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Cognitive Dissonance


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"The inability to believe what you have been programmed not to believe, however compelling the evidence" Thomas Mullugan DDS


I found this in a Dental textbook. Shows that this is a human weakness in ALL persuits.



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it can just as often be the inability to disbelieve, reject belief, in something you've been programmed to believe, however compelling the evidence.


Belief is really an interesting thing. As i encountered it in several different contexts within psychology, behavioral, cognition, developmental, etc, on the way to my degree. it became quite a fascinating topic to me. Something most of us would find really surprising is how very little belief has to do with, involves, functions of reason and critical thinking. Belief is really quite irrational, quite emotionally based. That is one reason "compelling evidence" has so little effect on changing belief.


Another, that we can't MAKE ourselves believe, or to change what or how we believe, even when the rational part of our mind HAS critically examined that compelling evidence. Reason tells us this just can't be, yet we cannot turn loose of the belief. We become agitated, anxious, even agressive, if pressed to acknowledge that dissonance, even to ourselves. How often do we see people get really angry when presented compelling evidence that is virtually undenialbe and unrefutable, that contradicts something they believe.


Belief involves an element of "judgement" of certain factors relating to the belief, and that is emotional in nature and basis. Consider how often it is that people have formed a judgement of someone in some matter, say accused of a disturbing crime or offense, that has become a belief in that person's guilt. And then, compelling, even irefutable evidence is brought forward that the person is actually innocent and aquited of that crime. How many people still continue to believe that person is really guilty, and/or, if that is entirely impossible, still beleive that person is a "bad" person worthy of their despising and hate? Despite facts, despite evidence, they cannot turn loose of that emotional judgement.


Many of us have experienced that on a more personal level, either had it directed toward us by someone else, or yes, fell into it ourselves. Say someone has been given reason to believe you did something to or against them, maybe stole something valuable from them, or was the "other" man/woman in their marriage or relationship break-up. They are angry at you, what you did to them, maybe even hate you for it. Then, compelling evidence arises that clears you of any suspicion in the matter, plainly, you are not guilty of whatever, knew nothing about it. You were a mere innocent bystander. And even after they know that, they STILL hate you...and even wierder, all their friends that sided with them when it was believed you did, still hate you too! The emotional aspect of that belief refuses to yield to reason. More so, to acknolwedge the error seriously shakes their confidence, an emotional state, in their ability to evaluate their environment and make choices and judgements, both of which are, agai, emotionally, not rationally based.


So we can't really "make" ourselves believe or change our belief about something, it is not merely a matter of making a rational "choice" to believe or not. Because belief isn't rational to begin with...it's emotional. And as in the example above, that person still has the emotions of anger and hate and hurt over what was done, and those feeling STILL have to be directed somewhere.


Belief isn't really belief until we are able to act out of it as a truth, as if an accepted fact. What we believe isn't what we say we believe, its what is demonstrated through our actions, our real choices. someone can say all they want they believe Jesus is returning to Earth any day now, but if they are still going about normal life making plans and accomadations for their distant future. they don't really believe it. No matter how determinedly someone claims to beleive their spouse is faithful, if they are still spying and running the caller ID looking for recurrent strange numbers or other suspicious "clues", they do not really believe it.



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