A few weeks ago, one of my friends took a “bad beat” on a college football bet. Given my friend’s track record of betting on sports, I would argue this beat was less a bad beat and more inline with the rest of his track record, but enough
One could take this (a lot) further and argue that humans generally choose their beliefs according to personal incentives rather than some in furtherance of some exhaustive and noble pursuit of Truth.
One tired example: Big Tobacco executives who "honestly" believed that smoking didn't "cause" lung cancer. Some of those beliefs were no doubt "honest" if only because they were founded in financial and social (status) incentives rather than in science.
But the same principle applies across incentives (e.g. social and financial) and beliefs (e.g. political and religions) of ALL kinds, likely including many if not most of my (!) (and your (?) beliefs.
No one understands this better than the Kremlin, which routinely offers multiple mutually contradictory explanations (e.g. to pick one minor instance, what suspected Russian agents were doing in Britain when Skripal was poisoned) so that citizens can choose the explanation that most conveniently aligns their own personal belief system and creates the least personal discomfort.
Great examples! Incentives are definitely hard to structure properly. MikeFromNZ nailed it in his response that sometimes our position makes it hard to separate honest errors caused by incentives. For example, I was a faculty member that met with prospective students. My natural bias was to highlight our strengths, but how much of that was due to incentives vs. confidence in the ability of myself and my colleagues? I'm sure there was a little bit of each.
College football teams have much bigger rosters than NFL ones, so the players in the game at the end of blowouts are often players that get no meaningful playing time and coaches let them play to give them experience and reward them for practicing. It is not uncommon at all for teams to not take a knee in blowouts.
As Charlie Munger also says, “If it’s trite, it’s right.”