Thursday, July 20, 2006

"The situation seems far more stable than when I was here two or three years ago," [Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman] said in an interview in the fortified Green Zone. "The security seems better, people are more relaxed."
--New York Times, July 19, 2006
Now what is the effect of the disconfirmation, of the unequivocal fact that the prediction was wrong, upon the believer? The disconfirmation introduces an important and painful dissonance...

The dissonance would be reduced or eliminated if the members of a movement effectively blind themselves to the fact that the prediction has not been fulfilled...They may convince themselves that the date was wrong but that the prediction will, after all, be shortly confirmed; or they may even set another date as the Millerites did...

But whatever explanation is made it is still by itself not sufficient...Though they may try to hide it, even from themselves, the believers still know that the prediction was false...But there is a way in which the remaining dissonance can be reduced. If more and more people can be persuaded that the system of belief is correct, then clearly it must, after all, be correct. (Emphasis in original.)
--WHEN PROPHECY FAILS by Leon Festinger et al.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.