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Memories of the 28th Century

Self- Delusion for Your Own Good

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Remain calm. All actions are futile.

We all know in our subconscious minds that there is no hope, and that everything is predetermined, so our actions and decisions are predetermined, so we might as well not do anything. Yes, life is completely pointless, except as a tool for DNA to develop more complicated organisms. We are all in the same position as the character on The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut who produced a replacement part for the Tralfamadorians by a series of acts that appeared to be random or accidental. While our innermost thoughts accept the facts, our DNA demands that it be given the opportunity to reproduce, so even the ugliest misbegotten person tries its best to do the best in its life.

To further that end, our subconscious minds create the personality complete with the delusion that each of us is the most wonderful, beautiful, brilliant, sexy, strong, etc. person in the world, or something close to that. Alas, the delusional thinking isn't confined top personal attributes, and many people think that they are less than completely successful in all things only because there are forces acting against them. Thoughts of this sort sometimes lead to conspiracy theories by the subconscious mind creating or borrowing something that could prevent the individual from being happy and successful.

It is possible that people of low intelligence have minds that are superior in creating delusions. As an example, people who are more intelligent usually have a more realistic view of their abilities, while people of lower intelligence frequently can't imagine that anyone is more intelligent than they are. The result is that the people with lower intelligences rush in where angels fear to tread. Alexander Pope recognised that fact three hundred years ago, and the fools still don't have the sense to be cautious, and wiser heads may be overcautious.

But the most important sort of delusion that I know of are those things that people believe that keep them from abandoning all hope, even though they all know that there is no hope. I have mentioned the matter of “free will” before, and all humans know that there is none (at least they know that when they pull aside the curtain of self-delusion), but language, common activities, and even religion are set up as if there were free will; this is true even in areas where the culture is nominally deterministic.

The linked article is quite good. It amplifies what I have written, and even someone who has deluded himself into thinking that he is worthy of continued life finds agreement gratifying. I advise that you read the article for your own good. It is well written, and explains the matter more thoroughly than I was willing to.

Both that author of that article and I think that you are doing the wise thing by thinking that you are the most beautiful, wonderful, intelligent, etc. person in the universe, because you are, and anyone who disagrees is simply deluded. Just keep that in mind, and you probably will be able to continue.

How Our Delusions Keep Us Sane: The Psychology of Our Essential Self-Enhancement Bias
by Maria Popova

Updated 10-10-2014 at 09:28 AM by PeterL