Cognitive Dissonance: September 2012

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance: a discomfort caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs and actions. Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming and denying.

Friday, September 7, 2012

What I'd like to say to my friends & family on Facebook and Twitter.

It's really quite pathetic that many of my friends and family are utterly unable to engage in polite, fair argumentation when we disagree about something. This has become even more evident during this election season. Being pretty liberal, socially, my ideals clash with those of my religious friends and families on a regular basis. I am not afraid to engage them in discussion about these differences, I usually (not always) do so politely and in the hopes of having a thoughtful, well informed discussion. The problem is however, a great many of them simply cannot do so, they are totally unequipped and unprepared. They have such firm beliefs and they state them so very passionately that it appears they know why they believe what they believe. However, when I challenge them to substantiate or defend their beliefs, the conversation usually implodes. Accusations of "hate speech", ad hominem, red herrings and straw men begin flying about like farm animals in a category 5 tornado. I hear things like "get off your high horse" and other indicators that these people feel like their being talked down to. What this indicates to me is, is that they're not very well informed and their ideas and opinions are not well supported. It indicates fear, insecurity and ignorance regarding their beliefs, opinions and positions.

What follows is what I would like to say to my Facebook friends specifically, and a few of my Twitter followers as well, I would do so, but I'm afraid I'd be left friendless by the end of the day... So here it is for all of you to enjoy! I'm sure many of you have had similar experiences as well, so I hope some of you find this encouraging.

My hero, Christopher Hitchens said this while doing an interview and discussing writing in a journalistic sense, he was speaking to "Bloggers" when he said this: "Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the 'transcendent' and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don't be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you."

I subscribe to every idea of Mr. Hitchens' stated here. Particularly the portion in the middle which says - "Don't be afraid to thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence."

Hitchens was rarely silent, it's one of the things I admired most about him. He engaged in almost constant debate and discussion with those he disagreed with or that disagreed with him. He refused to let ignorant, evil or vacuous assertions slide when others might have looked the other way for the sake of avoiding conflict. When he said "seek out argument and disputation for their own sake", he was acknowledging that there is inherent value in these things. You can gain a lot of perspective, learn something new, recognize flaws in your own thinking, persuade someone to adopt a better, healthier or more beneficial position, etc, etc, etc. The list goes on. However, for whatever reason people seem to conflate disagreement with disrespect, or "hatred" or other negative motivations that they aren't, necessarily. Even if a conversation becomes heated, it doesn't have to digress into something negative or harmful, though it certainly can.

Far too few people these days are brave enough to engage, and far too many people take disagreement personally. Folks, we're all adults here, we should be able to share our ideas and disagree with each other and walk away from it knowing that we're better off for it in most cases. For those that can't engage in a disagreement without resorting to ad hominem (attacking the person making the argument instead of the argument or the facts contained therein) than maybe it's time to grow up a little bit? Read a book on logic and critical thinking, try to avoid emotional, knee jerk responses. THINK before you speak. These are all things adults should be able to do.

Lastly, as a disclaimer and in the interest of holding myself to the same standard, I should acknowledge that I am not perfect at exhibiting all of the traits I've listed as valuable or virtuous when it comes to conversation, arguments and disputation. I have biases, I recognize that fact, and I do everything I can to minimize those in my arguments. I am also rather quick to anger, some people know this about me and they use it against me, which isn't fair. However, in the end the impetus is on me to be able to control that frustration and respond in a fair, polite and even manner. I also tend to get defensive, which is fine when it's applied properly, it's not fine when I do the same thing I'm criticizing other people for and take a comment that isn't meant to be personal, personally. Some of you who engage me more often than others may have noticed a shift in tactics, I have begun to demand that the conversation stay on topic and if at all possible deals in facts. Preferably facts derived empirically and from sources that are as objective as possible and not prone to hyperbole or promoting propaganda. This ensures that an exchange is fair and valuable and allows two (or more) people to flesh out the facts and come to an actual conclusion. At that point, it's the responsibility of the "loser" for the lack of a better term to admit defeat, graciously.

Now having said all that, I'd like to point out that all gods are imaginary, Jesus is the result of a compilation of pagan gods/myths (and did not exist) and the Bible is unreliable and demonstrably false. Discuss.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Rev. Creech says: "God fixation can fix our nation", I call BS! My response to his nonsense.

Here's a link to Creech's article: - My response is below.

Another example of programmed Jesus-bots regurgitating ridiculous, fundamentalist, evangelical, revisionist, (American Christian) propaganda. Adults with imaginary friends are dangerous, and this vacuous attempt to marginalize MILLIONS of Americans (by some accounts over half have no belief in any god) who don’t subscribe to their ignorant, bronze age, misogynistic, racist, fear mongering BS. God fixation has never, ever, in the history of any nation, culture, society or tribe led to anything but oppression, violence and a laundry list of other crimes against humanity and nature.

Idiots like Creech, Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort (just to name a few) can (and will) continue to babble on about how this nation was founded on Christian principles and that our forefathers subscribed to the same ridiculous ideas about god as they do. Anyone with even a limited knowledge of American history and our Founding Fathers knows that their claims about our nations past is an utter fabrication. Lies, lies and more lies! They ignore the Constitution, they ignore the 1st Amendment, the Treaty of Tripoli, the writings of Founders like Madison, Jefferson and Adams, and hope that no one will check the facts. These idiots are literally re-writing history to fit their needs, to help fuel their propaganda and further their lies. The assertion that this nation was founded on Christian principles is absolutely, 100% false. The claim that the constitution doesn’t guarantee a separation of church and state, also 100% false. The sad and predictable references to communism, also absolutely ridiculous. The fact that Christian apologists like Creech can’t go 3 paragraphs without invoking the words socialism/communism or Hitler betrays not only their ignorance and lack of understanding but also their inability to defend their positions without resorting to fear mongering. They think/hope that because it worked in the 1950s during the Cold War that it will work again. It’s my sincere hope that people have gotten smarter and will no longer fall for such pathetic, transparent attempts at breeding solicitude.

The fact is, the most prosperous nations on this planet, with the highest education, highest employment rates, highest life expectancy, best health care, best economies and lowest crime rates and prison populations are also the most secular/non-religious nations on earth. The assertion that “god fixation” will fix anything has been tried and found wanting repeatedly throughout human history. The last time the Christian church succeeded in infusing itself into government and all aspects of culture was called the dark ages, for good reason. The more superstitious, religious nonsense your cram into government & politics the more problems you can expect.

This bottom line is, Creech’s claims are nonsense, they’re propaganda and are categorically false. Religion is poison, it divides, destroys, inspires, excuses and justifies violence, inhibits medical and scientific progress and breeds ignorance. As long as you keep lying, we’ll keep calling you on it. If you want to believe in magical, Jewish-Zombie sky wizards, that’s fine, but keep it to yourself. Your superstitious, bronze age nonsense has no place in our government, or anywhere else for that matter.

PS - There are many other serious problems with this vacuous piece of propaganda, including the David Hume quote, which was taken out of context, and further defamed by Creech’s lies. It’s time to marginalize these idiots and hope this kind of nonsense dies with their generation.