Pelham’s Law of Social Dissonance

In a relativist culture, the more beliefs one person communicates to another, the greater the likelihood that dissonance between their conflicting beliefs will spur the listener not to like the one communicating.

In a culture (or subculture) in which people derive their beliefs by varying (relativistic) standards, it should be expected that relationships will be navigated and maintained by the careful avoidance of those topics that create the most dissonance.  Thus does the relationship take on a fragile and defensive nature—more one of protecting the peace than of exploring or learning.  The partnership must be maintained through the careful compartmentalization of life’s natural topics into those that are safe and those that are to be avoided.  The lot is cast, therefore, not in favor of mutual discovery, but of avoiding dissonance.  The relationship becomes one in which neither party behaves in the most self-authentic way in all respects, but in which the inconsistent bond between the two is seen as being more valuable than consistent personal authenticity.  At the point at which some particular topic of disagreement is considered by one or both parties to be too important to be ignored, this raises the question of whether that particular topic is more important than the relationship itself.

This is the nature of relativistic people in a relativistic relationship.  Considerable contrast, however, is found in relationships between friends whose beliefs are derived via processes of logic and the examination of empirical evidence.  For people of this sort (Realitans), the relationship is not tenuous on a topic-by-topic basis nearly as it is for the relativists who judge by this standard on one topic and by that standard on another.  Realitans seek out truth/reality as a deliberate matter of habit.  Where they disagree (except on matters of mere opinion, such as of tastes), the disagreement shows that one or both have not yet understood the reality of the matter.  And for a Realitan, this presents a challenge for further investigation and, ultimately, for self correction.




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