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The folly of fools : the logic of deceit and self-deception in human life

Author: Robert Trivers
Publisher: New York, NY : Basic Books, ©2011.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Explores the author's theorized evolutionary basis for self-deception, which he says is tied to group conflict, courtship, neurophysiology, and immunology, but can be negated by awareness of it and its results.

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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Robert Trivers
ISBN: 9780465027552 0465027555 9780465028054 0465028055
OCLC Number: 701015481
Description: xvi, 397 pages ; 24 cm
Contents: The evolutionary logic of self-deception : The evolution of self-deception ; Deception is everywhere ; What is self-deception ; Detecting deception in humans via cognitive load ; Self-deception is older than language ; Nine categories of self-deception ; The hallmarks of self-deception --
Deception in nature : The coevolutionary struggle between deceiver and deceived ; Frequency-dependent selection in butterflies ; An epic coevolutionary struggle ; Intelligence and deception ; Female mimics ; False alarm calls ; Camouflage ; Death and near-death acts ; Randomness as a strategy ; Deception may induce anger ; Animals may be conscious of deception ; Deception as an evolutionary game ; A deeper theory of deception --
Neurophysiology and levels of imposed self-deception : The neurophysiology of conscious knowledge ; The neurophysiology of thought suppression ; The irony of trying to suppress one's thoughts ; Improving deception through neural inhibition ; Unconscious self-recognition shows self-deception ; Can one half of the brain hide from the other? ; Imposed self-deception ; Implicit versus explicit self-esteem ; False confessions, torture, and flattery ; False memories of child abuse ; Is self-deception the psyche's immune system? ; The placebo effect --
Self-deception in the family, and the split self : Parent/offspring conflict ; Cases of extreme abuse ; Genomic imprinting ; Internal conflict from oppositely imprinted genes ; Parental manipulation and imprinting ; The effect of marital conflict on genetic conflict ; Imprinting and self-deception ; Deception in children ; Parental effects on children's deception --
Deceit, self-deception, and sex : Why sex? ; Two sexes, two coevolving species ; Deception and self-deception at courtship ; Whose baby is it? ; Male response to female infidelity ; Deceit and a woman's monthly cycle ; Men's self-deceit about female interest ; Male denial of homosexual tendencies ; Is self-deception good or bad for marriage? ; The appeal and danger of fantasy ; The pain of betrayal --
The immunology of self-deception : The immune system is expensive ; The importance of sleep ; Trade-offs with immunity ; Writing about trauma improves immune function ; Homosexuality and the effects of denial ; Positive affect and immune function ; The effects of music ; Positivity in old age ; An immunological theory of happiness --
The psychology of self-deception : Avoiding some information and seeking out other ; Biased encoding and interpretation of information ; Biased memory ; Rationalization and biased reporting ; Predicting future feelings ; Are all biases due to self-deception? ; Denial and projection ; Denial is self-reinforcing ; Your aggression, my self-defense ; Cognitive dissonance and self-justification ; Social effects of cognitive dissonance reduction ; Cognitive dissonance in monkeys and young children. Self-deception in everyday life : Sex differences in overconfidence ; Metaphors in the stock market ; Manipulative metaphors in life ; The name-letter effect ; Deceiving down and dummying up ; Face-ism ; Spam against anti-spam ; Humor, laughter, and self-deception ; Drugs and self-deception ; Vulnerability to manipulation by others ; Professional con artists ; Lie-detector tests --
Self-deception in aviation and space disasters : Air Florida Flight 90: doomed by self deception? ; Disaster 37,00 feet above the Amazon ; Eldar takes command: Aeroflot Flight 593 ; Simple pilot error: or pilot fatigue? ; Ice overpowers the pilots, airlines overpower the FAA ; The US approach to safety helps cause 9/11 ; The Challenger disaster ; The Columbia disaster ; Egypt and EgyptAir deny all ; Saved by lack of self-deception? --
False historical narratives : The US false historical narrative ; Control through small wars and installed proxies ; US history textbooks ; Larger view of US history ; The rewriting of Japanese history ; Turkey's holocaust denial ; A land without people for a people without land ; The founding of the state of Israel ; Voluntary flight or ethnic cleansing? ; Arab deceit and self-deception ; Christian Zionism ; First line of defense: cry "anti-Semite" ; Why false historical narratives? --
Self-deception and war : Chimpanzee raiding [arrow] human warfare ; Self-deception encourages warfare ; Derogation of others [arrow] fatal overconfidence ; The 2003 US war on Iraq ; Creating knowledge and then walling it off ; Can wars by won through bombing? ; Bombing to eradicate history and to reinforce it ; Carnage in Gaza ; Self-deception and the history of war --
Religion and self-deception : Cooperation within the group ; Religion: a recipe for self-deception ; Religion and health ; Parasites and religious diversity ; Why the bias against women? ; Power corrupts ; Religions impose mating systems ; Religion preaches against self-deception ; Intercessory prayer: does it work? ; Religion and support for suicide attacks ; Religion [arrow] self-righteousness [arrow] warfare --
Self-deception and the structure of the social sciences : Precedence of justice over truth? ; Success of science is based on anti-self-deception devices ; The more social the discipline, the more retarded its development ; Self-deception in biology ; Is economics a science? ; Cultural anthropology ; Psychology ; Psychoanalysis: self-deception in the study of self-deception ; Self-deception deforms disciplines --
Fighting self-deception in our own lives : To fight one's own self-deception or not? ; A series of minor victories followed by a major disaster ; Signals of underlying mental screw-ups ; Correcting of our own biases ; Why are we so compulsive? ; The value of being conscious ; The danger of fantasy in propagating deception ; The benefits of prayer and meditation ; Value of friends and counselors ; An invitation to self-deception and personal disaster ; A never-ending extravaganza.
Responsibility: Robert Trivers.


From viruses mimicking host behavior to humans misremembering (sometimes intentionally) the details of a quarrel, science has proven that the deceptive one can always outwit the masses. But to  Read more...


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William von Hippel, Professor of Psychology, University of Queensland"Great books contain important new ideas, and this book is no exception. What makes Trivers' book unusual even among great books Read more...

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