Self-Deception: Can we lie to ourselves?


What does it mean to lie? In a strict sense, lying means relating a falsehood that one knows on some level to be just that — false. We are not always honest with ourselves, and our brains have many ways to deceive themselves. We are frequently convinced, often quite strongly of things simply not true, tenaciously holding some falsehoods as self-evident truths.

It seems paradoxical to be able to believe what we know to be false, so how then may it be possible to fool ourselves in that manner and still be aware, at least intellectually, that we are doing so?

First, a bit of what it means to ‘know’ something. Knowledge at it’s most basic level involves both awareness of an idea, or probable fact, and its acceptance.

Knowledge involves belief that something is the case or that something is not, that belief needed to fully grasp the intricacies and nuances of what is known, but we are not all the way there yet. We have a couple more steps to go…

To know something, we must not only be informed of a thing and believe it to be the case, but it must actually conform to existing facts — it must be true. Not just this, but there must be some grounds for believing it, and convincing ourselves that we have knowledge, and not just a lucky guess on our part.

Strictly speaking, you can’t really know something that’s false, and you can’t truthfully say you know something without good grounds…

…So,

There must be some information available, usually gained by our senses, by which we obtain those grounds and the justification for the item of knowledge we possess — some channel of information must necessarily and sufficiently complete the picture, so that we can confidently think that we know something.

Whether these grounds come from our own personal sensory experience, often enhanced by our instruments and other artifacts, secondhand or further removed testimony given by others (usually needing some kinds of grounding itself, like real and relevant expertise of the source giving the testimony…) and possibly other channels of information as well, we must have evidence, and it must be strong enough to justify the claim we accept.

*Ahem*

We surely deceive ourselves, convince ourselves of probable falsehoods and we often hold conflicting beliefs by walling them off from each other — and even using processes of doublethink and rationalization to entertain them without the discomfort we often experience when both or all come to our conscious awareness at the same time.

It’s possible to have a lack of confidence in one’s knowledge, the niggling doubt that sometimes happens to those of us who hold all knowledge to be subject to correction with further and better grounds to retain, reject or amend what we know at any given time.

With doublethink, rationalization, logical fallacies and belief in belief — believing for the sake of belief itself as a virtue — we may hold at least as partially true what we intellectually know (and thus to an extent accept) to be false, and move from compartmentalizing our accepted and conflicting claims into the territory of the pious fraud, further into those of the pathological liar and victims of False memory syndrome

…as well as when we willfully sacrifice the value of reason and evidence in favor of what feels good to us, rather than the uncomfortable realities we are often forced to deal with in daily life.

Caturday’s Astronomy Pix for October 21-27, 2012


Nederlands: Paardenkopnevel - NASA/Stsci - htt...

Nederlands: Paardenkopnevel – NASA/Stsci – http://www.stsci.edu/institute/Copyright (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Horsehead Nebula

A Space Shuttle on the Streets of Los Angeles

Mammatus Clouds Over Saskatchewan

NGC 206 and the Star Clouds of Andromeda

The Medusa Nebula

Reflection Nebula vdB1

A Halo for NGC 6164

English: The Space Shuttle Atlantis atop the S...

English: The Space Shuttle Atlantis atop the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) returns to the Kennedy Space Center after a ten month refurbishment. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Caturday’s Astronomy Pix is a weekly installment, published each weekend with links to each daily entry on NASA’s website Astronomy Picture of the Day. I hope you enjoy looking at these often breathtaking images as much as I do.

 

Fractals of the Week: Fleeing the Fractious Furor of Hurricane Sandy


This week, I’ll post some images not before published on this site, and repost here two from a previous fractal entry that was (stupid me) mistakenly and permanently sent to the great blog archive beyond while emptying out my unused drafts files on this site’s dashboard.

Apologies to all those who commented on the deleted post, titled “Split & Paint the Sky.” We’re getting ready for a possible visit by hurricane Sandy, so any posting on this site from now till later next week is open to doubt. I’ll post when I’m able to though, and I hope all of you also in the storm’s path stay safe and well.

Good fractaling!

Beset by Light

Spiraling Spheres

Cthulhu by Needle-Eye

Seahorse in Bubbles

Paint the Sky…

Split

All images in this post are original works by the author, and are copyright 2012 Troy Loy