Tuesday, May 24, 2011

IN MY GRADUATE SCHOOL DAYS...MANY YEARS AGO

(many more than I care to recall)I became fascinated by the work of Dr.Leon Festinger. He developed a Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. He studied many groups and individuals that confirmed that when facing "dissonant" information, instead of abandoning their beliefs, people strengthened them. Dissonant information, in simple terms, is when A is believed to be true and Z actually occurs.

He studied dooms day predictors who, just like the 89-year-old evangelical broadcaster in California, Harold Camping, alerted their followers that the end of the world was coming on.....in this case my son's birthday.

Logic would predict that when the end didn't come, the followers would return to their jobs on Wall street or wherever and give it all up. Instead Festinger found that the fact that the world didn't end, actually strengthened the fervor of the true believers. They choose to interpret the results as if their prayers saved the world and just picked another date in the future when all would come undone--this time for real.This could go on till the world finally did come to an end or the end finally came to those predicting it would come.Eventually, we all get recalled or whatever word he used that I am forgetting.

It will be curious to see if Festinger's predictions hold true this time around. So far Harold could not be reached for comment. Perhaps he went, well..... camping!

Bye For Now,

Bill

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