Posts Tagged ‘freakonomics


Reflective System vs. Automatic System

In the short time I’ve been plunged into adulthood (not maturity, mind you), I have observed with endless curiosity the different consciences with which my peers traverse the days and weeks that bring us ever closer to death. It seems as if some of us are more existential, pondering happiness and the meaning of life and various philosophies. We psychoanalyze our past and present, decision-making and those of our friends, acquaintances and family. We are constantly thinking and considering and struggling to find our most productive and positive place in the universe. It can be tiring and half the time I feel like a dog chasing its own tail.

Others are bit more shallow. And I’m not saying that as an insult; it’s simply the best descriptive adjective for the coasting along the status quo I’ve noticed in the lives of many of my peers. Many people simply find a job, get married, and have kids without ever a thought given to trailblazing or creating a masterpiece with this life they’ve been given. They do not question that with which they were raised: religion, fried foods, political parties.  Many do not move away from home or go to college or vote or ever engage in deep thought and discussion and debate.

I do not think I’m better than these people – merely different. It is just so interesting that some of us mentally and spiritually exist always questioning and analyzing and seeking. Others are content as is. It’s CRAZY, people!

And, what’s ever crazier, is the Freakonomics blog interviewing Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, authors of Nudge, Improving Decisions on Health, Wealth, and Happiness. My jaw nearly dropped when I read this question and answer section:

“Q: You write that human brains function either on their more deliberate and self-conscious Reflective System or their intuitive, rapid Automatic System (Homer Simpson), and that voters seem to primarily rely on the latter. (So much so that it’s possible to predict the outcome of elections by testing automatic responses.) Can you make any predictions about the presidential election based on which candidate has more “automatic appeal?”

A: We are betting on the guy from Illinois — the one who used to teach at the University of Chicago Law School. Admittedly, we might be biased, but we have seen first hand the way people immediately relate to him, and that should help.

Also, it is important not to push this evidence too far. Although initial impressions are important, certainly many voters do use their reflective systems to consider each of the candidates with care. We think the country is lucky to have three smart candidates who can give voters plenty to think about.”

Perhaps I’m reading into this text way too much or focusing on some obscure point, but I just feel so relieved that others have noticed the difference in people’s cognitive behavior and have even given it a term: Reflective System vs. Automatic System. I just wish I knew why some choose to reflection while others simply function without much ado.

Perhaps I’m being too reflective about Reflective System. More times than I’d like, I find myself wishing for a more Automatic life – but then would this existence be as flavorful? Would it matter at all? Would chocolate still taste as good?

No wonder I drink so much.


Freakonomics Posts Newt Gingrich’s Answers to Reader Questions

You can read his answers here.

Of course, they were boring and politically contrived. The explanations he gives for the partisanship of the 90’s is an example of his delusional excuses for the behavior of him and his ilk. He seems to be reaching into the same bag of untruths and ambiguous explanations that provide Dick Cheney with all his diarrhea of the mouth.


“Q: Do you think that corporations have too much power in government, through lobbyists and monetary incentives? What should be done to correct what I see as an imbalance of power between voters and the rich/powerful?

A: There is a direct relationship between the size, influence, and power of a government and the influence of lobbyists on that government. If we are serious about limiting the ability of lobbyists to dictate government policy, we should be serious about limiting the size and scope of the government’s power. Until that happens, the wealthy and powerful will always be able to have influence through lobbying.”

I disagree wholeheartedly. Anyone can see that through lobbying efforts, corporations receive tax privileges and are not regulated, increasing the burden on consumers. I agree that there is a direct relationship between lobbying and government and it seems very much that the more lobbyists there are, the less government. Blackwater has received no-bid contracts and has answered for only a few of their many criminal actions. Yet, they have a slew of lobbyists and have made more money than god on the war in Iraq.

Gingrich, buddy, you’re on the train going to hell and no amount of old-school Republican dogma cult bullshit followers are going to stop it. I’d recommend you pull your head out of your ass, but it’s probably too swollen.


News of the Day 080506

  1. Legislative opposition to online gambling is slowly fading, according to Patrick O’Connor on Politico. Wooohooo! This has been a ridiculous regulation (perpetuated by those crafty “limited government” Republicans. Remember kids, the word is “hypocrisy”) for a longtime that prevents the government from making a lot of money and adults from making adult decisions.
  2. OPEC tensions on the rise as the organization refuses to increase production, citing mismanagement of the American economy as being largely responsible for the increase in oil prices. In fact, many OPEC countries were thinking of cutting production to drive oil prices up in order to compensate for the weak dollar. It’s good to know the providers of the world’s equivalent of “mothers’ milk” continue to use their control over the valuable resource to bend consumers over. I swear to god I’d buy some solar panels if my house wasn’t covered by a massive pecan tree!
  3. Freakonomics posted this paper by a few economists saying, “smaller businesses create more jobs, on net, than larger ones. It’s a long, boring read – but the result are interesting. And it’s pdf, so it might take a little time to load.
  4. Rolling Stone endorsed Obama today, I’m sure you heard. Should we revisit this culture of news publications (which Rolling Stone isn’t, necessarily) endorsing candidates? I get why they did it back in the day when access to information was limited and they thought they were doing a public service (albeit, motivated by bribe monies much of the time). But these days?? When the public has widespread access to information and can easily make up their own minds? All the major newspapers in Texas endorsed Obama. Didn’t do him much good and aren’t they supposed to be unbiased? Interesting topic for debate and discussion. I must marinate on the topic a bit more.
  5. Experts are returning to their professional dominance after years of tyranny of the masses on the internet, according to Newsweek. “In December, Google began testing Knol, a Wikipedia-like Web site produced by “authoritative” sources that share ad revenue. The sample page contains an insomnia entry written by Rachel Manber, director of Stanford’s Insomnia and Behavioral Sleep Medicine center. In January,, a self-styled “YouTube for ideas” backed by former Harvard president Larry Summers and others, debuted its cache of polished video interviews with public intellectuals.” Us neophytes with our misinformation are going to be relegated to the netherworlds of the web where we belong!!

Gingrich To Answer Questions From Freakonomics Readers

Feel free to submit your own question to the poster-boy for political hypocrisy. Click here.

I asked, “How does it feel to be the very epitome of all you attacked others for (especially Bill Clinton) in the 1990’s, you lame piece of unworthy shit?”

Somehow, I don’t think my question will get picked. I still submitted it, though.

Update: I checked the freakonomics site and my question isn’t posted. Those bastards!!

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