The Boon of False Beliefs

Some false beliefs, such as paranoia, are ill-suited to evolutionary success, but some, like extreme optimism in the face of insurmountable odds, are a boon, says Scientific American.

Some false beliefs, such as paranoia, are ill-suited to evolutionary success, but some, like extreme optimism in the face of insurmountable odds, are a boon, says Scientific American. Psychologist Ryan McKay and philosopher Daniel Dennett ask the question: "Is it ever right to be wrong?" They concluded "that only one mistaken belief passes muster, something that they called 'positive illusions.' Positive illusions refer to unrealistically positive views of oneself, unrealistically positive optimism toward the future, and unrealistic views of personal control. McKay and Dennett argue that positive illusions are adaptive because they not only enhance psychological well-being—who doesn’t enjoy thinking of themselves as better than others—but because they enhance physical health as well."

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