Thursday, December 15, 2005

Cognitive Disconnect

The term, cognitive disconnect, applies to the condition where reality and one's understanding or perception of reality differ. Perception that differs from reality is ordinarily referred to as delusional. However, in the case of a cognitive disconnect, sanity is not necessarily an issue.

For example, checking the mail box on a national holiday would be a minor cognitive disconnect. One knows that no mail delivery occurs on a holiday. One knows that a certain day happens to be a holiday. There is no reason to expect mail on that certain day (reality), yet one still looks in the mailbox (perception). This behavior could be explained as simply forgetfulness or habit, but it is still a disconnect of reality and perception.

Another example of a cognitive disconnect would be driving faster than the speed limit (reality)and ruing a speeding ticket (perception). In this case, speeding is probably a more prevalent behavior than being in a traffic cop's radar beam. Yet, one feels unlucky to have been caught speeding when inevitability is a more apt description of one's chances of getting a ticket.

Another cognitive disconnect is advocating school vouchers for private schools on the premise that competition will improve public schools (perception), when as a result, public schools will have fewer resources, thus degrading their ability to improve (reality). This particular disconnect can be avoided by the admission that vouchers are intended to provide public funds to support private schools and improvement of public schools is not the issue.

As a matter of fact (reality), I suspect most public schools do an excellent job of educating our youth and that a great deal of the criticism directed their way is merely a rhetorical smoke screen to potray a private purpose as a public need. Beware of anyone who tells you that their motives are altruistic and intended only to serve the public good, when in fact it is their own financial self-interest that is foremost in their hearts and minds.