Self-deception is a process of denying or rationalizing away the relevance, significance, or importance of opposing evidence and logical argument. Self-deception involves convincing oneself of a truth (or lack of truth) so that one does not reveal any self-knowledge of the deception.
- The phrase, the world wants to be deceived, has become truer than had ever been intended. People are not only, as the saying goes, falling for the swindle; if it guarantees them even the most fleeting gratification they desire a deception which is nonetheless transparent to them. They force their eyes shut and voice approval, in a kind of self-loathing, for what is meted out to them, knowing fully the purpose for which it is manufactured. Without admitting it they sense that their lives would be completely intolerable as soon as they no longer clung to satisfactions which are none at all.
- Theodor W. Adorno, "Culture Industry Reconsidered" (1963), as translated by Anson G. Rabinbach in New German Critique 6, (Fall 1975), p. 12-19
- The first and worst of all frauds is to cheat one's self.
- Philip James Bailey, Festus (1813), scene Anywhere.
- Suppose we were able to share meanings freely without a compulsive urge to impose our view or conform to those of others and without distortion and self-deception. Would this not constitute a real revolution in culture and therefore eventually in society.
- David Bohm, The Ecology of Conversation: Learning to Communicate from Your Core, p. 76.
- In all of history, we have found just one cure for error—a partial antidote against making and repeating grand, foolish mistakes, a remedy against self-deception. That antidote is criticism.
- The capacity for self-deception, rarely acknowledged or understood by those who offer us supernatural answers to our problems, is huge: as easy as it is to make a medium’s cold-reading statements ‘fit’ our own situation and come to believe that he must have some paranormal insight, it is hardly any more difficult for a would-be psychic with an average ego, upon hearing frequently positive feedback, to believe over time that he must be blessed with a special gift. It’s harder to think you’re doing it for real when you’re tossing tambourines in the dark or have ready-made ectoplasm stuffed into your mouth or bottom.
- Derren Brown, Harry Houdini on Deception (foreword) (2009).
- Self-deception is a defining part of our human nature. By recognizing its various forms in ourselves and reflecting upon them, we may be able to disarm them and even, in some cases, to employ and enjoy them. This self-knowledge opens up a whole new world before us, rich in beauty and subtlety, and frees us not only to take the best out of it, but also to give it back the best of ourselves, and, in so doing, to fulfil our potential as human beings. I don't really think it's a choice.
- It is never going to be possible for any of us to eliminate self deception completely from our lives and that some forms of self deception can actually prove very productive for us. Many forms of self deception are ways in which we can deal with difficult situations. A good example is having a bad day at work and rather than taking it out on family and friends you might go and play a fast and furious game of tennis.
- Neel Burton, in “Hide and Seek: The Psychology of Self-Deception”
- Most people are not liars. They can't tolerate too much cognitive dissonance. I don't want to deny that there are outright liars, just brazen propagandists. You can find them in journalism and in the academic professions as well. But I don't think that's the norm. The norm is obedience, adoption of uncritical attitudes, taking the easy path of self-deception.
- Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor [[w:Idolaters|idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
- Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true.
- Demosthenes, Third Olynthiac, paragraph 19, Olynthiacs, Phillippics, Minor Public Speeches…, trans. J. H. Vince, p. 53 (1954).
- Most of our platitudes notwithstanding, self-deception remains the most difficult deception. The tricks that work on others count for nothing in that very well-lit back alley where one keeps assignations with oneself: no winning smiles will do here, no prettily drawn lists of good intentions.
- Joan Didion, in Slouching Towards Bethlehem quoted in Self-Deception Remains the Most Difficult Deception.
- In vain do they think themselves innocent who appropriate to their own use alone those goods which God gave in common; by not giving to others that which they themselves receive, they become homicides and murderers, inasmuch as in keeping for themselves those things which would alleviate the sufferings of the poor, we may say that every day they cause the death of as many persons as they might have fed and did not. When, therefore, we offer the means of living to the indigent, we do not give them anything of ours, but that which of right belongs to them. It is less a work of mercy which we perform than the payment of a debt.
- Many of my fellow atheists consider all talk of 'spirituality' or 'mysticism' to be synonymous with mental illness, conscious fraud, or self-deception. I have argued elsewhere that this is a problem - because millions of people have had experiences for which 'spiritual' and 'mystical' seem the only terms available.
- Everyone admits that "the truth hurts" but no one applies this adage to himself -and as soon as it begins to hurt us, we quickly repudiate it and call it a lie. It is this tendency toward self-deception (more than any active sin) that makes human progress slow and almost imperceptible.
- Sydney J. Harris, On the Contrary (1964).
- More fundamentally, I'm interested in memory because it's a filter through which we see our lives, and because it's foggy and obscure, the opportunities for self-deception are there. In the end, as a writer, I'm more interested in what people tell themselves happened rather than what actually happened.
- The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? "I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.
- The self-deceived person may even think he is able to console others who became victims of perfidious deception, but what insanity when someone who himself has lost the eternal wants to heal the person who is extremely sick unto death!
- Only one deception is possible in the infinite sense, self-deception.
- Søren Kierkegaard, Works of Love (1847).
- Food, clothing and shelter — these are the basic needs. Beyond that, if you want anything, it is the beginning of self-deception.
- U. G. Krishnamurti, Stopped in Our Tracks, Book Two: Excerpts from U.G.'s Dialogues (2005) by K. Chandrasekhar.
- People always have been the foolish victims of deception and self-deception in politics, and they always will be, until they have learned to seek out the interests of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises.
- Vladimir Lenin, On Culture and Cultural Revolution, p. 40
- Comparing oneself with Galileo or Einstein is certainly good for the ego — provided one refrains from going into too much detail.
- You know, I have this version of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. God, in expelling Adam and Eve, kind of felt bad. He had gotten very angry, right? You know, you get angry and then you feel, "Well, maybe I overreacted." So, God was in that kind of mood when he expelled Adam and Eve from the garden. But his hands were tied. He had to go through with it; he had made the decision. God doesn't want to constantly second-guess himself. But he thought, "I know. I'll give them self-deception. Things are going to be truly horrendous out there, but they'll never notice."
- The nature of self-love and of this human Ego is to love self only and consider self only. But what will man do? He cannot prevent this object that he loves from being full of faults and wants. He wants to be great, and he sees himself small. He wants to be happy, and he sees himself miserable. He wants to be perfect, and he sees himself full of imperfections. He wants to be the object of love and esteem among men, and he sees that his faults merit only their hatred and contempt. This embarrassment in which he finds himself produces in him the most unrighteous and criminal passion that can be imagined; for he conceives a mortal enmity against that truth which reproves him, and which convinces him of his faults. He would annihilate it, but, unable to destroy it in its essence, he destroys it as far as possible in his own knowledge and in that of others; that is to say, he devotes all his attention to hiding his faults both from others and from himself, and he cannot endure either that others should point them out to him, or that they should see them.
- At the outset the solemn asseverations of monarchs and leading statesmen in each nation that they did not want war must be placed on a par with the declarations of men who pour paraffin about a house knowing they are continually striking matches and yet assert they do not want a conflagration. This form of self-deception, which involved the deception of others, is fundamentally dishonest.
- Arthur Ponsonby, Falsehood in Wartime: Propaganda Lies of the First World War, Introduction (1928).
- Lower a bucket into a well of self-deception, and what comes up must be immortal truth, mustn't it?
- Charles Reade, The Cloister and the Hearth, Ch. VI (1861).
- Embarrassment is the greatest teacher, but since its lessons are exactly those we have tried hardest to conceal from ourselves, it may teach us, also, to perfect our self-deception.
- James Richardson, Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten Second Essays, #373 (2001).
- The surest way to be deceived is to consider oneself cleverer than others.
- Human beings have a demonstrated talent for self-deception when their emotions are stirred.
- It is self-love and its offspring self-deception, which shut the gates of heaven, and lead men, as if in a delicious dream, to hell.
- Christian Scriver, reported in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, p. 537 (1895)
- This is the excellent foppery of the world, that,
when we are sick in fortune,— often the surfeit,
of our own behavior,— we make guilty of our,
disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars: as
if we were villains by necessity; fools by
heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and
treachers, by spherical predominance; drunkards,
liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of
planetary influence; and all that we are evil in,
by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion
of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish
disposition to the charge of a star!
- Being deeply knowledgeable on one subject narrows one's focus and increases confidence, but it also blurs dissenting views until they are no longer visible, thereby transforming data collection into bias confirmation and morphing self-deception into self-assurance.
- Man is an evasive beast, given to cultivating strange notions about himself. He is humiliated by his simian ancestry, and tries to deny his animal nature, to persuade himself that he is not limited by its weaknesses nor concerned in its fate. And this impulse may be harmless, when it is genuine. But what are we to say when we see the formulas of heroic self-deception made use of by unheroic self-indulgence?
- Upton Sinclair, The Profits of Religion: An Essay in Economic Interpretation, Introductory, "Bootstrap-lifting" (1918).
- Narcissism and self-deception are survival mechanisms without which many of us might just jump off a bridge.
- If we can but tear the blindfold of self-deception from our eyes and loosen the gag of self-denial from our voices, we can restore our country to greatness.
- Unfortunately for the good sense of mankind, the fact of their fallibility is far from carrying the weight in their practical judgment, which is always allowed to it in theory; for while every one well knows himself to be fallible, few think it necessary to take any precautions against their own fallibility, or admit the supposition that any opinion, of which they feel very certain, may be one of the examples of the error to which they acknowledge themselves to be liable.
- The "passion for incredulity" can produce as much self-deception as the uncritical will to believe.
- Colin Wilson, After Life, p. 209 (1999).
- The instinct for self-deception in human beings makes them try to banish from their minds dangers of which at bottom they are perfectly aware by declaring them non-existent.
- Stefan Zweig, Beware of Pity (1939).