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Convincing Your own Self of a False Idea

  1. Jan 6, 2005 #1
    If say, there is a false premise 'x'. Am i capable, psychologically, of convincing myself that this false premise 'x' is true? Therefore, can i cause myself to reach the point at which false premise 'x' becomes a true premise only in my private world?

    Is there a name for this?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 6, 2005 #2

    loseyourname

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    Delusion? Do you really need to ask whether this is possible or not?
     
  4. Jan 6, 2005 #3
    Of course. I'm trying to grasp the degree to which a human being can do this.
     
  5. Jan 6, 2005 #4

    loseyourname

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    You do remember Ptolemaic Cosmogeny, don't you? How about the demonic possession theory of mental illness? Animism? Socialism? Of course people can delude themselves into believing that false propositions are true. I doubt there is any limit to this capacity.
     
  6. Jan 7, 2005 #5
    Social conditioning could be a factor in this...
     
  7. Jan 7, 2005 #6

    selfAdjoint

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    Umm, Ptolemaic astronomy was a rational response to the data; it was wrong but not stupid. Until thinkers had something approaching a conserved momentum, a geocentric universe seemed more in accordance with observed facts.

    Demonic possession is described in the Bible, both old and new testaments, so you couldn't expect Jews and Christians not to believe in it. The panic that identified innocent women as witches and the legal system that permitted their torture and execution, now that was monstrous, but note we haven't resolved our own issues with torturing and executing the innocent.


    Including socialism in this list is just a libertarian dig. The example of the European countries shows the jury is still out on the role of socialism in a working economy.
     
  8. Jan 7, 2005 #7

    russ_watters

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    I have my opinions on socialism, but I'll let it go to keep this from becoming a political thread...

    Those are all pretty "soft" delusions, imo, loseyourname, all being examples of things rational people probably shouldn't believe in but do because they want to. We may want to decide if we're talking about real mental illness or just the normal human failing of wanting things to be true that aren't (dekoi...?). Schizophrenia comes to mind, for some harder delusions (ever see "A Beautiful Mind"?). I'd characterize a lot of what we see people believing in in the TD and S&D forums as delusional - are these othewise rational people or are they mentally ill?
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2005
  9. Jan 7, 2005 #8
    Thank you for sharing. I understand now.

    russ: I'll stick with the second: normal human failing of wanting things to be true. :)
     
  10. Jan 7, 2005 #9

    loseyourname

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    He just asked if people can convince themselves of things that are false. When there is seemingly good evidence to back up the falsehood, it just becomes that much easier.

    Edit: Another thing. I really didn't mean to implicate Ptolemy as delusional. I was thinking more of the Church leaders who threatened anyone that came up with falsifying evidence or competing hypotheses in the middle ages. At that point, it was certainly no longer rational to believe in Geocentrism.

    Maybe not, but wouldn't believing something that isn't true only because an old book tells you it is so be one of the most eggregious forms of delusion?

    Okay, now that's just a liberal dig. (Kidding, I'm actually just as against capital punishment myself.)

    I know. I fully intended it as such.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2005
  11. Jan 7, 2005 #10

    selfAdjoint

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    It seems the original question is: Can you without any exterior prompting, think yourself into a delusion. Since we caan't go back in time to grill delusionaries of history, it seems we have to resort to present day delusionaries. There are loads of people who have lived through mass delusions such as Naziism and Soviet communism. You look at the cheering mobs in Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi movies and you think, those people weren't raised to act that way, they must have talked themselves into it at some point. Likewise the really devoted communists in the USSR. What do these people say today? Is there any literature of post-hoc self-analysis?
     
  12. Jan 7, 2005 #11

    loseyourname

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    Certainly. It's called autosuggestion. The technique is used very effectively by certain successful salespersons. Of course, they are convincing themselves of something that is false only some of the time (that they will close the sale), but the technique can still be used to convince oneself of something that is always false.
     
  13. Jan 20, 2005 #12
    Cognitive dissonance!
     
  14. Jan 20, 2005 #13

    selfAdjoint

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    Aaah, very true!
     
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