The confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance (by Ezana Minas)

Confirmation bias, Cognitive dissonance, TPLF

TPLF _ Ethiopia

By Ezana Minas
December 15, 2020

TPLF and its apologists should stop the impulse to justify themselves and end avoiding to take responsibility for all the action that turned out to be harmful and immoral. They have been making decisions and running the country for more than 27 years affecting the lives of millions of Ethiopians. Particular groups at the receiving end of this are known. The consequences are tragic and a national canvas. Therefor, why do they find it impossible to say “we made terrible mistake and let us end it here.”

When directly confronted by the majority of the people through rebellion, they could not change their point of view or course of action but justify their actions more tenaciously. When faced with irrefutable evidence they could not pierce their mental armor of self-justifications.  They fabricate new justifications for their wrong doings.

When their backs are nailed to the wall few times, they reluctantly acknowledged errors, but not responsibility. Those who speak on their behalf have refined the art of speaking in double tongue. Oh mistakes were made but not by us as leaders. Someone else who shall remain nameless. The self-justification is unbelievable.

Ethiopians look at their behavior with amusement and alarm. We see how they self-righteously create a rift with the people of Ethiopia. Self-justification added to lying to save their own skin at the expense of the people on whose behalf they claim to speak is beyond belief. The self-justification not only minimizes the horrendous mistakes they made, it is also the reason, that every Ethiopian see the hypocrisy in action except the hypocrites.  It allowed them not to see or recognize their moral lapses. They are conscious hypocrites.  They are justifying behaviors that the entire country know is wrong.

Now they cannot distinguish the difference between the conscious lie they lie to fool others and the unconscious self-justification to fool themselves.  Their ego-enhancing bias has gone way above the roof distorting what really happened and what they did. Over time the self-serving distortion of memory of the crime they committed kick in and they forget or distort past events, and they come to believe their own lies.  When the transition started, they claimed that they know they did something wrong, but they think it was not their fault and the situation is complex.  They have a remarkable capacity to convince themselves that they did nothing wrong and a fantastic capacity to persuade themselves that the “truth” which is convenient for the present is the “TRUTH” and anything that conflicted with it is the prevarication of enemies.

The ruthless dictatorship, the greedy Party Parastatals ownership, the zealots security murderers, etc.. are all coerced by self-justification. The mindless self-justification has drawn them deep into disaster.  It blocked out their ability to even see errors, let alone correct them. It distorted reality, keeping them from looking into all the information they need and asses issues clearly. It prolonged and widened rifts between themselves and the rest of the nation. It permitted them to avoid taking responsibilities for their deeds. It kept them from changing their outdated attitudes and procedures that was harmful to the Ethiopian people at large.

Unprovoked aggression in a form of preemptive strike should not be tolerated. Increasingly and progressively resorting to confrontational politics, in substance as well as in style, did not address the need of the Ethiopian people. TPLF motives are as old as itself: ambition and greed, tribal ideology and ethnic calculations, and fear of what the other side might be intending. Public rhetoric by leaders of TPLF created anticipation of, even a longing for confrontation by its key leaders which they could not control once they started. With a number of factors coming together, TPLF created the perfect storm for an open conflict with a heavy cost to Ethiopia.  TPLF’s troubles were piling up in domestic politics with acute political division in the ruling coalition, growing youth unrest, rising ethnic nationalism and a poisonous residue of mutual suspicion and resentment. The government was on the receiving end of a threatening actions and harsh rhetoric.  TPLF press whipped up hatred and ran scare stories about key Federal leaders and pointed attack on the PM with an exaggerated respect for their military and political Darwinizations.

None of us can live without making blunders. But do we have the ability to say: “This is not working out here. This is not making sense.” To err is human, but humans then have a choice between covering up or fessing up. The choice we make is critical to what we do next. We all should learn from our mistakes. However, we can only learn if we first admit we made mistakes.  To do that we have to avoid self- justification.  TPLF need to overcome the hardwired psychological mechanism that that created self-justification and protect their tribal instinct. The most harmful consequences of self-justification is the way it exacerbates prejudice and corruption distorting memory, turning professionalism and confidence into arrogance, creating and perpetuating injustice and generating feuds and rifts. Understanding these shortcomings and correcting them is the first step towards finding solution as opposed to declaring war.

The engine that drives self-justification, the energy that produce the need to justify one’s action and decision – -especially the wrong ones—is an unpleasant feeling called “COGNITIVE DISSONANCE”.  It is a state of tension that occurs whenever a person or a group holds two cognitions (ideas, attitudes, beliefs, opinions) that are psychologically inconsistent. TPLF managed to reduce dissonance in many ingenious self-deluding ways, with self-flattering ideas of processing information illogically. They have looked at disconfirming evidences with criticism, distortion and dismissal so that they can maintain and strengthen their existing belief and privilege in front of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. This mental contortion is called the “CONFIRMATION BIAS”.

Editor’s note : This article was first shared on People-to-People Forum.



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