Skeptic Check: Useful Delusions

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Can self-deception be useful? During the pandemic, it has been fashionable to say that we’re “following the science,” and that our behavior is determined by verifiable facts. We are, after all, self-declared rational beings, and that’s clearly useful in guiding our reaction to a pandemic. It’s true that fear and suspicion have caused some to make contrary choices such as declining vaccines, but that behavior is considered irrational. But are there situations when delusional thinking can help you thrive? Why are we not as rational as we think?

Guests:

  • Steven Novella – Neurologist and professor at Yale University School of Medicine. Host of the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast.
  • Shankar Vedantam – Host of the Hidden Brain podcast and radio show, and co-author of “Useful Delusions: The Power & Paradox of the Self-Deceiving Brain.”

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