From, The Price of Everything
But there is an economic rationale for these mating arrangements (polygamy). It has to do with the relatively low cost of sperm.
One fourth of the way through this book it looks like another mass market economics text mixing in some psychology. Overall an average book and further proof that it's better to read an expert on the subject who only writes fairly than a journalist who writes well but is limited in their content knowledge.
The Office and Modern Family have ruined television. At least for me. Before these shows there was an implicit agreement between the provider and consumer. The former would relay whether a show was real or scripted and the later would view as such. The specific agreements are far too vast to list but you know when they are broken. In a reality shows it's when you doubt its authenticity. Somewhat oddly this is also why some reality shows are successful (e.g. Jersey Shore). Scripted television never did this, it was like a strawberry from a children's kitchen. It looked real in shape and color but no one would take a bite.
The Office and Modern Family changed this because these shows structured themselves as documentary styles and this changes all those previous implicit viewing agreements. These are the only shows I now watch and so they in turn have become my scripted shows a new baseline. I now want characters to talk into the camera and engage the 'film crew' with non-verbal communication. Most now don't. What now exists when flipping past Glee or House is the muddy depth of characters, crew, assistants, production, suits and so on. Each on location scene once viewed on Entourage gets placed like an overhead transparent on my television and it's unwatchable.
In saying that situational comedy is ruined is probably overstepping but when two of the most dominant comedies are changing the rules, and these new strawberries taste just as sweet.
and was therefore as free as air—or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit a man to be.
Where you can start reading now.
CBS news recently featured the site Stickk.com, created by two Yale professors that helps people ’stick with’ their goals. The testimonials section of the site has stories about people who successfully lost weight, spend more time studying and conquered their own goals. They did so because the key feature of the site is that participants need to commit a dollar value to their goal. As the founders – economists – are apt to think, if people have a financial commitment to an action or lack of actions they will be more likely to continue with them. Not only that but the site allows members to have the money they put up to go to an anti-charity, supposedly strengthening their motivation. If the participants self report they were successful in their work they keep the money, if not it goes to the charity or anti-charity of their choice. A strong motivation.
In perhaps an accidental similarity GlaxoSmithKline developed a drug that makes even the anti-charities motivations look minimal. They developed Alli* the over-the-counter brand of orlistat, an obesity prevention drug designed to help prevent the absorption of fats from the human diet and reduce caloric intake. Alli’s promotions show testimonials about how the pills allowed people to manage their diet in a way that helped them lose weight. What the commercials don’t explicitly explain is that Alli works by blocking the absorption of fat into the intestines, instead sending down the digestive path, all the way down. The product’s fine print warns about the potential for this anal leakage, informing customers that keeping a change of clothes around during the first week of taking Alli is suggested as users are adapt to any unexpected or ignored fat in their meals. What the consumers and makers of Alli might not realize is that in this case, anal leakage is a good thing.
For both Stickk and Alli there are strong motivations for the participants to continue with the program because both have high levels of buy in. In 1959 an experiment was done with college women who wanted to participate in a discussion of the psychology of sex. The women were told they needed to be ’screened’ before they could officially join the discussion but unaware there were three different levels of the screening. Researchers wanted to examine how different screening processes affected the womens’ attitudes about the group. The first group had no initiation or screening and those women were told they could join the discussion. A second group went through a mild initiation of saying sexual but not obscene words and the final group’s initiation included saying sexually obscene words that the researches felt might embarrass the women. Each group was then allowed to listen to a taped conversation – which the researchers designed to be very boring – and offer their opinions of the group. In what’s termed ‘justification of effort’ those women in the first group, who were simply let in, reported the group boring while those in the third group reported the discussion interesting and worthwhile. The experimenters found that our nature for justification and explanations is accelerated by a costly experience. They reasoned that those women who said profanely sexual words needed to rate the discussion higher or else their experience seemed for naught.
If participants put forth a greater effort they will be more likely to continue the process because as ‘social animals‘ we want to be perceived as logical and consistent among our peers. No one wants to go through a challenging, boring or costly experience and not have something to show for it. A liberal doesn’t want to make a donation to George W. Bush’s presidential library – as is an option at Stickk – because they weren’t able to continue with their goals, it’s embarrassing. Alli inadvertently takes that idea even further with the product’s side effects. People who quite literally shit their pants for a cause or goal are more likely to stick with those goals to justify those very side effects. In the competitive field of weight loss products the difference between experiencing anal leakage and not might make Alli the best option for committed weight loss. It’s unlikely that this sort of persuasion will squeeze its way into the Alli promotions but if so the users’ commitment will likely grow even stronger. Whether anal leakage or political distaste is a stronger source of justification remains up for debate but in both cases the participants have strong reasons to remain committed.
*The formal product name is alli with an lowercase a though most written articles capitalize the A
From; The Price of Everything
Aristotle was sure things had a natural, just price—an inherent value that existed before any transaction was made.
If only GEICO was around in 350BC for such keen value investment analysis.
From the enjoyably lite Freakonomics Radio
The people who show up have the lowest value on their time and the ones who don't understand that voting can have no benefit, so maybe they're not the smartest ones who are going out and voting.
"Television programing exists soley to get viewers from one commercial break to the next". I don't remember where I heard this but I haven't viewed TV the same, and have taken a more skeptical eye towards shows that 'do good'.
The Biggest Loser (BL) comes to mind but isn't not alone in shows that try to help the - sometimes ironcially - little guy. BL contestants partake in a romantisezed work out program with beautiful trainers, equipment, scenery, food and the egotisical joy of being on TV. If someone looking to remove pounds, get a new start on life, kick an addiction, save money or de-vice their life can't do it in the lab-like cleanliness of TV, then they probably can't do it at all. Look no further than a 435 pound Olympic Gold Medal Winner named Rulon.
It's not that Rulon shouldn't lose weight, his BMI strongly suggests otherwise, it's that it shouldn't be on this pious programming. If BL wanted to help people they woudln't have chosen a college graduate who's won two Olympic medals, based his employment around these success, on a schedule of his choosing and lives without kids. He has or had access to the resources needed to lose weight.
What the BL does though is choose headlines that grab your attention during a 30 second advertisement where you think Wait, I remember that guy from the Olympics, wow, he's the biggest ever! Like a fisherman shows off a record catch after a day at see, network TV has found someone really, really big.
As you sit on the couch watching, eating a bag of chips or bowl of ice-cream remember that the impetus isn't to help; it's to get you to watch that Doritos add coming up.
From a very well written and poignant article; Nobody gets married any more, Mister
Movie stars and pop singers flaunt their daddy-less babies like fishing trophies
From the always excellent Michael Lewis.
Not long ago I spoke with a former senior Merrill Lynch bond trader who, on September 29, 2008, owned a pile of bonds in one of the Irish banks. He’d already tried to sell them back to the bank for 50 cents on the dollar—that is, he’d offered to take a huge loss, just to get out of them. On the morning of September 30 he awakened to find his bonds worth 100 cents on the dollar. The Irish government had guaranteed them! He couldn’t believe his luck.