So, below, I wrote a post with my thoughts about one specific experimental vignette in Dan Ariely’s recent book, The Upside of Irrationality. Apart from the blog, I wrote a note to Dr. Ariely, who I am now going to take the liberty of calling Dan. I asked if he would have a look and respond with a blog comment or some feedback to me directly. The first response came from an autoresponder saying that Dan might not be able to respond. This, as I read it, was to be expected.
For those unfamiliar with Dan’s biography, he is Israeli. As is required, he took a term in the Israeli military. He had a deeply unfortunate accident that involved a phosphorous (I presume) flare, which ended up burning him extensively. The long and the short of it, as the autoresponse email made clear, it is difficult for Dan to type so he doesn’t respond all the time.
But less than 24-hours later, up popped an email from… Dan Ariely. He voice recorded a response and explained why the official assessment (instead of mine) is the more reasonable one. It involves a “hyperbolic discount rate,” the gist of which is that the mice [I called them rats] have a really, really short attention span despite being trained. (Truth be told, I have to listen to the recording a few times and will probably have to do some further research on this to get it more deeply.) It kind of feels like being a masters student getting a few minutes with the professor between classes. And, since I’m fascinated by behavioural economics anyway, it just doesn’t get a whole lot better on an otherwise tedious Thursday afternoon.