Conservatives Are Unable To Mitigate Expectations When Reality Conflicts

Cognitive dissonance theory explains human behavior by positing that people have a bias to seek consonance between their expectations and reality. – Wikipedia

colorless thursday - photo by MichaelEvery person is guilty of bias at times, and whether we care to admit it (assuming we are aware), we have all probably experienced a touch of cognitive dissonance. Hey, we’re human after all. And this is true left or right, liberal or conservative. But there are some conservatives who take their morning coffee, and just about everything else in their life, with an extra scoop of dissonance reduction, ending up with altered cognition. People have a “motivational drive to reduce dissonance by altering existing cognitions.” And people will insert newly invented perceptions and reasoning to create a harmony between their beliefs and the world around them.

Welcome to 2013, the modern Republican Party, and the extreme right-wing radicals running the show. We live in a country where evidence is tossed to the curb in favor of opinion. Where people with zero knowledge on a subject, laugh and roll their eyes at scientists and other professionals when they dare assert their crazy “theories” about how things work. As a country, in the presence of knowledge and intelligence, we’ve grown afraid and hostile. We feel threatened by people who do the hard work to figure shit out, because, well, it’s hard, and when would we find time to watch “The Real House Wives” or keep up with the Kardashians?

And the royal family of this new American monarchy of imbecility, ineptitude, and lunacy, is the extreme so-called conservatives pushing the Republican Party and the country further and further off the cliff of substantive truth. They’ve got it all figured out, and it didn’t need the heavy lift of comprehension. Instead they took a short cut and went straight to a new altered cognition, conveniently conforming to how they want things to work.

The Daily Banter — I was taught that when I am given evidence backed up with data that it trumps what I want to believe. You can say that the sun revolves around the earth until your face turns purple, but objective scientific reality says that’s a load of crap.

I know that holding on to beliefs in the face of evidence isn’t solely the domain of the right, but they seem to take it to an extreme of much higher magnitude than the left ever does. They don’t just defend their faith, but they treat attempts to correct the record as an affront to their faith and an insult.

And not only do they treat it as an affront to their faith, they demean, dishonor and try to discredit people who dare speak of evidence and facts that conflict with that faith. So confident are they in that faith that no amount of demonstration, substantiation, or reasoning will shake them from it. In fact, it will only serve to heighten and intensify their altered cognition.

All the time I get feedback from conservatives over Twitter in reaction to things written on the Media Matters site. A lot of the time it’s obvious they haven’t even bothered to click a link and read a story, the desire to protect their brains from inconvenient facts is too hard to ignore. But even the ones who read it seem to have a block where they skip over citations and links to objective, non-partisan sources of information because their brains automatically trigger deflector shields to protect them from updating their store of knowledge.

And so I return to where I began. We are all guilty of this at times. We want to be right, and sometimes that desire creates this “deflector shield”, making it harder for new information to penetrate. But I’d like to think I’m open to new ideas. I don’t think of myself as a deeply entrenched ideologue. Liberal, yes. An ideologue, not so much.

For example, I have ideas about how I think things should work or could work better. Take universal health care. I think “Medicare for all” is the answer, because from all the information I’ve read and the research I’ve done, nothing else appears capable of simultaneously offering universal access to basic medical care for the lowest cost. But I don’t consider myself an ideologue on this issue. Show me something that works better. Show me that a for-profit, market-based solution can produce better care, for less cost, and my “deflector shield” will be rendered powerless.

But it seems reality doesn’t stand a chance when it collides with the impenetrable strength of the newly upgraded deflector shields in use by the conservative Right.

photo by Michael


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