Caitlin Johnstone: Why Propaganda Works

The primary reason people tend to remain committed to their propaganda-installed perspectives has a simple, well-documented explanation.

Observatorio. (srgpicker/Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to Tim Foley reading this article.

It’s not really deniable that Western civilization is saturated with domestic propaganda geared toward manipulating the way the public thinks, acts, works, shops and votes.

Mass media employees have attested to the fact that they experience constant pressure to administer narratives which are favorable to the political status quo of the U.S. empire. The managers of empire have publicly acknowledged that they have a vested interest in manipulating public thought.

Casual naked-eye observation of the way the mass media reliably support every U.S. war, rally behind the U.S. foreign policy objective of the day and display overwhelming bias against empire-targeted governments makes it abundantly obvious that this is happening when viewed with any degree of critical thought.

To deny that these mass-scale manipulations have an effect would be as absurd as denying that advertising — a near trillion-dollar industry — has an effect.

It’s just an uncomfortable fact that as much as we like to think of ourselves as free-thinking sovereign agents immune to outside influence, human minds are very hackable. Manipulators understand this, and the science of modern propaganda which has been advancing for over a century understands this with acute lucidity.

By continually hammering our minds with simple, repeated messaging about the nature of the world we live in, propagandists are able to exploit glitches in human cognition like the illusory truth effect, which causes our minds to mistake the experience of having heard something before with the experience of having heard something that is true.

Our indoctrination into the mainstream imperial worldview begins when we are very young, largely because schooling is intertwined with the same power structures whose information interests are served by that worldview and because powerful plutocrats such as John D. Rockefeller actively inserted themselves into the formation of modern schooling systems.

Our worldview is formed when we are young in the interests of our rulers, and from there cognitive biases take over which protect and reinforce that worldview, typically preserving them in more or less the same form for the rest of our lives.

This is what makes it so hard to convince someone that their beliefs about an issue are falsehoods born of propaganda.

I see a lot of people blame this problem on the fact that critical thinking isn’t taught in schools and I’ve seen some strains of Marxist thought arguing that Westerners choose to espouse propaganda narratives because they know it advances their own class interests.

I’m sure both of these factor into the equation exist to some extent. But the primary reason people tend to remain committed to their propaganda-installed perspectives actually has a much simpler, well-documented explanation.

Modern psychology tells us that people don’t just tend to hold onto their propaganda-induced belief systems; people tend to hold onto any belief system.

 Belief perseverance, as the name suggests, describes the way people tend to cling to their beliefs even when presented with evidence disproving them. The theory goes that back when most humans lived in tribes that were often hostile to each other, our tribal cohesion and knowing who we can trust mattered more to our survival than taking the time to figure out what’s objectively true.

So now we’ve got these brains that tend to prioritize loyalty to our modern “tribes” like our nation, our religion, our ideological factions and our pet causes.

This tendency can take the form of motivated reasoning, where our emotional interests and “tribal” loyalties color the way we take in new information. It can also give rise to the backfire effect, where being confronted with evidence which conflicts with one’s worldview will not only fail to change their beliefs but actually strengthen them.

So the simple answer to why people cling to beliefs instilled by imperial propaganda is because that’s just how minds work. If you can consistently and forcefully indoctrinate someone from an early age and then give them a mainstream ideological “tribe” with which to identify in their indoctrination, the cognitive glitches in these newly-evolved brains of ours act as sentries protecting those implanted worldviews.

Which is exactly what modern propaganda, and our modern political systems, are set up to do.

I often see people expressing bewilderment about the way the smartest people they know subscribe to the most ridiculous propaganda narratives out there. This is why.  A smart person who has been effectively indoctrinated by propaganda will just be more clever than someone of average intelligence in defending their beliefs.

Some of the most foam-brained foreign policy think pieces you’ll ever read come from PhDs and Ivy League graduates, because all their intelligence gives them is the ability to make intelligent-sounding arguments for why it would be good and smart for the U.S. military to do something evil and stupid.

The Oatmeal has a great comic about this (which someone also made into a video if you prefer). Importantly, the author correctly notes that the mind’s tendency to forcefully protect its worldview does not mean it’s impossible for someone to change beliefs in light of new evidence, only that it is more difficult than accepting beliefs which confirm biases.

It takes some work, and it takes sincerity and self-honesty, but it can be done. Which is happy news for those of us who have an interest in convincing people to abandon their propaganda-constructed worldviews for reality-based ones.

Sometimes just being patient with someone, showing empathy, treating them how we’d like to be treated, and working to establish things in common to overcome the primitive psychology which screams we’re from a hostile tribe can accomplish a lot more than just laying out tons of objective facts disproving their believed narrative about Russia or China or their own government or what have you.

And above all we can just keep telling the truth, in as many fresh, engaging and creative ways as we can come up with. The more we do this, the more opportunities there are for someone to catch a glimmer of something beyond the veil of their propaganda-installed worldview and the cognitive biases which protect it.

The more such opportunities we create, the greater a chance the truth has of getting a word in edgewise.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloudYouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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25 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: Why Propaganda Works

  1. July 1, 2023 at 21:06

    I know of two books that address this same question as to why people hold on to irrational beliefs. The first one is: The Mass Psychology
    of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich. The other one is: Beyond Belief by Arthur Janov, the author of: The Primal Scream. Don’t discount Janov
    because he was supposedly widely discredited. A lot of the writers for Consortium News are ” widely discredited” Have a look; or read of these two books and you may be in for a surprise that this topic has been touched on years ago from an interesting angle in a slightly different context.

  2. SH
    June 30, 2023 at 20:26

    Great piece and very timely — esp. “By continually hammering our minds with simple, repeated messaging about the nature of the world we live in, propagandists are able to exploit glitches in human cognition like the illusory truth effect, which causes our minds to mistake the experience of having heard something before with the experience of having heard something that is true.”

    And the more such messages are repeated, the more they have the tendency to be considered “common knowledge” Since Nader got his 3% in the ’00 election, in an effort to make sure that 3rd parties are nipped in the bud, there has been an unending, ubiquitous repetition of a few memes designed to “discourage” people from voting for them – to whit, “3rd parties can’t win” so, as “there is no alternative” (TINA) to the D/R duopoly, we have to either not vote or vote “lesser of 2 evils” (LOTE), because otherwise we will “spoil” it for one of those 2 parties –

    The fact that all of this is blatant BS, and the fact that this duopoly has, in fact, spoiled so much of so many of our lives seems to have escaped the notice of even quite intelligent people, let alone the rest of us – so too many of us will do just that – vote LOTE when there ARE good alternatives – we have been doing that for a good (bad) 3 decades – and. surprise, surprise, we kept, and keep, getting “evil” – parties who routinely and ever more “progressively” flush more and more of us farther and farther down the drain ….

    I do believe, and have for sometime, that this set of lies, propaganda repeated over and over has been perhaps the most insidious and most destructive attack on our “democracy”, or what’s left of it, there is – as it has so far succeeded in entrenching the most corrosive and corrupting political entities in the offices of a Gov’t that passes our laws and appoints those who administer them …. electing them over and over and expecting something different is, to my mind, indeed the definition of insanity … and the season for such BS is approaching again. If nothing else, note when you hear them or find yourself repeating them and pause, just a bit, and ask yourself how they got to be “common knowledge” ….

  3. vinnieoh
    June 30, 2023 at 17:15

    Many decades ago, thinking along the lines that Cailin is here I came up with the term “operant philosophy” – as in “Everyone has an operant philosophy” – that movie playing in the head that puts everything in its place (in an individual’s cognitive mental map.) That core collection of beliefs and behaviors that makes you get up in the morning, go about a (hopefully) productive life, etc. and anon. All operant philosophies are not the same, probably as diverse as the number of humans alive. Even sociopaths and psychopaths have an operant philosophy, just not one that is well-adjusted.

    Interestingly I came across that term which I did indeed coin on my own, in something I read many years later (unknown.)

    Beliefs and operant philosophes can change. I did not say “be changed” because people change when the cumulative weight of contradictory information overwhelms their current beliefs. Given the slow pace of “conversions” this does not bode well for the current crop of crises: see “A Theory of Everything” by Ken Wilbur

  4. June 30, 2023 at 00:44

    I often see people expressing bewilderment about the way the smartest people they know subscribe to the most ridiculous propaganda narratives out there. This is why. A smart person who has been effectively indoctrinated by propaganda will just be more clever than someone of average intelligence in defending their beliefs.

    According to the late writer and psychotherapist Alice Miller, a person’s ability to resist propaganda and group think and going along with evil is not a matter of intelligence but a matter of access to one’s “true self” (which includes awareness of our own true feelings, desires, and thoughts). Such access to one’s “true self” is harmed by childhood mistreatment, which is almost universal, and in particular mistreatment that is not acknowledged as being such but is accepted without question as being “for one’s own good”. In fact one of Alice Miller’s first books, written in the early 1980’s, is titled For Your Own Good, with subtitle “Hidden Cruelty in Child Rearing and the Roots of Violence”. The book is now online.

    Alice Miller in her book has a long section dealing with horrendous child-rearing practices advocated in books which were popular in previous centuries, including during the time when future participants in the Third Reich were being raised as children. Here is an excerpts from this section:

    … If the child learns to view corporal punishment as “a necessary measure” against “wrongdoers,” then as an adult he will attempt to protect himself from punishment by being obedient and will not hesitate to cooperate with the penal system. In a totalitarian state, which is a mirror of his upbringing, this citizen can also carry out any form of torture or persecution without having a guilty conscience. His “will” is completely identical with that of the government.

    Now that we have seen how easy it is for intellectuals in a dictatorship to be corrupted, it would be a vestige of aristocratic snobbery to think that only “the uneducated masses” are susceptible to propaganda. Both Hitler and Stalin had a surprisingly large number of enthusiastic followers among intellectuals. Our capacity to resist has nothing to do with our intelligence but with the degree of access to our true self. Indeed, intelligence is capable of innumerable rationalizations when it comes to the matter of adaptation. … Martin Heidegger, for example, who had no trouble in breaking with traditional philosophy and leaving behind the teachers of his adolescence, was not able to see the contradictions in Hitler’s ideology that should have been obvious to someone of his intelligence. He responded to this ideology with an infantile fascination and devotion that brooked no criticism.

    In the tradition we are dealing with, it was considered obstinacy and was therefore frowned upon to have a will and mind of one’s own. It is easy to understand that an intelligent child would want to escape the punishments devised for those possessing these traits and that he or she could do so without any difficulty. What the child didn’t realize was that escape came at a high price.

    hxxp:// (scroll about 3/4 down)

  5. Scared Person
    June 29, 2023 at 22:32

    People don’t like to be wrong, as Western culture derides the wrong, and self-identifying as a clever person requires a rejection of being wrong. It is pride overriding reason. People reject the notion that they hate who they are told to hate, but still do so when everyone else seems to be doing it. It is a group bonding experience to gather socially and hate the out-group. To reject the hate, is to become the out-group. To accept and declare the hate to be invalid, as evidence may show, it to admit to being wrong.

    Those who fall for lies, have their pride pitted against their reason, when the lies are exposed.
    It is a neat trick for a liar, to manage to get their lies to be defended against evidence, by the pride, fear of social rejection, national loyalty and the self esteem of their victims.

    Always remember to blame the liars, not their victims. Stay honest. Keep trying to get through. Thanks.

  6. CaseyG
    June 29, 2023 at 17:34

    Thank you— that was lovely.

  7. Valerie
    June 29, 2023 at 15:04

    In that cartoon video Mr. Inman says:

    “Sure, there are ways of changing people’s minds that are more effective than others, but ultimately, they all fall short.”

    I agree with this, because if a person believes in something strongly enough, nothing will change their mind.

    • Adam Gorelick
      June 29, 2023 at 19:47

      The spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle has described how when the egoic mind experiences a core belief being challenged, it feels like a life or death struggle. In a sense, this perception is not a false one, for the ego really is endangered by structural threats in the form of belief-shattering information. I tend to define a “belief” as a powerful emotional investment in a particular perception, paradigm or viewpoint. Our illusory mental idea of a “me” is very fragile and subject to constant psychological threats. The second video accompanying Caitlin Johnstone’s article presents a profound suggestion. Listen, non-reactively. Experience this present moment as all we ever have, because it is. It’s a simple, yet challenging, way to shut down the chatter in our heads – and unplug receptivity to propaganda, as well.

  8. Maricata
    June 29, 2023 at 13:55

    It all comes down to learning to think critically and their is no evidence biologically we cannot learn this.

    Defining Critical Thinking hxxps://

  9. shmutzoid
    June 29, 2023 at 13:16

    Under the direction of DARPA, exacting research continues into how the mind works and how best to manipulate it. … a big-wig general remarked in an interview, “The most important battlefield in the coming years will be the battle for the American mind”.
    …..the 24/7 propaganda that permeates all aspects of culture will be complemented by science-based programs designed to thwart free thinking. ……

  10. Eric Foor
    June 29, 2023 at 13:01

    Thank you Caitlin, Well said. Also, the people we associate with influence our views. On a personal level I need to find some new friends. As my capacity to trust other humans diminishes…how do I know the true motives of others? We have collectively moved in the wrong direction my entire life. Now, no one is making sense. Perhaps we could start by demanding land and liberty for the Palestinians as well as all other humans.

    • Valerie
      June 29, 2023 at 15:05

      I like that good idea Eric.

  11. David H
    June 29, 2023 at 12:29

    Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

    As humans seem to learn so slowly you’d think there had to have been laws of karma, and many weary incarnations requisite.

    The way I view Husserl’s Lebenswelt concept is like, for instance, there’s a Russian Lebenswelt, a European Lebenswelt, and an American one. You could be down on them and say they’re all matrices (each a “matrix” as in the movie). Yes each one often paints a doctrine with truth and goodness while “objective reality” may actually contradict whatever painted doctrine in particular. In the US and Europe it’s believed by many mRNA vaccines are great, but I can’t find any reference to Russia having one. And yet the concept of partying, for example, seems to very much the same in both places [which may be closer to how Husserl would demonstrate his own notion of the concept…holding true for humans across the planet].

    “He [Sartre] concludes that though people can contemplate the same thing, we cannot contemplate ‘the intuitive apprehension’ of another.” Wikipedia

    I’ve been thinking about an objection to that. Perhaps we do contemplate that of another, but in pieces. For humans, say, an intuitive agreement on a word. Can’t we say this of the right word in the right place? And what in the world would mediate it, perhaps a morphic field? Do orcas have a word for this new thing they’re doing? So when a source very often chooses the perfect word and we get it, whether it jives with our particular previous Lebenswelt or not, perhaps it is moving a group along toward a better synthesized Lebenswelt? Thinking of Patrick Lawrence.

    June 29, 2023 at 11:52


    How do you identify yourself? How many words do you need? One, two, a hundred? Do you need words? and in what language?

    Propaganda can be see as an identity imposed, even if it is just “You desire this object!” or all the way to “You will act this way!”

    To believe something, or to “know” something forms a part of one’s identity. Challenging that is a threat to one’s identity.

    Any cohesive society requires some common identity, it is reassuring to belong. We get into trouble when we demand maximum common identity, rather than minimal common identity. “Stay in line, repeat after me, obey the rules, become the rules!”

    I identify myself as human, but, these days, I have some doubts.

  13. IJ Scambling
    June 29, 2023 at 11:22

    It’s easier, I think, to explain it. My relations are intelligent, decent people but they’re very busy. And that busy-ness involves making money, watching a lot of TV for relaxation, trying to stay civil, and certainly they don’t have a lot of time to be skeptical even over what seems an obvious call to BE skeptical. For me, for example, the pandemic recently seemed way over the top given the information we were given. In a county of 100,000 we had 43 total cases, none of which were defined specifically–as elderly, or with morbid disease factors, etc.–and the result generally was hysteria (“they’re dropping like flies”).

    But questioning this brought rejection from my close ones. They were impatient with such a rogue questioner amidst them. This was disappointing but more widely it suggests a population too lazy and easily gulled into whatever serious manipulators want to pull off–which in my view was political and economic primarily, taking advantage of the outbreak of a particularly bad flu season. The materialistic society is not simultaneously vigilant against the charlatans out to make a buck from soft targets. And apparently the education system doesn’t work for that either.

  14. Richard Romano
    June 29, 2023 at 10:23

    I know we are all part propaganda. I know i don’t know (everything). But when I saw the sun not come out and it was dark and orange all day I knew that my belief in climate destruction was not bullshit. When I see all the “politicians” keep lying I know my world view is not crazy. It is based on simple facts. And I know that unfortunately one day we will see.

  15. saurabh
    June 29, 2023 at 09:31

    This is a great article, but I might challenge one point (and generally suggest a more skeptical approach to reading modern psychology). Specifically, the notion that belief persistence is due to “tribal loyalty” and ideas about our evolutionary background are, simply, confabulations of psychologists. While we might observe belief persistence, there is no reason for us to believe it is due to “living in tribes” or any other such thing which we have no direct observation of, as we neither understand the biological (that is, genetic) basis of this persistence nor can we observe its evolution directly in response to such factors.

    Furthermore it is easy to posit alternatives, which at first glance seem more likely to me – the simplest is just that one is likely to believe things one has heard longer, repeated by more people, than new, challenging facts, however cogent. I.e., belief persistence simply makes sense from a Bayesian perspective, and one must require strong evidence before undoing closely held beliefs. “Rational” challenges from distrusted figures do not amount to this. There are also alternative models available in psychology itself (e.g., the idea of “core beliefs” in cognitive behavioral therapy, which posits that early beliefs are held more closely and rarely examined).

    Finall, annecdotally I find this explanation implausible. I definitely have belief persistence, but I don’t have any tribal loyalties, I am resolutely iconoclast. I think there are many people like me who are just mean cusses who refuse to let go of an idea, not “loyal” to some body politic.

    • JohnO
      June 29, 2023 at 15:06

      To me, Democrats accepting a far-fetched story about Russians hacking a DNC server is a classic example of tribal loyalty. Also, the condescending dismissal of the loudest critics of the afore noted “Russiagate” narrative, perhaps because those critics may have thought highly of a transparent con artist, is also down to tribal loyalty.

      And tribal loyalty from the right is downright scary. “Jews will not replace us” may be the evidence of sick racism, but the words also reflect an intense imagined loyalty to a race. Xenophobic disdain for any non-christian, non-white, non-heterosexual, non-patriarchal values may be a lot of different things, but one of those things is tribal loyalty.

    • vinnieoh
      June 30, 2023 at 17:24

      I am neither a psychologist nor an evolutionary biologist, but what I have read about evolutionary psychology convinces me it is a valid branch of investigation and study as to some of our “instinctual” behaviors. There are many branches of scientific investigation that are under stress and disfavor from a social phenomenon that some have described as “radical egalitarianism.”

  16. susan
    June 29, 2023 at 08:53

    Thank you Caitlin – another great piece! Made me stop and think about my reactions to new/different information…

  17. Francis Lee
    June 29, 2023 at 06:00

    The propaganda war precedes the actual war. The collective NATO push against the Russian Federation is visibly faltering and becoming increasingly less capable of withstanding Russia’s military offensive. We should know by now what follows is high on the NATO agenda. First it was the Russian gas pipeline which was blown up by the US-NATO, next came the damn in the Dnieper river which was breached, and the next trick contemplated will be the shelling of the Zaporozhye power station. This of course will be blamed on the Russians.

    Be assured that we are dealing here with abject barbarians.

    • June 29, 2023 at 14:14

      @ Francis Lee??
      It seems that your imagining “..the next trick contemplated will be the shelling of the Zaporozhye power station.” could be construed as a somewhat propagandistic forecast itself.??
      However, in keeping with Caitlin Johnstone’s excellent treatise on “Why Propaganda Works”, this excerpt from the latest reporting by Seymour Hearst on his SubStack provides a credible example of how informed journalism can displace the destructive farce of such serial B–l S–t?

      ?“The regular army welcomed the help. Prigo(Prigozhin) and Wagner, as is the wont of special forces, took the limelight and took the credit for stopping the hated Ukrainians. The press gobbled it up. Meanwhile, the big army and Putin slowly changed their strategy from offensive conquest of greater Ukraine to defense of what they already had. Prigo refused to accept the change and continued on the offensive against Bakhmut. Therein lies the rub. Rather than create a public crisis and court-martial the asshole [Prigozhin], Moscow simply withheld the resources and let Prigo use up his manpower and firepower reserves, dooming him to a stand-down. He is, after all, no matter how cunning financially, an ex-hot dog cart owner with no political or military accomplishments.

      “What we never heard is three months ago Wagner was cycled out of the Bakhmut front and sent to an abandoned barracks north of Rostov-on-Don [in southern Russia] for demobilization. The heavy equipment was mostly redistributed, and the force was reduced to about 8,000, 2,000 of which left for Rostov escorted by local police.

      “Putin fully backed the army who let Prigo make a fool of himself and now disappear into ignominy. All without raising a sweat militarily or causing Putin to face a political standoff with the fundamentalists, who were ardent Prigo admirers. Pretty shrewd.”?

      This truthful and concise reporting flies directly in the face of the stenographic official hyperbolic nonsense regarding the recent events being promulgated by the captured corporate media.

  18. Graeme Drysdale
    June 29, 2023 at 03:31

    Edward Bernays (Propaganda, 1928) commences with the following 2 paragraphs:
    “THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

    We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.”

    On the next page:
    “As civilization has become more complex, and as the need for invisible government has been increasingly demonstrated, the technical means have been invented and developed by which opinion may be regimented.”

    Bernays knew what he was talking about: he was employed by Woodrow Wilson who persuade the reluctant people of the US to enter WW1 in order to prevent the loss of loans made by J.P. Morgan to the UK should it lose.

    Propaganda remains one of the most valuable tools in a government’s arsenal in ensuring a compliant and manipulatable population.

    Readers of CN are well aware of the use by the US of propaganda against Julian Assange: hacker, rapist, narcissist, smeared his own shit on Ecuadorian embassy walls ………. and the most dependable of the outlets for US anti-Julian bullshit was the mainstream corporate media.
    Here in Australia that amounted to those who proclaim their independence from the highest hilltop: The SMH/The Age, Guardian, ABC, SBS, and of course the Murdochs.

    Bernays should be required reading, because ‘Propaganda’ should scare the hell out of people and reinforce the need to be sceptical of government pronouncements.
    As Noam Chomsky wrote: “If you’re not cynical, you’re not paying attention.”

    Thanks Caitlin.


  19. RWilson
    June 29, 2023 at 02:57

    Thanks for this excellent review of the psychological hurdles in overcoming propaganda, and the excellent recommendations.

    I’ve noticed some propagandized friends like to get their news by simply relaxing in a comfortable chair and flicking on the TV, which is all propaganda. It’s hard for them to believe that the entire corporate news establishment has been captured by war profiteers and is now populated entirely by professional con artists. This is a scenario beyond any James Bond movie. Yet if this one key fact can be absorbed (over a bit of time), it unlocks the door to their seeing a completely different, accurate reality.

  20. Drew Hunkins
    June 28, 2023 at 22:37

    The brainwashed people have formed some of their self-identity and ego around the propaganda line, so the potential cog-dis is way too much for them to handle, hence they cling to the lies and distortions as if their lives depended on it. Experiencing cognitive dissonance can be one of the most debilitating and depressing maladies known to mankind.

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