Cognitive Dissonance As A Campaign Strategy


If cognitive dissonance didn’t exist, the Republicans would have to invent it. Otherwise, they’d have nothing in the tank to fuel their media lies and distortions.

In the clip above, Jon Stewart explores some of the latest examples of GOP reverse thought engineering, necessary to lead a significant chunk of the electorate back from reality to unreality.

While repetition and The Big Lie are the stock and trade of modern propaganda, Stewart notes a new wrinkle in Romney’s effort to get low information voters to vote against their own best interests. Instead of insisting that Obama’s real achievements, such as the killing of Usama bin Laden and the rescue of the US automotive industry were really failures– hard to do in the era of video tape and the internet– simply claim those sucessess as your own. Problem solved!

First we have Mittens’ public statements that pursuing bin Laden into Pakistan was wrong absent permission of its sovereign government, a totally self-defeating strategy given obvious Pakistani collusion in keeping bin Laden safe all these years; not to mention the fact that he claimed hunting bin Laden down cost too much.

Then we have Romney’s claim that he deserves “a lot of credit” for the salvation of the US auto industry, i.e., that Obama was simply following his advice for a managed or structured bankruptcy. This outrageous boast has been categorically refuted by both the bankruptcy judge who presided over the Chrysler bankruptcy, Arthur J. Gonzalez, and the “car czar”, Steven Rattner, who managed the difficult but  highly successful restructuring of a vital component of US manufacturing capability. As both have pointed out, Romney’s contention presumes that their was suffficent and willing private equity available to make a takeover viable. You know, like the kind of leveraged buyout that his own corporate chop shop, Bain Capital, specialized in. Was there a bid there somewhere Mitt that we missed? Care to disclose?

Romney and his ilk are obviously banking on H. L. Mencken‘s observation that nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people. Time to prove them wrong.


  1. I’ve owned When Prophecy Fails for many years. My initital interest was in failed end-of-the-world prophecies, such as William Miller’s in the 1830s-1840s, which resulted in the creation of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

    1. Propagandee Propagandee


      You wrote:
      I’ve owned When Prophecy Fails for many years. My initital interest was in failed end-of-the-world prophecies, such as William Miller’s in the 1830s-1840s, which resulted in the creation of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

      Ah, you have just stumbled into the apocryphal hinterlands of the human focal point of The Urantia Book, one Dr. William Sadler, an up and coming Seventh Day Adventist who would have in all liklihood been the successor to Ellen White but for her failed prophecies…

      From the Wiki P entry on Sadler:

      “Although Sadler was a committed Adventist for much of his early life, he became less involved after John Harvey Kellogg was excommunicated in 1907 after a conflict with Ellen G. White, the church’s founder.[10] The Sadlers later joined other former Adventists in criticizing the church.[21] Sadler rejected some Adventist teachings, such as the status of Ellen G. White as a prophetess…[22]”

    1. Propagandee Propagandee


      Love the following excerpt from Wiki P re Festinger’s work with UFO devotees. Have used it in other fora to illustrate the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance.

      Hopefully, the GOP has got a lot of prep work to do in digesting the bolded phrase in the first sentence!

      Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance can account for the psychological consequences of disconfirmed expectations. One of the first published cases of dissonance was reported in the book, When Prophecy Fails (Festinger et al. 1956). Festinger and his associates read an interesting item in their local newspaper headlined “Prophecy from planet clarion call to city: flee that flood.”

      Festinger and his colleagues saw this as a case that would lead to the arousal of dissonance when the prophecy failed. They infiltrated the group and reported the results, confirming their expectations.
      Cognitive dissonance is a motivational state caused because of a conflict between competing goals, beliefs, values, ideas, or desires.

      The tension can vary due to the importance of the issue in the person’s life, and the change in inconsistency between competing beliefs/ideas, and desires/needs. The tension generates a “drive state” in which the individual feels a need to settle the dissonance. In order to diminish the tension, the person must make a decision to either change their behavior or their beliefs in order to create consistency between the variables.

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