Social psychologist Carol Tavris, coauthor with Elliot Aronson of Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me), gives a superb explanation of cognitive dissonance in this Point of Inquiry podcast. She describes its application to contemporary issues facing society, including politics and religion.
If you are familiar with Point of Inquiry, you will know that they address topics from a secular perspective, and so you might be skeptical of this podcast. Don't be! Tavris sticks to science, and she points out that the processes that encourage cognitive dissonance are encountered by all people, including scientists themselves. She also gives excellent advice about how best to deal with people whose dissonance blinds them to the answer they seek.
All in all, a fine interview, useful for teachers and students in introduction to psychology, social psychology, psychology of religion, and critical thinking classes.