Skeptic Check: Useful Delusions

Gary Niederhoff in rose-colored glasses

Can self-deception be useful? During the pandemic, it has been fashionable to say that we’re “following the science,” and that our behavior is determined by verifiable facts. We are, after all, self-declared rational beings, and that’s clearly useful in guiding our reaction to a pandemic. It’s true that fear and suspicion have caused some to make contrary choices such as declining vaccines, but that behavior is considered irrational. But are there situations when delusional thinking can help you thrive? Why are we not as rational as we think?


Part 1: Steven Novella / Illogical Impetus
Part 2: Shankar Vedantam / Fooling Ourselves
Part 3: Shankar Vedantam / Using Delusion

Featuring music by Dewey Dellay