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HOW does human psychology, as described by Gilbert (and, to a lesser extent, these other authors) account for our ability to be manipulated?

October 25, 2021
Christopher R. Teeple

Daniel Gilbert’s explanation of the “psychological immune system,” of which people appear to be generally ignorant, raises questions about how much control people have over their own mental states. Tolentino, in her identification of “traps,” Johnson, in his explanation of “patterns” and “feedback loops,” and Foer, in his anxiety over “manipulation,” each discuss ways that individuals are subject to “self-delusion” (Tolentino, Gilbert), “systematic” behavior (Johnson), or even “hacking” (Foer) and “cooking” (Gilbert). The forces that delude, manipulate, hack, and cook are of course different in each case, but there appears to be some symmetry between what human minds do and what outside forces do to them. HOW does human psychology, as described by Gilbert (and, to a lesser extent, these other authors) account for our ability to be manipulated? In other words, how does the mind itself enable external forces to act against a person’s interests?
Please note that this question asks you to describe processes and relationships of significant complexity. A successful thesis will describe a specific relationship or set of relationships between concepts from the texts. Your goal is not to identify a set of ways that people are manipulated or decide whether or not manipulation is a problem (so, this means, no theses that involve lists of three things and no theses containing the words “people should” or “people need to”, but rather to explain how and why the human brain allows for such manipulation).Your essay must cite and analyze passages from:➢Gilbert, Daniel. “Immune to Reality.” The New Humanities Reader, 6th edition, edited by Richard E Miller and Kurt Spellmeyer, Cengage, 2019 pp.142-155And ONE (only one!) of the following readings:➢Tolentino, Jia. “Always Be Optimizing.” Trick Mirror. Random House, 2019 pp. 63-94. ➢Johnson, Steven. “The Myth of the Ant Queen.” The New Humanities Reader, 6th edition, edited by Richard E Miller and Kurt Spellmeyer, Cengage, 2019 pp.187-202➢Foer, Franklin. “Mark Zuckerberg’s War on Free Will.” The New Humanities Reader, 6th edition, edited by Richard E Miller and Kurt Spellmeyer, Cengage, 2019 pp.103-114

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