Cognitive Dissonance:

– When someone believes something, despite all evidence to the contrary.

“Cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon first identified by Leon Festinger. It occurs when there is a discrepancy between what a person believes, knows and values, and persuasive information that calls these into question. The discrepancy causes psychological discomfort, and the mind adjusts to reduce the discrepancy. In ethics, cognitive dissonance is important in its ability to alter values, such as when an admired celebrity embraces behavior that his or her admirers deplore.”

Example: People who believe President Bush did NOT lie about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction, despite continually emerging evidence that he and his staff lied to the American public.

How this applies to hunting:

Vegetarians, PETA members and the like will argue to their death that hunting is bad for animals, bad for people and bad for the environment, even when presented with evidence that this in fact incorrect.

I understand the desire to save animals from an unnecessary death, from torture, from poor treatment. I know these people have good hearts and are against hunting and the killing of animals for noble reasons. After all, its a noble cause and I agreed with them for years. I agreed with them until I married a hunter.

A common misconception uneducated animal lovers have about hunters is they are all rednecks who just love killing animals regardless of the impact their actions have on the animal population or the environment. They argue that the practice of hunting is unnecessary, given the abundance of food found in grocery stores. Others think hunting gets rid of the natural chain of life. They think people are interfering with nature. They think its unethical. They think its barbaric. They think its wrong.

The TRUTH is hunters are far and wide one of the largest groups of conservationists in the United States. Their actions not only help the environment, but the animal populations in which they hunt. They have created hundreds of wetlands and preserved species that would have otherwise become endangered or extinct by now. I know this sounds sketchy, I was even skeptical the first thousand times Donald explained it to me. But this weekend I attended a conference on avian flu and not only were all of Donalds claims confirmed, but I finally had to recognize I was suffering from a severe case of cognitive dissonance and realize that there really are benefits to the practice.

The most common argument Donald always gives is hunting is a form of population control and prevents disease outbreaks among the animals, and the transfer of diseases to the human population. At least nine experts from throughout the Northern California region confirmed this fact on Saturday.

The Department of Fish and Game has very specific numbers it allows to be killed each year in each species. They give out a limited number of licenses and each licensed hunter is given a daily limit. This ensures that the animal population is not unnecessarily depleted, while simultaneously reducing overpopulated flocks and herds. If the hunters were not there to reduce the population, Mother Nature would take care of the problem IN THE SAME WAY through death. When a flock or herd becomes over-populated it is not uncommon for disease to hit and kill off most of the animals.

Those of you morally/ethically opposed to hunting will continue to fight against it, and you have that right. Personally, Id prefer animals to die and go to good use rather than dieing of disease and potentially infecting hundreds of other species while their rotting corpses litter lakes and forests. Its a grim thought, but its also reality.