Using false but instrumentally rational beliefs for your career?
I'm sorry if I'm missing a point, but here are two cents on the subject :
"Should I convince myself that my publication count and thesis quality are more important than is true?"
I think it's hard to break down the problem at this only question : maybe the answer to "success" is to work differently, and not harder, thus it may be dangerous to be entangled in the sole idea of "working more". Various skills are necessary and focusing too much on something may be harmfull.
(Also I'm only pointing this because my global opinion has already been expressed (: )