2
Aug
2005

Cognitive Dimwits: The Unbearable Rightness of Being

by Leilla Matsui and Stella La Chance

Cognitive dissonance occurs when a long held assumption or existing belief is thrown into question by new or contradictory information, causing a person to reinterpret this evidence after it has been presented to justify a falsely held notion. The theory refers to the phenomenon of the mind's failure to assume its equilibrium after having to accept an unwelcome intrusion of this kind into its “comfortably held assumption zone.” It results in a willful refusal to acknowledge that a shift in perception has even occurred. When exposed to information inconsistent with his/her beliefs, such a person remains fiercely loyal to the original falsehood to prevent an increase in the magnitude of dissonance felt in the face of a humiliating confrontation with inconvenient facts. The phenomenon is most often associated with the resulting psychological struggle of cult members trying to come to terms with the failure of some cataclysmic event to occur, as predicted by the group's charismatic leader. Less committed members are more likely to acknowledge that they had been “had” and move on from there, while more fervent believers deal with the potential loss of face by reinterpreting past events to accommodate a present psychological dilemma. If the end of the world fails to materialize on schedule, it is thanks to the “power of prayer,” or newly emerging interpretations of prophecy....

//www.dissidentvoice.org/July05/Matsui-LaChance0731.htm
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