Cognitive Dissonance: A Unit Testing Introspective

Cognitive dissonance is a funny thing. Just to make sure we’re on the same page, here’s a definition.

cog·ni·tive dis·so·nance
noun: cognitive dissonance
The state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.

I have had a love/hate relationship with unit testing for over a decade now. I have gone back and forth with periods of being really good at doing it and times where I haven’t.

I KNOW the benefits of testing, but I don’t always test.

So there are 4 phases of learning things in our life.

The first unconscious incompetence. We just don’t know about something. We’ve possibly not been exposed or just haven’t thought about the problem enough.

The second is conscious incompetence. We are aware of those thoughts and ideas, and can no longer be blissfully ignorant of them.

The third is conscious competence. We learned enough about the topic that we may practice it, but need more time perfecting our understanding and skill.

The fourth is unconscious competence. This is where you have a deeper understanding of the topic, and it’s just who you are.

I like to relate this to being Vegan. As kids, we start out in phase one. We hear the terms thrown around the dinner table (pork, chicken, beef, eggs) but we don’t know any more than that.

I was around 8 when I really understood that an animal was dying for this to be on my plate. I wanted to be vegetarian, but my mom would hear nothing of it. Not being old enough to make up my own mind and being controlled by impulses (like taste) I just put it out of my mind. At this point I was in stage 2, conscious competence.

As I continued getting older, I knew that killing animals was wrong, but didn’t have the will power to change my self. I was experiencing cognitive dissonance. My wife and I had talked at length about changing our life style and becoming at least vegetarian.

Finally, I made that decision (thanks to a life changing event) and moved into phase 3. I knew it was wrong, but I also set out to learn more about why it was wrong. This is the hardest part for people to do. Admitting there is an issue or believing one of the many lies they tell themselves to allow them to stay in cognitive dissonance. I make a point of watching footage of what really happens so that I don’t believe the marketing like “Happy cows make happy cheese”. It’s marketing bullshit 101 to make you buy product.

Yes this whole article was a ploy for me to ask people to think about their choices. Watch documentaries like Dominion ( to learn more. Understand that marketing has driven our society further and further into the hands of animal agriculture and it is horrifying.

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