Even Skeptics Can Suffer from Self Delusion

You all might remember Bill Mutranowski from his wonderful website AtheistCartoons.com (a couple of my favorite cartoons are below):

Bill has just released his first book: You Bloggin’ to Me? How the Self Illusion Trolls Us and Why Skeptics Should Care. It’s not about cartoons; in fact, he discusses how even the skeptic community suffers from outmoded thinking about our self:

This book contends that the efforts of skeptics to change society at large are impeded by our attachment to outmoded notions about the self and volition—we take things way too personally and give too little consideration to individual circumstances. But there’s hope. Becoming more objective about our self-engendered impulses can make us more empathetic, compassionate, and wise, enhancing our effectiveness as a movement.

An excerpt from the book is below, and — the best part — Bill has made it free of charge in a whole variety of formats!

We’re all interested in nudging a gullible nation away from pseudoscience and religion toward skepticism and secular values. That takes a movement and its most excellent tool, the Internet. Ultimately, however, the task is moving people. And when it comes to people, how you say something can be as important as what you say. As preposterous as it may sound, there also may be occasions when the most constructive thing is to say nothing at all. But when the self is stoked we want to do something about it, and tend to indulge that impulse. Counterintuitive though it may seem, at those times it can help if you make whatever it is you’re feeling the sole object of your attention. This isn’t exactly your Mom’s advice about counting to ten or taking a deep breath, but she was on the right track; think more along the lines of, “Don’t just do something, sit there.”

It’s not a long read and it’s free — you have no excuse not to take a look at it :)

Check it out!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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