Monday, 4 February 2019


The reliably engrossing and entertaining Futility Closet delivers with its latest podcast episode a real object lesson in sociology confirmed with real world observations that really lay bare the concept of cognitive dissonance and how it infiltrates the human psyche.
Not only are we loathe to acknowledge sunk costs and move away from a system of belief that we’ve invested a lot or a little in, we also seek to justify our fear and trepidation, confident that ritual was our saving grace. Infiltrating a doomsday cult that arose as Leon Festinger (*1919 – †1989) and his academic colleagues were theorising about how the human mind copes with the chasm between expectation and reality and the behaviour that manifests in the mid-1950s, their ideas that were a sharp departure from the received wisdom of accounting for hysteria and panic but were vindicated through a mental narrative of members reframing the failure of their dire prophesies to materialise. Festinger was also a pioneer in networking theory, coining the term propinquity (from the Latin for nearness—and by extension familiarity) in kinship-forming and establishing in- and out-groups, which is now of course not limited by physical presence.