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.


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  • Average Joe

    We deserved to have our ambassador killed after that disgusting, horrible, islamophobic video that was the sole cause of the attack and thank god the guy who made it is in prison and the administration tried to take it off YouTube!!!! It was almost as bad as Monty Python’s Life of Brian or Bill Maher’s Religulous. I hope the government carefully monitors those films too so that other ambassadors aren’t righteously and justifiably killed.

  • Zen Diesel

    Republican logic is like the bastard child if the GroundHog Day Movie hooked up with Walternet from Fringe….they have created their own universe and continue to parrot their reality as factual, even though they are painfully wrong.

  • Barbara Striden

    It seems to me that a willingness to accept basic realities, even when they are in conflict with our political inclinations, is a fundamental necessity for a democracy to work. Yet the folks who are constantly pounding their chests about how patriotic they are have no problem spouting provable falsehoods that make governing impossible.

  • joseph2004

    So….. Did Obama and Hillary Clinton not go out of their way to promote the false claim that an obscure video was responsible for the violence in Egypt and Benghazi? Obama went to the UN and said it. Why did he do that?

    I guess we all just believe what we want to believe. I’ll agree with you there.

    • 624LC .

      Here is the full text of the speech. Again, you and reality seem to have made that trial separation permanent.

      • joseph2004

        Yes, yes, I’ve read it. And I just read it again….

        That is what we saw play out the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity. It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well – for as the city outside these walls makes clear, we are a country that has welcomed people of every race and religion…

        Hmm… sounds like he’s blaming the video for Muslim outrage all over the place to me. Makes you wonder why he put that blurb in there to begin with. Do you think he knew what the “message” was from the video? Hard to say. He may or may not have seen it.

        Hillary Clinton told one of the parents of a marine killed in Benghazi that the videographer was going to be arrested.

        Father describes Clinton’s comment about arresting… includes link to audio of Charles Wood interview…
        And of course there’s Susan Rice over a week after Stevens was killed telling everyone as far as anyone knew the violence in Egypt and Libya was the result of the video.
        The administration has gone a long way in deflecting any inquiry, as has the state department.
        I guess we’ll never know for certain what was going through the heads of Obama and Clinton.
        Oh, I hate to be a cynic, but it’s hard.

        • 624LC .

          All that blather and we still don’t know your point. Other than you conservtards obsession to make bengazi mean impeachment.

  • RepackRider

    Silly liberal. Facts and logic have no place in an argument.

  • imdesign

    It is dangerous as it is not the elected leaders who run the show. Elections are reduced to an auction bought by the most influential lobby group, be that commerce and their corporations or religion, gleefully handled by the Murdoch media manipulators.

  • Zython

    My favorite part about the whole “Benghazi Coverup” is they can’t/don’t even explain WHAT the Obama Administration is supposedly covering up? Did he orchestrate the embassy attack? Are they claiming that there wasn’t an attack to begin with? What?

    • Maike Hudson

      The “what” varies from wingnut to wingnut. One variation: PBO was on some kind of live feed — while he was “partying” in Las Vegas — with the ambassador, who, for seven hours, kept pleading for help, to no avail.
      The Benghazi thing is similar to the “everybody knows” claim that the President “disrespects the Constitution.” They don’t have to prove how — they just know that he does.

  • Mooser

    “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.”
    You might consider the idea that conservatives have a very consistent belief and logic system, and all their conclusions are backed up by lots of evidence.
    Their belief system is based Manicheanism melodrama, and they have been absorbing it, as explicated through TV and Movies, and with Fox these days, it’s invaded the news.
    And all conservative ideas and evidence are usually pretty easy to trace back to the source-film or TV show, in a few cases, a discredited book.
    The most prominent and easily grasped example of this is the debate concerning guns. How many of the conservative ideas about the efficacy of guns, which they all’know’ to be true, come from facts? They mostly come from TV and movies.

  • gratuitous

    No, it’s not a good way for most of the people (perhaps well over 90% of the populace) to live, but it means very good living for a handful of the right kind of people, and so it goes.

    What’s the reason for the folks not pulling down six and seven figure incomes from this nonsense to believe in it? That, truly, is weird. Perhaps the human craving for an authoritarian structure to provide security, even if it’s an illusion? I’ve fallen victim to it myself from time to time, and I know all kinds of people groping for order in their lives who are willing to cede their own faculties to someone or something promising that order. That’s my best guess.

  • johninoregon

    The Right has gone so far off the rails that it has entered cult territory. The eschewing of information that doesn’t fit cult doctrine is just one sign. There is also the “shunning” reflex–condemnation of conservatives (e.g. David Brooks, Joe Scarborough) who say things that are insufficiently “pure.” These are scared, rigid people who need something absolutely certain to believe in. Thankfully, their leaders so far have been buffoons. But their pathetic near-worship of one of those buffoons (Sarah Palin) suggests the evil that could follow if a really clever demagogue captures their allegiance . Ted Cruz?

  • judi

    The last line says it all……except for the fact that OUR elected leaders (CONGRESS) have NO intention of doing so…..

  • Lady Willpower

    “a falsehood they appear to want to to believe in”

    That’s really all there is to it.

    • dbtheonly

      LW, but the ramifications are staggering. Not only won’t the Repuplicans do anything that President Obama might claim credit for; they won’t even admit the problem exists.

      What happens if (when) a Republican wins the White House? We can’t even agree on what the problems are; much less a path to solution.

      • Mooser

        “What happens if (when) a Republican wins the White House?”
        Since the US, has never repudiated or even substantially modified the Bush Doctrine, and since the military and media will eagerly join in promoting it, I would think starting another war would be easy. Look how well it worked out in Iraq. Everybody got rich, and than ran off to leave Obama holding the bag, which he seems to want to do.

  • Carla Akins

    If you could find a pill for this, that would be great.

    • Draxiar

      The red pill.

      • Carla Akins

        Ooh. know what I’m watching this weekend.