/ Thinking Tools / Information /
2011 06 22 I only just this minute realized two distinct treatments I need to give the concept of Cognitive Dissonance before I think one additional new thoght about it: one as related to Macroinformation, the other as related to my Illichian deconstruction of human institutions.
First I quote a recent Straight Dope newsletter: “Leon Festinger proposed his theory of cognitive dissonance, which describes how people rationalize their continued adherence to disproven claims.” Check it out via Wikipedia. So will I, but first, I jump right in:
Information is any difference that makes a difference. I define macroinformation as information generated in the mind by frictions among meta-differences. Thus: one thinks the earth is flat, Magellan sails around the earth, thinking people, and even some non-thinking people, experience cognitive dissonance. The father thinks his daughter is a virgin, he sees her belly rounding and rounding: cognitive dissonance: he thinks she’s been visited by the holy spirit. Kleptocrats think the schools compel attendance to “educate,” then they get a loud of kiddie’s teacher, as illiterate as George W. Bush … they’ll come up with some ratinoalization. They are are all examples of macroinformation.
That’s automatic pk. Here’s something that took a bit longer, for me, and this too is automatic pk, but less commanding of my attention for the last decade:
The culture uses religion (and politics) to try to control behavior. The Church teaches that the earth is the center of the universe. The Church teaches that circles are perfect, implies all sorts of relations back and forth. Galileo builds a telescipe, right away sees satelites around Jupiter, right away sees that Church teaching is contradicted by what he sees with a scientific instrument. The culture goes into a paroxysm, Galileo is threatened, persecuted, not only by cardinals and a pope but by his colleagues in university astronomy. No one wants their coddled beliefs to be exposed as lame, crooked, wrong.
Fine: the culture concocts a Judgment in which the big bad God will terrorize all little children who don’t do, believe, think what the Church, and the universities, have taught them. The little kid thinks that if he touches himself, or if he touches the little girl, God will come after him: forever.
But pk likes to imagine God coming after not little Billy and little Susie but after The Church! and after the cardinals! and after the pope! and after the professors! and after everybody who terrorizes little Billy and little Susie …
The Jews imagined a Judgment in which their creator god judges the nations. Pharoah, and the Philistines, and Caesar … all find themselves working for the Jews, as punishment for not seeing how special the Jews were in the first pace. Christians alter this: they see the big bad god coming after Billy and Susie; whereas pk sees god coming after the Jews, and the Christians, and the flat-earthers … and the morons, and the teachers, and the experts, and the United States … and TimeLife, and the Fortune 500 … in sort, everyone who didn’t support Illich/pk’s convivial internet of 1970! the Free Learning Exchange, Inc.
I have a great deal to do before I’ll find time to develop this properly. Meantime, consider on your own what I’ll address: whatever is true of individuals may be true of groups. If God can judge pk, God can judge the Nazi Third Reich. God can judge the US: of thirteen states, of fifty states; under Lincoln, under Obama. God can judge IBM … and my neighborhood bank …
And what individuals can do, say, shiver from cognitive dissonance, nations, corporations, religions … can do also. The US says, in writing, that it believes in freedom of speech; but jails are full of people who said the wrong thing: in the wrong place, in the wrong way, at the wrong time. What does an entity do when it seeks convenient examples of its virtue and can’t find any? only counter examples? We’re a free country; that’s why we have so many jails. We honor diversity, that’s why professors have to be so careful what they say until they know what gets rewarded and what punished …