Self-delusions keep us going

Philosopher Alfred Mele asks:

Suppose you learn of a kind of psycho-surgery that enables people to bring all of their beliefs about their positive and negative attributes into line with the facts. Suppose you also learn that only this psycho-surgery would eliminate all of your biased beliefs about yourself, that it is very expensive, and that it would probably cut ten years off your life. Would it be rational for you to sign up for the surgery? Obviously not.

I would go further, don’t even do it for free. Mele informs us:

There is a phenomenon called “depressive realism”. Depressed people tend to be significantly more accurate about their positive and negative attributes than do people who are not depressed. Whether depression is a cause of the accuracy or the accuracy is a cause of the depression is an open question. But should you want to cause yourself to be depressed so that you can be more accurate about yourself or work hard to be more accurate about yourself at the risk of causing yourself to be depressed?

Psychologists claim that the depressed are extremely unrealistic about at least one variable: their likelihood of remaining depressed forever. For the depressed, it feels as if the cloud will never lift. When it comes to the rest of us, our delusions [surely a familiar concept to most bloggers!] help motivate us and keep us happy.

So do you agree with my answer to the first thought experiment? Would you reject a free surgery that would lift your delusions? If so, do you feel bad about not being a truthseeker [N.B.: this link is now repaired]? Do you take this fact into account when debating passionately with others? Just my thought for the day.


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