"Like the punters out there, she could entertain simultaneously any number of conflicting opinions. They could believe in Al, and not believe in her, both at once. Faced with the impossible, their minds, like Colette's, simply scuttled off in another direction"
From Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
I vividly remember the moment when I first articulated to myself the realisation that it is perfectly possible for people to hold two entirely contradicting beliefs at the same time. It was a pivotal moment, it meant I could stop worrying about people not making sense and take delight in the wonderful muddle of human nature.
One of my favourite research tasks is being asked to unpick people's beliefs about a certain issue. Particularly so-called 'low-involvement' subjects, where few have consciously examined their attitudes and beliefs. It's not uncommon to discover deep rooted contradictions that are so paradoxical that they have an almost beautiful symmetry.