On Econs and Humans

13 November, 2017 at 18:10 | Posted in Economics | 3 Comments

nudgeMany years ago, Thaler was hosting dinner for some guests (other then-young economists) and put out a large bowl of cashew nuts to nibble on with the first bottle of wine. Within a few minutes it became clear that the bowl of nuts was going to be consumed in its entirety, and that the guests might lack sufficient appetite to enjoy all the food that was to follow. Leaping into action, Thaler grabbed the bowl of nuts, and (while sneaking a few more nuts for himself removed the bowl to the kitchen, where it was put out of sight.

When he returned, the guests thanked him for removing the nuts. The conversation immediately turned to the theoretical question of how they could possibly be happy about the fact that there was no longer a bowl of nuts in front of them … In economics (and in ordinary life), a basic principle is that you can never be made worse off by having more options, because you can always turn them down. Before Thaler removed the nuts the group had the choice of whether to eat the nuts or not – now they didn’t. In the land of Econs, it is against the law to be happy about this!



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  1. This must have been written by some economist- Leaping into action, [the economist?, really?] grabbed the bowl of nuts and took it away while grabbing some for himself… Sounds rather typical of the heroic actions of economists… It was for the ‘greater good’ you see…:)

    Actually, I understand the point being made and it is a good one. Who was the author? Thaler?

    • Worse than so,Jerry .a educated fool.

  2. On aggregate we all behave in this way which makes the question a macroeconomics one. This implies that collectively we don’t know what is best for us and 50 million people can be wrong. Why can’t they be sufficiently well educated to avoid the temptation to enjoy what is immediately offered?

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