Who Believes These?

“Fifty Shades” … tells the story of Anastasia Steele, an inexplicably virginal recent college graduate, and Christian Grey, the impossibly handsome and twisted 27-year-old billionaire who falls for her. Boy meets girl, boy whips girl, boy loses girl. In the end, … Ana has it her way: She declines to sign Grey’s “submissive” contract; they keep on having kinky sex, but not too much; and Steele helps Grey recover from his wounded childhood. …

It has ushered in a moment of frank talk about women’s sexual needs and desires. … Leonard, the author, makes the key distinction: between women’s fantasies and their realities. “In real life, I think it’s something very, very different,” she told NBC. “You want someone who does the dishes.” (more)

A symbiotic relationship [is] developing between the Obama campaign, with its style-conscious first lady who dons a wide variety of American designers, and a deep-pocketed, largely Democratic fashion industry, which has been increasingly coordinating its support of Obama. … Name an American designer. Vera Wang. Michael Kors. Diane von Furstenberg. Michelle Obama wears these American luxury labels and a host of others, earning her consistent praise from a fickle industry. …

The first lady’s campaign spokeswoman Olivia Alair said: “The first lady thinks that women should wear whatever makes them feel good and be comfortable. That’s how the first lady chooses her own clothes and based on no other considerations.” (more)

Right. Most women have no interest in impossibly handsome 27 year old billionaires who don’t do the dishes. And Michelle Obama only wears Democrat donor fashion items because they just happen to be the most comfortable clothes available.

These people didn’t believe these things when they said them, and 95% of people who hear them don’t believe them either. Yet we all know they are the things these people are supposed to say to avoid seeming unacceptably cynical.

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  • Godfrey Miller

    You’re right, but now that you have pointed it out, these people would be the first to turn around and call you a cynic.  Nonacknowledgement comes naturally to homo hypocritus!


  • Dean Jens

    I think these situations correspond to the distinction, in game theory, between common knowledge and layered mutual knowledge.  Maybe three or four layers deep, we think there are people who think there are people who think there are people who believe what we’re saying.

  • Carl Shulman

    I think the “real life” comment reflects the actual scarcity of impossibly handsome 27 year old billionaires. In real life, accepting partners who don’t do the dishes gets you a far lesser increment of expected wealth and looks in a partner.

    Denying the pay-for-play element of deniable product placements probably helps with many low-information consumers. Fashion and celebrity magazines will often show Obama in her designer items, and identify them, whereas stories about product placement occur much more rarely. If pay-for-play was openly admitted, it would be more of a story and undermine the effect.

    • Robin Hanson

      If you watch the book author video (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/47071997#47071997), you’ll see the conversation is about whether women like to be dominated, not about how much domination a woman will accept in order to get how much wealth and looks in a man. The author says women like being told what to do on paper, and in fantasy, but not in reality.

  • lemmycaution

    The  first lady probably does pick out her clothes from a selection that the designers make available to her. It is pretty much the same as clothes shopping.  Whatever criteria I use to select my clothes, I don’t buy clothes from stores that I don’t go to.

  • Mark M

    It’s in their best interests to believe it, so they do.

    People, in general, are awfully damn good at fooling themselves into believing things that don’t make any sense at all, as long as they think it’s in their best interests to hold that belief. 

    You can’t say that a person doesn’t believe something just because the belief doesn’t make any sense.  Their biases can take over at the subconscious level and make them believe it.

    I don’t know for certain whether the people who made those statements actually believed them, but I do know that we can’t be certain.

  • Who, believes this stuff?

    The same type of children and women who voted for Obama – believing he was “different.”

    In short, the same infantilized America so self-satisfied with its intellectual depth it believes it will endure forever.

    • Gotta take that jab at the enemy tribe!  Stay classy.

      • officer_fred

        Your comment has more likes than the parent! The Rationalists are winning!

      • Is it true, or not, that kids and women voted overwhelmingly for your Obama.

        Leave your liberal bias behind.

      • Lukas

         Who said he was “their” Obama? Not wanting to insult Obama supporters doesn’t mean one supports Obama.

      • Very interesting. A one-post troll on disqus gets (at present) 17 upvotes.

        It’s clear to see precisely what Bias has yet to be Overcome here.

      • andrew mwangale

        Children, women, infantilezed, “your” Obama, a decleration of Trollishness in the other, all chased down with this gem “It’s clear to see precisely what Bias has yet to be Overcome here” in a blog named overcoming bias. 

        Thanks for the clarity, on why failure is always an option despite the availability of rational choice

      •  Yes. Obama was clearly the rational choice.
        btw are you related?

  • Ha. Nice. ANd true. Honestly, if they’re giving her the clothes for free, then wear them! And don’t tell us any lies about why you’re waring them. I can accept that you get them for free and love free clothes! ANd that book. Um yeah. Fiction for a reason. 🙂

  • Eric Falkenstein

    This reminds me of Irving Kristol’s remark that there are several kinds of truth.  Some people are like children, and “can’t handle the truth.”  Or at least, that’s what most people really believe.    

    “There are different kinds of truths for different kinds of people. There are truths appropriate for children; truths that are appropriate for students; truths that are appropriate for educated adults; and truths that are appropriate for highly educated adults, and the notion that there should be one set of truths available to everyone is a modern democratic fallacy.  ~Irving Kristol”

    Your quotes above are white lies targeted at the masses because they need to be reassured that excellence and status are not important as simple, vague things that anyone can imagine they possess.  The above speakers want to be liked by the masses, and the masses don’t like people who remind them they aren’t objectively admirable.  

  • stevesailer

    The First Lady’s spokesman could have said: “It is a traditional responsibility and privilege of the First Lady to show the world what American designers accomplish. Mrs. Obama is honored to be able to carry on that tradition.”

    The general quality of Obama flack excuse-making is low because they get challenged so little by the media.

  • Jay Livingston

    “Michelle Obama only wears Democrat donor fashion items because they just happen to be the most comfortable clothes available.”  Republican fashion designers?  As we used to say in pickup baseball games, name three.  

  • Misaki

    >Most women have no interest in impossibly handsome 27 year old billionaires who don’t do the dishes.

    How to distinguish between the impossibly handsome 27-year-old billionaire who really is interested in you, and the one who is seeing 5 other girls at the same time..?


    >And Michelle Obama only wears Democrat donor fashion items because they
    just happen to be the most comfortable clothes available.

    Maybe she doesn’t “feel good” about wearing the same clothes in public twice (something British royalty are supposed to avoid doing apparently) and Republican fashion designers simply have not been making any clothing donations.