How can the problems that arise in connection with cognitive dissonance be solved? A few loose thoughts from me on this.
The Scottish author Ewan Morrison has written a text about cognitive dissonance, and invited or encouraged people to think about it and write something back.
There's not enough space on Twitter, but I think it's worth posting my thoughts on it, even if they're a bit unsorted.
You can find the article here:
Biden’s Covid Probe and Cognitive Dissonance
How do we cope with two opposing explanations of the pandemic?
Morrison lists some strategies for coping with cognitive dissonance (in brief, please read the article for yourself)
- Stoicism: the beginning of philosophy is the recognition of conflicts between opinions
- Consider relationships: Imagine the positions as a married couple
- Pragmatism: You won't solve the problem, so I'll make up a temporary solution
- the truth and nothing but the truth: I choose a truth
I sincerely hope that I have reproduced everything correctly. Any errors in abridgement are my responsibility.
We need more findings
Due to time constraints, these are just a few rather loose thoughts, possibly disjointed. I really hope, that findings is the correct translation of german "Erkenntnisse".
Inspired by the request on Twitter to react to the article, I spontaneously wrote this text,
First, I don't think we can settle the question of where the virus came from. At least, I don't believe we will find out yet. This question no longer creates cognitive dissonance for me. What does create cognitive dissonance for me is when politicians talk about taking the right measures, but don't do it. I cannot cope with this stress with any of your methods, which I personally find very very helpful. The stress it creates destroys my soul. Not much helps. My psychologist told me that in order to help me, I have to fight off the whole problem because it has nothing to do with me.
Meine Methode: Abwehr mit Gestik
Es mutet ein wenig wie verrückte Zauberei an: Dazu habe ich mir eine Geste angewöhnt, weil sie meinte, Gesten werden irgendwann eine Rückkopplung in den Geist geben: Ich strecke beide Hände abwehrend von mir weg.
Because I suffer from visual hyper-attention, I am often stressed outside my usual and home environment. We need, in order to stop the climate crisis, fewer roads, less environmental destruction. The opposite is the case. So: permanent stress when I'm in the media or in public. I can't walk around with my hands out all day, of course, but I want to. I will take the strategies mentioned in the article to heart.
To answer another question: What are the things that create cognitive dissonance? For me it is:To answer another question, for me it is mainly: not saying what you do, or not doing what you say. In my eyes, there are only a few possibilities as to what is behind it: Incompetence, systemic error, intention. But what if I have no influence on all three? I cannot bury my head in the sand. If I have influence, I try to exercise it, I try to talk to the people around me about it. You say you love me, but you don't want to embrace me. That creates huge amounts of stress in me. Studies (unfortunately I can't find them) are said to have shown that mothers who tell their children every day how much they love them, but never hug them when the children want them to, cause schizophrenia in the children.
Who triggered the Corona virus?
On the question of who triggered Corona: Is that the right question? In Germany, Corona killed planes full of people, figuratively speaking, sometimes every day last year. In the past, when one crashed in real terms, there were always memorial services, the chancellor came, the bereaved were all invited. But every day. How is a society supposed to cope with that?
But: What do we gain from researching the causes? My psychologist also treats rape victims. She told me it's no use looking for the cause. You have to deal with today. You would have a problem today because of the psychological damage caused, looking back, searching for mistakes, searching for guilt would be useless. On the contrary, one must try to look at the now, to come to terms with the now.
In other words, are we defining the problem correctly? The French philosopher Bergson says that the solution to the problem does not come from solving the problem, but from defining the problem correctly beforehand. Then it is rather a question of how we solve the acute problem of people still dying, how we prevent it in the future. The search for guilt is always also the search for atonement, that is probably a cultural question.
Helping the victims
Society needs help in this matter. Because if society sees that all these victims do not get the same help, the same sympathy, as the victims of isolated tragic events, what does this do to the consciousness of society, not to mention the tragedy of the bereaved and the chronically ill.
The state parliament in NRW this week procured air filters for all public areas of the state parliament, but refuses to do the same for schools. This creates massive waves of cognitive dissonance in me that I can only reduce with defensiveness, perhaps an angry tweet.
What remains for me after reading Ewan Morrison's article: New coping strategies for cognitive dissonance that can help me in certain moments.
Cognition vs. opinion
In the Corona pandemic, you could often see politicians forming their own opinions about the risk of infection, about how well children should be protected, about what is best for children. I wish we would generally talk more about findings, especially scientific ones, whether theoretical or empirical, and less about opinions and positions. There is too much opinion in the public sphere and too little knowledge. This discrepancy also often triggers cognitive dissonance for me.
If one does not know something exactly, please say so. Otherwise keep quiet. Write fewer disruptive dissonant discursive articles. Publish more findings.
Thanks to this thought-provoking.
My thoughts on Ewan Morrison's article in Psychology today: Are we defining the problem correctly? In my opinion, it needs more insight and less opinion.