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Friday, August 5, 2011

When Prophecy, and Book Design, Fails




Behold the Belief Disconfirmation Paradigm artfully presented as a page from Family Circle’s Illustrated Library of Cooking. How so? you say.

When confronted with data that does not match one’s understanding of the world, dissonance sets in, that jarring feeling of disquiet that attends a gap in expectations. In such cases, if you do not adjust your beliefs accordingly to match the odd information, you are likely to reject it — and then to support and justify your change of mind, you seek support from others who share your new beliefs in order to restore a sense of normalcy. What the fuck? you say.

Say you are looking at a page with a huge illustration of an ordinary-sized, rather pedestrian but floridly decorated cake, and underneath you read that it serves 100 people. You might think this impossible and try to convince yourself that the average serving of cake is the size of a sugar lump. In order to back this up, you start to hang out with models and drug addicts for whom such a serving constitutes the norm. Now, whenever you see this photo, you feel perfectly at ease because nothing strikes you as horribly wrong. Groovy, you say.

But then you realize that the recipe beneath the photo does not in fact belong to the photo, but to some other, un-illustrated cake, and then you wonder why on earth they would choose to show this monstrosity of brown frosting and jelly roll slices instead of the magnificent three-tier June Rose Wedding Cake, and suddenly all of your new wafer-thin model friends look like the freaks they are, and then you feel like a fool, and fat to boot and become a recluse living in a cupboard under the stairs. You say nothing to nobody. 

Family Circle Illustrated Library of Cooking Vol 4, Rockville House Publishers, 1972

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