‘The Next Everest’: A story of resilience in the face of deadly adversity

The Role of Cognitive Dissonance in the Pandemic

Members of Heaven’s Gate, a religious cult, believed that as the Hale-Bopp comet passed by Earth in 1997, a spaceship would be traveling in its wake—ready to take true believers aboard. Several members of the group bought an expensive, high-powered telescope so that they might get a clearer view of the comet. They quickly brought it back and asked for a refund. When the manager asked why, they complained that the telescope was defective, that it didn’t show the spaceship following the comet. A short time later, believing that they would be rescued once they had shed their “earthly containers” (their bodies), all 39 members killed themselves.

Cognitive dissonance, coined by Leon Festinger in the 1950s, describes the discomfort people feel when two cognitions, or a cognition and a behavior, contradict each other.

Heaven’s Gate followers had a tragically misguided conviction, but it is an example, albeit extreme, of cognitive dissonance, the motivational mechanism that underlies the reluctance to admit mistakes or accept scientific findings—even when those findings can save our lives. This dynamic is playing out during the pandemic among the many people who refuse to wear masks or practice social distancing…

‘The Next Everest’: A story of resilience in the face of deadly adversity

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have faced personal challenges. Overcoming them can be taxing, and it requires resilience.

Davidson shares both of his Everest experiences and how we can all use resilience to survive challenges in his book, “The Next Everest.”

Someone well-qualified to talk about resilience is Jim Davidson.

The mountain climber summited Mount Everest in 2017, two years after he was nearly killed in an earthquake on the Himalayan peak. His story is one of survival in tough circumstances.

Davidson recounted the fateful day during an interview with 8 News Now:

“Then, all of a sudden, the glacier jerked into the air and lifted the tent up, and then, we dropped back down. And then, we went back up again, as the waves rippled through the glacier. Being in the tent was like being in a life raft, and that’s when I knew it was an earthquake. And when that happened, we could hear the roar of avalanches, having an earthquake all at once. It was pure survival mode for a good couple of minutes.”

After surviving the earthquake, Davidson and his team were rescued from Everest. They then spent the remainder of their adventure helping those in Nepal who’d lost everything, from the clean up to the beginning of the rebuilding process…

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