Robert C. Priddy

Writings on diverse themes from philosophy, psychology to literature and criticism

  • Robert Priddy


    In this blog I post information and critical views concerning ideologies, belief systems and related scientific materials etc. I am a retired philosophy lecturer and researcher, born 1936.

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Belief in denial

Posted by robertpriddy on February 1, 2014

When one has developed and nurtured a belief or system of such for some time, it is psychologically harder to give it up that to retain it, and even in the face of the most destructive facts. Religions in the modern world are such beliefs. So how does such denial work? Quite simple for some people, due to a certain feature of our brains, it appears:-

Denials are nothing more than a statement with a ‘not’ tagged on, and it’s often the statement rather than the ‘not’ that seeps into the brain.”

In ‘A Mind of its Own‘ by Cordelia Fine (Icon Books) she refers to the human brain. She compares the subconscious to a butler who carries out everyday duties so that our conscious minds can concentrate on more elevated stuff. The problem is that, like many of the best butlers, the brain keeps its master happy by scheming and concealing the truth from him. We are predisposed to believe what we want to believe. So “evidence that fits with our beliefs is quickly waved through the mental border control“, while “counter-evidence must submit to close interrogation and even then will probably not be allowed in“. The moral: we should keep our mental butlers in check… not be a defenceless martyr to the fictions of the brain, and watch out in particular for its instinctive bigotry, which leads us to jump to conclusions about other people.

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One Response to “Belief in denial”

  1. eileenweed said

    So true, and so clearly stated! How ironic it is – we keep the truth from ourselves, as if to make our lives comfortably status quo, just like the butlers do for their masters. When in reality, what a huge universe of possibilities and FREEDOM await us, if we allow the truth in! It is like opening up a cage and letting the caged bird fly free!

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