DR. JOHN'S CASE NOTES : BRIDGE PLAYERS AND SELF-DECEPTION
Bridge players are renown for deceiving themselves. Indeed , this condition becomes more acute when they take up key roles on committee.
Self-deception is a state resembling but distinguishable from that of ignorance or false belief. Every player I have ever come across falsely believes he/she is an expert at the game. But of much greater concern is that decisions made by committees are claimed , quite falsely , to be outcome of an open and fair democratic process : always correct and morally right.
Sadly their self-deception consists of a motivational blindness to facts that are in some way or for some reason undesirable or unacceptable to the individuals concerned. For instance , when facts can be produced to establish to alternative argument or point of view , bridge players will choose not to see them or accept them , because they are motivated to endorse only those facts which support their chosen position.
Self-deception is a subject which fascinates philosophers as well as psycho-analysts.In an ideal world all viewpoints and decisions should be determined on the availability of correct information , plus that level of effort needed to establish all the relevant and crucial facts . However when self-deception locks in , significant facts are conveniently overlooked. Then of course there is the failure to raise relevant questions for fear of getting unacceptable answers.
A classic example which illustrates collective self-deception by committee members involved the wrongful dismissal of a Reverend from the church. The court held that there was a deliberate falsification of the hearing and of the evidence concerned. This view was supported by the fact that not one of 38 unsolicited letters of recommendation for the Reverend received by the panel from his former congregants was entered into the final report , or even referred to in discussions. This was simply because of their positive and glowing support for the Reverend and his ministry. Yet all 4 of the solicited letters against the Reverend , obtained during the proceedings, were reproduced in the report having been declared at face value as legitimate evidence.
All this self-deception can be psychologically explained as the unconscious distortion of the appreciation of a state of affairs to satisfy the individual's own motives. In practice self-deception quickly manifests itself into bad faith, by which most opinions and decisions are predetermined , as opposed to being freely chosen by those with open minds , moral integrity and with no personal agendas or axes to grind.