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What we say vs. do vs. believe

One of the advantages of studying economics (at least the way it was taught to me) was to pay attention to what people do rather than what they say. What is interesting to me is how hard it is to internalize this idea even when your head says it’s true. When the car salesman says it’s a great car, we discount his claim because we understand he’s self-interested. But with non-commercial claims, we often have trouble noting the self-interest. We know politicians dissemble but we often feel that “our” guy speaks from the heart.

I’ve been thinking about this after Tiger Wood’s performance. I did not listen. I haven’t seen the clip. But I’ve heard some of the discussion of whether he was sincere or not. (And of course some of this discussion is not sincere but simply a way to draw listeners to talk radio).

My approach is to conclude that what was in Tiger’s remarks was what he wanted us to believe and hear. Maybe he believes it. But there is no a priori reason to think so.

The best analysis I’ve seen of the speech is from Bill Simmons.


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