Nov 29, 2007

Barbara Tuchman on cognitive dissonance

Psychologists call the process of screening out discordant information ‘cognitive dissonance,” an academic disguise for “Don’t confuse me with the facts.” Cognitive dissonance is the tendency “to suppress, gloss over, water down or ‘waffle’ issues which would produce conflict or ‘psychological pain’ within an organization.” It causes alternatives to be “deselected since even thinking about them entails conflicts.” In the relationships of subordinate with superior within the government, its object is the development of policies that upset no one. It assists the ruler in wishful thinking, defined as “an unconscious alteration in the estimate of probabilities.”

~ Barbara W. Tuchman, The March of Folly, Page 303

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