We all like to think that our beliefs come from rational thinking, deep experience and good judgment. But suppose that you had to predict someone else’s beliefs, let’s say their beliefs about taxes, welfare, regulation….economic policy of all kind. Let’s put some money on it, the better your predictions the more money you make.
I will give you one piece of information to improve your predictions. Either I will tell you whether the person whose beliefs you must predict is an economist or a biologist or I will tell you whether the person whose beliefs you must predict is American or French. Which piece of information do you want?
What does this say about where beliefs come from?
Addendum: Suppose I asked you instead to predict the types of arguments that the person will use to justify their beliefs. Now which piece of information do you want? What is the role of education in determining beliefs?