Portrait Of A Lady
“Cognitive dissonance” is a mellifluous phrase I’ve heard bandied about in the media during these first days of the Trump administration.
The new president’s supporters are in the grips of this psychological malady, the Daily Kos tells us. In an interview broadcast by MSNBC “Bill Nye” the “science guy” postulated the president also suffered from “cognitive dissonance,” and as he had a “worldview that disagrees with what you observe.”
Writing in 1962 in Scientific American about this new psychological theory, (cognitive dissonance, not Donald Trump), Leon Festinger offered this explanation:
This theory centers around the idea that if a person knows various things that are not psychologically consistent with one another, he will, in a variety of ways, try to make them more consistent. Two items of information that psychologically do not fit together are said to be in a dissonant relation to each other. The items of information may be about behavior, feelings, opinions, things in the environment and so on. The word "cognitive" simply emphasizes that the theory deals with relations among items of information.
Such ideas are not new. Scripture tells us: A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:8. Once upon a time, a double minded man was one with a character flaw. Now he has a pathological condition.
If the president and his supporters are not sick, they must be evil, the pundits tell us -- witness the contretemps over “alternative facts” and Kellyanne Conway. Moral opprobrium like burning coals has been heaped onto the head of the presidential counselor in disputes over alternative narratives of reality.
Stepping back into the GetReligion harness has resulted in a bout or two of cognitive dissonance for me -- the neural pathways used in my work as a country priest are not those of a journalism critic. Nor did I keep all my bookmarks on the web. Looking for interesting items has led me to some odd corners -- and the odd corners have unearthed odd stories.
I learned just the other day of a gallery opening in Minsk. The Belarusian Telegraphic Agency reports: