The argument that the paper states is that a person’s wants and desires influence more than just behavior. They influence his/her thinking and even his/her power of perception. The most important point made is that when a person is confronted by ideas or facts that are against their pre-existing notions and ideas, what results is cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is referred to as a sort of static in the human psyche. This static caused by cognitive dissonance has the power to distort or even block perception. When disturbing information creates cognitive dissonance, the static discredits the information, so that a person does not feel compelled to cope with it, even if it is true. Cognitive dissonance is a very powerful self-preservation mechanism that can completely override the human desire for truth.
The movie “2001” illustrates the points the author is trying to make. The fact that the geometric slab is kept secret is an example of the potential for cognitive dissonance. The government feared that if the Earths’ inhabitants learned of it “without adequate preparation and conditioning,” widespread “culture shock” and “social disorientation” would inevitably ensue. This disturbing information would have created a cognitive dissonance with the earth’s inhabitants; the people would simply discredit the evidence so that they would not have to cope with the far-reaching effects.
I agree with the argument made about cognitive dissonance and the illustration with the movie. I don’t really believe the producers of the film “2001” intentionally set out to make a film tackling the psychological issue of cognitive dissonance, but somehow stumbled upon it.