Broken windows theory

19 results back to index


pages: 361 words: 76,849

The Year Without Pants: Wordpress.com and the Future of Work by Scott Berkun

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

barriers to entry, blue-collar work, Broken windows theory, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, future of work, Google Hangouts, Jane Jacobs, job satisfaction, Lean Startup, lone genius, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, remote working, Results Only Work Environment, Richard Stallman, Seaside, Florida, side project, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the map is not the territory, Tony Hsieh, trade route

The bigger the issue was, the more likely it was that a more experienced person like Barry, Adams, Demitrious Kelly (another well-respected programmer), or even Mullenweg would get involved to decide how to handle it. Mostly it was up to programmers and their teams to decide how to triage issues that landed on their P2s. Some were fixed immediately, others were fixed soon, some were rejected, and others fell into the limbo of issues whose fate may never be decided. Source: Greg Brown, a code wrangler at Automattic. If you ask the old-timers, Automattic believed in the broken window theory, the idea popularized by Jane Jacobs in her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities.1 She examined why some neighborhoods in New York City were safer than others and concluded that neighborhoods that were well maintained by their inhabitants, including small things like picking up trash and fixing broken windows, tended to have less crime. In other words, by regularly fixing small things, you prevent bigger problems from starting.

It's similar to the platitudes “nip it in the bud” and “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Many open source projects espouse similar philosophies, but in practice it's a challenge since few enjoy picking up other people's trash. It was true that Adams and many other developers at Automattic would regularly watch for unowned issues to surface in IRC and jump in to debug or fix them. The broken windows theory has been challenged for not being the primary reason some neighborhoods were safer, but the premise—little things done well consistently can have big effects—has merit. While Automattic practiced the philosophy, how far it went is another story. No matter how many Good Samaritans you have, if the rate at which windows break is faster than people can fix them, the philosophy can't save you.

Team Social would eventually be one of the first to try switching, but not until months later. Each team developed its own process variations. Although they never used the P word (process), a word that smelled of big corporations, that's what it was. One team improved P2 itself to allow posts to be marked as unresolved, making filtering possible. Often programmers would cherry-pick bugs they felt were most important or easiest to do, and leave the others alone—a kind of modified broken window theory where people pick the windows they like most or are closest to their homes. Team Social, like other teams, designated the lead to be the last line of defense, responding to unanswered P2 posts. The broken LinkedIn connector itself wasn't important. Not many people used it—maybe 1 percent of all users. Raanan was one of the few at Automattic who did, and he reported the problem first because he saw it first.


pages: 258 words: 73,109

The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone, Especially Ourselves by Dan Ariely

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, Bernie Madoff, Broken windows theory, cashless society, clean water, cognitive dissonance, Credit Default Swap, Donald Trump, fudge factor, new economy, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, shareholder value, Steve Jobs, Walter Mischel

This is the real cost of even minor instances of cheating and the reason we need to be more vigilant in our efforts to curb even small infractions. So what can we do about it? One hint may lie in the Broken Windows Theory, which was the basis of a 1982 Atlantic article by George Kelling and James Wilson. Kelling and Wilson proposed a critical component of keeping order in dangerous neighborhoods, and it wasn’t just putting more police on the beat. They argued that if people in a run-down area of town see a building with a few broken, long-unrepaired windows, they will be tempted to break even more windows and create further damage to the building and its surroundings, creating a blight effect. Based on the Broken Windows Theory, they suggested a simple strategy for preventing vandalism: fix problems when they are small. If you repair each broken window (or other misbehaviors) immediately, other potential offenders are going to be much less likely to misbehave.

If you repair each broken window (or other misbehaviors) immediately, other potential offenders are going to be much less likely to misbehave. Although the Broken Windows Theory has been difficult to prove or refute, its logic is compelling. It suggests that we should not excuse, overlook, or forgive small crimes, because doing so can make matters worse. This is especially important for those in the spotlight: politicians, public servants, celebrities, and CEOs. It might seem unfair to hold them to higher standards, but if we take seriously the idea that publicly observed behavior has a broader impact on those viewing the behavior, this means that their misbehavior can have greater downstream consequences for society at large. In contrast to this view, it seems that celebrities are too often rewarded with lighter punishments for their crimes than the rest of the population, which might suggest to the public that these crimes and misdemeanors are not all that bad.

Similarly, understanding how conflicts of interest work and how deeply they influence us makes it clear that we need to avoid and regulate conflicts of interest to a much higher degree. We also need to understand the effects that the environment, as well as mental and physical depletion, plays in dishonesty. And of course, once we understand the social infectiousness of dishonesty, we could take a cue from the Broken Windows Theory to combat the social contagion of cheating. INTERESTINGLY, WE ALREADY have many social mechanisms in place that seem to be designed specifically for resetting our moral compass and overcoming the “what-the-hell” effect. Such resetting rituals—ranging from the Catholic confession to Yom Kippur, and Ramadan to the weekly Sabbath—all present us with opportunities to collect ourselves, stop the deterioration, and turn a new page.


pages: 509 words: 92,141

The Pragmatic Programmer by Andrew Hunt, Dave Thomas

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

A Pattern Language, Broken windows theory, business process, buy low sell high, c2.com, combinatorial explosion, continuous integration, database schema, domain-specific language, general-purpose programming language, Grace Hopper, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, index card, loose coupling, Menlo Park, MVC pattern, premature optimization, Ralph Waldo Emerson, revision control, Schrödinger's Cat, slashdot, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, traveling salesman, urban decay, Y2K

One broken window, left unrepaired for any substantial length of time, instills in the inhabitants of the building a sense of abandonment—a sense that the powers that be don't care about the building. So another window gets broken. People start littering. Graffiti appears. Serious structural damage begins. In a relatively short space of time, the building becomes damaged beyond the owner's desire to fix it, and the sense of abandonment becomes reality. The "Broken Window Theory" has inspired police departments in New York and other major cities to crack down on the small stuff in order to keep out the big stuff. It works: keeping on top of broken windows, graffiti, and other small infractions has reduced the serious crime level. Tip 4 Don't Live with Broken Windows Don't leave "broken windows" (bad designs, wrong decisions, or poor code) unrepaired.

One broken window—a badly designed piece of code, a poor management decision that the team must live with for the duration of the project—is all it takes to start the decline. If you find yourself working on a project with quite a few broken windows, it's all too easy to slip into the mindset of "All the rest of this code is crap, I'll just follow suit." It doesn't matter if the project has been fine up to this point. In the original experiment leading to the "Broken Window Theory," an abandoned car sat for a week untouched. But once a single window was broken, the car was stripped and turned upside down within hours. By the same token, if you find yourself on a team and a project where the code is pristinely beautiful—cleanly written, well designed, and elegant—you will likely take extra special care not to mess it up, just like the firefighters. Even if there's a fire raging (deadline, release date, trade show demo, etc.), you don't want to be the first one to make a mess.

Tip 6 Remember the Big Picture We've never tried this—honest. But they say that if you take a frog and drop it into boiling water, it will jump straight back out again. However, if you place the frog in a pan of cold water, then gradually heat it, the frog won't notice the slow increase in temperature and will stay put until cooked. Note that the frog's problem is different from the broken windows issue discussed in Section 2. In the Broken Window Theory, people lose the will to fight entropy because they perceive that no one else cares. The frog just doesn't notice the change. Don't be like the frog. Keep an eye on the big picture. Constantly review what's happening around you, not just what you personally are doing. Related sections include: Software Entropy, page 4 Programming by Coincidence, page 172 Refactoring, page 184 The Requirements Pit, page 202 Pragmatic Teams, page 224 Challenges While reviewing a draft of this book, John Lakos raised the following issue: The soldiers progressively deceive the villagers, but the change they catalyze does them all good.


pages: 339 words: 95,988

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

airport security, Broken windows theory, crack epidemic, desegregation, Exxon Valdez, feminist movement, George Akerlof, Joseph Schumpeter, mental accounting, moral hazard, More Guns, Less Crime, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, pets.com, profit maximization, Richard Thaler, school choice, sensible shoes, Steven Pinker, Ted Kaczynski, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, Thorstein Veblen, War on Poverty

He ushered the NYPD into what one senior police official later called “our Athenian period,” in which new ideas were given weight over calcified practices. Instead of coddling his precinct commanders, Bratton demanded accountability. Instead of relying solely on old-fashioned cop know-how, he introduced technological solutions like CompStat, a computerized method of addressing crime hot spots. The most compelling new idea that Bratton brought to life stemmed from the broken window theory, which was conceived by the criminologists James Q. Wilson and George Kelling. The broken window theory argues that minor nuisances, if left unchecked, turn into major nuisances: that is, if someone breaks a window and sees it isn’t fixed immediately, he gets the signal that it’s all right to break the rest of the windows and maybe set the building afire too. So with murder raging all around, Bill Bratton’s cops began to police the sort of deeds that used to go unpoliced: jumping a subway turnstile, panhandling too aggressively, urinating in the streets, swabbing a filthy squeegee across a car’s windshield unless the driver made an appropriate “donation.”

Levitt, “The Response of Crime Reporting Behavior to Changes in the Size of the Police Force: Implications for Studies of Police Effectiveness Using Reported Crime Data,” Journal of Quantitative Criminology 14 (February 1998), pp. 62–81. / 114–15 The 1960s as a great time to be a criminal: See Gary S. Becker and Guity Nashat Becker, The Economics of Life (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997), pp. 142–43. NEW YORK CITY’S CRIME “MIRACLE”: The “Athenian period” quote came from an author interview with former police captain William J. Gorta, one of CompStat’s inventors. / 116 The broken window theory: See James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, “Broken Windows: The Police and Neighborhood Safety,” Atlantic Monthly, March 1982. / 118 Bratton hiring more police in Los Angeles: See Terry McCarthy, “The Gang Buster,” Time, January 19, 2004. GUN LAWS: Concerning the fact that the United States has more guns than it has adults, see Philip Cook and Jens Ludwig, Guns in America: Results of a Comprehensive Survey of Gun Ownership and Use (Washington, D.C.: Police Foundation, 1996). / 119 The gun-crime link: See Mark Duggan, “More Guns, More Crime,” Journal of Political Economy 109, no. 5 (2001), pp. 1086–1114. / 119 Guns in Switzerland: See Stephen P.

see also House of Representatives, U.S.; Senate, U.S. Conley, Dalton contraception conventional wisdom of experts and journalists inaccuracy of questioning of shifts in sloppy formation of Cook County, Ill. corporate scandals Corzine, Jon Cosby, Bill Cosby Show, The Council on Bioethics crack cocaine changes in market for nicknames for crib death crime abortion and African Americans and broken window theory and corporate deterrence of drug-related incentives for information minor predictions of property rising rates of street teenage underreporting of victims of violent white-collar see also drug dealers; specific crimes crime reduction aging population and capital punishment and drug market changes and gun control and imprisonment and legalized abortion and police and strong economy and theories of tougher laws and criminal mobs criminologists Crooked Timber Daily Racing Form Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Danielovitch, Issur data: chains of on early childhood education game show online dating patterns in recording of selection of sports testing see also information dating, online day-care centers fines for late pickups at death: accidental of children drowning risks vs. fear of see also capital punishment; homicide Death Benefit Association “Death’s Waiting List” Declaration of Independence deflation Dershowitz, Alan Detroit diets DiIulio, John J., Jr.


pages: 349 words: 95,972

Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives by Tim Harford

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

affirmative action, Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Atul Gawande, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Basel III, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Broken windows theory, call centre, Cass Sunstein, Chris Urmson, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, crowdsourcing, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Erdős number, experimental subject, Ferguson, Missouri, Filter Bubble, Frank Gehry, game design, global supply chain, Googley, Guggenheim Bilbao, high net worth, Inbox Zero, income inequality, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Merlin Mann, microbiome, out of africa, Paul Erdős, Richard Thaler, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, telemarketer, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Turing test, urban decay

But more pertinent, it was our eagerness to believe what his fraudulent study was telling us—to overestimate the ill effects of mess, to imagine that tidying up would have profoundly transformative effects on our moral selves, rather than just make our morning commute more pleasant—that led to its generating so much publicity. Not all messes have redeeming features: a train station that isn’t strewn with litter is more pleasant than one that is. It’s worth sweeping the platforms. But tidying up isn’t going to turn us into better people. • • • The story of the “broken windows” theory of urban decay is another example of how we instinctively overestimate the benefits of tidying up certain kinds of urban mess. The theory was proposed in an influential article in The Atlantic Monthly in 1982 by criminologist George Kelling and political scientist James Q. Wilson. Kelling and Wilson argued that small signs of disorder led to the breakdown of community norms and, eventually, to serious criminality.

Then Zimbardo smashed part of it with a sledgehammer. Soon, passersby were joining in. Within a few hours, the car had been turned upside down and utterly destroyed.27 Interesting, but it is a stretch to build a theory of urban decay on what happens after one psychologist takes one sledgehammer to one car in one California city. The truth is that social science has not been able to muster much support for the broken windows theory of policing, nor for the idea that it deserves credit for breaking New York City’s crime wave in the 1990s. There is no shortage of explanations for the decline in crime, and any plausible explanation must deal with the fact that crime fell across the United States, not just in New York. Steve Levitt, the economist now famous for the Freakonomics books, surveyed the evidence in 2004. He began by looking at newspaper accounts of the trend, and found that broken windows policing usually got the credit for the fall in crime.

., 51 Bonding, 36–39, 41, 57, 60 Bonin, Pierre-Cédric, 178–82, 185–86, 199 Borges, Jorge Luis, 234–39 Bose Corporation, 76, 78 Bösendorfer piano, 1–2 Boston, Route 128 technology cluster in, 214–15 Boston Attention and Learning Lab, 16 Boulder (Col.), 46–47 Bowie, David, 7–9, 16, 17n, 20, 25, 28 Boy Scouts, 42 Boyd, John, 132–35, 137, 140, 144, 264 “Boys Keep Swinging” (Bowie), 21, 22 Bradley, Sarah, 92 Brailsford, Dave, 58 Brand, Stewart, 79 Brandes, Vera, 1–3, 5 Braun, Allen, 99–100 Bridging, 38–39, 41, 57 Brin, Sergey, 81 Britain. See United Kingdom “Broken windows” theory, 221–25 Brown, Dan, 64, 67 Brown, Michael, 55 Bryars, Gavin, 17n Building 20 (MIT). See Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Bulgaria, 157 Bunce, Steve, 120 Burkina Faso, 120n Bush dynasty, 131, 132, 135, 139 Business Etiquette Handbook, The, 85 Byrne, David, 16 Cage, John, 75 Calendar management, 240–43 California, University of, San Francisco, 209, 281n4 Campbell, Robert, 79 Canada, 55 Cannae, Battle of, 134 Carlsen, Magnus, 120–21 Carson, Shelley, 17, 18 Carter, Jimmy, 217 Carthage, 134 Caterpillar Inc., 175 Catmull, Ed, 63, 87–89 CBS, 85 Cesarean sections (C-sections), 153–55, 210–11 Chambers, Paul, 96 Checklists, 30, 64, 234 ambiguous regulations versus, 172 messy transformation of.


pages: 561 words: 114,843

Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business, + Website by Matt Blumberg

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

airport security, Albert Einstein, bank run, Broken windows theory, crowdsourcing, deskilling, fear of failure, high batting average, high net worth, hiring and firing, Inbox Zero, James Hargreaves, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, pattern recognition, performance metric, pets.com, rolodex, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype

STAYING MENTALLY FRESH I keep myself mentally fresh for work by maintaining a basic level of self-discipline. Having my act together in small ways makes me feel like I have my act together in all ways. It’s a little like the “Broken Windows” theory of policing formulated by George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson in the early 1980s: if you crack down on graffiti and broken windows, you stop more violent crime, in part because the same people commit small and large crimes and in part because you create a more orderly society in visible, if sometimes a bit small and symbolic, ways. At Your Company These are some of the ways I apply the “Broken Windows” theory to my own life and work as a CEO: Have a clean inbox at the end of the day. This also comes from David Allen’s theory of workplace productivity and it works. A clean mind is free to think, dream and solve problems.

INDEX A Absey, Anita The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business (Lencioni) Alignment, driving aligning individual incentives with global goals five keys to “Analog analogue” B Baer, Josh Baldonero, Angela Benchmarking, value and limitations of Bilbrey, George Blank, Steven Gary Blumberg, Bob Blumberg, Mariquita Board of directors building advisory board compensating feedback process members recruiting structuring as teams compensation and review, working with board on CEO’s compensation CEO’s performance review expenses decision making and firing a CEO making difficult decisions in concert managing conflict meeting materials Board Book value of preparing for meetings, effective executive and closed sessions forward-looking agenda, building in-meeting materials protocol scheduling staff/board interactions non–board meeting time ad hoc meetings premeetings social outings serving on other boards basics of substance vs. style value of reasons for having Bootstrapping company’s cash flow customer financing Bottom-up approach “Broken Windows” theory Business pivots (changes in substance) C “Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?” (Collis & Rukstad) Catcher Hypothesis CEO communication, cheat sheet for firing as functional supervisor rules for general managers performance review role in execution Cleveland Airport test Climbing Mount Improbable (Dawkins) Coach, working with purpose of value of Colonna, Jerry Company building, critical elements of communication patterns driving force expenses, policies about geography office, type of personal acknowledgment staffing and compensation systems time off, policies about Company culture, crafting company values environment of trust, building fig wasp 879 work-life balance Company operating system, creating modes of operating rhythms Compensation determining, general guidelines for three elements of base pay equity incentive pay pay reductions Competition good and bad playing hardball playing offense vs. playing defense Consolidating Covey, Stephen Coy, Jen D Data, collecting external learning from customers learning from (un)employees internal productive eavesdropping skip-level meetings subbing Debt bank loans convertible debt personal debt venture debt Defining and testing the story admitting you’re wrong lean business plan template channels cost structure and revenue streams customer segments key metrics problem solution unique value proposition and unfair advantage Development plans, sample Dickerson, Chad Difficult business situation, managing in Diversifying Divestiture Drucker, Peter E Economic downturn, managing in Employees.


pages: 1,351 words: 385,579

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, availability heuristic, Berlin Wall, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, Broken windows theory, California gold rush, Cass Sunstein, citation needed, clean water, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, Columbine, computer age, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, crack epidemic, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, delayed gratification, demographic transition, desegregation, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, experimental subject, facts on the ground, failed state, first-past-the-post, Flynn Effect, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, fudge factor, full employment, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, global village, Henri Poincaré, impulse control, income inequality, informal economy, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, lake wobegon effect, libertarian paternalism, loss aversion, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, means of production, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Singer: altruism, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Republic of Letters, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, security theater, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, statistical model, stem cell, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, Turing machine, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, V2 rocket, Walter Mischel, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

In some cities, like Boston, the police were accompanied by parole officers who knew the worst troublemakers individually and had the power to have them rearrested for the slightest infraction.164 In New York, police headquarters tracked neighborhood crime reports obsessively and held captains’ feet to the fire if the crime rate in their precinct started to drift upward.165 The visibility of the police was multiplied by a mandate to go after nuisance crimes like graffiti, littering, aggressive panhandling, drinking liquor or urinating in public, and extorting cash from drivers at stoplights after a cursory wipe of their windshield with a filthy squeegee. The rationale, originally articulated by James Q. Wilson and George Kelling in their famous Broken Windows theory, was that an orderly environment serves as a reminder that police and residents are dedicated to keeping the peace, whereas a vandalized and unruly one is a signal that no one is in charge.166 Did these bigger and smarter police forces actually drive down crime? Research on this question is the usual social science rat’s nest of confounded variables, but the big picture suggests that the answer is “yes, in part,” even if we can’t pinpoint which of the innovations did the trick.

Once the epitome of urban rot, New York is now one of America’s safest cities, having enjoyed a slide in the crime rate that was twice the national average and that continued in the 2000s after the decline in the rest of the country had run out of steam.167 As the criminologist Franklin Zimring put it in The Great American Crime Decline, “If the combination of more cops, more aggressive policing, and management reforms did account for as much as a 35% crime decrease (half the [U.S.] total), it would be by far the biggest crime prevention achievement in the recorded history of metropolitan policing.”168 What about Broken Windows policing in particular? Most academics hate the Broken Windows theory because it seems to vindicate the view of social conservatives (including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani) that violence rates are driven by law and order rather than by “root causes” such as poverty and racism. And it has been almost impossible to prove that Broken Windows works with the usual correlational methods because the cities that implemented the policy also hired a lot of police at the same time.169 But an ingenious set of studies, recently reported in Science, has supported the theory using the gold standard of science: an experimental manipulation and a matched control group.

The commuters had to detach the flyer before they could ride their bikes, but the researchers had removed all the wastebaskets, so they either had to carry the flyer home or toss it on the ground. Above the bicycles was a prominent sign prohibiting graffiti and a wall that the experimenters had either covered in graffiti (the experimental condition) or left clean (the control condition). When the commuters were in the presence of the illegal graffiti, twice as many of them threw the flyer on the ground—exactly what the Broken Windows theory predicted. In other studies, people littered more when they saw unreturned shopping carts strewn about, and when they heard illegal firecrackers being set off in the distance. It wasn’t just harmless infractions like littering that were affected. In another experiment, passersby were tempted by an addressed envelope protruding from a mailbox with a five-euro bill visible inside it. When the mailbox was covered in graffiti or surrounded by litter, a quarter of the passersby stole it; when the mailbox was clean, half that many did.


pages: 898 words: 266,274

The Irrational Bundle by Dan Ariely

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

accounting loophole / creative accounting, air freight, Albert Einstein, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, Burning Man, business process, cashless society, Cass Sunstein, clean water, cognitive dissonance, computer vision, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, endowment effect, Exxon Valdez, first-price auction, Frederick Winslow Taylor, fudge factor, George Akerlof, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, Jean Tirole, job satisfaction, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, lake wobegon effect, late fees, loss aversion, Murray Gell-Mann, new economy, Peter Singer: altruism, placebo effect, price anchoring, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Saturday Night Live, Schrödinger's Cat, second-price auction, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, software as a service, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, ultimatum game, Upton Sinclair, Walter Mischel, young professional

This is the real cost of even minor instances of cheating and the reason we need to be more vigilant in our efforts to curb even small infractions. So what can we do about it? One hint may lie in the Broken Windows Theory, which was the basis of a 1982 Atlantic article by George Kelling and James Wilson. Kelling and Wilson proposed a critical component of keeping order in dangerous neighborhoods, and it wasn’t just putting more police on the beat. They argued that if people in a run-down area of town see a building with a few broken, long-unrepaired windows, they will be tempted to break even more windows and create further damage to the building and its surroundings, creating a blight effect. Based on the Broken Windows Theory, they suggested a simple strategy for preventing vandalism: fix problems when they are small. If you repair each broken window (or other misbehaviors) immediately, other potential offenders are going to be much less likely to misbehave.

If you repair each broken window (or other misbehaviors) immediately, other potential offenders are going to be much less likely to misbehave. Although the Broken Windows Theory has been difficult to prove or refute, its logic is compelling. It suggests that we should not excuse, overlook, or forgive small crimes, because doing so can make matters worse. This is especially important for those in the spotlight: politicians, public servants, celebrities, and CEOs. It might seem unfair to hold them to higher standards, but if we take seriously the idea that publicly observed behavior has a broader impact on those viewing the behavior, this means that their misbehavior can have greater downstream consequences for society at large. In contrast to this view, it seems that celebrities are too often rewarded with lighter punishments for their crimes than the rest of the population, which might suggest to the public that these crimes and misdemeanors are not all that bad.

Similarly, understanding how conflicts of interest work and how deeply they influence us makes it clear that we need to avoid and regulate conflicts of interest to a much higher degree. We also need to understand the effects that the environment, as well as mental and physical depletion, plays in dishonesty. And of course, once we understand the social infectiousness of dishonesty, we could take a cue from the Broken Windows Theory to combat the social contagion of cheating. INTERESTINGLY, WE ALREADY have many social mechanisms in place that seem to be designed specifically for resetting our moral compass and overcoming the “what-the-hell” effect. Such resetting rituals—ranging from the Catholic confession to Yom Kippur, and Ramadan to the weekly Sabbath—all present us with opportunities to collect ourselves, stop the deterioration, and turn a new page.


pages: 306 words: 85,836

When to Rob a Bank: ...And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airport security, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, feminist movement, food miles, George Akerlof, invisible hand, loss aversion, mental accounting, Netflix Prize, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, pre–internet, price anchoring, price discrimination, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, Richard Thaler, security theater, Ted Kaczynski, the built environment, The Chicago School, the High Line, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs

abortion, 65–66, 288 Absolute Poker website, 154–58 academia: bribing kids, 337–40 school open house, 219–20 teacher cheating, 103–4, 160–61 tenure, 16–19 Adams, Brandon, 193–94 addictions, rational, 92–94 advice, best, 347–50 African women, survey of, 237 airports, shutting down, 21–23 airport security, 5–6, 11, 108–9, 251–53 Akerlof, George, 162 Allie (high-end call girl), 261–67 altruism, 324–28 Altucher, James, 196–98 anchoring, 309 animated films, voices in, 305–7 animus, discrimination theory, 321–22 anti-fraud measures, 106 aptonyms, 43–47 Armstrong, Lance, 153 Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem, 29 Arum, Bob, 72–73 Asian tsunami, 325–26 assets, non-fungible, 68 athletes: gambling on, 73 income taxes of, 72–74 aviation congestion, 21–23 baby formula, 303–5 backgammon, 195–98 Badenhausen, Kurt, 74 Baltimore Sun, The, 233 bank robberies, 223–26 baseball, steroids, 152–53 baseballs, autographed, 80–81 Becker, Gary, 9–10, 92–94 behavioral economics, 120, 122, 308–9 Belichick, Bill, 149–50, 208–9 Berlin brothel, 173 Bertrand, Marianne, 347 Betjeman, John, 282 Bing, Stanley, 277 bin Laden, Osama, 57–59 bird-watching, 286–87 blackjack, 189–91 bling, 184 blogs, 1–4, 37 as kaleidoscopes, 271 “blood injuries,” 148–49 Bloomberg, Michael, 240 Blount, Roy Jr., 217 Bolt, Usain, 74 books, 14–16 about business, 283–87 bullshit in titles, 276–77, 285 diet, 117 fake memoirs, 146–48 God in titles, 285–87 on iPad, 124–25 bowling, 204–6 Boxer, Barbara, 51 boxing, 72–73 Boxwell Brothers, 46 Braga, Anthony, 246 Bratton, Bill, 163 Broderick, Matthew, 101–2 “broken windows” theory of crime, 163 Brooks, Arthur, 329–31 Brown, Philip H., 326 bullshit, in book titles, 276–77, 285 Bunning, Jim, 58 Burress, Plaxico, 216, 239, 240–41 bus, boarding, 143–46 Bush, George W., 51, 108, 136 Caesars Entertainment, 126–27 Caesar’s Palace, 189–91 “Captain Steve,” 82–86 Carnegie, Andrew, 16 carnivores, 179–84 cars: child safety seats, 103–6 conspicuous consumption, 184–85 incivility in driving, 161–64 prices of, 54–57 Carson, Rachel, 181 Case, Justin, 46 Castro, Jesus “Manny” Jr., 248–49 chain letters, 141–42 Champagne, Dom Perignon, 40 charitable giving: disasters, 324–28 street handouts, 328–37 cheating: to be hot, 135–37 and “blood injuries,” 148–49 fake memoirs, 146–48 how not to cheat, 153–55 as human nature, 135 Mumbai train system, 140–41 at poker, 153–58 in self-reporting, 137–40 in sports, 148–50 on taxes, 11–14, 72–74, 122, 158–60 by teachers, 103–4, 160–61 chess, 196–98 Chicago Tribune, poll, 279 chicken, rancid, 307–11 chicken wings, prices of, 75–77 child abduction, 133 children, bribing, 337–40 child safety seats, 103–6 China: crime in, 226–28 earthquake in, 324–28 infant formula in, 303–5 Clemens, Roger, 149, 150 climate change, 179–84 Clinton, Hillary, 51 Coca-Cola, formula of, 59–60 Cohn, Alain, 228–29 Coinstar, 64 Collins, Jim, 283–84 Congress, U.S.: and bin Laden bounty, 57–59 and IRS, 12–14 tax code written by, 158–60 conspicuous consumption, 184–85 contests, 91 addictions, 92–94 motto for U.S., 96–99 rigged, 136 Twitter, 94–96 Cook, Phil, 246 Cope, Myron, 215, 216 corporate sponsorships, 81 cover-ups, 121, 157 Cowen, Tyler, 329, 331–33 Cowher, Bill, 218 Craig, Larry, 45 crime: and abortion, 288 bank robberies, 223–26 “broken windows” theory of, 163 burglary, 242 child abduction, 133 in China, 226–28 gun deaths, 245–51 and gun laws, 243–45 intruders, 241–43 priming criminals, 228–29 prison sentences, 128, 224, 242, 245, 248, 260 street gangs, 229–36, 246–47, 248–49 and The Wire, 229–33 volatile rates of, 244 Cuban, Mark, 329, 333 cyclists, Tour de France, 151–53 Cyrus, Miley, 306 Daily Show, The, 273–74 Dal Bó, Ernesto, 33–34 Daly, John, 277 dangerous activities: horseback riding, 101–3 obesity as result of, 116–19 walking drunk, 101 Daschle, Tom, 158, 160 Dawkins, Richard, 286 decision making, 120–21, 208–9 democracy, alternative to, 29–31 Dennett, Daniel, 286 dental wisdom, 275–76 diapers, cloth vs. disposable, 167 diminishing marginal returns, 203 disasters, and charitable giving, 324–28 discrimination, statistical, 321–22 divorce, statistics on, 345 Dohmen, Thomas, 212 Doleac, Jennifer, 320–21 Donohue, John, 288 doomsday prophets, 109–10 doping, in Tour de France, 151–53 driving: and the environment, 166–67 incivility in, 161–64 drugs, prescription, prices of, 51–54 Duke, Annie, 188 Duncan, Arne, 103–4 Duskiewicz, Bernie, 348–49 ecological invalidity, 335 economics: behavioral, 120, 122, 206, 308–9 invisible hand in, 315 morality vs., 288 visible hand in, 319–22 writing about, 287–88 Edlin, Aaron, 88 Ehrenreich, Barbara, 329, 333–34 Ehrlich, Paul, 109, 114 Eikenberry (funeral director), 46 Endangered Species Act, 165–66 Engelberger, Perfect, 40 environment: cloth vs. disposable diapers, 167 and conspicuous consumption, 184–85 and driving, 166–67 eating meat, 179–84 Endangered Species Act, 165–66 global warming, 87–89, 179–84 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 171–72, 177, 180 locavores, 168–72 and packaging, 175–78 paper vs. plastic bags, 167 petroleum extraction, 109–16 Prius “green halo,” 185 and profitability, 172–74 saving the rain forest, 174–75 veganism, 179–84 Ericsson, Anders, 199, 201 escort (high-end call girl), 261–67 evaluation function (EV), 197 experts, ten thousand hours of practice, 199, 201–2 Fanning, Dakota, 305 fear of strangers, 130–33 Feinstein, Dianne, 53 Feldman, Paul, 69 feminist movement, 346–47 Ferraz, Claudio, 33 films, animated, 305–7 Finan, Frederico, 33 first-grade data hound, 219–20 fishing, 348–49 flight attendants, 19–20 food: chicken wings, 75–77 decayed, 177 deliciousness of, 170 kiwifruits, 77–80 locavores, 168–72 nutritional value of, 170 and obesity, 116–18 packaging of, 175–78 poor service, 272–73 rancid chicken, 307–11 shrimp, 341–44 transportation inefficiencies of, 170–72 wasting, 177–78 football: Immaculate Reception, 216 loss aversion, 206–9 Pittsburgh Steelers, 212–19 rookie symposium, 239–41 Fox, Kevin, 253 Frakes, Michael, 117 Frankfurt, Harry, 276 Freakonomics (Levitt & Dubner), 1–2, 37, 40, 54, 69, 101, 105, 135, 160, 223, 253–4, 261, 274, 277, 280, 297–98, 305, 322, 351 Freakonomics.com, 1–4, 8, 233 Freakonomics radio, 268–69 Frederick, Shane, 341–43 Freed, Pam, 342 Friedman, Milton, 23 Frost, Robert, 218 Fryar, Irving, 239–40 Fryer, Roland, 228, 288, 328–29, 337, 339 Fuller, Thomas, 194–95 Gacy, John Wayne Jr., 39 Gagné, Éric, 149 gambling: on athletes, 73 backgammon, 195–98 blackjack, 189–91 on horse racing, 191, 220–22 how not to cheat, 153–55 Internet poker, 127–30, 157 on newspaper circulation, 233 one card away from final table, 192–95 Rochambeau (Rock, Paper, Scissors), 188–89 on teams, 125–26 unbreakable record, 192 World Series of Poker, 187–88, 192–95 GAME (Gang Awareness Through Mentoring and Education), 248–49 gas, moratorium on, 311–14 gas prices, 86–90 Gates, Bill, 16 Geiger, Bernice, 224 Geithner, Tim, 158 gender identity, 228 Gladstone, Bernard, 258, 259 global warming, 88–89, 179–84 Gly-Oxide, 275–76 God, in book titles, 285–87 Goeree, Jacob, 31 Goldstein, Dan, 335 golf, 198–206 Goodall, Chris, 167 Good to Great (Collins), 283–84, 285 Goolsbee, Austan, 160 Gordon, Phil, 187–89, 192, 193 Goss, Pat, 200–201 government: and gambling income, 129 paying politicians, 32–36 voting mechanisms, 29–31 Greatest Good, 28, 300–301 Greene, Mean Joe, 216 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 171–72, 177 Grossman, Michael, 116 Gruber, Jonathan, 117 Grzelak, Mandi, 268–69 guns: anonymous tips about, 247 athletes carrying concealed weapons, 240–41 concealed weapons laws, 242 D.C. ban on, 243–45 deaths from, 245–51 illegal use of, 245 ownership of, 245 shooting intruders with, 241–43 Hagen, Ryan, 314–19 happiness, 122–23, 344–47 Harold’s Chicken Shack, 75–77 Harris, Franco, 216 Hatcher, Teri, 305 hate mail, cost of, 49–51 health care: British National Health Service, 26–29 decisions in, 122 Hemenway, David, 249–50 Henderson, Kaya, 160 herd mentality, 143–46 Hitchens, Christopher, 286 hoaxes, 282–83 Holmes, Santonio, 214–16 home, building your own, 170 home field advantage, 209–12 homelessness, 330–31 horseback riding, 101–3 horse racing, 220–22 housing prices, 67–69 Hurricane Katrina, 42–43, 325–28 Hussein, Saddam, 58 identity, concept of, 162–63 Immaculate Reception, 216 impure altruism, 328 incentives, 17, 32–36, 65, 95–96, 110, 113, 122, 136, 166, 337–40 inefficiencies, transportation, 170–72 INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service), Form N-400, 237–38 In Search of Excellence (Peters and Waterman), 284 Internet poker, 127–30, 157 iPad, 124–25 Irfan, Atif, 130–32 irrational decisions, 120–21 IRS, 11–14, 159–60, 257 Jackson, Vincent, 215 Jacob, Brian, 160 Jagger, Mick, 74 Jarden Zinc, 63 J.F.K. airport, 21–22 Jines, Linda Levitt: brother’s eulogy for, 297–301 father’s interventions, 289–97 and Freakonomics, 277, 297–98 Jingjing Zhang, 31 Johnson, Larry, 207 Johnston, David Cay, 11–12 Kaczynski, Ted (Unabomber), 287 Kahneman, Daniel, 3, 119–24, 206 Katrina (popular name), 42–43 Kennedy, Bobby, 279 Kentucky Derby, 220–22 Keyes, Alan, 279 KFC, 272–73 Killefer, Nancy, 158 kiwifruits, 77–80 Kormendy, Amy, 169 Kranton, Rachel, 162 Kulkarni, Ganesh, 140–41 Laffer curve, 72 LaGuardia Airport, 21–23 LaHood, Ray, 21, 103–6 Lake George, boat accident on, 118–19 Lancaster, Barbara, 219 Landsburg, Steven, 259 Lane, Mary MacPherson, 173 Las Vegas: blackjack, 189–91 poker, 127–30, 153–58, 187–89, 192–95 risk aversion in, 126–27 Lee, Jennifer 8., 41 Lee Hsien Loong, 32 Leeson, Peter, 314–19 Levitt, Michael, “When a Daughter Dies,” 289–97 libraries, public, 14–16 lies of reputation, 137–40 Limberhand (masturbator), 45–46 List, John, 125, 165, 228, 327–28, 338 lobbyists, 62–63 locavores, 168–72 loss aversion, 206–9 Loveman, Gary, 127 ludicity (ludic fallacy), 335 Ludwig, Jens, 246–48 Maass, Peter, 109, 114 Madoff, Bernie, 133 Malthus, Rev.

.: and bin Laden bounty, 57–59 and IRS, 12–14 tax code written by, 158–60 conspicuous consumption, 184–85 contests, 91 addictions, 92–94 motto for U.S., 96–99 rigged, 136 Twitter, 94–96 Cook, Phil, 246 Cope, Myron, 215, 216 corporate sponsorships, 81 cover-ups, 121, 157 Cowen, Tyler, 329, 331–33 Cowher, Bill, 218 Craig, Larry, 45 crime: and abortion, 288 bank robberies, 223–26 “broken windows” theory of, 163 burglary, 242 child abduction, 133 in China, 226–28 gun deaths, 245–51 and gun laws, 243–45 intruders, 241–43 priming criminals, 228–29 prison sentences, 128, 224, 242, 245, 248, 260 street gangs, 229–36, 246–47, 248–49 and The Wire, 229–33 volatile rates of, 244 Cuban, Mark, 329, 333 cyclists, Tour de France, 151–53 Cyrus, Miley, 306 Daily Show, The, 273–74 Dal Bó, Ernesto, 33–34 Daly, John, 277 dangerous activities: horseback riding, 101–3 obesity as result of, 116–19 walking drunk, 101 Daschle, Tom, 158, 160 Dawkins, Richard, 286 decision making, 120–21, 208–9 democracy, alternative to, 29–31 Dennett, Daniel, 286 dental wisdom, 275–76 diapers, cloth vs. disposable, 167 diminishing marginal returns, 203 disasters, and charitable giving, 324–28 discrimination, statistical, 321–22 divorce, statistics on, 345 Dohmen, Thomas, 212 Doleac, Jennifer, 320–21 Donohue, John, 288 doomsday prophets, 109–10 doping, in Tour de France, 151–53 driving: and the environment, 166–67 incivility in, 161–64 drugs, prescription, prices of, 51–54 Duke, Annie, 188 Duncan, Arne, 103–4 Duskiewicz, Bernie, 348–49 ecological invalidity, 335 economics: behavioral, 120, 122, 206, 308–9 invisible hand in, 315 morality vs., 288 visible hand in, 319–22 writing about, 287–88 Edlin, Aaron, 88 Ehrenreich, Barbara, 329, 333–34 Ehrlich, Paul, 109, 114 Eikenberry (funeral director), 46 Endangered Species Act, 165–66 Engelberger, Perfect, 40 environment: cloth vs. disposable diapers, 167 and conspicuous consumption, 184–85 and driving, 166–67 eating meat, 179–84 Endangered Species Act, 165–66 global warming, 87–89, 179–84 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 171–72, 177, 180 locavores, 168–72 and packaging, 175–78 paper vs. plastic bags, 167 petroleum extraction, 109–16 Prius “green halo,” 185 and profitability, 172–74 saving the rain forest, 174–75 veganism, 179–84 Ericsson, Anders, 199, 201 escort (high-end call girl), 261–67 evaluation function (EV), 197 experts, ten thousand hours of practice, 199, 201–2 Fanning, Dakota, 305 fear of strangers, 130–33 Feinstein, Dianne, 53 Feldman, Paul, 69 feminist movement, 346–47 Ferraz, Claudio, 33 films, animated, 305–7 Finan, Frederico, 33 first-grade data hound, 219–20 fishing, 348–49 flight attendants, 19–20 food: chicken wings, 75–77 decayed, 177 deliciousness of, 170 kiwifruits, 77–80 locavores, 168–72 nutritional value of, 170 and obesity, 116–18 packaging of, 175–78 poor service, 272–73 rancid chicken, 307–11 shrimp, 341–44 transportation inefficiencies of, 170–72 wasting, 177–78 football: Immaculate Reception, 216 loss aversion, 206–9 Pittsburgh Steelers, 212–19 rookie symposium, 239–41 Fox, Kevin, 253 Frakes, Michael, 117 Frankfurt, Harry, 276 Freakonomics (Levitt & Dubner), 1–2, 37, 40, 54, 69, 101, 105, 135, 160, 223, 253–4, 261, 274, 277, 280, 297–98, 305, 322, 351 Freakonomics.com, 1–4, 8, 233 Freakonomics radio, 268–69 Frederick, Shane, 341–43 Freed, Pam, 342 Friedman, Milton, 23 Frost, Robert, 218 Fryar, Irving, 239–40 Fryer, Roland, 228, 288, 328–29, 337, 339 Fuller, Thomas, 194–95 Gacy, John Wayne Jr., 39 Gagné, Éric, 149 gambling: on athletes, 73 backgammon, 195–98 blackjack, 189–91 on horse racing, 191, 220–22 how not to cheat, 153–55 Internet poker, 127–30, 157 on newspaper circulation, 233 one card away from final table, 192–95 Rochambeau (Rock, Paper, Scissors), 188–89 on teams, 125–26 unbreakable record, 192 World Series of Poker, 187–88, 192–95 GAME (Gang Awareness Through Mentoring and Education), 248–49 gas, moratorium on, 311–14 gas prices, 86–90 Gates, Bill, 16 Geiger, Bernice, 224 Geithner, Tim, 158 gender identity, 228 Gladstone, Bernard, 258, 259 global warming, 88–89, 179–84 Gly-Oxide, 275–76 God, in book titles, 285–87 Goeree, Jacob, 31 Goldstein, Dan, 335 golf, 198–206 Goodall, Chris, 167 Good to Great (Collins), 283–84, 285 Goolsbee, Austan, 160 Gordon, Phil, 187–89, 192, 193 Goss, Pat, 200–201 government: and gambling income, 129 paying politicians, 32–36 voting mechanisms, 29–31 Greatest Good, 28, 300–301 Greene, Mean Joe, 216 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 171–72, 177 Grossman, Michael, 116 Gruber, Jonathan, 117 Grzelak, Mandi, 268–69 guns: anonymous tips about, 247 athletes carrying concealed weapons, 240–41 concealed weapons laws, 242 D.C. ban on, 243–45 deaths from, 245–51 illegal use of, 245 ownership of, 245 shooting intruders with, 241–43 Hagen, Ryan, 314–19 happiness, 122–23, 344–47 Harold’s Chicken Shack, 75–77 Harris, Franco, 216 Hatcher, Teri, 305 hate mail, cost of, 49–51 health care: British National Health Service, 26–29 decisions in, 122 Hemenway, David, 249–50 Henderson, Kaya, 160 herd mentality, 143–46 Hitchens, Christopher, 286 hoaxes, 282–83 Holmes, Santonio, 214–16 home, building your own, 170 home field advantage, 209–12 homelessness, 330–31 horseback riding, 101–3 horse racing, 220–22 housing prices, 67–69 Hurricane Katrina, 42–43, 325–28 Hussein, Saddam, 58 identity, concept of, 162–63 Immaculate Reception, 216 impure altruism, 328 incentives, 17, 32–36, 65, 95–96, 110, 113, 122, 136, 166, 337–40 inefficiencies, transportation, 170–72 INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service), Form N-400, 237–38 In Search of Excellence (Peters and Waterman), 284 Internet poker, 127–30, 157 iPad, 124–25 Irfan, Atif, 130–32 irrational decisions, 120–21 IRS, 11–14, 159–60, 257 Jackson, Vincent, 215 Jacob, Brian, 160 Jagger, Mick, 74 Jarden Zinc, 63 J.F.K. airport, 21–22 Jines, Linda Levitt: brother’s eulogy for, 297–301 father’s interventions, 289–97 and Freakonomics, 277, 297–98 Jingjing Zhang, 31 Johnson, Larry, 207 Johnston, David Cay, 11–12 Kaczynski, Ted (Unabomber), 287 Kahneman, Daniel, 3, 119–24, 206 Katrina (popular name), 42–43 Kennedy, Bobby, 279 Kentucky Derby, 220–22 Keyes, Alan, 279 KFC, 272–73 Killefer, Nancy, 158 kiwifruits, 77–80 Kormendy, Amy, 169 Kranton, Rachel, 162 Kulkarni, Ganesh, 140–41 Laffer curve, 72 LaGuardia Airport, 21–23 LaHood, Ray, 21, 103–6 Lake George, boat accident on, 118–19 Lancaster, Barbara, 219 Landsburg, Steven, 259 Lane, Mary MacPherson, 173 Las Vegas: blackjack, 189–91 poker, 127–30, 153–58, 187–89, 192–95 risk aversion in, 126–27 Lee, Jennifer 8., 41 Lee Hsien Loong, 32 Leeson, Peter, 314–19 Levitt, Michael, “When a Daughter Dies,” 289–97 libraries, public, 14–16 lies of reputation, 137–40 Limberhand (masturbator), 45–46 List, John, 125, 165, 228, 327–28, 338 lobbyists, 62–63 locavores, 168–72 loss aversion, 206–9 Loveman, Gary, 127 ludicity (ludic fallacy), 335 Ludwig, Jens, 246–48 Maass, Peter, 109, 114 Madoff, Bernie, 133 Malthus, Rev.


pages: 327 words: 88,121

The Vanishing Neighbor: The Transformation of American Community by Marc J. Dunkelman

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Broken windows theory, call centre, clean water, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, David Brooks, delayed gratification, double helix, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, global supply chain, global village, helicopter parent, if you build it, they will come, impulse control, income inequality, invention of movable type, Jane Jacobs, Khyber Pass, Louis Pasteur, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Nate Silver, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, Occupy movement, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, Richard Florida, rolodex, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, Thomas L Friedman, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban decay, urban planning, Walter Mischel, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, World Values Survey

But, as Sampson’s research indicates, it’s actually more important that community norms—even if they’re established among strangers—maintain a standard of safety and decorum. Disapproving looks from the couple sitting on a park bench, or the good example set by the woman who keeps up her front lawn, have a more powerful effect on a community’s civic health than neighborly ties. And in that, Sampson’s argument echoes James Q. Wilson and George Kelling’s “broken windows” theory, introduced in the early 1980s, which suggested that the implicit sign of disorder sent by an unrepaired pane of glass has the potential to set off a wave of criminality.18 This points to an auspicious element of networked community. If vitality doesn’t go hand in hand with the middle rings, then a society full of vibrant networks—even if they’re made up of hermits—might well signal an important step forward.

., 136–37 Atlantic, 46, 199 Aung San Suu Kyi, 64 authenticity, personal, 64–66 automobile industry, 10, 172, 175, 205 autonomy, 68, 73 baby boomers, 6, 28, 127, 133, 197, 198, 205 bands (overnight camps), 92, 94, 95, 96 banks, xv, xvii, 180, 181 Barbados, 179–81, 191 basketball, 8–9, 11–12 Bell, Daniel, 249n Bellah, Robert, 65–66, 73, 81 Bell Labs, 164, 173 belongingness, 4–5, 74, 110 Bender, Thomas, 83–84, 138 Berg, Joel, 62 Beverly Hillbillies, The (TV show), 36 “be yourself,” 63–66, 73–74, 102–3, 149, 218 bigotry, 117, 149, 237 Big Sort, The (Bishop with Cushing), 48, 50, 95, 135, 147, 238 Big Three, the, 8–9 bin Laden, Osama, 56 biology, 90–94 Bipartisan Policy Center, 188–89 Birmingham, England, 166–67 Bishop, Bill, 47–48, 95, 124, 135, 147, 184, 189, 238 Bissell, Cassandra, 140 blacks, see African Americans blogs, 36, 37, 109–10, 187 Bosh, Chris, 8–9 Boston, Mass., 33, 55, 84 Bowling Alone (Putnam), 7, 97, 99–100, 113–16, 119, 120, 134–35, 141, 149, 151–52, 192, 193 brain, 90–92, 94, 98, 121, 143, 144–45, 223–24 Brazil, 178–79, 267n Brokaw, Tom, 70 “broken windows” theory, 150 Brooks, David, 46–47, 48, 229 Brown University, 163 budget, federal, xv–xvi Buffalo, N.Y., ix–xi, xviii, 97, 136, 137, 170, 196–97, 240 Buffett, Warren, 27 bureaucracy, 16, 52, 110, 194, 202, 203, 204, 206, 210 Burke, Edmund, 81, 232 Burt, Ronald, 165, 168, 266n buses, 33–35 Bush, George W., 47, 54, 67, 184, 255n business, xvii, 10, 16, 52, 131–32, 163–68, 175–76, 235 in Barbados vs.


pages: 829 words: 186,976

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-But Some Don't by Nate Silver

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

airport security, availability heuristic, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, Carmen Reinhart, Claude Shannon: information theory, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversification, Donald Trump, Edmond Halley, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, en.wikipedia.org, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, fear of failure, Fellow of the Royal Society, Freestyle chess, fudge factor, George Akerlof, haute cuisine, Henri Poincaré, high batting average, housing crisis, income per capita, index fund, Internet Archive, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, locking in a profit, Loma Prieta earthquake, market bubble, Mikhail Gorbachev, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Monroe Doctrine, mortgage debt, Nate Silver, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, pets.com, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, random walk, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, savings glut, security theater, short selling, Skype, statistical model, Steven Pinker, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, transaction costs, transfer pricing, University of East Anglia, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, wikimedia commons

Kelling introduced what they called the “broken windows” theory of crime deterrence.71 The idea was that by focusing on smaller-scale types of crime, like vandalism and misdemeanor drug offenses,72 police could contribute to an overall climate of lawfulness and therefore prevent bigger crime. The empirical evidence for the merit of this theory is quite mixed.73, 74 However, the theory was very warmly embraced by police departments from Los Angeles to New York because it lowered the degree of difficulty for police departments and provided for much more attainable goals. It’s much easier to bust a sixteen-year-old kid for smoking a joint than to solve an auto theft or prevent a murder. Everybody likes to live in a cleaner, safer neighborhood. But it’s unclear whether the broken-windows theory is more than window dressing.

Murrah Federal Building, 425 algorithms, 265, 426 all-in bet, 306 Allison, Graham, 433–35 Al Qaeda, 422, 424, 425, 426, 433, 435–36, 440, 444 Alzheimer’s, 420 Amazon.com, 352–53, 500 American exceptionalism, 10 American Football League (AFL), 185–86, 480 American League, 79 American Stock Exchange, 334 Amsterdam, 228 Anchorage, Alaska, 149 Anderson, Chris, 9 Angelo, Tommy, 324–26, 328 animals, earthquake prediction and, 147–48 Annals of Applied Statistics, 511–12 ANSS catalog, 478 Antarctic, 401 anthropology, 228 antiretroviral therapy, 221 Apple, 264 Archilochus, 53 Arctic, 397, 398 Arianism, 490 Aristotle, 2, 112 Armstrong, Scott, 380–82, 381, 388, 402–3, 405, 505, 508 Arrhenius, Svante, 376 artificial intelligence, 263, 293 Asia, 210 asset-price bubble, 190 asymmetrical information, 35 Augustine, Saint, 112 Australia, 379 autism, 218, 218, 487 availability heuristic, 424 avian flu, see bird flu A/Victoria flu strain, 205–6, 208, 483 Babbage, Charles, 263, 283 Babyak, Michael, 167–68 baby boom, 31 Babylonians, 112 Bachmann, Michele, 217 bailout bills, 19, 461 Bak, Per, 172 Baker, Dean, 22 Bane, Eddie, 87 Bank of England, 35 Barbour, Haley, 140 baseball, 9, 10, 16, 74–106, 128, 426, 446, 447, 451n aging curve in, 79, 81–83, 81, 83, 99, 164 betting on, 286 luck vs. skill in, 322 minor league system in, 92–93 results in, 327 rich data in, 79–80, 84 Baseball America, 75, 87, 89, 90, 90, 91 Baseball Encyclopedia, 94 Baseball Prospectus, 75, 78, 88, 297 basic reproduction number (R0), 214–15, 215, 224, 225, 486 basketball, 80n, 92–93, 233–37, 243, 246, 256, 258, 489 batting average, 86, 91, 95, 100, 314, 321, 321, 339 Bayer Laboratories, 11–12, 249 Bayes, Thomas, 240–43, 251, 253, 254, 255, 490 Bayesian reasoning, 240, 241–42, 259, 349, 444 biases and beliefs in, 258–59 chess computers’ use of, 291 Christianity and, 490 in climatology, 371, 377–78, 403, 406–7, 407, 410–11 consensus opinion and, 367 Fisher’s opposition to, 252 gambling esteemed in, 255–56, 362 priors in, 244, 245, 246, 252, 255, 258–59, 260, 403, 406–7, 433n, 444, 451, 490, 497 stock market and, 259–60 Bayes’s theorem, 15, 16, 242, 243–49, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 258, 266, 331, 331, 448–49, 450–51 in poker, 299, 301, 304, 306, 307, 322–23 Beane, Billy, 77, 92, 93–94, 99–100, 103, 105–7, 314 Bear Stearns, 37 beauty, complexity and, 173 beer, 387, 459 behavioral economics, 227–28 Belgium, 459 Bellagio, 298–99, 300, 318, 495 bell-curve distribution, 368n, 496 Bengkulu, Indonesia, 161 Benjamin, Joel, 281 Berlin, Isaiah, 53 Berners-Lee, Tim, 448, 514 BetOnSports PLC, 319 bets, see gambling Betsy, Hurricane, 140 betting markets, 201–3, 332–33 see also Intrade biases, 12–13, 16, 293 Bayesian theory’s acknowledgment of, 258–59 in chess, 273 and errors in published research, 250 favorite-longshot, 497 of Fisher, 255 objectivity and, 72–73 toward overconfidence, 179–83, 191, 203, 454 in polls, 252–53 as rational, 197–99, 200 of scouts, 91–93, 102 of statheads, 91–93 of weather forecasts, 134–38 Bible, 2 Wicked, 3, 13 Biden, Joseph, 48 Big Data, 9–12, 197, 249–50, 253, 264, 289, 447, 452 Big Short, The (Lewis), 355 Billings, Darse, 324 Bill James Baseball Abstract, The, 77, 78, 84 bin Laden, Osama, 432, 433, 434, 440, 509 binomial distribution, 479 biological weapons, 437, 438, 443 biomedical research, 11–12, 183 bird flu, 209, 216, 229 Black, Fisher, 362, 367, 369 “Black Friday,” 320 Black Swan, The (Taleb), 368n Black Tuesday, 349 Blanco, Kathleen, 140 Blankley, Tony, 50 Blodget, Henry, 352–54, 356, 364–65, 500 Blue Chip Economic Indicators survey, 199, 335–36 Bluefire, 110–11, 116, 118, 127, 131 bluffing, 301, 303, 306, 310, 311, 328 Bonus Baby rule, 94 books, 2–4 cost of producing, 2 forecasting and, 5 number of, 2–3, 3, 459 boom, dot-com, 346–48, 361 Boston, 77 Boston Red Sox, 63, 74–77, 87, 102, 103–5 Bowman, David, 161–62, 167 Box, George E. P., 230 Brady, Brian, 158, 159 brain, information storage capacity of, 12 breadth, depth vs., 271–73 breast cancer, 245–46, 246, 248, 250 Brier score, 474 British Medical Journal, 254 “broken windows” theory of crime, 439 Brown, Shawn, 226 Brownian noise, 173 Bryant, Kobe, 233–34, 237 bubbles, 38, 195, 333, 356, 357, 369–70 credit, 68, 196 difficulty of bursting, 360, 362, 367 dot-com, 346–48, 361 efficient-market hypothesis and, 346–52 housing, see housing bubble real-time identification of, 347–48, 369–70 signals of, 366 Buchanan, Pat, 48, 50 bugs: in Deep Blue, 283, 285, 286, 288–89 in models, 285–86 Bulgaria, 52 Bureau of Economic Analysis, 481 Bush, George H.


pages: 503 words: 131,064

Liars and Outliers: How Security Holds Society Together by Bruce Schneier

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

airport security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Brian Krebs, Broken windows theory, carried interest, Cass Sunstein, Chelsea Manning, corporate governance, crack epidemic, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, desegregation, don't be evil, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Douglas Hofstadter, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, George Akerlof, hydraulic fracturing, impulse control, income inequality, invention of agriculture, invention of gunpowder, iterative process, Jean Tirole, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock company, Julian Assange, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Nate Silver, Network effects, Nick Leeson, offshore financial centre, patent troll, phenotype, pre–internet, principal–agent problem, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, RFID, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, security theater, shareholder value, slashdot, statistical model, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, technological singularity, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, too big to fail, traffic fines, transaction costs, ultimatum game, UNCLOS, union organizing, Vernor Vinge, WikiLeaks, World Values Survey, Y2K

More and more, it's used to mean isolated wrongdoers whose actions don't affect anyone else in the group. The entire phrase is “one bad apple spoils the entire bunch,” and is intended to explicitly highlight how the reputation of one person can taint the reputation of all people in the group. Incidentally, this is actually true for apples stored in a root cellar. A spoiled apple will cause the rest of the apples to spoil. (14) The logical extreme of this idea is the “broken windows theory” of John Q. Wilson and George Kelling, that visible signs of criminal activity like broken windows and abandoned cars actually incite people to commit crimes. Wilson and Kelling believed that if you clean up these visible signs of lawlessness, a neighborhood will become safer overall; societal pressures against petty crime will cause a reduction in violent crime. It sounds good, and Kelling used the theory to explain the dramatic drop in crime in New York City in the 1990s, but it turns out there's not much actual evidence that it's true.Researchers compared New York City and other cities, and found that New York's punitive measures against low-level visible lawlessness—a lot of which might be considered punitive measures against homelessness—didn't make much of a difference.

Ultimatum Game Bargaining Among the Machiguenga of the Peruvian Amazon,” American Economic Review, 90:973–9. wash their hands John M. Lynn (2000), “Method and Apparatus for Helping to Ensure the Washing of Hands,” U.S. Patent #6,031,461. John M. Lynn (2000), “Method and Apparatus for Helping to Ensure the Washing of Hands,” U.S. Patent #6,147,607. Fiona A. Lynn and John M. Lynn (2001), “Method and Apparatus for Helping to Ensure the Washing of Hands,” U.S. Patent #6,211,788. broken windows theory James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling (Mar 1982), “Broken Windows,” Atlantic Monthly, 127:29–38. George L. Kelling (17 Jul 2009), “How New York Became Safe: The Full Story,” City Journal. Researchers compared Khaled Taqi-Eddin and Dan Macallair (1999), “Shattering Broken Windows: An Analysis of San Francisco's Alternative Crime Policies,” Justice Policy Institute. Randall G. Shelden (2003), “Assessing ‘Broken Windows': A Brief Critique,” Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice.


pages: 229 words: 67,869

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

4chan, AltaVista, Berlin Wall, Broken windows theory, Burning Man, Clive Stafford Smith, cognitive dissonance, Desert Island Discs, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Google Hangouts, illegal immigration, Menlo Park, PageRank, Ralph Nader, Rosa Parks, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, urban planning, WikiLeaks

Sometimes the most modest of changes can bring about enormous effects.’ Gladwell’s essay was a sensation - one of the most influential articles in the magazine’s history. It sold the aggressive policing tactic to thoughtful, liberal New York City people - the sorts of people who wouldn’t normally support such a draconian idea. He gave a generation of liberals permission to be more conservative. He became a marketing tool for the Broken Windows theory. His book The Tipping Point went on to sell two million copies, launching his career and the careers of the countless other pop-science writers who followed in his footsteps, like Jonah Lehrer. But Gladwell’s essay was wrong. Subsequent data revealed that violent crime had been dropping in New York City for five years before Broken Windows was implemented. It was plummeting at the same rate all over America.


pages: 331 words: 98,395

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

Broken windows theory, Panamax

The men’s rooms were windowless, lit only by an ever-dwindling supply of scented candles from the gift shop, and the water had to be warmed over the fire outside, but Clark felt it was worth the effort. Several of the men in the airport weren’t shaving at all anymore, and the effect was wild and also frankly unflattering. Clark disliked the general state of unshavenness, partly for aesthetic reasons and partly because he was a believer in the broken-windows theory of urban-crime management, the way the appearance of dereliction can pave the way for more serious crimes. On Day Twenty-Seven he parted his hair neatly down the middle and shaved off the left side. “It’s the haircut I had from ages seventeen through nineteen,” he told Dolores when she raised an eyebrow at him. Dolores was a business traveler, single, no family, which meant that she was one of the saner people in the airport.


pages: 341 words: 116,854

The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square by James Traub

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

Anton Chekhov, Broken windows theory, Buckminster Fuller, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, fear of failure, Jane Jacobs, jitney, megastructure, New Urbanism, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, rent control, Ronald Reagan, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal

A few months earlier, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a U.S. senator from New York and a distinguished social theorist, had said that a city in the throes of social disintegration had accepted a defeatist strategy of “defining deviancy down.” Moynihan described a place in which the forces of social control seemed to have surrendered to the forces of disorder. Giuliani cited this resonant expression in his speech, and mentioned instances of it that few could deny. He also drew on the “broken windows” theory, advanced by the criminologists George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson, who had argued that “serious street crime flourishes in areas in which disorderly behavior goes unchecked. The unchecked pan-handler is, in effect, the first broken window.” Giuliani vowed to reverse the process by arresting the window breakers. As mayor, he did just that. Crime had begun to drop after Dinkins obtained the funds to increase the police force to unprecedented levels.


pages: 598 words: 140,612

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier by Edward L. Glaeser

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Broken windows theory, carbon footprint, Celebration, Florida, clean water, congestion charging, declining real wages, desegregation, diversified portfolio, Edward Glaeser, endowment effect, European colonialism, financial innovation, Frank Gehry, global village, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute cuisine, Home mortgage interest deduction, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, job-hopping, John Snow's cholera map, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, megacity, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, New Urbanism, place-making, Ponzi scheme, Potemkin village, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rent control, RFID, Richard Florida, Rosa Parks, school vouchers, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Steven Pinker, strikebreaker, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, Works Progress Administration, young professional

In 1973, Nelson Rockefeller, once considered the liberal hope of the Republican Party, signed the Rockefeller drug laws, which mandated a prison sentence of fifteen years to life for anyone possessing four ounces or more of any illegal drug. In the mayoral election of 1977, Ed Koch distinguished himself from his rivals by supporting the death penalty. Koch started a trend, and his successors, including Rudy Giuliani, embraced the “broken windows” theory of policing, which calls for strong penalties for even minor infractions, such as jumping subway turnstiles to avoid paying the fare. Harsher penalties naturally appealed to citizens of a city where criminals seemed to be in control. Between 1980 and 2000, the number of inmates in the U.S. criminal system—in prison, in jail, on probation, or on parole—increased from 1.8 million to 6.4 million.


pages: 414 words: 119,116

The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World by Michael Marmot

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Atul Gawande, Bonfire of the Vanities, Broken windows theory, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Celtic Tiger, centre right, clean water, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, Doha Development Round, epigenetics, financial independence, future of work, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, illegal immigration, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, Kenneth Rogoff, Kibera, labour market flexibility, lump of labour, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, New Urbanism, obamacare, paradox of thrift, race to the bottom, Rana Plaza, RAND corporation, road to serfdom, Simon Kuznets, Socratic dialogue, structural adjustment programs, the built environment, The Spirit Level, trickle-down economics, urban planning, Washington Consensus, Winter of Discontent, working poor

SEWA negotiated loans equivalent to $500 for each household. The women themselves had to contribute $50, a great amount if you are living on $2 a day.44 The results are impressive: same streets, same modest houses, but spruced up, made pukka, and the required additions made. It feels cared for. I don’t know whether it would lead to less crime. It feels like it might, if there is anything to the broken windows theory.45 What is clear, though, is that women no longer have to stand in long queues to collect water, there is less water-borne disease, and as a result children lose fewer days of school. In Bonfire of the Vanities, the novelist Tom Wolfe talks of his obscenely rich banker achieving ‘isolation’ from the chaos of New York. He could have been living in New York, London or Frankfurt for all the contact he had with people who were not in his rarefied stratum.


pages: 505 words: 127,542

If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Happy? by Raj Raghunathan

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

Broken windows theory, business process, cognitive dissonance, deliberate practice, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, fundamental attribution error, job satisfaction, Mahatma Gandhi, market clearing, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, Phillip Zimbardo, placebo effect, science of happiness, Skype, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Thorstein Veblen, Tony Hsieh, working poor, Zipcar

aren’t necessarily set in stone: The idea that people’s propensities aren’t set in stone is perhaps one of the more fundamental tenets of social psychology, with researchers believing that the “context” is a more powerful determinant of people’s attitudes and behaviors. This belief is rooted in a number of findings, including the famous “obedience” studies conducted by Stanley Milgram in the 1960s, in which he showed that regular people like you and me, under the guise of helping others learn a task (e.g., word associations), could be persuaded to administer severe shocks to them. The so-called broken window theory, which has its basis on a set of studies conducted by Phillip Zimbardo, too, is testament to the idea that people’s propensities are not set in stone. S. Milgram, “Behavioral Study of Obedience,” The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 67(4) (1963): 371–78; for a review of Zimbardo’s famous studies, see P. Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (New York: Random House, 2007).


pages: 1,631 words: 468,342

Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson

Amazon: amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.fr

biofilm, Broken windows theory, clean water, deskilling, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, Indoor air pollution, indoor plumbing, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Own Your Own Home, sensible shoes, spice trade, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telemarketer

That evening, the chair held not only the bathrobe and newspaper but also my husband’s dry cleaning, a plastic replica of the Millennium Falcon along with Luke Skywalker, a tube of antiseptic ointment, one copy of PC Magazine, and five Tinkertoys. (I remember because I recited the entire list to my smirking husband.) Yet this chair had stood entirely empty for the preceding six months. Modern police successes are allegedly built on a sociological principle called the “broken-window theory.” This theory says that any sign of social or physical neglect in a neighborhood causes people who are pre-disposed to antisocial conduct to feel more inclined to commit various crimes and misdemeanors. If there is one broken window and it isn’t fixed, this suggests to malefactors that no one cares or that no one is in charge—that therefore it is safe to write graffiti on the walls, litter, and break other windows.

The first broken window, if not tended to, leads eventually to total social deterioration. Thus, by making sure that graffiti, broken windows, and “quality-of-life” crimes are immediately stopped or tended to, police have drastically reduced the serious-crime rates in many big cities. At least this is the claim, and there is good evidence that it is true. It sounds like common sense to most people. The broken-window theory certainly applies to every individual home, and the reason why it does is clear. When people are cooperating in maintaining a household, the domestic equivalent of an unrepaired broken window can result in a chain reaction that eventually sees the home in complete chaos. It happens like this. Someone is reading in his favorite chair while sipping a cup of tea, after slipping off his shoes to get comfortable.

children’s bath toys and, 430 cleaning tile with, 512 on colored fabrics, 299 containers, disposal of, 751 copper and, 558 cotton and, 242 dangerous mixed with acids or alkalies, 403, 432, 441-42, 514, 527, 744 on diapers, 360-61 drains and disposals and, 175 fabric and, 225-26 hard food-contact surfaces, cleaning and sanitizing, 173-75 leftover, disposal of, 751 linen and, 234, 239 non-food-contact surfaces, cleaning and sanitizing, 175-76, 433-34 nylon and 258 permanent-press clothes and, 250 plastics and, 527 resilient floors and, 507 sanitizing and disinfecting with, 173, 175-77, 376-77, 421, 427, 431-34 sheets and, 676-77 silk and, 249 sinks and, 524 spandex and, 262 stainless steel and, 531, 561 stain removal with, 382 testing of, 300 washing machine, how to add to, 312-13, 319 when not to use, 284, 297-98, 318-19, 382, 385, 386 on white and nearly white fabrics, 296-98 wool harmed by, 247 bleach, oxygen, 317-18 activated, 318 inactivated by chlorine bleach, 231 more effective in presoak, 312 nylon and, 258 testing of, 300 see also hydrogen peroxide bleeding, fabric dyes, 277, 282, 284, 295, 297, 298-99, 309, 313, 367-68 acetate, 256 madras, 266 polyester, 259 and sorting for drying, 331 blinds: aluminum, 542 cleaning of, 541-42 Venetian, 398, 542 see also shades bluestone, 516 bluing, 308, 312, 319-20, 370 bonds, see documents, records bone china, 543-44 see also china, fine books: antique, 616 bindings of, 614, 615-16 caring for, 612-16 and children, 595 cloth-bound, 615-16 dust jackets of, 613 handling of, 613-14 home library, 595 leather-bound, 614 lending of, 615 Post-its and, 614 preservation of, 612-14 reading chair, 594 reading light, 584-85 reference works, 595 repair of, 614-15 shelves for, 613 spines of, 613 sunlight and, 612 torn pages in, 615 boosters, laundry and detergent, 320 adding to machine, 312 ammonia as, 316 baking soda as, 292 borax as, 320 detergents and soaps, in some, 320, 322 in double wash, 304 fragile fabrics, can damage, 250 in handwashing sturdy items, 314 oxygen bleaches, in some, 317 for permanent press, 306 testing fabrics for colorfastness, 250 borax, 310, 403, 440, 443-44 boric acid powder, 662 bottle brushes, 737 bottled foods, see canned foods botulism, see food safety Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), 762 brass, 557-58 on antique furniture, 558 fireplace accessories, cleaning, 558 tarnish and, 558 bread: stale, revival of, 156 storage of, 160 breakfast, 52-54, 65 habitual foods and, 53 nooks, 69 place setting for, 63 breaking and entering, 765 broadcloth, 197 brocade, silk, 199 “broken window theory,” 31 bronze, 557-58 brooms and sweeping, 459-60, 506 brownstone, 516 brushes: bottle, 737 for cleaning blinds, 542 buckets, as hazards to children, 739 builders, detergent, 320 bulbs, see lightbulbs burglary, 764-65 burns: avoiding, 735-36 causes of, 708-9 butcher blocks, care of, 496 buttonholes, widening and narrowing of, 609-10 buttons, 602 sewing on, 608-9 shank, 608-9 two- and four-hole, 608 buying food, see marketing C cabinet storage of foods, see pantry and cabinet food storage cabinets: childproofing of, 743-44 medicine, 696-97 Cable Communication Policy Act (1984), 777 cable television: addressable converter for, 778 laws on, 777-78 V-chips, 777 Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act (1992), 777 caffé latte, 78 cages, pet, cleaning of, 644-45 calcite, 444 calcium carbonate, 444, 688 calendering of fabric, 226 calico, 197 Caller ID, 773, 775 cambric, 197 Campylobacter jejuni, 162, 166, 179-80, 642 Canadian Standards Association (CSA), 694 Candida albicans, 376 candles, 61 safety with, 708 candlesticks, crystal, 548 candle wax, removal of: from carpets and upholstery, 486 from candlesticks, 548 from fabrics, 387 from tile, 514 from wood, 504 cane, 503 canned foods, 43, 44-45, 129-30, 155-60 botulism and, 164, 180-81 convenient storage of, 91 shelf-life of, 131-35 can openers, cleaning of, 120 cappuccino, 78 carbon dioxide, 414, 705 carbon monoxide, 412-14, 416, 593, 704, 705, 707 detectors, 413-15 warning signs of, 413 Care and Cleaning for Natural Stone Surfaces (Marble Institute of America), 519 care labels, 194-95, 276-87, 293 disregarding, when not to, 283-84 disregarding, when to, 282-83 fiber content, 194 FTC regulations, 278-282 limits of, 277-78 meaning of, 280-82 terms and symbols, 286-87 carnauba wax, 494 Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), 468-69 carpet beetles, 688 carpet-cleaning services, 471 carpets and rugs, 466-74, 478-81, 517 antique, oriental, delicate, care of, 470, 472-73 in bedrooms, 655, 661 care of, 469-70 colorfastness of, 467 delicate, 472-73 dry-cleaning of, 471 dust mite allergens and, 452, 454, 455, 468 fleas in, 645 fumes from, 411, 468 glossary of, 478-81 handmade, 497 natural vs. synthetic fiber, 467 nonskid, 737 padding or underlay for, 274-75, 469 pests and, 468 pets and, 640, 641 rotation of, 497 rushes, grasses, sisal, care for, 473-74 selection of, 274 shampooing of, 470-71, 473 slips and falls and, 731-32 stain removal from, 471-72, 481-86 steam-cleaning of, 471 storage of, 470 structure of, 467-68 synthetic materials used in, 467 carpets and rugs (cont.)