One of my probable false beliefs is that people will do what they say they are going to do. They don’t walk the walk of the talk they talked. Carl Jung said, “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” A parallel idea is that a politician will vote in a way that will promote his own short-term self-interest, not that of his constituents, who elected him. No doubt there is an abundance of similar ideas.

In the book I read last month, Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Hochschild, the Cajuns have the power to endure unjust suffering inflicted on them by the local industries that are polluting their homeland, but they lack the social history to organize to fight against those profit-driven corporations. If they had read Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, they might have generated the strength to do the necessary things to survive and thrive, but their culture is to endure injustice rather than fight it. A man’s habits are formed by what he did, not by what he said he did. Thus, a man is more likely to follow in the footsteps of his, and his culture’s, previous behavior than in what he claims he should do. Nice people don’t fight against other people even for their legal rights.

People will claim a long string of personal virtues, but their past actions are more predictive of their future ones.