It's easy to disillusion ourselves by thinking just because the output of our function looks very random, that it is very random.

I asked a friend about this passage. I argue that it should read:

It's easy to trick ourselves into thinking that just because the output of our function looks very random, that it is very random."

Miriam Webster defines disillusion thus: "to cause (someone) to stop believing that something is good, valuable, true, etc."

Please help us settle the dispute: is "disillusion" being used properly here?

  • 6
    Disillusion is simply the wrong word. You want delude. – FumbleFingers Oct 17 '14 at 17:26
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers, delude looks like a better choice, thank you. – user9879 Oct 17 '14 at 17:30
  • @FumbleFingers "...delude ourselves by thinking..." or "...delude ourselves into thinking..."? – Stop Slandering Monica Cellio Oct 17 '14 at 17:41
  • That depends on the precise emphasis you want to convey - does that particular "thinking" lead to us being deluded (by), or are we already engaging in the act of deluding ourselves (into), one consequence of which is that we end up thinking those thoughts? – FumbleFingers Oct 17 '14 at 17:54
  • The latter. The apparent randomness causes one to delude one's self into thinking that the there is genuine randomness. TBH I think saying "trick ourselves into thinking" improves clarity 10 fold & I think the best answer is "use that." Will wait for answers tho. – Stop Slandering Monica Cellio Oct 17 '14 at 18:07

No, it is not. The word is 'deceive' ourselves.


It is not possible to disillusion ourselves just as it is not possible to administer CPR to ourselves. But we can become disillusioned, i.e. have our illusions taken away.

  • I think I once managed to disillusion myself. I had thought "Mihaly" was Hungarian for "Michael". I had also thought "Miklos" was Hungarian for "Michael". I held these two beliefs for quite a while before they surfaced simultaneously in my consciousness and I realized that it was quite unlikely that they were both correct. That realization seems like disillusionment to me. (It turns out that "Miklos" is "Nicholas", not Michael".) – Andreas Blass Oct 24 '14 at 22:03
  • @AndreasBlass, az érdekesseb az, hogy a Máté és a Mátyás egyaránt fordítható Matthew-ra. Jó, hogy a Mátyás általánosabb fordítása Matthias, de manapság senki se használja a Matthias nevet, míg a Matthew (vagy Mathew) még mindig az egyik leggyakoribb név. – Marthaª Oct 25 '14 at 14:30
  • @Marthaª I'm afraid my knowledge of Hungarian doesn't extend much beyond "Mihaly", "Miklos", and "Magyar Posta" (I collected stamps as a child). – Andreas Blass Oct 25 '14 at 15:00
  • @Andreas Blass. You're deluded, if you think you disillusioned yourself. – TRomano Oct 25 '14 at 16:04

Yes - the word 'disillusion' can be used as a verb, adjective or noun.

  • 1
    The part of speech is only a (small) part of the question, though: clearly, there's nothing grammatically wrong with the sentence, but does it make sense? Does it mean what the writer intends it to mean? – Marthaª Oct 24 '14 at 21:07
  • @Martha Perhaps 'become disillusioned' would have been better in the context? So the sentence would read: 'It is easy to become disillusioned by thinking...'. – Resquiens Oct 25 '14 at 12:48

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