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I like Dan Ariely, and most of what he says in this video is true. However he doesn't address the whole Lance Armstrong story, and there is one correction to be made.

He says that it's possible that Lance Armstrong took EPO as a cancer patient, and that made it easier for him to keep taking it as a performance enhancing drug.

Lance tried a similar tactic in his interview last night -- he explained that his cancer changed him. It made him more of a bully, and more of a fighter, and he kind of justified taking testosterone since he had testicular cancer. However, Oprah had to point out that he was taking performance-enhancing drugs BEFORE he had cancer. So the cancer is a scapegoat.

Second -- people don't really fault Lance Armstrong for doping. I'm sure it's true that everybody was doping. And Ariely correctly points out that that makes it much easier for someone to justify to themselves.

What distinguished Armstrong is going over the top to destroy people who were telling the truth. He was vicious about attacking and suing people who told the truth, and trying to ruin their reputations, while he knew he was in the wrong. Oprah confronted him on this and he was like "oops ... sorry"

I watched the whole Oprah interview last night. I don't have a big interest in competitive cycling, nor have I really followed the Lance Armstrong story very much. But I did come away with the impression that he is emotionally "different" or verging on psychopathic. I don't want to venture too much into pop psychology, but he does seem to follow the stereotype of a "psychopath CEO". The only thing he cares about is results (and it worked spectacularly for a time), and he has literally no emotions about the tactics that got him there. I'm not trying to cast moral judgement, but just saying what is pretty apparent.

But in retrospect this is obvious... anyone who could so viciously and baldly and publicly lie for decades, when so many people knew otherwise (all the cyclists he rode with), has some weird psychology going on. It's not normal.




> Second -- people don't really fault Lance Armstrong for doping.

Of course they do. Why wouldn't they? He's a cheat. The fact that many other people were cheating too is irrelevant to how he's judged for that. That just makes professional cycling as a whole look terrible too.

Even if he had been a saint in every other way, he's still a disgraceful cheat.


Well, Ariely in this video is making the point that, as far as human nature is concerned, it does matter that everyone else cheated. It makes it socially acceptable.

If I were an honest competitive cyclist at the Tour de France level I would care that he doped. But if you believe the common wisdom, there were almost no such people :)

Anyway, Barry Bonds doped and so did a million other athletes. My point was that Lance Armstrong took it to an entirely different level by trying to destroy others to cover up what he did, and what he KNEW that others knew he did. It is really beyond brazen.


"But I did come away with the impression that he is emotionally "different" or verging on psychopathic."

Drugs don't change the fact that it takes a vicious competitor to win the Tour. Eddie Merckx was called "the cannibal."




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