Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Cognitive Dissonance and Secret Courts

What is cognitive dissonance? To me it means either my values and beliefs are out of line with my actions and/or I’m holding two competing beliefs at once.

I’ve seen this twice recently, and also experienced it myself.  

To describe how it actually feels,  it feels like the scene in Fight Club where the Narrator is waking up to certain facts about Tyler Durden….. and the Tyler character kind of slips in and out of existence. You can feel the static. It’s like scraping your teeth against a metal implement by accident or scraping your fingernails down a blackboard.

When you’re attuned to it, it’s a physical reaction, oh *grates* there’s the cognitive dissonance…. It’s can be a good idea to start using it as a signal that you need to start either thinking about your position, or changing your actions and/or your beliefs. This is what I do. It may be you just need more arguments, or more information, but it could be that you’re wrong. It happens.

I observe this in others and watch bemused as they twist themselves in circles, ignore evidence, launch ad hominem attacks, or best, go into complete denial about the whole thing – it didn’t happen, it’s not a problem, I’m refusing to listen, I’m going to do something else instead and pretend it never happened……… "I'm not listening and you can't make me". 

So, say you’re a loyal party member and your leadership (of whatever stripe) suddenly does something you either disagree with or don’t understand. You can toe the party line, and agree with the new stance (even if it’s directly opposed to what you used to think), you can deny it’s existence and refuse to discuss it, ignoring or otherwise deflecting attention whenever asked about it. You can engage and ask why the leadership has made such a decision, perhaps they’ll convince you, perhaps they won’t. Maybe you’ll convince them, maybe you won’t. However, what about if they won’t even bother engaging back…… or even tell you why they won’t?

Therefore, who’s experiencing the cognitive dissonance?

I’m currently there with secret courts. I’m not sure why the leadership, Nick Clegg in this case, won’t meet with Jo Shaw (no relation) and the excellent campaign “Lib Dems against Secret Courts”  I’m not sure why no statement has been released. I’m not sure what’s happening here. However I have some faith that the leadership will do the right thing – mainly because I can’t see what the tenable position is for the Liberal Democrats otherwise…..

So I’m sat here with two competing beliefs. I think that we must do the right thing, I can’t believe any Liberal Democrat would believe otherwise. But I’m not sure we are……

The static is getting louder……

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