How the World Works: Cognitive Dissonance

I'll publish the podcast for now and probably add descriptive time line etc., later. This is mostly an (re)introduction.

Listen Now:

Download mp3

PS. As I had mentioned in my last post, it's still a working title. I'll try to settle for something that's a little less heavy handed soon.; just didn't want to get stuck on it for a few more days.


Gokul R said...

Good to have you back ...
Your long inactivity has left a lot of topics untouched ... Expecting a high frequency in blog posts and podcasts

Anonymous said...

wow back to the field...


Once again i heared your frank talks about so many stuff, some places myself laughed,,, come on man keep it up....


and i hope your vedio podcast soon...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Hi Bro, This is my first time am listening to your podcast, its a good work but what u r aiming at . I knew all modern science begins with the theory; even still big bang is widely accepted theory. Note it’s just a theory. So I am expecting some innovative theory unlike personal apologies
. Hope this is a healthy criticise.

Prabhu S said...


Do you plan to cover the Maoists -States bloody turmoil in progress now?

Recently I read a evocative and moving article from Arundathi on Maoist struggle. And today I see on TV that 70 Jawans are brutally killed. There cannot be middle ground but these things leave me with oscillating mind, given that the only source of information is TV News media which is on State's side(Times Now was shouting 'Wipe Them Out') and people like Arundathi speaking for Maoist.

Subhash said...


cognitive dissonance is overrated imo. its not like there's a long lasting solution for these issues. not even that'd hold up well within our lifetimes. Its all in the engineering :) And would perhaps work in smaller communities. A good case for smaller countries, but it'll gravitate into larger ones anyway... ala trade unionism :)

its my opinion that your stance asks too many questions and provides no solutions, except unrealistic ones like restricting property rights for a period of 50 yrs (remember, you mentioned this in one of your podcasts?).

I can't convince myself that there's a better way of organizing society and politics, without getting deep into human psyche, something which may never be possible. So I do understand a little bit of social rhetoric based on data could probably make us people wait and understand our fellow disadvantaged do something to help them. But based on retribution? How do you think that would pan out? In a civil war where lakhs of lives are lost, naxals, villagers and jawans... And also further segregation of muslims inside India.

What good are morals in a world where its a game of one-upmanship?

Suresh said...


I'm going to try to, at least briefly. Even though I've already spoken about it in some detail in my 'Violence, Disenfranchisement, and Satehood' podcast (2009). And in various blogposts in the comments section (Indian Media, Uncorrupt clowns are some).


CD is not overrated, for it's hardly mentioned when social theories are being discussed. It's been featured a bit in texts on psychology. Besides, I didn't suggest that it's a solution; I even refrained from saying that CD is always a good prism to understand morality/human behaviour. I just said that that's what seems to be the balancing force within one's mind, operating at various levels of intensity.

Yes, I don't offer (m)any solutions. I have been quite open about it too. I even wrote about that specific issue once: Solution. But it seems you’re fortunate enough to let yourself rest with that macro idea -- that there cannot be any universal solution, so I might as well not ask questions. I’m sorry for repeating this, but asking questions is the solution often times. When there seems to an illusion of order and fairness, asking questions that point otherwise is the most crucial step. Of course, when that fails people choose other means that seem to fit their goals. So called ‘retribution’ can be one. It’s a civil war according to you because it happens with in so called ‘India’. The maoists and tribals may not subscribe to that idea, for them it’s a war as any. Where people are shelled with no questions asked. At least in this case the dead are Indian soldiers; you expect them to die. Was the government dreaming of a bloodless, loss-less war when it framed ‘Operation Green Hunt’? I shall discuss in my post on the topic.

That I don't offer 'solutions' does not make my questions invalid (there could be other reasons). 'Solution' as a moot point was the same 1000 years ago as it is today. But have we not made any progress within the so called 'human civilization'? And did they just happen automatically because of an inevitable seasonal change? No. Take this instance of your commenting here: what was your motivation? To disagree with me? You have a cause, too. It could be anything from justifying your current existence as an upper middleclass 'Indian' to contributing to a dialogue. But there is a dialectic process happening right at that instance.

Of course, there are better ways (to doing anything). You’re not interested in it or you don’t like it because it’d probably disrupt your status quo which you seem to have little problem with. For many others, anything that is not status quo is a good start in itself -- even the occasional regression to the worse.

Lastly, about morals: if you don’t care for morals -- and it’s not a personal jibe, just pointing a fundamental problem -- why do you care about who’s killed or who’s looted, including your own life and property? If one upmanship is the way the world works, and if you’re completely bought into that idea, I don’t think you’ll be discussing ‘everyday’ issues from a different view point other than who won and who lost. Please don’t tell me that there are rules in this game, now.

Anonymous said...

good to hear u again... waiting for your next post

Anonymous said...

alwaya a pleasure to hear your thoughts and your voice

TVK said...

Hi.A long time follower of your posts and podcasts.I would like to know your views on Bharath's latest post.

Suresh said...

I've had my share of discussions with Bharath a few times here:

On every occasion, Bharath jumps to analogical reasoning. Something that books like 'Introduction to Logic' will slam in the first few pages. It might be useful in simplifying something to gain a rudimentary understanding. But it’s completely unreliable after a point. Analogical reasoning starts with sweeping assumptions and reduces the most specific details of one object/equation to map it another that is supposed to be a parallel. It takes a circuitous route that gives way to more and more irrelevant trajectories, especially when it involves interpretation. You can see what I’m talking about in all the posts I’ve listed. It comes very glaringly in the last post (Uncorrupt clowns) where I mount more and more evidence to my side of the argument and there’s just empty analogies on the other.

For example: In this post he basically says that you cannot dismiss the subject because the teacher is bad. Its a priori assumption being: there’s no subject that can be dismissed; if anything seems to make no sense it’s only because one did not learn it right (or from the right person).

But we know it’s not true. In spite of many false deductions/misinterpretations we encounter in our discussions, there are ‘legitimate’ falsehoods. There are some things that are plain wrong (within a framework that makes whatever else ‘right’). So if something can be wrong/illogical, then religion -- by extension, Hinduism -- can be too. If nothing, it points to that possibility. Of course, one can use this notion against, say, mathematics or physics. And that’s where the question of framework arises. Is it consistent throughout?

As far as I’m concerned it’s a total waste of time to discuss anything with someone who hasn’t shown little or no evidence of proper understanding of syllogistic argumentation. I no longer care about coming across as pedantic or snobbish because I rely on scholarly/academic knowledge and dismiss those who don’t. I could still be wrong, but that’s my framework.

Even now, I’m giving a relatively lengthy reply only because it is someway related to this post.

Subhash said...

you are right. offering 'no solution' is fine. That wasn't my problem, although I wasn't clear in getting this message across. My problem is with the 'solutions' you offer. I think you are not cynical enough, and side with communists and big governments.

If one method fails, why stick to it instead of trying another one is a good logic, but communism has been tried with disastrous results earlier. Why go back to it?

I don't support govt rhetoric on maoists, other than directly funding govts war on them by paying taxes which if I fail will probably be targeted as a maoist aide :) haha..

Ofcourse I wish govt wins the war because its my money they are using and I don't have a say on their tactics. But I don't hate maoists and would be doing the same thing if I was a poor man holding on to his land that was taken away by the govt, which I must mention has happened, but I'm not a poor man.

Humanism may be a good moral to have, but isn't rooted in reality. I'd be discussing everyday issues based on how its beneficial to me and my family. I also recognize that tomorrow I'd probably be in the plane that'll be blown, and i'm ok with that. I'd never support change of power structure, when I am comfortable with the current one. It may change if the current one becomes unbearable though.

Suresh said...

I'm still the same cynic. But since I still eat -- and not say "uh, what's the point? I'm going to die someday anyway!" -- I thought I might as well have some ideals for some time.

Aside: It's ironic that you can something like this: "you're not cynical enough." Shouldn't a cynic who's 'cynical enough' not have such hopes/expectations? Can a cynic be content with anything? Even if it's the level of cynicism?

I don't know where I've recommended a communist state (btw, communism and communist state are not the same thing). Yes, I've called for the state to have control over 'public' resources and regulate businesses with 'wealth' redistribution as its guiding philosophy. It doesn't have to be a communist state; a much 'better' version of Canada, perhaps. But Canada's size and population let's us imagine that possibility, India's doesn't. There are many complexities like that. I cannot explain everything in this reply or a post. They are very broad ideas that are likely to have specifics that differ from every grand philosophy. It's immature, yet common, to find people who box everything one says into this or that. I'm not surprised you did that too. Sorry, I'm not addressing them now.

You seem to have a simple enough template to live your life. Good for you. It brings down your intellectual worth tremendously, but of course, you cannot be bothered by it, can you?

InWantOfBeingMe said...

Hello Suresh,

Good to have a podcast from you after long.

I get this "we are sorry, but something went wrong" msg, while I try to download it, also I am unable to directly stream it from here, can you pls check what's wrong ?


Suresh said...


Sorry for the late reply. I've fixed the links. You should be able to download/listen to it now. Cheers.

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