Your cognitive dissonance makes you vulnerable

If you are living half-consciously, you can expect that the simple act of explaining an argument might change your mind. The solution, of course is to live in full consciousness. But that will require a possibly painful process of weeding out all sources of cognitive dissonance.

Your Beliefs Are Malleable

Many years ago, while teaching my first college level course in Human Sexuality, I was having a bit of difficulty dealing with two students who seemed to always be at each other’s throats. Each time a controversial topic (e.g., abortion, homosexuality, pornography) was covered, their open disagreements seemed to escalate into full blown arguments. After a few weeks of this I’d had enough, and I executed a plan designed to teach them (and the rest of the class) to expand their horizons and to find common ground. I asked all of the students to write a short paragraph expressing their positions on a list of ten sex-related topics, and to turn it in after they had signed it. They were then instructed to write a research paper in which they attempted to support the opposite of their own opinion on one of the topics in the list. This is an old trick, and I expected a bit of resistance and protest, but I had faith that most would follow through and learn from the experience.

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