When given the choice between a comforting lie and the unpleasant truth, most of us believe that we need some degree of illusion to cope with the harshness of reality. However, these false beliefs often come with side effects and eventually cause more harm than good when they collide with reality. As part of Flanders’ skeptics movement Maarten dissects these lies that we tell ourselves, such as the belief in god and our own self, and analyses its consequences.
Especially the (false) belief in our own capabilities can be deceiving. Mark Twain already pointed out that “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” It was proven that over-confident drivers are more prone to text while driving and thereby not only harm themselves but also jeopardise the lives of others. Moreover, the person who trumps everybody else when it comes to self- confidence ended up being elected as president of the United States. The side effects of the latter can be read in the daily news papers. Thus, the truth might piss us off sometimes but in the end it will set us free.
Maarten Boudry (1984) is a postdoctoral fellow at Ghent University. He studied in Vienna, Boston and New York. In 2011, he defended his dissertation on pseudoscience: “Here Be Dragons. Exploring the Hinterland of Science”. He is also co-editor and co-author of books. His current research deals with evolutionary epistemology, in particular the problem of human irrationality. Other research interests include naturalism, skepticism and the conflict between science and religion.