In today's NY Times is an article entitled: "Deep Down, We Can’t Fool Even Ourselves," by JOHN TIERNEY.
Basically, the studies cited by psychologists describe the mental mechanics of what they call "moral hypocrisy," something I wrote about in my "Lying Liars" posting a few days ago without calling it that. "The moral hypocrite," described in the Times piece, "has convinced himself that he is acting virtuously even when he does something he would condemn in others." Sounds similar to the politicians and psychopaths I described. Believing your own lies, in other words, is the hallmark of a moral hypocrite.
But here's the really interesting thing: one Dr. DeSteno, a psychologist at Northeastern University, found that a kind of deliberate mental distraction was necessary to maintain a lie, and that "just a little bit of extra mental exertion was enough to eliminate hypocrisy."
“Hypocrisy is driven by mental processes over which we have volitional control,” said Dr. Valdesolo, a psychologist at Amherst College. “Our gut seems to be equally sensitive to our own and others’ transgressions, suggesting that we just need to find ways to better translate our moral feelings into moral actions.”
Now, here's my favorite part:
"As useful as hypocrisy can be, it’s apparently not quite as basic as the human instinct to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Your mind can justify double standards, it seems, but in your heart you know you’re wrong."
Yeah! I love it when science catches up to the truth. Like I said in my "What's Your EQ?" posting, human beings are designed to lead with their hearts, not their minds. When we reverse that, we are out of alignment and capable of committing nefarious deeds because we lose our integrity and capacity for empathy.
But as I say on my home page: "human beings are, by first nature, sane, loving, cooperative, creative, humorous, intelligent, productive and naturally self-regulating."
Right. No one is a natural hypocrite or crook. No one.