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Why We Deceive Ourselves Sometimes

What Folding Chairs Taught Me About Skepticism

Ben Thomas | Posted 04.05.2013 | TED Weekends
Ben Thomas

What is it that separates everyday trust -- everyday leaps of faith, even -- from the kinds of ironclad beliefs that inspire jihads; crusades; leper-kissing; cathedral-building? How does one become so utterly sure of an idea that rests on so many unproven assumptions?

Are We All Just Wired for Anxiety?

Ben Michaelis, Ph.D. | Posted 04.05.2013 | TED Weekends
Ben Michaelis, Ph.D.

If Shermer is right (and he is), and that our default setting is to see patterns where they don't exist because the cost of being wrong (that there is no pattern) is usually much higher than the cost of being right (that there is a pattern) then I have some bad news for you.

How Much Does 'True Belief' Cost?

Patricia Adair Gowaty | Posted 04.04.2013 | TED Weekends
Patricia Adair Gowaty

Sometimes the cost of believing something is true when it is false (being a "true believer") is gravely expensive compared to the cost of a believing something false when it is true (being a skeptic).

How Self-Deception Can Be Psychologically Healthy

Douglas LaBier | Posted 04.04.2013 | TED Weekends
Douglas LaBier

Both research studies and clinical evidence from psychotherapy show that a strong belief or expectation about achieving a goal or overcoming a problem can have a powerful impact upon what actually happens in your life.

Can Believing In Luck Actually Make You Lucky?

Stuart Vyse | Posted 04.04.2013 | TED Weekends
Stuart Vyse

We have long known that lucky charms and superstitious rituals provide psychological comfort to those hoping to win the lottery, knock in a winning run, or get an A on a calculus exam, but now there is good evidence that our superstitions actually work -- not through magic but through psychology.

The Potent Power Of Asking 'What If..?'

Laura Kray | Posted 04.03.2013 | TED Weekends
Laura Kray

2013-01-18-TEDplayvideoAre you ready to go down the rabbit hole of possibilities with your own life? Start with a moment from your past in which rapid, intense, and clear change occurred. Now, thoughtfully consider who you would be today if the turning point incident had never occurred.

Santa, Self-Deception, And The Survival Instinct

Laura Cococcia | Posted 04.03.2013 | TED Weekends
Laura Cococcia

2013-01-18-TEDplayvideo"Self-deception" might seem like a fairly heavy-handed term to use in describing the average 5-year-old's belief in Santa Claus. So let's extend the metaphor, as Michael Shermer does, back to our ancestors.

The Evolutionary Need To Believe

Art Markman, Ph.D. | Posted 04.03.2013 | TED Weekends
Art Markman, Ph.D.

2013-01-18-TEDplayvideoWe need to trust that the facts, concepts, and explanations that we get from the people around us are generally truthful. There is so much to learn, that when we are exposed to an idea our default is to believe that it is true.

What Is Skepticism, Anyway?

Michael Shermer | Posted 04.03.2013 | TED Weekends
Michael Shermer

2013-02-01-shermerpullI am often asked what I mean by skepticism, and if I'm skeptical of everything or if I actually believe anything. There is also a popular notion that skeptics are closed-minded.

On The Fringe Of Reality

Mark Boslough | Posted 04.04.2013 | TED Weekends
Mark Boslough

In our daily lives, there often seem to be just enough ants, raindrops, and clouds for us to discern patterns, but not enough to be certain or to know what they mean.