Merit Beliefs versus Crony Beliefs

Kevin Simler writes about crony beliefs:

the human brain has to strike an awkward balance between two different reward systems:

  • Meritocracy, where we monitor beliefs for accuracy out of fear that we’ll stumble by acting on a false belief; and
  • Cronyism, where we don’t care about accuracy so much as whether our beliefs make the right impressions on others.

And so we can roughly (with caveats we’ll discuss in a moment) divide our beliefs into merit beliefs and crony beliefs. Both contribute to our bottom line — survival and reproduction — but they do so in different ways: merit beliefs by helping us navigate the world, crony beliefs by helping us look good.

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