Cognition & Reality

Monday, 5 October 2009

Orly Taitz & Cognitive Dissonance

Filed under: Uncategorized — drtone @ 2:50 pm

Anyone who expects “birther” attorney Orly Taitz to smarten up and stop attacking the judge in her bogus case against Obama, doesn’t get it.

This is an example of cognitive dissonance, a term that is often thrown around without understanding. In the classic cognitive dissonance study, Festinger & Carlsmith (1956), a subject performs a boring task, and is then asked, for either $1 or $20, to tell another subject that the task was interesting. Those paid $1 report liking the taskthey armore than those paid $20 when asked later. Why? Because the subjects paid $20 required less additional justification for lying than the subjects paid $1 to lie. We see this process at work when, aside from other considerations, we  like a car that cost us $20,000 even more after a day or two than we did when test-driving it. In effect, we have to like it because we paid so much for it.

This brings us to Orly Taitz. One might think that being humiliated by the judge’s ruling on her motion and then being fined ten grand for continuing to press a frivolous lawsuit would bring her to her senses. On the contrary, an action that has cost her so much will seem even more important than it did to begin with. It must be important if she’s willing to lose so much money in order to pursue her claims. The more it costs her, the more dedicated she becomes.

It’s worth noting that, in addition to being subject to the ordinary experience of cognitive dissonance, Taitz probably suffers from some sort of personality disorder, making her impervious to the  kind of criticism that might dissuade a saner person from continuing such self-destructive behavior. Furthermore, the more eccentric her behavior, the more persistent she is in the face of large legal obstacles, the more attention she receives, which reinforces her behavior.

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