Self-deception is Good

Robert Trivers says that self-deception is good and is an evolutionary advantage. Eric in his blog says this:

On one level an unbiased expectation is optimal because it allows us to allocate our resources more efficiently. But there are many cases where this is not true, where a little too much hope and faith actually makes you a more successful person, and more fun to be around. Just think about how annoying ‘brutally frank’ people are–they are jerks. Think about the guy who thinks he is a better dancer than he really his confidence actually makes him a better dancer, because part of good dancing is not being self-conscious. Robert Trivers has pointed out that self-deception is, in moderation, an evolutionary advantage, in that a liar who believes his own lies is a more effective persuader than a lie who knows he is lying, and fundamentally we are social animals trying to convince others to do this or think that.

In fact, I contend that part of being good in anything lies in not being self-conscious. Self-consciousness is a kind of sucker. It eats up a lot of time and energy with no outcome, except for a dose of mental fatigue.

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One thought on “Self-deception is Good

  1. Allow me to wax poetic.

    I met Trivers’ as student at U.C. Santa Cruz and listened to him and watched him in his research on deceit and self deception, and I challenge your apparent conclusion that self-consciousness is in diametrical opposition to a healthy form of self awareness that would bestow upon the individual an advantage in interpersonal interactions.

    To me it is not about “sucking” or being a “sucker” it is about “SUCCOR”. Reciprocal altruism trumps both deceit and self deception. Though to often the cheaters appear to win the day and in the short run succeed. Like in physics, I sense that there are weak and strong forces in evolution. I hope Bob will next turn his attention of a unified field theory of the entire process of evolution.

    Even if the success is measured in the loss of existence of the individual participant, in the long run, over vast periods of time, there is progress.

    Is the reason that the philanthropist brings out the innate good in those that they encounter merely a ratification of self deception and the reason the misanthrope get their just deserts the product of deceit?

    Self Awareness is a redundant expression, self deception is not redundant. Awareness is the crest of a wave in front of which is the future and behind which is the past. The moment, the now, is without either deception or self deception. Hope is a yearning toward the future, but faith is what supports the crest of the wave. Is this the self deception that makes one a better dancer?

    Hey what do I know?

    On paper, Trivers is about discrete mathematical relationships that give grounds for believing in the existence or presence of social organizing principals. In person, he is about vista, vision and the bigger picture. Go hear him speak if the opportunity ever arises.

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