Richard Thaler, laziness, and changing people’s minds

Richard Thaler: How to change minds and influence people (by Tim Harford)

A few interesting notes:

As it happens, Nobel Prize winner Richard Thaler was a remarkably lazy person

«Whether or not you think behavioural economics matters, as a feat of persuading people to change their minds this is a case worth studying. So how did he do it? We could all do with knowing, because the world is full of stubborn-minded people who need to be persuaded to change their views about important things.»

«More important [than persistence] was that Prof Thaler fully understood what he was criticising. It is all too easy to attack those with whom we disagree based on the haziest idea of what they think and why they think it. But he grasped perfectly why his fellow economists embraced rationality, and the arguments (good and bad) they used to defend it. Prof Thaler engaged honestly and thoughtfully with the mainstream.» Of course, this places on me the intellectual duty to look up and understand Thaler’s contributions to economics

«His third technique was to look at the facts — not only clever statistics, but everyday facts about human existence. [] Having secured agreement on these facts, he then moved to arguing that they might matter.»

«Finally, Prof Thaler engaged people’s sense of curiosity. His long running series “Anomalies”, published in the widely-read scholarly Journal of Economic Perspectives, would often begin with a puzzle — some piece of behaviour or pattern in the data that simply didn’t make sense from the mainstream point of view. He would then explore the puzzle, extend it, and consider various possible solutions.»

»Economists would talk about these anomalies in faculty coffee rooms. They would, at Prof Thaler’s invitation, send in their own suggestions. Rather than telling his opponents they were wrong, Prof Thaler would present a conundrum and invite everyone to discuss it together. One of his critics, the great Chicago economist Merton Miller, was reduced to complaining that Prof Thaler’s anomalies were a distraction from serious modelling because they were simply too interesting.»

«Prof Thaler realised that most of us are lazy. Most of us don’t want to think hard about our beliefs, or challenges to them. His solution was to make sure those challenges were simply too intriguing to ignore.»

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Civility as a tool for oppression (from The Atlantic)

Protest isn’t civil — The Atlantic

A few key takeaways:

«The term civility itself is more a reflection of majority-enforced social norms than of a proven set of rules for effective debate.»

«What [Martin Luther] King understood was that civility stood not as a companion or a near-synonym to his project of radical, militant nonviolence, but as its most insidious opponent.»

Libertad económica

Se llenan la boca hablando de libertad económica.

La libertad económica no consiste en que las empresas puedan abusar del sistema tributario, pagar salarios de miseria o vender productos que literalmente matan a los consumidores.

Libertad económica es que ninguna persona se vea jamás en la obligación de vender un órgano, de prostituirse, de poner a trabajar a sus niños o de pedir plata prestada en un pagadiario.

Normalmente disfruto todo lo que hago

Eso significa dos cosas:

  1. Soy malísimo para predecir cuánto voy a disfrutar o no una actividad.
  2. Incluso cuando creo que no voy a disfrutar una actividad, lo más probable es que esté equivocado y que lo mejor sea hacerla de todos modos.

Desde luego, es improbable que todas las actividades me gusten, pero por lo mismo tengo que estar especialmente atento a cuáles actividades no disfruto realmente.

VVVVVV

(copiado desde Facebook)

VVVVVV es uno de esos juegos que debería enseñarse en todas las clases de diseño de juegos:
– Tomas una idea sencilla (invertir la gravedad de tu personaje),
– postulas un juego a partir de ella (un plataformero de ingenio con varios saltos complicados),
– y luego conviertes ese juego en una experiencia muy desafiante, muy entretenida y sumamente satisfactoria (… esta parte es difícil de sintetizar).

Nada más jueguen VVVVVV y luego me darán la razón, aunque ustedes mismos tampoco puedan explicarlo.

VVVVVV – Página oficial

VVVVV en Steam

An interesting exercise by Alon Amit

What is the value of \displaystyle \sum_{n=0}^\infty \binom{34}{4n} ? – Answer by Alon Amit on Quora

«Despite appearances, this isn’t actually a rote calculation problem. It is designed to teach you something, if you’re attuned to its sinister machinations. Merely tackling this question may give you a glimpse of harmonic analysis, or Fourier analysis on Abelian groups, or group character theory, or DFT and digital signal processing.»