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From the article:
First, it's important to remember that merit beliefs aren't necessarily true, nor are crony beliefs necessarily false. What distinguishes the two concepts is how we're rewarded for them: via effective actions or via social impressions. The best we can say is that merit beliefs are more likely to be true.
When we call something a "merit belief," then, we're claiming that its pragmatic value far outstrips its social value. And if we call something a "crony belief," we're claiming the reverse.