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#354: The Surprising Upsides of Self-Deception | Shankar Vedantam


Anyone with a passing familiarity with Buddhism will know that “delusion” is rarely, if ever, mentioned in a positive way. In fact, the Buddha included delusion (aka: confusion about the way things really are) on his list of “the three poisons.” The whole point of meditation, per the Buddha, is to uproot delusion -- along with greed and hatred. Only then can you be enlightened. 

My guest today is here to valiantly make the case that delusion -- or self-deception -- has an upside. Many upsides, in fact. While he concedes that self-deception can, of course, be massively harmful, he argues that it also plays a vital role in our success and wellbeing, and that it holds together friendships, marriages, and nations. Understanding this, he says, can make you happier, more effective, and -- crucially -- more empathetic with people with whom you disagree.

Shankar Vedantam is the host of the popular podcast and radio show Hidden Brain. His new book is called Useful Delusions: The Power and Paradox of the Self-Deceiving Brain. In this conversation, we talk about: the many ways our brains filter and alter our perception of reality; why we evolved for a robust capacity to lie to ourselves; and how his research on delusions has colored his view of the chaos and confusion of our modern world.

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Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/shankar-vedantam-354

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