Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me) was a very interesting albeit somewhat repetitive book. This book deals with the concept of cognitive dissonance which you experience when you hold two conflicting beliefs in your head, or when your actions aren’t in harmony with your beliefs.
I encountered this myself while reading the book, and it was quite a fascinating thing to observe it in myself, and see the things that the book talks about.
This is what happened with me: I think of myself as someone who cares about the environment, and does his part to conserve water, energy, avoid plastics etc. I am also a new dad, and as any new parent can tell you the cries of your baby are the most unsettling thing in the world. I accidentally discovered that water running in the bathtub soothes my four month old, and taking her to the bathroom and letting her listen to and watch the water run in the bathtub works like magic to soothe her. The problem of course is how much water gets wasted.
My mind kept coming up with justifications, and rationalizations to reduce this dissonance, and this was all automatic. No one was telling me I was doing something bad, and it is significantly more effort to make the rationalizations stop than it is to just convince yourself that wasting water is not so bad if it makes your baby stop crying!
This is what the book is about, but it deals with a lot more important topics such as criminal justice, political beliefs, cult following etc.
I enjoyed the book, and the stories; for people who are familiar with cognitive dissonance there is probably nothing new here except for the anecdotes and stories. I found the chapters on dealing with the problem a little light, and maybe that is a topic for another book.
All in all, I am glad I read it, and I think this topic is especially relevant in today’s polarized climate, and gives you a moment to step back, and think about not only your own cognitive dissonances, but allow others to have theirs too.