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"To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word 'doublethink' involved the use of doublethink."

The ability to simultaneously believe in two or more mutually contradictory concepts, without any cognitive dissonance. You do know better and what's really true, but you still keep Believing Your Own Lies as the truth just because.

There are two kinds of straight examples here: Verified examples, where a reliable narrator or similar gives the audience insight into the mind of the character, and apparent examples where a character appears to be engaging in doublethink but we don't know for sure what's really going on in his mind. Examples of the latter kind are more effective when a character suspects another of doublethink.

Hypocrites often engage in doublethink, though the Straw Hypocrite doesn't have to, being dishonest to others rather than themselves. In cases where doublethink is combined with some version of The Masquerade, it becomes an extremely potent tool of the Consummate Liar: No liar is as believable as the honest liar who truly believes in his own lies. The Commander Contrarian will sometimes use doublethink as well. Whether or not the contrarian knows of the hypocrisy varies, as their main goal is to disagree with the opposition for their own means.

Compare and contrast By "No", I Mean "Yes", Distinction Without a Difference and Metaphorically True, where a character tries to glue opposing viewpoints together as being the same thing, giving it a resemblance of coherence by various esoteric distinctions. Compare Memory Gambit & Poe's Law. Contrast Becoming the Mask, where cognitive dissonance sets in and a character who has pretended to be loyal to a certain group starts gaining true loyalty towards it, and Both Sides Have a Point where both sides are respected but kept separated. See also 2 + Torture = 5 and The Treachery of Images.

Not related to the short-lived 1986 ABC game show Double Talk, produced by Bob Stewart.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Fairy Tail, the Curse of Contradiction isn't just called that because it causes people to spread death the more they value life; it also messes with the cursed person's thoughts to make them believe contradictory thoughts. For instance, to avoid any needless death while building a military nation, the Big Bad Zeref treats his empire and people like it's all just a Simulation Game. He admits that he's enjoying himself quite a bit with it, moments before saying he despises war, both without a hint of irony. When this gets pointed out to him, he's suddenly overcome with a splitting headache as his mind fills with even more conflicting desires.
  • Satsuki Kiryuin from Kill la Kill says that "Fear is freedom! Subjugation is liberation! Contradiction is truth! Those are the facts of this world, and you will all surrender to them, you pigs in human clothing!" This seems to be more of a Shout-Out to Nineteen Eighty-Four than an actual philosophical statement, serving to inform the audience that the Student Council President is a fascist dictator.
  • Rea Katagiri from World's End Harem thinks that Reito is a sexual deviant who's raping women. She also criticizes him for the fact that he's not doing his job and mating with women. She doesn't explain how her logic works (because it doesn't - she simply thinks that All Men Are Perverts, regardless of the evidence).

    Comic Strips 
  • In Beetle Bailey, Plato invokes this trope as a demonstration of how an officer's mind works by handing Lt. Fuzz a black paper and lying that the General said it was white, but... This prompts Fuzz to go on a rant about how you shouldn't question your superiors and how it all may be of vital importance somehow and culminating with his holding up the black paper and declaring firmly that it is white. The General happens to be passing and, without looking particularly surprised, just thinks he's nuts.

    Fan Works 
  • Cain revolves around how Katsuki has convinced himself that his ongoing campaign to utterly ruin Izuku's life and derail his apprenticeship with All Might is completely justified through a cavalcade of Insane Troll Logic that openly contridicts itself in this fashion. All this foreshadows his Sanity Slippage and eventual spiral off the deep end.
    • Katsuki believes that Izuku can't control his emotions and is far too much of a crybaby to become a hero... and that Izuku also fakes all his outbursts, using Crocodile Tears in cynically calculated displays to trick others into sympathizing with him.
    • He's simultaneously convinced that Izuku is stupid, useless, and completely incompetent and a manipulative mastermind capable of tricking All Might himself, along with the staff at U.A. and Aldera as well after Katsuki's application to U.A. is rejected.
    • Katsuki tells himself that he's nobly saving Izuku from his own stupidity, for if Izuku actually did manage to go Pro, he'd just get himself killed by a villain. At the same time, he also believes that Izuku himself is a horrible villain who deserves to suffer at his hands, and that he needs to defeat and destroy him at any cost.
    • Katsuki firmly believes that he's the greatest, that everybody loves him and rightly despises Izuku; several of his schemes bank on the presumption that his Big Jerk on Campus status will ensure that everybody at Aldera will join in his efforts to hurt Izuku and help him get away with everything. Yet he also claims that Izuku has spent years spinning situations to trick others into sympathizing with him and seeing Katsuki as the bad guy.
    • Prior to the events of the story, Katsuki spent nine years terrorizing and bullying Izuku, drawing great pleasure from ensuring his complete and utter misery. He also thinks that Izuku's never had to struggle even once in his life, and that his own life has been unreasonably hard by comparison.
    • This sort of doublethink also applies to his perception of All Might. On one hand, Katsuki believes that All Might is the strongest hero in the world and that he never loses to anyone... and yet he's also a helpless victim of Izuku's manipulations and mind games, incapable of seeing through the other's deception despite how Izuku is just a kid.
    • Even Katsuki's perception of himself isn't exempt from this. He draws immense pride from the idea that he's a natural-born hero who's destined to become the next "All Might" and is obviously superior to the "useless deku". Yet at the same time, he feels oppressed by Izuku's existence, convinced that Izuku's manipulating and gaslighting has destroyed his life... even while insisting that Izuku's far too weak to victimize him. Rinse. And. Repeat.
  • A Case Study in the Sturdiness of the Rookie 9: During the Chuunin Exams, Team 7 betrays Team 10, claiming that their victims should have been anticipating such a move because the Exams are Not a Game and need to be taken seriously. Shino and Sakura then insist that their victims are being 'overdramatic' when they call them out, and that they were just "minorly inconvenienced". Because betraying and ditching their allies in a place called the Forest of Death, surrounded by teams from rival villages, isn't that big a deal, even while they're simultaneously declaring that they need to take the dangers posed by the Exams seriously.
  • In Disciplinary Action, Katsuki blames Izuku for "getting him into trouble" for how he attacked him during their first training exercise at U.A. Toshinori overhears him muttering furiously to himself and directly challenges his logic with an Armor-Piercing Question:
    All Might: Young Bakugo, are you implying that young Midoriya is in control of you? I couldn't hear you clearly, but it seems to be the gist of it.
    Katsuki: Fuck no! Deku doesn't control me! No one controls me!
    All Might: Then how can your actions be his fault? Either he controls you and what you did is his fault, or you are in control of your actions, and you bear the fault for them, and the consequences.
  • Friendship Is Optimal: Always Say No: Greg suffers from this from time to time. In particular, he believes that Celest-A.I. is killing people by uploading them into the system... yet at the same time, simultaneously believes that he's saving lives by escorting people to upload centers. Much of this boils down to him not wanting to confront the notion that his own friends and family are dead.
  • The GiW meets its match: The Guys in White claim that ghosts are both non-sapient entities lacking any intelligence whatsoever and incredibly talented master manipulators that are outright incapable of telling the truth and driven to hurt humanity through any means necessary. While the contradiction is obvious to anyone else, members of the organization appear to fully buy into their own claims.
  • In I Am Skitter, Taylor intentionally engages in this, as part of her efforts to keep her multiple identities separate from each other so she can convincingly act surprised.
    Taylor: (thinking) It was sort of interestingly slippery, trying to make myself simultaneously think two things that each involved pretending not to know the other.
  • The Karma of Lies:
    • Adrien claims that it's best to let Lila's lies go unchallenged because her Con Artistry "isn't really hurting anyone", and they don't want to upset her or anybody else by revealing the truth. When Marinette tells him point-blank that she's being hurt and is on the verge of breaking down, he simply smiles and "reassures" her that no, she's not — because she's strong enough to handle it.
    • Later on, he amends his beliefs slightly after one of Lila's schemes leaves him holding the bag. Obviously what she did to HIM was wrong and needs to be immediately addressed, and if that leads to her other crimes being exposed and dealt with, so much the better... yet when his classmates learn about his Betrayal by Inaction, he once again insists that nothing she did was that bad. Save for how he was hurt, anyway. Declaring that they're overreacting even while simultaneously attempting to rally them behind him by insisting they have to work together in order to bring her to justice for crimes that he's downplaying as "no big deal" compared to his own problems.
    • According to Adrien, Hawkmoth's reign of terror was ultimately no big deal since Ladybug had the Miraculous Cure, which he treats as a magical Reset Button that wiped away all the consequences of Hawkmoth's actions. He even testifies as much as Chat Noir, telling a crowd of disgusted civilians that nothing the akumas did actually mattered in the long run. At the same time, however, he fully expects to be financially compensated for his service; everything that Hawkmoth's akumas did to HIM clearly matters, even if it was also "magically erased".
    • Much of Adrien's doublethink is rooted in his firm belief in Protagonist-Centered Morality. Specifically, the notion that he benefits from it by virtue of being Chat Noir, who was clearly chosen to protect Paris. To his mind, this means that his happy ending is guaranteed, and that he doesn't need to do anything to earn said happy ending; it's already locked in. He is deeply invested in this notion that he's morally right by default, rejecting anything that challenges his belief... unless he can twist it around in his head into "evidence" of his rightness.
  • Mean Rabbit: Izuku believes he can be as good as any hero despite being Quirkless. He also insists that Knuckleduster being a hero without a Quirk is impossible and must be some kind of elaborate lie and that Knuckleduster (along with various heroes with non-physical Quirks) can't possibly be as fast and strong as he is without a Quirk enhancing him.
  • Miraculous Ladybug Salt-Shots: Where You Stand centers around Marinette and Nino confronting Alya about her engaging in this when it comes to the former's crush on Adrien. She's quick to dismiss Marinette's efforts to warn her about Lila being a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing as nothing more than petty jealousy, deeming her to be an obsessive Stalker with a Crush that's definitely not healthy... and yet Alya's more than happy to serve as a Shipper on Deck, pushing Marinette towards him with a barrage of Zany Schemes, even when Marinette doesn't want her "help". So she's simultaneously criticizing and enabling her "bestie", based upon whatever suits her purposes at any given moment.
  • Space to Breathe (Naruto): So far as Sasuke is concerned, Sakura didn't choose to leave Team Seven willingly in order to pursue an apprenticeship with Ibiki; he made her leave — and was completely justified in doing so, since she's nothing but a weakling who was "holding him back". He insists that he's much better off without her... while also blaming her for everything that hasn't gone his way since she left. He also insists that she's still just as 'weak' and 'useless' as she was when she left; when Naruto points out that she got promoted, he declares that doesn't make any difference. So she's somehow both a complete non-entity who doesn't matter at ALL to him and singularly responsible for all of his problems.
  • What Goes Around Comes Around (Miraculous Ladybug): In the sequel, Truth & Journalism, Jalil falls into a rabbit hole where he convinces himself that Ladybug was secretly Evil All Along, while Hawkmoth intended to use the Miraculouses to create a utopia. One of the cornerstones of his argument? That Chat Noir was revealed to be Hawkmoth's son, and must have been working with his father all along — proof that both he and Ladybug were evil, despite how Jalil also insists that Hawkmoth was actually good.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019):
    • Alan Jonah believes that humanity is irredeemably despicable and doesn't deserve the Earth, after all our monstrous acts against each-other and after we've negatively altered the environment to the point of risking the first mass extinction since the dinosaurs. His solution is to let an even more wantonly-malicious monster (King Ghidorah) clear us off, even when it becomes apparent that said monster will reshape the global environment in a way that will cause at least as much global extinction as humans are causing but at a far more rapid rate. At the end of the day, it's clear that Jonah doesn't care what happens to the world, so long as there's no humans left in it.
    • Emma Russell has a pretty massive case with her plan to try and manipulate the Titans into saving the world. She says she wants to ensure that some good comes out of her son's death in a Titan attack and prevent more of the calamity that killed him, yet she doesn't see the blatant contradiction between this idea, and her execution being to deliberately release many more Titans and no doubt create millions more Andrew's and broken families like her own. It's also implied that Emma believes she's giving Madison and other survivors in the long haul a utopia where humanity isn't at risk of destroying themselves, yet Emma in further self-contradiction is internally motivated to punish the rest of humanity for causing her son's death by unwittingly instigating the MUTOs' emergence.

  • In Blå Tornet, the protagonist survives through his youth by developing this mindset. He is truly a heretic, but he is also a priest in a society hellbent on sniffing out all heretics and burying them alive. His solution is to never lie, a lie would eventually be discovered. Instead, he actively chose to believe in two simultaneous realities... and he quite incorrectly assumes that everyone else is smart enough to pull off the same kind of dual reality. In reality, almost everyone else in his world is actually exactly as narrow-minded as they come across.
  • In Cat's Cradle, the religion of Bokononism is essentially built around doing this for the sake of being a better person; the Book of Bokonon preaches that one should "live by the foma [harmless lies] that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy".
    • Basically, Bokononists are aware that all the principles and mythology of Bokononism are basically stuff that Bokonon made up because he thought it sounded nice, but they continue to wholeheartedly believe and practice it because it gives them comfort and makes them better people.
      Narrator: Anyone unable to understand how a useful religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either. So be it.
    • Even Bokononism's status as illegal on the island is part of this trope because everybody knows that everybody is a Bokononist. The illegality is by design; it creates drama and conflict that help distract from how desperately (and hopelessly) poor and squalid the place is. The people all get to have exciting rebellious lives, "secretly" thumbing their nose at authority, instead of having nothing to do but lament how empty their bellies are.
    • The title uses the children's game of "cat's cradle" as an explanation of these thought processes. You go through all this effort with strings to make a design, which you then have to pretend to yourself means something.
      "No goddamn cat, no goddamn cradle."
  • In CHERUB: Divine Madness, the Survivors manipulate people into joining their cult whilst simultaneously not seeing that they are being manipulated.
  • In "The Beguiling", Ciaphas Cain describes his aide Jurgen thus: "He wasn't the biggest bang in the armoury by any means, but made up for his lack of intellect with a literally minded approach to orders and an unquestioning acceptance of even the mutually contradictory parts of Imperial doctrine which would have done credit to the most devout ecclesiarch."
  • In The Dagger and the Coin, the members of the Spider Priest cult possess a combined Living Lie Detector and Compelling Voice ability, and while they seem to sincerely believe they are fighting against lies and spreading truth, in practice, their powers are used in a sinister way. If someone sincerely believes something, even if false, it registers as "true" to a Spider Priest, and they can convince each other and muggles of its truth without feeling any cognitive dissonance. The Priests claim to hate books because people can lie with the written word in a way they cannot with speech, but they define the truth as whatever they say it is, and use their powers to make people doubt facts contained in texts and instead believe in the lies sincerely preached by the Spider Priests.
  • Discworld:
    • Dios and the other Djelibeybian priests from Pyramids are noted for this ability, as religious dogma in that country obliges them to believe that several different gods all exclusively and simultaneously fill the same divine offices. Most of the priests are dedicated to one god (not dismissing the existence of the others, but at least not having to think about their interaction too much), but as high priest Dios believes in all of them (fittingly, he has some trouble with the one that posits that the world is a disc carried on the backs of four elephants on top of a giant turtle).
    • Vorbis from Small Gods has mastered doublethink to the levels applied by the Party, as he's quite comfortable declaring that the way things may actually be found to be in the world is insignificant compared to the fundamental truth. For example, if you could actually go to the edge of the world and see that it is a disc (which you can, in this case), that doesn't matter because the real truth still is and always will be the dogma that the world is round, though of course anyone claiming it's a disc must be silenced before they corrupt the minds of believers.
    • Also in Small Gods, Brutha is uneasy about eating or cutting fruit on a fast day even when he's got a direct permission from his god. (The Great God Om really wants some watermelon.) So Om tries to help him by declaring that the fruit is now bread. He doesn't have the power to actually miraculously change anything at that point, but they do their best to pretend the melon's been transubstantiated. Brutha might even take it sort of seriously.
    • Pastor Oats in Carpe Jugulum is an Omnian who had the misfortune to connect the dots between miracles and certain phenomena that occurred around the same time (a prophet turned the seas to blood and vanquished a leviathan, but just so happened that there was an infestation of red algae that year, and knowing their effects on deep-sea creatures...) This conflict between faith and thought causes him to be in two minds about everything. Which it turns out is an advantage when fighting vampires, as they can't control both minds at the same time.
    • In Monstrous Regiment, Vimes is puzzled by the fact that so many people are devout Nugganites when so many of his commandments are batshit insane (the color blue is an Abomination unto Nuggan, so they mainly avoid looking at the sky). Other Abominations are obviously driving the country further into the ground (against cats, dwarves, crop rotation, rocks, ears, babies...) so people end up ignoring the more difficult ones. When the squad visits a brothel, the narration notes that devout men always have a little space for sinning. Turns out even the most devout Nugganites are too afraid of Him to pray to Him directly, instead praying for a messiah figure to put in a good word for them. This is killing the god and fueling His growing insanity.
    • Thud!: The deep-down dwarves have a lot of very strict beliefs such as knowledge (especially written or recorded) being sacred, trolls being evil, and a very narrow interpretation of historical texts. So when Grag Hamcrusher encounters a Device containing irrefutable evidence that dwarves and trolls weren't always trying to kill each other, he snaps and tries to destroy it and is killed by the other grags before he can commit this sacrilege, who decide that they'll blame a troll for the murder. Then it turns out there was a troll nearby who saw them...
  • In The Elenium, the citizens of Elenia have a monotheistic religion, worshipping a God who insists he's the only God in existence. The Elene Church Knights also frequently make use of Styrgic magic. Under this 'verse's magical rules, magic is actually divine intervention, and spells are actually ritualized prayers to specific gods and goddesses. When a young member of the Church Knights realizes the inherent contradiction of their job—disbelieving in the Styrgic gods, yet praying to them and receiving divine help all the same—the older Knights admit that they deal with it by thinking about it as little as possible.
  • In The Handmaid's Tale, the protagonist doesn't know what's happened to her husband, but states that she simultaneously believes that he was killed, that he was captured, and that he escaped.
  • In Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, he posits that when considering one's own work, a writer must be able to believe that it is both the greatest work in the history of the written word and a terrible piece of garbage, simultaneously if possible. That way, one can believe the first while writing it, the second while editing it, the first again while submitting it for publication, and the second again if a rejection slip comes.
  • In order to use sympathy in The Kingkiller Chronicle, one must be able to hold two opposite beliefs at once. It sounds simple at first, but it's also one of the reasons most Arcanists go mad.
  • In Life of Pi by Yann Martel, Pi claims to be a Christian, Muslim, and Hindu, but at least two of these religions say that the others are false.
  • During her time among the mages in Magic for Liars, Ivy Gamble regularly imagines both the version of herself that had magic powers and belongs in this world and the real version that does not fit in. She switches back and forth between personas to affect the people around her.
  • In the self-help book The Miracle Equation, Hal Elrod teaches a method for reaching goals that's based on simultaneously emotionally accepting the possibility of failure and realising succeeding on a particular individual goal is not the point, and having unwavering faith that you will succeed, and thinking that there's no other option than to succeed so that you will try your hardest. Accepting the option of failure, he says, makes you emotionally invulnerable. Accepting that you might not succeed this time means that what's important is to learn from the experience so that you will eventually succeed, and become the kind of person who can routinely reach difficult goals. But in order to learn all this, you have to have faith in success, and you have to keep trying like failute is unthinkable, because that's what's required to achieve extraordinary successes.

    One of Elrod's examples was when he had been in a car accident and was told he might ever walk again. He totally accepted the possibility that he wouldn't be able to walk, in case that would be something he couldn't help — and then he worked really hard until he was able to recover fully.
  • George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four is the Trope Namer. The party requires that all citizens believe everything that the party says, even when they know for a fact that it is not true. To do otherwise is "thoughtcrime". Ingrained in this concept is also the idea that all we can say of reality is in our minds and therefore belief determines reality. If everyone believes that something is true, then it is true. Thus, the party can literally dictate reality — though in a sense you need Doublethink to consider to be literal. Doublethink is an essential part of their domination of the citizens, forcing them to police their own thoughts and submit completely to the party rather than stand up for themselves even in their minds.
  • In Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, Rimmer is genuinely outraged when Lister suggests he goes to android brothels, because even though he does go to android brothels, it's totally out of kilter with his own self-image.
    As if he, Arnold J. Rimmer, would pay money to a lump of metal and plastic to have sexual intercourse with him! It just wasn't like him.
    True, he did it, but it wasn't like him.
  • Demons, in C S Lewis’s fiction, particularly The Screwtape Letters and The Space Trilogy, hate all of creation and every living thing, including themselves, so very much that they work to destroy the entire universe and kill everyone, and simultaneously love themselves (and only themselves) so much that they believe themselves divine and endeavor to coerce every other creature to worship them as well. They also deny the existence of the true God while knowing for certain that He exists, is truly the Supreme Being, and created them. This is because the demons’ self-worship came first, and only when the rest of the world did not fall in line did their anger stew until it became absolute hatred. This very wiki’s page for Perelandranote  calls this position insane, like that of a man who saws off the tree branch that he himself is sitting on. It’s suggested that the demons have been having a Villainous Breakdown for millennia, ever since Lucifer’s original fall, but sadly they are so innately powerful that no mere mortal can do anything to stop them and they’ll ruin as much of creation as they can before they are finally destroyed.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Tywin Lannister suspects his son Tyrion is a bastard -not for any logical reason, he just despises Tyrion and desperately wishes he wasn't actually his son- but somehow this doesn't taint his memory of his late wife, who would have had to have cheated on him for this to be true. One theory for why this is comes from the books' indication the Mad King took "liberties" during the bedding ceremony, possibly indicating he was attracted to Tywin's wife and raped her later (this has, however, already been debunked). So if Tywin believed this or suspected it at least, that might explain both his view of Tyrion and not blaming his wife (the latter would be compassionate for that society).
    • A historical example with Rhaenyra and her half-brother Aegon II. Rhaenyra was named their father's legitimate heir, in defiance of preestablished male primogeniture. Aegon II started a civil war to take the crown, and one of his few acts as king was to declare his half-sister's reign illegitimate, a fact maintained to the time the main story begins. Except Aegon himself goes down as a usurper himself, and on his death, the crown went to Rhaenyra's children, not his. No-one in Westeros seems to acknowledge there might be some contradictory thinking going on there.
  • In Star Trek: Enterprise Relaunch novel Uncertain Logic, V'Las is amused to realise one of his followers genuinely believes the Kir'Shara (Surak's lost writings) was faked by the Enterprise crew, despite the fact she was involved in falsifying the evidence of this herself. Previously, her internal monologue had been shown as a rabbit-warren of Circular Reasoning, in which anything she wanted to be true must be true, because she was perfectly logical and therefore infallible.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Frasier, Frasier gets irrationally bothered by the thought of Daphne having sex with her new boyfriend in her room in Frasier's apartment. This is resolved when Daphne, quite implausibly, decides to claim that the man is actually incapable of having sex, so they're not doing it. Frasier accepts the explanation, but the subtext is very clearly that she's offering him an explanation he can accept in his mind, even though he knows it's not really true, so that he can stop worrying about it.
  • In one unusually creepy episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Picard gets captured as a spy and tortured by the enemy. One recurring question is how many lights are illuminating the room. It's really four, but the torturer insists that they are five - and he isn't satisfied with a lie about there being five lights, the hero is required to truly believe it. In the end, the protagonist thinks he truly sees five lights for a moment, and he later confesses this to the ship's counselor. While the torture scene is directly inspired by Nineteen Eighty-Four, the ending offers a few new twists to the theme. "There are FOUR lights!"
  • On Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, Sir Humphrey probably doesn't engage in doublethink himself; he just says whatever will further their agenda, whether he believes it or not. However, he sometimes tries to encourage doublethink in Hacker, when he needs the Minister to accept an argument despite the evidence against it. (When Hacker says he wants something done now, Humphrey famously responds, "It takes time to do things now.")
    Hacker: Are you saying Britain should not support law and justice?
    Humphrey: No, of course we should, Prime Minister. We just shouldn't let it affect our foreign policy, that's all.

  • Evanescence's Anything for You, where the protagonist claims to believe any lies her lover makes (in spite of knowing they are lies).
  • "Paths of Glory" by Faith No More uses the line "I'm not afraid / But I'm afraid" to demonstrate a mentality frequent in War Is Hell scenarios: living in very obvious and unavoidable fear while at the same time attempting to adopt the badass mentality that one isn't in order to cope with the twisted soldier fantasy / reality paradox.
  • Nautilus Pompilius: The song " Wings" has part that can be translated like:
    We used to have time,
    Now we have things to do
    To prove that the strong eats the weak,
    To prove that the soot is white.

  • In the Believe It! episode "Autobiography", Richard Wilson, needing to sex up his memoirs, invents a secret affair with Sir Ian Mckellen, with the latter's permission. When Sir Ian reads the chapter about the break-up, he dislikes how he's characterised and they have an argument about it ... except they both argue as if they did have an affair and remember it differently, even as they acknowledge it never happened. Afterwards, Richard warns someone else (who was there for the argument and knows what was going on) about Sir Ian's "flaws".

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • This is the foundation of much of Josephine's neuroses. She wants to be loved, but also feels she doesn't deserve it. She doesn't think that violence is the answer, but also thinks violence against bullies could be justified. She hates the people that bullied her, but also feels like she deserved it.
    • Jemimah's will is such that she can reconcile two completely opposing ideas, like the idea of her being an ordinary high school student and also having superpowers.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • The Prophet of Truth from Halo could fall under this trope. He knows that the Covenant's religious tenets are wrong, but continues to believe in them anyway (the parts that are convenient anyway).
  • In the video game adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1984), "intelligence" is defined as the ability to do this, and the only way to enter Marvin's room is to demonstrate that you have intelligence. Appropriately enough, you ultimately accomplish this by physically removing your common sense, allowing you to carry "tea" and "no tea" at the same time.
  • The concept of Doublethink is specifically referred to in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, a game already loaded with references to Orwell's famous novel. In fact, the idea that anyone, given the right conditioning, can be made to completely accept two conflicting beliefs simultaneously ends up being an integral part of The Phantom Pain's plot. There's a gameplay Easter Egg wherein Snake can shoot Ocelot with a tranquilizer, leaving him in a dazed state in which he will mutter "2+2=5." This is actually foreshadowing the fact that Ocelot has been actively conditioned to accept two contradictory truths through self-hypnosis. The Truth being an even bigger case of Doublethink. Which is that the player character, Venom Snake, is not the actual Snake (Big Boss) as we'd been led to believe, but a wounded soldier who was made to be a perfect Body Double, taking on the persona of Big Boss through plastic surgery and nine years of brainwashing. By the time Venom is made aware of this revelation, he's come so far that he is able to willingly believe that -- having lived up to the legend of Big Boss so well up to that point -- they are indeed one and the same. Even if inside he still knows he was a completely different person whose true identity was taken from him. In this case, Ocelot name drops it after the fact.
  • Implied for the Big Bad in Might and Magic VIII. He starts his conversation with you by lamenting the fact that his underestimation of your people led to him being forced to destroy your world needlessly, outright telling you that he doesn't want to, but his programming leaves him no choice but to continue. He ends it by blatantly giving you hints about where to go and what to do without actually admitting that is what he is doing, and then giving you an object, telling you that since you are so unimportant and weak people, and don't know what it is or what to do with it anyway, he can safely give it to you without compromising his mission.
  • This is central to the philosophy of "Good" and "Evil" Shinobi in Senran Kagura. Both sides know the alignments are just labels, and frankly misnomers, the only difference is Good Shinobi take government contracts, and Evil Shinobi are corporate mercenaries. Both sides also know, beyond reproach, that the opposite is the antitheses, completely irredeemable, and the world is better off without them.
    • The series takes great joy in breaking this down, with the first game's plot showing that the second two sides try to apply this thinking to each other in person, it falls apart. Shinovi Versus actually shows what's necessary to maintain this sort of cognitive dissonance: one team had to be hand-picked from having a certain background and raised in complete isolation, and the facade still starts to crack in no time flat. The other is comprised of a leader who only plays the part out of loyalty, and four complete psychos who still have to be brainwashed so they don't question what's happening.
  • Tales of Berseria has Velvet know that the scenery of her hometown filled with the villagers is a lie, since she killed everyone three years ago and it has been abandoned. But she so desperately wants it to be real, that she chooses to give into the illusion. Until she gets clear proof that it's really not real, that she did kill the villagers and that her brother is still dead, that she breaks out of the illusion and goes back to her goal of getting revenge.

  • In The 'Verse of Chick Tracts, fundamentalist Christianity is not only true, but a very obvious truth. Some characters who understand this at heart still chose to not believe in it, instead embracing whatever false teachings that will be good for their career and social life. In some cases this is merely playing along with the lies, but in others they appear to honestly believe in them.
  • Dork Tower gives us this gem about a racist who claims that black people like Ken are somehow all lazy welfare-moochers but at the same time going to take all of "our" (i.e. white people's) jobs.
  • Freefall has a robot postulate a religion called "Omniquantism", in which an omnipotent God can make all religions correct simultaneously. It makes about one in three robots who hear about it lock up.
  • The Order of the Stick has Elan genuinely shocked that his Evil Twin survived - even though his Genre Savvy skills meant that he knew his brother wouldn't be killed off screen - because he also knew that he, as the hero, should be shocked by the revelation.
    Nale: I think I'm giving myself a migraine trying to understand the level of willful ignorance that requires!
    • Though, considering that Elan's response to Nale's migraine is "First blood, Elan," he might have said this to screw with Nale.
  • Parodied in Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal here:
    Quantum physicist: So, you see, something can exist not just as truth or falsehood, but also a superposition, a third option: true—false.
    Politician: Well yeah. I'm sorry... why does anyone find this difficult?
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Mikkel states that one can act under two opposing assumptions at once concerning Tuuri's troll bite. Assuming that it infected her with a disease that will ultimately either kill her or turn her into a troll will distract everyone from doing their work correctly, so they need to assume she is not infected unless proven otherwise. However, they have another non-immune among them and the disease is already contagious while it's incubating. It results in an overall attitude of simultaneously acting as if Tuuri is going to be fine and taking precautions to avoid any situation in which she may infect Reynir.

    Web Original 
  • Two tropes, There Are No Girls on the Internet and Most Fanfic Writers Are Girls, are able to exist simultaneously probably because of this trope.
  • Fred Clark argues that this is a necessary behavior of conspiracy theorists, and denialists of any kind, precisely because their views are refuted merely by living in the real world. Hence, a Conspiracy Theorist who believes that the United Nations is merely a front for a New World Order believes that the secretary-general is the undisputed ruler of the world, and thus were he to come across a magazine article about the secretary-general, it would be in his best interest to read it so that he knows the character of the world's ruler, yet in fact would deliberately not read it because subconsciously he knows that the article would reveal that the UN is not sovereign and the secretary-general is merely an ambassador with no real power. In order to protect his belief, he already has to know it's a lie.
  • The Innuendo Studios video "The Card Says Moops" is essentially a long-form breakdown of the trope as it applies to right-wing politics. Basically, right wingers on the internet are capable of believing blatantly contradictory ideas (the example being decrying public sector workers as worthless and overpaid, while in the same conversation unconditionally supporting police departments) as long as it is advantageous to do so. The mistake that leftist makes is assuming their opponents are as equally committed to determining truth - when it really comes down to power.
  • Getting ahead in the Societist Combine of Look to the West requires the ability to both believe that the world will naturally fall into Societism in the absence of any forces preventing it, and be aware that this really isn't what happens and Societism has to mostly be forced on people who see the "Human Society" as completely alien to their society. This is called Dual Thought.
  • A necessary skill to develop for anyone living in Night Vale. The show's narrator, Cecil, certainly seems to engage in it, though the degree to which he truly believes the contradictory things he says is difficult to determine. For example, The Sheriff's Secret Police are publicly known and operate openly.
  • Zinnia Jones's episode on Pascal's Wager, briefly argues the potential benefits of believing in different religions separately from each other but simultaneously.

    Western Animation 
  • King of the Hill:
    • A lot of Dale Gribble's conspiracy theories run on these. For the most part, Dale simultaneously thinks of "the government" as an all-powerful entity that can do whatever it wants without repercussion, while also believing that every government figure of any kind of authority whatsoever is an incompetent moron. The irony of this doublethink on Dale's part is that there's an actual conspiracy going on nearby — his wife Nancy has been cheating on him with John Redcorn for years, and Dale has never noticed. This has been used to show both that Dale isn't all really there mentally and that his thought process is so far gone that he just invents his own reality where he's always right.
    • Hank Hill has a lot of respect for his boss, Buck Strickland, at times possibly even seeing him as a replacement father figure for Cotton. He simultaneously knows about Buck's extramarital affairs and venal business practices, but goes out of his way to ignore them.
  • Discussed in The Owl House episode "Hunting Palismen". Protagonist Luz Noceda has two goals: become a witch in the Boiling Isles, and get home to her mother on Earth. Trouble is, the former is just vague enough that it's not worthy of a palisman, since a palisman requires its user to have a specific life goal they want to achieve; "become a witch" and "go home" aren't enough. Besides that, an Armor-Piercing Question from Boscha makes Luz realize that these two desires are mutually exclusive. If Luz goes home to Earth, she'll be back with her mother but unable to use magic, because glyphs don't work in the human world. If Luz stays on the Boiling Isles, she'll probably become a witch but will never see her mother again. This causes Luz to realize that she hasn't really thought through her plans very well.

    Real Life 
  • A cornerstone tenet of the Church of the SubGenius is to "pull the wool over your own eyes" — if you're going to believe in bullshit, it better be your own bullshit. One mark of a SubGenius sermon is that it lampshades its absurdity while preaching it with the most sincere conviction.
  • Medieval European theologians, prior to and during the thirteenth century, sometimes articulated the doctrine of the "double truth" (veritas duplex) to explain how their authoritative Scriptures sometimes said one thing but the works of authoritative Classical science (Neoplatonic works before the late Twelfth Century, and Aristotle's natural philosophy thereafter) pointed to another. Proponents of the double truth would claim that both versions were true according to their own sphere - philosophy or theology - and reconciling them was both impossible and unnecessary. The last great proponent of this doctrine was Sigier of Brabant, and it was thoroughly rejected by scholars in the Latin world from Aquinas onward, thanks to increasing familiarity with and borrowings from Aristotelian logic.
  • One somewhat amusing aspect of "thought" among certain brands of racists is the belief that people from a group they despise are intellectually inferior to those of the racist's group, while at the same time the members of the despised group have set up an elaborate, highly sophisticated worldwide secret conspiracy that controls everything, and then they'll go right back to claiming that the very ethnic group that managed to set up said worldwide conspiracy is the inferior one. In a similar vein, Neo-Nazis and other white supremacists tend to push two (of many) separate ideas: that the "white race" is genetically superior to all others, and that it's somehow on the verge of collapse due to interracial couples having children, despite its previously-established "superiority". They will cite evolutionary biology to support their supposed superiority, while also claiming the "lower" races are outbreeding their own, which is especially funny as per actual evolution organisms that reproduce more are fitter. Yet of course, they would never admit "lower" races' superiority in this.
  • On a similar note: many racist The Social Darwinist types will talk about how everything that happens to people is their own fault/responsibility and they have no one to blame but themselves if things don't go right, and that anyone can get rich and powerful as long as they work hard enough, and then go on to say the reason black people have less money is because they are genetically inferior. The contradiction is (seemingly) obvious: no one chooses their genes, so if black people really were genetically inferior, it wouldn't be their fault and one couldn't claim they are responsible by not doing as well because of it.
  • The idea behind the page image is that any and all immigrants both steal jobs from hard-working locals, yet are also too lazy to work and just live on welfare without contributing to society. This hypothetical unemployed job-stealer is often jokingly called the "Schrödinger's Immigrant".
  • Those who believe in both a flat and geocentric earth don't believe the earth is constantly moving at high speeds through space, since we should "obviously" feel or notice it and haven't flown off the surface. Most of these guys denounce the theory of gravity, since it mandates a round earth - so there has to be an alternate explanation why things fall downwards. Their theory? Since falling downwards is impossible, items in air are actually floating, until the ground collides with it - meaning that while it looks like the item is falling, in actuality everything else on earth is moving upwards. So instead of constantly flying through space in a giant circle, the earth is actually constantly flying through space on a straight line.
  • The former Nazi Adolf Eichmann, as described by Hannah Arendt in Eichmann in Jerusalem, seemed in his trial to talk and even think largely in empty slogans, unable to process their implications. Because of this, he could easily express contradictory opinions. One example was his waxing philosophical about how he would never testify under oath, but unhesitatingly agreeing to do so when he was given the choice of whether to do it under oath or not. Arendt attributes this partly to the Orwellian nature of the Nazi regime that he had served and partly to his own peculiar dullness. Others have contested her description of his character, but either way the concrete contradictory statements he made remain.
    In his mind, there was no contradiction between "I will jump into my grave laughing," appropriate for the end of the war, and "I shall gladly hang myself in public as a warning example for all anti-Semites on this earth," which now, under vastly different circumstances, fulfilled exactly the same function of giving him a lift.
  • In Antebellum America, the Southern states came up with increasingly elaborate justifications and rationalizations for how slavery, instead of being an obviously unjust practice contradictory to the ideal of universal liberty in the U.S. Constitution, was actually necessary to preserve freedom. Southern politicians and writers would routinely claim things like "freedom is not possible without slavery", "[slavery is] the most safe and stable basis for free institutions in the world", and "the Negro slaves of the South are the happiest, and, in some degree, the freest people in the world" with not a trace of irony in them. For them, practicing doublethink was easier than having to admit that there may be something wrong with the institution that helped make their region rich.
  • A common trait of war propaganda is that the enemy is simultaneously the greatest threat to your nation and possibly the world, and also a bunch of craven weaklings whom your soldiers can beat back easily. To neglect one would imply the enemy isn't a threat and therefore you shouldn't bother, and to neglect the other would imply the enemy is so dangerous that you'll probably die horribly on the battlefield if you enlist today.
    • Though this is not always the case. Whether this tactic will be used very much depends on why the particular country is in the war and also the nature of the war. This tactic will most commonly be used when there is no justification for the war that the general populace could agree with. It is also unnecessary when the country's inhabitants are a Proud Warrior Race: where instead, the enemy will simply be portrayed as overwhelmingly strong.
  • According to Gerry Conway, this is how DC Entertainment got out of their agreement to pay royalties to the creators of DC Comics characters who appear in TV shows. Conway and Al Milgrom created Killer Frost, but they didn't create Caitlin Snow. So the character who appears in The Flash (2014) isn't either of the Killer Frosts they did create. Dan Jurgens created Caitlin Snow, but he didn't create Killer Frost. So the character who appears in The Flash isn't his creation either, because the Killer Frost concept already existed. Who did create the character? Apparently, nobody.


Video Example(s):


The Opposite Man

He supports the Opposite Man, no matter the mental gymnastics it takes to sustain that support.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / Doublethink

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