PDF Deception From Within

Free download. Book file PDF easily for everyone and every device. You can download and read online Deception From Within file PDF Book only if you are registered here. And also you can download or read online all Book PDF file that related with Deception From Within book. Happy reading Deception From Within Bookeveryone. Download file Free Book PDF Deception From Within at Complete PDF Library. This Book have some digital formats such us :paperbook, ebook, kindle, epub, fb2 and another formats. Here is The CompletePDF Book Library. It's free to register here to get Book file PDF Deception From Within Pocket Guide.

Blameworthiness goes further. Blameworthiness : An agent is blameworthy for an action or state only if that state or action is attributable to her she is not exempt from assessment and is not strongly excused and is not weakly excused. So, only if your action is attributable to you, and you have no excuses that justify the performance of it, is it appropriate for me to blame you. The kind of blameworthiness that I have in mind here is perhaps best thought of as a kind of liability. Footnote 16 These reactions include the Strawsonian reactive attitudes, such as resentment and the withholding of good will, but also things such as demands for compensation, material or otherwise.

What unites these reactions of holding to account is that they demand of the offending party a response, the appropriate response to which in turn is forgiveness. The simplest case of blaming someone in this sense is perhaps finding them blameworthy, demanding an apology and withholding good will until it is given. The appropriate response to a sincere apology is forgiveness and a repair of relations. The compensatory nature of the demands of accountability which are characteristic of this kind of blame thus distinguish it from punishment, which is retributive.

Footnote For Shoemaker and Watson, judgments of attributability are also grounds for aretaic, or characterological, assessments of agents. My use of the term is in accordance with their use in this respect. So, not only is attributability a logically necessary condition on blameworthiness, it is also in its own right typically grounds for a distinctive kind of assessment. This can be brought out in connection with the two different kinds of excuses. Since strong excuses work by undermining attributability itself, we should expect that when someone is strongly excused we find that there are no grounds for assessing him aretaically.

And this is what we find. If you step on my foot because you were pushed, you do not thereby disclose yourself to me. On the other hand, if you are merely weakly excused you might not be an appropriate target for blame, but I may nevertheless learn that you are clumsy. Footnote 18 Sometimes, in addition to blocking the step from attributability to blameworthiness, a weak excuse will also provide grounds for a countervailing aretaic assessment. If I learn that you pushed me to save me from being hit by oncoming traffic, not only are you excused by demonstrating that the quality of your will was not malicious, you show yourself to be acting virtuously, in a way that merits praise.

I will return to this function of weak excuses below. I hope that it is reasonably clear how, according to my view of self-deception, self-deceivers are attributability-responsible for their self-deception, and that they are typically at least also blameworthy. The self-deceiver seems to violate an epistemic norm, and so we can begin anew an inquiry parallel to the questions asked when we inquired about whether you were blameworthy for stepping on my foot.

Let us consider A. A has somehow come to the belief that his work is not flimsy. But it is manifest that this is not the case. He persists in his fantasy nevertheless. According to my view, this is because he omits to do what is necessary to bring his belief in line with the available evidence because he has a desire that his work not be flimsy. A is not exempt. In general, it seems self-deceivers are not exempt; no creature without the capacities to be a candidate for moral assessment generally could be the subject of self-deception.

Is A strongly excused? Of course, it is possible for someone very much like A to act, and think, and speak like A and yet to be strongly excused. If A were being controlled remotely via a chip implanted in his brain perhaps he would be strongly excused. But as we are imagining him, A is engaged in a kind of fantasy which serves an important psychological function for him though he is almost certainly unaware of it , and it reflects, on account of the motivation which my account attributes to him, his desire that things be a certain way , a way which they manifestly are not, and from which he has insulated himself.

He thus is the owner of his self-deceptive omission s , he does manifest his will in the process, and, importantly, he discloses himself and is an appropriate target for aretaic assessment. Self-deceivers often elicit judgments of frustration, pity, and even contempt. These judgments first get a foothold at the level of attributability because they are appropriate responses to someone who has displayed the qualities of character that A has, viz. The only thing which remains to be determined is whether A might have a weak excuse that could insulate him from blame or potentially provide grounds for a countervailing aretaic assessment.

But as far as we can tell—and as seems to be the case for self-deceivers quite generally—there is no excuse that A can appeal to. Weak excuses work by showing that the agent did not manifest a malicious or negligent quality of will, but A does manifest at least a negligent quality of will. Indeed, in self-deception we see the marriage of both epistemic and volitional defects combining to make for this negligence. Footnote 19 In willing something to be the case which is manifestly false, A both shows the epistemic vice of injudiciousness and is engaged in a flight from anxiety.

This combination of epistemic and volitional failures strikes me as distinctive of motivated irrationality. Below I will discuss a case where a manifestation of epistemic vice seems to be excused, but that does not appear to be the case here. I now wish to turn to delusions. Delusions are fixed beliefs that are not amenable to change in light of conflicting evidence. Their content may include a variety of themes e. Many parts of this definition are controversial, and it is substantially different from the DSM-IV version.

Footnote 20 There is plenty to say about the definition and its relation to earlier ones but for now it suffices to note that the focus in the updated definition has shifted to what we might call the epistemic features of delusions. These features fixity, degree of felt conviction, persistence in the face of clear contradictory evidence, etc. To get an idea for the variety of possible contents for delusions, here are some examples of types of delusions, individuated by their content: Footnote Delusions of persecution: Most common content for delusion APA, , p The subject believes that his or her life is being interfered with from outside almost but not always harmfully.

Occurs in schizophrenia, affective psychosis, and in organic states. Capgras delusion: Subject believes that a close friend or family member has been replaced by an impostor Capgras and Rebould-Lachaux, Anosognosia: The denial of illness. Often follows stroke or brain injury and involves denial of following disability, e. But F. Can also occur in schizophrenia, leading patients to refuse to take medication. Reverse Othello delusion: Subject believes in the fidelity of his or her romantic partner in the face of strong evidence to the contrary.

Peter Butler reports the case of B. I will discuss B. I should note just in passing that, despite the language in the DSM and the language I have used here , it is a matter of some dispute amongst philosophers whether delusions should count as doxastic states.

The Devil Wears Prada - The Deception Is Growing!

However, in what follows I will be assuming that delusions are best thought of as beliefs. Does self-deception play a role in forming and maintaining at least some delusional beliefs?

Deception in Research on the Placebo Effect

And even where the content is bizarre, there is room for motivation to be playing a role that might imply self-deception is at work. If my account of self-deception is correct, it seems to provide relatively straightforward criteria for assessing whether self-deception is implicated in delusional belief. We must only ask whether it is true that the agent has failed to confront, for motivationally biased reasons, manifestly available evidence that would overturn her belief.

What remains, however, are two tasks which are not so straightforward: first, we must try to determine whether any actual delusions satisfy those criteria, and further, we must determine what kind of responsibility, if any, that would ground. Let us first address head-on the question of whether any delusions can be thought to fit my model of self-deception. The most plausible candidate for such a case is the Reverse Othello delusion. As a result of the crash he was left quadriplegic and unable to speak without the use of an electronic communicator.

However, in the year following his injury, B. He is trying to come to terms with the significance of an irreversible life-changing calamity, and seems to be doing it head-on. But there is a limit to how much such change he can accept at once without falling apart.

Communication Currents

Butler characterizes B. For him, the ability to go on is contingent on his believing that his former partner remains faithful to him. To lose her, on top of all of that has already happened, would be, in some sense approaching the literal, unbearable. In this context it is also important to note that B. Even when the delusion was at its most elaborated B. The delusional belief seemed to dawn on him somewhat gradually, and eventually reached its most elaborated form in the idea that he and his former partner had been recently married.

But the delusion also gradually receded, and he came to accept that she had no intention of returning to him. It is as though the delusion held at bay the need to face something that B. Together these two things suggest that B. His initial sensitivity and insight into his condition are not things that he could have displayed if he had crossed that strange boundary that leads outside the space of reasons altogether.

And the fact that he was able to recover more or less on his own suggests that his capacity to be sensitive to epistemic reasons remained intact—for what else other than that very capacity could he have used to get himself out? How did it serve that function? It is plausible that B. As Butler suggests, the primary challenge for B. Believing that his partner was there, that a dear corner of his otherwise unrecognizably marred life remained as before, could plausibly offer him something to hang on to, some piece of his past life to use as a flotation device while he tries to get himself to shore.

Now, according to my view of self-deception, it seems that B. The belief that his partner had not left him made its appearance sometime after the period of insight that Butler describes. This suggests that B. Now let us suppose that as the significance of how his life has been transformed dawns on him bit-by-bit B.

From Genius to Madness

In a number of ways such a belief is a good candidate for a life-preserver-belief because it concerns a matter which is indeed of great personal significance for him but, compared to the other things of great personal significance to him which are manifestly in shambles it less often and less flagrantly bumps up against evidence to its contrary which would need to be ignored in order for the belief to persist. It seems that if B. His case is an interesting one because presumably the evidence which is available concerning the falsity of that belief is given by his memory and the memories of his caretakers.

Compared to the body of evidence that would have to be ignored if he were to, say, try to deny his injuries as some delusional patients do , this body of evidence is quite sparse. If this is what happened, then B. His belief, however it was formed precisely, is false, and manifestly so. But he manages to persist in believing for a time as long as he needed to, it seems and this seems to require making himself somehow impervious to the evidence which he had previously appreciated.

The possible complicity of his caretakers in facilitating his failure to confront or appreciate evidence against his delusional belief is another interesting feature of B. It is also quite readily understandable. Clinicians often have to face the difficult question of whether it is appropriate to confront a subject about their delusional belief and many factors might go into determining the appropriate course of action. Plausibly, it would have seemed to many clinicians that the right course of action in B. If the self-deceiver is encouraged or facilitated in their motivated omission, I am inclined to think that it may partially mitigate his degree of blameworthiness.

Although I do think B. A very small part of the reason for this might be the facilitation of his caretakers. If it really was perhaps the only thing keeping him together, then I think we are right to see it as an excusable trade-off between negative epistemic value and significant improvement to overall well-being. This does not change the facts concerning whether B. I chose to express this by saying that the self-deceptive omission, and the resulting delusional belief are attributable to B.

What of the aretaic assessment that is typically grounded by attributability-responsibility? Does he display a negligent quality of will? He may. The moral hazards of self-deception—risk of harm to self or others, for example—are there just as much in his case as in others. But the weak excuse that is available in B. It also provides ground for counterbalancing, or perhaps undermining, the aretaic assessment that would normally apply.

Footnote 24 Excuses of this kind work as follows. Suppose I am tasked with delivering some valuable cargo. If, on the way down the only available path, I encounter a hairy spider and decide to turn back, risking the cargo in the process, I am pretty clearly guilty of cowardice.

The action of fleeing is attributable to me and is the grounds for finding me cowardly , and so too am I blameworthy liable if the cargo is lost. On the other hand, if I turn back risking the cargo because there is a grizzly bear on the path, I do not display cowardice, but perhaps prudence. Or, if one prefers, I display cowardice tempered with prudence. For the same reason that the negative aretaic assessment of me would seem inappropriate, I submit that I am not blameworthy should the cargo end up lost; the very thing that excuses me from blameworthiness also undermines or counterbalances the judgment of cowardice.

This seems to be what is happening in B. His flight from the truth is analogous to my flight from the bear: it comes with risks that we all recognize, but it is not undertaken lightly or negligently. The quality of will that he displays, against the situation in which he finds himself at the same time makes blaming him, and finding aretaic fault, inappropriate. It is worth mentioning that I want to resist saying that B. To say this would be to deny B. I have spoken of his psychological need to believe as he did, but I did not mean to suggest that his deceiving himself was something he was literally compelled to do.

And more importantly, merely being compelled to do something in this sense might not be enough to constitute a strong excuse. I said that if you only stepped on my foot as a result of being pushed, you would have a strong excuse because the action would not be yours. What if you also, simultaneously wanted to step on my foot? Then your action would have a cause outside of you, but would also be an expression of your will.

If we were in this situation, we would have to do hard work to figure out which thing should properly be considered the reason for your bodily movement. I do not have a general procedure for coming to answer questions of this kind, but I think it is safe to say here that B. It is clear that what he does is a manifestation of his will, even if there is a sense in which he must do it, because he wills to do as he must.

This would not be true of you if you were both shoved and malevolent; your will was not to be shoved, even though it may have been to step on my foot. Being compelled may not be enough to constitute a strong excuse if one also wills the means. While I do think that B. X counts as self-deceived on my view, it is unclear how many other cases of delusional belief will satisfy my account of self-deception.

My aim has certainly not been to argue that all delusional subjects are self-deceived, or even that it is the norm. This raises the possibility that motivational factors akin to those that I think are at work in self-deception may be at work in more cases than is widely recognized. Let me elaborate. Recall the Capgras delusion.


  • Baby Beanies: Happy Hats to Knit for Little Heads.
  • You are here.
  • Introduction;
  • INSIGHTS INTO SELF-DECEPTION - The New York Times;

Someone with this delusion believes that a friend or family member has been replaced by an impostor. Understanding of how this delusion is formed was greatly enhanced by the discovery that the human facial recognition system has at least two neurologically independent subparts. The second, affective, system, which appears to involve the amygdala, produces Skin Conductance Responses SCRs — covert recognition—when subjects are exposed to faces they are familiar with, even if they fail to recognize the face overtly. This is what is thought to be at work in people who have prosopagnosia.

Such people would overtly recognize familiar faces, but would be left without the typical accompanying affective response. Could this be what was causing Capgras? The patient would see his wife, and would accept that the person before him bore an exact physical resemblance to her, but the experience would be entirely without the ordinary feeling of familiarity. It is, perhaps, only a small leap from there to the idea that this person before me, while she looks exactly like my wife, must be someone else. The two components of the facial recognition system are now largely thought to be doubly dissociated and the abnormal experience of seeing someone who looks exactly like a loved one, but who feels somehow alien, is thought to be involved in Capgras Ellis and Young, ; Ellis et al.

There is, however, a problem. Not everyone with damage to the covert facial recognition system develops the delusion. Even though these patients are having the same unusual experience as the Capgras patients, they do not form the delusion. So, something else must be required to fill in the gap between the unusual experience and the subject eventually forming or endorsing the belief.

This leaves somewhat unsettled what the second factor must be and there is no consensus but the idea that some kind of two-factor theory is correct, at least for some delusions like Capgras, seems difficult to deny given the evidence. There must be some role for the abnormal experience to be playing, but if that does not take us all of the way there, there simply must be something else at work. Many of those who pioneered the two-factor theory were responding to an idea, tracing back to the work of Brendan Maher beginning in the 70s, Footnote 25 that delusions were largely rational responses to highly unusual experiences Davies, et al.

If some delusions could be understood as rational responses to a certain special kind of experience, experience with a certain kind of force and character, then the content of the beliefs that those experiences gave rise to could be readily understood. Whether this rational connection can be maintained, and what it means for self-deception depends on how we think of the relation between the first and the second factor. One way of getting at this is to ask how specific the representational content of the abnormal experience is. For example, according to Coltheart , the Capgras patient does not experience that his wife is an impostor; rather, an unconscious system predicts that seeing his wife should be accompanied by a certain autonomic response which fails to occur.

He thus forms the Capgras hypothesis as an attempt to explain the abnormal experience. On this kind of account, the subject does not reach for the Capgras hypothesis as an explanation of his experience but merely takes what is already presented in experience to be veridical. Obviously, whether there is room for appeal to motivational factors and whether such an appeal would make a given case count as self-deception on my view , depends on which of these competing accounts is true.

On either account, motivational factors possibly jointly with neuropsychological factors could be playing a role in generating the anomalous experience. Since the experience is much thinner on the explanationist model, it might be thought that appeal to motivation would be otiose; still, there could be a role for it to play. If motivation is playing a role in the first factor, that will not be enough for the sufficient condition identified by Self-deception as Omission to be satisfied.

When we learn that the subject had some distinctive kind of experience, we just have not learned one way or another whether there has been motivated mismanagement of evidence which sustains an externally defeated belief over time. However, we may nevertheless be able to learn something about the subject that undergoes such an experience which is akin to what we can learn about the self-deceiver.

If we are interpreters of someone who has undergone an experience of this kind, and we learn that this is how it has happened, we come to learn something about the kind of cognitive agent that the subject is. There is also room for motivation to be playing a role in the second factor, Footnote 27 and if it is present, it may go some of the way to restoring the kind of understandability that Maher was aiming for.

On either the endorsement or the explanationist account of things, if we have gotten this far, the Capgras belief is already in place, either as an explanation for a bizarre experience or as one given rise to by a bizarre experience directly. Once the belief is in place, there is room for Self-deception as Omission to be satisfied. All that would need to be the case would be for there to be a failure of epistemic agency which is partially motivated by a desire for the world to be as the subject already believes it to be.

Footnote 28 And as strange as it may sound, the operation of the second factor seems more readily understandable when it is cashed out in motivational terms, or indeed in terms of the kind of mental agency that I think is at work in self-deception. The varieties of human motivation are nearly limitless, and I do not know of any clinical examples that bear this out, but it is not difficult to imagine someone facilitating the maintenance of the Capgras belief for motivationally biased reasons.

Footnote 29 Perhaps the couple has recently had a particularly acrimonious quarrel and it would be somehow easier to not face the genuine article just yet; perhaps he has been secretly yearning for a divorce and this would save him the trouble; perhaps he has a motivation which only years of deep analysis would uncover.

Any such motivation, if it were to underlie and facilitate the acceptance of the Capgras hypothesis, would be grounds for thinking that we had a potential case of self-deception here. The availability of an explanation of this kind greatly reduces the sense that the delusion is un-understandable by bringing the psychological dynamics of the subject into the focus of ordinary intentional explanation. I have tried to bring a number of distinctions between types of responsibility to bear on the question with which we began. Delusions can also help us understand the ways in which our ordinary notion of self-deception can be extended to include, e.

Motivations can partially constitute nodes of intentional agency and reminding ourselves about the motivations of subjects with delusions and the role that such motivations may play in our assessment of them can serve as a general bulwark against slipping too easily into thinking of them as outside of the scope of ordinary assessment and understanding altogether. When Neisser asked afterward if they had seen anything unusual, very few mentioned the woman with the white umbrella.

They had not noticed her; the schema guiding their viewing fixed attention on the ball.

Making Sense of Workplace Deception

When Neisser then replayed the tape, they were astonished to see the woman. I once asked Neisser whether there might be schemas that, in effect, say ''do not notice that. It probably starts from cases like the woman with the umbrella. People don't shift their attention from the task at hand. But the mechanism would be much the same when you have a pretty good suspicion of what's over there if you were to look, and you'd rather not deal with it.

And you don't look; you don't shift your attention. You have a diversionary schema that keeps you looking at something else instead. This kind of schema has a special potency in the mind: It operates on attention like a magician misdirecting his audience. Just such a mechanism seems to have been at work in a classic study conducted by Lester Luborsky, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Luborsky used a special camera to track people's eye movements while they looked at pictures.

His apparatus allowed him to tell precisely where their gaze fell at each moment.


  • Angels Whisper to Us.
  • Deception and the Destruction of Your Relationship;
  • Post Comment.
  • The eyes are a window to the soul . . . and to the truth.!
  • Western Heroes (Tales of the Wild West Book 16).
  • Conduire la transformation : Faut-il «mettre le feu» pour transformer son entreprise ? (Stratégies et management) (French Edition);

Some people gave a remarkable performance. When he had them look at pictures that were partly sexual in content, they were able to avoid letting their gaze stray even once to the sexual part of those pictures, though, presumably, their peripheral vision could detect it. Thus, when they looked at a drawing of the outline of a woman's breast, beyond which there was a man reading a paper, their eye did not fix on the woman at all, but focused only the man and his paper.

Later, when asked to describe the picture, they had no recall of the sexual aspects; as it turned out, these people were particularly anxious about sexual matters. We all do that. There may be some painful experience in your life which, when you start to think about, you simply decide at some level not to pursue. So you avoid using your recall strategies. You could probably get pretty skilled at it, at not remembering what's painful. In what may be the most telling results to date on the roots of self-deception, a team of researchers have pinpointed a brain mechanism associated with at least one defensive maneuver, a prospect Freud himself envisioned and then abandoned because of the primitive state of the brain sciences of his time.

The first step in this breakthrough was accomplished by Daniel A. Weinberger, now a psychologist at Stanford University, while he was still a graduate student at Yale. Weinberger was able to show that certain people, whom he called ''repressors,'' consistently denied being anxious. In research on stress, he contended, they were being misclassified as being very low in anxiety, when, in fact, they displayed all the physical and behavioral signs of tension. Weinberger presented college students identified as repressors with sexual or aggressive phrases.

He would confront them, for instance, with ''the prostitute slept with the student,'' or ''his roommate kicked him in the stomach.

The Hidden Logic of Deception

Unlike other students who did the same task, the repressors offered associations that downplayed or avoided altogether the sexual or hostile tone of the phrases. At the same time, measurements of their heart rate, perspiration and forehead muscle tension revealed that they were, in fact, agitated. There is, of course, the question of how conscious the repressors were of their self-deception: Were they lying about their feelings, or actually unaware of them?

An answer to that question has been suggested by very recent research.


  • Thomas L. Carson;
  • The Easy Sixties Fake Book (Fake Books).
  • Die anderen Tage des Abschieds (German Edition);
  • Rampant River.
  • Login using;
  • Cada cual con su razón (Spanish Edition).

Richard J. Davidson, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin who had been a collaborator of Weinberger, carried the investigation one crucial step further. Davidson, working with Jonathan Perl and Clifford Saron of the State University of New York at Purchase, and using an ingenious technique, has been able to show that repressors suffer from a faulty transfer of information from one half of the brain to the other. Davidson's experiments employed a device that, by means of a precise arrangement of lenses, projects a word so that it is seen by only that part of the retina that sends signals to the right hemisphere.

Then the brain passes the information to the left. In a right-handed person, this means that the right hemisphere, which can register the meaning of words, must transfer the information to the speech center in the left before the person can speak that meaning. Davidson had repressors free-associate to negative emotional words, many of which were sexual or hostile in meaning. When he presented these words to the right hemisphere, he found that a significant time elapsed before the subjects could utter their responses.

Among those who study brain response, this slower reaction time is interpreted to mean that there is a deficiency in the transfer of information, in this case from the right to the left hemisphere. Of most significance was the specificity of the lag: It was for the negative words - which presumably posed a psychological threat - not for neutral or positive words. And the lag showed up only when the words were presented to the right hemisphere, not when shown to the left. These findings take on special significance in light of the fact that the right hemisphere is strongly believed to be a center for emotions, such as fear and anxiety.

Thus, in theory, when repressors experience anxiety, their emotional center in the right brain sends that information to the verbal center in the left over the same faulty circuits. In short, the entire pattern suggests that the repressor's denial of his anxiety is associated with deficient brain function centering on the transfer of information from the right to the left hemisphere. The findings suggest that the repressor is not lying about his lack of agitation, but is actually less aware of it than are most people.

The same mechanism, Davidson believes, may operate whenever people repress threatening information. For example, in research at a hospital near San Francisco, Richard S. Lazarus of the University of California at Berkeley found that patients who avoided thinking about the surgery they were facing fared better afterward. Lazarus's colleague, Frances Cohen, interviewed patients about to undergo elective surgery, such as for gall bladder problems.

Some patients, they found, were extremely vigilant about what would happen - and what might go wrong - during surgery, even reading medical texts to discover fine details of the procedure. Others completely ig-nored such facts, relying instead on faith that things would go right.

The avoiders, the researchers found, recovered more quickly after the surgery, and with fewer complications. In a similar study, researchers at the University of North Carolina have found that those patients who similarly avoided thinking about forthcoming dental surgery showed more rapid healing afterward. Avoiding what is painful, to a great extent, seems to serve a positive function. There is a growing body of research evidence that shows there to be a pervasive mental tendency for people to ignore or forget unpleasant facts about themselves and to highlight and remember more easily the pleasant ones.

The result is an illusory glow of positivity. When people become depressed, the illusion that things are better than a neutral weighing of facts might suggest disappears. Hope, the crucial mainstay in the face of all adversity, depends to a great extent on the same illusion. In short, self-deception, to a point, has a decidedly positive place in the human psyche. Nevertheless, Lazarus is quick to point out that the context makes all the difference.

Take, by contrast, the case of a diabetic; he's got to monitor his sugar levels constantly. If he denies his problem, he's in great trouble. The more we understand how natural a part self-deceit plays in mental life, the more we can admit the almost gravitational pull toward putting out of mind unpleasant facts. And yet, as in the case of the diabetic cited by Richard Lazarus, there is often danger in giving in to denial, whether that denial is individual or collective.

The healthier you are the more apt you are to lie 4 years later. Cook: How did you become interested in self-deception? I was studying to become a biologist; a very good friend, to be a psychoanalyst. I was reading Darwin, he was reading Freud. All the time, he was talking about denial, repression, splitting, reaction formation and ego-defense mechanisms.

While some of it sounded loony, not all of it did. From everyday life, we know that denial is a powerful force. How on earth could selection favor our wonderful organs of perception only to systematically distort the information to our conscious minds? Where was the pay-off in that? It seemed to challenge the Darwinian paradigm at its core.

Cook: Right, the advantages of deception seem quite obvious, but what advantage could there possibly be to self-deception—to lying to yourself. I realized that if self-deception made it easier to deceive others, then it could confer an advantage. After all, deception only succeeds when undetected. Otherwise it may have most unfortunate consequences. So I imagined that self-deception easily evolved in the service of deceit—all kinds of improbably organized information to the conscious mind in order the better to fool others. Cook: And how did self-deception play a role in one of the plane accidents you discuss, the crash of the Air Florida flight outside Washington, DC?

Trivers: In the Air Florida flight, the group size was only two. The pilot repeatedly practiced self-deception, minimizing the danger ahead of time and rationalizing danger warnings during take-off which the co-pilot was pointing out. The latter did not practice self-deception but was weak in the face of the pilot's. It is a little known but striking fact that 80 percent of all crashes takes place when the pilot is flying, even though statistically he flies about 50 percent of the time.

Considerable research suggests that it is the co-pilot's unwillingness of assert himself in the face of pilot error that is at the heart of this fact. Indeed, the worst configuration is to have pilot flying with a co-pilot flying with him for the first time. Cook: What role does self-deception play in history? Trivers: History or the writing of history? Obviously, both. It has been said that the victors write the history -- and a thoroughly biased one at that. False historical narratives are false history with a personal bias, excusing past mis-behavior, any need for reparations or, indeed, necessity for changed behavior.

In history the effects of self-deception loom large although giving a coherent account of the many ways would be quite an undertaking.