Evidence alone rarely sways the opinions of the people or the person. More creative means must be employed to ignite the fire of self transformation, to clear past the fog of cognitive dissonance that keeps the collective unconscious enslaved to fallacious theories supported by the majority and backed up by ideology instead of reality.
The larger the number of people that believe in a certain ‘truth’, the less interested we are in validating the origin of the ostensible truth. As a result, no evidence is required to prove the validity of these sacrosanct ‘truths’ firmly established in the minds of the scientific community, the average plumber, and the common house wife.
Any aberrant models contrasting the current paradigm of ‘truth’ are quickly cast aside as heretical dissidents, crackpot quackery, regardless of the piles of evidence to back them up. The more we think we know something, the less likely we are to investigate a contrasting theory that would turn what we think we know on its head.
The ‘brain fuzz’ we experience when we are asked to challenge our accepted worldview has been called ‘cognitive dissonance‘ by a social psychologist. This aspect of our human psyche is strengthened by the hubris of our subjective ‘truths’ and inability to stay humble in times of debate. It is reinforced by the nature of our society and the fear of what others will think of us. We should always be willing to admit we’re wrong when we’re wrong no matter what. Sadly this isn’t the case.
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on him not understanding it.” -Upton Sinclair
“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” -Mark Twain
“Nothing is more curious than the self-satisfied dogmatism with which mankind at each period of its history cherishes the delusion of the finality of its existing modes of knowledge.” – Alfred North Whitehead
“The theory of Cognitive Dissonance is one of the more proven theories showing a truly human phenomenon. At it’s simplest it can be explained as such: The brain does not like contradictory information which causes dissonance and adjusts competing facts to relieve dissonance so as to strive for a singular world view. This phenomenon works alongside a complimentary phenomenon known as the confirmation bias. The confirmation bias is the tendency to remember information which confirms your beliefs and ignore information which contradicts your beliefs…. There are a few commonly held beliefs due to a bias of the self that almost everyone has. They believe they are smart (even if they got bad grades and have low IQ scores). They believe they are good and moral. They believe they rarely make mistakes. They believe they are important. Some may not hold these due to self esteem issues but regardless of the evidence most will hold these near and dear to their heart.” – Benjamin Buehne
“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”
– Frantz Fanon
Cognitive dissonance is powerful. It influences our whole ontological worldview. What we know as truth is defined by what we accept it as. We tend to accept information that reaffirms our current worldview, and reject information that contradicts it. This confirmation bias is damaging to the pursuit of knowledge.
We subconsciously create “safe spaces” in our own mind. We block out intellectual thought for certain sacrosanct subjects that are too holy to question like the efficacy of vaccines, Darwinian evolution, or the Big Bang. Questions that are laughable by the majority and objectively examined by the vast minority.
Once we can grasp at least a small understanding of how the human psyche works, we can take steps to avoid this debilitating phenomena of cognitive dissonance that pervades the collective conscious and holds us back from truly understanding the world around us.
“A man who has a language consequently possesses the world expressed and implied by that language.” — Frantz Fanon