Fooling Ourselves: Self-Deception in Politics, Religion, and Terrorism

Fooling Ourselves: Self-Deception in Politics, Religion, and Terrorism

Fooling Ourselves: Self-Deception in Politics, Religion, and Terrorism

Fooling Ourselves: Self-Deception in Politics, Religion, and Terrorism

Synopsis

Self-deception occurs because we often see the world the way we would like it to be, rather than the way it is. Our brains so long for things the way we want them, we might not even be aware we are fooling ourselves, explains author Harry Triandis, a widely known Professor Emeritus of Psychology. Across cultures and around the world, self-deception is a phenomenon that has subtle and profound effects on everyday life, explains Triandis, also former president of the International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology. In this work, he not only explains how and why self-deceptions occur in three areas - politics, religion, and terrorism - but also how to recognize and reduce the frequency of fooling ourselves.

Excerpt

Psychology is to this millennium what theology was to the previous millennium as an “engine of change.” The field of psychology is going through rapid and radical alterations to match the changing society in which psychology is applied. While there is some disagreement about the paradigm shift, there is almost universal agreement that profound changes are taking place in the field of psychology. The books in this series have been selected to help chart the progress of psychology as a discipline going through these changes. To the extent the changes are being mediated by controversy, this series will be controversial. In any case, the emphasis is on applications of psychology to particular social problems. Some of the social problems addressed in the series have included identity issues, moral development, ethical thinking, self-representation, culturally competent therapy, and hostage trauma.

This book, Fooling Ourselves, fits very well in this series because it is focused on basic psychological truths that we accept without explanation. These statements of “truth” are seldom challenged, and if you are asked to defend yourself on one of these belief statements you will likely respond, “I don’t know why it is true. It just is!” and … you will become angry. It is difficult to accept the degree to which our basic assumptions are arbitrary and not subject to empirical verification. We are much more vulnerable to “fooling ourselves” than we would like to believe. Using the “test of reasonable opposites,” you will quickly learn that the opposite of what you have always believed is just as reasonable as what you have believed. Of course, our thinking is so fuzzy it is usually hard to identify the opposites, but once you have done so you will quickly see how that opposite is also . . .

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