What is cognitive dissonance and why is it holding you back? What do you have in common with a doomsday cult? Can you learn secrets to success from an obscure book called When Prophecy Fails? Find out all of this and more in the latest podcast.
Listen here on Soundcloud or here on iTunes.
Or read the notes below:
If you want to understand the true nature of *human* reality: Read these two books as a starting point: – When Prophecy Fails. – Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds Want me to do a thread on why these are the best two books to read to understand our times?
– When Prophecy Fails is a baseline book, that is, a book you must have read in order to have a fundamental understanding of human nature. It’s also an easy read. Here’s why it matters….
When Prophecy Fails is a book about a doomsday cult. People were told the world would end on a given date. This was a falsifiable prediction. Either the world ends, or it doesn’t. When the world did not end, what do you *think* would happen?
Everyone would say, “OK we got it wrong. Let’s move on.” That’s what, 15 years ago, I would have thought. Before reading When Prophecy Fails. Instead, almost half of the members DOUBLED DOWN. They created various reasons to explain away why the prediction failed.
When Prophecy Fails is a book about cognitive dissonance . Cognitive dissonance is the human inability to hold conflicting beliefs. “I was wrong,” is almost impossible for most people to admit, because being wrong conflicts with one’s identity about being smarter than average.
Kahneman’s research has shown we all consider ourselves above average. If you consider yourself above an average thinker, then how do you admit you were wrong about a deeply held belief? Hence, as When Prophecy Fails shows, people double down on those false beliefs.
When Prophecy Fails thus has two messages: 1. Why it’s pointless to use logic to argue with people with the goal of changing their minds on deeply held positions. 2. How your own self-image holds YOU back from saying, “Yep. I blew it. Damn. That sucks. Learn and move on.”
When Prophecy Fails also shows you how even “logical” people in some areas are not rational at all. Trump was GOING TO LOSE. It was 100%. Yet the day after he won, what *didn’t* happen? No one said, “I got this wrong. How can I learn from this mistake?”
What happened the day after Trump won was EXACTLY what you’d predict to happen, if you’ve read When Prophecy Fails. Pundits and others who are “informed” would not accept that they were wrong (ego damage), and instead doubled down to show they were actually right all along!
Likewise, when the GOP got trounced in 2018, none of those people predicting a Red Wave said, “Yep, I blew it. Let me update my knowledge about the world.” Cognitive dissonance isn’t a “them” issue, it’s an “us,” and “everyone” issue.
I’m a self-development guy. Every book I read, I use to update my model on how to live a better life. For me the message of When Prophecy Fails: – If you’re coming up with reasons to explain why you are ACTUALLY right, embrace the feeling. What are you afraid of?
My understanding of the fundamentals of human nature is why, to the jealousy of many people who did this game for decades and who I surpassed quickly, I “came from out of nowhere” to blow up. – Politics is applied mass psychology.
If you’ve read and internalized When Prophecy Fails, you just shake your head at what’s happening today. – Of course people are angry and won’t admit they were wrong. But on a persona level, here’s the reason lesson – Admit error and update your own mental software.
You have to have an ego to live big, if you don’t believe you matter, why dream big? But cognitive dissonance means your mind will go into overdrive to protect you from any hurt feelings. Which will hold you back, literally like the cult members in When Prophecy Fails.