I've noticed recently how sure everyone seems to be that their worldview- and all necessary conclusions flowing from that worldview- are correct. And I've noticed that after a worldview makes a truth claim about reality, adherents of that worldview act as if this claim is unavoidable, inevitable, and unquestionable. They act- and worse, argue- as if this claim stands on its own, and is not derived from or dependant on their particular worldview.
I'm calling this phenomenon Interpretive Dissonance, because it's advocating that we take as an axiom a truth claim that was arrived at only after the facts had been looked at. It's a reversal of the proper order of reasoning- going from "I believe A, which implies B" to "B is axiomatically true, therefore A must be true because it implies B".
For example, I recently had a conversation with one of my fundamentalist evangelical friends where I asked her if she had ever considered Catholicism. She told me she could never be a Catholic because "Catholics don't see the relationship with Jesus as personal. They think you need to go through a priest and through Mary to get to God." Now, leaving aside the question of whether or not this is accurate to Catholic theology, what was really interesting to me was this presumption that the only conceivable God of the universe would be her specific conception of a personal, relational God with Jesus as the go-between. It struck me was that the question in her mind wasn't "is Catholicism true?", but rather "does Catholicism conform to my current beliefs?" She had this idea that God must be personal, and (her understanding of) Catholicism didn't fit that arc- so she rejected Catholicism out of hand, before even considering that it might actually be true.
Not too long ago, I got into a debate about gay marriage with an old Bible teacher of mine. I am happy to listen to arguments against gay marriage (or homosexuality in general), and there are some decent ones (mostly centered around the natural law and preserving same-sex friendship). His position, however, was that the old testament explicitly set up the idea of "traditional" marriage Christianity advocates for today. I pointed out that, in the Old Testament, Eve is created as an afterthought to Adam, only once no other suitable partner could be found, and further that pretty much the entirety of the Old Testament promotes polygamy (and, in many cases, keeping a harem of concubines) as the proper ordering of sexual relationships. But he had reached this conclusion- that heterosexual monogamous marriages are the proper expression of human sexuality- and flatly could not conceive of a reality where this was not true. He had interpreted the New Testament and modern Protestant teaching (both of which do give a legitimate basis for "traditional" marriage) and was convinced that the Old Testament must not only be compatible with, but actually advocate for this same teaching. He wasn't looking at evidence and arriving at a conclusion, he was starting from the conclusion and working his way back to how to interpret the evidence.
But I think the most obvious incarnation of Interpretive Dissonance is in the Christian idea of needing a savior. I've been told repeatedly that I need to "recognize my need for a savior", and that my rejection of Christianity is really just a prideful rejection of my need to be saved. But here's the thing- the conclusion of our need for a savior comes only after our conclusion on the character and nature of God. I freely admit that if the Christian worldview is true, I absolutely need a savior- I am a sinner more than most. But it's ludicrous to say that I need a savior a priori to deciding what I believe about God. It's crazy to say that our knowledge of reality is so precisely calibrated that the only conception of God that could possibly exist would be one that sent his son as a savior for mankind. I have no problem with people who find that theology the most compelling, but I have a huge problem with people who assume I secretly agree with them.
I think there's a really easy proof against this a-priori-savior concept. Consider the people who lived before Christ. These people lived in the same world as us, but there was no savior yet. The necessity of a physical, relational, personal savior can't be an ontological imperitive, unless you're claiming a rational human being in this period would arrive at the conclusion without divine revelation that a savior must be coming in the future. Other religions talk about needing to be saved/forgiven/recieve grace from God (notably Islam, which basically says it's God's volitional forgiveness that gets believers into heaven, since no human acts are good enough), and there's nothing about reality that inherently requires a physical human incarnation of God to act as our eternal savior. That may be the most compelling narrative- and it may in fact be true- but a claim that it is necessary is either a claim of divine revelation of its necessity, or a claim of a complete and unflawed understanding of the character, nature, and choices of God.
I've found Interpretive Dissonance to be really common among evangelicals, but this is by no means a flaw unique to protestants, or even unique to the religious. For example, I've been really disappointed with the response to Leah's conversion. Scant few of the comments I've read have been reasonable objections to her epistemology or challenges to specific Catholic beliefs. Mostly, it's been condescending Catholics playing the "a real search for truth always leads to Catholicism" card, and frighteningly dogmatic atheists railing against the stupidity of religion. Both groups (definitely not everyone involved, but a significant portion) are taking this position that the other side is absolutely nuts. They don't seem interested in looking at the evidence and seeing where it leads, but rather have decided where the evidence should lead, and are going to interpret the evidence in such a way, no matter what the evidence is.
And that's the real problem with Interpretive Dissonance. It stops asking the question "is this true?" and starts trying to conform evidence to the hypothesis. It's every bad scientific and statistical methodology rolled into one. Once we believe something to be true, we shouldn't be locked into it to the point where everything we see must support that conclusion. All that is is a recipe for believing in perpetuity the first thing that happens to clear our Bayesian threshold. It's OK to have conflicting evidence. In fact, any position that reasonable people disagree on should have conflicting evidence. If you legitimately don't see the conflicting evidence in the cases where reasonable people disagree (even within your own worldview), then you probably need to jettison your interpretive practice, because you're doing it wrong.
I do want to be clear that I'm not advocating that everyone "play nice and get along". These are important questions, and we should be trying to convince each other of what we think the truth is. But we need to do it by rationally weighing the evidence the other side presents and actually updating our priors when we find good evidence in either direction
Finally, in the interest of using actual scientific terminology, I should point out that the idea I'm trying to get at with Interpretive Dissonance is really some combination of anchoring bias, the backfire effect, confirmation bias, the observer-expectancy effect, and (most directly) belief bias.