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Author Topic:   Cognitive Dissonance and Cultural Beliefs
RAZD
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Message 1 of 102 (669273)
07-28-2012 11:36 AM


Many of you will know that I often invoke cognitive dissonance in these debates and many may feel that this is over-stating the issue. In actuality, imhysao(1), it is very likely I am way understating the issue.

Individual Level Cognitive Dissonance

First, I need to update what I usually post on this issue from wikipedia, as it has been modified since 2010:

Cognitive dissonance - (Wikipedia, 2012)
Cognitive dissonance is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting cognitions (e.g., ideas, beliefs, values, emotional reactions) simultaneously. In a state of dissonance, people may feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment.[1] The theory of cognitive dissonance in social psychology proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by altering existing cognitions, adding new ones to create a consistent belief system, or alternatively by reducing the importance of any one of the dissonant elements.[1] An example of this would be the conflict between wanting to smoke and knowing that smoking is unhealthy; a person may try to change their feelings about the odds that they will actually suffer the consequences, or they might add the consonant element that the smoking is worth short term benefits. A general view of cognitive dissonance is when one is biased towards a certain decision even though other factors favour an alternative.[2]

Cognitive dissonance theory warns that people have a bias to seek consonance among their cognitions. According to Festinger, we engage in a process he termed "dissonance reduction", which he said could be achieved in one of three ways: lowering the importance of one of the discordant factors, adding consonant elements, or changing one of the dissonant factors. [5] This bias gives the theory its predictive power, shedding light on otherwise puzzling irrational and even destructive behavior.

Lowering the importance of conflicting information is usually done in several ways: attacking the messenger (ad hominem), denial, calling the evidence lies or part of a conspiracy theory, for instance.

Adding consonant elements would involve looking for information that supports the original belief, regardless of the value of the source (this explains the creationist use of creationist websites rather than for instance), while ignoring any additional dissonant information. This involves Confirmation Bias(2).

Changing one of the dissonant factors would involve correcting dissonant information that is false or changing the original belief to accept the contradictory information. This is similar to the process in science of changing an hypothesis that is contradicted by new empirical evidence (from testing etc) so that the hypothesis explains the new evidence as well as the original evidence: the dissonance is removed and the hypothesis can undergo further testing.

The problem with changing beliefs is that usually they can be core beliefs with a lot of emotional attachement, which results in anger that it is challenged and can lead to the irrational or destructive behavior noted above. This also often involves beliefs learned at an early age, which then involves the irrational primacy effect (see confirmation bias, early information).

This just covers the basics and an individuals initial response/s to contradictory information.

Note that cognitive dissonance is not necessarily a bad thing - it can be used in schools to spur students to find resolutions of the dissonant information by further study and it is actively sought in science with testing hypothesis - especially in situations where people are willing to change beliefs and opinions when presented with new information.

Group Level Cognitive Dissonance

What I want to discuss here goes deeper into this issue for people as parts of groups with similar thoughts/beliefs/opinions, ones where the belief\opinion is entrenched and deeply held:

Cognitive dissonance - (Wikipedia, 2012)
Dissonance is aroused when people are confronted with information that is inconsistent with their beliefs. If the dissonance is not reduced by changing one's belief, the dissonance can result in misperception or rejection or refutation of the information, seeking support from others who share the beliefs, and attempting to persuade others to restore consonance.

An early version of cognitive dissonance theory appeared in Leon Festinger's 1956 book, When Prophecy Fails. This book gave an inside account of the increasing belief that sometimes follows the failure of a cult's prophecy. The believers met at a pre-determined place and time, believing they alone would survive the Earth's destruction. The appointed time came and passed without incident. They faced acute cognitive dissonance: had they been the victim of a hoax? Had they donated their worldly possessions in vain? Most members chose to believe something less dissonant: the aliens had given earth a second chance, and the group was now empowered to spread the word: earth-spoiling must stop. The group dramatically increased their proselytism despite the failed prophecy.[14]

(see also the Great Disappointment (occurred in 1844))

Instead of discarding their belief, it apparently became stronger due to the group choosing a modified belief that allowed\explained the conflicting information. We've seen similar modification of belief in the creation\evolution debate, where we now have micro-evolution accepted (variation and adaptation), but macro-evolution is still rejected\denied, and the new emphasis on "information" without any real attempt to quantify and evaluate it.

Proselytizing is, of course, a way of adding consonant elements, by adding people to the group holding the belief (which implies that anyone proselytizing may be experiencing cognitive dissonance ... ). The larger the group the less it seems that the belief is in conflict and more likely it appears that the contrary evidence is wrong to those in the group (it is less important, false or it is a conspiracy etc).

Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians that believe in a young earth form such a cult/ural group of self-supporting, confirmation biased, entrenched, believers, and they are the main source of misinformation confronted on this forum. This also affects American politics detrimentally, and this affects everyone.

Politics is another area where you have emotionally held basic culturally entrenched beliefs\opinions that are in conflict (liberal vs conservative) where there is little objective empirical evidence that clearly supports one view over another.

Cognitive dissonance is visible causing conflicts around the world: when we include other fundamentalist groups and political groups this can be seen to be a primary source of conflict around the world. This is serious, and we need to learn how to deal with this problem, to wean people from irrational (illogical) and delusional (contradicted) culturally entrenched beliefs and stop destructive behavior (suicide bombing?).

Confronting them head-on (as we tend to do in these debates) does not seem to work, especially on the culturally entrenched, deeply held beliefs, in fact it appears to make it worse (foreveryoung comes to mind as a recent example). Compassion is needed, but also a more nuanced approach, questioning rather than challenging.

For me, science is a way of questioning the universe to ascertain what beliefs\opinions\concepts\hypothesis are more likely to be true, with the assumption that beliefs supported by evidence are more likely to be closer to reality than ones that are not supported, and that beliefs\opinions\concepts\hypothesis that are not contradicted by evidence are more likely to be closer to reality than ones that are contradicted.

See cognitive dissonance in education for some examples.

Conclusions

An open-minded yet skeptical approach is necessary, imho, to develop a personal world view that explains all the evidence with minimal cognitive dissonance and minimal reliance on confirmation bias.

This needs to be established in our schools and other learning institutions, so that a national communal world view can be developed that explains all the evidence with minimal cognitive dissonance and minimal reliance on confirmation bias.

It needs to be required of our political leaders so that a rational national policy can be developed and implemented both in our internal dealings and our international dealings. We've seen bad decisions based on confirmation bias that could have been prevented with a more rational approach.

Enjoy



footnotes:

(1) In my humble yet sometimes arrogant opinion ...

(2) Note this is now updated from previous postings with a 2009 reference:

Confirmation Bias (Wikipedia, 2009)
Confirmation bias (also called confirmatory bias or myside bias) is a tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses.[1] People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. For example, in reading about gun control, people usually prefer sources that affirm their existing attitudes. They also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position. Biased search, interpretation and memory have been invoked to explain attitude polarization (when a disagreement becomes more extreme even though the different parties are exposed to the same evidence), belief perseverance (when beliefs persist after the evidence for them is shown to be false), the irrational primacy effect (a greater reliance on information encountered early in a series) and illusory correlation (when people falsely perceive an association between two events or situations).

A series of experiments in the 1960s suggested that people are biased toward confirming their existing beliefs. Later work re-interpreted these results as a tendency to test ideas in a one-sided way, focusing on one possibility and ignoring alternatives. In certain situations, this tendency can bias people's conclusions. Explanations for the observed biases include wishful thinking and the limited human capacity to process information. Another explanation is that people show confirmation bias because they are weighing up the costs of being wrong, rather than investigating in a neutral, scientific way.

Confirmation biases contribute to overconfidence in personal beliefs and can maintain or strengthen beliefs in the face of contrary evidence. Poor decisions due to these biases have been found in military, political, and organizational contexts.

( ... the invasion of Iraq comes to mind ... )

Edited by RAZD, : formating, added some comment (compare to proposed version if curious)

Edited by RAZD, : date per nwr thanks

Edited by RAZD, : .


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AdminModulous
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Message 2 of 102 (669275)
07-28-2012 3:43 PM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Cognitive Dissonance and Cultural Beliefs thread in the Proposed New Topics forum. Because...where else?

Edited by AdminModulous, : No reason given.


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RAZD
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Message 3 of 102 (669277)
07-28-2012 4:57 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by AdminModulous
07-28-2012 3:43 PM


thanks
Now the discussion may begin

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RAZD
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Message 4 of 102 (669279)
07-28-2012 5:35 PM


The world is NOT young.
According to available information, the world appears to be at least 4.5 billion years old.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_the_earth

quote:
The age of the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years (4.54 Χ 10^9 years ± 1%).[1][2][3] This age is based on evidence from radiometric age dating of meteorite material and is consistent with the ages of the oldest-known terrestrial and lunar samples. Following the scientific revolution and the development of radiometric age dating, measurements of lead in uranium-rich minerals showed that some were in excess of a billion years old.[4]

This is not so much a matter of debate, it is a matter of understanding and recognizing available objective empirical evidence that contradicts a young earth.

Belief in a young earth is a dissonant belief at odds with the evidence, one that pervades our culture.

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/Wiens.html

quote:
Arguments over the age of the Earth have sometimes been divisive for people who regard the Bible as God's word. Even though the Earth's age is never mentioned in the Bible, it is an issue because those who take a strictly literal view of the early chapters of Genesis can calculate an approximate date for the creation by adding up the life-spans of the people mentioned in the genealogies. Assuming a strictly literal interpretation of the week of creation, even if some of the generations were left out of the genealogies, the Earth would be less than ten thousand years old. Radiometric dating techniques indicate that the Earth is thousands of times older than that--approximately four and a half billion years old. Many Christians accept this and interpret the Genesis account in less scientifically literal ways. However, some Christians suggest that the geologic dating techniques are unreliable, that they are wrongly interpreted, or that they are confusing at best. Unfortunately, much of the literature available to Christians has been either inaccurate or difficult to understand, so that confusion over dating techniques continues.

There is also evidence from simple annual systems that extend beyond the ages that young earth creationists have used (several different numbers involved).

http://www.evcforum.net/dm.php?action=msg&t=6288

quote:
We see many creationists saying that dating methods are not accurate and are prone to errors. The problem is that these methods all correlate with each other in many rather astounding ways, given that they are based on very different mechanisms.

To address this issue of correlations, and to bring this issue to the fore, this topic starts with ones that have direct methods of counting ages due to annual layers, how those annual layers validate each other and how several radiometric methods enter into the mix -- correlations not just with age but with climate and certain known instances that occurred in the past and which show up in these records just where they should be.

The challenge for the creationist is not just to describe how a single method can be wrong, but how they can all be wrong at the same time and yet produce identical results - when the errors in different systems should produce different random results.


It does not appear that falsifying the contradictory evidence is a feasible route to reducing the dissonance here, rather it would seem that modifying the belief is more practical. One suggestion would be to realize that the bible does not really tell you the age of the earth, and that fallible people have made poorly supported interpretations to derive dates, that the variation seen between interpretations is more evidence of this fallibility rather than it is of any in/accuracy of the bible.

Feel free to ask questions.

Enjoy

Edited by RAZD, : added

Edited by RAZD, : 10^9

Edited by RAZD, : clrty


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RAZD
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Message 5 of 102 (669373)
07-29-2012 2:52 PM


Trickle Down Economics Theory is Falsified
The argument is simple:

Trickle down economic theory says that money trickles down the economic pyramid and everyone from rich to poor benefit.

The evidence that contradicts this is the economic failure of the investment bubble: IF money had trickled down then the people would have been able to pay their mortgages and THEN there would not have been the economic failure.

Secondary evidence is that the failure catapulted from the bottom of the pyramid to the top in a matter of weeks, endangering (according to frantic claims of the rich anyway) large banks and investment firms, thus showing that the economy trickles UP rather than down.

Tertiary evidence is that real wages for middle to low incomes fell while this theory was being tested, also a negative result compared to the predicted result.

Quaternary evidence is that we have had some 20 years of increasing tax cuts for the rich\corporations that supposedly create jobs and improve the economy, so we should have very low unemployment and massively booming economy while just the opposite is true. Republicans chide Obama for 44 months of low job creation, while (a) the tax cuts for the "job creators" are still in effect (and should be creating those jobs), and (b) they have intentionally blocked every one of Obama's job bills and attempts to cut back on the failed tax cut program. The dissonance here, imhysao, is astounding to anyone with an unbiased view or an open mind.

Thus it would appear difficult to falsify the contrary evidence in this case leaving the only alternative being to modify or discard the theory ... modifying it to some money trickles down to some lower income people would appear to be accurate but useless, so a better option is to discard it, imhysao.

Maintaining a belief in trickle down theory thus appears to be a dissonant belief at odds with the evidence.

Feel free to ask any questions about this.

Enjoy.

Edited by RAZD, : .

Edited by RAZD, : quaternary


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RAZD
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Message 6 of 102 (669405)
07-29-2012 7:39 PM


The Cognitive Dissonance Bubble
dwise1 on Creationist Shortage, Message 311 makes the following observation (extensive quoting follows):

quote:
A possible analogy might be hot-house plants that cannot survive outdoors, but rather need a special environment in which to thrive. Creationists/fundamentalists would be those hot-house plants and "outdoors" would be the real world and reality and is where this forum operates. The special hot-house environment that creationists need is to be found in Christian and creationist forums, congregations, associations, and clubs. Places that shield creationists from the real world, that find ways to either keep non-creationists out or sharply curtail them from injecting reality into those places (eg, no allowing them to ask the embarrassing questions nor to present the embarrassing facts). Their special place where they can utter any nonsense they want and it will be praised so long as it appears to oppose evolution and pretty much toes the official theological line; the entire lot of them, sitting in a circle uttering nonsense and patting each other on the back in what amounts to a creationist circle jerk. No idea ever gets honestly evaluated or tested, since the only creationist criteria for a "good" argument is that it oppose evolution (or a related science) and that it sound convincing, at least to the other creationists.

This of course is applying one of the methods of cognitive dissonance reduction in the OP

Adding consonant elements would involve looking for information that supports the original belief, regardless of the value of the source (this explains the creationist use of creationist websites rather than for instance), while ignoring any additional dissonant information. This involves Confirmation Bias.

He goes on:

quote:
And then a few of them, emboldened by all the stroking they got in the hot-house, wander outdoors and get a very rude awakening from reality. Gone is their protection from reality and from people who don't think the same as they do. Now they suddenly find themselves faced with questions, calls for them to support their claims or, far worse, to discuss their claims .... And they keep getting hit with the real world facts that they were also shielded from back in the hot-house. Suddenly, their nonsense that they used to get praised for doesn't count for anything anymore, because now they're being put to the test and are found extremely lacking. They never did know what they were talking about, but now they're being held accountable for it. They had never learned how to deal with the real world and so they're completely unprepared for it. So they quickly vacate the real world and return to their hot-house environment, only now whining about how they were treated.

One of the "benefits" their "hot-house" environment affords creationists is protection from reality, in that they are protected from what science really says and from what evolution really is ....

So then the bottom line is that on their own forums creationists are afforded extra and special priveleges and considerations that protect them from any opposing view. They have become completely dependent on that special treatment and protection and are unable to fend for themselves anymore or even to function in the real world. Like their political counterparts who complain bitterly about anti-Christian religious discrimination just because they are no allowed to impose their religion and beliefs on everybody else, the creationists here complain about moderator bias because they're not getting the same hot-house preferential treatment that they get on their own sites.


Here I'm going to suggest another analogy: the Bubble Boy analogy, where the person inside is protected from the "pathogens" outside. This also brings me to include Bill Maher's use of the bubble analogy with regard to republicans that are fact free inside their bubbles:

and finally dwise1 says

quote:
... And we are currently observing marc9000 engaged in a frontal assault against books that describe evolution and that discuss atheism. He bases that assault on the absurd claim that evolution causes atheism and he complains bitterly that people should not be able to read such books because they will turn those people into atheists. What he is demonstrating by all this is that he wants to suppress information and to keep people in ignorance, especially himself and other fundamentalists.

This is trying to expand the bubble and force other people inside to "protect" them from the pathogens of reality, which, like proselytizing is an attempt to increase confirmation elements by coercing people to agree with you.

When cognitive dissonance is likely the major cause of international cultural conflict (conflict between entrenched cultural beliefs of different cultures around the world) then it should be no surprise to see it as a conflict between sub-cultures.

When there are more people inside a particular bubble (cultural group) then it becomes easier to turn inward to the like minded denizens than to look outside or to question those beliefs.

We see this with the "bubble" YECs in Message 4 and the "bubble" trickle downers in Message 5.

We all have our bubbles, but an open minded skeptical questioning approach is a good way to make the skin thin and penetrable. And this is one place I personally would rather be thin skinned than thick skinned.

Who knows, you may find an orchid for that hothouse or a cure for that pathogen ...

Enjoy.

Edited by RAZD, : added 4 and 5 "bubbles"

Edited by RAZD, : updated video link


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Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by Panda, posted 07-29-2012 8:51 PM RAZD has responded

  
Panda
Member (Idle past 1610 days)
Posts: 2688
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Joined: 10-04-2010


(1)
Message 7 of 102 (669414)
07-29-2012 8:51 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by RAZD
07-29-2012 7:39 PM


Personal experience
I'm not sure what more to contribute to your thread.
You have covered most of the points.

So I thought I would describe my own experience of cognitive dissonance...

quote:
Cognitive dissonance is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting cognitions

I have never found it uncomfortable, per se.
It puts me in a state on confusion rather than discomfort.

I am left figuratively looking left then right and then left again, trying to figure out what I actually think.
The only solution to this is to do research (i.e. google it).
At this point I have to be very aware of confirmation bias by actively seeking both sides of the argument.
But my confusion is quite neutral, so I don't actually 'struggle' against a particular side.

The only real bias I have at that point is based on the history of the proponents I am using to find out more information.
If (e.g.) Fox news is the only advocate for a particular position then I will give their claims far less weight than (e.g.) a university professor.

Due to the lack of discomfort caused by cognitive dissonance, I don't really mind experiencing it.
I view it as a good reason for me to learn more.


"There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god." J. B. S. Haldane

This message is a reply to:
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RAZD
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Joined: 03-14-2004
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Message 8 of 102 (669451)
07-30-2012 6:00 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Panda
07-29-2012 8:51 PM


Personal experience/s and worldview bubbles
Thanks Panda,

Due to the lack of discomfort caused by cognitive dissonance, I don't really mind experiencing it.
I view it as a good reason for me to learn more.

What you are describing sounds more like the state of dissonance used to further study in education than what is encountered by someone with strong beliefs (YECs for example):

quote:
Message 1: Note that cognitive dissonance is not necessarily a bad thing - it can be used in schools to spur students to find resolutions of the dissonant information by further study and it is actively sought in science with testing hypothesis - especially in situations where people are willing to change beliefs and opinions when presented with new information.

Perhaps a better term to use here would be irritation rather than discomfort per se.

I am left figuratively looking left then right and then left again, trying to figure out what I actually think.
The only solution to this is to do research (i.e. google it).
At this point I have to be very aware of confirmation bias by actively seeking both sides of the argument.
But my confusion is quite neutral, so I don't actually 'struggle' against a particular side.

Sounds to me like the open minded skeptical questioning attitude of someone looking to reduce dissonant irritation/s as much as possible rather than someone trying to reinforce strong beliefs.

I look back at some of my debates with Straggler regarding personal worldviews and how information is processed by individuals in relation to their personal worldviews that have been built up from personal experience, opinions, education and the like.

Worldview (Wikipedia, 2012)
A comprehensive world view (or worldview) is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society's knowledge and point-of-view, including natural philosophy; fundamental, existential, and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and ethics.[1] The term is a calque of the German word Weltanschauung [ˈvɛlt.ʔanˌʃaʊ.ʊŋ] ( listen), composed of Welt ('world') and Anschauung ('view' or 'outlook').[2] It is a concept fundamental to German philosophy and epistemology and refers to a wide world perception. Additionally, it refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs through which an individual, group or culture interprets the world and interacts with it.

A worldview is a network of presuppositions which is not verified by the procedures of natural science but in terms of which every aspect of man’s knowledge and experience is interpreted and interrelated.[3]

One of the most important concepts in cognitive philosophy and cognitive sciences is the German concept of Weltanschauung. This expression has often been used to refer to the "wide worldview" or "wide world perception" of a people, family, or person. The Weltanschauung of a people originates from the unique world experience of a people, which they experience over several millennia. The language of a people reflects the Weltanschauung of that people in the form of its syntactic structures and untranslatable connotations and its denotations.

Worldview can be expressed as the fundamental cognitive, affective, and evaluative presuppositions a group of people make about the nature of things, and which they use to order their lives.[6][citation needed]

Regardless of whether thought strongly shapes language and culture or vice versa, the worldview map of the world would likely be closely related to the linguistic map of the world. Similarly, it would probably almost coincide with a map of the world drawn on the basis of music across people.[8]

The philosophical importance of worldviews became increasingly clear during the 20th Century for a number of reasons, such as increasing contact between cultures, and the failure of some aspects of the Enlightenment project, such as the rationalist project of attaining all truth by reason alone. Mathematical logic showed that fundamental choices of axioms were essential in deductive reasoning[16] and that, even having chosen axioms not everything that was true in a given logical system could be proven.[17] Some philosophers believe the problems extend to "the inconsistencies and failures which plagued the Enlightenment attempt to identify universal moral and rational principles";[18] although Enlightenment principles such as universal suffrage and the universal declaration of human rights are accepted, if not taken for granted, by many.[19]

A worldview can be considered as comprising a number of basic beliefs which are philosophically equivalent to the axioms of the worldview considered as a logical theory. These basic beliefs cannot, by definition, be proven (in the logical sense) within the worldview precisely because they are axioms, and are typically argued from rather than argued for.[20] However their coherence can be explored philosophically and logically, and if two different worldviews have sufficient common beliefs it may be possible to have a constructive dialogue between them.[21]

According to Michael Lind, "a worldview is a more or less coherent understanding of the nature of reality, which permits its holders to interpret new information in light of their preconceptions. Clashes among worldviews cannot be ended by a simple appeal to facts. Even if rival sides agree on the facts, people may disagree on conclusions because of their different premises." This is why politicians often seem to talk past one another, or ascribe different meanings to the same events. Tribal or national wars are often the result of incompatible worldviews.

Note how this ties in to the argument of cultural cognitive dissonance bubbles causing conflicts around the world.

It seems fairly clear to me now that everyone's personal worldview (embedded within their cultural worldview), and it's impact on accepting and learning new information is their personal cognitive dissonance bubble, their worldview bubble, with the strength of the bubble wall being dependent on the tenacity of strongly held personal beliefs vs the willingness to discard falsified concepts and incorporate new ones.

This consilience gives me a more comfortable feeling about those old arguments, adding some confirmatory elements, so it would appear that this has reduced some nagging irritation (rather than discomfort) .

I would say that my experiences have been similar to yours with dissonance. Perhaps the biggest dissonance I experience now is trying to understand why some people struggle so much with accepting evidence when it seems so natural to me, and perhaps this is what has led me here. It would be interesting to see how someone that is a recovered YEC would describe their experience with the bubble boundary/ies.

Enjoy

Edited by RAZD, : clrty

Edited by RAZD, : added a bit at the end


we are limited in our ability to understand
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This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Panda, posted 07-29-2012 8:51 PM Panda has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by Panda, posted 07-30-2012 9:32 AM RAZD has acknowledged this reply
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Panda
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(1)
Message 9 of 102 (669468)
07-30-2012 9:32 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by RAZD
07-30-2012 6:00 AM


Re: Personal experience/s and worldview bubbles
RAZD writes:

Perhaps a better term to use here would be irritation rather than discomfort per se.


I agree - 'irritation' (or maybe 'niggle') is a better choice of word.
It annoys me enough to do something about it, but not enough for me to have to rush to a conclusion.

RAZD writes:

... rather than someone trying to reinforce strong beliefs.

...unless my most cherished belief is that I don't know anything.

RAZD writes:

It seems fairly clear to me now that everyone's personal worldview (embedded within their cultural worldview), and it's impact on accepting and learning new information is their personal cognitive dissonance bubble, their worldview bubble, with the strength of the bubble wall being dependent on the tenacity of strongly held personal beliefs vs the willingness to discard falsified concepts and incorporate new ones.


Maybe my world view is based on the fact that I know I don't know everything - and I know that the things that I think I know might be wrong.
I have no blind certainty about anything - and I am ok with that.
But it makes 'changing my mind' comparatively easy - as I was already part-way there.

RAZD writes:

Perhaps the biggest dissonance I experience now is trying to understand why some people struggle so much with accepting evidence when it seems so natural to me, and perhaps this is what has led me here.


This sounds more like a person's normal ignorance of other people's motives, rather than cognitive dissonance.
What would be the conflicting facts that cause this dissonance?
Perhaps this is more like the psychological behaviour where we expect others to think the same as we do? (I can't remember it's name.)

"There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god." J. B. S. Haldane

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Modulous
Member (Idle past 1 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


(4)
Message 10 of 102 (669493)
07-30-2012 1:33 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by RAZD
07-30-2012 6:00 AM


Re: Personal experience/s and worldview bubbles
I would say that my experiences have been similar to yours with dissonance. Perhaps the biggest dissonance I experience now is trying to understand why some people struggle so much with accepting evidence when it seems so natural to me, and perhaps this is what has led me here. It would be interesting to see how someone that is a recovered YEC would describe their experience with the bubble boundary/ies.

I wouldn't call that dissonance, in the sense of cognitive dissonance. Everybody has some confusion over why other people 'just don't get it'.

So let me run you through one of my key moments of cognitive dissonance. It's not YEC, but my beliefs were held with a similar degree of fervour.

Haha! Their religious views are all clearly made up, I know the truth, and they're getting it all wrong.

How do I know the truth

Because I've experienced it first hand.

Well they say they've had experiences too

Then clearly they're lying.

Are you calling your friends liars?

*Prickly feeling. Gnawing doubt. Somethings amiss here. Quickly! A solution must be found. But how to square the circle? I know!*

Then they're mistaken.

What if you're mistaken, and they're not?

*Sudden sinking feeling. A sense that the world is spinning. Shutup shutup! Think about something else!*

*Several years pass*

They really believe that? How on earth can they believe that?

We've been here before. The last time you changed your views, you implicitly accepted you were mistaken

I'm not mistaken now

How do you know?

Because I've had direct personal experience to confirm it!

When Newton apocryphally personally experienced an apple falling, was that sufficient?

It was sufficient to prove to Newton that gravity existed

But what if other people thought the apple fell up?

Then you'd devise an experiment that could be run by anybody which would prove the direction of the apple's fall.

Can you run such an experiment to confirm your religious beliefs, or falsify theirs?

*uncomfortable moment as I juggle these two ideas. Again, a sinking feeling, again a prickly feeling, body temperature seems to rise, heart beat too.*

You don't run experiments on religious ideas!

Then how can you say who, if anybody, is right?

I've personally experienced these things

So have they; you've talked to a schizophrenic about what they have personally experienced. Do you doubt their reports? Do you believe what they reported?

*the symptoms mount, the prickliness threatens to produce sweat. The desire to consider something, anything else grows.*

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they're wrong. Maybe we're all wrong. If anyone is right, we'd never know.

*Dissonance resolves, discomfort melts away.*

Not how things went exactly, of course, but it followed that general pattern.

It seems fairly clear to me now that everyone's personal worldview (embedded within their cultural worldview), and it's impact on accepting and learning new information is their personal cognitive dissonance bubble, their worldview bubble, with the strength of the bubble wall being dependent on the tenacity of strongly held personal beliefs vs the willingness to discard falsified concepts and incorporate new ones.

Indeed - I like to try and identify the part of a person's worldview is causing them difficulties with the matter under discussion - and then trying to challenge that directly. Trying to battle cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias or cultural beliefs by reasoned argument and evidence is such a hard battle. If it's done regularly enough it has a chance of getting through, so its still a tool worth employing, of course.


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 Message 8 by RAZD, posted 07-30-2012 6:00 AM RAZD has responded

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Modulous
Member (Idle past 1 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 11 of 102 (669495)
07-30-2012 1:45 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Panda
07-30-2012 9:32 AM


Re: Personal experience/s and worldview bubbles
Perhaps the biggest dissonance I experience now is trying to understand why some people struggle so much with accepting evidence when it seems so natural to me, and perhaps this is what has led me here.

This sounds more like a person's normal ignorance of other people's motives, rather than cognitive dissonance.
What would be the conflicting facts that cause this dissonance?
Perhaps this is more like the psychological behaviour where we expect others to think the same as we do? (I can't remember it's name.)

There's the curse of knowledge., but that wasn't what you were thinking of.

Edited by Modulous, : fixed url


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 Message 9 by Panda, posted 07-30-2012 9:32 AM Panda has responded

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Panda
Member (Idle past 1610 days)
Posts: 2688
From: UK
Joined: 10-04-2010


(1)
Message 12 of 102 (669533)
07-30-2012 5:55 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Modulous
07-30-2012 1:45 PM


Re: Personal experience/s and worldview bubbles
I was thinking of the False-consensus effect (which conveniently was on the page you linked).
quote:
There is a tendency for people to assume that their own opinions, beliefs, preferences, values and habits are 'normal' and that others also think the same way that they do.

p.s. Your url is formatted incorrectly.

"There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god." J. B. S. Haldane

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RAZD
Member
Posts: 19544
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 3.4


Message 13 of 102 (669538)
07-30-2012 6:18 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Modulous
07-30-2012 1:33 PM


Re: Personal experience/s and worldview bubbles
Hi Modulous

*Prickly feeling. Gnawing doubt. Somethings amiss here. Quickly! A solution must be found. ...
*Sudden sinking feeling. A sense that the world is spinning. Shutup shutup! Think about something else!*
*uncomfortable moment as I juggle these two ideas. Again, a sinking feeling, again a prickly feeling, body temperature seems to rise, heart beat too.*
*the symptoms mount, the prickliness threatens to produce sweat. The desire to consider something, anything else grows.*
*Dissonance resolves, discomfort melts away.*

Not how things went exactly, of course, but it followed that general pattern.

Wow, I would certainly say that was more of an experience with dissonance than I have had, and yes, more along the scale that the articles talk about than simple "cognitive discomfort" thanks

Enjoy

Edited by RAZD, : simple


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


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RAZD
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Posts: 19544
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 3.4


Message 14 of 102 (669571)
07-31-2012 6:52 AM


cognitive dissonance and culture clash
Minnemooseus in Creationist Shortage, Message 349 says

quote:
The evolution side recognizes that the creation "science" side is armed with an empty gun. Still, the evo side demand is that they fire something other than blanks. Isn't that a variety of cogitative dissonance in itself?

And we do have the problem of dogpiling the creationist, often by less than friendly evolutionists (evo-jerks). This is something that needs to be battled, and it's not an easy thing for moderators to sort through. So yet again I preach, "evo side, please bring up the friendly level".

Dewise1 does many epic and devastating argument messages, but does he ever descend to being an evo-jerk? Very rarely if at all.

My impression and recollection (being one of poor memory) is that Foreveryoung is a higher than average rationality creationist. He did some good discussions and I really do like the guy. Unfortunately, the combination of dogpiling and/or evo-jerks twice caused him to crack in an extreme manner. He needed a substantial suspension vacation for his own good.


Yes it is a kind of cognitive dissonance to ask for something you believe is not there, but it is also a way to lead the creationist to (hopefully) see that it is not there. This of course sets up cognitive dissonance in the creationist who thought his belief was well founded, coming from a creationist culture that espoused the belief.

Curiously, I also think that the "evo-jerk" behavior is due to cognitive dissonance in being unable to see how the creationist can ignore or dismiss the evidence as insufficient to overcome their belief: if they have never had such an experience it is difficult to empathize with it. Plus we have the old "shout louder if not understood" phenomenon going on on both sides, another indicator of not understanding the not understanding due to cognitive dissonance in a clash between cultures.

So I come to the conclusion that this is more of a culture clash than a case of individuals running into cognitive distress, because they are caught between cultures that have different beliefs and they don't know which is better for them. Thus the creationist is not standing alone against the evidence of the evo-crowd, and this is where the difficulty in taking in new information and evidence comes -- they have the feeling that someone's got their back in some way, there are so many, they can't all be wrong ....

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


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RAZD
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Posts: 19544
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 3.4


Message 15 of 102 (669710)
08-01-2012 8:45 PM


More from Creationist Shortage thread
I've decided to copy this message from Creationist Shortage, Message 373 because it speaks to an important point, imho, in this debate:

quote:
Hi Bolder-dash

You whole claim of who has cognitive dissonance has no evidence, but that doesn't stop you from repeating the claim ad infinitum.

Everyone has cognitive dissonance, in different degrees and on different topics. It is due as much to your cultural upbringing, education, opinions than anything else (example difference between liberal and conservative outlooks and gun control).

It is a much studied phenomena in psychology, and thus there actually is an evidentiary basis for it.

Cognitive dissonance - (Wikipedia, 2012)
Cognitive dissonance is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting cognitions (e.g., ideas, beliefs, values, emotional reactions) simultaneously. In a state of dissonance, people may feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment.[1] The theory of cognitive dissonance in social psychology proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by altering existing cognitions, adding new ones to create a consistent belief system, or alternatively by reducing the importance of any one of the dissonant elements.[1] An example of this would be the conflict between wanting to smoke and knowing that smoking is unhealthy; a person may try to change their feelings about the odds that they will actually suffer the consequences, or they might add the consonant element that the smoking is worth short term benefits. A general view of cognitive dissonance is when one is biased towards a certain decision even though other factors favour an alternative.[2]

Cognitive dissonance theory warns that people have a bias to seek consonance among their cognitions. According to Festinger, we engage in a process he termed "dissonance reduction", which he said could be achieved in one of three ways: lowering the importance of one of the discordant factors, adding consonant elements, or changing one of the dissonant factors. [5] This bias gives the theory its predictive power, shedding light on otherwise puzzling irrational and even destructive behavior.

Dissonance is aroused when people are confronted with information that is inconsistent with their beliefs. If the dissonance is not reduced by changing one's belief, the dissonance can result in misperception or rejection or refutation of the information, seeking support from others who share the beliefs, and attempting to persuade others to restore consonance.

An early version of cognitive dissonance theory appeared in Leon Festinger's 1956 book, When Prophecy Fails. This book gave an inside account of the increasing belief that sometimes follows the failure of a cult's prophecy. The believers met at a pre-determined place and time, believing they alone would survive the Earth's destruction. The appointed time came and passed without incident. They faced acute cognitive dissonance: had they been the victim of a hoax? Had they donated their worldly possessions in vain? Most members chose to believe something less dissonant: the aliens had given earth a second chance, and the group was now empowered to spread the word: earth-spoiling must stop. The group dramatically increased their proselytism despite the failed prophecy.[14]

That third paragraph ties into confirmation bias

Confirmation Bias (Wikipedia, 2012)
Confirmation bias (also called confirmatory bias or myside bias) is a tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses.[1] People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. For example, in reading about gun control, people usually prefer sources that affirm their existing attitudes. They also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position. Biased search, interpretation and memory have been invoked to explain attitude polarization (when a disagreement becomes more extreme even though the different parties are exposed to the same evidence), belief perseverance (when beliefs persist after the evidence for them is shown to be false), the irrational primacy effect (a greater reliance on information encountered early in a series) and illusory correlation (when people falsely perceive an association between two events or situations).

A series of experiments in the 1960s suggested that people are biased toward confirming their existing beliefs. Later work re-interpreted these results as a tendency to test ideas in a one-sided way, focusing on one possibility and ignoring alternatives. In certain situations, this tendency can bias people's conclusions. Explanations for the observed biases include wishful thinking and the limited human capacity to process information. Another explanation is that people show confirmation bias because they are weighing up the costs of being wrong, rather than investigating in a neutral, scientific way.

Confirmation biases contribute to overconfidence in personal beliefs and can maintain or strengthen beliefs in the face of contrary evidence. Poor decisions due to these biases have been found in military, political, and organizational contexts.

And here the invasion of Iraq comes to mind as an example of this effect in a non-creation\evolution issue.

I've been discussing this on Cognitive Dissonance and Cultural Beliefs, where the focus is more on dissonance between cultural groups than on individuals. Of course the individuals are involved coming from inside the cultural groups, but it appears that the group is a more important driver in understanding the tenacity of beliefs.

For me, one of the issues I find most dissonant is why showing a creationist a long list of information and evidence for the age of the earth (ie Age Correlations and An Old Earth, Version 2 No 1) doesn't result in an epiphany of understanding that the earth is indeed old.

What I come to understand from looking at cognitive dissonance between cultural groups is that reinforcement from within a persons cultural group is a buffer\barrier against being forced to change the belief due to the confirmation bias they can fall back on.

Enjoy.


color added

Caveat: wiki is not necessarily a good source of information, but it is a good source for finding leads to further information (like the studies that have been done).

The reason I am moving this hear is that I feel this is the most important insight I have had in this debate since starting here in 2004: why the creationist resistance to evidence.

As noted in the OP:

quote:
(Wikipedia, 2012): Adding consonant elements would involve looking for information that supports the original belief, regardless of the value of the source (this explains the creationist use of creationist websites rather than for instance), while ignoring any additional dissonant information. This involves Confirmation Bias(2).

The reason, or a major reason imho, for both this resistance AND why there is a "creationist shortage" on this forum is because one of the ways to reduce dissonance is to retreat to a place of comfort where you are surrounded by people with the same confirmation bias and beliefs -- the creationist sites and forums that welcome them and give them a sense of belonging.

The fact that such creationist forums have a much much higher rate of banning people that argue for science, is not important to their perception of what goes on here. People like Bolder-dash do not realize (apparently) that this goes on extensively on creationist sites, it is what they have come to expect.

But the problem is not how to deal with individual creationists here, but to deal with this larger picture of a cultural belief that is reinforced by rather extensive material from creationist sites, especially for those used to (and expecting) to be able to just make reasonable sounding arguments rather than ones supported by evidence.

How do we reach outside the bubble of this forum and into the real world eh?

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

Replies to this message:
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