The Wisest One in the Room
How You Can Benefit From Social Psychology's Most Powerful InsightsBook - 2015
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If we want to understand the actions of other people, we have to understand how they interpreted their circumstances and the choices they faced--not the way we would interpret them or, rather, the way we think we would interpret them if we were in their shoes.
The fact that these statements are true doesn't mean they aren't also rationalizations that you and others use to justify questionable behavior.
This uncomfortable truth is crucial to an understanding of the link between rationalization and evil--an understanding that starts with the awareness that sane people rarely, if ever, act in a truly evil manner unless they can successfully rationalize their actions. . . . The problem is that people are extraordinarily adept at rationalizing. This applies not only to personal misdeeds, but also to the greater sins of omission and commission associated with genocide, slavery, apartheid, war atrocities, and the denial of basic human rights and human dignity. A further problem is that . . . the process of rationalizing evil deeds committed by whole societies is a collective effort rather than a solely individual enterprise.
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