Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Cognitive Dissonance Infographic

Infiltrating a UFO Cult

The term "cognitive dissonance" was invented by a psychological researcher who infiltrated a UFO Cult in Chicago. The spacemen told the "prophet" that the UFOs would arrive at a certain time and date. The cultists gathered together and removed all metal from their persons (including any hardware that might be in bras).

Then they waited.

The time came and went. At first, they weren't worried. (Maybe Alpha Centauri time is an hour later.) Eventually, some of the cultists began sobbing. Later, they went home, crushed.

The surprising thing, as related in When Prophecy Fails, the book that resulted from the study, is that the group bounced back with more vigor and certitude than before. Having previously avoided publicity, they now sought it. They began to actively proselytize. It carried on for more several years. In fact it seems to be a common paradoxical reaction to a smashed belief system.

Referring to the chart above, cognitive dissonance is an unpleasant psychological state that results from an inconsistency between what you believe, and what happens. So, this would be believing UFOs are going to pick you up, and then that doesn't happen.

The chart shows three ways of relieving cognitive dissonance. (1) You can change your belief to match the real-world action. (2) You can change the action to bring it back in line with your belief. Or, (3) you can change your perception of the action so it harmonizes with your belief.

Catholics and Cognitive Dissonance

What does that mean for Catholics? (The Bear trusts he does not have to paint a picture of what he's talking about here.)

Some believe that things are happening that are inconsistent with their beliefs, i.e. what the Church has always taught. That produces cognitive dissonance. So what can Catholics do?

(1)They can say, "Well, what I thought before was wrong. I am now changing my beliefs to whatever the current teaching happens to be." That would take care of cognitive dissonance by changing beliefs to match the previously problematic action.

(2) Or, they can retain their beliefs, but change their perception of the action. "Yes, the Church looks like it is teaching different things than it did before, but these novelties are not magisterial; Vatican II was just a pastoral council; Pope Francis didn't really say that, and if he did, it was mistranslated." Note that unlike (1) above, no beliefs are changed, but perceptions are.

(3) Changing action is a tough one, because we don't have much influence over the Church. We might do our best to fight changes that conflict with our beliefs by supporting ephemera that challenge problematic actions; do whatever we can to disarm error (action) that conflicts with belief (that's how we know it's error).

Which of the Three are You?

The Bear's completely amateur theory is that every Catholic who reads this ephemeris, or many like it, is experiencing cognitive dissonance to the extent they have not successfully employed one or more of these three defensive measures. So how do they stack up?

(1) is out for Bear friends. Agreed? Good.

(2) is sometimes viable, and always in play by many mainstream ephemera.

(3) is what we got left, Woodland Creatures. Reading, posting, resisting: it's sort of (3), changing action. We feel we are doing something, and that is important in this context. Are we actually changing action of the current Franciscan regime? Very doubtful.

Sedevacantists have gone with (2). Have popes promulgated error? They were not real popes. Probably the most inherently logical and comprehensive response. So-called "conservatives" as the term is usually used these days, have also chosen (2), ironically enough. Whatever pretzel-logic is necessary in defense of the regime! And (1), well, that would be informed Catholics without spines.

Remember: most Catholics don't know enough to feel cognitive dissonance. We'll call them the 85%. Lucky them.

The Bear will use (2) where he can in good conscience, but relies mainly on (3), which is rather illusory, but sometimes makes him feel better.

Of course, then there is the cognitive dissonance caused by being not supposed to criticize the Pope, yet criticizing the Pope. Which is necessary for (3). But see (2).

Does it work? You tell the Bear.

Oh bother.


  1. Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.

    Job 13:15

  2. This is true. Owl's spouse is from the north west US and still has contacts with charismatics out there (mix of protestants and catholics), On the 6th they "got a word" that Oregon would be hit by a major earthquake on the 7th. Owl couldn't get the spouse to ask them what they planed on doing when nothing happened.

    (Owl is a Patristic Charismatic and doesn't have time for the modern nonsense).

    Cognitive dissonance is akin to sitting down to play a game of chess and on the 7th move your opponent lays down 4 scrabble tiles and yells "yahtzee!" It is then your turn and you are expected to make your move.

    Owl has a theory that part of the problem of the strange bedfellows with certain stripes of liberal and conservative Catholic types being rah rah Francis is that there is a problem with American apologetics from the late 80's-early 2000. Owl never bought into this, but there is a dilemma that Protestants will pose to Catholic converts (or those about to convert) that posits that all belief is, at its core, an individual's choice to accept that belief...that Luther is right that one must ultimately stand on one's own individual conscience an nowhere else. The Catholic Apologetic response (largely presented by Protestant converts) is that it is the Magisterium, held together by the Papacy, that frees the individual person from the tyranny of the conscience in the question of what to believe and what not to believe.

    And so a great many champions of orthodoxy are suddenly company men, and also accuse Catholics who say "hey wait a minute" of being cafeteria Catholics or Protestants.

    Owl thinks that Pope Francis agrees with Luther about the primacy of the conscience, expect when he wants people to do and believe what he says. Then his theology of the papacy appears to match the very abuse of authority that Protestants claim the Papacy to be.

    I don't have a solution.

    It is, though, nice to be with fellow Catholic who also feel the great pain of this, but who are not going to take the multiple of paths to madness. Pope Francis is Pope, but one who is more interested in his own thoughts about things rather than giving his flock what he was handed.

    But so too are a great many pastors.

    1. Your chess example is spot on. You cannot discourse, (play the chess game) with someone until you agree on rules and common language. You might as well pause the game (or find a more worthy opponent) until basic premises are agreed to.

      Your reference to conscience is appropriate, since it is at the center of our current "cognitive dissonance" conflict with our bretheren. Solve conscience "language" ... and you have resolved our "dissonance".

      Conscience is primary for every individual, as taught most recently by Cdl Newman. The Magisterium is primary for the Body of Christ as taught by every generation back to Christ. They are connected. One provides lifeblood to the other.

      What is happening today, the cause of our "cognitive dissonance", is there is a breach; a disconnect between conscience and the Teaching Authority of the Church Eternal. The individual has been severed from the source of Wisdom and encouraged to find their own path. That is not Catholic. That is as fundamental a mistake as a Catholc can make. It is very much like your chess game analogy. It makes no sense. It is crazy.

      Catholic rules of the game require submission of our conscience and its formation to Jesus Christ and the Teaching Authority of His Church. We must "pause the game" until those rules are commonly agreed to again.

    2. There is a tenancy of modern man to confuse the State with the totality of a society, when it is only a component part, a part that cannot be substituted for the whole, and which other parts lay outside of its authority and competence.

      Same with the Church. The Magisterium is not the totality of the Church nor is what it says the totality of the Faith.

      Cognitive Dissonance can be caused for legitimate reasons. Some times people think that the game that they are playing is chess when it might be something else entirely. Prior to becoming Catholic, there was a period where the rules were being changed and I was going through CD.

      Also, when one is playing a game, sometimes legitimately the rules change. This can cause CD. The game might morph into something more complex...going from chess to three dimensional chess. Jesus took the "game" of Judaism and morphed the "game" into Catholicism. It is the same game but it is also new and different...sort of like an expansion pack or drawing a card that alters the structure of game play to something new, but the same. CD is suffered by lots of people.

      Pope Francis is, by his own words, changing the rules "pastorally". It is causing CD in the pews. Ok fine, rules have been changed throughout the history of the Church, development of doctrine and all. However, what Pope Francis is doing isn't development of doctrine and there is violations of basic philosophical epistemology and metaphysics all over the place.

    3. Interesting perspective. In regards to "rules changes", yes, rules may change, as long as the essence of the game is not affected. I have no CD when they move the PAT back in football by 15 yards. I DO have CD when you are required to miss the goal to score a point.

      I became a Catholic because I came from a world in which the "rules changed" based on preference and perspective. I saw that great grand Catholic edifice as a place of refuge from the whims of clever, persuasive men who brought chaos to my personal conscience. As Jesus said, "I did not come to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfill the law and the prophets," (paraphrase).

      Development, yes. Change, no. This Catholic CD is all on them and their fundamental change. Continuity is the essence and nature of our Faith, not disconnect. Revelation is fulfilled. It ended with the death of St. John on Patmos.

      Thanks for the comment.

    4. Thanks for your comments.

      I became Catholic because Protestantism is false. A lot of published Catholic converts will speak of their conversion as a deepening, completing, or entering into the fullness of their faith. While this may be true for some, this isn't me. The Protestant Apologists who argue that such converts didn't understand their Protestant faith to begin with have my partial sympathies.

      Depends on the model of Revelation being used. Is the Bible Revelation or does it contain Revelation? Tricky question. Also only PUBLIC Revelation has ended, Private Revelation continues.

      That Private Revelation continues is also a bit of a wrinkle because, while the Evangelical Mission of the Church is the Public activity of the Church, Private Revelation can effect the internal housekeeping and praxis of the Church. For example, the St. Michael Prayer is Private Revelation but often finds itself attached to the Public Worship of the Church of the liturgy. Or when a Saint is raised to the altars for the whole Church to venerate.

      Most people live their lives with only a minor understanding of core components of the Faith...for them, such things live out in the woof and warp of the daily Catholic life.

      To continue the analogy of the Game, not everyone is a Game Master and not all Players need to know the intricacies of the mechanics, but everyone is playing the same Game. As the Game is played, there is development, modification, and unfolding...events which happen because of the Rules and because people are playing. There is a synergism. This allows for plurality while being unified in the same thing.

      What I greatly fear is that we are not dealing with a different mode of playing, or an inferior play style by the Game Masters of the Church, but rather a different game is starting to be played.

      You can see it right here in the following language that is increasingly being said -->>>"Jesus always knows how to accompany us, he gives us the ideal, he accompanies us towards the ideal, He frees us from the chains of the laws' rigidity and tells us: ‘But do that up to the point that you are capable.’ And he understands us very well. He is our Lord and this is what he teaches us."

      That is a completely different soteriology.

      It is also complete madness because that same person who using that soteriology says that the Jews are ok where they are independent of the Church, when that same soteriology most strongly condemns that Jewish position.

  3. Well, thank you for comparing me to a UFO cultist, but finally I get it! :)
    Keep it up SC Bear. You really are helping souls in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith.

  4. "Lucky them" is absolutely right.
    I wish I lived in blissful ignorance sometimes.

  5. Very good Bear. I like your style. My method of reconciliation of historic Catholic doctrine vs the Modernist approach (Vatican II/Pope Francis) interpretation is to always regard them as highly questionable since their impact on the Church has been catastrophic.

  6. Do R&R types break the "hypostatic" union between faith and reason when they claim the Vicar of Christ is leading souls to Hell?

    Can a bear truly be a bear if it flies around at night as an owl?

    1. No. No. Bears do not fly. If they do they fly first class.

    2. Fitting The Bear into an economy seat would be a challenge

  7. Planet X is coming...maybe.

    Seattle Kim

  8. As to what to do, how about prayer and fasting? -- really. How many people might join a novena of prayer and fasting in the run-up to the Solemnity of Peter and Paul on June 29?


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