by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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It appears to me that the world right now is suffering from a serious case of Cognitive Dissonance. Sports is an easy example of this, but there are equally great (terrible) examples of this in politics as well.
cog·ni·tive dis·so·nance          noun: cognitive dissonance
  1. the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.
I just finished reading Scott Adams new book Loserthink, and it was fantastic. He wrote quite a bit about this same topic, and I guess it influenced me to do the same. The premise of the book is that we are not teaching people how to think critically, and judge situations unemotionally, and from a place of detachment from ourselves to get as close to the truth as possible. I was trying to think of a good analogy for this, and didn’t have to go far. It always amazes me when watching football for example, that the entire stadium is watching the replay on the big screen and half of them see the play one way and half of the stadium sees it another. Each half thinks the video is evidence of their point of view, and their conviction to their team is so strong it squashes the ability to see something objectively. They literally get into fights in the crowd sometimes defending the point of view against someone from the “other team” that sees it the opposite of the way they do. That may very well be the definition of crazy in my book…
If you watch the news these days, you great a tremendous dose of this same effect. You probably choose your news coverage based on which party you identify with. This means that CNN gives you the version of the news that you most likely agree with, and Fox News is the enemy and they are lying. They are biased and trying to make the President look bad by spinning the details of the situation in a bad light. Hate to break it to you, but your news channel is doing the same thing. Since you agree with most of their point of view, they can stretch and bend details to make almost everything that is reported slanted in the direction they choose. We all fall for it, all day every day.
In my opinion, and I believe Scott Adams’ opinion as well, this is a major reason the world is in the state it is in today. Scare tactics and tragedy sells better than anything else, so this is what we are fed a steady diet of. We are rapidly losing the ability to have a conversation with someone that disagrees with our point of view. Civil discourse and open debate are going by the wayside. People seem to choose a side and defend that ideology no matter what. If you support President Trump, he can do no wrong, and if you hate President Trump, nothing he does is right. There is no in between ground, no parsing of details. This mob mentality is one of the drivers of the behavior we see everyday.
When I think about the world and what I wish for it, I have a very specific example. September 12th, 2001. We as a country were never closer in my time on Earth than that day. Everyone, I mean EVERYONE, was looking out for one another, gave the shirt off their back to those in need, supported those who had lost loved ones, and much more. It was the peak of citizens of the U.S. all being on the same page, all living in harmony despite the tragedy that had occurred 24 hours before. There were no agendas, no partisanship; we were ONE. Things like race, creed, color, politics, etc., none of that crap mattered. We all had something in common; we felt very vulnerable for the first time in a really long time. And this vulnerability brought us all to the same table. We were all equal and we were all in this current situation together. The rest of the world felt our pain, and came to our aid. The Masai tribe in Africa that gave a gift of 14 cattle to the US to ease our suffering. This gesture gets lost in translation, but for a poor village of people offer such a large portion of their livestock to us was an amazing gesture of kindness. We didn’t ask, 9/11 happened and people gave, plain and simple human kindness.
I am not sure how we correct the ship and get back on course to the way things were before. Previous days were not perfect either, but by comparison, we are way off track. When Social Media is picking and choosing what information you see, and apps like Facebook are using algorithms to push more anger-inciting news to your phone to keep you engaged, you may feel like you are surrounded by misinformation. I couldn’t agree more. But there is a way out… You need to do more work than reading a headline or a Tweet about something and forming an opinion from that tiny little bite of information.
Look at things from both sides of the aisle, ask others, do some more internet research, and try to come to your own conclusions based on what you can uncover. There is a lot of bad info out there, so be sure you are diligent in your search, otherwise you’ll just find confirmation of what you started out thinking.
Be sure to check out Scott Adam’s book as well, as he does an awesome job of articulating many different points on this topic and more throughout the book. It is one of the best reads I’ve had in a while, and I highly recommend it.
Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible, and as best you can, to deal with the world…it is a crazy place.

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