Newsletter - May 2018

Tim’s Reading Recommendation

Ethics comes up frequently in our podcast discussions and occasionally during our meetups, so Kurt and I decided to jump into a deeper dive on ETHICS. We found a great, real-world article on Max Nesterak’s The Behavioral Scientist. It’s a tidy article on the ethics of applying the powerful tools of behavioral sciences that impact us on a subconscious level. This article might help you think through data privacy in a new way. Check it out if you’re short on time or enthusiasm for the topic!

Kurt’s Reading Recommendation

We are definitely on an ethics kick. My recommendation is Cass Sunstein’s “The Ethics of Influence: Government in the Age of Behavioral Science.” Cass is a lawyer and was the co- author with Richard Thaler on “Nudge.” Cass also worked in the Obama White House helping to integrate behavioral science and nudges into US government programs. The book is a bit heavy and long-winded, but it raises questions and sheds light on things such as the subtle difference between coercion and influence, on whether nudges are bad if they decrease willpower, when is manipulation ok, and a variety of other ethical concerns. A well-thought through read for those who want a deeper dive.

Kurt’s Music

I do have a big crush on Dessa. She was on my plane flying to Amsterdam just a few rows ahead of me (I didn’t see her until we were deplaning). Her new album, Chime, is out and it is powerful. You can listen to some tracks here – I particularly like Good Grief, with my favorite lyric (that has some behavioral science implications) – “They say there’s good grief, but how can you tell it from the bad? / Maybe it’s only that fact that good grief is the one that’s in the past.”

Tim’s Music

I just got Thomas Nordlund’s new record in the mail today, Miles Left Behind. Thomas is one of my favorite Minneapolis-based guitarists. His melodic and tonal approaches are so finely tailored for his somewhat-jazzy, somewhat-new-agey, somewhat-other-worldly sounds that the listener never need think about anything but the music. Also, out of nowhere it seems, Ben Abrahamson comes in with a banjo lick on a few tunes that just makes sense. No, it’s not a bluegrass record and no, it’s not a jazz record. Thomas shares his melodic visions with no voices and no lyrics. And yet, it’s yummy. So yummy, you’ll want to play it every Sunday morning while you’re fixing your coffee and sitting down to thumb through social media.

Behavioral Science Principles for May

Availability heuristic

The tendency to overestimate the likelihood of events with greater “availability” in memory, which can be influenced by how recent the memories are or how unusual or emotionally charged they may be.

Status quo bias

The tendency to like things to stay relatively the same (see also loss aversion, endowment effect, and system justification).

Naïve cynicism

Expecting more egocentric bias in others than in oneself.

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