Cognitive dissonance. What is it?

It is when a person holds two beliefs that contradict one another. Cognitive dissonance causes feelings of unease and tension, and people attempt to relieve this discomfort in different ways. Examples include “explaining things away” or rejecting new information that conflicts with their existing beliefs.

Newborns are immune. They have no preconceived notions. They are not swayed by propaganda or fables. They enter life with a clean slate.

As people age, they acquire new information that is either factual or false. Unless they analyze the data that comes their way, they may be duped into believing false “evidence” appearing real. Opinions and outlooks are thus formed.

Strong personalities are often capable of pulling the wool over the eyes of many otherwise well-intentioned people. Folks hear things that strike discordant chords and thereafter abandon the precepts of the Golden Rule in favor of slick hoopla and myth put forth by silver-tongued orators.

Donald Trump did not become president because he offered rational alternatives to complex yet solvable problems in our nation. His approach was and remains aggressive, belligerent and extremely self-aggrandizing. As an example, any criticisms of the president that appear in the media are simply labeled “fake news” by the Trump entourage. End of discussion.

And here is where cognitive dissonance appears. Many people who voted for him in 2016 try to “explain things away” or reject new information that conflicts with their existing beliefs. Doing so is easier than coming to grips with the truth: Voting for him in 2016 was a mistake.

Hopefully, in the quietness of their souls, come Election Day, they will choose to remedy that error.

Richard Austin

Mount Vernon

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