Monday, March 22, 2010

Dealing With Dissonance: The Secret to Being Right

Cognitive dissonance is the discomfort one feels when holding two contradictory beliefs simultaneously. The pain is usually rather brief, however: we are quite skilled at finding ways of reducing dissonance, especially in those all-too-common cases where one of the contradictory beliefs is that we are right. The typical strategy in this scenario is to reduce dissonance by ignoring or trivializing evidence that contradicts our rightness, and then rationalizing our way to a better night's sleep. This is apparently a trick our brain uses to protect us from being crippled by stress, but it does nothing to keep us from being wrong. For that we need a better way of dealing with dissonance.

The first thing we must do is recognize that it is not conducive to the purpose of being right to have our egos bound up with our beliefs. This problem manifests itself in all situations where people take personal offense at the criticism of cherished ideas. In amateur debates, one will unfailingly encounter comments that mistakenly describe perfectly valid arguments as being "disrespectful." We must avoid the trap of thinking that ideas deserve respect merely because sensitive egos are attached to them. More importantly, we must not allow ourselves to get emotionally attached to the ideas that have taken up residence in our brains, to the point of self-identifying with them. These propositions, attitudes, beliefs, etc. are just that: it is foolish to imbue them with personhood, especially from the perspective of one who wishes to hold correct beliefs instead of merely being self-righteous.

Once we have divorced ego from the business of considering propositions (including those we already hold) then we will have positioned ourselves to reduce dissonance in the direction of any corrective evidence we may encounter. The next step, of course, is to examine our beliefs (and consider challenges to them) from this disinterested vantage point, as an unbiased outsider. In cases wherein evidence can be marshaled against the positions we hold, we will then be prepared to judge that evidence on its actual merits, rather than on the basis of how it makes us feel. Always remember that by considering valid arguments we are not submitting our selves to judgment, but rather the impersonal positions that have become insinuated in our brains by various means (some less rational than others, it should be noted). With practice, one may even learn to sidestep dissonance altogether, noting the ego without serving it, self-aware and ever mindful that a person's worth is not diminished when she modifies her beliefs upon learning some new thing. Quite the opposite, in fact.

It is with this attitude that I invite you to read whatever precocious conceits follow in this blog, and especially my forthcoming book, which will show you that Armstrongism was never correct (and therefore it was never necessary to fear its eschatology) and that by dismantling this myth, you will open up a whole world of alternatives for living a life of full joy and inspiration outside the morbid (and most importantly, fallacious) constellation of Armstrong cults.


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  2. This site is run by a lying cock sucking faggot with shit for brains.