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Cognitive Dissonance: The Most Prolific Psychological Plague of our Time

There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true. The other is to refuse to accept what is true – Soren Kierkegaard

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In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress (discomfort) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values; when performing an action that contradicts one of those beliefs, ideas, or values; or when confronted with new information that contradicts one of the beliefs, ideas, and values. In other words, the term refers to the perception of incompatibility of two simultaneous cognitions, which can impact on their attitudes.

Leon Festinger‘s 1957 theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how human beings strive for internal consistency. A person who experiences inconsistency tends to become psychologically uncomfortable, and so is motivated to try to reduce the cognitive dissonance occurring, trying to “justify” their behavior by changing or adding new parts of the conflicting cognition, as well as actively avoids situations and information likely to increase the psychological discomfort.

I am frequently asked, “you’re intelligent, how could you support a dictator”? I explain that because I’m intelligent I don’t believe the lies and propaganda spewed on mainstream media, and I dig beneath the surface to find facts. Then I am usually told “But he’s killing his own people, he’s using chemical weapons and barrel bombs too!” That’s when I usually proceed to explain how that’s all been proven to be false or has been debunked and it doesn’t make any logical sense for him to do so in the first place. I usually share an article or video that backs up my response. Chemical weapons allegations have been made numerous times by the terrorists and then shared to mainstream media during this imposed war. This war has devastated the country for more than six years, I share studies and analysis that prove that the Syrian state provided evidence that the opposition were the ones who used mustard or sarin or whatever the new concoction or flavor of the week chemical weapon and gas is, and that in fact it was never used by the Syrian Arab Army. At that point people will sometimes flat out ignore it, or not even consider it based on their deeply rooted biased views of the Syrian state and the Syrian Arab Army and its allies.

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Depending on the intensity of their cognitive dissonance some people completely shut out any information you want to attempt to provide to them. They usually reply that they do not believe in “conspiracy theories”.

When I am asked about the imposed war and invasion in Syria I try to first explain how this war should be defined. I explain that the widely accepted terminology that was provided to the masses via mainstream media is that this was started by a revolution and then developed into a civil war. I explain to them how that is false and share with them information that I wrote about more in detail in this article.

After some discussion I tend to conclude with a simple notion that most should be able to accept. That whoever Syrians want to rule their country is who should be the president. This is a decision that only Syrians can make. This global war on Syria has destroyed the country and it was not a war that Syrians wanted to engage in. Syria is a sovereign country and should not be meddled with. It’s politics, government, president, army, etc. is not up for global debate. Does Syria meddle in other countries politics? No.. therefore why does the West, NATO, EU, GCC, etc. think it has a right to meddle in Syrian domestic politics?

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I tell people that they can’t have an informed opinion about the war in Syria without knowing both sides of the story. They need to hear all the sides before they can decide what stance you they want to take. I tell them they need to use logic, critical thinking, read, research, and ask questions just like the rest of us do.

I ask them questions that they seem to have trouble answering. Why would someone that’s supported by most of his people need to commit these alleged atrocities? Does it make logical sense?

Sometimes the question is posed to me about why President Bashar doesn’t allow anyone else to rule the country, why is he stuck on keeping his position as president especially during this war.  I explain it’s because the people want him! No one put a gun to anyone’s head to make them vote for him. Many Syrians that were living in Lebanon stood for hours in line just to cast their votes for him. Why? They truly feel he is the best option to lead a secular, nonsectarian, and united Syria.

A popular misconception that is easily rebutted is that Syrians do not want him to lead. That’s simply not true. The majority do, he won by a 88.7% vote in the last election in 2014.  

I explain a popular reason the opposition do not want him is because of his religious sect. What’s even more interesting is when a Christian holds these views against President Assad. I explain to them that Christians have said time and time again that President Assad protects them, that he allows them to worship freely, and that he is commonly seen visiting churches and monasteries with first lady of Syria Asma Al Assad. I have explained many times that Syria is the only non-sectarian and secular country in the Middle East and this is made possible by having a tolerant president that respects and accepts all religions. This has worked well for many years and people coexisted without any major issues. President Bashar and his father knew how to handle the Muslim Brotherhood and kept them in line, taking him down forcefully without the people’s support will unleash horror on Syrians and especially those of religious minorities.

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A Christmas choir had a surprise visitor overnight after President Bashar Al Assad and first lady Asma made an appearance at a church in the Syrian capital of Damascus where rehearsals were taking place.

After much discussion one does tend to get tired, of repeating the same thing over and over for over six years. The media propaganda beast is vicious, highly funded, emotionally driven and supported by mainstream media.

Sometimes it feels like we are David fighting against Goliath. It can get discouraging when we feel like given all of the information, facts, and proof that we have that some people have still refuse it because of a deadly combination of arrogance and ignorance.

Regardless of the outcome it is our duty to spread the truth. Humanity is depending on truth advocates to spend their energy and speak up for the the oppressed. They have been silenced for far too long. Syrians have been suffering for over six years from a global war they did not chose to take part in. Keep your heads held high and your voices strong my fellow truth advocates. At the end the truth will prevail and you can sleep soundly knowing you were on the right side of history.

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About Sarah Abed (65 Articles)
Syrian-American independent journalist and political commentator. I focus on exposing the lies and propaganda in mainstream media news as it relates to domestic and foreign policy with an emphasis on the Middle East. I have contributed to various radio shows, news publications and spoken at forums. For media inquiries please email me at sarahabed84@gmail.com.

15 Comments on Cognitive Dissonance: The Most Prolific Psychological Plague of our Time

  1. More and more small but important gear wheels in the wheelwork of the wonderful good become brave, interlock and eventually sweep away the banality of evil, that works in the same manner but in the opposite direction, like a tsunami.

    Thank you, dear Sarah, you are an empathetic brave important small gear wheel in the wonderful good!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Derrick Steed // April 20, 2017 at 11:28 am // Reply

    Thank you Sarah, I always try and read your posts and share them as much as possible. And you are correct, it is extremely difficult to argue with ignorance, after all, Ignorance is Bliss !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bang-on! I too have been carefully following the war in Syria from the onset. Your article explains what I have trouble understanding; that is how people can be so devoid of the ability to logically analyse information and deduce. Yes it seems there is an instinctive tendency to hold onto a line of reasoning even when it is proven false. To do otherwise is to admit that you were duped, wrong and moraly bad.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Sarah – it was a syrian woman, a smart lady like you are, who liberated me from my blindness. I am very grateful she did so, and I feel obliged to give back to her and her people what I can to support Syria, the cradle of civilization, he rlegitimate president and her wonderful people. The war waged against Syria is a war of my nation’s government with the money and ressources stolen from a people that, in its vast majority, seems to lack empathy and intelligence, that is driven by ignorance and arrogance. Since 6 years now I do what I feel is necessry to be done, yet knowing it is far too litle. But what kind of human I would become, if I didn’t do what I can do?
    Thank you so much for your splendid work. Hold high your head and go on bringing light into the darkness. God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww thank you so much Stefan for sharing that with me. I really appreciate all of your support, encouragement, and your desire to spread the truth. I certainly have noticed that you frequently share my posts and I greatly appreciate that. Trust me you are doing a great thing by spreading awareness and we are very thankful for that. Keep being the kind, caring, and goodhearted person you are and sharing the truth with all.. one day hopefully this war will be behind us and Syrians can go back to their normal lives. I really hope that day comes soon.

      Like

  5. Reblogged this on vaskaxtumir and commented:
    With the specific illustration of discourse on Syria.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you, Sara, for a very common sense approach to a problem that is so prevalent in the West. Witness the recent primaries here, in France. I have been attempting to explain all this to a dear friend in the States, who, while she does admit that the US does “bad things”, tries to excuse it by saying that other countries do “bad things” as well, and that I’m too negative.

    I’m going to send her your post (as well as Vaska’s link) in the hope that, coming from a female with courage, she might understand that a bit of analysis, rather than simple consumption, of the so-called “news” is necessary.

    I’ve tried to deal with this problem various times on my blog and have come to the conclusion that the US is suffering from a collective case of PTSD.

    As the late Joe Bageant would say, “In work and art”,

    Steve

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Steve.. it is an epidemic I concur! One that we all need to help in treating. It is imperative that we all do what we can to raise awareness so that we can help save humanity from imploding. Thank you again!

      Like

  7. LET US STOP IDEOLOGISING!

    “Ideology isn’t simply imposed on ourselves. Ideology is our spontaneous relationship to our social world, how we perceive its meaning and so on. We enjoy our ideology. To step out of ideology, it hurts; it’s a painful experience. You must force yourself to do it. This is a paradox we have to accept: the extreme violence of liberation, that you must be forced to be free. If you trust your spontaneous sense of well-being you will never get free. Freedom hurts.”
    (Slavoj Žižek)

    Slavoj Žižek is absolutely right. When I stepped out of ideology, i.e. indoctrination, as much as I possibly could, I felt exactly the same: Enormous pain and suffering while I hit rock bottom. But all this was quite rapidly replaced by a great feeling of freedom while flying far above the fog boundary in the sunlight… 😀

    “You were born with wings.
    Why prefer to crawl through life?”
    (Rumi)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for sharing!

    Like

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Cognitive Dissonance: The Most Prolific Psychological Plague of our Time | Arab Nyheter
  2. A “New Hollywood Plot” to Undermine Syrian Peace Negotiations – The Rabbit Hole
  3. Cognitive Dissonance: The Most Prolific Psychological Plague of our Time – What is this world without a further Divine purpose in it all? W. Whitman

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