Friday, June 28, 2019

The art of self deception






Have you heard the story of the bank robber named McArthur Wheeler in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who was told that if he rubbed lemon juice on his face, he wouldn’t need to use a mask to avoid detection, because his face would be invisible to the cameras? This is not a joke it’s true! He bought a Polaroid camera and a couple of lemons, squeezed them and applied the juice to his face. He then pointed the camera at his face and clicked, rotated the camera and clicked. What he finished up with was a photo of the ceiling but no image of his face and fully believed that the lemon juice did the trick.


The detective who viewed the CCTV footage said that Wheeler walked into the Bank, searched for the cameras, deliberately looked at them and smiled, completely deceived into thinking that the ploy had worked. He was subsequently arrested and convicted. 

When David Dunning, a Cornell professor of social psychologycame across this story he decided to investigate it further. Dunning and his graduate student, Justin Kruger, organized a program of research to look into the idea that our incompetence can blind us to our incompetence. The results became known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect, ‘our incompetence masks our ability to recognize our incompetence’.  

This story prompted Errol Morris of the New York Timesto write a series of articles entitled ‘The Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong but You’ll Never Know What It Is’In Morris’s fifth article he deals with the subject of self-deception, wilful ignorance and not wanting to know what is knowable. This involves the will of the individual who chooses not to know. In spiritual terms that is the position of many people today. They do not want to know about God despite clear evidence that the ‘invisible things of him (God) from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead,’ Romans 1. 20, the Bible.

Greek scholars tell me that the fourth gospel in the New Testament is written in uncomplicated language. It uses words that a child can understand, but those words carry significant truth. For example, the first three verses read, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anythingmade that was made.”’ The majority of those words are single syllable and easy to understand. The truth that they convey is that Jesus is God the Son and that everything was made by Him. Many intelligent people refuse to accept John’s words as truth. Is this an example of the willful ignorance that Errol Morris is speaking about – I’ll leave you to be the judge of that.

Now I am certainly not accusing any of my readers of being stupid, but the Bible does agree with the notion suggested by Morris and Dunning that humans are often practicing self-deception. 

Let me leave you with some quotes from the Bible to support this claim on the basis that Christian belief is based on historical fact and eye witness evidence:

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnessesand ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught, Luke 1:1-4
(Dr Luke was stated by Sir William M Ramsay to be one of the most accurate historians of his day)
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name, John 20:30
How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard,while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles, Hebrews 2:3,4

They do not want to know about God despite clear evidence that the ‘invisible things of him (God) from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead,’ Romans 1. 20, the Bible.




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