Milgram experiment

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pages: 237 words: 74,966

The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout

Albert Einstein, estate planning, long peace, longitudinal study, Mahatma Gandhi, Milgram experiment, Nelson Mandela, Norman Mailer, risk tolerance, Rosa Parks, twin studies

The forty represented various educational levels, from one man who had not finished high school to others who had doctoral or other professional degrees. The aim of the experiment was to discover how long the subjects (the teachers in this experiment) would take to disobey Milgram's authority when presented with a clear moral imperative. How much electric shock would they administer to a pleading, screaming stranger merely because an authority figure told them to do so? When I show Milgram's film to a lecture hall full of psychology students, I ask them to predict the answers to these questions. The students are always certain that conscience will prevail. Many of them predict that a large number of the subjects will walk out of the experiment as soon as they find out about the use of electric shock. Most of the students are sure that, of the subjects who remain, all but a few will defy the experimenter, perhaps telling him to go to hell, at least by the time the man in the other room demands to be freed (at 150 volts).

In the study, two men, strangers to each other, arrive at a psychology laboratory to participate in an experiment that has been advertised as having to do with memory and learning. Participation is rewarded with four dollars, plus fifty cents for carfare. At the lab, the experimenter (Stanley Milgram himself, in the filmed version) explains to both men that the study concerns “the effects of punishment on learning.” One of the two is designated as the “learner” and is escorted into another room and seated in a chair. All watch as the learner's arms are matter-of-factly strapped to the chair, “to prevent excessive movement,” and an electrode is attached to his wrist. He is told that he must learn a list of word pairs (blue box, nice day, wild duck, etc.), and that whenever he makes a mistake, he will receive an electric shock. With each mistake, the shock will increase in intensity.

When the learner gets an answer right—for example, teacher calls out “blue,” and learner answers “box”—the teacher can move on to the next test item. But when the learner gives an incorrect answer, the teacher must push a switch and give him an electric shock. The experimenter instructs the teacher to begin at the lowest level of shock on the shock generator, and with each wrong answer, to increase the shock level by one increment. The learner in the other room is actually the experimenter's trained confederate, an actor, and will receive no shocks at all. But of course the teacher does not know this, and it is the teacher who is the real subject of the experiment. The teacher calls out the first few items of the “learning test,” and then trouble begins, because the learner—Milgram's accomplice, unseen in the other room—starts to sound very uncomfortable. At 75 volts, the learner makes a mistake on the word pair, the teacher administers the shock, and the learner grunts.


pages: 405 words: 121,531

Influence: Science and Practice by Robert B. Cialdini

Albert Einstein, attribution theory, bank run, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, desegregation, Everything should be made as simple as possible, experimental subject, Mars Rover, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, Milgram experiment, Norman Macrae, Ralph Waldo Emerson, telemarketer, The Wisdom of Crowds

., & Hawes, R. (1978). Effects of film modeling on the reduction of anxiety-related behaviors in individuals varying in level of previous experience in the stress situation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 46, 1357–1374. Meyerwitz, B. E., & Chaiken, S. (1987). The effect of message framing on breast self-examination attitudes, intentions, and behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 500–510. Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67, 371–378. Milgram, S. (1970). The experience of living in cities. Science, 13, 1461–1468. Milgram, S. (1974). Obedience to authority. New York: Harper & Row. Milgram, S., Bickman, L., & Berkowitz, O. (1969). Note on the drawing power of crowds of different size. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 13, 79–82.

First, a later experiment showed that the subjects’ sex was irrelevant to their willingness to give all the shocks to the victim; female Teachers were just as likely to do so as were the males in Milgram’s initial study. Another experiment investigated the explanation that subjects weren’t aware of the potential physical danger to the victim. In this experiment the victim was instructed to announce that he had a heart condition and to declare that his heart was being affected by the shock: “That’s all. Get me out of here. I told you I had heart trouble. My heart’s starting to bother me. I refuse to go on. Let me out.” Once again the results were the same; 65 percent of the subjects carried out their duties faithfully through to the maximum shock. Finally, the explanation that Milgram’s subjects were a twisted, sadistic bunch not at all representative of average citizens has proven unsatisfactory as well.

The people who answered Milgram’s newspaper ad to participate in his “memory” experiment represented a standard cross section of ages, occupations, and educational levels within our society. What’s more, later on, a battery of personality scales showed these people to be quite normal psychologically, with not a hint of psychosis as a group. They were, in fact, just like you and me; or, as Milgram likes to term it, they are you and me. If he is right that his studies implicate us in their grisly findings, the unanswered question becomes an uncomfortably personal one, “What could make us do such things?” * * * The Milgram Study The picture shows the Learner (victim) being strapped into a chair and fitted with electrodes by the lab-coated experimenter and the true subject. * * * Milgram is sure he knows the answer.


pages: 511 words: 132,682

Competition Overdose: How Free Market Mythology Transformed Us From Citizen Kings to Market Servants by Maurice E. Stucke, Ariel Ezrachi

affirmative action, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, Bernie Sanders, Boeing 737 MAX, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, cloud computing, commoditize, corporate governance, Corrections Corporation of America, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, George Akerlof, gig economy, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Google Chrome, greed is good, hedonic treadmill, income inequality, income per capita, information asymmetry, invisible hand, job satisfaction, labor-force participation, late fees, loss aversion, low skilled workers, Lyft, mandatory minimum, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, mortgage debt, Network effects, out of africa, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, precariat, price anchoring, price discrimination, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Bork, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Stanford prison experiment, Stephen Hawking, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Davenport, Thorstein Veblen, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, transaction costs, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, ultimatum game, Vanguard fund, winner-take-all economy

A second situational factor is when the issue is reframed by “replacing unpleasant reality with desirable rhetoric, gilding the frame so that the real picture is disguised.”54 In a nutshell, to kudzu. In Milgram’s experiment, the participants delivering the electric shock were “teachers,” who thought they were “helping” the “learners.” Likewise, we saw how lobbyists and policy makers use the competition ideology to reframe the toxic effects of competition, in the name of freedom from government restraints, kudzu-ing any efforts to regulate or monitor industry. We saw how self-interest, greed, and zero-sum warfare were re-characterized as virtues when in reality they erode empathy.55 A third situational factor is to create a situation that diffuses or abdicates responsibility for negative outcomes. In Milgram’s initial study, the authority figure (who was actually a thirty-one-year-old high school biology teacher), speaking in a firm but polite voice, used a series of prods to instruct the teacher-participant to continue.

Or, at a more personal level, we justify using every material advantage to get our child into a highly selective university, because if we don’t, there will be thousands of other parents who are sending their kids to “educational” internships, SAT prep camps, and elite private and public schools who would exploit that advantage. A fourth situational factor on the path to the dark side is to keep moving there in steps that are so small and incremental that one barely registers the difference between one step and the next.56 In Milgram’s experiment, the intensity of the electric shocks increased in 15-volt increments. Each increase seemed small, because the increases were relative and on a continuum rather than in isolation, so if the teacher-participant could administer 300 volts, then 15 additional volts would seem relatively minor, and so on. Likewise, we are easily blinded to the incremental steps on the way to toxic competition. The Gamemakers Google and Facebook probably did not start their game of addiction, surveillance, data extraction, and behavioral advertising with a master plan guiding them each step of the way.

Sure we can complain about the rat race, but we are expected to continue competing. A sixth situational factor is offering “an ideology, or a big lie, to justify the use of any means to achieve the seemingly desirable, essential goal.”59 In Milgram’s experiment, the “cover story” was assuring the participants “that science wants to help people improve their memory by judicious use of reward and punishment.”60 As Zimbardo notes, the real-world equivalent is ideology. We have been sold the myth that competition is always good, a miracle elixir. So, while we may not be administering electrical shocks to the people we perceive as our rivals in day-to-day life—whether they are competing with us in business or simply angling to merge into our toll booth lane ahead of us—if we think that life is always supposed to be about disadvantaging our rivals in order to stay on top, we may be delivering other kinds of punishments that fuel the toxicity of competition.


pages: 577 words: 149,554

The Problem of Political Authority: An Examination of the Right to Coerce and the Duty to Obey by Michael Huemer

Cass Sunstein, Chelsea Manning, cognitive dissonance, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, experimental subject, framing effect, Gini coefficient, illegal immigration, impulse control, Isaac Newton, Julian Assange, laissez-faire capitalism, Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman, Milgram experiment, moral hazard, Phillip Zimbardo, profit maximization, profit motive, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Ronald Coase, Stanford prison experiment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, unbiased observer, uranium enrichment, WikiLeaks

Some believe that it is dangerous to undermine belief in authority. 6.1.2 The appeal to popular opinion Some believe that the rejection of authority is too far from common-sense political beliefs to be taken seriously. 6.2 The Milgram experiments 6.2.1 Setup Milgram devised an experiment in which subjects would be ordered to administer electric shocks to helpless others. 6.2.2 Predictions Most people expect that subjects will defy the orders of the experimenter. 6.2.3 Results Two-thirds of subjects obey fully, even to the point of administering apparently lethal shocks. 6.2.4 The dangers of obedience The experiment shows that belief in authority is very dangerous. 6.2.5 The unreliability of opinions about authority The experiment also shows that people have a strong pro-authority bias. 6.3 Cognitive dissonance People may seek to rationalize their own obedience to the state by devising theories of authority. 6.4 Social proof and status quo bias People are biased toward commonly held beliefs and the practices of their own society. 6.5 The power of political aesthetics 6.5.1 Symbols The state employs symbols to create an emotional and aesthetic sense of its own power and authority. 6.5.2 Rituals Rituals serve a similar function. 6.5.3 Authoritative language Legal language and the language of some political philosophers serve to encourage feelings of respect for authority. 6.6 Stockholm Syndrome and the charisma of power 6.6.1 The phenomenon of Stockholm Syndrome Kidnapping victims sometimes emotionally bond with their captors, as in the case of the Stockholm bank robbery. 6.6.2 Why does Stockholm Syndrome occur?

Postexperimental interviews established that subjects were convinced that the situation was what it appeared to be and that the learner was receiving extremely painful electric shocks. Given this, a teacher clearly ought not to continue administering shocks after the learner demands to be released. To do so would have been a serious violation of the victim’s human rights. At some point, the experiment would have amounted to torture and then murder. While the experimenter has some right to direct the conduct of his experiment, no one would say he has the right to order torture and murder. What would you have done if you had been a subject in the experiment? Milgram described the experiment to students, psychiatrists, and ordinary adults and asked them to predict both how they themselves would behave if they were in the experiment and how most other people would behave.10 Of 110 respondents, every one said that they would defy the experimenter at some point, explaining their reasons in terms of compassion, empathy, and principles of justice.

Their predictions of others’ behavior were only slightly less optimistic: respondents expected that only a pathological fringe of 1–2 percent of the population would proceed all the way to 450 volts. The psychiatrists Milgram surveyed thought that only one experimental subject in a thousand would proceed to the end of the shock board. 6.2.3 Results Milgram’s experiment shows something surprising, not only about our dispositions to obey but also about our self-understanding. The predictions of psychiatrists, students, and lay people fell shockingly far from reality. In the actual experiment, 65 percent of subjects complied fully, eventually administering the 450-volt shock three times to a silent and apparently lifeless victim. Most subjects protested and showed obvious signs of anxiety and reluctance – but ultimately, they did what they were told. Milgram followed up the experiment with mailed surveys to participants. Despite the stress involved in the experiment, virtually no one regretted participating.


pages: 363 words: 109,374

50 Psychology Classics by Tom Butler-Bowdon

1960s counterculture, Albert Einstein, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, corporate governance, delayed gratification, fear of failure, feminist movement, global village, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, lateral thinking, Mikhail Gorbachev, Milgram experiment, Necker cube, Ronald Reagan, social intelligence, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

” * * * In a nutshell Awareness of our natural tendency to obey authority may lessen the chance of blindly following orders that go against our conscience. In a similar vein Robert Cialdini Influence (p 62) Eric Hoffer The True Believer (p 152) * * * CHAPTER 35 Stanley Milgram In 1961 and 1962, a series of experiments were carried out at Yale University. Volunteers were paid a small sum to participate in what they understood would be “a study of memory and learning.” In most cases, a white-coated experimenter took charge of two of the volunteers, one of whom was given the role of “teacher” and the other “learner.” The learner was strapped into a chair and told he had to remember lists of word pairs. If he couldn’t recall them, the teacher was asked to give him a small electric shock. With each incorrect answer the voltage rose, and the teacher was forced to watch as the learner moved from small grunts of discomfort to screams of agony.

These expectations were entirely in line with Milgram’s own. But what actually happened? Most subjects asked to act as teachers were very stressed by the experiment, and protested to the experimenter that the person in the chair should not have to take any more pain. The logical next step would then have been to demand that the experiment be terminated. In reality, this rarely happened. Despite their reservations, most people continued to follow the orders of the experimenter and inflict progressively greater shocks. Indeed, as Milgram noted, “a substantial proportion continued to the last shock on the generator.” That was even when they could hear the cries of the learner, and even when that person pleaded to be let out of the experiment. How we cope with a bad conscience Milgram’s experiments have caused controversy over the years; many people are simply unwilling to accept that normal human beings would act like this.

What the teacher didn’t know was that there was actually no current running between his control box and the learner’s chair, and that the volunteer “learner” was in fact an actor who was only pretending to get painful shocks. The real focus of the experiment was not the “victim,” but the reactions of the teacher pressing the buttons. How would he cope with administering greater and greater pain to a defenseless human being? The experiment, described in Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View, is one of the most famous in psychology. Here, we take a look at what actually happened and why the results are important. Expectations and reality Most people would expect that at the first sign of genuine pain on the part of the person being shocked, the experiment would be halted. After all, it was only an experiment. This is the response that Milgram received when, outside the actual experiments, he surveyed a range of people on how they believed subjects would react in these circumstances.


pages: 328 words: 97,711

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don't Know by Malcolm Gladwell

Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, borderless world, crack epidemic, Ferguson, Missouri, financial thriller, light touch regulation, Mahatma Gandhi, Milgram experiment, moral panic, Ponzi scheme, Renaissance Technologies, Snapchat

Consider, for example, one of the most famous findings in all of psychology: Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiment. In 1961, Milgram recruited volunteers from New Haven to take part in what he said was a memory experiment. Each was met by a somber, imposing young man named John Williams, who explained that they were going to play the role of “teacher” in the experiment. Williams introduced them to another volunteer, a pleasant, middle-aged man named Mr. Wallace. Mr. Wallace, they were told, was to be the “learner.” He would sit in an adjoining room, wired to a complicated apparatus capable of delivering electrical shocks up to 450 volts. (If you’re curious about what 450 volts feels like, it’s just shy of the amount of electrical shock that leaves tissue damage.) The teacher-volunteer was instructed to give the learner a series of memory tasks, and each time the learner failed, the volunteer was to punish him with an ever-greater electrical shock, in order to see whether the threat of punishment affected someone’s ability to perform memory tasks.

The Milgram experiment was not produced for a Broadway stage. Mr. Wallace, by Milgram’s own description, was a terrible actor. And everything about the experiment was, to put it mildly, more than a little far-fetched. The electric-shock machine didn’t actually give shocks. More than one participant saw the loudspeaker in the corner and wondered why Wallace’s cries were coming from there, not from behind the door to the room where Wallace was strapped in. And if the purpose of the experiment was to measure learning, why on earth did Williams spend the entire time with the teacher and not behind the door with the learner? Didn’t that make it obvious that what he really wanted to do was observe the person inflicting the pain, not the person receiving the pain? As hoaxes go, the Milgram experiment was pretty transparent. And just as with Levine’s trivia test, people fell for it.

The teacher-volunteer was instructed to give the learner a series of memory tasks, and each time the learner failed, the volunteer was to punish him with an ever-greater electrical shock, in order to see whether the threat of punishment affected someone’s ability to perform memory tasks. As the shocks escalated, Wallace would cry out in pain, and ultimately he started hammering on the walls. But if the “teacher” wavered, the imposing instructor would urge them on: “Please continue.” “The experiment requires that you continue.” “It is absolutely essential that you continue.” “You have no other choice, you must go on.” The reason the experiment is so famous is that virtually all of the volunteers complied. Sixty-five percent ended up administering the maximum dose to the hapless learner. In the wake of the Second World War—and the revelations about what German guards had been ordered to do in Nazi concentration camps—Milgram’s findings caused a sensation.


pages: 379 words: 113,656

Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age by Duncan J. Watts

Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, business process, corporate governance, Drosophila, Erdős number, experimental subject, fixed income, Frank Gehry, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, industrial cluster, invisible hand, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, Milgram experiment, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Murray Gell-Mann, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Paul Erdős, peer-to-peer, rolodex, Ronald Coase, scientific worldview, Silicon Valley, supply-chain management, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Toyota Production System, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, Vilfredo Pareto, Y2K

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 99, 2566–2572 (2002). CHAPTER FIVE: SEARCH IN NETWORKS A compendium of Milgram’s research over his entire, fascinating career is Milgram, S. The Individual in a Social World: Essays and Experiments, 2d ed. (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1992). A detailed description of his obedience experiments is in Milgram, S. Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View (Harper & Row, New York, 1974). So What Did Milgram Really Show? Judith Kleinfeld’s paper that exams the history and empirical validity of the small-world problem is Kleinfeld, J. S. The small world problem. Society, 39(2), 61–66 (2002). The most significant follow-up study to the original experiment is one that Milgram conducted with another student, Charles Korte, in which they attempted to connect a white population of senders in Los Angeles with white and African-American targets in New York: Korte, C., and Milgram, S.

In another variation, the participant was required to hold the subject’s hand on an electric plate as he was being shocked! Even today, it is hard to read Obedience to Authority, Milgram’s elegant account of this work, without pausing for an occasional shudder. But in the postwar ideological landscape of 1950s America, Milgram’s findings defied belief, and the experiment became a focus of national outrage. Although supremely controversial, this experiment did propel Milgram into the pantheon of public intellectuals whose work is so widely remembered and frequently recounted that it has become embedded in the culture itself. We are still shocked (so to speak) by Milgram’s experimental results, but we don’t question their authenticity, even though his experiments have never been repeated. (In fact, under today’s human subjects regulations, they couldn’t be.) Nor do we generally question his research on the small-world problem (from chapter 1), even though we continue to find his results intriguing and surprising.

SO WHAT DID MILGRAM REALLY SHOW? THE PSYCHOLOGIST JUDITH KLEINFELD STUMBLED ONTO WHAT now seems a classic instance of such misplaced faith while she was teaching her undergraduate psychology class. She was casting around for a hands-on experiment that her students could perform and that would give them a sense of the applicability of what they were learning in lectures to their lives outside the classroom. Milgram’s small-world experiment seemed like a perfect candidate, and Kleinfeld decided she would get her students to redo it in twenty-first-century style, using e-mail instead of paper letters. As it turned out, she never actually got around to it. In preparation for the experiment itself, Kleinfeld started by reading Milgram’s papers. Rather than setting a firm base for her experiment, however, Milgram’s results—scrutinized carefully—seemed only to raise discomforting questions about his own.


pages: 578 words: 131,346

Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman

Airbnb, Anton Chekhov, basic income, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Broken windows theory, call centre, David Graeber, Donald Trump, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Hans Rosling, invention of writing, invisible hand, knowledge economy, late fees, Mahatma Gandhi, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, Nelson Mandela, New Journalism, placebo effect, sharing economy, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, Stanford prison experiment, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transatlantic slave trade, tulip mania, universal basic income, World Values Survey

Originally published in 1963. 8Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem. 9Quoted in Harold Takooshian, ‘How Stanley Milgram Taught about Obedience and Social Influence’, in Thomas Blass (ed.), Obedience to Authority (London, 2000), p. 10. 10Quoted in Gina Perry, Behind the Shock Machine. The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments (New York, 2013), p. 5. 11Ibid., p. 327. 12Ibid., p. 134. 13Gina Perry, ‘The Shocking Truth of the Notorious Milgram Obedience Experiments’, Discover Magazine (2 October 2013). 14Milgram, ‘Behavioral Study of Obedience’. 15Perry, Behind the Shock Machine (2012), p. 164. See also Gina Perry et al., ‘Credibility and Incredulity in Milgram’s Obedience Experiments: A Reanalysis of an Unpublished Test’, Social Psychology Quarterly (22 August 2019). 16Stanley Milgram, ‘Evaluation of Obedience Research: Science or Art?’ Stanley Milgram Papers (Box 46, file 16).

In the last sentence of her book, Arendt diagnosed the phenomenon: ‘the banality of evil.’8 Milgram’s study and Arendt’s philosophy have been tied together since. Hannah Arendt would come to be regarded as one of the twentieth century’s greatest philosophers; Stanley Milgram delivered the evidence to confirm her theory. A whole host of documentaries, novels, stage plays and television series were devoted to Milgram’s notorious shock machine, which featured in everything from a movie with a young John Travolta, to an episode of The Simpsons, to a gameshow on French TV. Fellow psychologist Muzafer Sherif even went so far as to say that ‘Milgram’s obedience experiment is the single greatest contribution to human knowledge ever made by the field of social psychology, perhaps psychology in general’.9 I’m going to be honest. Originally, I wanted to bring Milgram’s experiments crashing down.

For every wrong answer, the teacher had to press a switch to administer an electric shock. In reality, the learner was always a member of Milgram’s team, and the machine didn’t deliver shocks at all. But the teachers didn’t know that. They thought this was a study on the effect of punishment on memory and didn’t realise the study was really about them. The shocks started small, a mere 15 volts. But each time the learner gave a wrong answer, a man in a grey lab coat directed the teacher to raise the voltage. From 15 volts to 30. From 30 volts to 45. And so on and so forth, no matter how loudly the learner in the next room screamed, and even after reaching the zone labelled ‘DANGER: SEVERE SHOCK’. At 350 volts the learner pounded on the wall. After that, he went silent. Milgram had asked some forty fellow psychologists to predict how far his test subjects would be willing to go.


pages: 327 words: 103,336

Everything Is Obvious: *Once You Know the Answer by Duncan J. Watts

active measures, affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Black Swan, business cycle, butterfly effect, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, coherent worldview, collapse of Lehman Brothers, complexity theory, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, East Village, easy for humans, difficult for computers, edge city, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, framing effect, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Santayana, happiness index / gross national happiness, high batting average, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, industrial cluster, interest rate swap, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, lake wobegon effect, Laplace demon, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, medical malpractice, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, oil shock, packet switching, pattern recognition, performance metric, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, prediction markets, pre–internet, RAND corporation, random walk, RFID, school choice, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supply-chain management, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, too big to fail, Toyota Production System, ultimatum game, urban planning, Vincenzo Peruggia: Mona Lisa, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize

And yet that’s precisely what happened one day in the early 1970s when a group of psychology students went out into the subway system on the suggestion of their teacher, the social psychologist Stanley Milgram. Milgram was already famous for his controversial “obedience” studies, conducted some years earlier at Yale, in which he had shown that ordinary people brought into a lab would apply what they thought were deadly electrical shocks to a human subject (really an actor who was pretending to be shocked) simply because they were told to do so by a white-coated researcher who claimed to be running an experiment on learning. The finding that otherwise respectable citizens could, under relatively unexceptional circumstances, perform what seemed like morally incomprehensible acts was deeply disturbing to many people—and the phrase “obedience to authority” has carried a negative connotation ever since.1 What people appreciated less, however, is that following the instructions of authority figures is, as a general rule, indispensible to the proper functioning of society.

See Hoorens (1993), Klar and Giladi (1999), Dunning et al (1989), and Zuckerman and Jost (2001) for other examples of illusory superiority bias. See Alicke and Govorun (2005) for the leadership result. CHAPTER 1: THE MYTH OF COMMON SENSE 1. See Milgram’s Obedience to Authority for details (Milgram, 1969). An engaging account of Milgram’s life and research is given in Blass (2009). 2. Milgram’s reaction was described in a 1974 interview in Psychology Today, and is reprinted in Blass (2009). The original report on the subway experiment is Milgram and Sabini (1983) and has been reprinted in Milgram (1992). Three decades later, two New York Times reporters set out to repeat Milgram’s experiment. They reported almost exactly the same experience: bafflement, even anger, from riders; and extreme discomfort themselves (Luo 2004, Ramirez and Medina 2004). 3. Although the nature and limitations of common sense are discussed in introductory sociology textbooks (according to Mathisen [1989], roughly half of the sociology texts he surveyed contained references to common sense), the topic is rarely discussed in sociology journals.

As plausible as this method sounds, however, it is not how messages actually propagate through social networks, as we know now from a series of “small-world experiments” that began not long after Jacobs was writing. The first of these experiments was conducted by none other than Stanley Milgram, the social psychologist whose subway experiment I discussed in Chapter 1. Milgram recruited three hundred people, two hundred from Omaha, Nebraska, and the other hundred from around Boston, to play a version of the messages game with a Boston stockbroker who was a friend of Milgram’s and who had volunteered to serve as the “target” of the exercise. Much as in Jacobs’s imaginary version, participants in Milgram’s experiment knew whom they were trying to reach, but could only send the message to someone whom they knew on a first-name basis; thus each of the three hundred “starters” would send it to a friend, who would send it to a friend, and so on, until someone either refused to participate or else the message chain reached the target.


pages: 254 words: 79,052

Evil by Design: Interaction Design to Lead Us Into Temptation by Chris Nodder

4chan, affirmative action, Amazon Mechanical Turk, cognitive dissonance, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, game design, haute couture, jimmy wales, Jony Ive, Kickstarter, late fees, loss aversion, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, Netflix Prize, Nick Leeson, Occupy movement, pets.com, price anchoring, recommendation engine, Rory Sutherland, Silicon Valley, Stanford prison experiment, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, Tim Cook: Apple, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile

In his now-infamous psychological study, Stanley Milgram told participants that they were helping him with experiments into memory and learning. Participants played the role of “teacher,” and their task was to administer electric shocks to a “learner” if they gave wrong answers, starting at 15 volts and rising in 15-volt steps to 450 volts. Before the session started, participants were given a sample shock to demonstrate the low end of what the learner would receive for wrong answers. What the participants didn’t know was that the “learner” was an actor following a script who made purposeful mistakes in his answers so that the participant was required to give him a shock. The “learner” never actually received the shocks, despite acting like he had. The voltages were labeled on the electric shock box, which also made noises appropriate to each voltage when activated.

“Emotional persistence in online chatting communities.”Scientific Reports 2.402 (2012). Situational norms: Tom Postmes and Russell Spears. “Deindividuation and antinormative behavior: A meta-analysis.” Psychological Bulletin 123.3 (1998): 238–259. Give people permission Milgram’s experiment: Stanley Milgram. “Behavioral Study of Obedience.” Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 67.4 (1963): 371–378. Milgram quotes: Stanley Milgram. Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View. New York: HarperCollins, 1974. p. 6. Not a one-off event: Thomas Blass. “The Milgram paradigm after 35 years: Some things we now know about obedience to authority.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 29.5 (1999): 955–978. Moral disengagement: Albert Bandura. “Moral disengagement in the perpetration of inhumanities.” Personality and Social Psychology Review.

Although the “learner” was in a different room, participants could still hear him, so the effects of their actions were obvious. Milgram or one of his co-experimenters was in the room with the participants and instructed them to continue if they voiced concerns. Sixty percent of participants went all the way to 450 volts, even after hearing screams, pleading, or an ominous silence from the “learner.” Many were obviously uncomfortable continuing to this level, showing physical and mental signs of distress, but most still bowed to the wishes of the authority figure. Milgram’s reason for running the experiment was primarily that he wanted to disprove the defense used after the Second World War by German officers accused of war crimes. These men claimed that they were “just following orders.” Before undertaking the study, Milgram and those he consulted were sure that no more than 1 percent of individuals would proceed to the highest level of shock.


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Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris, Elliot Aronson

Ayatollah Khomeini, cognitive dissonance, cuban missile crisis, desegregation, Donald Trump, false memory syndrome, fear of failure, Lao Tzu, longitudinal study, medical malpractice, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, moral panic, Nelson Mandela, placebo effect, psychological pricing, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, social intelligence, telemarketer, the scientific method, trade route, transcontinental railway, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

He was entrapped in pretty much the same way as were the 3,000 people who took part in the famous experiment created by social psychologist Stanley Milgram.27 In Milgram's original version, two-thirds of the participants administered what they thought were life-threatening levels of electric shock to another person, simply because the experimenter kept saying, "The experiment requires that you continue." This experiment is almost always described as a study of obedience to authority. Indeed it is. But it is more than that: It is also a demonstration of long-term results of self-justification.28 Imagine that a distinguished-looking man in a white lab coat walks up to you and offers you twenty dollars to participate in a scientific experiment. He says, "I want you to inflict 500 volts of incredibly painful shock to another person to help us understand the role of punishment in learning."

Life is cheap in the Orient." 9 Dissonance theory would therefore predict that when victims are armed and able to strike back, perpetrators will feel less need to reduce dissonance by belittling them than when their victims are helpless. In an experiment by Ellen Berscheid and her associates, participants were led to believe that they would be delivering a painful electric shock to another person as part of a test of learning. Half were told that later they would be reversing roles, so the victim would be in position to retaliate. As predicted, the only participants who denigrated their victims were those who believed the victims were helpless and would not be able to respond in kind.10 This was precisely the situation of the people who took part in Stanley Milgram's 1963 obedience experiment. Many of those who obeyed the experimenter's orders to deliver what they thought were dangerous amounts of shock to a "learner" justified their actions by blaming the victim. As Milgram himself put it, "Many subjects harshly devalue the victim as a consequence of acting against him.

Liddy's first proposal with the "mugging squads," p. 194 (the prostitutes would be "high-class," Liddy assured the group, "only the best," p. 195); "If [Liddy] had come to us at the outset p. 214; "decisions that now seem insane...," "We were past the point of halfway measures," p. 215. 27 The number of total participants is an informed estimate from psychologist Thomas Blass, who has written extensively about the original Milgram experiment and its many successors. About 800 people participated in Milgram's own experiments; the rest were in replications or variations of the basic paradigm over a 25-year span. 28 The original study is described in Stanley Milgram (1963), "Behavioral Study of Obedience," Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67, pp. 371–378. Milgram reported his study in greater detail and with additional supporting research, including many replications, in his subsequent (1974) book, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View. New York: Harper & Row. 29 William Safire, "Aesop's Fabled Fox," The New York Times op-ed, December 29, 2003.


Virtual Competition by Ariel Ezrachi, Maurice E. Stucke

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, barriers to entry, cloud computing, collaborative economy, commoditize, corporate governance, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, demand response, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, double helix, Downton Abbey, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental economics, Firefox, framing effect, Google Chrome, index arbitrage, information asymmetry, interest rate derivative, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, light touch regulation, linked data, loss aversion, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, market friction, Milgram experiment, multi-sided market, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, prediction markets, price discrimination, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart meter, Snapchat, social graph, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, telemarketer, The Chicago School, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, Travis Kalanick, turn-by-turn navigation, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, yield management

The computer, in serving as an intermediary, may help individuals wash their hands of the illicit conduct. To explain how the presence of an intermediary may facilitate such actions, we enter the area of behavioral experiments, which explore the issue of distancing in decision-making. The Messenger Scenario 43 One famous example—and the basis for Peter Gabriel’s song “Milgram’s 37 (We Do What We’re Told)”22—is Stanley Milgram’s electric shock experiments.23 You might have seen the black-and-white videos24 in which the test subject and a confederate of the experimenter were told that the experiment tested the effects of punishment on memory. To determine their assigned roles, the confederate and test subject drew lots, which were rigged so that the test subject always received the teacher role. The teacherparticipant then administered a test in which the confederate-learner was to memorize word pairs.

Thereafter, the learner no longer responded; the experimenter instructed the teacher-subject to treat the absence of a response as a wrong answer, and to continue with the experiment. As the experiment continued, the teacher-participant was told to administer increasingly intense shocks to the now nonresponsive confederate-learner, even to the levels marked “XXX.” These experiments actually sought to measure at what voltage level the teacher-participant would disobey and refuse to continue with the experiment. Milgram varied the situational factors to determine the extent to which they altered the degree of obedience. Before his famous experiment, Milgram asked college students, psychiatrists, and middle-class adults for their predictions. No one predicted that the experiment participants would administer shocks above 300 volts. Nearly all the subjects, they predicted, would disobey the experimenter, only 4 percent of the subjects would administer 300 volts, and only a pathological fringe (about one in a 1,000) would administer the highest shock of 450 volts.25 They were wrong.

Antitrust plaintiffs need not prove that defendants fi xed prices directly or controlled a substantial part of the commodity, that no competition remained, or that prices as a result were uniform, inflexible, or unreasonable. Socony-Vacuum, 310 U.S. at 222, 224. Maurice Stucke, “Morality and Antitrust,” Columbia Business Law Review (2006): 443. Songfacts, “Milgram’s 37 (We Do What We’re Told),” by Peter Gabriel, http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=772. S. Milgram, “Behavioral Study of Obedience,” Journal of Abnormal & Social Psychology 67, no. 4 (1963): 371. DP DenkProducties, “Milgram Experiment—Jeroen Busscher,” YouTube (June 2012), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yr5cjyokVUs. S. Milgram, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), 30–31. Milgram, “Behavioral Study of Obedience.” F. Gino et al., “See No Evil: When We Overlook Other People’s Unethical Behav ior,” HBS Working Paper No 08-045 (January 11, 2008), 11. M. C. Levenstein and V.


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On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder

British Empire, Charles Lindbergh, Milgram experiment, Rosa Parks

Do only Germans do such things? The Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram, contemplating Nazi atrocities, wanted to show that there was a particular authoritarian personality that explained why Germans behaved as they had. He devised an experiment to test the proposition, but failed to get permission to carry it out in Germany. So he undertook it instead in a Yale University building in 1961—at around the same time that Adolf Eichmann was being tried in Jerusalem for his part in the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews. Milgram told his subjects (some Yale students, some New Haven residents) that they would be applying an electrical shock to other participants in an experiment about learning. In fact, the people attached to the wires on the other side of a window were in on the scheme with Milgram, and only pretended to be shocked.

As the subjects (thought they) shocked the (people they thought were) participants in a learning experiment, they saw a horrible sight. People whom they did not know, and against whom they had no grievance, seemed to be suffering greatly—pounding the glass and complaining of heart pain. Even so, most subjects followed Milgram’s instructions and continued to apply (what they thought were) ever greater shocks until the victims appeared to die. Even those who did not proceed all the way to the (apparent) killing of their fellow human beings left without inquiring about the health of the other participants. Milgram grasped that people are remarkably receptive to new rules in a new setting. They are surprisingly willing to harm and kill others in the service of some new purpose if they are so instructed by a new authority. “I found so much obedience,” Milgram remembered, “that I hardly saw the need for taking the experiment to Germany.” 2 Defend institutions.

When faith descends from heaven to earth in this way, no room remains for the small truths of our individual discernment and experience. What terrified Klemperer was the way that this transition seemed permanent. Once truth had become oracular rather than factual, evidence was irrelevant. At the end of the war a worker told Klemperer that “understanding is useless, you have to have faith. I believe in the Führer.” Eugène Ionesco, the great Romanian playwright, watched one friend after another slip away into the language of fascism in the 1930s. The experience became the basis for his 1959 absurdist play, Rhinoceros, in which those who fall prey to propaganda are transformed into giant horned beasts. Of his own personal experiences Ionesco wrote: University professors, students, intellectuals were turning Nazi, becoming Iron Guards, one after the other.


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Split-Second Persuasion: The Ancient Art and New Science of Changing Minds by Kevin Dutton

availability heuristic, Bernie Madoff, call centre, Cass Sunstein, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, credit crunch, different worldview, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, equity premium, fundamental attribution error, haute couture, job satisfaction, loss aversion, Milgram experiment, placebo effect, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile

Annual Review of Psychology 57 (2006): 345–374. 20 In fact, research has shown … Greatbatch, David and Heritage, John, ‘Generating Applause: A Study of Rhetoric and Response at Party Political Conferences.’ The American Journal of Sociology 92 (1986): 110–157. 21 Or take Stanley Milgram’s electric shocks experiment … In 1963, Milgram published a study that has now assumed iconic status in the field of experimental psychology – and which has arguably gone down as the most celebrated, certainly the most combustible, in the discipline’s hundred-or-so-year history. Milgram devised a simulated learning paradigm in which participants (recruited from a random sample of respectable, middle-class Americans) were allocated the role of ‘teacher’ opposite an associate of the researcher (the ‘learner’). But this was to be no ordinary teaching assignment. ‘Mistakes’ were to be punished by the administration of electric shocks – minimal at the outset but escalating to a brutal 450 volts as errors perpetuated.

Did you hear the one about the confidence man who wasn’t confident? I mean, it’s crazy …’ He’s right, of course. There’s nothing like confidence to inspire confidence. Take TV, for example. If you’ve ever wondered why experts interviewed on television invariably appear against a backdrop of books – now you know. The accoutrements of knowledge lend their pronouncements that extra degree of oomph. 21Or take Stanley Milgram’s electric shocks experiment at Yale in the sixties. A staggering 65 per cent of those who took part in the study twisted that dial right the way round to maximum when instructed to do so by a benign-looking professor in a white coat. But when the professor shuffled off and a lab technician took over – in jeans, T-shirt and sneakers – the ‘interrogators’ weren’t so keen. In a postscript to the original study, in which the stamp of authority and the cues of scientific rectitude were ‘dumbed down’ (unlike the original study which was conducted in the hallowed environs of Yale University’s ‘old’ campus, the follow-up took place in an office-block downtown), only 25 per cent of participants went the whole way.

‘Mistakes’ were to be punished by the administration of electric shocks – minimal at the outset but escalating to a brutal 450 volts as errors perpetuated. Ostensibly, the study was presented as an investigation into short-term memory. And ostensibly, the electric shocks were real. But, in reality, the actual focus was on obedience – and the shocks were a sham. The aim was chillingly simple: To what extremes, Milgram wanted to know, were everyday, law-abiding American citizens prepared to go when instructed by an authority figure? For more on Milgram’s research into obedience, see his book Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View (New York, NY: Harpercollins, 1974). 22 A recent study … McCabe, David P. and Castel, Alan D., ‘Seeing Is Believing: The Effect of Brain Images on Judgements of Scientific Reasoning.’ Cognition 107 (2008): 343–352. 23 Statistics, used well … See Leonard Mlodinow, The drunkard’s walk: How randomness rules our lives (New York, NY: Pantheon Books, 2008). 24 Psychologist Paul Zarnoth … Zarnoth, Paul and Sniezek, Janet A., ‘The Social Influence of Confidence in Group Decision Making.’


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Mindwise: Why We Misunderstand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want by Nicholas Epley

affirmative action, airport security, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Cass Sunstein, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, drone strike, friendly fire, invisible hand, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, payday loans, Peter Singer: altruism, pirate software, Richard Thaler, school choice, social intelligence, the scientific method, theory of mind

The list of similar scientific demonstrations is long. One of the most famous series of experiments in psychology’s history is Stanley Milgram’s research on obedience to authority. Most of us believe we’re independent thinkers with kind hearts, so if we were told to deliver enough electric shock to kill another person in an experiment, most of us would believe that we’d refuse immediately. Indeed, when Milgram surveyed different groups of people, nobody predicted that they would be willing to deliver more than 300 volts of electricity to another person, and most believed they would stop far sooner. And yet when Milgram set up an experiment in which people were asked to do just that, he found that in his experiment everyone was willing to deliver 300 volts of electric shock to another person and a full 62.6 percent pressed a switch that they were told would deliver 450 volts, long past the point where it appeared that the other person might have died from the experience.4 Results like these are interesting but, in my experience, rarely convince anyone that their powers of introspection are weaker than they would guess.

You are missing the contextual triggers and unconscious associations that are actually responsible for much of what you think and do. LaPiere’s hotel and restaurant clerks (whom I described at the beginning of this chapter) knew their conscious attitudes toward Asians, but they missed the behavioral responses that would be triggered automatically when a smiling, friendly, and real Asian human being actually asked for a room. When thinking about how you would respond if asked to deliver electric shocks to another human being in the Milgram obedience studies, you know your conscious aversion to harming another person, but you miss the difficulty you would have in saying no to a clear and reassuring authority figure in the heat of the moment after having lived much of your life following orders from authority figures. You are missing the construction that happens inside your own brain: the triggers and intervening neural processes that make you do what you do and think what you think.

Attitudes vs. actions. Social Forces 13: 230–37. 2. Kawakami, K., et al. (2009). Mispredicting affective and behavioral responses to racism. Science 323: 276–78. 3. LaFrance, M., and J. Woodzicka (2001). Real versus imagined reactions to sexual harassment. Journal of Social Issues 57: 15–30. 4. Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 67: 371–78. A recent replication of this experiment found nearly identical obedience rates: Burger, J. M. (2009). Replicating Milgram: Would people still obey today? American Psychologist 64: 1–11. 5. Buehler, R., D. Griffin, and M. Ross (1994). Exploring the “Planning Fallacy”: Why people underestimate their task completion times. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 67: 366–81. 6. Buehler, R., D. Griffin, and M.


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Irrational Exuberance: With a New Preface by the Author by Robert J. Shiller

Andrei Shleifer, asset allocation, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, business cycle, buy and hold, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, demographic transition, diversification, diversified portfolio, equity premium, Everybody Ought to Be Rich, experimental subject, hindsight bias, income per capita, index fund, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Joseph Schumpeter, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, market design, market fundamentalism, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Milgram experiment, money market fund, moral hazard, new economy, open economy, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, random walk, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Small Order Execution System, spice trade, statistical model, stocks for the long run, survivorship bias, the market place, Tobin tax, transaction costs, tulip mania, urban decay, Y2K

The anxiety and distress that Asch’s subjects expressed may have come partly from their conclusion that their own senses were somehow not reliable. Another widely cited series of experiments relevant to herd behavior is Stanley Milgram’s investigations of the power of authority. In Milgram’s experiments, the subject was asked to administer electric shocks to another person sitting close by, who was, again unbeknownst to the subject, a confederate. There really were no electric shocks, but the confederate pretended to be experiencing them, feigning pain and suffering. The confederate asserted that he was in great distress and asked that the experiment be stopped. But when the experimenter told the subjects to continue administering the shocks, insisting that the shocks would cause no permanent tissue damage, many did so.3 These results were widely interpreted as demonstrating the enormous power of authority over the human mind.

(In fact, it is worth noting that in this case the experimenter was indeed correct: it was all right to continue giving the “shocks”—even though most of the subjects did not suspect the reason.) Thus the results of Milgram’s experiment can also be interpreted as springing from people’s past learning about the reliability of authorities.4 Asch’s and Milgram’s studies are as interesting as ever when viewed from the standpoint of this information-based interpretation. The experiments demonstrate that people are ready to believe the majority view or to believe authorities even when they plainly contradict matter-of-fact judgment. And their behavior is in fact largely rational and intelligent. Most people have had many prior experiences of making errors when they contradicted the judgments of a larger group or of an authority figure, and they have learned from these experiences. Thus the Asch and Milgram experiments give us a different perspective on the overconfidence phenomenon: people are respectful of authorities in formulating the opinions about which they will later be so overconfident, transferring their confidence in authorities to their own judgments based upon them.

Morton Deutsch and Harold B. Gerard, “A Study of Normative and Informational Social Influences upon Individual Judgment,” Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 51 (1955): 629–36. 3. Stanley Milgram, Obedience to Authority (New York: Harper and Row, 1974), pp. 13–54. 256 NOTES TO PAGES 151–156 4. Milgram noted that subjects believed that the experimenter was an expert who knew more than they did. When he tried a variation of the experiment in which the experimenter was clearly not an expert, he found a much-diminished tendency for subjects to administer the shocks (ibid., pp. 89–112). Nevertheless Milgram, like Asch, did not seem to be aware of an information-based interpretation for his results. He thought that they revealed an “instinct for obedience” that had developed from a general evolutionary principle of the “survival of value hierarchy” (ibid., pp. 123–25). 5.


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The Behavioral Investor by Daniel Crosby

affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, availability heuristic, backtesting, bank run, Black Swan, buy and hold, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, compound rate of return, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, endowment effect, feminist movement, Flash crash, haute cuisine, hedonic treadmill, housing crisis, IKEA effect, impulse control, index fund, Isaac Newton, job automation, longitudinal study, loss aversion, market bubble, market fundamentalism, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, moral panic, Murray Gell-Mann, Nate Silver, neurotypical, passive investing, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, science of happiness, Shai Danziger, short selling, South Sea Bubble, Stanford prison experiment, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, stocks for the long run, Thales of Miletus, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, tulip mania, Vanguard fund

In a cold state and with the benefit of history, it is easy to imagine oneself as a moral crusader, but the research on behavior and willpower tells a more complicated story. Stanley Milgram, a Yale psychologist, studied our willpower in the face of authority. Milgram’s study, conducted less than 20 years after the conclusion of World War II, set out to answer the question, “Were the Nazi rank and file culpable accomplices or just regular men following orders?” To test this, Milgram recruited psychologically healthy men to take part in a study that purported to study the relationship between punishment and learning. Participants would teach a “learner” on the other side of a brick wall a series of exercises. Then the teacher would gauge learning by asking a question of the learner. If they gave the correct answer, they would proceed to the next question. An incorrect response would lead the teacher to administer a punishment (electric shock) of ascending intensity with each subsequent missed question.

To simulate the effects of authority, a “doctor” in a grey lab coat sat inside the room where the test was being administered and gently prodded the participant to “please continue with the experiment” in the event that he became unsettled with harming the learner. Before conducting the experiment, Milgram asked his students, other professionals and even Holocaust historians what percentage of respondents would shock a stranger with a near-lethal (so they thought) level of voltage for missing a few silly problems on an exam. Across the board, estimates were in the low single digits. In reality, nearly two-thirds of participants shocked the learner all the way to the maximum level! In a twist on the study, Milgram denigrated the character of the learner before beginning the experiment by telling the teacher that they had been “acting like an animal” before being situated across the wall.

In a twist on the study, Milgram denigrated the character of the learner before beginning the experiment by telling the teacher that they had been “acting like an animal” before being situated across the wall. When the authority figure besmirched the good name of the learner, the willingness to shock all the way to 450 volts rose to over 90%. In a follow-on study, Milgram interviewed those who had shocked the learner to the maximum level and all agreed, in direct contradiction to the data, that they would be unwilling to do harm to a stranger if so instructed by an authority figure. Milgram’s primary finding was, “often it is not so much the kind of person a man is as the kind of situation in which he finds himself that determines how he will act.” Willpower, it seems, has more to do with circumstance than personal fortitude, a realization that can pain a human family longing to feel in control. Evidence from the world of marketing shows us just how contextual our behaviors really are.


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Experience on Demand: What Virtual Reality Is, How It Works, and What It Can Do by Jeremy Bailenson

Apple II, augmented reality, computer vision, deliberate practice, experimental subject, game design, Google Glasses, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), iterative process, Jaron Lanier, low earth orbit, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, nuclear winter, Oculus Rift, randomized controlled trial, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, telepresence, too big to fail

This opens up some inspiring possibilities about the kinds of experiences we might want to have, and how those experiences can make us, and the world, a better place. On the other hand, if we choose to experience unhealthy environments and experiences, we can expect unhealthy results. As a colleague of mine puts it, media experiences are like your diet: you are what you eat. If you’ve taken a Psych 101 class, you are probably familiar with Stanley Milgram’s famous studies on obedience, which remain one of the most famous and disturbing analyses of human behavior ever conducted. It was the 1960s, and academics were trying to understand what went so horribly wrong with humanity only a generation earlier, particularly how so many people acquiesced and even willingly took part in the evils perpetrated by Nazi Germany. As you’ll recall, Milgram’s study was based upon a subject who administered a test to a confederate—a person who, unbeknownst to the participant, was actually an actor taking part in the experiment.

As the experiments progressed, Milgram measured two critical variables: how many shocks the participant was willing to deliver, in spite of the clear ostensible pain from the confederate, and also the effect that the obedience had on the participant.1 The results of repeated studies demonstrated that a majority of experiment participants obeyed the commands of the authority figure to the very end of the study, including the final 450-volt shock (labeled “Danger: Extreme Shock,” on the shock generator). As can be seen in some very powerful and troubling videos that are easy to find online, the participants who obeyed did not do so without cost—often they would sweat, bite their lips, exhibit nervous fits of laughter, or groan and tremble. When people talk about the Milgram experiments they often focus on the terrible insight that people are capable of inflicting great cruelty, blindly following orders.

Haggard, “Action Observation and Acquired Motor Skills: An fMRI Study with Expert Dancers,” Cerebral Cortex 15, no. 8 (2005): 1243–49. 16. Sian L. Beilock, et al. “Sports Experience Changes the Neural Processing of Action Language,” The National Academy of Sciences 105 (2008): 13269–73. 17. http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/global-warming-data-centres-to-consume-three-times-as-much-energy-in-next-decade-experts-warn-a6830086.html. 18. http://www.businessinsider.com/walmart-using-virtual-reality-employee-training-2017-6. 2. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT 1. Stanley Milgram, “Behavioral Study of Obedience,” Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 67, no. 4 (1963): 371–78. 2. Mel Slater et al., “A Virtual Reprise of the Stanley Milgram Obedience Experiments,” PLoS One 1 (2006): e39. 3. Ibid. 4. K. Y. Segovia, J. N. Bailenson, and B. Monin, “Morality in tele-immersive environments,” Proceedings of the International Conference on Immersive Telecommunications (IMMERSCOM), May 27–29, Berkeley, CA. 5.


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More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places (Updated and Expanded) by Michael J. Mauboussin

Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, Atul Gawande, availability heuristic, beat the dealer, Benoit Mandelbrot, Black Swan, Brownian motion, butter production in bangladesh, buy and hold, capital asset pricing model, Clayton Christensen, clockwork universe, complexity theory, corporate governance, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, demographic transition, discounted cash flows, disruptive innovation, diversification, diversified portfolio, dogs of the Dow, Drosophila, Edward Thorp, en.wikipedia.org, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, fixed income, framing effect, functional fixedness, hindsight bias, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, index fund, information asymmetry, intangible asset, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Kenneth Arrow, Laplace demon, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, Menlo Park, mental accounting, Milgram experiment, Murray Gell-Mann, Nash equilibrium, new economy, Paul Samuelson, Pierre-Simon Laplace, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, shareholder value, statistical model, Steven Pinker, stocks for the long run, survivorship bias, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, traveling salesman, value at risk, wealth creators, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

While extreme, Asch’s experiment shows how we all rely to some degree on what others do.4 EXHIBIT 11.1 The Asch Experiment Source: Illustration by author, based on Asch, “Effects of Group Pressure Upon the Modification and Distortion of Judgment.” • Liking. We all prefer to say yes to people we like. We tend to like people who are similar to us, who compliment us, cooperate with us, and who are attractive. • Authority. In one of the most enlightening and unsettling human experiments ever, social psychologist Stanley Milgram (of “six degrees of separation” fame) had subjects come in and play the role of “teacher” for a “learner.” The subjects asked the learner questions, and were told by a stern, lab-coated supervisor to administer progressively stronger electric shocks in return for incorrect answers.

The subjects asked the learner questions, and were told by a stern, lab-coated supervisor to administer progressively stronger electric shocks in return for incorrect answers. The learners would scream in pain and beg for mercy to avoid the increasingly painful shocks. Even though they were never forced to do anything, nor were they subject to reprisal, many of the subjects ended up doling out lethal shocks.The learners in this experiment were actors and the shocks fake, but Milgram’s findings were real and chilling: People obey authority figures against their better judgment. Here again, the behavior generally makes sense—authorities often know more than others about their field—but such obedience can lead to inappropriate responses.5 • Scarcity. Evidence shows humans find items and information more attractive if they are either scarce or perceived to be scarce. Companies routinely leverage this tendency by offering products or services for a limited time only.

All I Really Need to Know I Learned at a Tupperware Party 1 Robert B. Cialdini, “The Science of Persuasion,” Scientific American (February 2001): 76-81. 2 Robert B. Cialdini, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (New York: William Morrow, 1993), 18. 3 See chapter 11. 4 For an interesting account of Asch’s experiment, see Duncan J. Watts, Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2003), 207-10. 5 Cialdini, Influence, 208-15. Also see Rod Dickinson, “The Milgram Reenactment,” http://www.milgramreenactment.org/pages/section.xml?location=51. 6 Lisa W. Foderaro, “If June Cleaver Joined ‘Sex and the City’: Tupperware Parties for the Cosmo Set,” The New York Times, February 1, 2003. 7 Cialdini, Influence, 37. 12. All Systems Go 1 Antonio R. Damasio, Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain (New York: Avon Books, 1994), xi-xii. 2 Thomas A.


pages: 755 words: 121,290

Statistics hacks by Bruce Frey

Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, correlation coefficient, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, distributed generation, en.wikipedia.org, feminist movement, G4S, game design, Hacker Ethic, index card, Milgram experiment, p-value, place-making, reshoring, RFID, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Thomas Bayes

With his obedience studies of the early 1960s, Milgram demonstrated that when people of authority (such as research assistants in lab coats) ask study participants to do something that makes them uncomfortable, such as administering (or believing that they are administering) an electric shock to another research subject, a surprising number of people will do it. His research led to much insight as to why people might "obey orders" even if they disagree with them. Two more recent studies have confirmed that the average number of connections between people in social networks is about six or even a little less. Doing a Small Study There are a couple of ways to use these methods that don't take quite as much work. The goal of the activity could be scientific or just party fun. Milgram via email Duplicate the Milgram study, but use the convenience of email.

The best way is to duplicate the methods used by Stanley Milgram. Choose a target Milgram started by picking someone he knew who worked in Boston, Massachusetts, where Milgram lived. It wasn't Kevin Bacon, but a stockbroker who agreed to act as the target, the final end of a chain that Milgram hoped to build. You could pick your best friend or your school principal or your University's president. You gotta ask their permission first, though (something about ethics). Recruit participates Milgram then randomly sampled from two communities: Boston and Omaha, Nebraska. This sampling scheme was meant to represent the two extremes of likelihood that anyone would know the target. Start with people close by and people far away, and the average of their data should be fairly representative of the population. Milgram used 300 randomly chosen recruits.

Find the smallest number necessary to include even the longest chain, and you have the maximum distance. The Boston target in Milgram's study eventually received about 100 letters. Of those, the average number of links was sixthus, the origin of the number six in "six degrees of separation." Notice, however, that not all letters arrived, so we don't know from this one study that six is really the right number. The study also took place in the U.S. only, not worldwide, so grander views of there being only a few degrees of separation between any two people on the whole planet are philosophically based, not empirically derived. The response rate that Milgram enjoyed was very high, considering the complicated requests made of participants. This is not surprising, because Milgram knew something about obedience. Stanley Milgram is probably better known for another clever study with more disturbing results he conducted some years before his small world study.


Survival of the Friendliest: Understanding Our Origins and Rediscovering Our Common Humanity by Brian Hare, Vanessa Woods

Cass Sunstein, cognitive bias, desegregation, Donald Trump, drone strike, income inequality, Jane Jacobs, Law of Accelerating Returns, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, Milgram experiment, Nelson Mandela, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, out of africa, phenotype, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), self-driving car, smart cities, social intelligence, Stanford marshmallow experiment, stem cell, Steven Pinker, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, theory of mind, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, white flight, zero-sum game

Asch found that 75 percent of the time, people sided with the incorrect majority opinion.44 Almost a decade later, Stanley Milgram, a student of both Allport and Asch, became fascinated with the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi who had organized the transport of millions of Jews to their death in concentration camps. Milgram noted that a journalist who had attended Eichmann’s trial described him as an “uninspired bureaucrat who simply sat at his desk and did his job.”45 This led Milgram to perform his famous experiments testing the limits of our desire to be obedient to authority. The picture seemed complete. While cultures of racism, moral systems, education, and economics all have a critical role in shaping group behavior, it was prejudice, conformity, and obedience to authority that became the dominant psychological explanation for the horrors of World War II. But the worst human weakness was missing from the analysis. * * * — A year after Milgram published his famous monograph on obedience to authority, the developmental psychologist Albert Bandura published his pioneering experiment on dehumanization.

When Bandura asked the supervisors whether the workers’ punishment was warranted, more than 80 percent approved of punishment of dehumanized workers, while only 20 percent approved of punishment when the workers had been humanized. Not only were people able to absolve themselves for hurting someone who’d been dehumanized, they believed these subjects were less sensitive to pain and swayed only by the application of more shocks. Bandura concluded that dehumanization is central to explaining human cruelty. Every psychology student knows about Milgram’s obedience to authority experiments, but few have heard of Bandura’s dehumanization experiments. Even among researchers, Milgram’s work has been cited almost twenty times more often than Bandura’s. We tend to consider the overt dehumanization of other groups a relic of a distant past—far beyond the pale of our civilized modern societies.47 Instead, the focus has shifted toward interventions against the more covert forms of “new prejudice.” But understanding why we dehumanize others is crucial for understanding human cruelty.48 Nowhere is this more clear than in Phillip Goff’s research on the treatment of black people by the U.S. justice system.49, 50 Black children receive adult sentencing at 18 times the rate of white children in the United States.

Asch became immersed in “the ways in which group actions become forces in the psychological field of persons.”44 His most famous conformity experiment was simple. Asch showed ten people sitting in a room together two cards: Then he asked them whether the lines on the right card were shorter or longer than the line on the left card. Nine of the ten people worked for Asch, and all of his employees gave the same wrong answer. The question was what the tenth person, hearing their responses and unaware of the purpose of the experiment, would do. If they chose the correct answer, they had to disagree with the majority of people in the room. Asch found that 75 percent of the time, people sided with the incorrect majority opinion.44 Almost a decade later, Stanley Milgram, a student of both Allport and Asch, became fascinated with the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi who had organized the transport of millions of Jews to their death in concentration camps.


pages: 415 words: 123,373

Inviting Disaster by James R. Chiles

Airbus A320, airline deregulation, crew resource management, cuban missile crisis, Exxon Valdez, Maui Hawaii, Milgram experiment, North Sea oil, Piper Alpha, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance

In a simple but thorough set of psychological investigations at Yale in 1961, Stanley Milgram discovered that most of the people he tested were entirely willing to give somebody else multiple strong electric shocks if the commands to continue came from an authority figure, in this case a white-coated “scientist” who told them that shocks were necessary as part of a memory and learning experiment. The shocks were not real, and the forty-seven-year-old “victim” was following a script, but for all Milgram’s subjects knew, the jolts were bringing a man to unconsciousness and perhaps even death. Milgram found immediately that subjects were so willing to continue straight through the series of thirty shocks, rising from 15 to 450 volts, that he had to change the experiment to have the victim yell and plead for release as the shocks went up.

There’s the risk of being fired for insubordination. Even without this fear, the average employee is going to have some second thoughts about causing trouble for the people who hired him or for his coworkers. A sharply worded internal memo, then, is a feel-good solution. It puts the worker on record as one of the good guys without challenging the structure of power and obedience that Stanley Milgram’s experiments revealed. We know from a long list of catastrophes that warning memos from inside didn’t make any difference. That would include the R.101, the Challenger, Three Mile Island, Bhopal, the DC-10 and its cargo doors, Apollo 1, and others. The mistake made by people who stop at memos is that they think their writing will stand on its own—that its hard truth will somehow vanquish opposition as quickly as Dorothy Gale’s bucket of water melted the Wicked Witch.

Nevertheless, some participants continued to administer the shock all the way to the end of the series even after the “victim” went completely silent, apparently unconscious or dead. Many of Milgram’s subjects were unhappy and tense about what they were doing: pausing, fretting, questioning, but then going ahead under pressure of orders. One of the comparative few who stopped and flatly refused to continue, despite repeated demands from the “scientist,” was a thirty-one-year-old German-born woman who had spent part of her adolescence under Hitler’s rule. Not a single subject simply stood up and walked out. One way that some people made themselves feel better was to try and excel with the technical details, concentrating on which switch to push and for how long. “This is, perhaps, the most fundamental lesson of our study,” Milgram wrote, “[that] ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process….


pages: 284 words: 72,406

Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland, Jj Sutherland

Baxter: Rethink Robotics, business cycle, call centre, clean water, death of newspapers, fundamental attribution error, knowledge worker, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, minimum viable product, pets.com, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Shai Danziger, Silicon Valley, Tony Hsieh, Toyota Production System

It’s very easy to look at crimes against humanity and blame individuals for their actions. It’s the right thing to do, no? The question that Milgram wanted to answer, though, is: Are ordinary Americans so different from Germans? Would they have reacted differently in the same situation? And the uncomfortable answer is that no, Americans wouldn’t have behaved differently. In fact, given how many countries and cultures have replicated the experiment, no one would have. Given the right situation, we’re all capable of being Nazis. The experiment worked this way. The subject, an ordinary person, was told by someone wearing a white lab coat (which gave him a veneer of scientific authority) to administer ever-greater electrical shocks to a third person, an actor, who was in another room. The subject could hear but not see the actor. As the shocks increased, the actor would begin to scream and shout and beg.

Instead of looking for blame and fault, it rewards positive behavior by focusing people on working together and getting things done. Perhaps the most famous demonstration of this human reaction to systems was the Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures, which was done in the early 1960s at Yale University. The experiment was simple and, to modern eyes, somewhat cruel. It was also devastating and powerful and is taught in every first-year psychology course. Dr. Stanley Milgram, a professor at Yale, had a question that was quite apropos then. Three months before the first experiments began, Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the Holocaust, went on trial. One of the most persistent questions surrounding the Holocaust was how so many millions of people could have been willing accomplices in such horror.

market risk Marvell, Andrew Maslow, Abraham Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lean Enterprise Institute at Media Lab of mastery Maxwell, Scott, 5.1, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3 Maxwell Curve, 103 Medco, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4 Medco 2.0 at stock price of microfinance, 9.1, 9.2 micromanaging Microsoft, 1.1, 9.1, 9.2 Org Chart at Scrum at MidContinent Computer Services middle managers MiG-15 fighters, 8.1, 8.2 Milgram, Stanley Milgram experiment Miller, George Minimum Viable Product (MVP), 191 Missouri, University of mistakes, correcting, 5.1, 5.2, 8.1 Morita, Akio Morning Star mountain climbers, happiness of Mubarak, Hosni Muda (waste through outcomes), Mukhabarat multitasking, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3 Munsing, Evan Mura (waste through inconsistency), Muri (waste through unreasonableness), 5.1, 5.2 Myer, Tim Mythical Man-Month, The (Brooks), 3.1 NASA: Fuji-Xerox visit to Phased Program Planning (phase-gate) system at, 2.1, 3.1 National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency National Public Radio (NPR) Cairo coverage of National Security Agency Netherlands, 9.1, 9.2 eduScrum Foundation in Newell, Gabe New England Patriots “New New Product Development, The” (Takeuchi and Nonaka), 2.1, 3.1, 3.2 newspapers, death of New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc.


pages: 201 words: 21,180

Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter

barriers to entry, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, Howard Rheingold, late fees, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Milgram experiment, Paul Buchheit, Ralph Waldo Emerson, recommendation engine, social software, social web, Steve Jobs, web application, zero-sum game

The Power of Authority Authority, the ability to give order and enforce obedience, is an extremely powerful social influencer. The most famous social psychology experiment involving authority is a study by Stanley Milgram done in the early 1960s, in which he, as the authority figure, ordered people to inflict electric shocks on others, even as the others cried out in pain. A remarkable number of people simply followed the orders. (The experiment was set up to make it appear as if the subjects were really being shocked; they weren’t.) Nevertheless, the results of that single study have reverberated for decades, completely reshaping how psychologists view authority. Says Milgram: The legal and philosophic aspects of obedience are of enormous importance, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations. I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist.

Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.3 3 See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment for the fascinating details of the Milgram experiment. CHAPTER 4 DESIGN FOR SIGN-UP Authority works because it makes people pay attention. The mere fact that Seth Godin uses this software is impressive. But notice, too, that this element doesn’t overplay Godin’s involvement. It simply states that he uses the software. More importantly, it describes what he uses it for: to promote his books. That’s enough information to grab those folks who might use it for the same purpose.

It suggests that lots of people are downloading — and they are! Figure 4.21 A person reading this download statistic from AdaptiveBlue can’t help but say “Wow, this is popular” and give it a second glance. It’s a bird, it’s a plane!… it’s... a window? It might seem a silly thing to focus on numbers, but research demonstrates that people really do follow the crowd. A classic research study on social proof is one conducted by Stanley Milgram, Leonard Bickman, and Lawrence Berkowitz in the sixties in which they had people stand on a sidewalk in New York City and look up at a sixth floor window. They recorded how many people passing by stopped and looked up as well. If there were no such thing as social proof, nobody else would stop to look. But the results showed the real influence of this principle. When there was only a single person on the sidewalk looking up, just four percent of people passing by did the same.


pages: 387 words: 120,155

Inside the Nudge Unit: How Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference by David Halpern

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, availability heuristic, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centre right, choice architecture, cognitive dissonance, collaborative consumption, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, different worldview, endowment effect, happiness index / gross national happiness, hedonic treadmill, hindsight bias, IKEA effect, illegal immigration, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, libertarian paternalism, light touch regulation, longitudinal study, market design, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, nudge unit, peer-to-peer lending, pension reform, presumed consent, QR code, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Simon Kuznets, skunkworks, the built environment, theory of mind, traffic fines, twin studies, World Values Survey

Most people – and certainly not just psychology students – have heard of the famous ‘compliance experiments’ of Stanley Milgram, in which subjects seemed prepared to electrocute a fellow subject to death just because they were asked to do so. Milgram showed that ordinary Americans, invited to take part in a ‘learning experiment’ in a respectable university, would keep administering a steadily increasing shock to the subject that they had just met but who was now screaming and pounding on the wall in the next room for them to stop. All it seemed to take was a man in a white coat telling them that ‘the experiment required them to continue’. More than two-thirds of subjects did continue (in Milgram’s typical experiment) even though, as far as they could tell, the now silent subject had either passed out or died. 10 Milgram’s work itself built on earlier studies by Solomon Asch showing that most subjects would choose an obviously wrong answer if those before them also chose it.

But you can immediately see that the disclosure is both intrusive and distorting of the actual experiment. This is not unusual in the social sciences or in business. Many experiments are run which depend on the subject not knowing that they are part of an experiment. For this reason, the academic community has developed extensive ethical clearance processes so that someone other than the experimenter themselves is involved in making the judgment as to whether the experiment is acceptable to perform. These rules and conventions have tightened over the years. Indeed, many of the most famous experiments in psychology from the 1950s and 1960s would probably no longer be given ethical clearance, such as Milgram’s compliance experiments at Stanford (see Chapter 1). Governments have different checks and balances from those in a university.

In particular, it felt too thin on the large variety of what those working on social cognition call ‘self-serving attributional biases’ (e.g. when things go well it’s down to us, but when they go badly its always someone else’s fault) and on important linked effects such as optimism bias. SNAP was also rather thin on some of the powerful influences documented by social psychology, such as the power of authority (cf. Milgram experiments) or reciprocity (e.g. our strong tendency to help someone who has helped us, in even the most minor way). Michael and Ivo spent several months trawling through the literature, identifying effects that had been vigorously and repeatedly demonstrated; filtering out those that there had been few replications of; and clustering those that seemed to be close relatives of each other. We used these reviews to create groups of related effects, trying to get them down to a robust but more limited and memorable summary of the burgeoning literature.


pages: 756 words: 228,797

Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne C. Heller

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, American ideology, anti-communist, Bolshevik threat, Charles Lindbergh, conceptual framework, greed is good, laissez-faire capitalism, Milgram experiment, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, New Journalism, open borders, price stability, profit motive, rent control, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile, wage slave, War on Poverty, Works Progress Administration, young professional

FOUR: WE ARE NOT LIKE OUR BROTHERS: 1934–1938 “Men have been taught”: TF, p. 713. left Los Angeles in their secondhand Nash: Letter to Jean Wick, November 24, 1934 (LOAR, p. 20). in Virginia the car hit a pothole: TPOAR, p. 119. She had already begun to make mental notes: According to JOAR, p. 77, AR made her first actual notes for TF on December 4, 1935. Shoshana Milgram, who has access to the ARI Archives, claims that AR was already working on an outline when she traveled from California to New York (Shoshana Milgram, “The Hero in the Soul Manifested in the World,” a lecture presented at the ARI’s Centenary Conference, New York, April 23, 2005). The car was wrecked: “The Hero in the Soul, Manifested in the World.” She also got on well: Letter to Mary Inloes, December 10, 1934 (LOAR, pp. 20–21). one-room furnished apartment: Harry Binswanger, dinner lecture, ARI Centenary Conference, April 24, 2005; thanks to Fred Cookinham for his notes.

Royalties from the play were one of his few discovered sources of income when he declared bankruptcy in February 1936. By then, he was a mere employee of the Shubert Organization, working for $150 a week (“Ex-millionaire Reported Broke,” Los Angeles Times, February 8, 1936, p. 2). removing elements of the motivation of her characters: Unpublished letter cited in Shoshana Milgram’s “Ayn Rand’s Unique and Enduring Contributions to Literature,” lecture, ARI Centenary Conference, July 7, 2005, San Diego. According to Milgram, AR wrote about what was taken out of her play and the fact that she found the first “tier” unsatisfactory as a result. she reportedly told him: “The Hero in the Soul Manifested in the World.” Hayes and Weitzenkorn: “Second Arbitration on Play Royalties,” NYT, January 17, 1936, p. 15. to siphon off one-tenth of her royalties: “Agency Agreement with Ann Watkins,” October 30, 1935 (A.

only novelist she ever acknowledged: Ayn Rand, lecture on “The Art of Fiction,” January—June 1958, New York, private notes courtesy of John Allen. Anna would read aloud: Ayn Rand, “Victor Hugo Allows a Peek at Grandeur,” Los Angeles Times, September 16, 1962, p. 12. The first one of his novels she read: WIAR, p. 158. she retained traces of the plotting techniques: For an excellent discussion of Hugo’s influence on AR, see Shoshana Milgram’s “We the Living and Victor Hugo” in EOWTL, pp. 223–56. “greatest novelist in world literature”: Ayn Rand, introduction to Ninety-Three, The Romantic Manifesto, p. 154. spent in search of rationed millet, peas, and cooking oil: 100 Voices, NR, p. 14; WTL, p. xv. forced to walk all the way from Leningrad: JH, “Conversations with Ayn Rand,” p. 32; details provided in a telephone interview with author, December 13, 2004.


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Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding--And How We Can Improve the World Even More by Charles Kenny

"Robert Solow", agricultural Revolution, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, germ theory of disease, Gunnar Myrdal, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, inventory management, Kickstarter, Milgram experiment, off grid, open borders, purchasing power parity, randomized controlled trial, structural adjustment programs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, Toyota Production System, trade liberalization, transaction costs, very high income, Washington Consensus, X Prize

THE GROWING UNACCEPTABILITY OF VIOLENCE In 1961, Stanley Milgram of Yale University began a series of experiments to test how far people would be willing to go in causing pain to a fellow human being under the “right” circumstances. Volunteers were apparently divided at random into “teachers” and “learners.” The teachers were instructed by a lab-coated researcher to give the learners an electric shock for each wrong answer on a test they administered—although one that would cause “no permanent tissue damage.” For each wrong answer, the shock would get stronger at 15 volts at a time. Researchers encouraged wavering teachers to continue the experiment regardless of the complaints of the learner. At 120 volts, the learners exclaimed they were in real pain. At 150 volts, they begged to end the experiment and be released. By 165 volts, they were screaming to stop.

Absent clear cues from authority to do the wrong thing, the experimental subjects behaved humanely. Milgram’s study was prompted by the trial of the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in an attempt to understand how so many people could have committed such obscene acts under his command. At least in part, the answer appears to be that people respond to authority and social cues even when those cues are morally repellent. As well as suggesting something about how widely the responsibility for acts of torture should be allocated, the Milgram experiment suggests the importance of institutional settings, and of social norms, to levels of violence and personal attitudes regarding acceptable behavior toward others. The good news is that institutional settings and social norms in most of the world are increasingly set against the acceptance of violence.

See Global income; Wealth; Poverty India banning caste discrimination cultural factors in health care Green Revolution improved literacy with television income divergence between historic Britain and life expectancy rates in spread of technology to Innovation government-supported diffusion of technology growth and context-dependent intellectual property protection and prizes for technological quality of life improved by technology as See also Technology Institutions Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance (North) International Monetary Fund Investing in Development (UN Millennium Project) Investment and growth Jaychandran, Seema Jenner, Edward Jensen, Robert Johnson, Samuel Johnson, Simon Kaplan, Robert Keegan, John Keynes, John Maynard Knox, John Kremer, Michael Kuziemko, Ilyana Land regulation Latin America Aztec Indians Brazil’s per capita income conditional cash transfers for health Costa Rican health expenditures Haiti’s development influences from Rede Globo network Mayan civilization Mexico’s PROGRESA primary enrollment in Brazil violent crime rates Ledyard, John Leeuwenhoek, Antoni van Leukhina, Oksana Levine, Ross Lewis and Clark’s expedition Lewis, Arthur Life expectancy food production technology extending global increase in per capita expenditures for health and rates in India United Kingdom rates of See also Mortality rates Lindbergh, Charles Lipset, Seymour Martin Literacy rates African education and global increases in improving with television suffrage and Maddison, Angus Malthus, Robert Malthusian trap African societies and defined escaping from evidence of innovative technology and model for neo-Malthusianism Mamet, David Marshall Plan Martyn, Lieutenant Marx, Karl Mayan civilization McNamara, Robert Merck Middle East Miguel, Edward Milgram, Stanley Millennium Development Goals Mobile telephony Montesquieu, Baron de Morrisson, Christian Mortality rates decreasing with improved sanitation early weaning and economic effect on education for lowering GDP and global changes in health expenditures and income growth and delayed effect on infant significance of lower childhood statistics on unwanted pregnancy and valuation of life and wealthier vs. poorer countries West Papua See also Fertility Moyo, Dambisa Mugabe, Robert Murtin, Fabrice Myrdal, Gunnar Narayan, Deepa National Bureau of Economic Research Neo-Malthusianism Netherlands New Institutional Economics Norberg, Johan Nordhaus, William North, Douglass Nunn, Nathan Olken, Ben Onchocerciasis Control Program Opal, Charlotte Oral rehydration Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Oster, Emily Park, Mungo Park, Thomas Pasteur, Louis Pearson Report Policymaking diffusing technology and ideas “Do no harm” principle ensuring affordable health services global innovation banks improving supply of services limitations in conditional cash transfers need for optimism in payments for progress promoting quality of life protecting human rights providing affordable education reasons for quality of life rules for economic scope of successes in health care using supporting quality-of-life improvement sustainability promoted with using aid to promote growth See also Social marketing techniques Polity scores Poor.


I You We Them by Dan Gretton

agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, back-to-the-land, British Empire, clean water, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, Desert Island Discs, drone strike, European colonialism, financial independence, friendly fire, ghettoisation, Honoré de Balzac, IBM and the Holocaust, illegal immigration, invisible hand, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, laissez-faire capitalism, liberation theology, Mikhail Gorbachev, Milgram experiment, Neil Kinnock, Nelson Mandela, New Journalism, place-making, pre–internet, Stanford prison experiment, University of East Anglia, wikimedia commons

If the teacher hesitated to enforce the electric shock at any stage, they were repeatedly told by the scientific ‘authority’ figure that ‘the experiment requires that you continue’, ‘it is absolutely essential that you continue’. Before Milgram conducted the first research he asked his psychology students at Yale to predict what they thought the results of the experiment would be. The students thought only 1.2 per cent of participants would administer the maximum electric shock. The actual result, from the first round of experiments, was that 65 per cent of participants gave (what they believed to be) the maximum electric shock of 450 volts. And all of the participants gave shocks of up to 300 volts. Instead of taking personal responsibility for the decision of whether or not to give the electric shocks, the vast majority of the participants simply deferred responsibility to the authority figure next to them in the room – repeatedly asking the ‘scientist’ in the white coat for reassurance: ‘Are you sure it’s OK?

Bartrop, and Michael Dickerman. 16 Milgram’s experiment, ‘Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View’, has understandably received an enormous amount of attention ever since the results were first published in 1963. However, in recent years criticisms regarding the ethics of how the experiment was conducted have increased, particularly in regard to the amount of information given to the volunteers before the experiment, and the stress that some of them experienced being pressurised to administer what they believed were electric shocks. My own view regarding such criticisms is that the value of the research gained was so important that the methodology of the experiments was justified. It should be stressed that the volunteers were debriefed at the end of the experiment, told of the real purpose of the research, and assured that they had not given any electric shocks in reality.

It should be stressed that the volunteers were debriefed at the end of the experiment, told of the real purpose of the research, and assured that they had not given any electric shocks in reality. But if the volunteers had been told at the outset that the shocks weren’t real, or that the ‘learner’ in the other room was only an actor who was part of the experiment, the research would have had no value at all. This for me has always been the glaring weakness at the heart of Philip Zimbardo’s ‘Stanford Prison Experiment’ in 1971, when college student volunteers were allocated ‘roles’ as ‘prisoners’ or ‘prison guards’. All participants were essentially involved in a piece of role-play from the outset, everyone knowing that the conditions were only simulated, and far from real world. However disturbing some of the subsequent behaviour was, there was never an underpinning of reality to the research, as there was with Milgram’s experiments. Chapter Fourteen: The Oilman and the Broken Wing 1 ‘Oil exploitation has turned Ogoni into a waste land …’ Ken Saro-Wiwa, from A Month and a Day taken from his address to UNPO in Geneva, summer 1992. 2 ‘To the eyes of a miser a guinea is far more beautiful than the sun …’ from William Blake’s letter to Dr Trusler, 23 August 1799.


pages: 246 words: 76,561

Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture by Justin McGuirk

A Pattern Language, agricultural Revolution, dark matter, Donald Trump, Enrique Peñalosa, extreme commuting, facts on the ground, Guggenheim Bilbao, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income per capita, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, Kickstarter, lateral thinking, mass immigration, microcredit, Milgram experiment, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, place-making, Silicon Valley, starchitect, technoutopianism, unorthodox policies, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Washington Consensus

A fellow philosophical pragmatist, Mockus would take very seriously Rorty’s idea that you can’t fully understand the meaning of what you say or do until you know all the practical consequences that result from it (like when you drop your trousers in public, for instance). Another was Paul Feyerabend, who advocated an anarchist theory of knowledge. Yet another was Stanley Milgram, who conducted a controversial experiment in the 1960s that involved making participants give people electric shocks, to prove that humans are essentially obedient. This blend of pragmatism, anarchist method and obedience theory would influence how he approached the problems of the city. But first these ideas were put into practice at the university. Perhaps as a result of having struggled to write his thesis, Mockus developed an alternative language to the written word, a language of actions.

The idea was that drivers could chide one another for being selfish or breaking the law, or applaud one another for their patience or generosity. His instinct was that being shamed by a fellow citizen was a greater disincentive than being punished by a corrupt traffic cop. Self-regulation by citizens was a new kind of authority, at least for Bogotá. As Mockus once pointed out, regulating behaviour is innate in humans, just as a baby regulates the behaviour of a parent by crying. Stanley Milgram’s experiments with electric shocks, which Mockus had studied, may have proved that human beings are essentially obedient – but that finding can lead in starkly divergent directions. It can explain the horrors of the Holocaust or, in Bogotá’s case, the roots of a civic culture. In one of the many talks by Mockus that are online, a member of the audience likens his methods to those of an advertising agency or, more critically, the brainwashing of a dictator.

See Complexo da Maré (favelas) Marull, Pereyra & Ruiz, 41 Mazoni, Juana, 75–6 Mazzanti, Giancarlo, 234, 248 Medellín, Colombia, 20, 24, 208, 231–58, 268, 283, 284; cable car system, 24–5, 105, 132, 163, 166, 240, 246–7, 251 Menem, Carlos, 57 Menéndez, Mike, 163 Metabolists, 10, 71, 73, 77–8 Metrocable de Caracas, 162–70 passim, 247 Metrocable de Medellín, 24–5, 105, 132, 163, 166, 240, 246–7, 251 Mexico, 98, 266, 273n. See also Mexico City; Tijuana Mexico City, 1–8 passim, 16, 131, 276 Milgram, Stanley, 210, 215 Minha Casa Minha Vida (My House My Life), 126–8, 131 Miraflores Palace, Caracas, 154–5 Mockus, Antanas, 19–20, 24, 207–30 passim, 243, 275, 284 ‘La Mona’ (Muñoz), 260 Monterrey, Mexico, 98 Morales, Evo, 53, 59 Morales, Iván, 189 Morar Carioca, 103, 120, 125–6, 128 Moravia, Medellín, 240, 251 Morro da Providencia (favela), 104–6, 133, 135 Moses, Robert, 140 Muñoz García, Armando, 260 Murillo Bejarano, Diego.


pages: 323 words: 95,939

Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff

algorithmic trading, Andrew Keen, bank run, Benoit Mandelbrot, big-box store, Black Swan, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, business cycle, cashless society, citizen journalism, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, disintermediation, Donald Trump, double helix, East Village, Elliott wave, European colonialism, Extropian, facts on the ground, Flash crash, game design, global pandemic, global supply chain, global village, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, Inbox Zero, invention of agriculture, invention of hypertext, invisible hand, iterative process, John Nash: game theory, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, lateral thinking, Law of Accelerating Returns, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Merlin Mann, Milgram experiment, mutually assured destruction, negative equity, Network effects, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, passive investing, pattern recognition, peak oil, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, Ralph Nelson Elliott, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Silicon Valley, Skype, social graph, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, the medium is the message, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Turing test, upwardly mobile, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, Y2K, zero-sum game

It calls to mind the questions posed back in the 1960s by Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram, who had been fascinated by the impact of spectacle and authority on soldiers’ obedience in Nazi Germany. Milgram wanted to know if German war criminals could have been following orders, as they claimed, and not truly complicit in the death camp atrocities. At the very least, he was hoping to discover that Americans would not respond the same way under similar circumstances. He set up the now infamous experiment in which each subject was told by men in white lab coats to deliver increasingly intense electric shocks to a victim who screamed in pain, complained of a heart condition, and begged for the experiment to be halted. More than half of the subjects carried out the orders anyway, slowly increasing the electric shocks to what they believed were lethal voltages.

See drugs; healthcare “meet me” room (New York City), 180 Memento (movie), 31–32 memory: apocalypto and, 250, 255, 259–60; in computers, 140n; digiphrenia and, 82, 105, 122–23, 127; and digital memory as never forgetting, 155–57; fractalnoia and, 222, 238–39, 240; Michalski’s work on, 238–39; new “now” and, 4–5; overwinding and, 136, 140, 142, 155–57, 181–89; time binding and, 140. See also MyLifeBits; RAM; TheBrain Méro, László, 221–22 Michalski, Jerry, 237–39, 240 microchips, 88, 93, 122–23, 263 microphone screech analogy, 208, 210 Microsoft Corporation, 156, 239; MyLifeBits project at, 239–41 Milgram, Stanley, 37 millenium, 3, 10–11, 17 “Mind” (Bateson cybernetic system), 225–26 MMORPGs (multiplayer online role-playing games), 62–63 Mob Wives (TV show), 39, 149 money/currency: apocalypto and, 258; behavioral finance and, 174–75; cashless societies and, 183–84; centrally-issued, 171, 173; debt and, 5, 173–80; interest-bearing, 3, 171–73, 174, 175–76, 177; kinds of, 145–49; new “now” and, 3, 5; overwinding and, 145–49, 170–80, 183, 184–85, 194; time as, 135, 170–80 Moore, Gordon E., 9 Moore’s Law, 9 morality, 37–38, 250, 259, 260.

See also ethics; values Moritz, Michael, 236–37 mortgages, 5, 168, 174, 175, 176, 177–78, 229, 247 movies: apocalypto and, 247, 248–50; chronobiology and, 88; copies of, 71; digiphrenia and, 84, 101; fractalnoia and, 209; narrative collapse and, 28–32, 58, 67; zombie, 247, 248–50 Moyers, Bill, 13 MTV, 23, 35–36, 143, 154 multitasking, 3–4, 122–26 Museum of Modern Art (New York City), 154–55 music: illegally downloading, 192–93; time/sound and, 114 MyLifeBits (Microsoft project), 239–41 Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) (TV show), 24–25, 201 myths: apocalypto and, 263; brand, 210, 212; digiphrenia and, 76, 78, 111; fractalnoia and, 210, 212–13; narrative collapse and, 13, 16, 39, 64; new “now” and, 4; overwinding and, 164–65, 167, 190 narrative collapse: apocalypto and, 245; change and, 9–10, 14–16; culture and, 12, 13, 30; digiphrenia and, 73; fractalnoia and, 212; games and, 58–66, 67; initial reactions to, 66; as manifestation of present shock, 7, 9–67; millenium and, 10–11; movies and, 28–32, 58, 67; new “now” and, 2, 4, 6; 1965 events and, 14; 1990s and, 9–10, 38–39; now-ist pop culture and, 23–34; Occupy Movement and, 18, 55–58; real-time news and, 43–50; and responses to living in a world without narrative, 39–43; sports and, 39–43; television and, 20–28, 31, 32, 33–34, 35–50, 58, 66, 67; terrorism and, 10–11, 17–18, 48; traditional storytelling and, 18–34. See also storytelling; specific topic Nash, John, 221 Nass, Clifford, 123 National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), 89–90, 223 National Football League, 41 Nazi Germany, Milgram’s research about obedience in, 37 New Aesthetic, 96 news: continuous cycle of, 54; fractalnoia and, 201–2, 216; narrative collapse and, 43–50, 66; overwinding and, 141–42, 143; public confidence in reporting about, 51; real-time, 43–50; stored, 143. See also blogs; Internet; newspapers; television newspapers, 44 Nisbett, Richard, 234–35 nonverbal communication, 126, 150 now: acting, 159–69; long, 140–49, 193, 194; new, 1–8; as nonexistent, 6; and now-ist popular culture, 23–34.


pages: 335 words: 98,847

A Bit of a Stretch: The Diaries of a Prisoner by Chris Atkins

Boris Johnson, butterfly effect, collapse of Lehman Brothers, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, forensic accounting, G4S, housing crisis, illegal immigration, index card, Mark Zuckerberg, Milgram experiment, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, payday loans

I try to point out that it’s only a tin of tuna, but he just starts banging on about the failure of Keynesian economics. 14 October My psychology studies are completely engrossing, and are providing unexpected insights into the prison experience. I’m currently studying Milgram’s classic 1963 experiment into obedience. Milgram recruited 40 volunteers and told them to deliver increasingly severe electric shocks to someone in the next room. What they didn’t know was that the person screaming next door was only an actor, who never actually felt any pain. Over half the participants administered potentially lethal voltages simply because they were instructed to do so by a man in a white coat. The experiment revealed how environment can powerfully affect behaviour, and that most people will mindlessly follow authority even if it causes great harm.3 From where I’m sitting, it explains why certain screws are unnecessarily vile to prisoners on an hourly basis.

He’s being accompanied by Miss Harley, an officer with a notoriously high opinion of herself. ‘Sorry, miss, can I ask why you’re taking him there?’ ‘We’re clearing all remand prisoners off Trinity,’ she snaps. I struggle to keep my temper. ‘Trinity is full of remand prisoners that you’re not moving. This kid is going to get eaten alive on E Wing.’ ‘I’m just following orders.’ My mind is immediately drawn to the Milgram obedience experiment, and for a split second I forget that I’m a prisoner. ‘If your orders are to get Wandsworth’s suicide rate up, then this is the best way to go about it.’ Les overhears our confrontation and swoops in. He still sees himself as the King of Listening, and has a long-standing crush on Miss Harley. He places a condescending hand on my shoulder. ‘Sorry he’s speaking out of line, Miss H. He’s a bit wet behind the ears and we’re still showing him the ropes.’

Control freaks Much has been written about whether we have a hand in our own destiny, but at least in the outside world it feels as if we have some involvement in our fate. Prison not only robs inmates of control, but also denies them the illusion of agency. They are constantly reminded that they have no impact on anything, which has long been cited as a cause of mental illness. In 1971, the experimental psychologist Jay Weiss did a series of experiments on rats. He first trained them to avoid electric shocks by pressing a lever. He then changed the system so that they could no longer control the shocks. The rats initially became hyper vigilant, pressing the lever wildly and trying to control the shock even when it wasn’t being delivered. The image of rats pressing inactive levers is chillingly reminiscent of rows of lights outside cells flashing as call bells routinely go unanswered.


Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth by Stuart Ritchie

Albert Einstein, anesthesia awareness, Bayesian statistics, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, citation needed, Climatic Research Unit, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, coronavirus, correlation does not imply causation, COVID-19, Covid-19, crowdsourcing, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science, Growth in a Time of Debt, Kenneth Rogoff, l'esprit de l'escalier, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, Milgram experiment, mouse model, New Journalism, p-value, phenotype, placebo effect, profit motive, publication bias, publish or perish, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, replication crisis, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, selection bias, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Stanford prison experiment, statistical model, stem cell, Steven Pinker, Thomas Bayes, twin studies, University of East Anglia

Perhaps the most famous psychology study of all time is the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, where psychologist Philip Zimbardo split a group of young men into mock ‘guards’ and ‘prisoners’, and had them stay for a week in a simulated prison in the basement of the Stanford University psychology department. Disturbingly quickly, according to Zimbardo, the ‘guards’ began to punish the ‘prisoners’, abusing them so sadistically that Zimbardo had to end the experiment early.20 Along with Stanley Milgram’s 1960s studies of obedience, which found many participants willing to administer intense electric shocks to hapless ‘learners’ (the shocks and the learners were both fake, but the participants didn’t know it), Zimbardo’s experiment is held up as one of the prime pieces of evidence for the power of the situation over human behaviour.21 Put a good person into a bad situation, the story goes, and things might get very bad, very fast.

Then for slouching, see Marcus Credé, ‘A Negative Effect of a Contractive Pose is not Evidence for the Positive Effect of an Expansive Pose: Commentary on Cuddy, Schultz, and Fosse (2018)’, SSRN: https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3198470 20.  Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil (London: Rider, 2007). 21.  Stanley Milgram, ‘Behavioral Study of Obedience’, Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 67, no. 4 (1963): pp. 371–78; https://doi.org/10.1037/h0040525. The Milgram experiments have also seen their fair share of criticism – for evidence that the more the participants believed they were really shocking the ‘learners’, the less likely they were to give more powerful shocks, see e.g. Gina Perry et al., ‘Credibility and Incredulity in Milgram’s Obedience Experiments: A Reanalysis of an Unpublished Test’, Social Psychology Quarterly, 22 Aug. 2019; https://doi.org/10.1177/0190272519861952 22.  Philip Zimbardo, ‘Our inner heroes could stop another Abu Ghraib’, Guardian, 29 Feb. 2008; https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/feb/29/iraq.usa 23.  

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multiverse analysis study (2019) National Institute for Health Research pre-registration in Royal Society submarines trust in science university ranks in Wakefield affair (1998–2010) United States Arnold affair (2020) arsenic life affair (2010) austerity Bargh’s priming study (1996) Bem’s precognition studies California wildfires (2017) Carney and Cuddy’s power posing studies Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion climate science in creationism in Das affair (2012) De Vries’ drug study (2018) Department of Agriculture Dweck’s mindset concept Fryer’s police brutality study (2016) image duplication in Kahneman’s priming studies LaCour affair (2014–15) Morton’s skull studies Office for Research Integrity Poehlman affair (2006) pre-registration in public domain laws Reuben affair (2009) Stanford Prison Experiment Summerlin affair (1974) tenure Walker’s sleep studies Wansink affair (2016) universalism universities cash-for-publication schemes fraud and subscription fees and team science University College London University of British Columbia University of California Berkeley Los Angeles University of Connecticut University of East Anglia University of Edinburgh University of Hertfordshire University of London University of Pennsylvania unsaturated fats unwarranted advice vaccines Vamplew, Peter Vanity Fair Vatican Vaxxed Viagra vibration-of-effects analysis virology Wakefield, Andrew Walker, Matthew Wansink, Brian Washington Post weasel wording Weisberg, Michael Wellcome Trust western blots Westfall, Jake ‘Why Most Published Research Findings Are False’ (Ioannidis) Why We Sleep (Walker) Wiley Wiseman, Richard Wolfe-Simon, Felisa World as Will and Presentation, The (Schopenhauer) World Health Organisation (WHO) Yale University Yarkoni, Tal Yes Men Yezhov, Nikolai Z-tests Ziliak, Stephen Zimbardo, Philip Zola, Émile About the Author Stuart Ritchie is a lecturer in the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at King’s College London.


pages: 422 words: 131,666

Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back by Douglas Rushkoff

addicted to oil, affirmative action, Amazon Mechanical Turk, anti-globalists, banks create money, big-box store, Bretton Woods, car-free, Charles Lindbergh, colonial exploitation, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, computer age, corporate governance, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, death of newspapers, don't be evil, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, easy for humans, difficult for computers, financial innovation, Firefox, full employment, global village, Google Earth, greed is good, Howard Rheingold, income per capita, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, laissez-faire capitalism, loss aversion, market bubble, market design, Marshall McLuhan, Milgram experiment, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, negative equity, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, peak oil, peer-to-peer, place-making, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, price stability, principal–agent problem, private military company, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, RFID, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, social software, Steve Jobs, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telemarketer, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, trade route, trickle-down economics, union organizing, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, Victor Gruen, white flight, working poor, Works Progress Administration, Y2K, young professional, zero-sum game

The Real World Back in the 1960s, the psychologist Stanley Milgram was horrified and inspired by the trial of Adolf Eichmann, who engineered the transport of Jews to Nazi death camps. Milgram wanted to know if German war criminals could have been simply “following orders,” as they claimed, and not truly complicit in the death-camp atrocities. At the very least, he was hoping to discover that Americans would not respond the same way under similar circumstances. He set up a now famous experiment in which subjects were instructed by men in white lab coats to deliver increasingly intense electric shocks to victims who screamed in pain, complained of a heart condition, and begged for the experiment to be halted. More than half of the subjects carried out the orders anyway, slowly increasing the electric shocks to seemingly lethal levels.

More than half of the subjects carried out the orders anyway, slowly increasing the electric shocks to seemingly lethal levels. (Although the shocks were not real and the victims were only actors, such experiments were declared unethical by the American Psychological Association in 1973.) Reality TV, at its emotional core, is an ongoing experiment in interpersonal torture that picks up where Milgram left off. Although usually unscripted, reality shows are nonetheless as purposefully constructed as psych experiments: they are setups with clear hypotheses, designed to maximize the probability of conflict and embarrassment. America’s Next Top Model is not really about who wins a modeling contract, but rather about observing what young anorexics are willing to do to one another under the sanctioning authority of supermodel Tyra Banks. Will they steal food, sabotage another contestant’s makeup, or play particularly vicious mind games on one another?

Joe Millionaire was about the moment that an aspiring millionairess learns, under the glare of the television lights, that the man on whom she performed oral sex isn’t really a millionaire at all. Even Oprah Winfrey’s feel-good offering, Your Money or Your Life, features a family in a terrible crisis, and then offers an “expert action team” to fix up whichever toothless crack addict or obese divorcée begs the most pathetically. By sitting still for the elaborately staged social experiments we call reality TV, we are supplying further evidence for Milgram’s main conclusion: “Ordinary people …without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process.” But who is the authority figure in the lab coat granting us permission to delight in the pain of others? Who absolves us of the attendant guilt? Why, it’s the sponsor, whose ad for a national, wholesome brand interrupts the proceedings at just the right moment and bestows on them its seal of approval.


pages: 302 words: 83,116

SuperFreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

agricultural Revolution, airport security, Andrei Shleifer, Atul Gawande, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, Boris Johnson, call centre, clean water, cognitive bias, collateralized debt obligation, creative destruction, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, Did the Death of Australian Inheritance Taxes Affect Deaths, disintermediation, endowment effect, experimental economics, food miles, indoor plumbing, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), John Nash: game theory, Joseph Schumpeter, Joshua Gans and Andrew Leigh, longitudinal study, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, market design, microcredit, Milgram experiment, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, presumed consent, price discrimination, principal–agent problem, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, selection bias, South China Sea, Stanford prison experiment, Stephen Hawking, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, urban planning, William Langewiesche, women in the workforce, young professional

“Just about any request which could conceivably be asked of the subject by a reputable investigator,” he wrote, “is legitimized by the quasi-magical phrase “This is an experiment.’” Orne’s point was borne out rather spectacularly by at least two infamous lab experiments. In a 1961–62 study designed to understand why Nazi officers obeyed their superiors’ brutal orders, the Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram got volunteers to follow his instructions and administer a series of increasingly painful electric shocks—at least they thought the shocks were painful; the whole thing was a setup—to unseen lab partners. In 1971, the Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo conducted a prison experiment, with some volunteers playing guards and others playing inmates. The guards started behaving so sadistically that Zimbardo had to shut down the experiment. When you consider what Zimbardo and Milgram got their lab volunteers to do, it is no wonder that the esteemed researchers who ran the Dictator game, with its innocuous goal of transferring a few dollars from one undergrad to another, could, as List puts it, “induce almost any level of giving they desire.”

Indeed it did: with open baskets, the churchgoers gave more money, including fewer small-denomination coins, than with closed bags—although, interestingly, the effect petered out once the open baskets had been around for a while. See Soetevent, “Anonymity in Giving in a Natural Context—a Field Experiment in 30 Churches,” Journal of Public Economics 89 (2005). / 123 A “stupid automaton”: see A.H. Pierce, “The Subconscious Again,” Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, & Scientific Methods 5 (1908). / 123 “Forced cooperation”: see Martin T. Orne, “On the Social Psychological Experiment: With Particular Reference to Demand Characteristics and Their Implications,” American Psychologist 17, no. 10 (1962). / 123 “Why Nazi officers obeyed”: see Stanley Milgram, “Behavioral Study of Obedience,” Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 67, no. 4 (1963). / 123 The Stanford prison experiments: see Craig Haney, Curtis Banks, and Philip Zimbardo, “Interpersonal Dynamics in a Simulated Prison,” International Journal of Criminology and Penology 1 (1973).

., 17 life expectancy, 20 life insurance, 94, 200 life span, extending the, 82–87 List, John, 113–20, 121, 123, 125 locavore movement, 166 LoJack (anti-theft device), 173–75 London, England, terrorism in, 92 loss aversion, 214 Lovelock, James, 166, 170, 177 Lowell, Mike, 92 macroeconomics, 16–17, 211 Madison, Wisconsin, home-sales data in, 39 Maintenance of Parents Act, Singapore, 106 Major League Baseball, birthdays among players of, 61, 62 malaria, experiment about, 177, 180, 181 manipulation, and altruism, 125 March of Dimes, 145 marijuana, 66 Martinelli, César, 27–28 Masters, Will, 142 Matthews, H. Scott, 167 Mazumder, Bhashkar, 57, 58 MBA wage study, 45–46 McCloskey, Deirdre (aka Donald McCloskey), 48 McNamara, Robert S., 146–48, 150, 155, 158 media and altruism, 107 and global warming, 11, 165 shark stories in, 14, 15 medical information, 70–74 Medicare, 85 medicine emergency, 66–69, 70–82 errors in, 68–69, 72, 204 false positives in, 92 See also doctors; drugs; hospitals; specific disease methane, 170, 188 Mexico, Oportunidades program in, 27–28 microeconomics, 211 Microsoft Corporation, 73–74, 178, 179, 190 Milgram, Stanley, 123 military, deaths in, 87 monkeys, monetary exchange among, 212–16 Moretti, Enrico, 21–22 Morris, Eric, 9, 10 Moseley, Winston, 98, 125–26, 128, 130, 131 mosquitoes experiment, 177, 180, 181 Mount Pinatubo (Philippines), 175–77, 190, 191, 196 Mount St.


pages: 733 words: 179,391

Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought by Andrew W. Lo

"Robert Solow", Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, algorithmic trading, Andrei Shleifer, Arthur Eddington, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, backtesting, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, break the buck, Brownian motion, business cycle, business process, butterfly effect, buy and hold, capital asset pricing model, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Carmen Reinhart, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computerized trading, corporate governance, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Diane Coyle, diversification, diversified portfolio, double helix, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Ernest Rutherford, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, framing effect, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hans Rosling, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, housing crisis, incomplete markets, index fund, interest rate derivative, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Meriwether, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, longitudinal study, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, martingale, merger arbitrage, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, money market fund, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Nick Leeson, old-boy network, out of africa, p-value, paper trading, passive investing, Paul Lévy, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, predatory finance, prediction markets, price discovery process, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative hedge fund, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, RAND corporation, random walk, randomized controlled trial, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Sam Peltzman, Shai Danziger, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Stanford prison experiment, statistical arbitrage, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, stocks for the long run, survivorship bias, Thales and the olive presses, The Great Moderation, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, ultimatum game, Upton Sinclair, US Airways Flight 1549, Walter Mischel, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

Long before Wall Street, social psychologists studied the role of culture in several pathological contexts and came up with some shocking conclusions about how ordinary people can be led to perpetrate extraordinary acts of cruelty and evil. In the infamous experiment on obedience to authority, originally conducted by the psychologist Stanley Milgram at Yale University in 1961, volunteers administered what they believed were high-voltage electric shocks to a human experimental subject—a paid actor who screamed in pain at the appropriate moments—simply because a temporary authority figure wearing a white lab coat made verbal suggestions to continue.15 Of these scripted suggestions, “You have no other choice, you must go on,” was the most forceful. If a volunteer still refused after this suggestion was given, the experiment was stopped. Ultimately, twenty-six out of forty people administered what they believed was a dangerous, perhaps fatal, 450-volt shock to a fellow human being, even though all expressed doubts verbally, and many exhibited obvious physiological manifestations of stress; three even experienced what appeared to be seizures.

Zimbardo called this phenomenon the “Lucifer Effect,” a biblical reference to God’s favorite angel who becomes Satan. Good people, when placed in just the wrong environment, are capable of great evil. It’s especially sobering that the subjects in Milgram’s and Zimbardo’s experiments weren’t given any significant financial incentives to behave the way they did (Milgram paid his subjects $4.00 for one hour of their time, plus $0.50 carfare, or about $36 today; Zimbardo paid his subjects $15 a day, roughly $90 today). Imagine a situation in which you were instructed to engage in questionable financial practices—actions that aren’t nearly as gut-wrenching 348 • Chapter 10 as delivering electrical shocks—by a managing director or vice president in a suit and tie, and you’re given tremendous financial incentives, like multi-million-dollar year-end bonuses, to do so. In light of the Lucifer Effect, it’s not hard to understand how context and culture can lead even caring and ethical individuals to do reprehensible things to unsuspecting clients.

At first, the grainy black-and-white video seems like just another boring psychology experiment, with a subject sitting at a desk flipping switches, and an experimenter with a clipboard standing nearby. But as I watched the subject continue to deliver what he clearly thought were increasingly painful electrical shocks to a paid actor in a separate room, crying out in agony in response to those fake shocks, a chill ran through me. Slowly, I began to understand what I was witnessing—a hypothetical reenactment of atrocities that occurred at Nazi concentration camps, complete with the subject’s protestations during the debriefing that he didn’t want to do it and tried to stop, but was ordered to continue. I don’t think I’ll ever look at culture the same way again. Even more notorious is the Stanford prison experiment, conducted by the Stanford University psychologist Philip Zimbardo in 1971.


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The Economic Singularity: Artificial Intelligence and the Death of Capitalism by Calum Chace

3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, call centre, Chris Urmson, congestion charging, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Douglas Engelbart, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flynn Effect, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, ImageNet competition, income inequality, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, lifelogging, lump of labour, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, McJob, means of production, Milgram experiment, Narrative Science, natural language processing, new economy, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, post scarcity, post-industrial society, post-work, precariat, prediction markets, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Rodney Brooks, Sam Altman, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, The Future of Employment, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, working-age population, Y Combinator, young professional

We also know how fragile civilisation is from two famous episodes in experimental psychology. In 1961, Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram recruited students from that elite university, and told them to administer mild electric shocks to incentivise a stranger who was supposed to be learning pairs of words. The shocks were fake, but the students did not know this, and an extraordinary two-thirds of the students were prepared, when urged on by the experimenter, to deliver what appeared to be very painful and damaging doses of electricity.[cccxliv] The experiment has been replicated numerous times around the world, with similar results. Ten years later, Stanford psychology professor Philip Zimbardo, a school friend of Milgram’s, ran a different experiment in which students were recruited and arbitrarily assigned the roles of prisoners and guards in a make-believe prison.

As a trainee BBC journalist writing about Central and Eastern Europe long before the Berlin Wall fell, I soon realised how fortunate I was to have grown up in the capitalist West. I didn’t expect to be heading back in the other direction in later life. [cccxlii] https://edge.org/conversation/john_markoff-the-next-wave [cccxliii] http://uk.pcmag.com/robotics-automation-products/34778/news/will-a-robot-revolution-lead-to-mass-unemployment [cccxliv] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment [cccxlv] http://www.prisonexp.org/ [cccxlvi] http://fourhourworkweek.com/2014/08/29/kevin-kelly/ [cccxlvii] https://www.edge.org/conversation/kevin_kelly-the-technium [cccxlviii] http://history.hanover.edu/courses/excerpts/165acton.html [cccxlix] http://mercatus.org/sites/default/files/Brito_BitcoinPrimer.pdf [cccl] http://www.dugcampbell.com/byzantine-generals-problem/ [cccli] http://www.economistinsights.com/technology-innovation/analysis/money-no-middleman/tab/1 [ccclii] : The Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI) in Northern California, The Future of Humanity Institute (FHI) and the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) in England’s Oxford and Cambridge respectively, and the Future of Life Institute (FLI) in Massachussetts.

[ccxcviii] Most current supporters of UBI are on the left, but it has had support from prominent right-wing politicians and economists in the past, notably President Richard Nixon and economists Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. Experiments There have been a surprising number of experiments with UBI: the Basic Income page on Reddit lists 25,[ccxcix] and gives potted descriptions of the purpose and outcomes of six of them.[ccc] All the researchers involved reported excellent results, with the subjects experiencing healthier, happier lives, and not collapsing into lazy lifestyles or squandering the money on alcohol or other drugs. Given that, it is curious that none of the experiments have been extended or made permanent. The declared purpose of many UBI experiments is to investigate the concern that when people receive money for nothing, they stop working. One of the biggest experiments conducted so far, involving all 10,000 people in the small town of Dauphin in Manitoba, Canada, found that the only two social groups which did stop working were teenagers and young mothers, and this was seen as a positive outcome.


pages: 384 words: 118,572

The Confidence Game: The Psychology of the Con and Why We Fall for It Every Time by Maria Konnikova

attribution theory, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, coherent worldview, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, endowment effect, epigenetics, hindsight bias, lake wobegon effect, lateral thinking, libertarian paternalism, Milgram experiment, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, post-work, publish or perish, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, side project, Skype, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, tulip mania, Walter Mischel

We trust that mind implicitly. The man who holds power, however illusory it may be, is a man in the perfect position to rope. We often obey power reflexively, without ever quite stopping to reflect on why we’re doing what we are and whether it is, in fact, something we should be doing. While the most famous—or, rather, infamous—study on the phenomenon is Stanley Milgram’s obedience study,1 in which people thought they were giving dangerous electric shocks to a man with a heart condition but did it anyway because they were told to continue, the phenomenon has been broadly replicated in multiple settings. In one study, personnel managers discriminated against applicants by race when their superiors instructed them to do so. In another, employees engaged in routinely corrupt practices, like stealing or price-fixing, when their higher-ups so directed them.

A loss, a good confidence artist knows, doesn’t spell the end: that’s why the breakdown sucks the mark in further rather than letting him off the hook. Under the right circumstances, a loss can signal a deepening of commitment. There’s evidence that if we experience a particularly painful situation—the loss of a lot of money, for example—and then successfully overcome it, or think we’ve done so, say, by deciding to give more money, we feel a great sense of accomplishment—and, a bit perversely, a greater sense of loyalty to the cause of our pain. In one early study, Harold Gerard and Grover Mathewson found that people who had to undergo a severe electric shock to be admitted to a group subsequently rated the group as more attractive. We may have lost, but it was all worth it: we become more loyal by virtue of pain, be it physical (shock) or emotional (financial loss).

And that is why the confidence game is both the oldest there is and the last one that will still be standing when all other professions have faded away. Ultimately, what a confidence artist sells is hope. Hope that you’ll be happier, healthier, richer, loved, accepted, better looking, younger, smarter, a deeper, more fulfilled human being—hope that the you that will emerge on the other side will be somehow superior to the you that came in. ENDNOTE 1. The study has been criticized in recent years as not showing what it purports, but Milgram’s original work—and series of studies, not just the one most frequently reported—do show that many (not all) people will indeed follow orders to a surprising degree. The effect has been widely replicated. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This book was born one fall evening as I settled in to watch David Mamet’s House of Games. Mamet’s continuing fascination with cons got me thinking: why hasn’t anyone written anything about why they work the way they do, and why even the smartest of us are endlessly vulnerable to the wiles of the confidence man?


pages: 476 words: 134,735

The Unpersuadables: Adventures With the Enemies of Science by Will Storr

Albert Einstein, Atul Gawande, battle of ideas, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, British Empire, call centre, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Credit Default Swap, David Attenborough, David Brooks, death of newspapers, full employment, George Santayana, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, Simon Singh, Stanford prison experiment, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, twin studies

It was the same reason why her assistant manager and her fiancé behaved as they did. They believed that they were being instructed by someone senior to them. ‘Excessive obedience’ to authority is a flaw in humans that has been known to social psychologists for a long time. This is, in part, due to a set of extremely famous experiments carried out by Professor Stanley Milgram at Yale University in 1961, during which it was discovered that two-thirds of participants were prepared to deliver potentially fatal electric shocks to strangers, simply because they had been told to do so by a man in a white coat. We are invisibly influenced not only by those in authority, but by those who populate our work and social lives. In a 2012 paper, neuroscientist Professor Chris Frith reviews a trove of well-replicated studies that demonstrate how, when we are in the company of others, we can automatically switch from ‘I mode’ to ‘we mode’.

‘We can’t help taking into account the views of others,’ he writes. ‘The brain creates the illusion that we are all independent entities who make our own decisions. In reality there are powerful unconscious processes that embed us in the social world. We tend to imitate others and share their goals, knowledge and beliefs, but we are hardly aware of this. This is why strange narratives work best when they are shared by a group.’ In 1951, Professor Stanley Milgram’s boss, Dr Solomon Asch, conducted a simple but devastating test that explored the ease by which we can let the opinions of others affect our own. He showed a hundred and twenty-three participants a series of two simple straight lines and asked them to say whether the first was longer, shorter or the same length as the second. Each person was in a group of eight and, initially, everything was easy.

ABC Primetime Special, originally broadcast 10 November 2005. ‘Strip Search Case Closed?’ ABC news website, 30 November 2006. Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect, Rider, 2007, pp. 279–81. 70 In a 2012 paper, neuroscientist Professor Chris Frith: Chris D. Frith, ‘The role of metacognition in human social interactions’, Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society, Biological Sciences, p. 367. 71 In 1951, Professor Stanley Milgram’s boss, Dr Solomon Asch: S. E. Asch, ‘Studies of independence and conformity: A minority of one against a unanimous majority’, Psychological Monographs 70 (1951). 71 In 2005, Dr Gregory Berns, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist: Gregory S. Berns, Jonathan Chappelow, Caroline F. Zink, Giuseppe Pagnoni, Megan E. Martin-Skurski and Jim Richards, ‘Neurobiological correlates of social conformity and independence during mental rotation’, Biological Psychiatry 58 (2005), pp. 245–53. 72 In an interview with the New York Times: Sandra Blakeslee, ‘What Other People Say May Change What You See’, New York Times, 28 June 2005. 6: ‘The invisible actor at the centre of the world’ page 73 six hundred million years ago: Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis, Arrow, 2006, p. 15. 73 first neurologically recognisable Homo sapiens, known as ‘Mitochondrial Eve’: ‘Colin Blakemore: how the human brain got bigger by accident and not through evolution’, Guardian, 28 March 2010. 73 prefrontal cortex, which enabled us to strategise, socialise and make lateral associations: Michael S.


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Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception by George A. Akerlof, Robert J. Shiller, Stanley B Resor Professor Of Economics Robert J Shiller

"Robert Solow", Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, Bernie Madoff, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collapse of Lehman Brothers, corporate raider, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, David Brooks, desegregation, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, equity premium, financial intermediation, financial thriller, fixed income, full employment, George Akerlof, greed is good, income per capita, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, late fees, loss aversion, market bubble, Menlo Park, mental accounting, Milgram experiment, money market fund, moral hazard, new economy, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, publication bias, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, the new new thing, The Predators' Ball, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, Vanguard fund, Vilfredo Pareto, wage slave

People want to be liked: to do so they must be taking part in a story in which they are liked, or not liked, by someone else. People have deference to authority: to have this emotion they must consider themselves part of a story in which someone has authority over them. For example, in the famous experiment by Stanley Milgram in which a “teacher” told subjects to deliver electric shocks to a “learner,” the subjects were identifying with the “teacher” who was in “authority,” and they strongly resisted their inclinations to disobey (Stanley Milgram, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View (New York: Harper & Row, 1974)). People tend to follow others (social proof): in this case they must be telling themselves a story in which either those others have better judgment or information than they do (in the information explanation); or else they do not want to incur disapproval by failing to conform (in the social conformity explanation).

Fortune, July 5, 2006. Last accessed May 12, 2015. http://money.cnn.com/2006/05/29/news/enron_guiltyest/. —. The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Fall of Enron. New York: Portfolio/Penguin Books, 2003. Mead, Rebecca. One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding. New York: Penguin Books, 2007. Kindle. Mérimée, Prosper. Carmen and Other Stories. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989. Milgram, Stanley. Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View. New York: Harper & Row, 1974. Miller, Jessica. “Ads Prove Grassley’s Greener on His Side of the Ballot.” Waterloo–Cedar Falls Courier, October 25, 2004. Accessed November 16, 2014. http://wcfcourier.com/news/metro/article_fdd73608-4f6d-54be-aa34-28f3417273e9.html. Miller, Stephen. “Income Subject to FICA Payroll Tax Increases in 2015.” Society for Human Resource Management, October 23, 2014.

., 222n18 McLean, Bethany, 182nn13–14 Mead, Rebecca, 182n16 media. See advertising; news media Medicaid, 228n16 medical journals, 87–88, 92–93 Medicare: benefits of, 154; drug coverage in, 95, 211n52; establishment of, 151, 152; privatization proposal, 156, 228n16 medicine. See doctors; pharmaceutical industry Menlo-Atherton High School graduates, 112–13 mental frames. See stories Merck, 86, 87–90, 92, 94, 145, 209n25 Mérimée, Prosper, 214n19 Milgram, Stanley, 186–87n26 Milken, Michael: career of, 125, 126; compensation of, 131, 223n27; downfall of, 131–32; High-Yield Bond Conferences, 131; junk bond market and, 125–27, 130–31, 132–33; leveraged buyouts, 124, 127–30; phishing by, 126, 128–31, 132–33 Miller, Jessica, 203n7 Miller, Stephen, 228n8 Minow, Nell, 141 Mitchell, Constance, 221n5 Mitford, Jessica, 182n17 Mongelli, Lorena, 229n30 monkey-on-the-shoulder tastes, 4–5, 6, 20, 54, 59, 170–71, 172 Moody’s, 27–28, 31, 34, 191n13, 192n28, 192n30.


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The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart by Bill Bishop, Robert G. Cushing

"Robert Solow", 1960s counterculture, affirmative action, American Legislative Exchange Council, assortative mating, big-box store, blue-collar work, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, cognitive dissonance, David Brooks, demographic transition, desegregation, Edward Glaeser, immigration reform, income inequality, industrial cluster, Jane Jacobs, knowledge economy, longitudinal study, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, music of the spheres, New Urbanism, post-industrial society, post-materialism, Ralph Nader, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Steve Jobs, superstar cities, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, union organizing, War on Poverty, white flight, World Values Survey

[back] *** *As a U.S. senator, Santorum bought his own house in northern Virginia. That house became an issue in his 2006 reelection campaign against Democrat Bob Casey Jr., a race Santorum lost [back] *** *Stanley Milgram conducted the most extreme—and most famous—conformity experiments. He asked subjects to apply electric shocks to a victim As the charge was increased, the victim (unseen by the subjects) would moan, howl, and eventually scream The subjects were ordered to increase the power of the charge and to administer another shock. The subjects in the tests all administered shocks well beyond the level Milgram expected. No subject stopped prior to the level where the "victim kick[ed] the wall" and could not answer questions. Of forty subjects, twenty-six administered the strongest level of shock. One of the more interesting findings was that subjects were more apt to administer higher voltages when instructed to do so by someone in person.

One of the more interesting findings was that subjects were more apt to administer higher voltages when instructed to do so by someone in person. They were less likely to do so if the instructions were phoned in. See Stanley Milgram, "Behavioral Study of Obedience," Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology (yj, no. 4 (1963): 371–78; Stanley Milgram, "Some Conditions of Obedience and Disobedience to Authority," Human Relations 18 (1965): 57–76. Face-to-face contact is powerful. The George W Bush campaign, especially in 2004, used face-to-face contact among culturally similar people to increase voter turnout. [back] *** *For example, women claiming sex discrimination won 75 percent of the time in front of an all-Democratic panel; they won only 31 percent of the time in front of an all-Republican panel.

., [>] Michel, Robert, [>] Michigan, [>] Micklethwait, John, [>], [>] n Microsoft, [>] Midterm elections (2006), [>]–[>], [>], [>]–[>] Migration and age, [>], [>] n, and assortative mating, [>], [>], and Colorado, [>]–[>]; and communities of like-rmnded-ness, [>]–[>], [>]–[>], economics of, [>]–[>]; and educational level, [>]–[>], [>] n, future of politics of migration, [>]–[>]; and high-tech cities, [>]–[>], [>], [>], [>], [>] n, in 1990s, [>]–[>], and occupation, [>], [>]–[>]; and patents, [>], politics of, [>]–[>], [>]–[>], [>]–[>], [>], and power couples, [>] n; and race, [>], [>]–[>]; research evidence on, [>]–[>], and superstar cities, [>]–[>]; Tiebout theory of, [>]–[>], of U.S. population generally, [>]–[>], [>]–[>], [>]–[>], and wages, [>], and white flight, [>], [>], [>]–[>] Milbank, Dana, [>] Milgram, Stanley, [>] n Mill, John Stuart, [>] Miller, Arnold, [>], [>] n Miller, Arthur, [>] Miller, Dale, [>]–[>] Miller, David J., [>] Miller, George, [>] Miller, J. D., [>] Mills, C. Wright, [>] Minneapolis, Minn Bluer church service m, [>]–[>], [>], [>]–[>], [>]; creative-class workers in, [>]; Edina as suburb of, [>]–[>]; gays and lesbians in, [>]; as high-tech city, [>], and lifestyle of Scott County, [>], [>]–[>], [>], [>]–[>], [>], migration to, [>]; Vineyard Church in, [>]–[>] Minneapolis Star Tribune, [>] Minnesota-Democratic Party in, [>], [>]–[>], families in, [>]–[>], lifestyle of Scott County, [>]–[>], [>], [>]–[>], [>], Republican Party in, [>]–[>], [>]–[>], [>]–[>], [>], [>]–[>].


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The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis by Jeremy Rifkin

agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, animal electricity, back-to-the-land, British Empire, carbon footprint, collaborative economy, death of newspapers, delayed gratification, distributed generation, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, feminist movement, global village, hedonic treadmill, hydrogen economy, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Mahatma Gandhi, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, Nelson Mandela, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, off grid, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, peer-to-peer, planetary scale, scientific worldview, Simon Kuznets, Skype, smart grid, smart meter, social intelligence, supply-chain management, surplus humans, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, transaction costs, upwardly mobile, uranium enrichment, working poor, World Values Survey

Kocher concluded that in a country with a population the size of the United States and without social restrictions, “it is practically certain that any two individuals can contact one another by means of at least two intermediaries.”129 The American psychologist Stanley Milgram at the City University of New York, along with Jeffrey Travers at Harvard, followed up on Gurevich’s work in “network” theory in the 1960s. Milgram’s studies suggested that, at least in the United States, people were connected by an average of slightly more than five friendship links.130 Then in 1978, Milgram published an article in Psychology Today that helped create the popular lore on the subject. The theory of “six degrees of separation” became the subject of novels, films, and television shows. The film Six Degrees of Separation, released in 1993, became a box-office hit, and a more recent film, Babel, enjoyed similar success.

A study published in the journal Science reports on sixteen couples. In the study, the women were hooked up to an MRI machine while their romantic partners remained nearby. Then the researchers gave a brief electric shock either to the back of the woman’s hand or her partner’s. While she could not see her partner, an indicator informed her of who would be shocked next and how intense it would be. The same pain areas of the limbic system, including the anterior cingulate cortex, the thalamus and the insula, were activated in the women, causing pain both when it was directly administered to them or simply imagined, when administered to their partner.9 This experiment demonstrated, in an unusual way, how very real empathic response to another’s feelings can be. Even more complex social emotions like shame, embarrassment, guilt, and pride are attached to mirror neuron systems found in the insula of the brain.

If that’s the case, says de Waal, then “[e]mpathy is precisely such a mechanism.”45 In other words, the empathic impulse is the biological means of fostering communication, at least among the more evolved mammalian species. Close observation of other species shows a steady progression of the empathic impulse in biological evolution. For example, in a classic study conducted more than half a century ago, researchers found “that rats that had learned to press a lever to obtain food would stop doing so if their response was paired with the delivery of an electric shock to a visible neighboring rat.”46 Subsequent experiments with rhesus monkeys yielded the same results—except, in the latter case, the emotional response was more long- lasting and had deeper consequences. One monkey stopped pulling the lever for five days, another for twelve days, after seeing the shocking effect on another monkey. The monkeys would rather starve than be responsible for meting out pain on a fellow. 47 The behavior of the rats and the rhesus monkeys would simply be unexplainable if the empathic impulses were not in play.


Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend by Barbara Oakley Phd

agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, Barry Marshall: ulcers, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, corporate governance, Deng Xiaoping, double helix, impulse control, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, Norbert Wiener, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, prisoner's dilemma, Richard Feynman, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Stanford prison experiment, Steven Pinker, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, twin studies, union organizing, Y2K

Fundamentally, if a psychiatric “syndrome does not sufficiently impair the defendant's capacity for rationality, it will have no excusing force [from a legal perspective] whatsoever, no matter how much of a causal role it played…. To say that a syndrome caused a crime tells us nothing about whether the defendant deserves excuse or mitigation (except in New Hampshire…).” b.This behavior can't help but evoke shades of psychologist Stanley Milgram's work. In a classic set of experiments, Milgram revealed that many ordinary people will go to absurd lengths—even giving electric shocks to shocking screaming victims—in their blind tendency to obey authority. Perhaps this relates to Posner's research involving people's varying ability to resolve conflicting information and Wilson's studies related to decision making and synchronized neural rhythms. c.When I served as a communications officer in the army in the late 1970s, I still remember the enlisted men complaining to me about one of my sergeants.

Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (New York: Knopf, 1996); Samantha Power, “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide (New York: Basic Books, 2002), p. 111; Raine and Yang, “Neural Foundations.” 66. P. G. Zimbardo, C. Maslach, and C. Haney, “Reflections on the Stanford Prison Experiment: Genesis, Transformations, Consequences,” in Obedience to Authority: Current Perspectives on the Milgram Paradigm, ed. T. Blass, (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2000), p. 194; Philip G. Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (New York: Random House, 2007), p. 32; T. Carnahan and S. McFarland, “Revisiting the Stanford Prison Experiment.” See also the excellent follow-on article that expands on Carnahan and McFarland's findings: S. A. Haslam and S. Reicher, “Beyond the Banality of Evil: Three Dynamics of an Interactionist Social Psychology of Tyranny,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 33, no. 5 (2007): 615–22. 67.

Redlich, Destructive Prophet, p. 334. 17. Ann Rule, Dead by Sunset (New York: Pocket Books, 1996). 18. Eichenwald, Conspiracy of Fools. 19. David France, Our Fathers: The Secret Life of the Catholic Church in an Age of Scandal (New York: Broadway Books, 2004). 20. Adam LeBor, “Complicity with Evil” (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006). 21. Carnahan and McFarland, “Revisiting the Stanford Prison Experiment.” 22. Stanley Milgram, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View (New York: Harper & Row, 1974). 23. Myron Peretz Glazer and Penina Migdal Glazer, The Whistleblowers (New York: Basic Books, 1989). 24. Waite, Psychopathic God, p. 396. 25. Victor, Hitler, p. 6. 26. Thomas Benfield Harbottle, Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (New York: Macmillan, 1906), p. 198. 27. Rita Carter, Mapping the Mind (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1998), p. 93. 28.


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Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us by Dan Lyons

Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, business process, call centre, Clayton Christensen, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, cryptocurrency, David Heinemeier Hansson, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, full employment, future of work, gig economy, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, hiring and firing, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, job-hopping, John Gruber, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, loose coupling, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Menlo Park, Milgram experiment, minimum viable product, Mitch Kapor, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, RAND corporation, remote working, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, software is eating the world, Stanford prison experiment, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, TaskRabbit, telemarketer, Tesla Model S, Thomas Davenport, Tony Hsieh, Toyota Production System, traveling salesman, Travis Kalanick, tulip mania, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator, young professional

Some had even fantasized, as I had during my time in start-up land, that their companies weren’t companies at all, but rather were part of some long-term psychology experiment, a corporate version of the Milgram experiment at Yale or the Stanford prison experiment. The 1961 Milgram experiment studied obedience to authority figures. Psychologist Stanley Milgram ordered subjects to keep administering ever-stronger shocks to a “learner” on the other side of a wall, and many kept going, even when the learner shrieked, pleaded, and banged on the wall. In the 1971 Stanford prison experiment, twenty-four college students were put into a mock prison, with half role-playing as guards and half role-playing as prisoners, to see what happens when people are given power over others. Within six days the guards were inflicting such sickening psychological abuse on the prisoners that the experiment had to be cut short. The idea that my place of employment might be a psychology experiment actually made sense to me.

“Work is feeling more and more like a Skinner box” is how Gregory Berns, a neuropsychologist at Emory University, put it when he wrote a New York Times article about a study he had conducted about how fear impairs decision-making, which involved putting people into an MRI machine and zapping their feet with electric shocks. A Skinner box, invented in the 1930s by psychologist B. F. Skinner, is a cage in which rats learn that pulling certain levers gets them food and that flashing lights might signal they are about to get a shock through the floor. A New Kind of Suffering When I wrote Disrupted I thought my experience had been unusual. But now here were all these people telling me they had experienced something similar. This was taking place not just at start-ups and not just in the tech industry, but in many industries and many countries around the world.

Recently married, she’d like to have kids, but she doesn’t dare start a family yet because her work situation feels so precarious. What Fear Does to Your Brain A decade ago, Gregory Berns, a neuropsychology researcher and director of the Center for Neuropolicy at Emory University, wanted to find out how fear affected people’s abilities to make decisions. To do that, he constructed an experiment that was downright shocking. He put people into an MRI scanner and made images of their brain while giving them painful electric shocks through electrodes attached to the top of their feet. Berns says it was basically a human version of a Skinner box. Berns, you may recall from Chapter 1, was the guy who once wrote that “Work is becoming more and more like a Skinner box.” Thirty-two people signed up to let Berns and his colleagues turn them into lab rats. He let each person set the maximum amount of pain they could tolerate, then gave them jolts, while using the scanner to see what was going on inside their brains.


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The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date by Samuel Arbesman

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Wiles, bioinformatics, British Empire, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Chelsea Manning, Clayton Christensen, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, David Brooks, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Galaxy Zoo, guest worker program, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, index fund, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, life extension, Marc Andreessen, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, Nicholas Carr, P = NP, p-value, Paul Erdős, Pluto: dwarf planet, publication bias, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, scientific worldview, social graph, social web, text mining, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation

Instead, it is part of a grand tradition that, especially in the fields of sociology and social psychology, has unleashed a great many intriguing and clever experiments. Stanley Milgram, known for his shock experiment that explored obedience, and for being the first to measure the six degrees of separation, conceived of numerous elegant experiments. One of these has the whiff of Galton. Known as the sidewalk experiment, he had graduate students stand on a New York City sidewalk and look up. He then measured how many students were required for this group to get passersby to stop and join them, or at least to look up themselves. These data, carefully collected, brought certain ideas about collective behavior to the fore. Others have done similarly odd social experiments in order to collect data. For example, researchers have examined the drinking establishment locations and characteristics in different communities, and even whether the elderly are capable of crossing the street in the time a given traffic light provides them.

As science grows exponentially more difficult in some areas, affordable technology often proceeds along a similar curve: an exponential increase in computer processing power means that problems once considered hard, such as visualizing fractals, proving certain mathematical theorems, or simulating entire populations, can now be done quite easily. Some scientists arrive at new discoveries without a significant investment in resources by becoming more clever and innovative. When Stanley Milgram did his famous “six degrees of separation” experiment, the one that showed that everyone on Earth was much more closely linked than we imagined, he did it by using not much more than postcards and stamps. When one area of research becomes difficult, the scientists in that field either rise to the challenge by investing greater effort or shift their focus of inquiry. Physicists have moved into biology, raising new questions that no one had thought to ask before.

., 81–82 McWhorter, John, 191 measurement, 142–70 decline effect and, 155–56, 157 kilogram in, 147–48 meter in, 143–47 of Mount Everest, 140–41 precision and accuracy in, 149–50 prefixes in, 47–48, 142, 147 publication bias and, 156 of trees, 142 Mechanical Turk, 180–82 medical knowledge, 23, 32, 51–52, 53, 122, 197, 198, 208 about cirrhosis and hepatitis, 28–30 MEDLINE, 99–100 memorization, 198 Mendel, Gregor, 106 Mendeley, 117, 118 Merton, Robert, 61, 103, 104 mesofacts, 6–7, 195, 203 meta-analysis, 107–8 cumulative, 109–10 meter, 143–47 Milgram, Stanley, 24, 167 mobile phone calls, 69, 77 Moon, 2, 126–28, 129, 138, 174, 203 Moore, Gordon, 42, 55, 56 Moore’s Law, 41–43, 46, 48, 51, 55, 56, 64, 203 Moriarty, James, 85–86 Mount Everest, 140–41 Mueller, John, 165 Munroe, Randall, 84, 153–54 Murphy, Tom, 55 mutation, 87–94 Napier’s constant, 12 National Institutes of Health, 17 natural selection, 104–5, 187 Nature, 122, 154, 156, 162, 166 negative results, 162 Neptune, 154–55, 183 network science, 74–78 neuroscience, 48 New Scientist, 85 Newton, Isaac, 21, 36, 67, 94, 174, 186 New Yorker, 86 New York Times, 20, 75, 174 Nobel laureates, 18 nosebleeds, 180–82 Noyce, Robert, 42 null hypothesis, 152 Obama, Barack, 179 Oliver, John, 159 Onnela, Jukka-Pekka, 69, 77 On the Origin of Species (Darwin), 79, 187 opera, 14–15 orders, 60 Original Theory or New Hypothesis of the Universe, An (Wright), 121–22 Pacioli, Luca, 200 paleography, 87–90 paradigm, 186 paradigm shift, 186, 187 Parmentier, Antoine, 102 particle accelerator, 51 Patent Office, 54 Pauly, Daniel, 172–73 Pepys, Samuel, 52 periodic table, 50, 150–52, 182 Petroski, Henry, 49 phase transitions, 207 in acceptance and assimilation of knowledge, 185, 186 in facts, 121–39, 185 Ising model and, 124, 125–26, 138 in physics, 123–24, 126 Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 9, 12 physics, 32 Planck, Max, 186–88 planets, 6, 121–23, 128, 129–31, 132, 183–84 Planet X, 154–56, 160 Pluto, 122–23, 128, 138, 148–49, 155, 183–84 polio, 52 Pony Express, 70 Poovey, Mary, 200 Popeye the Sailor, 83, 213 population: innovation and, 135–37, 202 makeup of, 61 size of, 2, 6, 57–61, 122, 135–37, 204 Portugal, 207 posterior probability, 159 potatoes, 102 preferential attachment, 103 prefixes, 47–48, 142, 147 Price, Derek J. de Solla, 9, 12–13, 15, 17, 32, 47, 50, 103, 166–67 prices, 196–97 printing press, 70–74, 78, 115 prior probability, 159 Pritchett, Lant, 186 Prize4Life Foundation, 97–98 productivity, 55–56 programmed cell death, 111, 194 proteomics, 48 Proteus phenomenon, 161 publication bias, 156 p-values, 152–54, 156, 158 P versus NP, 133–35 “Quantitative Measures of the Development of Science” (Price), 12 Quebec, 193–94 Queloz, Didier, 122 radioactivity, 2–3, 29, 33 Raynaud’s syndrome, 99, 110 reading, 197–98 Real Time Statistics Project, 195 reinventions, 104–5 Rendezvous with Rama (Clarke), 19 Rényi, Alfréd, 104 replication, 161–62 Riggs, Elmer, 81 Robinson, Karen, 107–8 robots, 46 Royal Society, 94–95 Roychowdhury, Vwani, 91, 103–4 Russell, C.


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The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger by Richard Wilkinson, Kate Pickett

basic income, Berlin Wall, clean water, Diane Coyle, epigenetics, experimental economics, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, full employment, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, God and Mammon, impulse control, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), knowledge economy, labor-force participation, land reform, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, moral panic, offshore financial centre, phenotype, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit maximization, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, statistical model, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

Not only are the purposes not your responsibility, but as an employee you are likely to feel absolved from responsibility for them. This is why people have so often disclaimed responsibility for what they were doing by saying that they were ‘only carrying out orders’. The famous Milgram experiments showed that we have such a strong tendency to obey authority that it can result in us doing some pretty awful things. In what was presented as a ‘learning’ experiment, Milgram showed that people were willing to deliver what they believed were not only very painful, but also life-threatening electric shocks to a learning partner whenever the partner gave the wrong answer to a question. They did this at the request of a man in a white coat conducting the experiment, despite hearing what they thought were the screams caused by the shocks they delivered.394 However, within a framework of employee-ownership and control, people specifically regain ownership and control of the purposes of their work.

Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 2003. 391. R. de Vogli, J. E. Ferrie, T. Chandola, M. Kivimaki and M. G. Marmot, ‘Unfairness and health: evidence from the Whitehall II Study’, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (2007) 61 (6): 513–18. 392. D. Erdal, Local Heroes. London: Viking, 2008. 393. D. Erdal, ‘The Psychology of Sharing: An evolutionary approach’. Unpublished PhD thesis, St Andrews, 2000. 394. S. Milgram, Obedience to Authority. New York: Harper, 1969. 395. L. T. Hobhouse, Liberalism. London: Williams & Norgate, 1911. 396. D. Coyle, The Weightless World. Oxford: Capstone, 1997. The Equality Trust If reading this book leaves you wanting to do something to help reduce inequality, then please visit The Equality Trust web site at www.equalitytrust.org.uk. There you will find downloadable slides which we hope you will use, a downloadable lecture on DVD, short summaries of the evidence, answers to frequently asked questions, and suggestions for campaigning.

There have now been numerous experiments in which volunteers have been invited to come into a laboratory to have their salivary cortisol levels measured while being exposed to some situation or task designed to be stressful. Different experiments have used different stressors: some have tried asking volunteers to do a series of arithmetic problems – sometimes publicly comparing results with those of others – some have exposed them to loud noises or asked them to write about an unpleasant experience, or filmed them while doing a task. Because so many different kinds of stressor have been used in these experiments, Sally Dickerson and Margaret Kemeny, both psychologists at the University of California, Los Angeles, realized that they could use the results of all these experiments to see what kinds of stressors most reliably caused people’s cortisol levels to rise.16 They collected findings from 208 published reports of experiments in which people’s cortisol levels were measured while they were exposed to an experimental stressor.


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Puzzling People: The Labyrinth of the Psychopath by Thomas Sheridan

airport security, carbon footprint, corporate governance, double helix, Haight Ashbury, Kickstarter, Mahatma Gandhi, Milgram experiment, quantitative easing, Rosa Parks, Ted Kaczynski

Having a healthy cynical approach to the information which we are presented with makes us less likely to be targeted and manipulated by psychopaths. Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram, in his remarkable and frankly disturbing 1974 book entitled, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View, detailed an experiment whereby participants in a controlled study were ordered to increase the intensity of what they believed to be electric shocks to a subject in another room, demonstrating just how dangerous blind obedience to authority can be. After the subjects were informed that they would be absolved of any personal legal consequences, sixty-five percent of the participants technically murdered the person on the receiving end of the electric shocks. All it took was an authority figure to instruct them to increase the voltage until the person on the other side of the wall was ‘dead’ from 450 volts of current.

There was a time when genuine science bloggers once had credibility in the eyes of many; now they are increasingly viewed as pseudo-intellectual prostitutes for the exclusive benefit of powerful corporations, or their own personal egos, at the expense of environmental and public well-being. Psychopaths trying to look clever and/or making a quick buck for themselves in the name of ‘rational science’, of course, in much the same way Stanley Milgram test subjects ‘killed’ an innocent man with electrical shocks in order to prove their loyalty to the authority figure. Is your God a Psychopath? Does your god expect you to worship him and only him? Does your god punish you for questioning his motives even when you don‘t mean to? Does your god seem to have more than a passing interest in encouraging sectarian tensions for his own benefit? Does your god have a history of rubber-stamping genocide?

Why does a tiny fragment of me want them back knowing them for what they truly are, and knowing they would destroy me again without hesitation? In a 1956 article for Scientific American entitled, Pleasure Centers in the Brain, physiologist James Olds described how a rat kept without food for a day was tempted down a ramp by a highly nutritious lure. En route to the meal, the rat would receive a pleasurable electric shock. The rat ignored the food, choosing instead to delight in the arousal. Morten L. Kringelbach, author of the book The Pleasure Center, cautioned that highly-arousing experiences may consist of impulses exclusively corresponding to ‘wanting’ and ‘desiring’. This is not the same thing as loving and bonding, hence why in the early stages of a relationship a psychopath makes seduction and sexual excitement a central aspect of the developing romance. You will be told constantly how the psychopath cannot stop thinking about your body; your hair, your penis, vagina or breasts, and so on.


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Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange and Menacing World of Antarctica by Nicholas Johnson

Joan Didion, job satisfaction, Milgram experiment, post-work, Ronald Reagan, telerobotics, trade route, young professional

I try to adapt. I accept in order to understand. That makes me gullible.” “Okay. What is your greatest success?” “I’m where I want to be.” “And your greatest disappointment?” In 1974, psychologist Stanley Milgram published the results of a program of experiments at Yale University in which unwary subjects were recruited and paid a small sum to act as “teachers” in a “Study of Memory” that was actually an experiment in obedience. A learner-victim sat in a separate room and was to memorize word-pairs read by the teacher. The “teachers” were told by a scientist to administer electric shocks to the victim each time he failed to memorize the word pairs, with the shocks getting progressively stronger by 50 volts with each incorrect response. The victim was an actor and, after 150 (fake) volts, began protesting the shocks and asked to be released from his chair, and by 270 volts screamed in agony.

The Enterprise Mission, retrieved May, 2001 from http://www.enterprisemission.com/antarctica.htm Behrendt, John C. Innocents on the Ice: A Memoir of Antarctic Exploration, 1957. University Press of Colorado, 1998. Bickel, Lennard. Shackleton’s Forgotten Argonauts. The Macmillan Company of Australia Pty Ltd., 1982. Bickel, Lennard. This Accursed Land. The MacMillan Company of Australia, 1977. Blass, Thomas, ed. Obedience to Authority: Current Perspectives on the Milgram Paradigm. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 2000. Burke, David. Moments of Terror. New South Wales University Press, 1994. Campbell, Victor. The Wicked Mate: The Antarctic Diary of Victor Campbell. Bluntisham Books and Erskine Press, 1988. Carter, Paul A. Little America: Town at the End of the World. Columbia University Press, 1979. Charles Wilkes v. Samuel Dinsman. 48 U.S. 89, US Supreme Court, 1849.

June 12, 2000, from http://www.ucr.edu/SubPages/2CurNewsFold/UnivRelat/cranor.html Law, Philip. Antarctic Odyssey. William Heinemann Australia, 1983. Lennhoff, Eugen. The Freemasons: The History, Nature, Development and Secret of the Royal Art. Lewis Masonic Books, 1994. “Lifeline to Antarctica.” CBS, July 8, 1999. [CBS website] Mawson’s Antarctic Diaries. University of Adelaide, 1988. McMahon, Patrick. “Emergency Flight Heads for Coldest of Winters.” USA Today, July 9, 1999. Milgram, Stanley. Obedience to Authority. Pinter and Martin Ltd., 1997. Mohsberg, Margot. “Smooth Landing.” The Capital, Nov. 26, 1999. Nansen, Fridtjof. To the Ends of the Earth. HarperCollins UK, 2002. National Science Foundation. External Panel Report. NSF, 1997. National Science Foundation. Safety in Antarctica: Report of the USAP Safety Review Panel. Publication no. NSF 88-78, 1988. National Science Foundation. http://www.nsf.gov NASA/NSF.


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Busy by Tony Crabbe

airport security, British Empire, business process, cognitive dissonance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, fear of failure, Frederick Winslow Taylor, haute cuisine, informal economy, inventory management, Isaac Newton, job satisfaction, knowledge worker, Lao Tzu, loss aversion, low cost airline, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, placebo effect, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, science of happiness, Shai Danziger, Thorstein Veblen, Tim Cook: Apple

Time to Say “No” Would you kill someone with a lethal electric shock if a man in a white lab coat asked you to? Or would you say “no”? In one of the most chilling psychological experiments ever, social psychologist Stanley Milgram began studying the effect of authority on people’s actions back in 1961 (soon after the beginning of Adolf Eichmann’s war crimes trial began in Jerusalem).4 The subjects were told that they would be “teachers,” and they should administer small electric shocks to the “learner” if they got answers wrong. Each time the learner gave the incorrect answer, the voltage was increased by 15 volts (so the subjects were told—though no actual shocks were administered). The subjects were told not to worry; they were not responsible for any consequences. Despite hearing increasing screams and requests for the experiment to stop, 65 percent of all subjects continued to do as they were told, up to the maximum shock: a massive 450 volts!

That place is inside ourselves, alone with our thoughts, with nothing to do. Alone with Your Thoughts How much do you like being alone with yourself? If you are like most of us, the answer is “not very much.” In fact, in an amazing series of experiments led by the influential professor of psychology Timothy D. Wilson, it was shown that many people prefer to give themselves electric shocks rather than be left alone and unstimulated!11 These people, earlier in the day, had received this same electric shock and been willing to pay in order to never receive it again. Yet, when faced with a period of between six and fifteen minutes without external stimulation, the electric shock was preferable to their own thoughts. You may be thinking that the above study is crazy (despite the fact it was published in Science), but Wilson’s findings are in line with other studies.

Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton, Getting to Yes: Negotiating an Agreement Without Giving In (London: Random House Business, 1997). 2. Itamar Simonson, “Get Closer to Your Customers by Understanding How They Make Choices,” California Management Review 35, issue 4 (1993): 68–84. 3. A. G. Greenwald, C. G. Carnot, R. Beach, and B. Young, “Increasing Voting Behavior by Asking People If They Expect to Vote,” Journal of Applied Psychology 72, no. 2 (1987): 315–18. 4. Stanley Milgram, “Behavioral Study of Obedience,” The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 67, no. 4 (1963): 371–8. 5. Amy Cuddy, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” (TED talk, June 2012), http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are. 6. William Ury, The Power of a Positive No (London: Hodder and Stoughton, Ltd., 2007). Chapter 5: Stop Being So Productive! (Become More Strategic) 1.


pages: 208 words: 67,582

What About Me?: The Struggle for Identity in a Market-Based Society by Paul Verhaeghe

Berlin Wall, call centre, cognitive dissonance, deskilling, epigenetics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, income inequality, invisible hand, jimmy wales, job satisfaction, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Louis Pasteur, market fundamentalism, Milgram experiment, new economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, post-industrial society, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, Stanford prison experiment, stem cell, The Spirit Level, ultimatum game, working poor

NOTES In the interests of readability, I have confined bibliographic references in the text to a minimum. When mention is made of an author, the relevant book or article can be found in the bibliography under the author’s name. I only use footnotes for very specific references. Introduction 1 The best known is the 1963 experiment by Stanley Milgram, in which, after a certain amount of prompting, ordinary people gave dangerous electric shocks (or so they thought) to individuals taking part in what they had been told was a ‘learning experiment’. Around ten years later, Philip Zimbardo carried out his Stanford prison experiment, in which students took their roles as guards so much to heart that it became an Abu Ghraib avant la lettre. Chapter Three: The Perfectible Individual 1 Kołakowski, 2007. Two quotations: ‘… and the possessors of universal truth know that they have access not only to inviolable (“scientific”) knowledge of all essential human affairs but also to the precepts of a perfect society’ (p. 45); ‘Many have pointed out that the principles of empiricism are not themselves empirical propositions.

Amsterdam: Boom, 2008. Lyotard, J.-F. The Postmodern Condition: a report on knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984. MacIntyre, A. After Virtue: a study in moral theory. London: Duckworth, 2007. Masschelein, J. & Simons, M. ‘Competentiegericht onderwijs: voor wie? Over de “kapitalistische” ethiek van het lerende individu’. Ethische Perspectieven, 2007, 17 (4), pp. 398–421. Milgram, S. Obedience to Authority. London: Tavistock, 1974. Moïsi, D. The Geopolitics of Emotion: how cultures of fear, humiliation, and hope are reshaping the world. New York: Doubleday, 2009. Pattyn, B. ‘Competenties en ideologie: het dictaat van een expanderend concept’. Ethische Perspectieven, 2007, 17 (4), pp. 422–435. Pels, D. De economie van de eer: een nieuwe visie op verdienste en beloning.

They also share less when they know the other ape, but he is only partly visible, or cannot be seen at all, because of the set-up of the experiment. And if a particular token leads to the other ape getting more and better food, the ape who did the work is more likely to choose the token that will reward only itself. Sharing is fine, and so is giving away, but there are limits to generosity. (The importance of vision is made clear by these experiments. As soon as another individual is out of sight, the level of exchange declines. The human variant is a decision taken online by anonymous shareholders that has extremely negative consequences for unseen workers. Modern warfare is an even better example: when you’re looking at a screen, killing isn’t so very different from playing computer games. Even the consoles are identical.) Interestingly, the above two experiments were based on an economic experiment involving human participants, known as the ultimatum game.


Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models by Gabriel Weinberg, Lauren McCann

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, anti-pattern, Anton Chekhov, autonomous vehicles, bank run, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, business process, butterfly effect, Cal Newport, Clayton Christensen, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Attenborough, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, discounted cash flows, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Edward Snowden, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, fear of failure, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, framing effect, friendly fire, fundamental attribution error, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, housing crisis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, illegal immigration, income inequality, information asymmetry, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, lateral thinking, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, Lyft, mail merge, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Metcalfe’s law, Milgram experiment, minimum viable product, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, nuclear winter, offshore financial centre, p-value, Parkinson's law, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, Potemkin village, prediction markets, premature optimization, price anchoring, principal–agent problem, publication bias, recommendation engine, remote working, replication crisis, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school choice, Schrödinger's Cat, selection bias, Shai Danziger, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, survivorship bias, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, uber lyft, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, wikimedia commons

., this shirt is going to run out because it is so popular. Scarcity Cialdini’s sixth major influence model is authority, which describes how you are inclined to follow perceived authority figures. In a series of sensational experiments described in his book Obedience to Authority, psychologist Stanley Milgram tested people’s willingness to obey instructions from a previously unknown authority figure. Participants were asked to assist an experimenter (the authority figure) in a “learning experiment.” They were then asked to give increasingly high electric shocks to “the learner” when they made a mistake. The shocks were fake, but the participant wasn’t told that at the time; the learner was really an actor who pretended to feel pain when the “shocks” were sent. This study has been replicated many times, and a meta-analysis (see Chapter 5) found that participants were willing to administer fatal voltages 28 percent to 91 percent of the time!

Similarly, author Michael Ellsberg recounted in Forbes magazine how a guest post on author Tim Ferriss’s blog translated into significantly more book sales than a prime-time segment about his book on CNN and an op-ed printed in the Sunday edition of The New York Times. Authority also explains why simple changes in wardrobe and accessories can increase the likelihood of getting you to do something. For instance, lab coats were worn in the Milgram experiments to convey authority. Sometimes people even try to support an argument by appealing to a supposed authority even if that person does not have direct expertise in the relevant area. For example, advocates of extreme dosing of vitamin C cite that Linus Pauling, a two-time Nobel Prize winner, supports their claims, despite the fact that he received his awards in completely unrelated areas.

., 91 Kodak, 302–3, 308–10, 312 Koenigswald, Gustav Heinrich Ralph von, 50 Kohl’s, 15 Kopelman, Josh, 301 Korea, 229, 231, 235, 238 Kristof, Nicholas, 254 Krokodil, 49 Kruger, Justin, 269 Kuhn, Thomas, 24 Kutcher, Ashton, 121 labor market, 283–84 laggards, 116–17 landlords, 178, 179, 182, 188 Laplace, Pierre-Simon, 132 large numbers, law of, 143–44 Latané, Bibb, 259 late majority, 116–17 lateral thinking, 201 law of diminishing returns, 81–83 law of diminishing utility, 81–82 law of inertia, 102–3, 105–8, 110, 112, 113, 119, 120, 129, 290, 296 law of large numbers, 143–44 law of small numbers, 143, 144 Lawson, Jerry, 289 lawsuits, 231 leadership, 248, 255, 260, 265, 271, 275, 276, 278–80 learned helplessness, 22–23 learning, 262, 269, 295 from past events, 271–72 learning curve, 269 Le Chatelier, Henri-Louis, 193 Le Chatelier’s principle, 193–94 left to their own devices, 275 Leibniz, Gottfried, 291 lemons into lemonade, 121 Lernaean Hydra, 51 Levav, Jonathan, 63 lever, 78 leverage, 78–80, 83, 115 high-leverage activities, 79–81, 83, 107, 113 leveraged buyout, 79 leveraging up, 78–79 Levitt, Steven, 44–45 Levitt, Theodore, 296 Lewis, Michael, 289 Lichtenstein, Sarah, 17 lightning, 145 liking, 216–17, 220 Lincoln, Abraham, 97 Lindy effect, 105, 106, 112 line in the sand, 238 LinkedIn, 7 littering, 41, 42 Lloyd, William, 37 loans, 180, 182–83 lobbyists, 216, 306 local optimum, 195–96 lock-in, 305 lock in your gains, 90 long-term negative scenarios, 60 loose versus tight, in organizational culture, 274 Lorenz, Edward, 121 loss, 91 loss aversion, 90–91 loss leader strategy, 236–37 lost at sea, 68 lottery, 85–86, 126, 145 low-context communication, 273–74 low-hanging fruit, 81 loyalists versus mercenaries, 276–77 luck, 128 making your own, 122 luck surface area, 122, 124, 128 Luft, Joseph, 196 LuLaRoe, 217 lung cancer, 133–34, 173 Lyautey, Hubert, 276 Lyft, ix, 288 Madoff, Bernie, 232 magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), 291 magnets, 194 maker’s schedule versus manager’s schedule, 277–78 Making of Economic Society, The (Heilbroner), 49 mammograms, 160–61 management debt, 56 manager’s schedule versus maker’s schedule, 277–78 managing to the person, 255 Manhattan Project, 195 Man in the High Castle, The (Dick), 201 manipulative insincerity, 264 man-month, 279 Mansfield, Peter, 291 manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), 15 margin of error, 154 markets, 42–43, 46–47, 106 failure in, 47–49 labor, 283–84 market norms versus social norms, 222–24 market power, 283–85, 312 product/market fit, 292–96, 302 secondary, 281–82 winner-take-most, 308 marriage: divorce, 231, 305 same-sex, 117, 118 Maslow, Abraham, 177, 270–71 Maslow’s hammer, xi, 177, 255, 297, 317 Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, 270–71 mathematics, ix–x, 3, 4, 132, 178 Singapore math, 23–24 matrices, 2 × 2, 125–26 consensus-contrarian, 285–86, 290 consequence-conviction, 265–66 Eisenhower Decision Matrix, 72–74, 89, 124, 125 of knowns and unknowns, 197–98 payoff, 212–15, 238 radical candor, 263–64 scatter plot on top of, 126 McCain, John, 241 mean, 146, 149, 151 regression to, 146, 286 standard deviation from, 149, 150–51, 154 variance from, 149 measles, 39, 40 measurable target, 49–50 median, 147 Medicare, 54–55 meetings, 113 weekly one-on-one, 262–63 Megginson, Leon, 101 mental models, vii–xii, 2, 3, 31, 35, 65, 131, 289, 315–17 mentorship, 23, 260, 262, 264, 265 mercenaries versus loyalists, 276–77 Merck, 283 merry-go-round, 108 meta-analysis, 172–73 Metcalfe, Robert, 118 Metcalfe’s law, 118 #MeToo movement, 113 metrics, 137 proxy, 139 Michaels, 15 Microsoft, 241 mid-mortems, 92 Miklaszewski, Jim, 196 Milgram, Stanley, 219, 220 military, 141, 229, 279, 294, 300 milkshakes, 297 Miller, Reggie, 246 Mills, Alan, 58 Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Dweck), 266 mindset, fixed, 266–67, 272 mindset, growth, 266–67 minimum viable product (MVP), 7–8, 81, 294 mirroring, 217 mission, 276 mission statement, 68 MIT, 53, 85 moats, 302–5, 307–8, 310, 312 mode, 147 Moltke, Helmuth von, 7 momentum, 107–10, 119, 129 Monday morning quarterbacking, 271 Moneyball (Lewis), 289 monopolies, 283, 285 Monte Carlo fallacy, 144 Monte Carlo simulation, 195 Moore, Geoffrey, 311 moral hazard, 43–45, 47 most respectful interpretation (MRI), 19–20 moths, 99–101 Mountain Dew, 35 moving target, 136 multiple discovery, 291–92 multiplication, ix, xi multitasking, 70–72, 74, 76, 110 Munger, Charlie, viii, x–xi, 30, 286, 318 Murphy, Edward, 65 Murphy’s law, 64–65, 132 Musk, Elon, 5, 302 mutually assured destruction (MAD), 231 MVP (minimum viable product), 7–8, 81, 294 Mylan, 283 mythical man-month, 279 name-calling, 226 NASA, 4, 32, 33 Nash, John, 213 Nash equilibrium, 213–14, 226, 235 National Football League (NFL), 225–26 National Institutes of Health, 36 National Security Agency, 52 natural selection, 99–100, 102, 291, 295 nature versus nurture, 249–50 negative compounding, 85 negative externalities, 41–43, 47 negative returns, 82–83, 93 negotiations, 127–28 net benefit, 181–82, 184 Netflix, 69, 95, 203 net present value (NPV), 86, 181 network effects, 117–20, 308 neuroticism, 250 New Orleans, La., 41 Newport, Cal, 72 news headlines, 12–13, 221 newspapers, 106 Newsweek, 290 Newton, Isaac, 102, 291 New York Times, 27, 220, 254 Nielsen Holdings, 217 ninety-ninety rule, 89 Nintendo, 296 Nobel Prize, 32, 42, 220, 291, 306 nocebo effect, 137 nodes, 118, 119 No Fly List, 53–54 noise and signal, 311 nonresponse bias, 140, 142, 143 normal distribution (bell curve), 150–52, 153, 163–66, 191 North Korea, 229, 231, 238 north star, 68–70, 275 nothing in excess, 60 not ready for prime time, 242 “now what” questions, 291 NPR, 239 nuclear chain reaction, viii, 114, 120 nuclear industry, 305–6 nuclear option, 238 Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), 305–6 nuclear weapons, 114, 118, 195, 209, 230–31, 233, 238 nudging, 13–14 null hypothesis, 163, 164 numbers, 130, 146 large, law of, 143–44 small, law of, 143, 144 see also data; statistics nurses, 284 Oakland Athletics, 289 Obama, Barack, 64, 241 objective versus subjective, in organizational culture, 274 obnoxious aggression, 264 observe, orient, decide, act (OODA), 294–95 observer effect, 52, 54 observer-expectancy bias, 136, 139 Ockham’s razor, 8–10 Odum, William E., 38 oil, 105–6 Olympics, 209, 246–48, 285 O’Neal, Shaquille, 246 one-hundred-year floods, 192 Onion, 211–12 On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (Darwin), 100 OODA loop, 294–95 openness to experience, 250 Operation Ceasefire, 232 opinion, diversity of, 205, 206 opioids, 36 opportunity cost, 76–77, 80, 83, 179, 182, 188, 305 of capital, 77, 179, 182 optimistic probability bias, 33 optimization, premature, 7 optimums, local and global, 195–96 optionality, preserving, 58–59 Oracle, 231, 291, 299 order, 124 balance between chaos and, 128 organizations: culture in, 107–8, 113, 273–80, 293 size and growth of, 278–79 teams in, see teams ostrich with its head in the sand, 55 out-group bias, 127 outliers, 148 Outliers (Gladwell), 261 overfitting, 10–11 overwork, 82 Paine, Thomas, 221–22 pain relievers, 36, 137 Pampered Chef, 217 Pangea, 24–25 paradigm shift, 24, 289 paradox of choice, 62–63 parallel processing, 96 paranoia, 308, 309, 311 Pareto, Vilfredo, 80 Pareto principle, 80–81 Pariser, Eli, 17 Parkinson, Cyril, 74–75, 89 Parkinson’s law, 89 Parkinson’s Law (Parkinson), 74–75 Parkinson’s law of triviality, 74, 89 passwords, 94, 97 past, 201, 271–72, 309–10 Pasteur, Louis, 26 path dependence, 57–59, 194 path of least resistance, 88 Patton, Bruce, 19 Pauling, Linus, 220 payoff matrix, 212–15, 238 PayPal, 72, 291, 296 peak, 105, 106, 112 peak oil, 105 Penny, Jonathon, 52 pent-up energy, 112 perfect, 89–90 as enemy of the good, 61, 89–90 personality traits, 249–50 person-month, 279 perspective, 11 persuasion, see influence models perverse incentives, 50–51, 54 Peter, Laurence, 256 Peter principle, 256, 257 Peterson, Tom, 108–9 Petrified Forest National Park, 217–18 Pew Research, 53 p-hacking, 169, 172 phishing, 97 phones, 116–17, 290 photography, 302–3, 308–10 physics, x, 114, 194, 293 quantum, 200–201 pick your battles, 238 Pinker, Steven, 144 Pirahã, x Pitbull, 36 pivoting, 295–96, 298–301, 308, 311, 312 placebo, 137 placebo effect, 137 Planck, Max, 24 Playskool, 111 Podesta, John, 97 point of no return, 244 Polaris, 67–68 polarity, 125–26 police, in organizations and projects, 253–54 politics, 70, 104 ads and statements in, 225–26 elections, 206, 218, 233, 241, 271, 293, 299 failure and, 47 influence in, 216 predictions in, 206 polls and surveys, 142–43, 152–54, 160 approval ratings, 152–54, 158 employee engagement, 140, 142 postmortems, 32, 92 Potemkin village, 228–29 potential energy, 112 power, 162 power drills, 296 power law distribution, 80–81 power vacuum, 259–60 practice, deliberate, 260–62, 264, 266 precautionary principle, 59–60 Predictably Irrational (Ariely), 14, 222–23 predictions and forecasts, 132, 173 market for, 205–7 superforecasters and, 206–7 PredictIt, 206 premature optimization, 7 premises, see principles pre-mortems, 92 present bias, 85, 87, 93, 113 preserving optionality, 58–59 pressure point, 112 prices, 188, 231, 299 arbitrage and, 282–83 bait and switch and, 228, 229 inflation in, 179–80, 182–83 loss leader strategy and, 236–37 manufacturer’s suggested retail, 15 monopolies and, 283 principal, 44–45 principal-agent problem, 44–45 principles (premises), 207 first, 4–7, 31, 207 prior, 159 prioritizing, 68 prisoners, 63, 232 prisoner’s dilemma, 212–14, 226, 234–35, 244 privacy, 55 probability, 132, 173, 194 bias, optimistic, 33 conditional, 156 probability distributions, 150, 151 bell curve (normal), 150–52, 153, 163–66, 191 Bernoulli, 152 central limit theorem and, 152–53, 163 fat-tailed, 191 power law, 80–81 sample, 152–53 pro-con lists, 175–78, 185, 189 procrastination, 83–85, 87, 89 product development, 294 product/market fit, 292–96, 302 promotions, 256, 275 proximate cause, 31, 117 proxy endpoint, 137 proxy metric, 139 psychology, 168 Psychology of Science, The (Maslow), 177 Ptolemy, Claudius, 8 publication bias, 170, 173 public goods, 39 punching above your weight, 242 p-values, 164, 165, 167–69, 172 Pygmalion effect, 267–68 Pyrrhus, King, 239 Qualcomm, 231 quantum physics, 200–201 quarantine, 234 questions: now what, 291 what if, 122, 201 why, 32, 33 why now, 291 quick and dirty, 234 quid pro quo, 215 Rabois, Keith, 72, 265 Rachleff, Andy, 285–86, 292–93 radical candor, 263–64 Radical Candor (Scott), 263 radiology, 291 randomized controlled experiment, 136 randomness, 201 rats, 51 Rawls, John, 21 Regan, Ronald, 183 real estate agents, 44–45 recessions, 121–22 reciprocity, 215–16, 220, 222, 229, 289 recommendations, 217 red line, 238 referrals, 217 reframe the problem, 96–97 refugee asylum cases, 144 regression to the mean, 146, 286 regret, 87 regulations, 183–84, 231–32 regulatory capture, 305–7 reinventing the wheel, 92 relationships, 53, 55, 63, 91, 111, 124, 159, 271, 296, 298 being locked into, 305 dating, 8–10, 95 replication crisis, 168–72 Republican Party, 104 reputation, 215 research: meta-analysis of, 172–73 publication bias and, 170, 173 systematic reviews of, 172, 173 see also experiments resonance, 293–94 response bias, 142, 143 responsibility, diffusion of, 259 restaurants, 297 menus at, 14, 62 RetailMeNot, 281 retaliation, 238 returns: diminishing, 81–83 negative, 82–83, 93 reversible decisions, 61–62 revolving door, 306 rewards, 275 Riccio, Jim, 306 rise to the occasion, 268 risk, 43, 46, 90, 288 cost-benefit analysis and, 180 de-risking, 6–7, 10, 294 moral hazard and, 43–45, 47 Road Ahead, The (Gates), 69 Roberts, Jason, 122 Roberts, John, 27 Rogers, Everett, 116 Rogers, William, 31 Rogers Commission Report, 31–33 roles, 256–58, 260, 271, 293 roly-poly toy, 111–12 root cause, 31–33, 234 roulette, 144 Rubicon River, 244 ruinous empathy, 264 Rumsfeld, Donald, 196–97, 247 Rumsfeld’s Rule, 247 Russia, 218, 241 Germany and, 70, 238–39 see also Soviet Union Sacred Heart University (SHU), 217, 218 sacrifice play, 239 Sagan, Carl, 220 sales, 81, 216–17 Salesforce, 299 same-sex marriage, 117, 118 Sample, Steven, 28 sample distribution, 152–53 sample size, 143, 160, 162, 163, 165–68, 172 Sánchez, Ricardo, 234 sanctions and fines, 232 Sanders, Bernie, 70, 182, 293 Sayre, Wallace, 74 Sayre’s law, 74 scarcity, 219, 220 scatter plot, 126 scenario analysis (scenario planning), 198–99, 201–3, 207 schools, see education and schools Schrödinger, Erwin, 200 Schrödinger’s cat, 200 Schultz, Howard, 296 Schwartz, Barry, 62–63 science, 133, 220 cargo cult, 315–16 Scientific Autobiography and other Papers (Planck), 24 scientific evidence, 139 scientific experiments, see experiments scientific method, 101–2, 294 scorched-earth tactics, 243 Scott, Kim, 263 S curves, 117, 120 secondary markets, 281–82 second law of thermodynamics, 124 secrets, 288–90, 292 Securities and Exchange Commission, U.S., 228 security, false sense of, 44 security services, 229 selection, adverse, 46–47 selection bias, 139–40, 143, 170 self-control, 87 self-fulfilling prophecies, 267 self-serving bias, 21, 272 Seligman, Martin, 22 Semmelweis, Ignaz, 25–26 Semmelweis reflex, 26 Seneca, Marcus, 60 sensitivity analysis, 181–82, 185, 188 dynamic, 195 Sequoia Capital, 291 Sessions, Roger, 8 sexual predators, 113 Shakespeare, William, 105 Sheets Energy Strips, 36 Shermer, Michael, 133 Shirky, Clay, 104 Shirky principle, 104, 112 Short History of Nearly Everything, A (Bryson), 50 short-termism, 55–56, 58, 60, 68, 85 side effects, 137 signal and noise, 311 significance, 167 statistical, 164–67, 170 Silicon Valley, 288, 289 simulations, 193–95 simultaneous invention, 291–92 Singapore math, 23–24 Sir David Attenborough, RSS, 35 Skeptics Society, 133 sleep meditation app, 162–68 slippery slope argument, 235 slow (high-concentration) thinking, 30, 33, 70–71 small numbers, law of, 143, 144 smartphones, 117, 290, 309, 310 smoking, 41, 42, 133–34, 139, 173 Snap, 299 Snowden, Edward, 52, 53 social engineering, 97 social equality, 117 social media, 81, 94, 113, 217–19, 241 Facebook, 18, 36, 94, 119, 219, 233, 247, 305, 308 Instagram, 220, 247, 291, 310 YouTube, 220, 291 social networks, 117 Dunbar’s number and, 278 social norms versus market norms, 222–24 social proof, 217–20, 229 societal change, 100–101 software, 56, 57 simulations, 192–94 solitaire, 195 solution space, 97 Somalia, 243 sophomore slump, 145–46 South Korea, 229, 231, 238 Soviet Union: Germany and, 70, 238–39 Gosplan in, 49 in Cold War, 209, 235 space exploration, 209 spacing effect, 262 Spain, 243–44 spam, 37, 161, 192–93, 234 specialists, 252–53 species, 120 spending, 38, 74–75 federal, 75–76 spillover effects, 41, 43 sports, 82–83 baseball, 83, 145–46, 289 football, 226, 243 Olympics, 209, 246–48, 285 Spotify, 299 spreadsheets, 179, 180, 182, 299 Srinivasan, Balaji, 301 standard deviation, 149, 150–51, 154 standard error, 154 standards, 93 Stanford Law School, x Starbucks, 296 startup business idea, 6–7 statistics, 130–32, 146, 173, 289, 297 base rate in, 157, 159, 160 base rate fallacy in, 157, 158, 170 Bayesian, 157–60 confidence intervals in, 154–56, 159 confidence level in, 154, 155, 161 frequentist, 158–60 p-hacking in, 169, 172 p-values in, 164, 165, 167–69, 172 standard deviation in, 149, 150–51, 154 standard error in, 154 statistical significance, 164–67, 170 summary, 146, 147 see also data; experiments; probability distributions Staubach, Roger, 243 Sternberg, Robert, 290 stock and flow diagrams, 192 Stone, Douglas, 19 stop the bleeding, 234 strategy, 107–8 exit, 242–43 loss leader, 236–37 pivoting and, 295–96, 298–301, 308, 311, 312 tactics versus, 256–57 strategy tax, 103–4, 112 Stiglitz, Joseph, 306 straw man, 225–26 Streisand, Barbra, 51 Streisand effect, 51, 52 Stroll, Cliff, 290 Structure of Scientific Revolutions, The (Kuhn), 24 subjective versus objective, in organizational culture, 274 suicide, 218 summary statistics, 146, 147 sunk-cost fallacy, 91 superforecasters, 206–7 Superforecasting (Tetlock), 206–7 super models, viii–xii super thinking, viii–ix, 3, 316, 318 surface area, 122 luck, 122, 124, 128 surgery, 136–37 Surowiecki, James, 203–5 surrogate endpoint, 137 surveys, see polls and surveys survivorship bias, 140–43, 170, 272 sustainable competitive advantage, 283, 285 switching costs, 305 systematic review, 172, 173 systems thinking, 192, 195, 198 tactics, 256–57 Tajfel, Henri, 127 take a step back, 298 Taleb, Nassim Nicholas, 2, 105 talk past each other, 225 Target, 236, 252 target, measurable, 49–50 taxes, 39, 40, 56, 104, 193–94 T cells, 194 teams, 246–48, 275 roles in, 256–58, 260 size of, 278 10x, 248, 249, 255, 260, 273, 280, 294 Tech, 83 technical debt, 56, 57 technologies, 289–90, 295 adoption curves of, 115 adoption life cycles of, 116–17, 129, 289, 290, 311–12 disruptive, 308, 310–11 telephone, 118–19 temperature: body, 146–50 thermostats and, 194 tennis, 2 10,000-Hour Rule, 261 10x individuals, 247–48 10x teams, 248, 249, 255, 260, 273, 280, 294 terrorism, 52, 234 Tesla, Inc., 300–301 testing culture, 50 Tetlock, Philip E., 206–7 Texas sharpshooter fallacy, 136 textbooks, 262 Thaler, Richard, 87 Theranos, 228 thermodynamics, 124 thermostats, 194 Thiel, Peter, 72, 288, 289 thinking: black-and-white, 126–28, 168, 272 convergent, 203 counterfactual, 201, 272, 309–10 critical, 201 divergent, 203 fast (low-concentration), 30, 70–71 gray, 28 inverse, 1–2, 291 lateral, 201 outside the box, 201 slow (high-concentration), 30, 33, 70–71 super, viii–ix, 3, 316, 318 systems, 192, 195, 198 writing and, 316 Thinking, Fast and Slow (Kahneman), 30 third story, 19, 92 thought experiment, 199–201 throwing good money after bad, 91 throwing more money at the problem, 94 tight versus loose, in organizational culture, 274 timeboxing, 75 time: management of, 38 as money, 77 work and, 89 tipping point, 115, 117, 119, 120 tit-for-tat, 214–15 Tōgō Heihachirō, 241 tolerance, 117 tools, 95 too much of a good thing, 60 top idea in your mind, 71, 72 toxic culture, 275 Toys “R” Us, 281 trade-offs, 77–78 traditions, 275 tragedy of the commons, 37–40, 43, 47, 49 transparency, 307 tribalism, 28 Trojan horse, 228 Truman Show, The, 229 Trump, Donald, 15, 206, 293 Trump: The Art of the Deal (Trump and Schwartz), 15 trust, 20, 124, 215, 217 trying too hard, 82 Tsushima, Battle of, 241 Tupperware, 217 TurboTax, 104 Turner, John, 127 turn lemons into lemonade, 121 Tversky, Amos, 9, 90 Twain, Mark, 106 Twitter, 233, 234, 296 two-front wars, 70 type I error, 161 type II error, 161 tyranny of small decisions, 38, 55 Tyson, Mike, 7 Uber, 231, 275, 288, 290 Ulam, Stanislaw, 195 ultimatum game, 224, 244 uncertainty, 2, 132, 173, 180, 182, 185 unforced error, 2, 10, 33 unicorn candidate, 257–58 unintended consequences, 35–36, 53–55, 57, 64–65, 192, 232 Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), 306 unique value proposition, 211 University of Chicago, 144 unknown knowns, 198, 203 unknowns: known, 197–98 unknown, 196–98, 203 urgency, false, 74 used car market, 46–47 U.S.


No Slack: The Financial Lives of Low-Income Americans by Michael S. Barr

active measures, asset allocation, Bayesian statistics, business cycle, Cass Sunstein, conceptual framework, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, financial exclusion, financial innovation, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, information asymmetry, labor-force participation, late fees, London Interbank Offered Rate, loss aversion, market friction, mental accounting, Milgram experiment, mobile money, money market fund, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, New Urbanism, p-value, payday loans, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, the payments system, transaction costs, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked

One of the major lessons of modern psychological research is the impressive power that the situation exerts, along with a persistent tendency to underestimate that power relative to the presumed influence of intention, education, or personality traits. In his now-classic obedience studies, for example, Stanley Milgram (1974) shows how decidedly mild situational pressures suffice to generate persistent willingness, against their own wishes, on the part of individuals to administer what they believe to be grave levels of electric shock to innocent subjects. Context is made all the more important because individuals’ predictions about their behavior in the future are often made in contexts different from those in which they later find themselves. Derek Koehler and Connie Poon (2005; see also Lewin 1951) argue that people’s predictions of their future behavior overweigh the strength of their current intentions and underweigh contextual factors that influence the likelihood that those intentions will translate into action.

Quarterly Journal of Economics 116:1149–87 (www. jstor.org/stable/2696456). Mann, Ronald J. 2006. Charging Ahead: The Growth and Regulation of Payment Card Markets. Cambridge University Press. 12864-11_CH11_3rdPgs.indd 277 3/23/12 11:57 AM 278 michael s. barr, sendhil mullainathan, and eldar shafir ———. 2007. “Bankruptcy Reform and the ‘Sweat Box’ of Credit Card Debt.” University of Illinois Law Review 2007:375–404. Milgram, Stanley. 1974. Obedience to Authority. New York: Harper & Row. Mullainathan, Sendhil, and Eldar Shafir. 2009. “Savings Policy and Decisionmaking in Low-Income Households.” In Insufficient Funds: Savings, Assets, Credit, and Banking among Low-Income Households, edited by Rebecca M. Blank and Michael S. Barr, 121–45. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Schultz, Ellen. 1995. “Helpful or Confusing?

See also Fees, financial services Florida, pawnshop regulation, 140 Gan, Li, 183 Garnishment regulation, electronic benefit programs, 87 Geographic access model, banking services: overview, 9–10, 115–17; data ­descriptions, 119–21; estimation results, 122–31; ­methodology, 117–19 Gold seal approach, banking behavior, 272–73 Gross, David, 183 Hardship correlations: overview of survey data, 37–38, 46, 48; alternative financial services usage, 149–51; bank account ownership, 56; bankruptcy filings, ­180–81, 192, 194–96; in financial transactions costs model, 76–77 Hausman test, interpretation validity, 183 Home mortgages, bankruptcy filers, 189 Home mortgages, behaviorally informed regulation: broker incentives, 176, ­265–66; disclosure policies, 175–76, 257–61; Dodd-Frank Act provisions, 266–67; ­opt-out systems, 261–65 Home mortgages, pricing: overview, 10–12, 156–58, 175–76; broker-related patterns, 165, 173–75; creditworthiness measures, 162–63; fees, 166, 168–69, 172; interest rates, 163, 165–66, 167–69; owner demographics, 159–62; policy implications, 175–76, 285; 3/23/12 11:58 AM 292 race-related patterns, 166–75; summary of characteristics, 164, 168–71 Home ownership, survey overview, 42–43 H&R Block, 141 Hurst, Erik, 173, 182–83, 192 Income levels, correlations: asset holdings, 43, 49; bank account ownership, 30, 56; bankruptcy filings, 185–87, 193–94; in financial transactions costs model, 55, 60–61, 68–77; in geographic access model, 119; home ownership, 159, 161–62; in payment card choice model, 102–03; saving behaviors, 40–41, ­271–72; short-term credit usage, 147 Income levels, survey sample, 28 Income receipt methods, 34–36, 64 Institutional power element, human behavior, 250–52 Interest rates: broker correlations, 156, 157, 173–75, 266; market-consumer bias conflicts, 252–53; pawnshop regulation, 139–40; payday loan regulation, 137, 138; race-related patterns, 157, 167–72, 173, 265; refund anticipation loans, 140–41, 142 Jackson, Howell, 173 Keys, Benjamin, 181 Knowledge and attitudes, financial activity correlations, 150–51, 196–99 Knowledge element, human behavior, 249–50 Koehler, Derek, 247 Laibson, David, 223 Life insurance, 42, 146 Lifeline banking programs, 54 Loading methods, payment card preferences, 99, 102 Loss aversion explanation, overwithholding, portfolio allocation model, 224, 234–36 Mann, Ronald, 183–84 Marital status, correlations: bankruptcy filings, 184, 185; home ownership, 159; short-term credit usage, 147 Marital status, survey sample, 28 Market bias dimension, in behaviorally informed policymaking model: over- 12864-14_Index.indd 292 index view, 252–57, 281–82; credit cards, 267–70; home mortgages, 257–66; ­savings programs, 272–73 Market-structure theory, bankruptcy filings, 183 Medical expenses: bankruptcy filers, 180–81, 189, 194–95; mortgage payment delays, 163; occurrence statistics, 37–38, 149; payday lending, 46–47; saving behaviors, 41, 42 Mental accounting: as human behavior element, 248–49; in overwithholding model, 223, 234–35 Michigan, payday lending regulation, 138 Milgram, Stanley, 247 Military personnel, payday lending regulation, 137 Minnesota, rent-to-own regulation, 142 Mobile payment systems, 92–93 Money orders, 37, 57, 65 Mortgages, home. See home mortgage entries MyAccountCard, 91 Net worth, low-income households. See Asset holdings New York, payday lending regulation, 138 Nonpecuniary costs, financial transactions, 55–56, 75–76 North Carolina, refund anticipation loan regulation, 142 Obama, Barack (and administration), 279, 284 Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC), 141, 144–45 Opt-out systems, 18, 261–65, 269 Overdrafts: as nonbanking factor, 30, 77–78, 97; regulatory framework, 144–46; usage patterns, 23, 45–46, 65, 66, 147 Overwithholding—as saving behavior, 38, 40, 207, 213 Overwithholding—portfolio allocation model: asset-holding groups, 226–30; explanatory limitations, 230–39; methodology, 219–26; optimum level calibration, 239–42; policy implications, 242–43.


pages: 329 words: 103,159

People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil by M Scott Peck

Milgram experiment, profit motive, school choice, the scientific method

The dependency of the soldier on his leader is not simply encouraged, it is mandated.* *Even civilians will commit evil with remarkable ease under obedience. As David Myers described in his excellent article “A Psychology of Evil” (The Other Side [April 1982], p. 29): “The clearest example is Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiments. Faced with an imposing, close-at-hand commander, sixty-five percent of his adult subjects fully obeyed instructions. On command, they would deliver what appeared to be traumatizing electric shocks to a screaming innocent victim in an adjacent room. These were regular people—a mix of blue-collar, white-collar and professional men. They despised their task. Yet obedience took precedence over their own moral sense.” By nature of its mission the military designedly and probably realistically fosters the naturally occurring regressive dependency of individuals within its groups.

I had read Martin’s book before witnessing my first exorcism, and while I was intrigued, I was hardly convinced of the devil’s reality. It was another matter after I had personally met Satan face-to-face. There is no way I can translate my experience into your experience. It is my intent, however, that, as a result of my experience, closed-minded readers will become more open-minded in relation to the reality of evil spirit. Finally, on the basis of two cases alone, I am simply not able to offer a broad, in-depth, scientific presentation on the subjects of evil spirit, possession, and exorcism. It is an old maxim of science that once you answer a question, others immediately take its place. Previously I had a single question: Does the devil exist? Now that this has been answered in the affirmative to my personal satisfaction, I have several dozen new questions I did not have before.

In the middle of the other exorcism, when asked whether the possession was by multiple spirits, the patient with hooded, serpentine eyes answered quietly, almost in a hiss, “They all belong to me. As the title of a recent article asks, “Who in the hell is Satan?” I don’t know. The experience of two exorcisms is hardly sufficient for one to unravel all the mystery of the spiritual realm. Nor would the experience of a hundred be sufficient. But I think I now know a few things about Satan and also have the basis to make a few speculations. While my experience is insufficient to prove Judeo-Christian myth and doctrine about Satan, I have learned nothing that fails to support it. According to this myth and doctrine, in the beginning Satan was God’s second-in-command, chief among all His angels, the beautiful and beloved Lucifer.


pages: 151 words: 39,757

Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier

4chan, basic income, cloud computing, corporate governance, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, Filter Bubble, gig economy, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, life extension, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, Milgram experiment, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, Stanford prison experiment, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Ted Nelson, theory of mind, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game

Unlike most animals, people are not only born absolutely helpless, but also remain so for years. We only survive by getting along with family members and others. Social concerns are not optional features of the human brain. They are primal. The power of what other people think has proven to be intense enough to modify the behavior of subjects participating in famous studies like the Milgram Experiment and the Stanford Prison Experiment. Normal, noncriminal people were coerced into doing horrible things, such as torturing others, through no mechanism other than social pressure. On social networks, the manipulation of social emotions has been the easiest way to generate rewards and punishments. That might change someday, if drones start dropping actual candy from the sky when you do what the algorithm wants, but for now it’s all about feelings that can be evoked in you—mostly, feelings regarding what other people think.

Addictive pleasure and reward patterns in the brain—the “little dopamine hit” cited by Sean Parker—are part of the basis of social media addiction, but not the whole story, because social media also uses punishment and negative reinforcement. Various kinds of punishment have been used in behaviorist labs; electric shocks were popular for a while. But just as with rewards, it’s not necessary for punishments to be real and physical. Sometimes experiments deny a subject points or tokens. You are getting the equivalent of both treats and electric shocks when you use social media. Most users of social media have experienced catfishing4 (which cats hate), senseless rejection, being belittled or ignored, outright sadism, or all of the above, and worse. Just as the carrot and stick work together, unpleasant feedback can play as much of a role in addiction and sneaky behavior modification as the pleasant kind.

Other people are also becoming meaningless; you understand less about what’s going on with them. Recall that Component C of BUMMER—Cramming experiences into your life—means that algorithms determine what you see. That means you don’t know what other people are seeing, because Component C is calculating different results for them. You can’t know how much the worldviews of other people are being biased and shaped by BUMMER. Personalized search, feeds, streams, and so on are at the root of this problem. Suppose an old-time behaviorist placed a row of caged dogs in a lab, each dog getting treats or electric shocks, depending on what that dog just did. The experiment would work only if each dog got stimuli tied to that dog’s specific behavior. If the wires were crossed, so that dogs were getting each other’s stimuli, then the experiment would cease to function. The same thing is true of people in a BUMMER platform.


pages: 741 words: 179,454

Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk by Satyajit Das

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Andy Kessler, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, Celtic Tiger, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, discrete time, diversification, diversified portfolio, Doomsday Clock, Edward Thorp, Emanuel Derman, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, Everybody Ought to Be Rich, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial independence, financial innovation, financial thriller, fixed income, full employment, global reserve currency, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, high net worth, Hyman Minsky, index fund, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Meriwether, joint-stock company, Jones Act, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, load shedding, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, mega-rich, merger arbitrage, Mikhail Gorbachev, Milgram experiment, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, mutually assured destruction, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, negative equity, NetJets, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Nixon shock, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson, pets.com, Philip Mirowski, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price stability, profit maximization, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Right to Buy, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Satyajit Das, savings glut, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the market place, the medium is the message, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Nature of the Firm, the new new thing, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, Yogi Berra, zero-coupon bond, zero-sum game

Investors and traders routinely pursue actions to make money, which could cause hardship and suffering to fellow human beings. Speculators trading necessities effectively bet on human life and suffering in the market casinos. In a reversal of the dictum of TV personal finance adviser Suze Orman, money and profits were placed before people, especially poor people. Silent Mass Murder In a famous series of experiments delivering electric shocks to people, Stanley Milgram found that: Ordinary people can become agents in a terrible destructive process.... Even when the destructive effects of their work becomes patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.48 Bankers became willing agents in a highly destructive process, even when they were aware of the consequences of their actions.

Masters, Testimony before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs United States Senate (20 May 2008). 45. “Sweet dreams: a hedge fund bets big on chocolate” (5 August 2010) The Economist. 46. Interagency Task Force on Commodity Markets, “Interim report on crude oil” (July 2008), CFTC. 47. Ghosh “The unnatural coupling.” 48. Stanley Milgram (1983) Obedience to Authority, Harper, New York: 6. 49. Kai Bord and Martin J. Sherwin (2006) American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, Vintage Books, New York: 51. Chapter 22—Financial Gravity 1. Quoted in Bertrand Russell (1956) Portraits from Memory and Other Essays, Simon & Schuster, London: 152. 2. Quoted in Edward Chancellor (2000) Devil Take The Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation, Plume Books, New York: 84. 3.

., 80, 329 Mephistopheles, 36 Merchant of Venice, 117, 366 mergers, 57-59, 242, 310 CitiGroup, 75 General Electric (GE), 61 Meriwether, John, 248-249 Merkel, Angela, 325 Merlin Entertainments, 163 Merrill Lynch, 66, 76, 148, 178, 191, 280, 315, 330 bonuses, 319 Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP), 131 merger with BoA, 339 MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration System), 271 Merton, Robert K., 121, 130, 248 Metallgesellschaft, 56 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 155 Metromedia, 149 Metromedia Broadcasting Corporation, 149 Metropolitan Club, 304 Meyer, Phillipe, 141 mezzanine “mezz” debt, 154 notes, 170-171 Mickey Mouse, 324 microeconomics, definition of, 102 middle class for blue-collar workers, 42 Middle East, 264 petro-dollars, 82 Mikado, The, 128 Milgram, Stanley, 335 military industrial complex, 294 Milken, Michael, 141, 144-150, 152, 168, 244 1987 equity crash, 153 Milken’s mobsters, 146-147 purchases of, 322 Mill, John Stuart, 126, 305 Millennium Challenge, 264-265 Miller, Bill, 245, 360 Miller, Daniel, 130 Miller, Merton, 116, 119, 248 Mills, Susan, 299 Milton, John, 359 Minibonds, 220 Minogue, Kylie, 157 Minsky machines, 261.


pages: 249 words: 81,217

The Art of Rest: How to Find Respite in the Modern Age by Claudia Hammond

Anton Chekhov, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, Desert Island Discs, Donald Trump, El Camino Real, iterative process, Kickstarter, lifelogging, longitudinal study, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, moral panic, Stephen Hawking, The Spirit Level, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen

It took place back in 1976, under the leadership of the psychologist Vladimir Konecˇni, not long before ethical regulations were brought into psychology in the wake of the notorious Stanley Milgram experiments, where people were tricked into thinking they were giving people fatally strong electric shocks. I’ll let you decide how bad it is to wind people up for the sake of an experiment, but for our purposes if we want to discover the impact of music on mood, we are left relying on some studies that date back a few decades. After bombarding them with so-called ego-thwarting remarks, the next step for Konecˇni was to give the participants in his experiment the choice between listening to various kinds of music, some of it loud and complex, some of it quiet and simple. What music would they choose to calm them down and recover from the insults?

Participants were led one at a time into a bare room with all distractions removed and electrodes were fitted to their ankles. They were shown how to press a computer key which would deliver an electric shock. Then they were left alone wearing the electrodes for fifteen minutes and told they could ‘think about whatever you want to’. Oh, and they had the added option of giving themselves more shocks if they chose to. And here’s the shocking thing, the thing that made this experiment so notorious: one participant shocked himself 190 times. Just one masochist? No, 71 per cent of the men gave themselves at least one electric shock, and even though the women were less inclined to inflict pain on themselves, a quarter did self-administer a shock. It appears that people hated spending fifteen minutes with their own thoughts so much that they preferred to endure pain rather than do nothing.

The results showed people recorded feeling bored on fewer than 6 per cent of the occasions when they were not doing anything. This sounds like a positive finding. Boredom is deadly, right? In fact, it has a positive side. It can prompt us to seek out something new. This kind of human curiosity (as well as enticing us to touch hot plates and give ourselves electric shocks) has, after all, been key to the success of the human race. It is why doing nothing, which is the state in which we are most likely to experience boredom, can be the state in which we generate new ideas. As we saw when I discussed daydreaming, the mind wanders and begins to make new connections between different thoughts until eventually, if we’re lucky, we think of something new. Plenty of the world’s most creative figures have put doing nothing to good use. Leonardo Da Vinci used to instruct his pupils to stare emptily at a wall until faces and movement seemed to rise from the mottles and damp patches.


pages: 855 words: 178,507

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick

Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, bank run, bioinformatics, Brownian motion, butterfly effect, citation needed, Claude Shannon: information theory, clockwork universe, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, Donald Knuth, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Honoré de Balzac, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, lifelogging, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microbiome, Milgram experiment, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, Simon Singh, Socratic dialogue, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, talking drums, the High Line, The Wisdom of Crowds, transcontinental railway, Turing machine, Turing test, women in the workforce

The defining quality of a small-world network is the one unforgettably captured by John Guare in his 1990 play, Six Degrees of Separation. The canonical explanation is this: I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation. Between us and everyone else on this planet. The President of the United States. A gondolier in Venice. Fill in the names.♦ The idea can be traced back to a 1967 social-networking experiment by the Harvard psychologist Stanley Milgram and, even further, to a 1929 short story by a Hungarian writer, Frigyes Karinthy, titled “Láncszemek”—Chains.♦ Watts and Strogatz took it seriously: it seems to be true, and it is counterintuitive, because in the kinds of networks they studied, nodes tended to be highly clustered. They are cliquish. You may know many people, but they tend to be your neighbors—in a social space, if not literally—and they tend to know mostly the same people.

., 3.1, 11.1 Mendel, Gregor Mercury: or the Secret and Swift Messenger (Wilkins) Merlin, John Mermin, David, 13.1n, 13.2 Merrill, James messenger RNA, 11.1, 13.1 meta-language Metalogicon metamathematics, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 10.1, 12.1 metaphor “Method of Expressing by Signs the Action of Machinery, On a” (Babbage), 4.1, 4.2 Metropolis, Nicholas microfilm microstates, 9.1, 9.2 Middleton, Thomas Milbanke, Anna Isabella Milgram, Stanley Miller, George, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3 Miller, Jonathan, 2.1, 2.2 Million Random Digits, A, 12.1, 12.2 Milton, John, 3.1, 11.1 Mingjia (School of Names) Minsky, Marvin Miot de Melito, Count n Mitchell, David mondegreens, 3.1, 3.2 Monod, Jacques Monte Carlo simulations, 11.1, 12.1 Moore, Francis Moore, Gordon Morse, Samuel F. B., 1.1, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 5.6 Morse code, prl.1, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 5.1, 6.1, 11.1, 12.1 mortality tables, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 Mulcaster, Richard multiplexed signals Mumford, Lewis Munch, Edvard Murray, James, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6 music, 10.1, 12.1, 12.2, 12.3, 12.4 Nagel, Ernest naming, 2.1, 14.1, 14.2, 14.3, 14.4, 14.5, 14.6 Napier, John, 4.1, 4.2 Napoleon Bonaparte, 5.1, 5.2 National Defense Research Committee natural history, 14.1, 14.2 natural philosophy, prl.1, prl.2, 3.1 natural selection, 5.1, 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 11.1; see also evolution Nature, 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, epl.1 Nautical Almanac, 4.1, 4.2 navigation, number tables for, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 needle telegraphy, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 5.6 networks applications of Shannon’s theories, 8.1, 8.2 barbed-wire telephone biological analogies for electrical cloud processing clustering in collective judgment and behavior enabled by, epl.1, epl.2 e-mail emergence of global consciousness, epl.1, epl.2, epl.3 English poetry global information in, epl.1, epl.2 science of small-world, epl.1, epl.2 spread of memes through telegraphic, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.1 telephone, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4 see also cyberspace; Internet Neugebauer, Otto neurophysiology analog versus digital descriptions of, 8.1, 8.2 concept of human global organism, epl.1, epl.2, epl.3 feedback systems in, 8.1, 8.2 human–computer comparison, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3 metaphors for electrical systems neurosis New Logic, 6.1, 6.2 Newman, James R.

What James had identified as central topics—“the stream of thought,” “the consciousness of self,” the perception of time and space, imagination, reasoning, and will—had no place in Pavlov’s laboratory. All a scientist could observe was behavior, and this, at least, could be recorded and measured. The behaviorists, particularly John B. Watson in the United States and then, most famously, B. F. Skinner, made a science based on stimulus and response: food pellets, bells, electric shocks; salivation, lever pressing, maze running. Watson said that the whole purpose of psychology was to predict what responses would follow a given stimulus and what stimuli could produce a given behavior. Between stimulus and response lay a black box, known to be composed of sense organs, neural pathways, and motor functions, but fundamentally off limits. In effect, the behaviorists were saying yet again that the soul is ineffable.


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The Human Swarm: How Our Societies Arise, Thrive, and Fall by Mark W. Moffett

affirmative action, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, California gold rush, delayed gratification, demographic transition, eurozone crisis, George Santayana, glass ceiling, Howard Rheingold, invention of agriculture, invention of writing, Kevin Kelly, labour mobility, land tenure, long peace, Milgram experiment, out of africa, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, shared worldview, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, World Values Survey

Tenfold population increase in Western Europe at the Neandertal–to–modern human transition. Science 333:623–627. Menand L. 2006. What it is like to like. New Yorker. June 20, 73–76. Mercader J, et al. 2007. 4,300-year-old chimpanzee sites and the origins of percussive stone technology. Proc Nat Acad Sci 104:3043–3048. Michener W. 2012. The individual psychology of group hate. J Hate Stud 10:15–48. Milgram S. 1974. Obedience to Authority. New York: HarperCollins. Milicic B. 2013. Talk is not cheap: Kinship terminologies and the origins of language. Structure and Dynamics 6: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/6zw317jh. Miller D. 1995. On Nationality. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Miller DT, C McFarland. 1987. Pluralistic ignorance: When similarity is interpreted as dissimilarity. J Pers Soc Psychol 53:298–305.

Whitehouse et al. (2014a); Whitehouse & McCauley (2005). 29 Documented for the Libyan civilians turned revolutionaries who rose up against Gaddafi (Whitehouse et al. 2014b). 30 The sting feels “like walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch nail embedded in your heel” (Schmidt 2016, 225). 31 Bosmia et al. (2015). 32 Fritz & Mathewson (1957); Reicher (2001); Willer et al. (2009). 33 Hood (2002), 186. 34 Barron (1981). 35 Hogg (2007). 36 Caspar et al. (2016); Milgram (1974). 37 Mackie et al. (2008). 38 Kameda & Hastie (2015). 39 Fiske et al. (2007). 40 Staub (1989). 41 People who wish to believe something, prejudices included, ignore contrary evidence so long as they can cling to anything that corroborates their point of view (Gilovich 1991). 42 Especially troublesome were radio programs that described the violence as everyday behavior (Elizabeth Paluck, pers. comm.; Paluck 2009). 43 Janis (1982). 44 This is called Asch conformity after the psychologist Solomon Asch (e.g., Bond 2005). 45 Redmond (1994), 3. 46 Hofstede & McCrae (2004). 47 Wray et al. (2011). 48 Masters & Sullivan (1989); Warnecke et al. (1992). 49 Silberbauer (1996).

Championing a personal view can be wildly unpopular or even considered traitorous, a betrayal of loyalty so heinous that in medieval Europe it was deemed a sin worthy of flaying or disembowelment.34 We are in this together turns into something more severe: You are either with us or against us.35 Better to cave in, or at least portray that you had no option if you are called to justify yourself later. Nazi criminals pleaded the Nuremberg defense, arguing that they were just obeying orders. Not only, then, do we abandon our better judgment to our blind faith in our society, but we are absolved of fault for its actions or ours on its behalf. People who choose to administer electric shocks to others after being told to do so by someone in authority show a dampening of brain activity, suggesting that those acting under orders emotionally distance themselves from the consequences.36 When we aren’t simply listening to a commander but following the communal will and are drunk on group emotions, our sense of culpability may vanish entirely. Our fervor sanctions a path we wouldn’t want to be held accountable for pursuing if we had done so alone.37 All the better, a feeling of alike-ness and interchangeability renders us secure in our anonymity.


pages: 304 words: 22,886

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein

Al Roth, Albert Einstein, asset allocation, availability heuristic, call centre, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, continuous integration, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, desegregation, diversification, diversified portfolio, endowment effect, equity premium, feminist movement, fixed income, framing effect, full employment, George Akerlof, index fund, invisible hand, late fees, libertarian paternalism, loss aversion, Mahatma Gandhi, Mason jar, medical malpractice, medical residency, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, money market fund, pension reform, presumed consent, price discrimination, profit maximization, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, Right to Buy, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Saturday Night Live, school choice, school vouchers, transaction costs, Vanguard fund, Zipcar

“Company Stock in Pension Plans: How Costly Is It?” Harvard Business School Working Paper no. 02–058, 2002. http://www.hbs.edu/research/facpubs/workingpapers/papers2/0102/02–058.pdf. Meyer, Robert J. “Why We Under-Prepare for Hazards.” In On Risk and Disaster: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina, ed. Ronald J. Daniels, Donald F. Kettl, and Howard Kunreuther, 153–74. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006. Milgram, Stanley. Obedience to Authority. New York: HarperCollins, 1974. Mitchell, Olivia S., and Stephen P. Utkus. “The Role of Company Stock in Defined Contribution Plans,” In The Pension Challenge: Risk Transfers and Retirement Income Security, ed. Olivia Mitchell and Kent Smetters, 33–70. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Mokdad, Ali H., Barbara A. Bowman, Earl S. Ford, Frank Vinicor, James S.

“Understanding Patients’ Decisions: Cognitive and Emotional Perspectives.” Journal of the American Medical Association 270 (1993): 72–76. Revesz, Richard L. “Environmental Regulation, Cost-Benefit Analysis, and the Discounting of Human Lives.” Columbia Law Review 99 (1999): 941–1017. Ross, Lee, and Richard Nisbett. The Person and the Situation. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991. Rottenstreich, Yuval, and Christopher Hsee. “Money, Kisses, and Electric Shocks: On the Affective Psychology of Risk.” Psychological Science 12 (2001): 185–90. Rozin, Paul, and Edward B. Royzman. “Negativity Bias, Negativity Dominance, and Contagion.” Personality and Social Psychology Review 5 (2001): 296–320. Sacerdote, Bruce. “Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 116 (2001): 681–704. Sageman, Marc.

You are independent-minded and so you will tell the truth. But if you are a Human, and you really participated in the experiment, you might well follow those who preceded you, and say what they say, thus defying the evidence of your own senses. In the 1950s Solomon Asch (1995), a brilliant social psychologist, conducted a series of experiments in just this vein. When asked to decide on their own, without seeing judgments from others, people almost never erred, since the test was easy. But when everyone else gave an incorrect answer, people erred more than one-third of the time. Indeed, in a series of twelve questions, nearly three-quarters of people went along with the group at least once, defying the evidence of their own senses. Notice that in Asch’s experiment, people were responding to the decisions of strangers, whom they would probably never see again.


pages: 470 words: 137,882

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airport security, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, clean water, coronavirus, COVID-19, Covid-19, desegregation, Donald Trump, global pandemic, Gunnar Myrdal, mass incarceration, Milgram experiment, obamacare, out of africa, Peter Eisenman, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, strikebreaker, transatlantic slave trade, zero-sum game

But not as many as we might like to believe. In a famous though controversial 1963 study of people’s threshold for violence when ordered to inflict it, college students were told to administer electric shocks to a person in an adjoining room. The people “receiving” the shocks were unharmed but yelled out and banged on the walls as the intensity of the shocks increased. The conductor of the study, the psychologist Stanley Milgram, found that a majority of participants, two out of three, “could be induced to deliver the maximal voltage to an innocent suffering subject,” wrote the scholar David Livingstone Smith, who specializes in the study of dehumanization. In a similar experiment, conducted at Stanford University in 1975, the participants did not have to be ordered to deliver the shocks. They needed only to overhear a single negative comment about the students facing potential punishment.

People who face discrimination, Williams said, often build up a layer of unhealthy fat, known as visceral fat, surrounding vital organs, as opposed to subcutaneous fat, just under the skin. It is this visceral fat that raises the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease and leads to premature death. And it can be found in people of all ethnicities based on their experience of discrimination. “Black women experience higher levels of discrimination than white women do,” Williams said. “But when white women experience discrimination, the effects are the same. So discrimination leading to higher levels of visceral fat, that is true for African-American women and for white women. When whites report higher levels of discrimination, their health is also hurt. It really says something about the nature of human interaction.” When it comes to life expectancy, middle-aged and less educated white Americans are experiencing a downward trend, as we have seen.

* * * —— At the depths of their dehumanization, both Jews and African-Americans were subjected to gruesome medical experimentation at the hands of dominant-caste physicians. In addition to the horrifying torture of twins, German scientists and SS doctors conducted more than two dozen types of experiments on Jews and others they held captive, such as infecting their victims with mustard gas and testing the outer limits of hypothermia. In the United States, from slavery well into the twentieth century, doctors used African-Americans as a supply chain for experimentation, as subjects deprived of either consent or anesthesia. Scientists injected plutonium into them, purposely let diseases like syphilis go untreated to observe the effects, perfected the typhoid vaccine on their bodies, and subjected them to whatever agonizing experiments came to the doctors’ minds. These amounted to unchecked assaults on human beings. One plantation doctor, according to the medical ethicist Harriet A.


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Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt

Albert Einstein, autonomous vehicles, availability heuristic, Berlin Wall, call centre, cellular automata, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, cognitive dissonance, computer vision, congestion charging, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, DARPA: Urban Challenge, endowment effect, extreme commuting, fundamental attribution error, Google Earth, hedonic treadmill, hindsight bias, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, impulse control, income inequality, Induced demand, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, Kenneth Arrow, lake wobegon effect, loss aversion, megacity, Milgram experiment, Nash equilibrium, Sam Peltzman, Silicon Valley, statistical model, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, traffic fines, ultimatum game, urban planning, urban sprawl, women in the workforce, working poor

Then there’s the “nose-pick factor,” a term used by researchers who install cameras inside of cars to study drivers. They report that after only a short time, drivers will “forget the camera” and begin to do all sorts of things, including nasal probing. The flip side of anonymity, as the classic situationist psychological studies of Philip Zimbardo and Stanley Milgram have shown, is that it encourages aggression. In a well-known 1969 study, Zimbardo found that hooded subjects were willing to administer twice the level of electric shock to others than those not wearing hoods. Similarly, this is why hooded hostages are more likely to be killed than those without hoods, and why firing-squad victims are blindfolded or faced backward—not for their sake, but to make them look less human to the executioners. Take away human identity and human contact and we act inhuman.

Lester, The Accident Liability of Car Drivers, Research Report No. 315 (Crowthorne: Transport and Road Research Laboratory, 1991). end of their trip: G. Underwood, P. Chapman, Z. Berger and D. Crundall, “Driving Experience, Attentional Focusing, and the Recall of Recently Inspected Events,” Transportation Research F: Psychology and Behaviour, vol. 6 (2003), pp. 289–304. more experienced drivers: P. Chapman, D. Crundall, N. Phelps, and G. Underwood, “The Effects of Driving Experience on Visual Search and Subsequent Memory for Hazardous Driving Situations,” in Behavioural Research in Road Safety: Thirteenth Seminar (London: Department for Transport, 2003), pp. 253–66. experience and expertise: When expert chess players are given a short glimpse of a chess board, for example, they can remember almost twice as much of the board’s positions as novices can.

But what happens when the DriveCam is gone? “I don’t pretend to represent DriveCam as anything but an extrinsic motivation system,” Moeller had said. He admits that in the early days of a DriveCam trial, the mere presence of the camera is enough to get drivers to act more cautiously, in a version of the famous “Hawthorne effect,” which says that people in an experiment change their behavior simply because they know they are in an experiment. But without any follow-up coaching, without “closing the feedback loop,” results begin to erode. “The driver starts to think, ‘The camera’s not intrusive at all. Nothing’s ever going to happen—this is just there so in case I get in a crash this will record who was at fault,’” Moeller said. “When you inject coaching in, then he realizes there is an immediate and certain consequence for his risky driving behavior.