- Comment on Recommend any good Mao Zedong theory?:
Is there any topic in particular you are wanting to go in-depth on?
I recommend "On Contradiction" if you haven't read it already/recently. link
- Comment on 2007 interview of the author & excerpts of "Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)", a book about cognitive dissonance (effort post):
::: spoiler spoiler
Thanks for your response.
The way you describe it as people being "too invested" and also a "snowball effect" tracks very well with what I have read in this book so far. I don't know if you checked out the NPR link, but the text excerpt found there is a good illustration of the "too invested" aspect.
The tl;dr of it is that there was a person with an end of the world prophecy that had a small following of people, saying the world was going on end on Dec. 21, and that on Dec. 20 all of her followers would be picked up in a spaceship and taken to safety. In preparation for this event, the followers had quit their jobs, giving away they homes and all their money. A social psychologist (former professor of one of the authors iirc) went to their meeting on Dec. 20th to watch what would happen to them when (he hoped) their prediction turned out to be false.
At midnight, with no sign of a spaceship in the yard, the group felt a little nervous. By 2 a.m., they were getting seriously worried. At 4:45 a.m., Mrs. Keech had a new vision: The world had been spared, she said, because of the impressive faith of her little band. [...] The group's mood shifted from despair to exhilaration. Many of the group's members, who had not felt the need to proselytize before December 21, began calling the press to report the miracle, and soon they were out on the streets, buttonholing passersby, trying to convert them.
Like you said, I imagine going in so deep on something like that could cause a breakdown, and so the brain tries to protect you from that breakdown at all costs, even shutting down your ability to reason if need be. As the authors explain, this urge we have to soothe cognitive dissonance does actually serve a good function much of the time. It prevents us from losing sleep every night over various bad outcomes and allows us to make peace with our choices without constant regret and second-guessing. There's plenty of situations where that is really the most healthy thing to do (in my opinion). But this mechanism can't really distinguish between majorly and minorly harmful mistakes, and its urge is to just immediately begin the self-justification process any time dissonance appears (my paraphrasing of what I took the authors to mean).
it’s a snowball effect, where one small change of heart leads to another and then 5 more and then 10
There is a section later in this book where they try to explain how people can take actions that eventually run counter to their principles, for example, why would a doctor start accepting gifts and then prescribing pills at the behest of a drug company, if he truly considers himself to be an honest and principled person? How could a medical ethics board allow itself to be taken over by the interests of pharmaceutical companies, if the people on the ethics board themselves genuinely believed themselves to be making ethical decisions the whole time? As you said, it's step by step, one small change at a time, and the authors give some specific examples of such processes occurring where someone ends up more and more deeply entrenched on a certain path of action and belief.
I know I myself had to be coaxed into shriekingly high-stakes emotions before I finally could start to take ownership of the truths that were always lurking underneath the surface…although I felt much, much happier and healthier following. I wish I could tell everybody afraid of changing their minds that the death they fear is an illusion, that there is quite likely little to nothing to be afraid of, that it will be a net positive in little to no time
This is a great way of putting it. I have been there as well, and I feel similarly. I think it's probably impossible to ever 100% escape this tendency (the authors of this book also seem to think so) but I think developing a better relationship to it definitely is possible and worthwhile.
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- Comment on "Falsehood in War-Time": excerpts from the introduction:
For simplicity, I have combed through the introduction and made a list of the types of lies that Ponsonby describes. These are my re-phrasings and summaries of his words:
Types of lies circulated in WWI, according to Ponsonby:
- The deliberate official lie
- The "deliberate lie concocted by an ingenious mind" which may only reach a small circle, but if it's sufficiently graphic, it may be caught up and broadcast.
- The "hysterical hallucination on the part of weak-minded individuals"
- The lie heard and not denied, that is spread by hearsay, without evidence.
- The mistranslation
- accidental mistranslation
- deliberate mistranslation (more common)
- The "general obsession" started by a rumor and magnified by repetition and developed into something more by imagination, which comes to gain general acceptance.
- The deliberate forgery
- The lie by omission of passages from official documents
- The deliberate exaggeration
- The concealment of truth to avoid painting the enemy in a good light
- The faked photograph
- The repeated news reel "to keep the wound raw"
- The "Russian scandal": "a trivial and imperfectly understood statement of fact becomes magnified into enormous proportions by constant repetition from one person to another.""
- The atrocity lie (such as stories of maltreatment of prisoners).
- Generalization/extrapolation of a single instance of the enemy's cruelty into a "prevailing habit."
- The acceptance of human testimony as conclusive without evidence.
- "Pure romance." Lies and exaggerations told by allied soldiers to their civilian social circle.
- Subtly misleading evasions, concealments, and half-truths from the government.
- Official secrecy which must necessarily mislead the public. For example, secret treaties which conceal the intent of the government in disturbing another nation and infringing on their territory.
- Sham official indignation depending on popular indignation, "a form of falsehood sometimes resorted to in an unguarded moment and subsequently regretted."
- Illustrated propaganda that misrepresents the enemy.
- Personal accusations and false charges against persons who refuse to adopt the orthodox attitude towards war.
- Lying recriminations between nations. In other words, a back-and-forth false accusations between countries.
- Other varieties of lie not categorized here.
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