Cognitive Dissonance Amidst Egypt’s Turmoil

January 2, 2014

A young child participates in an Egyptian protest. Picture by:  Ramy Noaman

A young child participates in an Egyptian protest. Picture by: Ramy Noaman

Ramy Noaman graduated from Stony Brook University in 2013. The son of two Egyptian immigrants to the United States, Ramy is now doing post-graduate work at Harvard, studying international relations with an emphasis on Middle Eastern politics. The Center for News Literacy interviewed him shortly after he returned from spending months in the Middle East, first near the Syrian border in Turkey, and then in a tumultuous, protest-ridden Egypt – at a time, he says, when “there was very little law, hardly any rules – and no authority.”

Ramy saw many examples of key News Literacy concepts at work in the Egyptian context, most notably that of cognitive dissonance – the inability to balance two conflicting perspectives at the same time. He carried a camera with him everywhere he went, and recalls that when Egyptians “saw I had a camera, they wanted to get my attention. They wanted their version of their story told. They saw me as a medium for that.” Although Ramy got his information from television and the Internet, many Egyptians relied instead on “gossip and street talk.”


Ramy discusses how he witnessed cognitive dissonance while in Egypt.


Ramy discusses how rumors were taken as fact by some while in Egypt.


Ramy continues his discussion on witnessing cognitive dissonance

 


Ramy talks about how News Literacy helped him thwart “group think” when encountering differing opinons.

ADDITIONAL CORE NL CONCEPTS IN AN EGYPTIAN CONTEXT:

News vs. Opinion

The Power of Information:

LESSON GUIDING QUESTIONS:

    • What is cognitive dissonance? How is it evident in the comments from Ramy?
    • How might someone’s previously held views change when confronted with different beliefs? In what cases have you found your own views challenged by others? Did those views change or stay the same?
    • How might the protests in Egypt have been influential in changing the views of many in Egypt in the same way that Ramy’s family members found their own views changing?

 

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