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Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts (2007)

by Carol Tavris, Elliot Aronson (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,4334513,042 (4.11)15
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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    Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michael Shermer (bertilak)
  2. 00
    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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» See also 15 mentions

English (42)  Dutch (2)  All languages (44)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
“We each have a story to tell. A story that we tell. We don’t want to change that story because we don’t want to admit that we were wrong. That would hurt our self image. So, we continue on in self deception even when it is obvious to the rest of the world that we are rejecting the “truth.” ”

1. Cognitive Dissonance: The Engine of Self-Justificaiton
2. Pride and Prejudice ... and other blind spots
3. Memory, the Self-Justifying Historian
4. Good Intentions, Bad Science: The Closed Loop of Clinical Judgment
5. Law and Disorder - quite a depressing chapter
6. Love’s Assassin: Self-Justification in Marriage - also a depressing chapter
7. Wounds, Rifts, and Wars
8. Letting Go and Owning Up
9. Dissonance, Democracy and the Demagogue
... ( )
  bread2u | May 15, 2024 |
A quick read, but very insightful, about how our tendency to justify what we have done has serious consequences. ( )
  wester | Apr 9, 2024 |
I enjoyed the 3rd edition until the last chapter. I am in no way defending Trump, but I think the authors lost their persuasive arguments by using him as an example of how people can live with dissonance. Is he a good example? He is an excellent example. Will their arguments persuade anyone in the pro Trump camp that they were wrong? No. They will just shoot down the valuable information that is shared before the last chapter. Oh well. ( )
  wvlibrarydude | Jan 14, 2024 |
This is a book worthy of being read by everybody and accessible enough to be read by anyone. ( )
  dcunning11235 | Aug 12, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tavris, CarolAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aronson, ElliotAuthormain 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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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
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.
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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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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