A particular theory of the mind may help explain why so many reasonable people are given to contradicting themselves in such obvious ways, seeing eye-to-eye with science when it comes to brushing their teeth but not on the topic of evolution, for example. Called compartmentalization, the theory goes that the mind is a veritable iPhone, loaded with apps to suit many different purposes. Each app is a different module: “The module that leads us to crave sweet and fatty foods in the short term is in conflict with the module that monitors our body image and health in the long term.”
What’s the Big Idea?
While evolutionary psychology suggests that our minds’ dissonant properties exist in order to survive harsh environmental conditions, steps can be taken in the public arena to create a more informed citizenry. University of Western Australia psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky and his colleagues suggest these strategies: “Consider what gaps in people’s mental event models are created by debunking and fill them using an alternative explanation…. To avoid making people more familiar with misinformation…, emphasize the facts you wish to communicate rather than the myth. …”