Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) – book

8 08 2007

Point of Enquiry talks to Carol Tavris on the fascinating topic of “cognitive dissonance”.

Carol Tavris is a social psychologist, lecturer, and writer whose books include Anger and The Mismeasure of Woman. She has written on psychological topics for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Scientific American, Skeptical Inquiry, and many other publications. A fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science, and a member of the editorial board of Psychological Science in the Public Interest, she is also a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Her new book is Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, co-authored with Elliot Aronson, one of the most distinguished social psychologists in the world.

In this wide-ranging discussion with D.J. Grothe, Carol Tavris explains “cognitive dissonance,” and how it can lead to self-deception and self-justification. She talks about the ways that reducing dissonance leads to real-world negative effects in the areas of politics, the legal system, and in interpersonal relationships. She also explores what dissonance theory says about confronting those who hold discredited beliefs, what it may say about religious and paranormal belief, what implications the theory may have for scientists communicating with the public, and the role of the scientific temper in avoiding the pitfalls of cognitive dissonance.

The podcast is here.

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2 responses

11 08 2007
richardo

thanks for the heads up. excellent interview. must get the book.

11 08 2007
Fionntán

This site essentially is one big heads up.

If I had to list a problem, then it would with her examples of cognitive dissonance. She uses the same old examples all sceptics seem to use. Bush and Iraq, fundamentalist Christians and evolution, and psychics and their abilities.

The fact the interviewer has to point out “This isn’t just a Republican, or even an American thing” is ridiculous.

However, I agree, it seems like a great book.

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