In cognitive science, the term cognitive dissonance is often used. Cognitive dissonance is interesting because it refers to what happens in your brain when information is presented to it which doesn’t seem to fit.

For example, just suppose the current state of information in your brain (the balance of memes) was such that you believed the earth was flat. Just suppose your brain was a happy co-operative of flat earth memes filling your brain and dominating your outlook.

This, of course, seems naive to us now but not long ago most smart people saw things this way. Now, suppose someone called Fred comes along and says, “No, the earth is round!” and tries to explain to you why you should change your view. You would begin to experience cognitive dissonance.

If, though you thought the earth was flat, you were not superstitiously committed to that view you might only experience a mild case of cognitive dissonance. Then, as you followed the evidence Fred presented, you might find your view evolving from flat earth to round earth.

If, on the other hand, you not only believed the earth was flat but you also PTV-believed your flat earth view was absolutely right, then you might have a dose of strong cognitive dissonance, so strong that it might be easier to burn Fred at the stake than to change your view from flat earth to round earth.

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One thought on “Cognitive Dissonance: From Flat Earth to Round Earth

  1. a cognitive dissonance I have is how some people say that the local Bar Exam is so easy and yet being an Ivy League Graduate I can’t see myself passing it since I failed the first time.

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