so many ways at the pain. But the will to blindness is so strong that most will refuse to let go and walk in light.

In opposition are the masses; the poor, the dispossessed, the discriminated against, the searching, the hungry, the victimized. They too however are no less fractured and psychologically splintered and subject to many of the false ideas that society propagates. Also even in this group of the less materially advantaged are those who want to fit in with the elite, who will ignore the noise in their heads to belong, to be accepted, to benefit materially and socially from an order that has denied them. We often see this behavior in blacks who have risen in the system or benefited materially. They too want the comfortable ideology and often forget the urgency of those with whom they may have once shared experiences.

The trick is that these very conditions can help to form a person whom once empowered, once given a sliver of light and truth, will walk strait toward it, no looking back, shedding a skin of lies and deception, a skin that never fit comfortably anyway, and embrace truth. And even among the privileged are those who can't shut out the noise, for which the psychological tension is too much to bear, who will make the effort to improve, to grow and to shed the skin of lies and illusions. In all walks of life are people of integrity and courage, people who are not just victims of time and history and circumstance but are its initiators.

Imagine a new world order where the once possessed are now the dispossessed. Where the more you have materially the harder it is to perceive and act on divine, life giving truths; where the order is inverted and the victims of history are now its divine keepers; where the direct path to heaven lies not in privilege, but in the ability to abandon the cushy comfort of lies and false ideologies, and trust in the light that is the source of all…
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Tracey
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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2004, 02:57:20 PM »

There are many valid points to digest within this reasoning...but the ability to honestly self-evaluate is crucial to understanding the finer points being raised.

It is an innate human/spiritual desire to feel unified and in harmony with one's entire whole self. Disharmony between thoughts and actions does indeed seem to nescessatate a psychological shift in order to accomodate the many reasons for the split.

This 'split' quickly becomes the ego's domain where it trys to falsely accuse the truth. It constantly attempts to validate the plethora of excuses offered in order to appease the rift. Deep down the conscious self is "aware" of this cognitive rift but the ego attempts to bury this awareness so that it can easily alter and distort the truth to therebye accomodate it's newly spun version of it's co-created self.

Dissonance seemingly offers a less painful version of reality because it attempts to remove one further away from the truth. Truth can be painful because it first has to shatter through the protective barriers that has nurtured and sustained the lie. It becomes the ego's tactical means of diversion that stalls for time, offering illsuisions of 'comfort' in place of the cold hard truth. Over time, one becomes so insulated, they simply remain null and void...numb to the truths of their very own existance.

Confronting and acknowledging truth as it comes can be most difficult to accept at first, but it is what clears the path to self realization. Burying truths to accomodate lies in order to save the face of ego is what literally blocks the path to this awareness. If the foundation for how one sees onself is built on lies then it will take nothing less than scrupulous honesty (and humilty) to clean up the mess.  

Honest evaluation...or the ability to check one's self in light of better information (higher truths) offers the long road back to heal thyself from the disconnectedness or dissonance felt from within. It is what legitimately opens the front door to re-connect to the ultimate source of Oneness, and authentically unite harmoniously between mind, body and soul.


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Netsanet
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« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2004, 05:53:49 PM »

I enjyed reading these two postings. I read that another couple of ways that we deal with cognitive dissonance  (forms of invalidation of the opposing information) are to trivialise the topic as not being important etc or to simply not think of it.
I guess the healthy person should welcome the gnawing pangs of cognitive dissonance when they feel them because it's a chance to clean up some 'mess'/confusion and to grow.
I don't think that Truth is cold and hard though. Humans who deliver it can do it in a 'cold and hard' manner, but ultimately I think Truth = God = Complete Love + Complete Bliss +Freedom Forgiveness+much more.
I have found that usually people need to be given lots of love & space to be able to face up to truths they are trying to avoid/bury, but I do admit that sometimes this loving process can take a very long time (years!) and sometimes we just have to be confronted & challenged & stopped live and direct....
I also think we all need to continually develop the skills to be helpful to each other in this way..
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Netsanet
Tracey
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« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2004, 12:54:35 PM »

Quote
I don't think that Truth is cold and hard though. Humans who deliver it can do it in a 'cold and hard' manner, but ultimately I think Truth = God = Complete Love + Complete Bliss +Freedom Forgiveness+much more.


Often times Truth appears as cold and hard because it pierces sharply through the bubble of illusions.

However, I agree that Truth and Love and God etc. are indeed interchangeable, as these are all Divine aspects shared through One Universal Essence/Source.

If I may share a timely quote from the pages of "Ayinde's Thoughts"..."What is Love?" part 2

"Love is not all those cliches and plattitudes that operate as spells to disarm the young and gullible.
Love is cold and naked from the outside, but warm, compelling and attractive when one looks from within. When more people realize it, then more people would simply act out of the truth and multiply its effect."


http://www.africaspeaks.com/ayinde/
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Tracey
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« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2004, 01:24:15 PM »

Quote
I think Festinger has greatly underestimated the human WILL to blindness. In my observation, most people try to invalidate the informant or the information itself in order to keep their 'sanity' intact." AND..  "those who respond to logical arguments with emotional ones. They use emotional thinking and arguments to attempt to counter and invalidate the conflicting truth. They play on their own existing fears and those of others to attempt to get them to come over to their side; the fewer people who accept the new information, the easier it is to invalidate"
.

I think this word 'Ad Hominem' shares a direct link to 'cognitive dissonance" and is often used as a tactical means to discredit the truth.

Description of Ad Hominem
Translated from Latin to English, "Ad Hominem" means "against the man" or "against the person."

An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting). This type of "argument" has the following form:

Person A makes claim X.
Person B makes an attack on person A.
Therefore A's claim is false.
The reason why an Ad Hominem (of any kind) is a fallacy is that the character, circumstances, or actions of a person do not (in most cases) have a bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim being made (or the quality of the argument being made).

Example of Ad Hominem

Bill: "I believe that abortion is morally wrong."
Dave: "Of course you would say that, you're a priest."
Bill: "What about the arguments I gave to support my position?"
Dave: "Those don't count. Like I said, you're a priest, so you have to say that abortion is wrong. Further, you are just a lackey to the Pope, so I can't believe what you say."

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