‘Kidding Ourselves’ shows the rational side of self-deception | Science News

Support Science Journalism

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.

Reviews & Previews

‘Kidding Ourselves’ shows the rational side of self-deception

Pulitzer winner explores superstitions and more

5:00pm, July 12, 2014

Kidding Ourselves
Joseph T. Hallinan
Random House, $25

People believe the darnedest things — despite doubts, common sense and even evidence to the contrary. For example, a large majority of people are convinced that they drive better than others do, which of course isn’t possible. We can’t all be above average, no matter what Garrison Keillor says.

Hallinan, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, argues that all manner of strange beliefs distort people’s perceptions and give rise to strong expectations, overconfidence, superstitions or just a rosy view of oneself. These beliefs are not all bad. Take, for instance, the placebo effect. When researchers gave some people fake acupuncture with toothpicks and poked others with real needles, the groups reported about equal

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content