Do as I say, not as I do…but actions speak louder than words

The scientist in me craves information. I want to know what’s going on and why. It’s undoubtedly what made science so attractive to me. It’s also what makes research with human subjects so unappealing to me. People lie, and can’t be trusted (of course I know that’s not entirely true, but when it comes to research, it’s a real problem and I’m continuously impressed by those who take on those problems). We know people lie because we see it all the time. This isn’t a misanthropic judgement, it’s just a statement about who we are. Most of it is unintentional, and we even lie to ourselves. How many times do we say that we don’t want to eat that last chocolate, but we eat it anyway? We say that we wanted to go to the gym, but we stayed on the couch instead. We become living contradictions. We have the verbal report (even the voice in our head) saying that want something (or don’t want something), but our behavior tells the opposite story. When faced with this contradiction, if we’re trying to figure out which is the real version (the not wanting to eat the chocolate, or the eating the chocolate), I think the behavior tells the real story. We may say or think that we don’t want to, and a piece of us might not want to, but if we eat the chocolate, we clearly wanted to more than we didn’t want to. To make it worse, how can I know if somebody is lying when they say that they don’t want to do something, but they do it anyway? Until we invent a mind-reader, and can be sure that we aren’t lying to ourselves, all I have is the action, and, to be as cliche as possible, actions speak louder than words. What makes me say this today? Sanctuary cities. It’s a stretch, but follow along if you want.

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