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20151212 The folly of fools

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MAIN IDEA:

Evolution equipped humans as well as many other animals with ability to conduct deception and self-deception activities in such way that these distortions of reality actually become highly effective tool in struggle for survival. It allows getting somebody for a dinner and/or avoiding becoming the dinner for somebody in the wild. It also allows smoothing human relations within family, while obtaining success in mating and winning competition for resources against other groups and individuals. It also plays not a small part in achieving group cohesiveness. From author experience with social sciences establishment in US, it is clear that it is not a small help in obtaining grants, tenure, and other basic needs of professorial existence.

DETAILS:

CHAFFER 1 – The Evolutionary Logic of Self-Deception: THE EVOLUTION OF SELF-DECEPTION; DECEPTION IS EVERYWHERE; WHAT IS SELF-DECEPTION? DETECTING DECEPTION IN HUMANS VIA COGNIITVE LOAD; SELF-DECEFFION IS OLDER THAN LANGUAGE; NINE CATEGORIES OF SELF-DECEFFION; THE HALLMARKS OF SELF-DECEPTION

Here author establishes the need and main logic of self-deception: the need comes from the fact that we do not perceive reality directly, but rather build it into some coherent picture inside of our brain by using bits and pieces of information collected by our senses greatly supplemented by previous experiences, general views and believes. So in order to use perceived reality effectively we need to believe that it is the same as actual reality, which is impossible without self-deception. Another role of self-deception is to be a tool for effective deception of other, which is difficult to do if one does not believe own lies. This is connected to idea of cognitive overload. If one believes what he says he does not have to remember multiple versions of this and, even more difficult, remember which version activate in various circumstances. Author discusses 9 categories of self-deception and traces its evolutionary roots.

CHAFFER 2 – Deception in Nature: THE COEVOLUTIONARY STRUGGLE BETWEEN DECEIVER AND DECEIVED; FREQUENCY-DEPENDENT SELECFION IN BUTTTERFLIES; AN EPIC COEVOLUTIONARY STRUGGLE; INTEIIIGENCE AND DECEPTION; FEMALE MIMICS; FALSE ALARM CALLS; CAMOUFLAGE; DEATH AND NEAR-DEATH ACTS; RANDOMNESS AS A STRATEGY; DECEPTION MAY INDUCE ANGER; ANIMALS MAY BE CONSCIOUS OF DECEPTION; DECEPTION AS AN EVOLUTIONARY GAME; A DEEPER THEORY OF DECEPTION

Here author discusses use of deception in nature providing some vivid examples from the world of wild animals and other living things. He also discusses deception as part of co-evolutionary struggles between multiple species.

CHAPTER 3 – Neurophysiology and Levels of Imposed Self-Deception: THE NEUROPHYSIOLOGY OF CONSCIOUS KNOWLEDGE; THE NEUROPHYSIOLOGY OF THOUGHT SUPPRESSION; THE IRONY OF TRYING TO SUPPRESS ONE’S THOUGHTS; IMPROVING DECEPTION THROUGH NEURAL INHIBITION; UNCONSCIOUS SELF-RECOGNITION SHOWS SELF-DECEPTION; CAN ONE HALF OF THE BRAIN HIDE FROM THE OTHER? IMPOSED SELF-DECEPTION; IMPLICIT VERSUS EXPLICIT SELF-ESTEEM; FALSE CONFESSIONS, TORTURE, AND FLATTERY; FALSE MEMORIES OF CHILD ABUSE;

IS SELF-DECEPTION THE PSYCHE’S IMMUNE SYSTEM? THE PLACEBO EFFECT

In this chapter author looks at contemporary technology that allowed analyzing activities of different parts of brain during process of thinking. Result was the mapping of brain to specific activities and processes including various forms of deception. Another interesting point here is the role of deception in interaction between conscious and unconscious parts of the brain. Author analyzes role of self-deception in building of self-esteem, use of flattery, false memories, placebo effect, and other similar phenomenon. One important idea here is that self-deception is used as psyche immune system, hiding harsh reality from conscious mind.

CHAFFER 4 – Self-Deception in the Family–and the Split Self: PARENT/OFFSPRING CONFLICT; CASES OF EXTREME ABUSE; GENOMIC IMPRINTING; INTERNAL CONFLICT FROM OPPOSITELY IMPRINTED GENES; PARENTAL MANIPULATION AND IMPRINTING; THE EFFECT OF MARITAL CONFLICT ON GENETIC CONFLICT; IMPRITING AND SELF-DECEPTION; DECEPTION IN CHILDREN; PARENTAL EFFECTS ON CHILDREN’S DECEPTION

This chapter is about deception between parents and children and its role in assuring evolutionary fitness of the species. Humans need a long-term care provided to them by adults in order to achieve such level of maturity when they could survive, which creates necessity of maintaining complex relationships. The deception and self-deception are tools that are necessary to maintain this relationship. Moreover each individual actually split into multiple selves with sometimes-conflicting interests for example conflict between survival of self and survival of children in circumstances of extreme resource limitations.

CHAFFER 5 – Deceit, Self-Deception, and Sex: WHY SEX? TWO SEXES–TWO COEVOLVING SPECIES; DECEPTION AND SELF-DECEPTION AT COURTSHIP WHOSE BABY IS IT? MALE RESPONSE TO FEMALE INFIDELITY; DECEIT AND A WOMAN’S MONTHLY CYCLE; MEN’S SELF-DECEIT ABOUT FEMALE INTEREST; MALE DENIAL OF HOMOSEXUAL TENDENCIES; IS SELF-DECEPTION GOOD OR BAD FOR MARRIAGE? THE APPEAL AND DANGER OF FANTASY; THE PAIN OF BETRAYAL

This is about role of deception and self-deception in sexual relationships including infidelity and betrayal. One very interesting point is that human routinely rewrite they own history and it could be used as predictor for the future of marriage. Those who use negative rewriting would not stay together in the future.

CHAFFER 6 – The Immunology of Self-Deception: THE IMMUNE SYSTEM IS EXPENSIVE; THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP; TRADE-OFFS WITH IMMUNITY; WRITING ABOUT TRAUMA IMPROVES IMMUNE FUNCTION; HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE EFFECTS OF DENIAL; POSITIVE AFFECT AND IMMUNE FUNCTION; THE EFFECTS OF MUSIC; POSITIVITY IN OLD AGE; AN IMMUNOLOGICAL THEORY OF HAPPINESS

This is another approach to self-deception as immunity mechanism protecting individuals against psychological stress. Author looks at comparison with regular immune system in terms of energy consumption, at the sleep as the part of immunological process, and the general lifestyle circumstances as easer protecting psyche such as marriage, or undermining it such as drags. He also discusses competition for resources between biological and psychological immune systems, technics of overcoming effects of stress such as writing and music, positivity of the old age, and finally presents immunological theory of happiness.

CHAFFER 7 – The Psychology of Self-Deception: AVOIDING SOME INFORMATION AND SEEKING OUT OTHER; BIASED ENCODING AND INTERPRETATION OF INFORMATION; BIASED MEMORY; RATIONALIZATION AND BIASED REPORTING; PREDICTING FUTURE FEELINGS; ARE ALL BIASES DUE TO SELF-DECEPTION? DENIAL AND PROJECTION; DENIAL IS SELF-REINFORCING; YOU’R AGGRESSION, MY SELF-DEFENSE; COGNITIVE DISSONANCE AND SELF-JUSTIFICATION; SOCIAL EFFECTS OF COGNITIVE DISSONANCE REDUCTION; COGNITIVE DISSONANCE IN MONKEYS AND YOUNG CHILDREN

This chapter is review of specific technics of self-deception, which basically comes down to various forms of information manipulation starting from selectivity of attention and memorization of inputs and all the way through rationalization of inconvenient facts. All this is often done with a specific purpose to decrease or even eliminate cognitive dissonance.

CHAFFER 8 – Self-Deception in Everyday Life: SEX DIFFERENCES IN OVERCONFIDENCE; METAPHORS IN THE STOCK MARKET; MANIPULATIVE METAPHORS IN LIFE; THE NAME-LETTER EFFECT; DECEIVING DOWN AND DUMMYING UP; FACEISM; SPAM AGAINST ANTI-SPAM; HUMOR, LAUGHTER, AND SELF-DECEPTION; DRUGS AND SELF-DECEPTION; VULNERABILITY TO MANIPULATION BY OTHERS; PROFESSIONAL CON ARTISTS; LIE-DETECTOR TESTS

This chapter looks at trivial use of self-deception in regular life starting with specifics of its use by opposite sexes, its use in professions with high levels of unpredictability, and various technics of verbal and visual shortcuts used to deceive oneself into believe of better understanding of the environment than is warranted by reality. Author also touches on secrets of con artists success and lie detector technology.

CHAPTER 9 – Self-Deception in Aviation and Space Disasters: AIR FLORIDA FLIGHT 90–DOOMED BY SELF-DECEPTION? DISASTER 37000 FEET ABOVE THE AMAZON; ELDAR TAKES COMMAND – AEROFLOT FLIGHT 593; SIMPLE PILOT ERROR–OR PILOT FATIGUE? ICE OVERPOWERS THE PILOTS; AIRLINES OVERPOWER THE FAA; THE US APPROACH TO SAFETY HELPS CAUSE 9/11; THE CHALLENGER DISASTER; THE COLUMBIA DISASTER; EGYPT AND EGYPTAIR DENY ALL; SAVED BY LACK OF SELF-DECEPTION?

This is somewhat curious application of author’s ideas to analysis of air disasters.

CHAPTER 10 – False Historical Narratives: THE US FALSE HISTORICAL NARRATIVE; CONTROL THROUGH SMALL WARS AND INSTALLED PROXIES; US HISTORY TEXTBOOKS; LARGER VIEW OF US HISTORY; THE REWRITING OF JAPANESE HISTORY; TURKEY’S HOLOCAUST DENIAL; A LAND WITHOUT PEOPLE FOR A PEOPLE WITHOUT LAND THE FOUNDING OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL; VOLUNTARY FLIGHT OR ETHNIC CLEANSING? ARAB DECEIT AND SELF-DECEPTION; CHRISTIAN ZIONISM; WHY FALSE HISTORICAL NARRATIVES?

This is demonstration of author’s great vulnerability to self-deception when he critics various historical evens firmly standing on his anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-Semitic political views typical for western academia formed to the high degree by communist propaganda of 1950s and 60s.

CHAFFER 11 – Self-Deception and War: CHIMPANZEE RAIDING -> HUMAN WARFARE; SELF-DECEPTION ENCOURAGES WARFARE; DEROGATION OF OTHERS -> FATAL OVERCONFIDENCE; THE 2003 US WAR ON IRAQ; CREATING KNOWLEDGE AND THEN WALLING IT OFF; CAN WARS BE WON THROUGH BOMBING? BOMBING TO ERADICATE HISTORY AND TO REINFORCE IT; CARNAGE IN GAZA; SELF-DECEPTION AND THE HISTORY OF WAR

This is continuation of the same only applied to wars. Probably the only interesting point here is that author claims impossibility of winning war from the air simultaneously pointing to exception of victory over Japan, which actually was achieved from the air. Somehow despite clearly recognizing this case author manages self-deceive himself into ignoring fact that experience demonstrate that only limited war with use of power severely restricted by “humanitarian” considerations failed and ignoring fact that war with one overriding consideration to achieve victory did not fail to deliver victory via exclusive use of airpower.

CHAPTER 12 – Religion and Self-Deception: COOPERATION WITHIN THE GROUP; RELIGION: A RECIPE FOR SELF-DECEPTION; RELIGION AND HEALTH; PARASITES AND RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY; WHY THE BIAS AGAINST WOMEN? POWER CORRUPTS; RELIGIONS IMPOSE MATING SYSTEMS; RELIGION PREACHES AGAINST SELF-DECEPTION; INTERCESSORY PRAYER – DOES IT WORK? RELIGION AND SUPPORT FOR SUICIDE ATTACKS; RELIGION -> SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS -> WARFARE

This part also has deep imprint of author religious views, which in this case is atheism, but it makes a lot more sense because his thesis of religion as self-deception use to increase group benefits seems to have a good factual foundation in history of all religious of all peoples including notorious cases of atheistic totalitarian states like Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

CHAPTER 13 – Self-Deception and the Structure of the Social Sciences: PRECEDENCE OF JUSTICE OVER TRUTH? SUCCESS OF SCIENCE IS BASED ON ANTI-SELF-DECEPTION DEVICES; THE MORE SOCIAL THE DISCIPLINE, THE MORE RETARDED ITS DEVELOPMENT; SELF-DECEPTION IN BIOLOGY; IS ECONOMICS A SCIENCE? CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY; PSYCHOLOGY; PSYCHOANALYSIS: SELF-DECEPTION IN THE STUDY OF SELF-DECEPT; SELF-DECEPTION DEFORMS DISCIPLINES

This is a charming look at area author’s expertise: social non-sciences such as economics, cultural anthropology, psychology, and even some PC that drive many approaches in biology.

CHAPTER 14 – Find Self-Deception in Our Own Lives: TO FIGHT ONE’S OWN SELF-DECEPTION OR NOT? A SERIES OF MINOR VICTORIES FOLLOWED BY A MAJOR DISASTER; SIGNALS OF UNDERLYING MENTAL SCREW-UPS; CORRECTING FOR OUR OWN BIASES; WHY ARE WE SO COMPULSIVE? THE VALUE OF BEING CONSCIOUS; THE DANGER OF FANTASY IN PROPAGATING DECEPTION; THE BENEFITS OF PRAYER AND MEDITATION; VALUE OF FRIENDS AND COUNSELORS; AN INVITATION TO SELF-DECEPTION AND PERSONAL DISASTER; A NEVER-ENDING EXTRAVAGANZA

In this final chapter author analyses his own live, various uses of self-deception and his struggle to discover and remove them. He also provides somewhat philosophical deliberation of whether one should fight self-deception and on value of being conscious. His final world is that deception and self-deception turns world into never ending extravaganza, which is fun to watch.

MY TAKE ON IT:

I view self-deception and deception in the same light as author as necessary tools of survival and procreation developed within process of evolution. Even now when we are pretty much overcame evolutionary pressures by obtaining reliable supplies of all necessities, it still plays a huge role in getting amounts of resources beyond necessities. In short one can obtain welfare check with little to none deception and self-deception, but university tenure, rich grants, and other perks could be achieved only by masters of this art. One thing that left me somewhat irritated is author’s blatant anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism, but this is something that should be expected from dedicated leftist close to black panthers, so it does not diminish logic and information provided in regard to subject matter in meaningful chapters, and actually provide a nice example of self-deception in political chapters.

 


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