[ExI] Holding contradictory beliefs is very common

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Wed Apr 5 19:16:02 UTC 2023

On Wed, Apr 5, 2023 at 12:50 PM BillK via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> On Wed, 5 Apr 2023 at 12:05, Jason Resch via extropy-chat
> <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
> >
> > This is a phenomenon we are all subject to and which we should all be
> aware of called cognitive dissonance. It can occur whenever our brains
> encounter information perceived as threatening to our existing beliefs,
> almost like an immune system for the mind. It has the effect of creating
> blind spots which literally hide information from conscious processing.
> We'll skip over a paragraph as if it wasn't there or invent a reason to
> stop reading. It's very difficult to realize when it is happening to us but
> it happens to everyone under the right conditions.

Often cognitive dissonance is painfully conscious:  you just failed a test
you had strongly prepared for, and failing it is a big shock.  Lots of
cognitive dissonance.  Your long time girlfriend goes lesbian.

> >
> > I say this only to shed some light on a common occurrence which affects
> everyone, in the hope it might explain what can happen when we discuss
> ideas that threaten beliefs that are considered fundamental to one's own
> identity. When we are aware of this phenomenon we can better understand
> when it happens to others we are talking to or even when it is happening in
> ourselves.
> >
> > Jason
> > _______________________________________________
> Another feature of humans is that almost everyone holds contradictory
> beliefs. This becomes evident if you ask the right questions.
> You can cause dissonance by bringing up contradictions in beliefs that a
person has never thought of before.  Generally something changes.
Dissonance is painful and urges resolution.  Or you can use drugs and
alcohol to just forget about it for a time, but generally it will return.

> <
> https://www.fastcompany.com/3067169/how-your-brain-makes-you-hold-contradictory-beliefs
> >
> Quotes:
> How Your Brain Makes You Hold Contradictory Beliefs
> Our brains’ penchant for efficiency means they aren’t great at syncing
> our behaviors with our core principles in every context.
> There’s a pragmatic reason for these contradictory beliefs. A core
> principle that you hold and don’t want to have violated is called a
> “protected value,” which you don’t even like to consider violating.
> Observing other people violate one’s own protected values can cause
> feelings of anger and even outrage. And when we contemplate violating
> our own protected values, we feel guilt and shame.
> In other words, if you learn some new fact that turns out to be
> inconsistent with something else you know, there are no automatic
> mechanisms in your brain that point out the inconsistency and force
> you to resolve it. Instead, you simply end up with two different
> beliefs that are not consistent.
This might happen with little inconsistencies, but not with bigger ones,
because the anxieties cry out for something to change, and usually
something does.  .

> It would be too much work for the brain to have to enumerate all of
> the exceptions to the rules you believe in, so it does something
> easier instead: It associates beliefs with specific situations and
> makes it easier to retrieve those beliefs in the situations with which
> they are associated.
> One belief can happily coexist with other conflicting beliefs until
> someone or something highlights the contradiction. The resulting
> dissonance in some cases may lead to a careful reexamination of
> values, or it may lead to an expedient rationalization and a quick
> change of topic. All the same, we’re capable of effortlessly holding
> disparate beliefs, even when they’re directly challenged.

Not without effort.  Dissonance nags at you, like a little voice in your
ear saying "DO something!  I can't stand living with this any longer!".  So
sometimes you see someone make big changes in their life.  Could be that
they have finally resolved their dissonance over something:  leaving a law
practice to become an artist.  Divorcing after years of bickering and
trouble.  Coming out sexually.  Joining or leaving a religion.

> “Do I contradict myself?” Walt Whitman wrote. “Very well then, I
> contradict myself (I am large, I contain multitudes).” He was right.
> BillK

Do recall that you have a genuine Ph.D. in experimental social and clinical
psychology in the chat group.  bill w

> _______________________________________________
> extropy-chat mailing list
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
> http://lists.extropy.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/extropy-chat
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20230405/08b691cd/attachment.htm>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list