My FAQ explains the reasoning behind naming this blog "cognitive dissident," but the phrase still shows up frequently among the top search words. Accordingly, I decided to re-write my explanation as a post so it's easier to find:
what does "cognitive dissident" mean?
On its most basic level, the phrase "cognitive dissident" merely refers to one who thinks differently. This can mean voicing an unpopular opinion, asking an unwelcome question, or considering issues that most people prefer to ignore. Far too many important subjects are left unconsidered because it's easier to follow the flock, inheriting their beliefs either with insufficient thought or--even worse--taking them on blind faith. My MO is more along the lines of Socrates (who declared that "the unexamined life is not worth living") and Bertrand Russell, who observed:"Most people would die sooner than think -- in fact they do so." (The ABC of Relativity, p. 166)
I have long admired those who dissented from the status quo: from Socrates to Solzhenitsyn, Galileo to Gandhi, and Voltaire to Vonnegut. My inspiration comes from many places: from Madison's "Memorial and Remonstrance" and Mill's On Liberty through Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" and Russell's "Why I Am Not a Christian," not to mention the legions of modern-day firebrands. It is to these cognitive dissidents, those who thought differently and dared to say so, that my efforts are dedicated.
Accordingly, a grammatically correct rendering of the old Apple slogan ("Think Different") seemed appropriate when posed as a pun on psychologist Leon Festinger's concept of cognitive dissonance. (It was only after settling on this name for my blog that I discovered the phrase "cognitive dissident" had been used for a Mother Jones article about the EFF's John Perry Barlow.)
That's enough on the name I chose and what it means; feel free to ask me questions in the comments if my FAQ seems incomplete.