Philosophy TuesdaySeptember 13, 2016
This is a philosophical statement. It is intended to spark thinking and examining.
Recently I heard an interview on the radio regarding the upcoming elections in the USA. “The thing is,” the interviewee stated, “everything negative said about [My Candidate] is conjecture, while everything negative said about [The Other Candidate] is TRUE.”
In many ways, I’m not sure what to add to that. It’s very stark. And yet, in some ways, remarkably honest.
It is such a strong reminder of how coloured our views in life are and can become.
Moreover, it’s a statement that hints at one of our most powerful tools, our trump card* if you will, that we use to keep our views intact: our incredible amazing ability to be dismissive.
Whenever information has made it past both our various pre-filters and our ability to rationalize just about anything, a threat to our views on the world can emerge. The cognitive dissonance makes us feel uncomfortable. And, especially, if that view is tied to our identity, our identity is going to mount a full scale defense.
The breach, though, has already occurred — the information is there. What to do?
Easiest solution: make the information disappear. Turn it into non-information.
If we can ‘discredit’ the information, it goes away. Cognitive dissonance fades. Our identity is secure.
And we can be dismissive in so many easy ways. (Pick one! Fill in the blanks!)
“You’ll understand when you’re older.”
“If you had my education…”
“You’re just a [category], what do you know?”
“Back in my day…”
“That’s not how the real world works.”
“A real Scotsman wouldn’t say that…”
“Common sense tells us…”
“That’s just too crazy.”
“I’ve never seen that.”
“That’s all fine and good, but at the end of the day/in the final analysis [this is how things are].”
It really doesn’t take much to be dismissive. We’re all pretty good at it. And it’s very likely each of us does it often without even realizing it. And like all other areas of bias, it has its drawbacks and downsides and pitfalls, for ourselves, for our communities, and yes, most certainly for our societal and political institutions.
* I do get the irony of that term given the candidates in this current election…