A. Barton Hinkle on Cognitive Dissonance on Gun Rights

Credit: Barack Obama / FlickrCredit: Barack Obama / FlickrIn political debates, most of us think we first study the issues and then reach the best conclusions based on arguments and evidence. Unfortunately, writes A. Barton Hinkle, research suggests people often do precisely the opposite. To a much greater degree than we would like to think, we choose up sides first. Then we align our conclusions with what our side thinks about a particular issue. Then we adopt the arguments that best support the conclusions our side favors — even if we dispute those same arguments in other cases. If you’d like an example, Hinkle says, take the current debate about guns.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.