Cognitive Dissonance and the Driverless Vehicle Industry

Michael DeKort
4 min readApr 8, 2022


Reference —

Cognitive dissonance is a theory in social psychology. It refers to the mental conflict that occurs when a person’s behaviors and beliefs do not align.

It may also happen when a person holds two beliefs that contradict one another.

Cognitive dissonance causes feelings of unease and tension, and people attempt to relieve this discomfort in different ways. Examples include “explaining things away” or rejecting new information that conflicts with their existing beliefs.


Cognitive dissonance has the immediate effect of causing feelings of discomfort and unease.

As people generally have an innate desire to avoid this discomfort, cognitive dissonance has a significant effect on a person’s:

· behaviors

· thoughts

· decisions

· beliefs and attitudes

· mental health

People experiencing cognitive dissonance may notice that they feel:

· anxious

· guilty

· ashamed

As a result, they may:

· try to hide their actions or beliefs from others

· rationalize their actions or choices continuously

· shy away from conversations or debates about specific topics

· avoid learning new information that goes against their existing beliefs

· ignore research, newspaper articles, or doctor’s advice that causes dissonance

Avoiding factual information can allow people to continue maintaining behaviors with which they do not fully agree.

Of course, cognitive dissonance may prompt some people to change their behavior so that their actions align with their beliefs. In this way, it provides people with an opportunity to examine their values and actions and achieve cognitive consistency.

As a result of cognitive dissonance, many people confront problematic attitudes and actions.

They may make positive changes in their lives, such as addressing unhealthful eating habits, addiction, or anger issues.

This is exactly what Theranos, and WeWork went through. And now the Autonomous Vehicle industry is going through it, especially Tesla. (Having said this, I wonder how many people feel any discomfort or guilt at all, especially Elon Musk?)

The key actions folks are taking in this industry are:

· rationalize their actions or choices continuously

· shy away from conversations or debates about specific topics

· avoid learning new information that goes against their existing beliefs

Examples of this include:

· Showing only positive test results to the public

· Hiding all critical performance information to the point of suing state DMV to avoid providing it (Tesla doesn’t have this luxury)

· Making riders sign NDAs

· Blaming “safety drivers” for crashes, injuries and deaths of themselves and others

· Going to IPO and SPAC before any significant proof of performance is provided

· Refusing to admit and remedy current development/test process is untenable from a time, cost and safety POV

· Refusing to understand and acknowledge gaming-based simulation systems do not have the model fidelity or real-time performance needed to get to L4

· Fielding “fully driverless” systems without their systems passing a driver’s test (Isn’t this illegal?)

· Tesla has its own special issues with its ridiculous camera only system

· The industry going after Tesla as it tries to split hairs between themselves and Tesla

· Avoiding discussing any of this with me

Below are a couple articles that explain my POV in more detail. Including how to do this right.

How are Waymo and Cruise “Fully Driverless” Vehicles Legal?


Waymo and the industry can now legally hide proof their systems are not driverless or safe


By not providing any meaningful proof of being driverless, even fighting doing through a lawsuit, Waymo, Cruise and Gatik are misleading the public, putting their lives at risk, and collapsing


The Autonomous Vehicle Industry can be Saved by doing the Opposite of what is being done now to create this technology


How the failed Iranian hostage rescue in 1980 can save the Autonomous Vehicle industry

My name is Michael DeKort — I am Navy veteran (ASW-C4ISR) and a former system engineer, engineering, and program manager for Lockheed Martin. I worked in aircraft simulation, the software engineering manager for all of NORAD, a software project manager on an Aegis Weapon System baseline, and a C4ISR systems engineer for DoD/DHS and the US State Department (counter-terrorism). And a Senior Advisory Technical Project Manager for FTI to the Army AI Task Force at CMU NREC (National Robotics Engineering Center)

Autonomous Industry Participation — Air and Ground

- Founder SAE On-Road Autonomous Driving Simulation Task Force

- Member SAE ORAD Verification and Validation Task Force

- Member UNECE WP.29 SG2 Virtual Testing

- Stakeholder USDOT VOICES (Virtual Open Innovation Collaborative Environment for Safety)

- Member SAE G-35, Modeling, Simulation, Training for Emerging AV Tech

- Member SAE G-34 / EUROCAE WG-114 Artificial Intelligence in Aviation

- Member Teleoperation Consortium

- Member CIVATAglobal — Civic Air Transport Association

- Stakeholder for UL4600 — Creating AV Safety Guidelines

- Member of the IEEE Artificial Intelligence & Autonomous Systems Policy Committee

SAE Autonomous Vehicle Engineering magazine editor calling me “prescient” regarding my position on Tesla and the overall driverless vehicle industry’s untenable development and testing approach — (Page 2)

Presented the IEEE Barus Ethics Award for Post 9/11 DoD/DHS Whistleblowing Efforts



Michael DeKort

Non-Tribal Truth Seeker-IEEE Barus Ethics Award/9–11 Whistleblower-Aerospace/DoD Systems Engineer/Member SAE Autonomy and eVTOL development V&V & Simulation