Book Reviews

Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson

Why do so many detectives and prosecutors deny their mistakes when the people who they convicted were proven to be innocent? This book explains just that: why and how people won’t admit they’re wrong. Cognitive dissonance is the mental state in which our actions or thoughts clash with our beliefs. And that is why we self-justify. If we don’t, we feel very uncomfortable with ourselves.

Part of self-justification involves partially twisting the truths. How could somebody believe something that is obviously false? Well, for example, memory is a common way we justify our actions. Memory naturally blurs overtime so unconsciously, we only remember the things that make us think that we’re amazingly kind, smart, brave, etc. And what’s more is we really believe it!

One of the countless examples given in the book illustrates vividly another of the ways in which we avoid cognitive dissonance: only socializing with people who think as we do. Sleep paralysis means you abruptly wake up during a REM period of sleep and your mind is awake but your body can’t move. Some people who experience sleep paralysis believe they were abducted by aliens and were even forced to take part in experiments! When they publicized these claims most people didn’t believe them, so they took shelter with people who also experienced these ‘abductions’ and only listened to their side of the story. The result of that was they felt comfortable with their beliefs and always thought they were right.

The book was full of examples and experiments that kept me turning the pages. Everyone should read this book, especially people who believe that they are always right. In this way, they will be more open to different opinions.

Write A Comment