As defined by Encyclopedia Britanica (bet you haven’t seen that source for a while)
“Cognitive dissonance is the mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information. The unease or tension that the conflict arouses in people is relieved by one of several defensive maneuvers: they reject, explain away, or avoid the new information; persuade themselves that no conflict really exists; reconcile the differences; or resort to any other defensive means of preserving stability or order in their conceptions of the world and of themselves.”
Or the short form as stated by Adam Savage of the Myth Busters, ” I reject your reality and substitute my own. ”
This was brought to mind as I read reactions both negative and positive by several people on Facebook to the idea that the U.S. Federal Government was going to fund research on “gun violence”
I have to wonder who will decide the hypothesis to be tested, who will gather the information , where and how will it be gathered, and finally who will frame the language and scope of the final report. Every area of which will be subject to ill defined and often unrecognized bias.
Even more interesting will be the reactions of various factions as the report comes up with “facts” in conflict with their beliefs. A situation that almost certainly will happen. Significantly for Facebook and its problem with cognitive dissonance,. Most facts will be conveyed to most observers in a 30 second sound bite or a lead paragraph without any concern for the underlying depth and methodology of the research.
I’m not sure it is possible to come to an unbiased conclusion on gun violence. The problem is simply too complex and ingrained in our society. Rather than creating a unified plan for reducing gun violence the research is more likely to function as a wedge that divides the true believers even more deeply.