I found this on SlashDot. A very interesting post. In my view, this post presents one of the primary reasons for refusing to believe we are ‘asleep’, one of the prime motivation to refuse to ‘wakeup’.
To build a context to the post, the discussion was about THIS post in ArsTechnica on studies that show Ideology often trumps facts during decision making process. Very relevant to the election year (08)!
Here’s the direct link to the post Slashdot post:
Actually, my best bet would be on “cognitive dissonance” rather than “conspiracy theory.”
The best way to illustrate cognitive dissonance is via the classic experiment: you assign someone (e.g., a student) a Homer Simpson-esque job that’s boring him to tears. Then you one day say he can stop doing it, you have something better to do with him. But you ask him if he can find a replacement for that previous crap job. You even offer a dollar if he does. So he’ll go try to convince someone else that it’s a great job to take. The fun thing is, after a while he’ll have convinced himself too that it’s a great job.
Apparently, having to reconcile between “I’m a nice and honest guy” and “I just lied to a bunch of people for a lousy dollar”, he’ll alter the latter to, basically, “yeah, well, it wasn’t really a lie.” Just to keep his mental model consistent.
It seems to be a function of at least the mammalian brain. When you have two contradictory ideas in your model, one has to give. With humans, though, if one idea is too important to let go, something else has to give.
Even more fun is that the strength of the effect is inversely proportional to how sustainable or justifiable that action is. If you offer him a lot more money, he has the escape of, basically, “yeah, well, I needed the money. So I have my price too. Bite me.” If it’s a precondition to getting out of that crap job, same thing, he has an excuse. But when there’s no excuse he can wrap his mind around, he’ll alter the truth so he doesn’t need an excuse.
A similar fun effect is with kids. Apparently when they really want something or to do something, as silly deterrent like “mommy will pout” is often actually more effective than a harsh punishment, if applied consistently. When there is no real justification for “why didn’t I do that, if I wanted to anyway?” something else has to give, and it becomes, “I didn’t really want that in the first place.” Fun stuff.
I find that the same applies to politics, religion, fanboys, or, for that matter, everything else. The least justifiable a position is, the more people will warp reality to keep it. And the more rabidly they’ll defend that redefinition of reality, lest their whole mental model comes crashing down around their ears.
And, yes, applying more force just creates more resistance.
And for a last bit of fun, there’s no defender more stalwart of a piece of bullshit, than someone whose model already broke down once and was patched to that bullshit. If they’re going to have to admit “I was wrong and doing wrong” anyway, they’ll run with that to the hilt, and make an even more warped model in the other direction. So funnily enough, there is no more rabid, say, XBox fanboy, than one who was a PS2 fanboy and felt betrayed by Sony and had to let their whole “Sony for ever!!!” model crash. And viceversa. There is no bible-thumper for puritan morals more rabid than someone who was a prostitute until last week. And viceversa: nobody does a good christian-baiting trolling like someone who still went to church last month. There is no Republican more rabid about every single aspect of that ideology, than someone who was a Democrat until they felt somehow betrayed. And viceversa.
But now they won’t just change about the aspect where they thought they were cheated, they’ll go for the whole list, from military spending to abortion stance to gay marriage to everything else. Now Party X is right in everything, and Party Y is wrong about everything, because I don’t like Party Y any more. And I must enlighten the masses about how wrong and evil Party Y is!
And the least justifiable that position is (e.g., don’t be silly, Sony didn’t “betray” anyone and didn’t owe you anything in the first place), the more immovable it will be. As I was saying, fun stuff.