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The Strength of Cognitive Dissonance

What happens when the only piece of evidence in support of a radical idea—e.g. that vaccines cause autism—is clearly and definitely refuted? Belief in the evidence is strengthened!

This is the theory of cognitive dissonance, first proposed by Leon Festinger, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota. In the summer of 1954, Festinger was reading the morning newspaper when he encountered a short article about Marion Keech, a housewife in suburban Minneapolis who was convinced that the apocalypse was coming. She had started getting messages from aliens a few years before, but now the messages were getting eerily specific. According to Sananda, an extra-terrestrial from the planet Clarion who was in regular contact with Keech, human civilization would be destroyed by a massive flood at midnight on December 20, 1954.


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