Cognitive Dissonance

Tell him that you disagree and he will lose interest
Show him the facts and figures and he will question the source
Call on logic and it won’t be able to follow you
(Leon Festinger, American Social Psychologist)

Photo by S Migaj on Unsplash

More than ten years ago, by chance, I discovered the writings of Ludwig Von Mises, the great Austrian philosopher and economist who would revolutionize the understanding of economics “correctly understood”, as he liked to define it so much that he changed its name and called it praxeology, the science of human action, thus bringing it back to the humanistic, natural and common sense aspect.

The conclusion I drew from it could only follow the logical and irrefutable implications of the chain of his observations, the State and its institutions, as they have evolved so far and for the theoretical premises that it contains, is the primary cause of the great tragedies of our time.

Unfortunately, learning to use logic and common sense, I would have found confirmation of this conclusion in every other branch of knowledge such as in philosophy, science and even religion (reading among others Jiddu Krishnamurti, Renè Guènon, Emerson, Rudolf Steiner, Aldous Huxley)

My tribute to the Mises born city Lviv in the north of Ukraine

My first reaction could only be the natural one, of denial, repulsion, defense, it was not possible that the reality in front of my eyes was exactly the opposite of what I had seen until then and which, consequently, had built my life, my person, the character of someone who felt he was solidly himself.

How was it possible that all the so-called institutions such as the State, Banks, Universities, Media, Large Companies, think for example of those in the pharmaceutical sector, even the Church, etc., had reached such a level of corruption as to represent a reality exactly opposite to what I perceive?

It was not possible, full stop, as simple as this, it was not the institutions that were corrupt, these could only be founded on the “common good”, on the “good will” of the people, such corruption, and here I am speaking above all of that of the soul, it was just the exception and could not be the rule, so that, consequently and logically, it was precisely the theories of Mises and all the others that led to the same conclusion that were corrupted.

And yet, alas, tragically and parodically, as I persisted in wanting absolutely to unravel the fallacy in the logic of Mises and co. I got a contrary answer, more and more rigorous, evident, until I could no longer escape, not only was this corruption possible, but it represented the only possible conclusion, it was my logic and perception of reality that was corrupt.

Obviously the answer to this irrefutable reality and understanding could only be to shout it to the world, what else could I do but shout at the fire at the very moment when I discovered with absolute certainty that the whole house was burning?

The hundreds of articles I wrote in the blog that I set about opening immediately are just a small example of this piercing cry that came from my soul, but alas, to no avail, the house continued to burn, so only with time and after having slammed the head against the wall for an infinite number of times I understood the deep reason, alas equally logical, natural and irrefutable, and I would have found it in psychology, in the so-called cognitive dissonance, that natural defense mechanism inherent in our mind so well described by great American psychologist Leon Festinger in his book “When prophecy fails”.

The principle of the mechanism is quite simple, since, like everything in nature, the mind is built to be coherent, in balance, between the reality we observe and our beliefs, especially the deepest and most deeply rooted ones, whenever it occurs a “dissonance”, that is, every time we observe a discrepancy between reality and our belief we feel a real psychological pain that creates an irresistible need for correction.

Obviously, since changing one of our beliefs, especially when it is rooted, appears extremely painful and tiring, think only of the effort of quitting smoking, all that remains is to change the other option of the scale, the simplest one for us, the perception of the reality that surrounds us, after all, smoking is not that bad, each of us has an uncle who lived up to ninety years smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, the truth of getting cancer in the end is not what they tell us even if they even write it on cigarette packets and so on, an infinite series of justifications that change the perception of our reality in order to be consistent with our behavior.

Then if the perception of the reality of the institutions appears to me more and more obviously corrupt, just as I had been able to ascertain from studying Mises and co., and causes a dissonance with my deep-rooted belief in the “sacredness” of the same, what else could I do but change the very perception of reality in my mind?

Could I ever change my belief on the State, on Universities, on Justice, on Banks, on Large Pharmaceutical Companies, in short, on everything that is the foundation of my daily experience, of my person, of my work, in short of my life?

Should I adapt my behavior to reality and throw away my whole life?

For what ?

To find myself alone and without money?

Think of a pharmacist, or a general practioner, how could they accept the reality of an institution such as the increasingly corrupt and unhealthy “official” medicine that actually treats less and less and kills more and more?

The same consideration can be made for lawyers and justice, students and universities, entrepreneurs and taxes, etc., in short, for anyone of us.

Yet this cognitive dissonance is the root cause of this irreversible and parodic decadence that we live on our skin every single day, whose tragedy and parody is represented exactly by its inevitable consequence: the manifestation of reality and truth cannot be hidden forever, it is unchangeable by definition, it becomes more and more dazzling, abnormal and difficult to refute.

As long as you can vote for any party that continues to rob you, rely on a doctor who can no longer treat you, a lawyer who can no longer defend you rather than a teacher who can no longer teach you anything ?

Are they too victims of the same dissonance?

When I saw the reality in its clarity and crudeness I had no choice, I threw away all the old beliefs of my life, it was not an easy thing, I paid the price, but in return I had a higher reward, much higher, the true freedom, true serenity, the profound one, the one that can only exist with a mind that is truly coherent with itself.

I wish everyone to find the same courage, there is no deeper joy you can feel in life, even in difficult times like these so keep dancing my friend

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

(Friedrich Nietszche)

Founder of The Ark Lab https://www.thearklab.net/