Reality Blind - Vol. 1

triggered simultaneously and must be chosen between or reconciled. This is subjectively unpleasant and forces the brain to resolve the internal conflict somehow. For instance, a person in a low-paying job cleaning out dog cages at the pound must come up with a reconciling narrative to rationalize to himself why he stays in such a job rather than pursue a different one; so he decides he must love the job a lot. This is the “interpreter module” at work, weaving a plausible retroactive narrative. We don’t usually notice it, because as fast as the dissonance arises, the interpreter module jumps in to resolve it with a post-hoc confabulation. A persistent state of dissonance – one which can’t be resolved with just a plausible edit to the personal narrative- is highly unpleasant to maintain. Which is why we mostly don’t. Cognitive dissonance can also occur when the facts of a situation are so threatening or scary that it is easier for a person to be functional in their everyday life by NOT believing them. It is one of many of our biases that highlight a wide difference between our physical reality and what we tell ourselves in the virtual world inside our heads. This is often referred to as “being in denial,” but in fact we are all in denial in the sense that different mind modules trigger “belief” in different things depending on the context. A related trait suggestive of our disconnect with reality is the need for cognitive closure, which describes an aversion to uncertainty and a powerful desire to resolve the uncertainty into a firm belief. People with high needs for closure (those who are closed-minded, prefer order and predictability and are uncomfortable with ambiguity) tend to focus on one piece of information that conclusively asserts a certain position, then refuse to read or incorporate any new information into their worldview 51 . Their minds are made up because that certainty is simpler, cleaner cut, and lets them focus on the things they want to or have to focus on - such as the tasks of everyday life. Our interpreter modules aren’t about what’s true or correct, they’re about weaving a story which makes us look good to those around us, and which we can sincerely believe. Like small- claims court, they’re about resolution, not truth. TaaL: There are a lot of different ways to slice bullshit. Being human usually means “never having to say you’re sorry” about cognitive inconsistency. You smoothly shift from one belief system to another with no clash between them and no self- awareness that you’re even doing it . Cognitive dissonance is usually resolved so quickly th at you don’t notice it, and you immediately and retroactively believe whatever rationalized edits have been


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