It is scary to see the power of rationalization. We humans can exert great effort to persuade ourself that wrong is right. With enough effort, we can persuasively argue that wrong is a positive good, the noble alternative.
It is unsettling to me when I see a client deeply believe that tax or accounting fraud is perfectly legitimate and I am the one who is in the wrong to suggest otherwise. Worrisome is a watching a friend who believes that hurtful or destructive or nasty or evil behavior is Godly. Even more upsetting is when I catch my brain in full rationalization mode.
No, I’m not about to give any examples from clients, friends, or my life.
Unfortunately, we have a sad public example of rationalization racing at full power (sad pun intended).
(Cross-post from my other blog, Attestation Update.)
Some background on Lance Armstrong’s massive doping schemes
Many public sources report that Lance Armstrong has been found to use performance enhancing drugs for a very long time. He won seven consecutive Tour de France races.
According to Wikipedia, in 2012 he received a life-time world ban on all competitive events in all sports. His seven wins were revoked. He was found to have engaged in sophisticated doping schemes for many years.
In 2013, he admitted massive doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. He admitted using a long and specific list of banned substances and did so in each of the 7 Tour de France races.
Rationalization on display
Having set the background, let’s look at an article in The Guardian: Lance Armstrong: I would probably cheat again in similar circumstances. Thanks to Professor Mike Shaub (twitter @mikeshaub) for pointing out the article.
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