Why we lie to ourselves, with Adrian Bardon

This week, we speak with Adrian Bardon about Motivated Reasoning: the ways and reasons we lie to ourselves.


S1 E13: Why we lie to ourselves

“The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing” Blaise Pascal, Pensées, 1670

The Mind is embodied - it is a bodily function. What causes it to function in the way that it does. What motivates it?

And here’s the rub. Because the mind has two, often contradictory, reasons for working.

  1. Epistemic: we think for knowledge, truth, accuracy.
  2. Emotional / Social: we think to reinforce group bonds, gain status, find safety.

This week, Turi talks to Adrian Bardon about Denialism: when the emotional reasons for thinking win out over the epistemic ones. That process is called “motivated reasoning” because our reasoning is motivated by emotional needs. It can be deeply damaging to our understanding of the world, and our capacity to engage with each other.

Together, they discuss how motivated reasoning works, what animates it, and why it has been so useful to us evolutionarily.

They also talk actual politics, and ask why Conservatives have a such a hard time with Man-Made Climate Change, and why Liberals deny the value of nuclear energy.

Listen to hear:

  • why all reasoning is motivated
  • how Denialism manifests itself in politics and media
  • What the core emotional drivers are of our politics and values?
  • why the Coronavirus caused such a challenge to Conservatives
  • whether we’re happier thinking tribally than thinking rationally
  • and how you can treat motivated reasoning in yourself.

Finally, listen to hear what we can do about Climate Change communication.

We don’t have time to wait for the science deniers to evolve. How can we avoid an epistemic crisis unleashing an existential one?

Adrian Bardon

Adrian Bardon is Professor of Philosophy at Wake Forest University, USA, and recently published The Truth about Denial: bias and self-deception in science, politics and religion


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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 9 Sep 2020 at 09:10 UTC