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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Kidding Ourselves: The Hidden Power of Self-Deception

Dost thou knowest how I can't stay away from pop psychology books even though I read psychology day in and day out? Of course thou dost, which is why thou is reading this current post on Joseph T. Hallinan's (excellent) Kidding Ourselves: The Hidden Power of Self-Deception.

I have mentioned it many times here on this blog--we as humans believe we see the world correctly and that we are rational, logical creatures that have the ability to be objective. That is utterly and completely false. It can easily be argued, as Hallinan does, that self-deception serves an evolutionary purpose; it allows us to survive even when the odds are against us. It also rewires our brains into believing we can do things that we sometimes can't and oftentimes would not if it were not for the necessity of life.

I don't say this often about pop psychology works: This book is outstanding. It is one of the few books that accurately portrays research for the layman in ways that are easy to understand but still present the essence of the studies that are cited. I know this because I have actually read most of the studies Hallinan discusses, and I was incredibly impressed with his ability to distill the research down for the everyman while still keeping its essence. And for that I say, "Bravo, Joseph T. Hallinan!"

Some major concepts discussed here include the placebo affect, of which I am a great fan and think it serves a great purpose in our lives. Humans have a great way of convincing ourselves of things that are so outlandish and crazy (e.g., I swear someone broke into my downstairs neighbors apartment the other night and was planning on breaking into mine through theirs to murder me and my cat...yeah) that it's no surprise that we can convince ourselves of small and significant things as well (e.g., aren't you feeling better now that you have eaten dinner?). You know the "close door" button in elevators is a placebo, right? As is often the button you press for the walk signal. It's not just sugar pills, folks.

I was so impressed by this book that I'm keeping it on my Kindle, and I fully intend on adding it to my recommendation list for my own students. It was an easy read that was so right on point that I look forward to reading anything Hallinan does in the future.

Hard copy for purchase below.

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