"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Justify Anything 

If you've ever stared at a fabulous! $300 pair of shoes in the shop and decided, unlike Kelly, not to get them, you probably walked away thinking that they weren't that fabulous anyways. Or that they really wouldn't go with your pants. Or something. This is what we call cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is a process by which we humans rationalize our decisions, by essentially obliterating thoughts contrary to our actions.

Used to be, we thought that this was a pretty clever tick humans had learned, but as usual, further research suggests that we're not so unique in our cleverness. Yale researchers have found, for the first time, that monkeys seem to do the same thing (PDF here): then they have to choose between red and blue M+Ms, they subsequently value the rejected color significantly less than others (like green).

Even if we're not the only ones good at justifying our (often arbitrary) decisions, that's no reason to do less of it. So, here are some good reasons to justify things you're going to do anyways:

Data from the Framingham study suggest that drinking coffee and eating fish oil may help protect against Alzheimer's. There's probably a whole lot more going on here than it appears, and these things need to be properly tested, but I'll still say it's time for another coffee break, and sushi for lunch!

Also, there is yet more evidence that abstinence-only sex-ed is not useful, so go ahead and talk about sex with a teenager today! Actually, no. Just make sure your kids go to a school with a worthwhile curriculum.

Now playing: Gary Flanagan - Metro Boulot Dodo
via FoxyTunes

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