Saturday, August 08, 2009

Long Range: Getting ready to look at Predictably Irrational

I mentioned that there's a few books I want to read about the irrationality of human decision-making. I thought I'd lay the groundwork for that with a few videos.

Here's a talk by Dan Ariely, behavioral economist and the author of Predictably Irrational. His talk discusses cheating. Ariely looks at "the bugs in our moral code: the hidden reasons we think it's OK to cheat or steal (sometimes)."

I've kicked off with this presentation because Ariely starts with an extremely personal story about being seriously burned, and arguing with his nurses about whether it's best to take his bandages off in one fast rip, or in a slow drawn-out pull. Not only is this story hilarious (it leads to the invention of a 'pain suit'), it also makes me empathise with him - I can imagine the pain he went through, and understand his motivations for testing our intuitions.

(I'll have a separate post later today to discuss this presentation.)

Next (but in real-time I think a year or two earlier), Ariely 'uses classic visual illusions and his own counterintuitive (and sometimes shocking) research findings to show how we're not as rational as we think when we make decisions.'

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