Denial Of Reality & Conservative Cognitive Dissonance
Earlier this week I listened to several men with somewhat distinguished military careers regurgitate a lot of nonsense.
In this instance it was an admiral, a general, and a former CIA operative who were joining up with a whack job conservative group to create a “citizen’s commission” to probe the Benghazi attack.
As best I could tell, this was not a Rush Limbaugh style exercise in cynicism, where they obviously know what the truth is but were simply faking it for the cameras. I could be wrong but I believe that they believed what they were saying.
Unfortunately, it was almost all completely false. You can read my report if you want to see the nitty gritty of it, but practically every assertion or issue they claimed there were still “questions” about have been asked and answered or debunked multiple times at this point. No stand down order was given to obstruct a rescue in Benghazi. Witnesses haven’t been blocked from giving their accounts of what happened. Just wrong, objectively.
If anything, even though I work for a major media watchdog, these guys have access to more detailed information than I do (the vast majority of the resources we use at Media Matters simply come from public sources), but that hasn’t stopped them from believing in a falsehood they appear to want to to believe in.
This isn’t the first time things like this happen on the right. Within my adult life, I’ve seen it in the belief that there was another bomber in Oklahoma City, that Iraq really did have WMDs despite numerous exhaustive reports from the US government and the UN, and we’ve certainly seen it in the right’s outright rejection of the basic science of man-made climate change.
I was taught that when I am given evidence backed up with data that it trumps what I want to believe. You can say that the sun revolves around the earth until your face turns purple, but objective scientific reality says that’s a load of crap.
I know that holding on to beliefs in the face of evidence isn’t solely the domain of the right, but they seem to take it to an extreme of much higher magnitude than the left ever does. They don’t just defend their faith, but they treat attempts to correct the record as an affront to their faith and an insult.
All the time I get feedback from conservatives over Twitter in reaction to things written on the Media Matters site. A lot of the time it’s obvious they haven’t even bothered to click a link and read a story, the desire to protect their brains from inconvenient facts is too hard to ignore. But even the ones who read it seem to have a block where they skip over citations and links to objective, non-partisan sources of information because their brains automatically trigger deflector shields to protect them from updating their store of knowledge.
It’s weird, man. I don’t get it. It’s not a good way to live, and it certainly is extremely dangerous when wielded by elected leaders to govern a nation.