I am currently reading an absolutely fascinating book by Matthew Syed called “Black Box Thinking – The Surprising Truth About Success”. It really is a great read so far and is not only making me think but seriously challenging what I think.
I’ve just read a chapter concerning Cognitive Dissonance. (Click the link for a Wikipedia article outlining its basic premise). The question posed is effectively why do people cling to views even after being presented with significant evidence to the contrary. Examples given include Republican supporters (and I suppose you could include certain New Labour people in this) who supported the invasion of Iraq even after WMD were not found as well as many examples where innocent people have been found guilty and ultimately been exonerated yet only after long and dogged fights from prosecutors.
This got me thinking about how I think. I consider myself, in many ways, a very liberal minded person and in many ways very libertarian in my views. Immigration is one particular topic I do feel strongly about. I often have conversations with people – often close family members – concerning the surge in immigration the country has seen over the past couple of decades. I often feel uncomfortable in these conversations because I often thing that the other person’s views often verge on racist or islamophobic. (So I effectively shoot my free speech libertarian viewpoint straight down – I’m anything but consistent!)
My point is am I suffering from Cognitive Dissonance? Am I so precious about my liberal ideals and not being considered even the slightest anti-immigrant or racist that even presented with evidence (or is it hearsay?!) I stick my heels in and become even more dogged in my liberal views? Of course the counter argument is that I’m fine and it’s the rest who are suffering Cognitive Dissonance?
What are you views? Who is suffering cognitive dissonance? Is it me? Is it those I argue with? Is it you?! Would welcome your views and comments. I’d certainly recommend you reading Matthew Syed’s book – you can buy it by clicking the link below.