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 Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)

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Join date : 2010-06-29

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PostSubject: Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)   Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) Empty6/6/2012, 9:37 am

Mistakes Were Made (but not by me), Why We justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, by Carol Taylor and Elliot Aronson is book about cognitive dissonance and self delusion.

As I've read the book, my OBC association, the stories told on this forum, and my own personal encounters with this in real life floated through memory. Experience which contradicts our beliefs has potential to free us from those beliefs, but it seldom does. Instead the mind resolves the painful cognitive dissonance with a variety of mechanisms to maintain and deepen those beliefs by "ignoring" (deliberate ignorance I suppose) reality and overriding angst about ethical misbehavior.

We also get sucked into ethical conflicts by believing we are objective rather than doubting our objectivity, especially when we know there are conflicting interests in our mind that are also influencing and steering us.

The collective participation of the German population in the ghastly machinery of the Holocaust as they rationalized their individual behavior is an example of this book's premise on the level of a society, though the book doesn't use this example.

The books is a somewhat stark reminder of how vulnerable we are to justifying our own irrationality and it's cruelty rather than dealing with uncomfortable awareness of it It's surprising we behave as well as we do. There is a basis in that surprise for hope.

This book is a bit depressing as the ubiquitous nature of this aspect of the mind's response to reality sets in. But I also can observe even here in this forum that some once caught in this net of self-deception have managed to free themselves. Even some with very long entanglements have managed to accept themselves and reality as they found it rather than through the distorting lens of the teaching/teacher they wanted to believe. So there is potential for progress, even though it is unlikely that most will find it.

Christendom said the road to reality was straight and narrow, but didn't explain that it was also likely to be painful -- at least in the short term. Acceptance of that short term pain is probably an integral part of the path.

The book is more interesting for the thought it provokes than for the writing which is reasonably good, but not remarkably so. It's fairly short, and not a scholarly discussion of the research behind it.
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