Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril

Margaret Heffernan, Author
Margaret Heffernan, Walker, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1998-0
Reviewed on: 12/20/2010
Release date: 03/01/2011
A thoughtful and entertaining treatise on the seductiveness—and consequences—of ignoring what's right in front of our eyes, from former CEO and author Heffernan (The Naked Truth). We frequently ignore painful or frightening truths, subconsciously believing that denial can protect us, she argues, but our delusions make us ever more vulnerable, and whatever suffering we choose to ignore continues unabated. The author draws examples from the private—Bernie Madoff's family's blindness to his Ponzi scheme; a woman who married an alcoholic; another unable to see that her husband is sexually abusing her daughter—to the public: Alan Greenspan ignoring the housing bubble, a soldier working for Hitler. She gives us an insightful look into the psychology of denial and makes an ethical and pragmatic argument for engagement rather than deflection. Heffernan's cogent, riveting look at how we behave at our worst encourages us to strive for our best. (Mar.)
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