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The pre-flight script and video about rules for flying is routinely ignored, despite attendants requests for attention. Southwest Airlines uses jokes to gain attention. Air New Zealand uses Richard Simmons. Both are examples of how grabbing attention is a dynamic process. Breaking the expected pattern grabs attention – at least until it becomes expected again.

Meicheng Shi, who spotted the clip, writes: “The first time I flew in an airplane, I paid close attention to the safety instructions, carefully noting how to inflate a lifevest and where my nearest emergency exits were. Hundreds of flights later, I’m usually asleep before the crew even goes through flight safety…Throughout the entire video, almost everyone’s eyes were glued to the screen– I’ve never seen a flight where the passengers paid so much attention to the safety video.”

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Gregg Easterbrook’s Mock of NFL Mock Drafts is out. The Patriots take Cade Massey in the first round but pass on Thaler. Thaler spends the rest of his career determined to prove Bill Belichick wrong.

17. New England Patriots (from Oakland). Cade Massey, behavioral economist, Yale University:

In recent drafts, New England has made six first-round trade-downs. The Flying Elvii are following the Massey-Thaler prescription. These academic economists contend that low draft picks actually are worth more than high picks, because the odds of finding a good player are the same, but the signing-bonus expense declines. Bill Belichick is the sole NFL draft-master to have taken the economists’ advice. The Patriots also hope to tab University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler, but only after repeatedly trading down to get Thaler cheaply.

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A classic Monty Python clip about the social norms around haggling, first spotted by Oliver Payne at the The Hunting Dynasty.

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humans would resemble econs.

A lego mash-up of British comedian Eddie Izzard’s famous routine “Cake or Death.”


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Some faithful readers of the Nudge blog have pointed out that Econs may not exist on Planet Earth, but they are part of the Star Trek universe, specifically on the Planet Vulcan.

In the classic Star Trek episode “Journey to Babel,” the half-Human, half-Vulcan Spock is joined by his Human mother Amanda and his Vulcan father Sarek. A side plot in the episode involves Spock donating blood to save his ill father. At the end, following an exasperated plea by Amanda to be more Human, Spock and his father lightly mock her emotion and their rationality.

Spock: Emotional, isn’t she?

Sarek: She has always been that way.

Spock: Indeed – why did you marry her?

Sarek: At the time, it seemed the logical thing to do.

We can’t embed the video because it is controlled by Viacom on YouTube, but you can watch the scene directly on the site. Fast forward to 47:57. (You’ll have to wait through an advertisement at the beginning of the epsiode – but it’s worth it.)


Philip Frankenfeld imagines:

Scene: Cafeteria with buffet line called Random Placement Cafeteria.

Frank: “We randomly rotate the place of foods on the line to avoid ‘choice architecture’. We’re ‘nonnudgemental’.”


Nudge cartoons

From Dilbert:


From the New Yorker’s caption contest (caption from Philip Frankenfeld):


You play the tough, paternalistic regulator and I’ll play the laissez-faire one named ‘Nacho Daddy’.


It doesn’t work out so well.

The writer is A. J. Jacobs. His brother-in-law, behavioral economist Eric Schoenberg of Columbia Business School, offers a phrase for humans who refuse to see themselves as average or mediocre at anything:

He said I was suffering from the Lake Wobegon Effect: Our brains are delusively cocky. We all think we’re better-looking, smarter, and more virtuous than we are. (It’s named for Garrison Keillor’s town, where “all the children are above average.”)

Jacobs writes his own newspaper headlines to compensate for the availability bias that prevents him from remembering much more than what he’s read recently.

Today, there’s an article about salmonella. Eight hundred people have gotten sick from salmonella, possibly from tainted tomatoes–which later will turn out not to be the case. I’m a paranoid bastard, so I would normally purge our house of anything tomato-related: the pint of cherry tomatoes, the ketchup bottles, the Esquire cover of Andy Warhol in tomato soup. Salmonella would climb onto my list of Top Ten Worries.

Instead, I take my first countermeasures. I ask my wife for the newspaper, find a Sharpie, and scribble under the headline: “Meanwhile, millions of people ate tomatoes and did NOT get sick. But thousands did die from obesity.”

Jacobs, familiar with the human tendency to eat whatever is in front of them, tries to fool himself eating cereal.

I pour my MultiGrain Cheerios into a bowl, then cover the bowl with a napkin. I’m not going to let my brain see what’s inside the bowl. That’d be too tempting. I’ll just eat till I feel full. It’s a time-consuming process trying to negotiate the spoon around the napkin. Which is probably a good thing, since it’s healthier to eat slowly.

He realizes he’s been brushing with Crest for 30 years because of the “yeah whatever” heuristic.

That’s not good enough. I need a fully rational toothpaste. I need, first, to expand my dental-hygiene horizons. I go to the drugstore and buy a sample platter of forty tubes of toothpaste…I go home and spend eighty minutes brushing. Pepsodent Smooth Mint. Colgate Luminous Crystal Clean Mint. Aquafresh Extreme Clean Whitening Mint Experience. I never realized how much I hate mint.

Read the rest here.


Inspired by Shooting Britney and Indexed, which posted a graph last week that was straight out of a behavioral economics textbook.

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