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The Power and Paradox of Delusions
July 02, 2021
Shankar Vedantam examines how self-deception helps us succeed at things like parenting. Then Robert Griffin explores beliefs about the 2020 presidential election.
Shankar Vedanteam. Image courtesy Hidden Brain
Our Brains Are Not in the Truth Business July 02, 2021
Shankar Vedantam defines a “useful delusion” as an untruth we allow ourselves to believe so we can get through the day or accomplish some greater goal. These delusions help make us better parents, better spouses, better citizens, and when they find their way into religion, better believers.

The human mind, Vedantam continues, likes order and meaning. This helps explain why some people latch onto conspiracy theories, the belief that the 2020 election was “illegitimate” and that the current pandemic is not real. He describes some means of gently dismantling these delusions.

Shankar Vedantam. Host of Hidden Brain a weekly podcast, and radio show heard on many public radio stations across the United States, journalist, and author most recently of Useful Delusions: The Power and Paradox of The Self Deceiving Brain, from W. W Norton and Company.

Useful Delusion. W. W. Norton and Company

Useful Delusions
W. W. Norton and Company
Robert Griffin. Photograph courtexy The Democracy Fund
Crisis of Confidence: Unpacking Beliefs about the 2020 Election July 02, 2021
Robert Griffin, research director at The Democracy Fund, describes the main findings of a June 2021 poll about voter confidence co-authored with Mayesha Quasem. Chief among the findings is that Democratic and Republican voters are more entrenched in their beliefs about the legitimacy of the last presidential election than ever before.  Griffin explains the implications and highlights the unique role that political elites have in shaping public attitudes about elections and our democratic institutions.

Robert Griffin Ph.D. Senior Research Advisor at Democracy Fund. Griffin also serves on the editorial committee of PS: Political Science and Politics, the journal of record for the American Political Science Association. His research has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Economist, and NBC News, and has been featured on CNN and Meet the Press. He received his Ph.D. in political science and research methodology from The George Washington University.

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