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Arwen’s review of Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts
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Jun 11, 2012 10:35AM
Nice review! The "foolish belief" of the title refers to certainty, then, as opposed to the faith you reference at the end?
(Look, I'm talking books with you! On teh Goodreads!)
Jun 11, 2012 11:14AM
Well, yes, I believe the authors would say so on one level, although on another they do not interrogate their own beliefs and biases in the course of the book (other than a particularly weak-sauce one between the author and her grown up child).
They're talking about clear dissonances - prosecutors who cannot accept that they've put the wrong guy away even in light of DNA evidence exonerating him, lack of WMD in Iraq and some people's insistence they were right even as their reasons fall out from under them.
However, they're not terribly great at nuanced areas where it's less clear cut. They prove with abandon that if you think another person is a shit-head you'll probably see their positive actions as suspicious and conversely if you see another person as a saint you'll dismiss or excuse their negative actions. They show that such framing can make or break our relationships. But they hide from the tipping point, the murky waters where true vision collides with self-justification and cognitive bias. There's hand waving about where foolish beliefs start, and I think it's because the authors have cultural and personal preferences they're not actively copping to.
For example, I have cognitive bias against people who are violent to their partners that says something like "RUN AWAY FROM SUPER BAD THING." And most would agree with me. Further, I have seen that faith in the idea that "My violent partner will change" is the way to trap yourself in pain. But a counterexample probably does exist somewhere; I'd imagine military families may have examples of violence from a veteran that could be situational, and that faith in his/her ability to heal is instrumental in the service-person turning their abuse around.
Biases and biases, right? Where's the foolish belief, where's the faith to keep going on? All I can say is when you have your faith, snug doubt in beside it. I didn't see them snugging doubt in.
But of course, that would be problematic for them, since assured speech sells books.
Jun 11, 2012 11:40AM
( Also I have a further basic value in my example of spousal violence. That "individual protection from mental and physical harm" > "duty" or "role" when it comes to relationships. Clearly, I am a liberal. That I believe my value is morally and ethically correct is also bias. I don't use doubt in my own life, but doubt does stay my mouth and make me listen really really actively when presented with someone who thinks duty is the greater value. )
Jun 12, 2012 05:34AM
[I just love it that you two are screeding on Teh Goodreads.]
(last edited Jun 12, 2012 04:13PM)
Jun 12, 2012 04:12PM
Phantom wrote: "[I just love it that you two are screeding on Teh Goodreads.]"
[I know, right? I find this way more amusing than I should!][Of course, I'd like it even better if I had time to give her a good screeding in return, but the run-up to Book Day has me busy.]
Jun 12, 2012 05:02PM
[I want to whisper in square brackets, too.]
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