Category Archives: Lifestyle

The Many Ways We Lie to Ourselves

Shahram Heshmat Ph.D.

By Shahram Heshmat Ph.D.Science of Choice

Posted Aug 29, 2017 on psychologytoday.com

Everyone is in denial about something. Self-deception, or lying to yourself, is simply a motivated false belief. False beliefs can satisfy important psychological needs of the individual (e.g., confidence in one’s abilities). The following are some of the lies we tell ourselves.

1. Ignorance is bliss.

One of the most difficult problems in sustaining goals is how to persist in the face of negative feedback. Strategic ignorance can help to achieve persistence. How? Avoid information sources that could demotivate you (Benabou and Tirole 2002). For example, someone who says “till death do us part” during the marriage ceremony need not be aware of the divorce statistics.

2. Reality denial.

Denial is a psychological defense we all use against external realities to create a false sense of security. Denial can be a protective defense in the face of unbearable news (e.g., cancer diagnosis). In denial, people say to themselves, “This is not happening.” For instance, alcoholics insist they have no drinking problem.

3. Overconfidence.

Overconfident individuals think that they are blessed, that they are well liked by others, and that they’ll come out on top. (As the bumper stickers state: “Jesus loves you, but I’m his favorite.”) For example, 90 percent of all drivers think they are above average, and 94 percent of professors at a large university were found to believe that they are better than the average professor. Unrealistic optimismcan have significant health consequences. Psychologist Loren Nordgren (2009) found that among a group of people trying to quit smoking, the ones who gave especially high ratings to their own willpower were most likely to fail.

4. Self-handicapping.

This behavior could be considered the opposite of overconfidence. If a person is uncertain about her true ability and afraid to find out what her true ability is, she might refrain from doing the work that might reveal her as having a low ability. In such a case, a successful performance could be attributed to skill, while an unsuccessful performance could be externalized as due to the lack of good preparation.

5. How I like myself to be seen.

People like to be perceived favorably, by themselves and by others, but some personality traits that carry a high social value (altruism and fair-mindedness) are not directly observable to outsiders. Our actions, however, offer a window into our personality and tastes (Benabou and Tirole, 2004). For example, giving money to a panhandler, or changing Facebook profile photos to honor the victims of some new tragedy.

6. Cherry-picking data.

People tend to embrace information that supports their beliefs and reject information that contradicts them. For instance, people require more information to accept an undesirable idea than they do for a desirable one.

7. Sour grapes.

In Aesop’s fable, the fox tries hard to get his hands on a tasty vine of grapes, but fails in all of his attempts to acquire the grapes; at which point, the fox convinces himself that he really didn’t want those grapes that badly after all. In the presence of dissonance (awareness of different beliefs), the individual feels psychologically uncomfortable and attempts to reduce it. The motive is to maintain a positive self-image.

8. Me and others.

Psychologists use the term attributions (or causes) for people’s explanations of the events in their lives. We tend to attribute our success to our enduring character traits, and our failures to unfortunate circumstances. For example, when we say, “You failed, because you did not try hard enough; I failed, because I had a headache from staying up all night with my son.” An alcoholic may be happy to tell himself he “just cannot help it” in order to have an excuse for persisting.

The key aspect of these lies is that people treat (or search for) evidence in a motivationally biased way. Self-deception can be like a drug, numbing you from harsh reality, or turning a blind eye to the tough matter of gathering evidence and thinking (Churchland, 2013). As Voltaire commented long ago, “Illusion is the first of all pleasure.”

References

Benabou, R. and Tirole, J. (2004). Willpower and personal rules. Journal of Political Economy, 112(4): 848-886.

Churchland P. (2013) Touching A Nerve. W.W. Norton & Company

Elster J (2009) Explaining Social Behavior: More Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences 2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press

Gloman R et al. (2016) The Preference for Belief Consonance, Journal of Economic Perspectives—Volume 30, Number 3—Pages 165–188

Nordgren, L. F., Harreveld, F. V., Pligt, J. V. D., (2009) The Restraint Bias: How the Illusion of Self-Restraint Promotes Impulsive Behavior. Psychological Science, 20(12), 1523-1528.

About the Author

Shahram Heshmat, Ph.D.,

Shahram Heshmat, Ph.D., is an associate professor emeritus of health economics of addiction at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

In Print:

Addiction: A Behavioral Economic Perspective

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    Voodoo Christianity

    Sometime ago, some religitard girl came to my inbox and started casting demon from me. She started attacking imaginary demons to fly out from me. That fire should catch my eyes, thunder should make me fall from behind my screen. It was in the night she sent these messages. She said that night, that God will strike me down dead except I accept Jesus. At the same time she thinks she is different from Boko Haram and that in short, I am the Devil.

    The next day around 11 in the morning, she sent me a message checking whether I am still alive. I responded with a message that she should grow up and that her evil fantasies have exposed her mind as the surest evidence that religion gives people evil obsessions especially towards other life forms. That time I began writing against religion newly.

    This good Christian woman, Damian Barbara began cursing me and my family- someone who I’ve never known anywhere except on Facebook. The hate was passionate and truly had it been her sky daddy answered any prayers, that woman’s faith- the arrogant certainty that her God will strike me dead would have been a testimony in her church and elsewhere.

    To sum up the inanity, she added that she’s doing all this because of the Love of God to save my soul. “Cursing me, wishing me dead, threatening me and insulting my family is what you call the love of God and gospel?” I was finally enraged, because at first I was laughing and responding with sarcasm.

    “If what you did here is what the love of God is about”. “I don’t need such love and may I never love anyone in this manner”, I said.

    Why the tale?

    The truth is, majority of the Christian population in Nigeria are this way. If you’re a Nigerian Christian and you haven’t prayed to your imaginary doodle to strike someone or punish anyone for you, then you’re a Nigerian Christian in the 1960s backwards. For these ones which I know of in this my age, you people are Boko haram with no guns and bombs. You and Abubakar are of the same sentiments and mental projections.

    You don’t have to behead people to know you’re like him, but as long as you harbour malicious content in your imaginations towards another especially a non believer like me, you and Shekau are of the same mental class.

    For example, if I should die now, a great number of believers will partake on the testimony that God killed me. Which God? Their God certainly. And that is kind of testimonies they celebrate in Nigerian churches- that their witch uncles, parents, step siblings, colleagues, etc who wanted to steal their destiny or what have you fell down and died because of their prayers. Yet they forget that they live in an economy that kills them slowly, that’s why life expectancy is very low, because religion, like a virus, it kills the mind of its host.

    Atheists Are Demon Possessed!

    I read a comment on a Facebook post where someone said “Atheists are demons.” I am an atheist and it can only be offensive to me as calling me a unicorn. And such an offense will only provoke me to more laughter and entertaining ridicule. That is why I love listening to religitards in their description of atheists; nothing more compensating of a rich humor is equal to hearing the opinion of a religitard on what atheism is. And I’ll really love to take my laughter even further…
    .
    First of all, have anyone noticed that it is the practice of the religitard to explain a reality with a very unrealistic proposition? An atheist is a realist, but pass the mic of explanation to the religitard, he says it is a demon. What the hell is a demon? An imaginary evil bad guy in the mental movie of the religitard, possessing supernatural powers and schemes to cause harm. Lol.
    .
    Pass on that same mic to an atheist like myself to define a religitard. I’ll simply say it is one that is not only highly deluded but allows his/her delusion drive them to the extremes of destruction of his mental abilities and human essence.
    .
    What is the difference between my opinion and that of the former which is birth by a religitard? Evidence! Unlike the religitard, who can never proof to us the existence of his imaginary enemy which he alludes to me (the atheist), except in fancy drawings and comic illustrations, bearing horns and an arrow-headed tail, and most times dark skin, which I personally find very offensive to me as a dark skin race human specie. It is offensive to attribute your imaginary illustration of evil to my skin color. That’s why I spare not in my assault on religious madness.
    Because it insults me without reservation. I only return the favor to the first respondent.
    .
    Now, if you ask me to show you evidence of my description of a religitard, I’ll begin with my country Nigeria, chorused to be the most religion place on earth- a country where 99% of its population are theists and 80% are definitely religitards, surpassing Donald Trump standards.
    .
    Now, my country, being occupied by a population of great religitards, we’ve never had one nobel, pulitzer or whatever awards in the sciences. Only the likes of Wole Soyinka and Chinue Achebe have saved our faces by being great literary icons because of their outstanding novels that stand the test of time. That was in the 70s, 80s, at the time, we were not as religious as we are now, because the Western subversion was still ongoing. Now their medicine has perfectly worked on us. Now, we are madder than those brought the religion to us by force and fraud.
    .
    That’s one, this is a country that is ranked international as the 7th dumbest nation on earth. Yes, I confirm this to be a dishonest generosity of an undeserving accolade. Because, this is the only country where one of its most powerful and respectable icons, a Pastor, named Adeboye, a former mathematics/statics lecturer in the University told people that he drove from Benin to Lagos without a fuel, because God told him to obey his voice. They clapped and believed him. Do you know the distance between Benin and Lagos? I don’t even wanna go there, you won’t forgive our intelligence.
    .
    In this same country, a minister of power said that the cause of our monumental epileptic power outage is because these same DEMONS are attacking our power supply. His solution? We should pray. And of course, that’s the best love song you can play to an average Nigerian- “Let us pray”. The minister comfortably served his tenure peacefully and nobody complained.
    .
    The most religious nations on earth are struck by poverty, threatening illiteracy, crime, corruption, women and child abuse and above all, chaos.
    If I should go on, we will sleep on this post.
    .
    But I have provided a resounding evidence. But the religitard have a natural problem of evidence provision. And so, when some of us call them deluded and religitards, they now turn around accuse of being arrogant and verbally abusive.
    .

    Tell me how labelling a real human being an imaginary demon is not being arrogant without providing evidence to it? That is how they’ve been going about it and killing people accused of witchcraft in the dark ages, which they still do in this religitard nation!
    .

    Have you ever heard an atheist being delivered of demons before? Is it not always the religitard that is always delivered from imaginary demons by other religitards? No wonder their immediate environment is always looking demon haunted. Only people that are possessed by demons drop bombs on others to proof whose imaginary friend rocks the best Nike sneakers of celestial standard.
    .
    Atheists that I know which they accuse of being demon possessed have never led a crusade or jihad to behead anyone. Is this how bad a demon possessed individual like us can be? May we be demon possessed and be good humans. Demon-possessed is the new good. I am demon-possessed and proud. You are not demon-possessed but you’re deluded and social retard. May I be demon possessed for the good of humanity.

    Is The Church Useful?

    Once a time in a certain city or should I call it a town, in Nigeria…….

    .

    There was high crime rate……………… The night was a feast for the sons of Dracula. Unlike their father who possessed skinny soul-searching fangs, these evil sons had on them dangerous metals with the talent of a catapult. Guns, is that what humans call it?

    .
    They preyed on the peace of other men in the city. If you’re a woman, once the sun seem to be reading his handover note for the day, you begin looking up in the sky, praying, “may this not be the day the burglars will break into my wet vessels with their erect sticks of terror.”

    .

    Due to the terror, everyone kept a date with their homes before 6PM. Adulterous husband repented. Who says thieves don’t win souls?
    Well, not everybody respected the body language of the social Generals………. The church!
    .
    Of course the pastor was more concerned about his greedy tray of God. And so churchgoers did their thing. “The earth is the Lord’s”, they proclaimed. And of course the Lord also said that “the young lion shall not be hungry.” Too unfair was the blessing of the lord that he never took to consideration that his “madtards” will be the food for the young lions.

    .

    And so, “spiritual sister” Ekaette, Sister “tongue-speaking” Rita the ritard and Sister Blessing “I am Mary-incarnate” got raped so many times than the atheist can handle “Jesus is Coming Soon” poetry. But they kept going to church and the young lions kept eating.
    “It is persecution, they said. “God is testing our faith” they posited. “It is the work of the Devil” explained the pulpit parrot. “Give more offerings and seeds for His protection”, he charged.
    .
    Nobody asked why armed men keeps attacking them on their way to and fro church. Nobody asked why haven’t God answered our prayers and keeps allowing armed robbers rob and tape us. You know asking pertinent questions is a disability to the religious.
    .

    Of course, in Nigeria, better be assured a Donald Trump sensibility than the intervention of the Nigerian police at a crime scene.

    .

    Meanwhile, the churches refused to spare their worshipers the terror by calling quits with night activities. “We must worship our God” is the motto.

    Those who stayed back home were preached at by the pastor that they are fake believers and of course hell awaits them for being sensible with their feet.

    .

    To put an end to the social mess for all, the city’s government imposed a no movement time 7PM till 7AM. Everyone but the Church supported this. “This is end time!”, “The anti-christ is here”, “You are fighting the church”, “The governor must die for this” etc. We all know their usual line of uproar.

    .

    Ladies and gentlemen, this is the so called Kingdom of God called the church. They consider themselves an assert to humanity. As we can see in the event above, they are truly an assert. No doubt. And I’m sure they must be so reasonable and useful to you, right?

    By Imoh “Son of David”

    Only Ignorant and Bigoted Minds Hate Gay People

    I do not understand why people who have no idea about science or are sparsely informed about a subject that is scientific in nature would go ahead to write and speak with authoritative arrogance in the area.

    Why can’t people who don’t know shit about science keep quiet or ask questions, since carrying out research on the subject is like going to the moon for them? What even annoys me more is how they go all bonkers when someone attempts to correct them. They do not want to be corrected and cannot permit the excuse that they are ignorant on the subject.

    There is nothing wrong if a person does not know a thing or speaks so lowly in the knowledge of the subject. But what is wrong is being arrogant in ignorance and remaining fixed also.

    The first and truest way of finding out about the true nature of a subject matter is to get rid of all preconceived perceptions and prejudices from your mind. Whether you are for or against the subject. Maintain neutrality in the mind, delete whatever your preconceived idea and feelings fed you on the matter before you go ahead to inquire.

    Why am I saying this?

    How can someone who does not know what makes people or a person gay, pick-up a pen and start writing bullshit on the subject and in the end his ignorance descends him to bigotry. His source for this is none other but religious books.

    Sharing links from religious and bigoted illiterates like yourself in order to support your bigoted ignorance is nothing more than a solidarity of similar bird-brains.

    Please learn from people who do real research and exploration on the subject matter. Not people who are looking for ways to excuse or promote their bigotry and cover-up their religious embarrassment they call beliefs.

    If you do not know why people are gay, let me explain it to you in the simplest scientific and the most realistic way.

    The most accepted and provable explanation for this kind of behaviour comes from evolutionary genetics (if you do not what means, just ignore).

    This simply explains that there are “GAY GENES”. I believe we all did biology in High school and so we should have an idea on what a “gene” is, but if you do not know, please ask, I’ll explain to you.

    A person’s genetic make-up affects his sexual or mating preferences. This is equally found in other animals and so also in humans. Many genes affect human sexual orientation. However, since the word “gay” sounds a little “ickie” to some people, it is better to use the word “Male-loving” genes. These genes are responsible for these traits.

    Let me just summarize it briefly before I make my post too long for those with phobia for reading.

    Gays and lesbians are not demons! They are not criminals. They are configured that way from birth just like how you were configured by your own genetic make-up to be turned-on by the opposite sex. So please next time you come spewing bigoted ignorance on others, you have to first of all come up with an explanation for what you did to be admiring or finding the opposite sex attractive.

    Besides their sexual genetic make-up, they are not different from you. Just like there is not much of difference between those born with gray hair or with certain features that are not common in others.

    Since a long time ago, reasonable and advanced people have stop using religion and their socio-cultural bigotry to explain anything. Look at the world around you and the marvelous inventions and civilization of man, you will never see any marvel brought to the advancement of our kind by religion, primitive conceptions or cultural and personal bigotry on others.

    I may make jokes on gay people and give them some taste of sarcasm just like I would make jokes on anyone or race of people, but that does not mean they are outcasts or any less human than myself.

    So please don’t allow ignorance turn you to an irrepairable beast. However, I am still aware that some people will rather die and have gay people killed than accept any truthful explanation or reality that would see to the freedom and co-existence of others. But unknown to them, their ignorant bigotry will not stop the world from progressing either.

    Thank you.

    By Imoh “Son of David”

    Curiousity Murders God

    Why are people usually afraid or shy away from asking questions?

    Some people would rather die in silence than throw open or send forth the simple words or phrases of “what”, “why”, “when”, “how” etc.

    I have never seen a man die because of asking questions, but I have seen people die because of ignorance. Wait! What did I just say? My bad, people have died so many times because they asked questions, how could I forget so easily why the dark ages was called the dark ages.

    In those days when religion ruled, specifically that of the Christian faith was solely responsible for the brutal execution of millions people who asked questions concerning their faith.
    Such that one of my favorite icons, Voltaire in a letter to Frederick II of Prussia said:
    “Every sensible man, every honorable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror.”
    The legendary luminary went ahead to say:
    “Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd, and bloody religion that has ever infected the world.”

    Even till today, people still get killed from asking questions. The camel brigade cousins of Christianity, Islam is the chief priest of this act in this age.

    That is why the religious man is perplexed by those of us who ask questions, because it is a shock to them that one can be this mentally free. To them, the bewildered, they were configured by their organizations to maintain silence of the mind and ask no questions since childhood. And since the Christians of this age may no longer burn those who ask questions on stakes, they excuse themselves that one that ask pertinent questions would be punished by providence and so when they see some us who do not acknowledge such primitive and ridiculous providence it shocks them and they respond with paranoia or separation of contact.

    They call it blasphemy and nobody wonders why it is only in theology and religion where the miserly lettered word is of great credence to the psyche such that it can emit punishment from their part?

    The answer is simple: when you are on the side of falsehood, lies, irrationality and delusion, the only thing necessary to secure your estate is brute force. This is the true birth of blasphemy. Blasphemy only exists where the established authority is illegitimate, false, misleading and indefensible upon confrontation with interrogation.

    If blasphemy were to be replicated in all tires of life, then no one would be allowed to questioned criminals, no one would be allowed to write articles in the newspapers and the internet and nobody would be allowed to practice democracy. Above all, there would be no lawyers, since everyone would be citing blasphemy for every defense.

    This is the principle difference between theology and science, rationality and irrationality, faith and fact, lies and truth, falsehood and reality. To shield yourself from being bewitched by ignorance, ask questions. Those who ask questions can only experience a brief moment of ignorance but those who don’t will die in ignorance. And no man has ever gotten knowledge by being silent with curiosity.

    Whatever does not tolerate questioning does not have any answer to anything. And that is why religion will always be a backward and primitive vice and shackles to anywhere it is exalted.

    Curiosity Murders God

    By Imoh “Son of David”

    Why Marriage Is Not Compulsory

    People in my part of the world always count it as a great accomplishment to marry and that marriage and having kids is a compulsory and necessity of life every human must undertake in other to be adjudged as happy, accomplished and successful.

    How they came to the conclusion that every human on earth must undertake or follow their led down dogma’s in other to be described as fulfilled is what I do not know.

    Just like many other things, my people are wrong again and carry this cross of crass reasoning to bewitch themselves and others too. Unknown to them every human will not and cannot marry. The ratio of male to women are not equal and so even if every human were to pick a partner and pair with, someone will be left out.

    If you ask me, happiness is the ultimate goal in life and happiness does not exist outside of the mind. It cannot be gotten from the acquisition of things others desire as the led down norms and modus operandi.

    And so, if a person does not have neither spouse, sibling nor offspring and he/she is at ultimate peace and satisfaction with self, then that person is a more accomplished human than others who think they own the world and follow the principles of led down practices of “accomplishments” like marriage and having kids and in the end they still live empty and unhappy.

    If you think that getting married and having kids will make you happy, then do it and be happy. But if you do that and think that another who is yet to follow practice must mean he or she must be unhappy or unaccomplished compared to you, then you are a victim of mental slavery. And you have been bewitched greatly with communicable ignorance.

    In case you do not know, birds born in a cage think that flying is disease. You are like that bird who thinks that others flying must mean they are sick. Folks who choose to be unmarried or childless are happier than you because their mind does not recognize the burden and sadness you want them to have. If they were like you they would have just had kids or marry any gorilla that comes their way, end of story. Unless otherwise they have contacted such burden of sadness to themselves and are yet to satisfy the demands of such practice. But in that case, they alone are responsible for their woes.

    But those people who choose not to be are free and even happier than you who thinks you can only find solace in things that you will never be aware of once you die. Please tell me how many of your grand parents and fore fathers in the grave that are aware or still unhappy or happy about the continuation of their hereditary by your existence?

    What is the percentage of the genes of your great, great grand parents 3 generations behind that you still have inside of you? To those of you who believe the Adam and Eve hogwash, what percentage of Adam and Eve’s genes have you?

    Assuming you carry only 0.06% of your great grand fore-fathers genes, what was the usefulness of any great grand fore father acting like if he does not have an offspring, that all is lost? Of what use is your 0.06% of his genes to him in his grave? Hasn’t he been already erased from the planet?

    So please whatever you clinged onto in the name of accomplishment is nothing but vanity and it matters not except in the mind where all instincts and supposed importance live and die. Learn to be happy without others defining happiness for you.

    By Imoh “Son of David”