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"An Exercise in Cognitive Dissonance" by Randy Vanadisson

Updated: Aug 13

May 24, 2020


Best question I received last week, “Can you show me what cognitive dissonance looks like?” My answer, “I can try, but it will depend on your willingness to accept new information.” There are two ways of experiencing cognitive dissonance (CD). You can either have a direct experience that challenges a core belief, or you can be open-minded, seek out new information, and receive the same effect when a previously considered premise or core-belief becomes invalid due to new information.

There are varying degrees of CD, from the mild, “I always thought that diet soda was good for me”, to the heavier, “He was a nice neighbor. My god, I had no idea what kind of monster he really was.” The severity of symptoms that come with CD (i.e. anxiousness) depend on the overall magnitude of the new information (usually in the form of irrefutable evidence) and the willingness to accept the new information. I had this experience on a massive scale eight years ago that permanently altered my world-view and made me very sick. That story is for another blog.

Anyway, let’s give it try. First, I need to remind you that although I am politically active, I am an Independent. If you've read my previous blogs, you already know this. My mindset is that of analyzing issues independently, free of ideology or any political party's desire to tell me how to think. Currently, there is a great deal of CD (with both parties) regarding Covid-19, but I am not going there today. Second, I have friends, family, and fans, on both sides of the political spectrum, which I call the right/left trap, grand distraction, perfect diversion, and so on. Both sides believe they are the ones who are awake and morally correct. Let’s create some CD...for both sides.

Let’s look at our perception of Second Amendment supporters and non-supporters. The following has nothing to do with any current debates. That is another blog for another time. I started my research on this subject in graduate school over 25 years ago. I have spoken about it in front of thousands of demonstrators and even addressed the Washington State Libertarian convention in 2014. I am well versed on Second Amendment issues. My uncle taught me how to shoot a rifle when I was 6-years-old and my sister will attest to this. I am a veteran and I served with the Air Marshals for nearly five years. I am no stranger to firearms.

Now, looking at the subject through the lens of social psychology, we have a profile (albeit a manufactured one) of what our civilian gun-owner looks like; Caucasian, male, rural, Republican, Trump-supporter, NRA member, etc. etc. - based mostly on what source of information? That’s right - CNN, FOX, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, etc. etc. During my research, I discovered many disproportionate news broadcasts revealing the ‘shooter’ or ‘gunman’ (they never use proper semantics like ‘assailant’ or ‘subject’ when a firearm is involved) to be a white male. Likewise, mainstream coverage of pro Second Amendment demonstrations always edit out video/photographic footage of women and minority participation. Why is that?

What I discovered is there is actually significant support from women, minorities, and people who generally vote on the left side of the aisle. It is taboo for mainstream media to report any news from these groups as much as it is taboo to report successful stories of self-defense with a firearm (sometimes simply brandishing the weapon to deter an assault or crime). If you are a journalist in mainstream media, you will rarely be allowed to tell those stories and, based on the FBI crime index, there are many...much more so than crimes committed with firearms. Once again, we have mainstream media presenting reality in a box. If this is your only source of information, it quickly becomes your your world-view on firearms. The media has completely shaped your perception and reality regarding the subject.

One of my goals is to introduce balance with regard to where Second Amendment support is coming from. Let's take a look at four groups that rarely receive any media coverage. As you are introduced to these groups, you may experience an uncomfortable feeling. My friend, that is cognitive dissonance. Depending on how ridged (close-minded) you are, you may already be trying to rationalize what you are seeing. Example; These are tiny groups of misguided uneducated individuals.

I would like to help out with that perception if you can keep an open mind. Here is our first group - representing women - "Women Against Gun Control" http://www.wagc.com. Take a look around. I think back to the demonstration I spoke at a couple of years ago in Olympia, Washington. There were thousands of people including many women. Among all the protest signs, here were two, carried by women, that initiated cognitive dissonance and captured my attention. One sign said, “Rapists love gun laws” and another stated, “Teach your daughter how to shoot because a restraining order is just a piece of paper”. Is there validity here? Do your own research. Look at the FBI Crime Index (open to anyone). How many crimes could have been stopped? With regard to these situations, could a firearm have mitigated a terrible crime? Could it have saved someone's life? Think of domestic violence, ex-boyfriends, and ex-husbands with a vendetta, or simply men of evil intent. Check out the moral integrity of this group, completely in line with my own beliefs. The last line of their ‘pledge’ states - You promise to never cause bodily harm to anyone unless acting in self-defense. Amen sisters!

Next, "Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership" http://jpfo.org/. Open the link and take a look. I’ll bet that one threw you for a loop! Now why on earth would Jews care about preserving their right to own or carry a firearm? I wonder. How well do you know your history? Start there. I can already hear your internal dialog rationalizing - This is America. That could never happen here. Well then ask yourself, why does this group even exist? Are they ALL being irrational? Perhaps you should at least listen to what they have to say. Here is something else to consider (directly related to this group and what our legislators are currently considering) as our pandemic crisis continues to unfold. Remember this - The Nuremberg Code forbids any forced medical procedure. It is completely illegal under all international law. Here is your reference for that - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6293356/

What about "The National African American Gun Association" https://naaga.co. What’s this about? Go ahead and take a look around. Their ‘About Us’ page states the following – “The goal of the National African American Gun Association is to establish a 2nd Amendment Organization that educates and trains our community on the rich legacy of gun ownership of African Americans, offering education, training, support, safety standards, and cultural inspiration. We are a pro 2nd amendment organization focused on the preservation of our community through armed protection and community building. We are a hub and network for all African American firearm owners, organizations, gun clubs and outdoor enthusiasts. The long-term goal of the National African American Gun Association is to have every African American introduced to firearm use for home protection, competitive shooting, and outdoor recreational activities. We welcome people of all religious, political, social, and racial backgrounds. We especially welcome African American members of law enforcement and active retired military.” I love those last two lines. Right, left, makes no difference. No illusions and no lofty ideology. As in the previous link, you may be asking - Why would the African American community be advocating this? Don’t they have enough problems with firearms already? This is an ideal time for self-analysis. Where does all your knowledge of this subject come from? Is it biased? Is it one-sided? Are you side-stepping possible historical reasons for this group’s existence? Is there another way of looking at the situation? Could the internal conflict you are dealing with be perceived in another way? Are you open to an alternate perception? Every once in a while, I drop in on their page. Some of the articles they are putting out are outstanding. Here is a recent gem. Have a look –

https://naaga.co/2020/04/28/the-theory-of-gun-control-vs-the-reality-of-a-crisis/

Okay this last one is awesome - The "Pink Pistols" http://www.pinkpistols.org. You got it - Second Amendment support from the LGBTQ community. This one nearly always throws people off from both the right and the left. And here again - Why would they want to support the Second Amendment? Again, a perfect time for self-analysis and critical thinking. Where does all your knowledge of this subject come from? Is it biased? Is it one-sided? Are you side-stepping possible historical reasons for this group’s existence? Is there another way of looking at the situation? Could the internal conflict you are dealing with be perceived in another way? Are you open to an alternate perception? How do they justify their existence? From their ‘About’ page – “We change the public perception of the sexual minorities, such that those who have in the past perceived them as safe targets for violence and hateful acts — beatings, assaults, rapes, murders — will realize that that now, a segment of the sexual minority population is now armed and effective with those arms. Those arms are also concealed, so they do not know which ones are safe to attack, and which are not…which they can harm as they have in the past, and which may draw a weapon and fight back. The Pink Pistols are the ones who have decided to no longer be safe targets. They have teeth. They will use them.”

Finally, I want to leave you with a video that went viral two years ago. It is authentic and full of passion and logic. Mark Robinson rocked the Greensboro (North Carolina) city council in such a way that galvanized minorities. If you ever want to know the effect that orator Patrick Henry had of the people of his time, this will surely give you an idea. Many people bypassed their CD after hearing Mark’s heart-felt address. The heart can totally mitigate CD when the bell of truth is struck. Feel free to let me know if this little exercise worked. I am truly curious. The video below is less than four minutes long and truly inspirational - A MUST SEE!

Get rid of the hatred and division. Find love, find unity, and have a wonderful week – much love, Randy


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