Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cognitive Dissonance


But here is the flickr set from one tourism group, and here's a photo from another:Cognitive dissonance is a concept from education that describes the mental situation that occurs when what one is experiencing doesn't fit well with what one knows. For example, siphons can be very confusing- we "know" that water doesn't run uphill. Except when it does, apparently. This whole disaster has been cognitively dissonant to me; I couldn't believe BP would be so slipshod; I couldn't believe MMS was so owned; I couldn't believe how little improvement we've seen in Federal disaster response over the last five years. Looking at all the recent video clips at YouTube, and trying to reconcile those with all the photos of "The Whitest Beach in the World" from today is straining my cerebral muscles to their breaking point... I don't know what to think.

One thing about cognitive dissonance: it's a mostly negative experience in humans- that is, it's one we try to avoid, or if we can't, find reconciliation as quickly as possible. In other words it's a double edged sword: it provides motivation to either ignore experience and reality, or to learn. You know which end of that spectrum I gravitate towards. Problem is, in some cases there are things I'm not sure I want to learn. I'm afraid this is such a case.

Followup, 7:39: Well, I have to say I'm impressed, and that wasn't so painful to learn after all. They managed to clean the beach to a photogenic state in a matter of a couple of days. Not sure I'd really want to use it though, even if it is (mostly) white again.

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