No one likes taking responsibility for mistakes, poor judgments and plans that do not pan out. We’ve even developed a special kind of mental somersault to deal with the consequences when other people catch up to what we’ve done. It’s called self-justification. A special kind of lie mixed with rationalizations and denial. On a low level we aren’t too bad. Forget to pick up the dry cleaning – oops sorry. Talking trash about a war and causing over a hundred thousand deaths and turning a few million into refugees over some trash talk about aluminum tubes, some 20 year old leaky mustard gas canisters gas literally buried in some backyard. Claiming to be the grand poopahs of economic policy and then crashing a nation’s economy. No way anyone is going to take responsibility for that or be proud of voting to enable those actions. The tea baggers are a great example of self-justification in action. It was those conservatives in charge that betrayed conservatism’s core values, not us poor little conservatives who bare no responsibility. Self-justification is the kind of lie that keeps on giving. Some very good bloggers, pundits and various experts write on science. They point out the rational empirical facts that are contrary to what someone believes. The rationally minded observers are frequently stunned to see those carefully laid out arguments and supporting evidence bounce off minds like BBs off tanks. The self-justified not only rejects the evidence, but invests even deeper into their unjustified beliefs. Bloggers, pundits, creative directors at ad agencies, scientists involved in public policy and progressive minded politicians are probably aware of the justification phenomenon on some level. If not they might want to read up on the subject. Knowing what’s going on won’t make the problem go away but it might save some frustrations. Self justification becomes the noble cause for its practitioners ( while everyone uses self justification, for the sake of this essay practitioners are those people who most frequently resort to it). The housing bubble for instance had been building up since the 80s. There is some blame to spread around between political parties and from little banks on main Street to large financial firms on Wall St. Yet is was primarily deregulation fever – a holy grail of conservatism and libertarianism that is mostly to blame. So conservatives and libertarians deflect blame to the working poor. At that point self justification is not even a viscous lie it is a deception that takes on a life of its own. It becomes an alternate reality. Far more pernicious than a lie or poor judgment. The irrational behavior and beliefs that contributed to a monumental disaster thus live on to do more damage because the perpetrators believe they acted morally and even courageously ( just as the housing bubble and Wall St meltdown were reaching the boiling point Rick Santelli gave America one of the best examples of self justification in an unhinged rant. Than went on to cheer for more of the same polices that had weakened the nation’s fiscal health and ability to deal with such a large economic crisis).
There are two major types of self justification, external and internal. The external type is when one wants to make one’s actions seem like they did not contribute to the problem or played a minimal role at best. The internal types is how one deceives oneself to avoid moral responsibility. Both are difficult to deal with, but the internal type can become a habit early in life. And in some ways because of a parenting tradition passed from one generation to the next around the world. Parents tell children not to lie – children start lying at around four years old. Children are taught lying is sin or simply bad. Telling the truth is a virtue and by implication the truth will be rewarded. The opposite is actually whats plays out. Tell the truth about knocking over the lamp and no dessert. So in time a little voice says knocking over the lamp was bad but telling the truth will be punished so what if I knocked it over they can just buy another one and besides mommy told a lie on Tuesday and dad told one at dinner last night. Internal self-justification becomes a habit almost as quickly as lying.
Superstitious Beliefs Getting More Common – Believers range from free-spirited types to high-powered businessmen. Some were drifters; others were brain surgeons.
They started with two nationwide surveys that interviewed a total of more than 3,000 Americans about their beliefs, experiences and interests.
When the scientists broke down the results, they found that people who are moderately religious are most likely to believe in the paranormal. This could be because they are open enough to believe in the unknown, but not so rigid in their religious beliefs to reject mysterious experiences altogether.
The numbers also showed that different types of paranormal entities appeal to different demographics. Women, for instance, are most likely to believe they live in haunted houses. College graduates are most likely to have out-of-body experiences. Unmarried white men are most likely to believe in UFOs.
Bigfoot hunters were perhaps the most surprising group, Bader said. They defied all stereotypes of paranormal pursuers who wear flowing clothes and commune with spirits.
Instead, they were very serious, extremely conventional and often highly professional. In fact, their beliefs contradicted their lifestyles so much that many of them were plagued by anxiety, which drove them even further to stick to their beliefs.
As a skeptic this is little depressing yet as a person who enjoys a quirky conversation, I find talking to someone who believes in UFOs for instance, generally fun. As long as they’re not nail biting obsessive about it. The same for Bigfoot. I do draw the line at ghosts. I’ve never told anyone to shut up, but I tune out the conversation until they move on to another subject.