In these circumstances, we have two choices. The first is to accept that our original judgements might have been at fault. We question whether it was quite such a good idea to put our faith in a cult leader whose prophecies didn’t even materialize. We pause to reflect whether the Iraq war was quite such a good idea given that Saddam didn’t pose a threat we imagined.
The difficulty with this option is simple: it’s threatening. It requires us to accept that we are not as smart as we like to think. It forces us to acknowledge that we can sometimes be wrong, even on issues on which we have staked a great deal.
So here’s the second option: denial. We reframe the evidence. We filter it, we spin it, or ignore it altogether. That way, we can carry on with the comforting assumption that we were right all along. We are bang on the money! We didn’t get duped! What evidence that we messed up?