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Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad… (2007)

by Carol Tavris, Elliot Aronson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,1733913,079 (4.13)11
Two distinguished psychologists look at the role of self-justification in human life, explaining how and why we create fictions that absolve us of responsibility and restore our belief in our intelligence, moral rectitude, and correctness; assess the potential repercussions of such a course of action; and reveal how it can be overcome.… (more)
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    How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman (espertus)
    espertus: Two interesting books filled with case studies demonstrating how trained professionals make incorrect decisions based on various types of cognitive errors.
  3. 01
    The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker (Percevan)
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English (37)  Dutch (2)  All languages (39)
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
A thorough explanation of the psychology behind self-justification, how it serves to ease cognitive dissonance and the ways it can lead to self-destructive beliefs and behavior. The book addresses issues such as conflict escalation, marriage problems, false memories, wrongful convictions, school cheating scandals, the list goes on, and includes many (maybe too many) clinical studies that back up its assertions. The best way I can describe it is to share this quote: ‘This has been a book about how difficult it is to own our mistakes and the crucial importance of doing so if we ever hope to learn and improve.’ The version I read was updated for 2020 (it was first published in 2007) but must have gone to press before covid. I'd read it again if it were revised to address the phenomenon of deniers and anti-vaxxers. ( )
  wandaly | Nov 27, 2021 |
Doesn't the news just seem like one neverending finger-pointing game? Enter this book. This was a fascinating read and well worth the time. There were chapters on relationships, leadership, etc.* Particularly interesting was the information regarding the malleability of memory. I didn't like seeing myself in the mirror, but it's better than not.

There should be a sequel on how to forgive those who admit to mistakes... because we live in a culture where "you can't judge me, I'm only human" but everyone else should be 100% perfect. ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
I enjoyed this, although obviously I never do any of this self-justification stuff. ( )
  jlweiss | Apr 23, 2021 |
This book turned out to be really interesting. In some ways it felt like it was rehashing the same points with different stories, but they were good points. Most importantly, I think it did a decent job of presenting situations that we've all run into, giving the reader plenty of food for thought. ( )
  kapheine | Apr 6, 2021 |


I know a few people for whom this would be an excellent read. Unfortunately, they probably wouldn't pick it up. Makes me wonder about my own memory... ( )
  RankkaApina | Feb 22, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tavris, Carolprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aronson, Elliotmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Aronson, Neal AdamElliot Aronson Photographsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barrett, JoeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Borbás, MáriaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clarke, PeterCarol Tavris Photographsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hirèche, SalimTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jackman, JenniferCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, MargaretCopy editor & fact-checkersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Liebl, ElisabethÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mercant, MarshaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mudde, Brendasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nowak-Młynikowska, AgnieszkaTł.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Varga, KatalinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Viták, VáclavTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.
--George Orwell (1946)
A great nation is like a great man:
When he makes a mistake, he realizes it.
Having realized it, he admits it.
Having admitted it, he corrects it.
He considers those who point out his faults as his most benevolent teachers.
--Lao Tzu
Dedication
To Ronan, my Wonderful O'
--Carol Tavris
To Vera, of course
--Elliot Aronson
First words
(Introduction): As fallible human beings, all of us share the impulse to justify ourselves and avoid taking responsibility for any actions that turn out to be harmful, immoral, or stupid.
It's fascinating, and sometimes funny, to read doomsday predictions, but it's even more fascinating to watch what happens to the reasoning of true believers when the prediction flops and the world keeps muddling along.
Quotations
Along with the confirmation bias, the brain comes packaged with other self-serving habits that allow us to justify our own perceptions and beliefs as being accurate, realistic, and unbiased. Social psychologist Lee Ross calls this phenomenon "naïve realism," the inescapable conviction that we perceive objects and events clearly,"as they really are." If they disagree with us, they obviously aren't seeing clearly. Naïve realism creates a logical labyrinth because it presupposes two things: One, people who are open-minded and fair ought to agree with a reasonable opinion. And two, any opinion that I hold must be reasonable; if it weren't, I wouldn't hold it. Therefore, if I can just get my opponents to sit down here and listen to me, so I can tell them how things really are, they will agree with me. And if they don't, it must be because they are biased. (Chapter 2: "Pride and Prejudice . . . and Other Blind Spots", p. 42)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Two distinguished psychologists look at the role of self-justification in human life, explaining how and why we create fictions that absolve us of responsibility and restore our belief in our intelligence, moral rectitude, and correctness; assess the potential repercussions of such a course of action; and reveal how it can be overcome.

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