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October 22, 2004


Frank Field

Hi, Anup:

It's worth reading the report -- it suggests that there's a kind of cognitive dissonance at work -- thet there's a subconscious effort *not* to perceive things that contradict current impressions.

In some contexts, this would be a definition of a kind of pathology. Read the pages after the table that you clipped and let me know what you think of the explanation.



I do not think that the analysis at the end of the report is complete. The analysis may help to explain, in part, why some supporters of the President may be refusing embrace the reality regarding WMD. It does not, however, explain why they are also mistaken about the world opinion about the war. Nor does it help to understand why there is a large spread in the number of people who correctly perceive President's position on major foreign policy issues. Secondly, I do not think that 40% or more of the population may be in denial mode.

I find it much more likely that the media is letting the claims of the administration regarding Iraq/WMD to reach the public without making a comment that those claims are either exaggerated or simply false. If somebody is trying to fight the cognitive dissonance, then I believe it is the media, which do not seem be able to overcome the fact that they were duped and used by the administration in the lead up to the war. The media still gives more weight to the remarks of the administration, which has allowed many misperceptions to continue in the minds of the people.

Adam Smith

I think this one's a mixed bag. Its been clearly documented that the Bush admin has conflated 9-11 and the case for war in Iraq.

But, I also agree with PIPA and Frank. Admitting your wrong, and fundametally wrong about something important is very hard to do. Imagine your average guy at the bar talking with his buddies for months

"God damn, we're gonna blow the hell out of them Iraqis... they're all just a bunch of terrorists anyways" I've heard this a million times. Tried to engage in a discussion, and it rarely works. Once you've staked out your position - most people will ignore new information to up hold their worldview.

The Iraq-Al Qaeda mental connection in the US is really troubling to me. Shows that propaganda can now turn any Arab people into "The Enemy". Scary stuff.


Just a few days after the PIPA report was released and before the election, MIT's Communications Forum and the Technology and Culture Forum organized a panel on New Roles for Established Media. Alex Jones said that he believes the hypothesis in the PIPA report that many poeple formed an emotional bond with Bush over either 9/11 or Afghanistan war or Iraq WMD claims, and they did not want to break that bond. As result, they want to see in Pres. Bush what they might believe in , which is the explanation given in the PIPA study. I am not denying this hypothesis completely, but I think that the problem is more fundamental than that. If you have time and are interested, I highly recommend the MITWorld videos in the Media and the Election series.

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