Reality Blind - Vol. 1

Cognitive Dissonance

“ Consider a narrow river valley below a high dam, such that if the dam burst, the resulting flood of water would drown people for a considerable distance downstream. When attitude pollsters ask people downstream of the dam how concerned they are about the dam’s bursting, it’s not surprising that fear of a dam burst is lowest far downstream, and increases among residents increasingly close to the dam. Surprisingly, though, after you get to just a few miles below the dam, where fear of th e dam’s breaking is found to be the highest, the concern then falls off to zero as you approach closer to the dam! That is, the people living immediately under the dam, the ones most certain to be drowned in a dam burst, profess unconcern. That’s because o f psychological denial: the only way of preserving one’s sanity while looking up every day at the dam is to deny the possibility that it could burst. If something that you perceive arouses in you a painful emotion, you may subconsciously suppress or deny your perception in order to avoid the unbearable pain, even though the practical results of ignoring your perception may prove ultimately disastrous. The emotions most often responsible are terror, anxiety, and grief.” – Jared Diamond , Collapse Summary: Having multiple mind modules means that we can sincerely hold many mutually incompatible beliefs in our heads. Effectively, holding different beliefs in separate brain modules is the way human brains work, and they normally function seamlessly to allow us to believe whatever “feels right” in a given context. Cognitive dissonance occurs when conflicting beliefs held by separate brain modules are


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