Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance: a discomfort caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs and actions. Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming and denying.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Dear Republicans,

If you believed a word out of Donald Trump's mouth over the last 16 months, you have been deceived. Don't believe me? That's fine. I know how difficult it is to see outside the bullshit bubble the GOP has created having once been a Tea Party Republican myself. However, "the truth can set you free!"

The following is a short list of facts about President Obama's administration's success over the last 8 years. Because I know that your propaganda addled brain will SCREAM at you that this can't possibly be true, I have included my sources as well. You can use these sources and the facts contained therein to dispel the very uncomfortable feeling known as cognitive dissonance (which means having beliefs that are inconsistent with the truth and trying to maintain those beliefs despite the facts to the contrary). Everything Donald Trump said about the economy, immigration, healthcare and defense was based on an imaginary, post apocalyptic hell scape that he invented to scare you into voting for him. The sad thing is, it worked. So, in this "post truth/fact" era, as many people have described it, I'm going to spend way more time sharing facts in an effort to disabuse people of their incorrect ideas about our already great nation and it's current and *shudder* future leader.

- Today's job numbers showed unemployment at 4.6% down from 4.9% the previous month (it was almost 11% when Obama too office; Romney said he'd get unemployment to 6% in his first term, Obama stomped all over that). -Click here for source-

- The economy as a whole has been improving for 78 straight months, we are in the longest period of private sector job growth in this countries history. -Click here for source-

- The stock market continues to set new records. The Dow Jones Industrial averages reached an all-time high of 18,292 in May, 2015. Since most Americans have 401K retirement investments in the stock market, this growth benefits millions of middle class Americans. -Click here for source-

- Despite the loud (and completely false) claims to the contrary, government spending has increased only 3.3% annually, the lowest rate since Eisenhower was president. And the budget deficit (created by Republican policies like the Bush Tax Cuts) has been slashed by 2/3rds. -Click here for source- -2nd source- -3rd source-

- For 95% of American taxpayers, income taxes are as low or lower than they were at almost any point in the last 50 years. -Click here for source-

- Dependence on foreign oil has shrunk due to record domestic oil production and improved fuel efficiency standards. -Click here for source-

- Almost 18 MILLION citizens have health insurance that were previously uninsured AND The Affordable Care Act has added years to the life of Medicare. The Medicare trust fund had been on course to run out of money by the end of 2016. But due to cost savings from the Affordable Care Act and lower healthcare expenses, Medicare’s trust fund will now remain stable until the year 2030 without cutting benefits. -Click here for source- -2nd source-

- We currently have fewer soldiers, sailors, and airmen in war zones than we did at any time in the last 12 years. Additionally, there have been zero successful attacks by al Qaeda on US soil since Obama became president. -Click here for source-

- We now successfully catch and deport more illegal immigrants than ever before. -Click here for source-

Despite the unprecedented obstructionism and record number of filibusters used by Republicans to kill even the most routine legislation, the fact remains that the American people are profoundly better off today than they were before President Obama took office, in almost every measurable way. Period.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Glenn Beck Video Makes a Resurgence on Facebook - Coincidence? I think not!

Ignoramus and lunatic, Glenn Beck spews hatred and ignorance.

The caption of this post, which I've seen from a half dozen people in the last fews days on Facebook reads, "Oh HELL no! School children cannot pray, read their Bibles or even sing a Christmas song. Christmas and Easter vacations are now called winter and spring breaks. They are even trying to re-write the Pledge of Allegiance to remove "one nation under God". But now they are teaching our children to sing OBAMA's praises! Oh HELL no! HELL NO!" How are we supposed to have a dialogue with "Conservatives" if the problems they have with our country and our government are 100% imaginary and literally do not exist? It's like arguing the merits of using unicorns instead of horses on a cattle ranch - it doesn't fucking matter - there are MUCH more important (and real) problems to address, in both the US/government and on cattle ranches.

The FACT is, students can pray in school, they can bring/read their bibles and students can (and do) lead bible studies before and after school all over the country. Christmas songs can be sung by students and I've never heard of "Easter Vacation," it's been been called Spring Break since I was a kid. Even at my private Christian school the 2 vacations we had each year were called Winter Break and Mid-Winter Break (aka Spring Break). The reason for this is the fact that Americans have the freedom of (and from) religion and there are dozens, if not hundreds of other belief systems out there that people should be respectful of. Furthermore public schools are a government entity and they are subject to the Constitution of the United States like all government bodies are. The 1st Ammendment of the Constitution dictates (in no uncertain terms) a separation of church and state. However, students are free to practice their religion(s) in whatever ways they see fit so long as it doesn't harm anyone else, damage property or otherwise disrupt or interfere with the education process. But because teachers and administrators are government employees they cannot organize or lead religious events, prayers, Bible studies, Kuran studies, Wiccan ceremonies, Buddhist meditation or any other religious observation of any kind. That is the law and it always has been since the Constitution was signed and it became the cornerstone of our federal law(s).

In regards to the pledge of allegiance and the phrase, "one nation, under God..." Those words were not a part of the original pledge of allegiance as it was written in 1892. (BTW - the guy that wrote the pledge, Francis Bellamy was a minister and he left any/all religious connotations out on purpose to avoid being divisive). In fact, "one nation, under God" wasn't added to the pledge until 1954, in response to the perceived communist threat(s) at that time. The words "In God We Trust" were added to our paper money a couple of years later (1956/1957) though our national motto has remained unchanged and is still "E Pluribus Unum," which means "Out of Many, One." Which is a motto that is far more inclusive and does a far better job of capturing the spirit of our nation and doesn't alienate or exclude people who don't subscribe to the Christian religion.

As far as the song these kids were singing goes, I looked this video up on PolitiFact because I'm pretty skeptical of anything Glenn Beck has to say. To my surprise I discovered there was a thread of truth to this story, though Beck and Fox News twisted and spun it into something it most certainly is/was not. It isn't evidence of some larger, nationwide conspiracy to indoctrinate our school children as "liberals." The songs they were singing were part of a musical production the kids in this 1 school were performing as part of their recognition and celebration of black history month. They also sang songs about Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and other African American leaders who helped change the way black people in the United States are treated. The fact that Barack Obama is the first black President EVER in our nation's history is a big deal, especially to African American folks who still endure racism and discrimination and are only a few generations removed from segregation and slavery. If there were a nationwide conspiracy to compel all school children to sing songs praising any person every morning when school began I'd agree that this would be creepy - regardless of who that person was. However, in context and as a part of Black History Month, the fact that these children chose to recognize Barack Obama (this was the kids idea, not the school or the teacher's) for becoming the first African American President and for his work to unite and repair our nation is great. Finally, it's probably worth mentioning that this video is from 2009, it's been 5 years and there hasn't been any nationwide implementation of daily praises being sung to the President or anyone else during that time.

I'm really curious as to why Fox News is sharing a video by Glenn Beck (from 2009), especially considering the fact that Fox fired Beck for being too extreme and called him, "crazy." In light of the fact that Beck went on to apologize for the "awful lot of mistakes" he made while working for Fox News; and said things like, "I think I played a role, unfortunately, in tearing the country apart. I didn't realize how really fragile the people were, I thought we were kind of a little more in it together." And he admitted (and I quote), "I don't give a crap about the political process, it was just entertainment."

Monday, April 7, 2014

Is it worth it?

Do you feel like you're spinning your wheels when you engage in conversation with a "believer?" The following is an article I posted on my "Squidoo" lens. If you like my blog, or even if you don't like it but you find it interesting, I'd encourage you to follow me on Squidoo as well. Also, a little disclaimer - I realize that my "voice" has changed some over the last 3 or so years and those of you that have followed me from the beginning may notice this shift. In regards to that I can say that my anger over being deceived for so long has waned. I'm working on adopting a more balanced and objective approach to the conversation on faith - which I think is important if I want to be taken seriously. However, don't mistake the meekness for weakness; my position on and feelings towards religion (and all similar faith based belief systems) has only grown stronger.

Is It Worth It?
Does discussing your non-belief with believes feel like an exercise in futility?

If you're one of the brave few that have stepped off the edge of the abyss and into the volatile, unpredictable realm of religiosity - then I salute you! Trying to use rational and logic to combat irrational and illogical viewpoints often feels like an exercise in futility. I doubt that very many of us that have or do engage in discussion, debate or arguments with believers have ever heard the words, "oh, you're right - my religious beliefs are utter nonsense." It is also unlikely that very many of us have seen anyone give up their beliefs and join the ranks of those of us that do not, "believe." The lack of tangible results that we can trace back to our efforts to win hearts and (more importantly) minds can be discouraging. However, I submit to you that your struggle is not in vain.

Despite the fact that I can remember the exact moment I "lost my religion," it was years after the fact before I was able to look back and recognize the erosion that had been occurring in regards to my religious beliefs. Even after the fateful summer night when I walked (stormed) out of my church for the last time it was a good 12 months before I said the word, "atheist" out loud for the first time. Over the years since then I have heard/read many accounts of people who have been able to break free from the grasp of organized religion. Many, if not all of them described their deconversion as a slow process that often took years - so don't feel discouraged if it seems like nothing you're saying is getting through. In actuality, it is quite likely that you're helping that person along in their personal journey out of ignorance and delusion. "Rome wasn't built in a day," neither did it collapse in a day. Many believers have years or even decades of indoctrination to overcome, that was certainly true in my case. I was systematically programmed from a very young age to believe in, "God" in a process that can only be described as brainwashing. I was in my twenties before it occurred to me that questioning my beliefs was even an option! That might sound crazy, (and there's a good reason for that) ... because it is crazy.

Multiple scientific studies have examined the brains of believers and people who describe having had "religious experiences" using MRI, CT and PET scans. In all of these studies the finding was confirmed that religion/religious experiences had a direct correlation with literal, physical brain damage. A part of the brain called the, "hippocampus" (used to regulate emotion and in memory formation, among other things) actually atrophies (shrinks) in the brains of those that identified religious belief as a major factor in their life as well as those that claim to have had "religious experiences." Additionally the degree of atrophy that was discovered correlated with a person's religious affiliation. In a study done at Duke University, the research showed, "significantly greater hippocampal atrophy among born-again Protestants, Catholics, and those with no religious affiliation, compared with Protestants not identifying as born-again." This means to combat such deeply held, personal beliefs a person not only has to overcome a lifetime of indoctrination (in some cases) but they also have to contend with neurological deficits. I realize how harsh this might sound - I'm not calling religious people, "stupid," (necessarily). I am simply stating the facts, religious faith is a stubborn "virus" and very, very rarely do people realize their mistake immediately after being confronted with the facts.

Keep these things in mind the next time someone quotes Sarah Palin or "Fox and Friends" in defense of their faith in "God." If you are lucky enough to have never been caught up in the throes of religiosity yourself, try and empathize with the folks you're speaking with that are entrenched themselves. The realizations a person has to contend with as they acknowledge their presuppositions are false can be extremely difficult. As a person defects from their religious worldview and transitions to a rational, empirical and factual understanding of life and the natural order of things they will need time to adjust. While the abandonment of blind religious faith/belief does means freedom from mental and emotional slavery, it also means having to face things like the finality of death, questions about their origin, purpose and place in the cosmos, etc... The "Truth" about these kinds of questions is infinitely more awesome and more beautiful than the feeble, infantile fairy tales put forth by the various religious traditions around the world. Yet it takes time to adjust to and understand before the inherent beauty, wonder and awesomeness of nature becomes clear.

The conversation about atheism and religion is worthwhile, but it requires time, patience, empathy and perseverance on the part of the non-believer. If you're truly interested in being better equipped to handle the intricacies and potential pitfalls that accompany these types conversations - join me as I share what I've learned over the years as I've been engaged in this debate. If you stick it out, the reward of being the first person to see the look in someone's eyes as they gaze up at the night sky and see our universe for what it is (for the first time) - is truly amazing."