People Don’t Know When They’re Lying to Themselves

I've said these kinds of things before but I need to say them again and again and again, this time in reference to two notorious people in the headlines. The lesson of Muammar Gaddafi and Charlie Sheen is that they're lying to themselves and don't know it. They've convinced themselves they are right. But then, this is what we as human do, most all of us. It takes a special kind of skepticism to stop ourselves from doing this. And this applies equally when it comes to our religious debates. My claim is that Christians are delusional. They simply believe despite the overwhelming evidence against their faith. They are in denial just like Gaddafi and Sheen. We can see it plainly in others. What we cannot do is see the same thing in ourselves. So I'm against faith-based reasoning, which is best defined as "belief in search of data." Gaddafi and Sheen have a belief in themselves so they have found the relevant data and convinced themselves they are in the right. You cannot convince them otherwise. That makes skepticism, an adult attitude, a virtue. So I won't believe anything for which there isn't good solid evidence for it. And I won't believe anything for which there are no reasonable answers to basic questions. What's not to understand about this?

Here's an essay that argues this is exactly what Gaddafi and Sheen have done, along with proof most all of us do it. The money quote:
Cheaters convince themselves that they succeed because of their own skill, and if other people agree, their capacity for conning themselves increases. “The fact that social recognition, which so often accompanies self-deception in the real world, enhances self-deception has troubling implications.”

Chance’s study shows that even though people know that they occasionally behave dishonestly, they don’t know that they can convincingly lie to themselves to gloss over these misdeeds. Their scam is so convincing that they don’t know that they’re doing it. As she writes, “Our findings show that people not only fail to judge themselves harshly for unethical behaviour, but can even use the positive results of such behaviour to see themselves as better than ever.”

Other links and quotes follow:

We're not as Rational as We Think.

The Haphazard Evolution of the Mind.

Dr. Alcock wrote an essay titled The Belief Engine. The money quote:
The true critical thinker accepts what few people ever accept — that one cannot routinely trust perceptions and memories. Figments of our imagination and reflections of our emotional needs can often interfere with or supplant the perception of truth and reality. Experience is often a poor guide to reality. Skepticism helps us to question our experience and to avoid being too readily led to believe what is not so.
Another quote from a scientific study done in 2006, and a link:
Most of us like to believe that our opinions have been formed over time by careful, rational consideration of facts and ideas, and that the decisions based on those opinions, therefore, have the ring of soundness and intelligence. In reality, we often base our opinions on our beliefs, which can have an uneasy relationship with facts. And rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions. Worst of all, they can lead us to uncritically accept bad information just because it reinforces our beliefs. This reinforcement makes us more confident we’re right, and even less likely to listen to any new information. Link.
Implications of Mistakes Were Made (But not by Me)

Introducing Cognitive Dissonance

A Listing of Cognitive Biases.