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A functioning, robust democracy requires a healthy educated, participatory followership, and an educated, morally grounded leadership.

Chinua Achebe (1930-2013) Nigerian novelist, poet, and critic

Terrazas del Rodeo

How people can believe in their own lies

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4 months 6 days ago #1 by Editor
How self-deception allows people to lie

Self-deception can fool us into believing our own lies – and even make us more convincing.

The media today is full of people who have lived a lie.

There’s Elizabeth Holmes, the biotech entrepreneur, who in 2015 was declared the youngest and richest self-made female billionaire. She now faces 20 years in prison for fraud. Then there’s Anna Sorokin – aka Anna Delvey, who pretended to be a German heiress, and subsequently fleeced New York’s high society of hundreds of thousands of dollars. And Shimon Hayut, aka Simon Leviev – the so-called Tinder Swindler.

What marks all of these people is not just the lies they told others – but the lies they must have told themselves. They each believed their actions were somehow justifiable, and – against all odds – believed they would never be found out. Time and again, they personally seemed to deny reality – and dragged others into their scams.

You might hope that this kind of behaviour is a relatively rare phenomenon, restricted to a few extreme situations. But self-deception is incredibly common, and may have evolved to bring some personal benefits. We lie to ourselves to protect our self-images, which allows us to act immorally while maintaining a clear conscience. According to the very latest research, self-deception may have even evolved to help us to persuade others; if we start believing our own lies, it’s much easier to get other people to believe them, too.

This research might explain questionable behaviour in many areas of life – far beyond the headline-grabbing scams in recent years. By understanding the different factors contributing to self-deception, we can try to spot when it might be swaying our own decisions, and prevent these delusions from leading us astray.

www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20220525-how-self-deception-allows-people-to-lie

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