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Today’s message explains a very interesting phenomenon in social psychology called Cognitive Dissonance. It’s important that those valuing their liberty understand this phenomenon and how by using cognitive dissonance, an individual’s attitudes and opinions can be manipulated by others without the individual’s awareness of the process. By understanding how it works, you can largely immunize your mental processes against this sort of manipulation.

Cognition is the process of conscious perception. Dissonance is conflict. Cognitive dissonance is a state of one’s perceptions being put into a state of conflict which must be resolved in order to regain a feeling of peace and harmony. A point that must be understood about the functioning of the human mind is that not only do attitudes influence actions (no surprise there), but also that actions influence attitudes. If a person is overtly forced to perform some action, he may be distressed, but he will not be put into a state of cognitive dissonance because the coercion involved is clearly apparent to him. If this same individual is, however, subtly coerced into performing some action contrary to his inclinations, the source of the coercion, in fact the coercion itself, is unapparent. The conflict between his conscious attitudes and his (apparently) inexplicable actions cause the all important dissonance. This mental conflict must somehow be resolved for the subject to alleviate this conflict. The solution to this dilemma is for the unexpecting subject to alter his prior-held attitudes so that they no longer conflict with his current actions. This may become more clear by relating a classic example of social psychology.

In the 60’s and early 70’s in the United States, many school districts were forcibly desegregated by federal court-ordered bussing. Both blacks and whites opposed this, as neither group wanted its children shipped twenty miles away from home every day to attend school. Rather than engage in armed confrontations and police-state type tactics to overcome the parents’ objections by force, which would just have hardened opposition to the already unpopular plan, federal officials, using the principle of cognitive dissonance and the advice of psychologists well-versed in the technique, used this means to accomplish their end. They announced the bussing, but, to avoid widespread noncooperation, they announced that anyone who was strongly opposed to the idea could have his children exempted, and allowed to remain in his neighborhood school. The kicker was that, when parents attempted to do so, they encountered a deliberately contrived tangle of paperwork which had to be filled out to get their child exempted. The system was designed so that several trips to various offices in different parts of town were required to complete the process. Naturally, few parents went to the great amount of effort necessary to get all the way through this process. They did not, however, realize that the paper tangle was the subtle coercion component of a cognitive dissonance-based scheme. Therefore, they didn’t explain their failure to keep their kids from being bussed by saying that it was too much trouble to fill out a few forms, (which was, in fact, exactly the case), but rather resolved the conflict by deciding that bussing for purposes of desegregation wasn’t a bad thing after all. Through subtle coercion, thousands of members of the population were manipulated away from a very firmly held prior opinion.

The good news is that once you understand the process, you can spot the subtle coercion being applied to you, do what’s required of you, and avoid the trap by correctly attributing your actions to the external dissonance. In this way, you can become virtually immune to the technique so your mind remains your own. Understanding the technique also allows you to understand the cause of your friends’ and relatives’ changes of opinion to fall into conformity with what the puppet-masters want them to think, even though they don’t. The bad news is that as government and other molders of opinion become more skilled in the use of this method, they will succeed with most of the population. The numbers who’ve been psychologically inoculated against this form of control or are just too strong-willed to be influenced, will be a dwindling minority. Your survival in the future might well depend on your ability to both resist such mental manipulations and to understand their effects well enough to pretend convincingly of being influenced like everybody else. Once social control reaches a critical point, the last few heretics are always hunted down and either killed (as in Nazi Germany) or enslaved through less subtle methods (as in the Soviet gulags). Stay aware, stay inconspicuous, and stay alive!

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