Horwitz has an article on the “myth of merit”–
In his various chapters and essays on the “mirage” of the concept “social justice,” F. A. Hayek makes a claim that is very often overlooked by those who support the market. He argues that markets generally do not reward “merit.” That is, the people who become wealthy in the marketplace do not do so, for the most part, because they are somehow “better” people than those who are not as wealthy. The wealthy are not necessarily more intelligent, more moral, or even harder-working than the rest of us. However meritorious we think those attributes are, they are not what the market rewards. The market rewards the creation of value in the form of providing goods and services that other people want. Period, end of sentence.
Paraphrasing one of my comments, the free market is not a meritocracy.
O&M has a post on “cognitive dissonance.”–
[Chen] basically demolished 45 years of experimental results in social psychology that claim to have discovered cognitive dissonance in choices. According to this literature, it is among the best-documented results in psychology that people change their preferences after making a choice so as to rationalize the choice and make themselves feel better about their decision. Chen argues — persuasively — that essentially all these results are statistical artifacts. At a much more sophisticated level, social psychologists have fallen victim to the igon value effect.