Reduce, reuse, recycle..neural plasticity & cognitive dissonance

Reduce, reuse, recycle..neural plasticity & cognitive dissonance

I woke up this morning wishing we hadn’t taken all our squashed milk bottles to the recycling depot. I had the (unoriginal) thought, while asleep, that I could make “collars” for my wee seedlings to protect them against Things that Want to Eat Them (TTWET). The other day, I gleefully set aside some plastic trays that veges had been packed in*, hoping to use these to germinate seeds. The spinach in the picture was grown from the roots + a few leaves of a store bought spinach. The TTWET seem to find it very tasty too.


In ‘The Madness of Adam and Eve’, David Horrobin (2001) argued that changes in our ability to metabolise fat in our evolutionary past gave rise to human creativity as well as schizophrenia. Although some of the science in this book has been criticised, it makes for very interesting reading. Our brains so remarkably plastic!

While making connections on the one hand, our mind also tries to reduce discrepancies. Cognitive dissonance (labelled by Festinger in the 1950s) is the phenomena whereby we experience unease/disquiet when we have opposing beliefs or are faced with differences between what we think and what we are faced with. We try to reduce this disquiet by changing our beliefs. For example, let’s say we ate a huge tub of ice-cream while also holding the belief that ice-cream is not health-giving. To reduce the disquiet, we might say “well, I deserved it and I only did it once….on a friday…and calories on Friday don’t count!”. Or, let’s say that we discovered seed catalogues and have started buying lots and lots of seeds, while also holding the belief that it’s better to try and use the seeds one already has. To reduce cognitive dissonance, one might think “well, these will be really useful plants and I can definitely use them”….


*I know. Sigh. One day soon we’ll have our own produce, I hope, and be able to reduce our reliance on store bought stuff. 

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