[The] longer one clings to the preferred story, the stupider one becomes. This is why the truth or falsity of the stories we tell is so critical, and why our methodology matters so much. If a story that is central to our view of ourselves fails to comport with the facts, and if we refuse to give up or even question the story, this necessitates that we block ourselves off from more and more information that might “undermine” that story … Rather than eagerly seeking out further facts and trying to find out if a given story remains accurate or needs to be significantly revised (and sometimes even jettisoned altogether), we will lower our heads, narrow the scope of our inquiry, and progressively restrict the kind of data we permit ourselves to examine and even acknowledge. As time goes on, our intellectual curiosity steadily decreases. We won’t want certain facts and information, because we might have to wonder whether particular cherished beliefs are correct.
In those cases where the preexisting and preferred narrative is crucial to a person’s sense of self-worth (and often, when it is critical to their livelihood), it is close to impossible that a fundamental reassessment of that narrative will be permitted or seriously considered. The only direction psychologically is steadily downward: the frame of reference constantly diminishes, and the person becomes less and less able to address any issue accurately and truthfully. Neither “side” has a monopoly on this fundamental failure — and even though both conservatives and liberals furiously deny that they act in this manner, their own commentary and behavior reveals the truth on a daily basis.