Are we Ex JW's just as cognitively dissonant as we were before?

by chapstick 33 Replies latest jw friends

  • sizemik
    JW's are unknowingly suffering because of the constant need to try to "rationalise" their beliefs with the facts that bombard them on a daily basis. . . . Phizzy

    I'm not sure of your reason for the emphasis, but I can probably guess. The process is not "rational" because CD can only be dealt with in two ways.

    1. The conflict can be confronted honestly and critically and a currently held belief modified or discarded.

    2. The CD can be alleviated through constant justification. This usually involves holding to a set of strongly argued "facts" and adding weight to them by being selective, using a confirmation bias. It's a process of constant self-justification. It's very well explained in the book, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson.

    If you're not a reader, then this audio is well worth a listen . . . CarolTavrismp3 . . . it's audio only, so you can play it while you surf.

    Oz is right . . . we all confront CD daily . . . and usually use option 2 because we're hard-wired to . . . it helps us sleep at night. (It's the JW default position).

    Being able to recognise it and confront it fully, in ourselves and others, is an advantage in true "rationalisation", but you can't live without some self-justification.

    So in answer to the OP . . . probably not, because we've discarded a wrongly held belief and thus releived it. But our beliefs will always be confronted (or should be), so it depends more on which option we choose when our CD is confronted now, as to whether it's really reduced or not.

  • Joey Jo-Jo
    Joey Jo-Jo

    Joey Jo-Jo: Sulla I am having a hard time understanding the points you are making, for me to understand you a bit better how would you describe cognitive dissonance in your own words?

    I am currently studying psychology and am heavily involved in studies regarding social psychology. Could you please show we how you came to the conclusion that dissonance is not a cognitive construct?

    Sulla wrote - Don't know that I've come to that conclusion. The first thing I asked on this thread was for a definition of cognitive dissonance beyond the popular one of holding two conflicting beliefs at once. I've asked lots of question in my posts on this subject; if you have some academic insight into this matter, it would be helpful if you'd share it.

    Sorry, I did not read everything on this thread but I did read your last post. In psy101 we are taught that two or more cognitive conflicting cognitive elements that consists of beliefs or behaviors, the examples used are smoking and Festinger’s experiment that involves money, the two videos I made on page 1 go into detail of ways to combating cognitive dissonance.

    But let me explain it from scratch, dissonance is a mental state similar to anxiety, reducing dissonance can involve lying to yourself or makes excuses of little merit, consonance is admitting the contradiction and adjusting your beliefs/behaviors so they are non-conflicting.

    Well known cases that you might understand is the concept of a guilty conscience, the reason why people suffer from stress and nightmares is because these people have done things that do not correlate with their "self concept" or their identity - who they are by the way they were brought up and taught, again beliefs and behaviors, to resolve this they make up irrational responses in their brain, lets say we are talking about a person involved in a gang who just killed a member from another gang, this person could say that -he had it coming- -he deserved it because of blabla- -if I did not pop him he would had popd me-, you get the idea, this will create a state of less tension, when someone from their crew is murdered again this person might fell justified for illegal retribution.

    So the brain does these little tricks to adapt by seeking consistencies (the ones I just mentioned -he had it coming- etc), and avoid inconsistencies like - I should turn myself in. You can almost see the criminals symmetry and it's cognitive patterns.

    Another well known example is smoking, I suggest you Google it.

    Now on to ex-jw's, some became agnostics (i don’t know if god goes or does not exist) atheist (lack of evidence therefore don’t believe) and theists (belief based on faith).

    Now we can't be all right and we can't be all wrong, the problem is not being in a state of cognitive dissonance, the problem is what cognitive tools we use to reason during a state of cognitive dissonance, lets say I told an ex-jw theist that Noah could not fit all those species according to the measurements set in the book of genesis, first thing he would feel is threatened because I have just attacked this ex-jw's self concept, now in a state of cognitive dissonance the ex-jw will look cognitively what he considered consistent with his self concept, so he fixes is dissonance by his new belief in micro evolution only, a form of evolution that only creationists (people with poor qualifications that believe in the genesis account), now I confront him again by telling him that micro came from macro evolution, you think it ends there? no, what I understand that he doesn't is all the logical fallacies he uses to maintain his beliefs. Confirmation bias and other cognitive bias are apparent, all the reasoning used in this person's time as a jw as morphed itself into another belief.

    I see this all the time with Christian ex-jw's, one in his youtube video said to question everything which I replied - question everything except the bible.

  • Twitch

    Well, after some thought, there is something to be said for CG in the post dub world.

    I would agree with the thought that all mould their worldview to something that fits with their beliefs, to a degree.

  • Sulla

    Thanks for your comments, Joey Jo-jo. I think one of my problems with the whole CD thing is that it seems to be the sort of thing that people who disagree with me have -- or so everybody thinks. It's like: everybody else is a shitty driver.

    Your example of the fundamentalist belief in the Flood is an example. Unless you have spent a great deal of time investigating evolutionary biology, you are more or less accepting an argument from authority. I know I am, since I can't explain the distinction between mico- and macro-evolution at anything approaching a sophisticated level. The real question is how and why you come to accept one authority over another.

    So, for lots of fundamentalists, the question is simply one of whom you trust. Now, it is easy to mock them, but most of us couldn't follow a real debate within the field. And, if you already distrust the motives of somebody -- the way fundamentalists have reason to distrust most academics -- then you would optimally discount those messages. Indeed, experts are very often mistaken, which provides cover for those who want to discount their viewpoints.

    None of which is to say that JWs somehow are not suffering from CD. But it is to say that I figure they suffer from it at about the same rate as everybody else.

    I see this all the time with Christian ex-jw's, one in his youtube video said to question everything which I replied - question everything except the bible.

    That's what I mean. Or have you somehow managed to create an assumption-less epistemological system?

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