Discommunication and Cognitive Dissonance-is this what’s gone wrong?

The collapse of reason and the trend to people just shouting at each other, either in the street or on the internet, is a trend we have returned to several times at LSS. (Apocalypse-now And Discommunication LSS 13 9 2020). Why do rational arguments not prevail? Why do facts bounce off people like shells off a well- armoured tank?

Now Mr Peter Seymour of Hertfordshire may have stumbled on an important piece of the jigsaw. Reading though a journal called The Hill, via the excellent Apple News, he came across an article by one Neil Baron. Ostensibly about Mr Trump, as you would expect from a journal whose remit is to cover the comings and goings in the Congress of the United States. Riffing yet again on the deep entrenched positions of Mr Trump’s supporters and opponents, the authors suddenly strikes gold. Psychological gold. Read this:

Other Americans and people throughout the world ask, why do these people stick with Trump? Behavioral science suggests some answers. Social psychologists note that the longer and more fiercely we need to defend our decisions, the more difficult it is to admit we’re wrong. 


According to the cognitive dissonance theory, a conflict between what we do and what we believe creates anxiety we need to alleviate. The conflict between the rampant criticism of Trump and his supporters’ tenacious defense of him has created that anxiety. So they alleviate it by shunning information inconsistent with their support and embracing consistent but false rhetoric such as the “deep state,” “fake news,” the pandemic “hoax” and the QAnon conspiracy.

Neuroscientists using brain imaging found that the reasoning areas of the brain shut down when confronted with information inconsistent with one’s beliefs and that the brain’s emotion circuits light up when supporting information is introduced.

Here at last may be the deep explanation of discommunication, where both reason and facts fail. It’s wired inside us, like the hardware in a badly designed computer. And sinister people know how to trade on it. The task before the intelligent, rational, above all empirical readers of LSS is to find ways to fix the problem. We welcome suggestions.


#discommunication #thehill #neilbaron #cognitivedissonance #reason #emotion

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