Thursday, May 6, 2010

PS Malik speaks on: Learned Ones are Full of Cognitive Dissonance

Learned Ones are Full of Cognitive Dissonance

People start learning right from their childhood. They form concepts and then arrange those concepts; then store those concepts and then when called upon by the circumstances use those concepts. This processing of information and concepts is called cognition in Psychology. Such people who can make so many users of the Cognitive information and the concepts of cognition are called learned ones when they cross a minimum level of storage of such Cognitive informations.

When a child is born he has no concepts. Experience of The child which increases with his age teaches him more and more. At the time of birth the child has no name, religion or other particulars. After his birth all these adjectives are given to him. He is given a name. He is told about his religion. He is told about his parentage and other adjectives. All this information is injected into him. He is made to believe that this external information constitutes an integral part of his existence.

A person hardly has an occasion to think if he were the same person without his name or parentage or religion etc. He is imbibed with a belief that all this information about him was an inseparable part of his personality.  (Here it is better to go through another article "Who am I").

As he grows he is given education. He is taught about the theories given by some predecessors. He is repeatedly told about and is made to believe in the sanctity of the theories. He is taught about the infallibility of the theories. For instance, no student of physics can be motivated be believe the incorrectness of Newtonian Laws of motion for ordinary speeds. Hence as a result , now he starts to identify himself with these theories in the same way as he used to identify himself with the concepts of his name, parentage and religion etc. . People feel proud in calling themselves scientists, mathematicians, democrat, pragmatist, revolutionary, extremist, communists and so on so forth. People have identified themselves with theories.


This entire burden of values, beliefs, habits etc. reduce a person as a mere reflection of the past. He becomes a dustbin where more and more garbage of past is accumulated. More and more of the past (in the form of values, beliefs, theories or habits etc.) is filled in that bin more and more contended he feels. He feels more equipped with values, beliefs and theories. He can deliver lengthy lectures to his companions with similar equipments. One who is comparatively more equipped is more respected among those "equals".

Life is new at each of its moment. It does not repeat itself. Life always and continuously keeps changing. All live circumstances are new. This newness of life poses a challenge to all those who are equipped with the outcomes of the past experiences. For instance, when people are confronted with the circumstances where they have to have resort to values contrary to the values of truthfulness and honesty for winning a competition, it would create a tension in their personality. They find their deeds and beliefs standing poles apart with no consonance in them. Continuous exposure to such inconsonance takes them to the verge of breaking.

Whenever there is inconsonance between the deeds and beliefs of a person, he is confronted with an internal turbulence and the psychology calls it Cognitive Dissonance.

You ask a communist to learn an essay on “The Advantages of Capitalism”. It would be the toughest task for him. In India the followers of Jainism finish their dinner before sunset. A test was given to several Jainese who followed this practice, to have a dinner late at night. About 72 times out of 100 they vomited and others felt very inconvenient after the dinner. It is Cognitive Dissonance.

Learned Ones are Full of Cognitive Dissonance

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PS Malik speaks on: Learned Ones are Full of Cognitive Dissonance

Shreyas Malik

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