Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H
Gormley


DISSONANCE THEORY - COGNITIVE DISSONANCE WHEN YOU TELL YOURSELF YOU ARE BEING SENSIBLE WHEN YOU ARE IN FACT NOT!

Cognitive dissonance is when you prevent yourself seeing that your belief is false or probably untrue. It does not matter if it is true - your attitude to it is the problem.  Why would you do this?  It is to avoid some pain.

Cognitive dissonance is defined by many as happening when how people behave in a way that is contradictory to their values and attitudes and it causes a strong and stressful and painful conflict. They then play tricks on themselves to cope with the unpleasantness but it is not a case of them lying to themselves in such a way that they believe the lies. It is a case of them creating baggage around the lie so that its impact is less obvious to them.  They deliberately lie and then try to turn a mental blind eye to the lie.
 
Cognitive dissonance is motivated by a fear you are trying to avoid. It will be a fear of the truth and the consequences or perceived consequences of the truth. Anything motivated by fear leads to violence or sows its seeds. It is like a frog in slowly heating water that does not even realise it is being killed and will be boiled to death.

Each event is really a summary of many events. While it is true that people remember many or some of these events wrongly or remember things which never happened, they say they feel they really do recollect them. Cognitive dissonance is at work.  What if they are telling a lie?  Cognitive dissonance gives them a framework to lie.  What if the dissonance stops them seeing they are lying?  You can never know if a person is deliberately causing their own dissonance.

We highly recommend Cognitive Dissonance: Re-examining a Pivotal Theory in Psychology (https://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4318158).

The book points out that cognitive dissonance is not limited to cases where people say and do and write things that do not fit what we know of their values. 

Cognitive dissonance happens when you meet a challenge to your most valued views and attitudes.  The trauma of the challenge causes bad feelings and you become defensive and start fooling yourself.

Difficult choices alone can cause you to lie to yourself so that you come up with an answer.

Should our cognitive dissonance be lessened?  If it is putting you at reasonable risk of harm or significantly wasting your time then yes.

Cognitive dissonance is based on your self-image of what you are and what you are about. Evidence or proof may come up that challenges this self-image. Stress will be your response. Stress is good at confusing or twisting your thinking and perception. So you attack the dissonant evidence by disrespecting it in some way be it ignoring it or distorting it. It is not just the evidence that you will declare war on but the people who have it.

Cognitive dissonance can appear anytime with anything.  For example, if you like drink and realise it is hurting your health seriously you might tell yourself as long as you start drinking water a lot as well as alcohol you will be fine.  The dissonance will not save your liver but lead you to failing to care for it better.  The dissonance is often far worse and far-reachingly harmful than just admitting the truth and letting yourself believe the truth.  What about the stress of keeping up the facade?
 
Only a person who has recovered from cognitive dissonance can know how insidious and powerful it is. You are disconnected from reality and you serve a version of reality that is more or less in your head.
 
Doing ridiculous things when you tell yourself you are sane and normal and wonderful is a form of cognitive dissonance. You rationalise what you do and why you do it. But that takes work. A rationalisation is always vulnerable to being challenged and proven to be rubbish. Rationalisation and cognitive dissonance can mean more stresses and more trouble and more fear than facing up to the truth in the first place. You have to let go of the rationalisation to find out.  To rationalise at all is to put yourself at risk and you never know if you have really helped yourself.  Ultimately only others can keep up or support your cognitive dissonance.  You have no right at all to expect your illusion to be protected.  It is not up to others to protect it for you and make liars and untrustworthies of themselves.  Cognitive dissonance can arise when on some level you wrongly believe you are being sensible. But sensible is not just for you or about you.
They will engage in rationalisation. The goal of rationalisation is to create a cognitive dissonance - they get disconnected enough from reality to avoid being influenced by evidence against their belief, or whatever it is they want to rationalise. The purpose is to empower something they know deep down is nonsense and by making it pass for the truth. If you hate truth, the best way to ruin it is not by lying but by averting anything that exposes it as a lie and that involves deliberately believing the lie.
 
Rationalisation means making excuses for something that is suspect or wrong. Intelligent people are wonderful at it which is why being right matters not how many smart people are saying it is right.
 
Rationalisation involves not thinking about or caring about the results when you divorce yourself from reality and thus inspire others to do the same. You are not an island and how you are impacts on others.
 
When you rationalise you open yourself up to forces and people who will challenge it so you need more rationalising to meet all that. It is a slippery slope. It gets worse. It makes you a worse influence on others than you already are.
 
Rationalising always blames others unfairly for having the truth and falsely accuses those who promote and stand for truth of being wrong. For example, the clerical child molester could reason that as God made him the way he is that his abusing of children is not that bad. The person who believes in a fraudulent healer who tells him to sell his house for her and he will get better of cancer will accuse others of being his and her enemy when they try gently and kindly to make him see reason. It leads to punishing others and to moral bankruptcy.
 
Rationalisers engage in “advantageous comparisons.” They consider others to be worse or more stubborn than they are, which makes them feel superior to them. The person who stays in a corrupt religion will argue that other ones are probably worse which makes him a lot better than the people in them.
 
Rationalisers are fond of diffusing responsibility. They feel great or satisfied about being part of something evil and violent because they reason, "Everybody else is doing it and we are all to blame together. My part then is small. I am not the only one." If a religion manipulates and lies to get members, you might think that that is fine for you became a member because you wanted to believe the lies and it is just the way things are.
 
Rationalisers do not make excuses for what is probably or definitely wrong just for themselves but to draw others in to that kind of behaviour too. The best liar believes their own lies. So if the rationaliser is like that, how can he or she sleep content at night? They will reason, "Those people are sinners so they deserve to be misled." Or, "Somebody else will mislead them anyway so why can't I?" Or, "They let themselves be led astray. They asked for it. They started it." Logic like that leads to people escalating violence. If somebody insults you and you hit them for it, you are expressing the thought, "It is right to hit them for they asked for it."

Moral disengagement goes hand in hand with rationalising and making excuses. The only cure for it is to weed out any tendency to rationalise, to take responsibility for what you do and to be alert to the harm that rationalising can do.
 
You cannot avoid making assumptions about people. Should you assume that such a person who seems immune to facts and truth is a good charlatan or engaging in cognitive dissonance? It is actually kinder and fairer to assume the former, yes, that they are frauds and hypocrites. A charlatan can change quickly but somebody who is disconnected to reality cannot change easily. You cannot assume that they are deluding themselves and this is short-term. The purpose of self-delusion is to keep yourself deluded forever if possible. It is too hard to get out of to be really short-term. The charlatan does less damage than the self-deluded. The self-deluded person is plausible and seems sincere and this draws others in. The charlatan will let the mask slip and he will show less commitment to his nonsense than the deluded will. So better a charlatan than a self-deceived person any day. A charlatan is not as deep in the quagmire as the self-deceived.
  
If a person cannot snap out of cognitive dissonance, it must be because they are trying to anesthetise themselves from some trauma that has not been dealt with. The dissonance then is a symptom of a disorder and not something to be left unchallenged.
 
Some philanthropic people, some very educated and intelligent people and people who must know better can treat others badly and irrationally and then come up with even more irrational justifications for their behaviour.
 
How can this be? Because the smarter you are the better you are at covering up your biased and stupid side.
 
Dissonance theory says we have a pressing need to keep thinking well of ourselves at least in some things. So we come up with self-serving excuses that we make to ourselves and to others to deal with the obvious fact that our behaviour is inexcusable and terrible. We do that if we think we can get away with it. It is as much a judgement of others as it is ourselves.
 
Cruel behaviour begets self-justification and leads many who see your behaviour to become desensitised to it. A vicious circle is made for the more aggression there is the more excuses are made. The more people seem to ignore our behaviour the more we will feel that our self-justification is warranted.
 
We are all like children who hit other children and say, "But he or she started it! He or she deserved it."
 
Dissonance is not a good thing. Worrying about other people makes it bad enough. People who love their families are prone to paint them as better than what they actually are. Parents may side with their children and turn a blind eye to the evidence that they are sociopaths. Dissonance makes you wittingly or unwittingly (perhaps it is both) complicit with evil or possible evil.
 
Cognitive dissonance is common among women who suffer abuse from their partners. They know their partner is doing wrong but they tell themselves that somehow it is not wrong and that they deserve it or provoke them. Religion often trains those women in their "skills". I mean that if you learn cognitive dissonance in the chapel, you will apply it to any situation in your life, religious and otherwise.
 
Materialistic people are suffering from dissonance when they relentlessly pursue money and power and material comforts even though the stress is killing them and though they are never satisfied with what they have. So why do they do it? They may hope that they may eventually find happiness in things. Could it be that they are aware from observation of the lives of others and self-examination that life is painful? If they have empathy for those who suffer and die in a world ruled by injustice, they will feel that the only way to avoid being destroyed by despair and sadness is to turn off or reduce their perception of the transience of life and possessions, the pains of life and the ever present threats to happiness and wellbeing. So they build beautiful homes to live in to shield themselves from the reality outside the walls. They get good doctors and they feel that diseases and death happen to others not them. They pile up money in the bank so they don't even have to contemplate what it is like to be poor. They choose to forget the pains of the past to keep them in the past. Materialistic people sacrifice and lose a lot just because they won't look facts square in the face. It certainly proves that making huge sacrifices for your faith does not prove it is faith and not cognitive dissonance.
 
Should we think a person who seems to have cognitive dissonance really has it or is just spouting nonsense because he or she thinks there are enough fools around to take it seriously? You decide! 
 
But do not fail to see cognitive dissonance as something you cannot encourage or enable.
 
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