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Not Liking Uncertainty
RationalizationI don't really have much to say about rationalization, I just wanted to include it in my list of things the mind does. In case you're not familiar with the concept, here's how my dictionary defines the verb “rationalize”.
To devise self-satisfying but incorrect reasons for (one's behavior).
Of course, the reasons aren't devised intentionally: rationalization isn't something you might do some afternoon when you're bored, but rather something your mind does all the time when you're not paying attention. No matter what you do, your mind will try to come up with a plausible justification.
To put it another way, when you're introspecting, you have to be careful not to ask questions containing mistaken assumptions, because you'll be able to come up with answers regardless. For example, when I asked myself, in Well-Known Domains, why I write essays instead of referring to existing works, the question assumed that there was a reason, when in fact there wasn't.
Here's a slightly more general idea that I picked up from EST: Playing the Game the New Way.
People want to think that they're right, and if you tell them they're wrong, or put them in the wrong, they won't like it.
In those terms, rationalization is simply the means by which people convince themselves that they're right.
The statement above is my own paraphrase, not a direct quotation. Here's the closest thing I could find in the book.
Interestingly, the author uses the word “mind” in very much the same way as I do; possibly that's where I acquired the idea.
In looking through the book, I also had the eerie experience of finding a short version of the idea behind Who Moved My Cheese?.
Take a rat. Long ago, a brilliant psychologist proved that if you present a rat with 3 tunnels, only one of which has some cheese in it, the rat will explore all the avenues until he finds the cheese. And, after reinforcement, he will ignore all non-cheese tunnels, and go down only the one with the payoff. Then, if you take away the cheese, he will soon learn that it's gone, and will begin to explore all tunnels again, looking for the reward.
Somehow I missed an important connection. If you put someone in the wrong, you're introducing an idea that conflicts with an existing one … in other words, creating cognitive dissonance. If we can identify one of the ideas as correct and the other as incorrect, and if the dissonance is resolved in favor of the incorrect one, then the structure that backs up the incorrect idea is a rationalization.
Rule of Correspondence, The
o January (2001)
@ April (2001)
o August (2003)