Deflategate and America’s thirst for public conviction

Ethan Brown, Staff Writer

If I were a freshman in college again, I would probably choose to major in psychology. In today’s world there’re plenty of interactions and information to analyze, particularly with current events.  While the term ‘cognitive dissonance’ is one of the main themes in psychology, the majority of the American public clearly has no idea what this means or how to go about utilizing it in their own opinions.

Cognitive dissonance, as defined by Stanford University is, “the discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas or values at the same time.”  Everyone has an opinion about everything today, which is exacerbated by the popularity of social media and blogging.  Actually, this may be part of the increasing problem of America’s obsession with a public conviction before doing any research on their own.

Take for example, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.  ‘Deflategate’ has been a trending topic for days now. Many people have their opinions; they believe Brady and co. deliberately cheated, or they believe that the Pats knew nothing about the tampered footballs.  Both of these groups forget that the investigation is ongoing, and only a few facts have been released, none of which incriminate Brady or his team.

This is where the psychology comes into play.  Why is it that in this country, we cannot figure out how to hold two opposing thoughts in our brains? The footballs were deflated, yes, but why does it automatically have to be someone’s fault? Maybe the officials just didn’t do their job right.

The lack of cognitive dissonance is frightening in today’s world, where anyone can turn their own feelings into “facts.”  While it’s great that there are different outlets where opposing views can be heard, many people abuse the power of free speech. The American public is so consumed with publicly convicting someone that they won’t even listen to any of the facts presented to them, and instead will just make up their own and go with it. Before another athlete, police officer or celebrity is slandered by the public, maybe Americans can take the time to understand the ramifications of a public conviction.