February 21, 2008

Self-deception and biology

Working my way through the Edge questions, and I like the quote below from Robert Trivers, whose big idea is the evolutionary importance of self-deception, in that it helps us to deceive others more convincingly.

One thing I never imagined was that the immune system would be a vital component of any science of self-deception, yet two lines of work within psychology make this clear. ...

...the 1980s produced the striking discovery that the maternal half of our genome could act against the paternal, and vice-versa, discoveries beautifully exploited in the 90’s and 00’s by David Haig to produce a range of expected (and demonstrated) internal conflicts which must inevitably interact with self-deception directed toward others. Put differently, internal genetic conflict leads to a quite novel possibility: selves-deception, equally powerful maternal and paternal halves selected to deceive each other (with unknown effects on deception of others). ...

At the same time, James Pennebaker and colleagues have shown that the very act of repressing information from consciousness lowers immune function while sharing information with others (or even a diary) has the opposite effect.
Full text somewhere on this page

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