Cognitive Closure: Understanding Human History and Wrongdoings

In summary: Maybe it's a semantic nuance, though, and you really base your beliefs on reasoning instead of propensity of evidence.Anyway, just in case propensity of evidence is the issue, I wonder if you realize how propaganda works. Propaganda is the word for the process of convincing someone of something using deceptive or manipulative methods. It is a type of communication that is designed to influence attitudes and behaviors by presenting one side of an issue in an exaggerated or misleading way.
  • #1
SixNein
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Over the last few weeks, I have been participating in a few discussions with tea party members. Although we never came to any agreements (Apparently, I'm a liberal communist Nazi freedom-hating socialist), there was an interesting trend to our discussions. In any discussion of sufficient complexity, tea party members always took a very simplified view, and they would continue to hold their viewpoint even though a mountain of evidence was provided to counter their assertions. Some people would have contradictory claims throughout their argument, and they didn't even notice them. Obviously, there must be a scientific explanation, and there is one called cognitive closure (psychology definition).

I think much of human history has been shaped because of cognitive closure. I think cognitive closure is the perfect explanation for such widespread religious zeal in the world, and it could also explain so many wrongdoings throughout human history. For example, the attack on evolution may be caused by closure. People who need more closure feel displeasure when they are faced with uncertainty or complexity, and evolution has a bit of both. So these people turn to a more simplified explanation despite evidence for evolution.

I could go on and on and on and on.

So what are your thoughts?
 
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  • #2
I think it all comes back to ego. People hate being wrong. People who hate being wrong are close minded because they do not want to be wrong. People who are close minded are not fun to have conversations with. I suggest you do not have discussion with them.
 
  • #3
SixNein said:
In any discussion of sufficient complexity, tea party members always took a very simplified view, and they would continue to hold their viewpoint even though a mountain of evidence was provided to counter their assertions. Some people would have contradictory claims throughout their argument, and they didn't even notice them. Obviously, there must be a scientific explanation, and there is one called cognitive closure (psychology definition).

I think much of human history has been shaped because of cognitive closure. I think cognitive closure is the perfect explanation for such widespread religious zeal in the world, and it could also explain so many wrongdoings throughout human history. For example, the attack on evolution may be caused by closure. People who need more closure feel displeasure when they are faced with uncertainty or complexity, and evolution has a bit of both. So these people turn to a more simplified explanation despite evidence for evolution.

The thing I wonder about is whether it is possible for you or someone else in your position to realize that they might have been bombarded with propaganda that brought them to a level of complexity that they gave up reasoning and accepted the claim the complex reasoning was designed to support.

The reason I wonder this is because you said they "hold their viewpoint even though a mountain of evidence was provided to counter their assertions." That makes me think that you only took on a viewpoint because of "mountains of evidence" instead of adequately critical reasoning. Maybe it's a semantic nuance, though, and you really base your beliefs on reasoning instead of propensity of evidence.

Anyway, just in case propensity of evidence is the issue, I wonder if you realize how propaganda works. The word "propaganda" itself is related to "propagation," which explains the way propaganda works, at least in my observation.

An ideology gets propagated by taking its basic ideas and multiplying them into numerous expressions. These expressions repeat the same basic, unproven or unreasonable ideas so many times in so many different ways that your mind can begin to make connections between different things in different contexts, which produces a sense of synthesis and idea-coherence, which can pass for truth.

In other words, you could be mistaking associations and connections for reason, if you haven't taken the critical effort to question those associations and connections at a deeper level. For this reason, I think a large amount of politics and other discussion is little more than propagation of ideologies and assumptions.

Cognitive closure is the problem, but don't be so quick to assume that an open-mind is susceptible to achieving closure through mountains of coherent propaganda.
 
  • #4
brainstorm said:
The thing I wonder about is whether it is possible for you or someone else in your position to realize that they might have been bombarded with propaganda that brought them to a level of complexity that they gave up reasoning and accepted the claim the complex reasoning was designed to support.

The reason I wonder this is because you said they "hold their viewpoint even though a mountain of evidence was provided to counter their assertions." That makes me think that you only took on a viewpoint because of "mountains of evidence" instead of adequately critical reasoning. Maybe it's a semantic nuance, though, and you really base your beliefs on reasoning instead of propensity of evidence.

Anyway, just in case propensity of evidence is the issue, I wonder if you realize how propaganda works. The word "propaganda" itself is related to "propagation," which explains the way propaganda works, at least in my observation.

An ideology gets propagated by taking its basic ideas and multiplying them into numerous expressions. These expressions repeat the same basic, unproven or unreasonable ideas so many times in so many different ways that your mind can begin to make connections between different things in different contexts, which produces a sense of synthesis and idea-coherence, which can pass for truth.

In other words, you could be mistaking associations and connections for reason, if you haven't taken the critical effort to question those associations and connections at a deeper level. For this reason, I think a large amount of politics and other discussion is little more than propagation of ideologies and assumptions.

Cognitive closure is the problem, but don't be so quick to assume that an open-mind is susceptible to achieving closure through mountains of coherent propaganda.

Propaganda is not sufficient evidence.

Allow me to provide you an example: Health-care.

There was a chain letter (started by the Ron Paul camp) being circulated throughout the tea party that the health-care bill contained language of mandatory chip implants on all citizens of the US. After making the claim, the chain letter even provides a citation for the bill and section. Although the letter contained a citation, nobody bothered to check it, and they accepted it as fact.

So I jump in and attempt to debunk it. For evidence, I simply check the citation contained in the chain letter. And surprise, there was no language of 'mandatory chip implants required for all US citizens' at the citation nor anywhere else. So I copy verbatim the entire section cited in the bill and references, and I add a link directly to the bill from congress itself. For good measure, I also include links to the other bills in both house and senate.

To defend the idea, they argued that congresses must have removed the language because 'we are now informed'. You know... Covering their tracks and all that. So I go to some other sites that had copies of the bill that are older than the chain letter, and I did the same thing all over again. To defend the idea, they beleived the government 'controls' everything, and it used its evil powers to remove the language from countless websites.

The only way that I can understand their reasoning is by closure. There has to be a really high need of closure in these people. Closure fits like a glove.
 
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  • #5
SixNein said:
The only way that I can understand their reasoning is by closure. There has to be a really high need of closure in these people. Closure fits like a glove.

I have never liked it when people say, "be careful opening your mind too much because your brain will fall out."

That said, I have also noticed that some people promote open-mindedness in order to exploit it for propagandizing people into political alignment.

I was very strongly aligned with the left before realizing that this very tactic of aligning into collective movements is contrary to free independent and critical thinking. The left is attempting to unify people through criticism against the right, and by so doing to reduce critical discourse among individuals.

In other words, the left has become an instrument for generating docility and consensus. That makes it more fascist than the right. Has the left been co-opted by fascism for the purpose of cultivating radical fascism for the benefit of right-wing authority? Sounds like a conspiracy, but maybe that's the reason it is happening; I don't know.

The point is that closure or openness is irrelevant to reason and rationality. A completely closed person can be held accountable to their lack of reason or rationality. A completely open person can be even more resistant to rational reasoning, because they may see it as a form of narrow-mindedness or limited values; while they want to remain open to irrationality and unreasonable forms of thought.

Personally, I think reason and rationality are good because "sheeple" isn't possible when people actually reason and think rationally on their own. It's a different story when people are just going along with something someone else thinks/says because they identify that person as reasonable or rational. That's just more irrational conformity.

If you could reason with these people about these tracking chips or whatever it is your concerned about, wouldn't it be better than arguing with them over citations and whether congress is censoring documents? Good democratic politics, imo, involve people reasoning with each other instead of trying to manipulate others into simply conforming to a certain point of view because of a preponderance of evidence or propaganda. No one's mind should be open to that, imo.
 
  • #6
brainstorm said:
I have never liked it when people say, "be careful opening your mind too much because your brain will fall out."

That said, I have also noticed that some people promote open-mindedness in order to exploit it for propagandizing people into political alignment.

I was very strongly aligned with the left before realizing that this very tactic of aligning into collective movements is contrary to free independent and critical thinking. The left is attempting to unify people through criticism against the right, and by so doing to reduce critical discourse among individuals.

I think policies have to reflect the realities of the day.

In other words, the left has become an instrument for generating docility and consensus. That makes it more fascist than the right. Has the left been co-opted by fascism for the purpose of cultivating radical fascism for the benefit of right-wing authority? Sounds like a conspiracy, but maybe that's the reason it is happening; I don't know.

I think people abuse the word fascism.

"The point is that closure or openness is irrelevant to reason and rationality. A completely closed person can be held accountable to their lack of reason or rationality. A completely open person can be even more resistant to rational reasoning, because they may see it as a form of narrow-mindedness or limited values; while they want to remain open to irrationality and unreasonable forms of thought."

If a person with a high need of closure refuses to consider new ideas or facts, how is the person capable of proper reasoning?

If you could reason with these people about these tracking chips or whatever it is your concerned about, wouldn't it be better than arguing with them over citations and whether congress is censoring documents? Good democratic politics, imo, involve people reasoning with each other instead of trying to manipulate others into simply conforming to a certain point of view because of a preponderance of evidence or propaganda. No one's mind should be open to that, imo.

If you remove evidence, are you not left with faith?
 
  • #7
SixNein said:
I think policies have to reflect the realities of the day.
How are "the realities of the day" defined, and by whom?


I think people abuse the word fascism.
It's true, fascism is used as a dirty word when it should be used descriptively without emotion. Fascism refers to an ideology where individuality is viewed as weak and ineffectual and collectivism, community, etc. are viewed as the only means for individuals to gain power, i.e. by bonding together. I am personally weary of fascism, but that is because I am fixated on its extreme consequences and the way it undermines strong individualism, which I consider good.

If a person with a high need of closure refuses to consider new ideas or facts, how is the person capable of proper reasoning?
Reasoning is a process. Desire for closure can interfere with one's ability to reason openly, yes. On the other hand, sometimes people only beckon people to openness or reason with intent of manipulating them into thought conformity. You can recognize this when people are more concerned with getting someone else to agree with them than they are about questioning what they believe.

If you remove evidence, are you not left with faith?
Faith is not something you're left with. That presumes that faith is absent in knowledge that involves evidence. Evidence and proof are a basis for faith, but not the only basis. You may be thinking of "blind faith" in which faith is exercised despite lack of evidence or reason. Not all faith is blind. Some people exercise faith on the basis of evidence or reason. Faith itself is just the act of going with what you know, on whatever basis.
 
  • #8
How are "the realities of the day" defined, and by whom?

The realities are defined by international and domestic affairs occurring at a point in time. These affairs can be military, economic, or political in nature.

Reasoning is a process. Desire for closure can interfere with one's ability to reason openly, yes. On the other hand, sometimes people only beckon people to openness or reason with intent of manipulating them into thought conformity. You can recognize this when people are more concerned with getting someone else to agree with them than they are about questioning what they believe.

I suspect that closure is hardwired into people through biological means.

Faith is not something you're left with. That presumes that faith is absent in knowledge that involves evidence. Evidence and proof are a basis for faith, but not the only basis. You may be thinking of "blind faith" in which faith is exercised despite lack of evidence or reason. Not all faith is blind. Some people exercise faith on the basis of evidence or reason. Faith itself is just the act of going with what you know, on whatever basis.

Are you a relativist?
 
  • #9
SixNein said:
The realities are defined by international and domestic affairs occurring at a point in time. These affairs can be military, economic, or political in nature.
"International and domestic affairs" sounds like you're talking about macro-social discourses as structuring human interactions and affairs at the micro level. If this is the case, you should realize first that the "realities" are what happens at the micro level. The discourses of macro-structuring are conceptual exercises people use to interpret and "structure" their perceptions of immediate realities and their actions relative to those.

I suspect that closure is hardwired into people through biological means.
Yes, I think it is related to what Freud calls "the death drive." The life drive, or libido, is what stimulates people to explore things, create, and be interested in the creativity of others. Death-drive is when people get saturated with creativity and the new and desire to control, limit, or destroy it. People don't always seek closure - they just do so when they have reached their limits of openness. After a time of closing off, they start to be interested in becoming open to new things and ideas again.

Sometimes, though, I think that some people live in such a constant state of libidinal excess that they maintain a constant low level of tolerance for anything that doesn't provide an immediate sense of closure. On one hand, such people are lucky to be so saturated with life - and on the other they are unlucky because they are unable to experience new things and ideas happily as a result.

Are you a relativist?
Not at all, except maybe to the extent of recognizing how perception and experience can be relative to other perceptions and experiences. I'm more of an empiricist. I can observe relativism taking place, but I do not avoid taking moral or ontological stands. Realities are only relative to the extent they are constructed as relative.
 

1. What is cognitive closure?

Cognitive closure refers to the psychological tendency of individuals to seek out and accept explanations or beliefs that provide a sense of understanding and closure, even if they are not entirely accurate or based on solid evidence. It is a cognitive bias that can impact how we perceive and interpret information about human history and wrongdoings.

2. How does cognitive closure impact our understanding of human history?

Cognitive closure can lead to oversimplified or biased interpretations of historical events and wrongdoings. It can cause us to ignore or downplay important factors and perspectives, leading to a distorted understanding of the past.

3. What are some examples of cognitive closure in relation to human history and wrongdoings?

One example is the tendency to view historical figures or events as either entirely good or entirely bad, without acknowledging the complexities and nuances of their actions. Another example is the belief in conspiracy theories or false narratives that provide a sense of closure, even if they are not supported by evidence.

4. How can we combat cognitive closure in understanding human history and wrongdoings?

One way to combat cognitive closure is by actively seeking out diverse perspectives and considering multiple sources of information. It is also important to critically evaluate our own biases and assumptions and be open to changing our beliefs when presented with new evidence.

5. Can cognitive closure be beneficial in any way?

While cognitive closure can lead to distorted understandings of history and wrongdoings, it can also provide a sense of closure and comfort in uncertain or unsettling situations. However, it is important to be aware of the potential negative impacts and actively work towards a more balanced and accurate understanding of these complex issues.

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