This post was inspired by a long-time friend that warned me that our relationship was in jeopardy if I persisted in sending her emails with a viewpoint she disagreed with.
While listening to a podcast the other day, I found a perfect example of how strongly cognitive dissonance can effect our thinking and perception.
But before I get into that example I want to explain some things first.
Cognitive Dissonance (COGDIS) happens when you receive the perception of a fact that contradicts your world view. For example, you hear a cat bark. Did that cat really bark like a dog? Were your ears playing tricks on you? Are you being messed with? Even though you have never heard a cat bark, have any of your friends?
You have two choices:
- Ignore the input. It doesn’t matter or it can’t be true.
- Change your viewpoint.
To decide how to respond you must go through a “cost analysis” of your decision, asking yourself questions like this?
- Will people think I am crazy if I believe cats can bark?
- Will I lose my friends if I ever tell them cats can bark?
- Do I have enough proof of my perception to know that what I just heard is real?
Two general types of people
There are cognitive driven people which are more concerned with an accurate worldview (Truth) than they are with social status or internal comfort. I call this the Dimension A (DIMA) group.
Then there are the more socially driven types of people who would rather be socially accepted and mentally comfortable with a worldview that agrees with most of their friends. This is the Dimension B (DIMB) group.
Today it appears the majority of people are DIMB type. Social members naturally wants unity and cohesion. Another reason why the majority of people are DIMB is likely due to our “socialization” training we received in public school from the time we were very young until through much of our adult life.
In the past, these different types of people rarely had big issues. Simple social rules like “don’t talk politics or religion at the dinner table” sufficed to keep the peace between the two groups. The DIMA types would go into the smoking room and get into their philosophical and political discussions while the DIMB types would chat in the kitchen while doing the dishes. The two types of conversations were comfortable with each group but were completely different in nature. (This example is not meant to imply that females are DIMB while males are DIMA though that could be true!)
But today we have much more stress happening on society
There are two main drivers for the heightened stress of the two groups ever being together.
- Vast increase in information quantity yet with lower quality.
- Vast increase in light social (virtual) interaction with less deep social interaction.
According to this article, human knowledge is doubling almost annually and is headed for a doubling rate of every 12 hours. Yet one must ask if this doubling of knowledge is all true or not. What is the quality of this knowledge? Much knowledge is based on assumptions of previous knowledge. What if those assumptions are wrong? If a common premise used in our everyday research turns out to be incorrect? How much un-true knowledge are we creating that is derived from other un-true knowledge? If the knowledge doubling continues for a long time based on a false premise, what does that do to the quality factor of our overall knowledge?
The faster information proliferates, the less time there is to test its quality and the more likely that quality will suffer.
The lower the overall quality of information, the more rapidly that quality will decay as the information builds upon itself.
Today we see major areas of research falling into crisis. The gravitational model of the universe if falling apart with more and more need for inventions like “dark matter” and “dark energy” to explain what we see. Evolutionary-biology is struggling to explain how all the latest discoveries in bio-chemical pathways discovered within and between the cells could possibly come from chance. Standard energy systems are beginning to give way to revolutionary new energy ideas that will change the world forever. Standard Medicine is making less and less sense in light of holistic and natural modalities.
All this implies that for a long time much of our research has been on a wrong path.
Over the past two to three centuries, the analysis, institutionalization and application of socialization has grown in importance and effect upon us all.
Socialization, is a term used to refer to the lifelong process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs, and ideologies, providing an individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within their own society. Socialization is thus “the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained”.
As the influence and availability of public education has increased over the centuries, each successive generation receives more and more “guidance” on what is socially acceptable. This process has generated such things as “political correctness”, “hate speech”, “gender sensitivity” and “social justice”.
Online social networks have exponentially increased in reach and influence in our society over the past two decades and has created a huge social force that must be dealt with by individuals everywhere.
We now have the “social justice warrior” role and “trolls” that monitor and selectively harass proponents of various memes and ideas online.
Our culture is also rapidly transforming itself from a more individual controlled society into a more centralized social structure where there are the “trend setters” or “elites” and then there are the masses of “followers” that are expected to conform to social expectations.
With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, a strong damper has been put into place that is restricting deep social interactions with more tenuous and surface “virtual” relationships.
These are all factors in why COGDIS is becoming more intense and frequent in our society.
An even larger influence on society, historically, is the mass news media that is on TV, online, and in the prevailing newspapers. As the traditional channels of information dissemination have changed and multiplied, the ability of mass media to “control the narrative” of society has diminished even though it appears that 90% our mass media is controlled by only 6 corporations.
I have also seen a remarkable decline in the quality of news and research done in the public mass media. The alternate channels of information like social networks, cell phones, podcasts, and online videos and sound files have created a sea of data that flat contradicts what the daily paper is telling you.
Shocking events like 911 present to the public ideas that defy all logic and physics. This further reduces the believability and trust in mass media, especially by those that are DIMA types.
It is not my goal here to say who is right or wrong. I want to stay in a place where DIMA and DIMB types can both keep reading.
Now that I have all that said, lets just look at a specific media example of a “fact” that is “commonly believed” and yet is not true.
The “common fact” is that President Trump has irresponsibly suggested that the American people drink bleach to cure Covid-19.
This interview by Piers Morgan with Nigel Farrage has to be heard to get this point.
Now if you want to just hear the trump clip alone a few times, here it is:
Nowhere in this Trump clip can you hear the word “Bleach” or “Drink” yet both those words are believed to have been said in this clip by Mr. Morgan. It appears that Piers has equated what trump said, which was to see if some kind of disinfectant could be put into the lungs to fight the virus, was equivalent to the phrase “drink some bleach”.
There is nothing even remotely unreasonable about Trump’s query to his medical experts if his idea could work. He is not addressing the crowd or the nation. He is not asking anyone else to do anything.
Yet the media has created a meme that has been so repeated and so broadcast that millions of people believe it is true, and some, like Piers, can’t even realize the misrepresentation of Trump the media has done when listening to the clip several times.
How to help
So this brings me to the question “How can I help my tortured DIMB friend without loosing my relationship with her?”
The level and number of miss-representations made by the media on normal people that just want to live in peace has created a minefield of bad data that “fact checking” and “arguing” can’t seem to fix.
As information grows, this bad data grows with it in amount while the general quality of knowledge declines at faster and faster rates.
There is now so much bad-data out there that it has become impossible for most people to find what is true. The more bad-data you have already swallowed, the harder it is to recognize new bad-data. The DIMA and DIMB types are parting ways further and further every day.
As the void widens it also becomes all the more painful for a DIMB to come over to the DIMA way of thinking.
I remember the “Walk Away” movement that had various YouTube videos of once-liberal democrats deciding to leave the ever-more-radical democratic party. Some lived in lifestyles that simply could not exist in a conservative world-view and had to face complete loss of all their friends and support people simply to gain the freedom to think for themselves.
I think the first thing to be is compassionate and understanding.
How do you open a door to a person that is personally threatened by contradictory information?
Give them space.
Give them time.
Be there for them.
let them know…
that you love them.