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Why We Ignore the Obvious: The Psychology of Willful Blindness | Brain Pickings


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Heffernan explores the “friendly alibis” we manufacture for our own inertia — the same ones fueling the “backfire effect” that explains why it’s so hard for us to change our minds. She writes in the book:

Whether individual or collective, willful blindness doesn’t have a single driver, but many. It is a human phenomenon to which we all succumb in matters little and large. We can’t notice and know everything: the cognitive limits of our brain simply won’t let us. That means we have to filter or edit what we take in. So what we choose to let through and to leave out is crucial. We mostly admit the information that makes us feel great about ourselves, while conveniently filtering whatever unsettles our fragile egos and most vital beliefs. It’s a truism that love is blind; what’s less obvious is just how much evidence it can ignore. Ideology powerfully masks what, to the uncaptivated mind, is obvious, dangerous, or absurd and there’s much about how, and even where, we live that leaves us in the dark. Fear of conflict, fear of change keeps us that way. An unconscious (and much denied) impulse to obey and conform shields us from confrontation and crowds provide friendly alibis for our inertia. And money has the power to blind us, even to our better selves.

Ted Talk here: http://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_heffernan_the_dangers_of_willful_blindness?language=en

I read comments of theirs like "40% of Americans don’t believe the world is more than 6,000 years old." and think to myself, 1) they truly don't understand religion as they are willfully blind to it, and 2) they truly don't understand science as they are willfully blind to it.  I understand their point, but be wary of those who need to exaggerate to make their point. 

Yeah, the exaggeration calls into question their credibility.

I did enjoy Margaret Heffernan's TED Talk:

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