It seems to me that self-deception can describe two different things—conscious and unconscious self-deception.
Sometimes the elephant believes something untrue all by itself without the rider ever getting a look in. The claims of elephant in the brain seem to focus on this type of unconscious self-deception.
At other times the rider is complicit in endorsing a particular known untrue belief. The elephant analyses a situation, determines what it is beneficial to believe and motivates the rider to believe this. The rider has access to information which indicates that this isn’t true. If the rider brings this information to full attention then it is one of those rare occasions where he can override the elephant’s desires. However the rider also has the option to push the information to the side and believe a beneficial lie. It is possible to do this well enough that the information is forgotten or completely overridden with new, inaccurate, information.
In pushing the information to the side, the rider can sometimes just never bring the information to full attention. Failing that, it can drown the information out by presenting other information (which agrees with its favoured interpretation) as loudly as possible in order to doubt/ignore/forget the information which it doesn’t like.
At least, this is something I experience but I don’t know whether other people do. I have a few examples where this has happened and have even experimented with allowing myself to start down the route of conscious self-deception to see what it feels like. To me it feels like cognitive dissonance (feeling hot, brain feeling “fuzzy”, adrenaline kicking in) whilst the rider works on counteracting the information. I guess this would be followed by the relief of resolving said dissonance when the rider starts to believe the lie but I haven’t experimented that far!
The literature appears to be understandably non-committal on whether the subjects are consciously aware of their self-deception—I guess that would be pretty hard to determine.
So my question is—do other people recognise this as something which happens to them? How would you describe the experience? Is it something which you’ve trained yourself to recognise when it starts?