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Bixxy Noodles 💉 @BixterN
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On the subject of #PitbullDropOff and cognitive dissonance in American life and politics.
Whether you are new to this twitter account or a long-time follower, you are probably aware that I have recently found myself at the heart of a controversy over a viral hashtag: #PitbullDropOff
A few weeks ago, I tweeted that I had joined the ranks of those who were picking up unwanted pitbull terriers being advertised as free giveaways and delivering them to animal shelters which performed euthanasia. I did not come up this idea.
This was discovered several days later by some outraged pitbull lovers, who posted angrily about it on Facebook and Twitter, creating quite a bit of buzz in a short period of time.
I was immediately inundated with twitter attacks, from outraged disapproval to direct death threats and worse, by hundreds if not thousands of upset pitbull enthusiasts.
The hashtag was also picked up and amplified by others who are concerned by the disproportionate record of violent attacks connected to pitbull terriers. It snowballed. Soon there were media stories.
I’m going to talk a little bit about this phenomenon and what I saw happening here. But first, I want to clear something up: this was NOT a “troll.”

#PitbullDropOff is real. I wasn't the first and I won't be the last.
More than a week after it started, somebody posted something to 4chan claiming it had all been done as troll operation. This has since been latched onto by pitbull owners as “proof” that #PitbullDropOff is fake.

It isn’t.
Either the 4chan post was trolls jumping on a viral bandwagon or it was some kind of disinformation attempt. It doesn’t really matter. But now Snopes has picked it up too (being wrong, as usual for Snopes).
At this point, it doesn’t actually matter whether #PitbullDropOff is real or a troll anymore. It’s out there, and in fact people ARE doing it for real now, whether they were in the beginning or not.
What matters more now is how people are REACTING to #PitbullDropOff – because it illustrates a few things which are profoundly broken in American culture and communication.
Weeks later, I am still getting dozens of death threats per day. Some of these are floridly violent and dripping with emotional intensity. Others are simply outbursts.

The rage is palpable and incoherent.
The level of emotional reaction is completely out of proportion to the content of what I originally said: that I was picking up pitbulls that people were giving away for free and taking them to an animal shelter.
On its face, this is very simple and innocuous. The dogs are unwanted. Their owners are discarding them. I don’t buy or steal them. They are freely, usually happily given away. Nothing illegal or shady.
I then take them to the local animal control shelter and drop them off. This is what good citizens are SUPPOSED to do with unwanted animals: let official, knowledgeable agents evaluate them and decide what to do with them.
I don’t harm the dogs. I feed and water them while they are in my possession and I don’t do anything to hurt them. Why would I? I don’t hate them, and animal cruelty is as pointless as it is distasteful.
I just take them to the official, legal institution where unwanted animals should be taken, in order to let expert specialists decide what to do with them.

I’m just a taxi service for unwanted dogs.

The rage and venom that is generated among some people when I say these things is way out of proportion to what is actually being said.

When you see that kind of overreaction, it is always an indicator of COGNITIVE DISSONANCE.
What is cognitive dissonance? It’s a subject I’m going to explore in some depth here, because it has become characteristic of most modern American thinking and conversation on difficult subjects.
Cognitive dissonance is a psychological state of mental and emotional discomfort experienced by someone who simultaneously holds two ore more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values.…
In 1957, psychologist Leon Festinger observed that human beings strive for internal psychological consistency in order to function in the real world. We seek to understand and make orderly sense of things we see and know.
When we experience internal inconsistency in our beliefs, ideas, or values, we become uncomfortable in response to the dissonance. Then we seek to resolve the conflict and reduce the dissonance (and restore psychological comfort).
The magnitude of the discomfort is in direct proportion to the magnitude of the conflict and associated cognitive dissonance. It is also directly proportionate to the perceived importance of the beliefs in question.
If somebody is experiencing conflict between two beliefs which they hold especially dear, it can generate VERY large emotional reactions out of all proportion to small triggers.
Those beliefs which people most closely associate with their own personal sense of identity and self-worth generate the largest emotional responses of all when they become dissonant with reality or other ideas.
Anything conflicting with those core values and beliefs can elicit powerful and violent responses if the dissonance is sharp or wide enough. The psychological stress and discomfort can be extreme.
People respond to cognitive dissonance in different ways, depending on their level of psychological maturity and how closely associated with personal identity the beliefs in conflict are.
At the most healthy level, someone experiencing out-of-proportion discomfort as a result of cognitive dissonance will pause, examine their reactions and beliefs, and seek to correct their errors in order to regain consonance.
Less healthy, but more common, is an attempt at rationalization or justification in order to try and resolve the conflict by ignoring conflicting content or reframing it in non-conflicting terms.
Rationalization and justification are strongly connected to defensiveness, which is a common reaction where cognitive dissonance is present. Defensiveness also includes hyper-sensitivity to and pre-emption of conflicting ideas.
At a more extremely unhealthy level, someone experiencing cognitive dissonance will experience an emotional breakdown and lash out to destroy the trigger of the reaction in order to make the discomfort stop.
The worst expressions of cognitive dissonance can even trigger partial or total self-harm or -destruction in an attempt to make the unbearable discomfort go away. Like amniotic band syndrome and self-mutilation.
American politics has become rife with cognitive dissonance at every level, exaggerated by the shift toward identity politics during the past few decades.
When people associate their political beliefs, which are socialized moral judgments, with their own and others’ identities, any degree to which they come in conflict generates LOTS of cognitive dissonance and emotional incontinence.
“Good people believe X. I believe X, and therefore am a good person. Y contradicts X. Therefore Y is bad, maybe EVIL, and directly threatens my personal identity as a good person!”

You can see the problem here, I hope.
Anybody attaching even neutral, let alone positive associations to Y instantly becomes a target for the psychological stress associated with its contradiction of X; extremely so for those for whom X is of existential importance.
All political systems depend on what Gaetano Mosca described as “political formulas”.

A political formula is a belief which justifies the legitimacy of some aspect or part of a system of power.
“Rule of law” is a political formula. So is representative democracy. So is divine right of kings. So is Marxist-Leninism.

Etc. etc. ad infinitum.
Political formulas are generally stable so long as they conform to the reality of the power equation in a society and are not so completely arbitrary and self-contradictory that they fall apart under even cursory scrutiny.
The Emperor’s New Clothes may not be entirely real or what they are claimed to be, but if they are obviously nothing at all, the political formula fails.

Usually catastrophically.
People have a vested interest in wanting political formulas to remain “true,” because they generally justify the order of how things are and the positions of those within the system, such as they are.
This might seem counter-intuitive, especially for those whose position is highly inferior. But they tend to be the most partisan because they relatively have so much more to lose and seek to find peace in their realities.
The political formula on which the present system of power in the USA is justified is a vast constellation of often contradictory beliefs and prejudices.
Because political power and position in modern America is dependent in significant measure on public opinion, it is vitally important to the powerful that their political formulas be believed by the masses.
The more closely the voting masses associate those political formulas with their own personal sense of self and moral identity, the better.

Because then they will associate the political avatar of the formula with themselves.
If they associate the political formula with their own identities, then they will by corollary defend the legitimacy and position of powerful avatars of that formula with great emotional energy, as they would themselves.
But the vast complexity, internal contradictions, and even outright falsehood of many aspects of the dominant American political formulas creates a LOT of cognitive dissonance.
As an example, it is a primary tenet of the Enlightenment worldview, on which the founding principles of the USA were based, that “All Men Are Created Equal.”

It's a "self-evident" truth, right?
Yet this is obviously NOT true. All men are NOT “created equal.” Not even close. Some of us are tall, and some are short. Some are smart, and some are not. Some are strong, and some are weak. Etc.

Not equal.
You resist me saying this because we've all been indoctrinated with it from childhood. All the authorities say it's true. It has enormous weight.

And yet, it's bullshit.
We pretend that this equalitarian principle is true, because it is instrumental to a lot of things which are important to us, such as fairness under law.

We DEFEND it as a RATIONALIZATION to avoid cognitive dissonance rather than finding a better, TRUER idea.
The problem with lying, even unintentionally, particularly when you are doing it to justify your self-worth and identity, is that once you start, you can’t stop without the whole thing coming down around you.
As Alexander Solzhenitsyn, someone with a great deal of experience living under the crushing weight of incoherent and contradictory beliefs said: “Live not by lies.”

This is good advice for happy life.

I try to live by it.
The difficulty with the lies which permeate American life and politics now is that, while they are the path of least resistance, they are almost constantly coming into conflict, not only with one another, but with reality itself.
This leads to the creation of even more lies in an increasingly desperate attempt to square circles, resolve conflicts, explain away uncomfortable facts, and avoid confronting contradictions.
Incidentally, knowing this explains a LOT of bizarre media behavior.

Once you understand that their primary function is to


rather than inform, all becomes clear.
The other reason we should all endeavor not to live by lies, is that the lies make us vulnerable. Not just vulnerable to exposure via the truth, but vulnerable to cognitive dissonance, which can be self-defeating.
We’ve seen this a lot in the past two years, going back to the 2016 election, when the left had convinced themselves they couldn’t lose because of their rightness, then lost, and had a total emotional meltdown over it.
That was cognitive dissonance, as I pointed out at the time. It was screaming on the National Mall during the Inauguration and large pussy-hat marches in major cities.

A gigantic collective tantrum in the face of reality.
It’s still going on, with further and more ludicrous attempts at rationalization and denial, including a special prosecutor’s investigation “Hail Mary” pass.

As that too now fails, expect more incoherent rage and anguish.
So you're probably wondering, what does all this talk about politics and cognitive dissonance have to do with pit bull terriers and #PitbullDropOff ?
Here are some straight facts about pit bull terriers: they and closely associated breeds of dog are responsible for the overwhelming majority of fatal and maiming attacks against humans.
Pitbulls were specifically bred during the 18th and 19th centuries by mixing English bulldogs (bred for fighting bulls) with English white terriers (renowned vermin-killing dogs) for “gameness” (fighting and killing ability).
Pitbulls have enormous strength for their size, including the highest jaw moment (biting) strength of any dog.

They have been bred to be resistant to pain.

They have also been bred to keep fighting long after most other dogs give up, chewing and shaking prey to death.
Pitbulls have been bred for aggression toward animals but not humans (fortunately).

But when they do attack humans, which they do a fair bit, they have been bred to do so tenaciously and ferociously, ignoring submission signals which relax aggression.
Now, these are simple, historical facts about pit bull terriers, what they are, and how they cam to exist as a breed of dog.

These facts contradict a lot of beliefs held by pitbull lovers, who also associate these dogs with themselves, so they react very emotionally to them.
I am sure by the time I have posted the tweets of these facts, comments on them will already be inundated with defensive counter-tweets talking about “nanny dogs”, etc. And maybe more death threats.

That is cognitive dissonance in action.
None of these facts means that pitbulls are BAD. It just means that they have a certain nature do to how and why they came to exist.

They are great fighting dogs.

They are also great large-game-hunting dogs. For boar hunting particularly.
Because as part of their heritage as fighting dogs they were bred to be friendly to humans, they can also be good pets.

CAN be.

But the fact remains that they are also EXTREMELY dangerous when they attack. And they need to be carefully controlled and trained to be safe.
When they do attack humans, the damage they inflict is usually severe and life-threatening in a way that other dog breeds do not.

Aggressive pitbulls are a threat to public safety.

And a lot of them are aggressive.
Pitbull dangerousness is a particular problem when they are bred carelessly or with other types of dogs, especially those which were originally bred for guard-dog roles, like rottweilers, or mouthing, like Labrador retreivers.
Combine the power and savagery in a fight of a pitbull with the protective challenge-aggression of a rottweiler, and you get a volatile mix which is dangerous to everyone.
Breed pits who are aggressive toward people, same problem.

And this has happened a lot in recent decades. Only 20% of pitbull types dogs are fixed, compared to 70%+ among other breeds.

Breed standards are not being held.
Consider the recent news story in which a woman was mauled to death by a pack of “dachshund-mix” dogs.

What were they mixed with?

That’s right: pitbull terrier.

(Underplayed by the media, of course).
There are so many contradictions and lies tied up in the way pitbull enthusiasts treat and talk about their dogs, that any challenge to their beliefs generates overwhelming cognitive dissonance.
Thus, a tweet about taking unwanted pits to the shelter elicits an avalanche of responses about “crying in rage” and threats to come to my house, kill me and my family and my dogs and anybody who ever knew me.

This is no exaggeration. Go look at my mentions if you doubt.
The contradictions are plentiful at every turn: Pitbulls are harmless “nanny dogs” who nevertheless will be sent in a pack to tear me and my loved ones to bloody shreds while the pit owner laughs.
Or the nature of the breed is directly denied: “It’s the owner, not the breed”... the savagery of their attacks somehow being not the product of generations of selection for fighting ability, but an unhappy puppyhood!
Or the genetic components of behavior are completely denied: "breed" is a social construct, nobody knows or can identify what a “pitbull” is anyway, and it’s racist to even talk about it in the first place!
Or they reject measures to mitigate the risks: Any singling out of pitbulls as dangerous or a special risk or laws controlling them is discriminatory and wrong!

Dozens of them have called me "Literally Dog Hitler" over this, which is so funny I put it in my profile.
And the final surrender of course, is lashing out, speaking Power to Truth in order to end the discomfort of dissonance: These people saying bad things about pitbulls are evil and must be silenced for hate speech!

There is a mass report campaign and dozens of my tweets deleted.
This stupid dog hullabaloo is a microcosm of how it goes in every aspect of American public life these days:

The Dysfunction of American Politics reflected in pitbull activism on Twiiter!
Earlier, I said that lies make one vulnerable to cognitive dissonance, and this is a key thing to keep in mind for both sides of our political struggle in the Trump Era.
A big part of how the establishment power structure came to be defeated by insurgent rabble rousers led by an uninhibited confrontationalist in 2016 is their overwhelming reliance on lies making them weak.
How did #PitbullDropOff go from nothing to a nationwide viral hashtag in a little over a week?

It's not mysterious.

It targeted the contradictory lies of the pitbull advocates with direct action based on the truth.

And they went crazy.
So, if you are out there looking for ways to successfully attack dominant power structures, focus on confronting their contradictions and forcing them into sharp relief.

Don't let them live by lies.

They will freak out and defeat themselves every time.
If you are trying to defend yourself (or your dogs) from that sort of thing, you need to get your head on straight: discard the bullshit, falsehoods, and contradictions.

Stick to the real and the true.

And you will be invulnerable.

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