Fools’ Fair?

I have definitely been to the fools’ fair before and you?

I recently came across an article that revolved around Quattrone and Tversky’s experiment. I hadn’t heard of it before, but after reading I realized that most of us definitely observe it on a regular basis, and thus decided to pen it down. This experiment basically proved the existence of self-deception and also certified that it’s not linked with any mean intentions or disrespect for the truth. A group of athletes was split into two teams and then asked to immerse their hands in cold water to prove their resistance. However, one team was told that the ability to bear the discomfort would mean that they have a healthier, more resilient heart and the other team was told exactly the opposite. As a result, the members of the first group let their arms under cold water for a lot longer than when they initially did the experiment, whereas the other group gave up earlier than before. When asked if the information about two types of hearts had led them to endure more or less pain in order to prove they had a strong heart, 90% of the volunteers denied. They were then asked if they believed they had a healthy heart, 60% of those who had denied being influenced, answered with a YES! According to the researchers, the results proved that we have a strong tendency towards self-delusion. Some suppress the truth completely, just to prove to themselves (and others) that they’re right. By doing so, they avoid situations that may be unduly uncomfortable or worrying. This cognitive trait is often termed as confirmation bias and generally acts as a defense mechanism for an individual (similar to sarcasm 😉 ).

Now, Self Deception has a negative halo around it and rightly so, but we tend to ignore that it also creates impactful illusions. Over-Confidence, Insecurity, Identity Crisis are all the outcomes of this delusion and that being said, Over-Confidence is sometimes a social benefit. It impacts the way others may perceive and treat us. It is believed to be a strategic tool for enhancing self esteem, over -confident individuals are believed more often, have more influence in groups and appear more knowledgeable. Think about it, aren’t we more likely to state higher levels of confidence when doing so would deter a competitor from entering a tournament? or aren’t we casual while repeating the things where we have already achieved success once? While reading this paragraph, even for a second, if you agreed with my reference of “IMPACTFUL ILLUSIONS” then you’ve just experienced deception all over again. Because, very conveniently initially a fact was stated and then contradicted using altered information.

This is exactly how we deceive ourselves, we just concern ourselves with the data we find convincing and build our opinions, choices and expectations on it. We forget that while doing this we constantly have to keep two versions of the story in our mind (the reality and the illusion) and more often than not we loose the track of reality. Hence developing an urge to justify everything we believe in (right from a movie to a political party) and end up queing at the fools’ fair. On the defensive side, the reason behind persuasion is motivation, next time when you try to convince yourself about something, think about what might be the source of motivation. You may not be lying, but may be deceiving both yourself and others.


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