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On being open minded

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In my attempt to understand why some people think and act the way that they do, I have been reading on Wikipedia and various other sites about the occurrence of cognitive dissonance over the past few years. I discovered that one way cognitive dissonance (mental discomfort/psychological stress) can occur is when one's beliefs, ideas, and values do not match up with presented facts and perceived evidence. This can happen to anyone! To relieve the feelings of dissonance, an average person will attempt to verify the facts/evidence as needed and then adjust their beliefs, ideas, and values accordingly. Even with a healthy amount of skepticism, they trust the "outside world" by being open to their own perceptions, to scientific evidence, to experts, and to other fact gatherers, like our free press. This is how we grow and evolve. This explains why we, or most of us anyway, do not believe that the earth is flat.

But sometimes, regardless of the validity of facts and supporting evidence the "outside world" is presenting, we want to hold on to our contradictory beliefs and ideas. In order to do this and, at the same time, relieve our stress and discomfort, we may deny the facts and evidence and/or attack the source(s) of the facts and evidence. The tendency to deny and attack increases when a person has spent greater time, effort, and personal sacrifice to develop their beliefs and ideas. This tendency also increases when these contradictory beliefs and ideas are developed within the closed systems and pressures of families and social groups. Religious and political extremism can be a result of this, and the attacks against contradictory sources becomes violent. That is one way terrorism evolves. Conversely, some may create other versions of reality or "alternative facts" to support their own beliefs and views or deny truth to manipulate others' beliefs, ideas, and values (aka propaganda). Sound familiar?

I bring this all up to make the point that, as the Mueller investigation hopefully continues and comes to a close, my wishes are that all are open to accepting the facts and evidence that have been painstakingly collected and support seeking justice for all involved, no matter where the chips may fall.

Kathy Riedmann

Los Osos


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