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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a lie, 22 April 2013
This review is from: Deceit and Self-Deception: Fooling Yourself the Better to Fool Others (Hardcover)
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Trivers is a close friend of Richard Dawkins and they write glowing reviews on the back of each others books. However Trivers is a much warmer and more relaxed writer than Dawkins and has a fascinating story of evolution to tell that is worth hearing.

If you have ever told a lie, you might have realised that it helps to believe in some sense the lie yourself. Of course self-deception is a strange phenomenon - how can we both believe and not believe something? But however weird it is, it happens. The wife who refuses to check up on her husband because some part of her knows he is having an affair, but the other part of her doesn't want to know it, is one example.

Yet the really interesting thing Trivers has to say is about the self-deception of organisations. Organisations that lie to other people end up lying to themselves and sometimes with disastrous consequences.

After the moon landings NASA wanted to carry on getting the huge grants from the government. But in order to justify the money, they had to make up lies to explain what the money was needed for - this is as Trivers tell it, anyway.

The consequence was when the shuttle disaster happened, NASA was an agency that couldn't see the truth if it wanted to. Previous flights had had similar problems to the one that caused the explosion, but no one wanted to admit to the problem.

Trivers doesn't seem to really have a solution to this problem - expect perhaps that organisations should stop lying to us - but he provides a fascinating examination of something that ought to deeply trouble us all.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Jul 2015, 19:39:18 BST
You totally missed the point. Trivers says this is not a "problem" needing a "solution", nor something that happens "at times". It happens the whole time, in everyone's mind, and is a precious resource given us by nature (through evolution) to ease our existence.

But to realize this, one might be lacking this very natural mental feature.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jul 2015, 17:35:31 BST
J. Mann says:
Thanks - as with any book there is so much more in it than can be covered in a review. However I perhaps should have made it clearer that the key point Trivers wants to put over is that self-deception is an evolutionary stable strategy that can help us survive. If we sat around worrying that we might die today we wouldn't be good for anything, we have to be able to put it out of our minds in order to just get on and live.
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