slacktivist on self-deception

I’ve been reading slactivist’s ongoing review of Left Behind for some time now, both because it’s fun to read his ascerbic comments on the non-quality of the writing and because I enjoy finding out what’s in the book without having to endure slogging through it myself. The latest installment, however, opens with a particularly trenchant analogy.

Imagine trying to convince yourself that curling and cricket were more popular in the U.S. than baseball and (American) football.

But that’s not the good part.

He continues:

It wouldn’t be easy. You’d have to ignore massive evidence to the contrary while also overlooking the lack of any supporting evidence. Every time you walked down the street, you’d have to come up with some explanation or evasion for all those people you saw in baseball caps and football jerseys as well as for all the people you didn’t see in licensed apparel for cricket and curling teams. You could never watch Sports Center on ESPN. You could never pick up a newspaper or even walk near a newsstand. But your best efforts to shield yourself from all of that evidence could never be 100-percent effective (or 100-percent unconscious), so you’d also have to concoct increasingly elaborate conspiracy theories about why so many people pretended to follow football and baseball while millions of others apparently disguised their passion for curling and cricket.

That would be a lot of work. It would be difficult to do that much work without it being at least somewhat deliberate. This is the problem with any extensive self-deception — part of your self is necessarily engaged in the act of deceiving and is therefore aware of and immune to it.

Wow. When you think about it, that explains so many human behaviors that we see all the time. Brilliant!

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