Published October 3, 2011
Commentary , Research , Society
There is an excellent guest article by Duncan Watts on Freakonomics called The Myth of Common Sense: Why The Social World Is Less Obvious Than It Seems. Common sense is, of course, subjective. Watts presents research that shows it’s social shorthand effective only for small homogeneous groups in narrow situations. Great for that 2500 BC cave in the south of France … not today’s world with its diversity, complexity, and nuance.
Sorry, Christies, teabaggers, and Republicans. You can’ wave your hands, wait for fantasy superfriends, revel in the mythology of the past, or rely on “common sense.” You really do have to look at facts. Not that I expect logic, reflection, or cerebration to change your mind.
There is one bright light here – the latest generation of kids, Gen Y or Millennials. While it is alleged that many do not have the motivation, ambition, and persistence of earlier generations, they do have a better ability to adapt, cope, and reason in our technotimes sans superstitions and folklore. An evolutionary adaptation perhaps?
Published July 15, 2011
Relationships , Research
I’ve followed the online dating industry for 16 years. Match.com shares some of their secret sauce in The Love Equation: How Match.com Calculates Your Ideal Mate.
One interesting fact – people don’t make contact if you don’t meet their visual/physical requirements like body type. But they break their own rules otherwise. Over 50% of people disregard their must-haves when it comes to kids and income. Over 20% ignore job, faith, and education.
But it’s unclear whether that means flirting and sex know few boundaries, daters lack self-discipline, or we all lie to ourselves.
In any case, one truism remains. Women DO like to date good Jewish boys.
Published January 31, 2011
Commentary , Humor , Research
This artificial America of high self esteem, low performance, and religious pomposity places a premium on proper attitude. Our lives and our health are the result of fate and a divine force if good and self-indulgence and neglect if not. Well, turns out your cells and bugs really don’t care what you believe or think in A Fighting Spirit Won’t Save Your Life.
So be as cranky as you want to be, whether you’re healthy, sick, or even dying. But it’s still always a good idea to be fit, eat right, and call your mother at least once a week.
Published December 6, 2010
Research , Science
From How to achieve ‘biological immortality’ naturally:
Evolutionary biologist Michael Rose, professor at University of California, Irvine, says he has discovered a natural way to achieve “biological immortality” without the use of anti-aging drugs and stem cell treatments.
“It’s one you can start this evening. … It comes at no cost, you don’t have to buy anything, and, in fact, it might save you money.”
Rose says that just like evolution has created aging to maintain youthful vigor in species, it also created natural biological immortality, such as a 10,000 Mojave desert creosote bush and other long-lived organisms. The immortality phase is a plateau where the probability of dying remains constant through the rest of the lifespan.
The key is not to slow the rate of aging, but go directly to the immortal phase at a lower rate of mortality, which is exactly what the fruit flies do.
Do this by adopting a “paleo” pre-industrial hunter-gatherer lifestyle once you reach 40 years old that is fully natural.
- Stay in motion and exercise daily.
- Eat meat, seafood, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid dairy, grains and grasses, such as milk, rice and corn
This economic depression has forced marketers to be more creative. It’s kickstarted a renaissance in pricing. I wrote earlier on Daily Deals in I Can Get it for you Wholesale. Another trend is letting the consumer set his own pricing.
The difficulty with such variable pricing is that there are no standards, norms, or techniques to prevent freeloaders who wouldn’t normally buy or “selfish” consumers who maximize their own value at the expense of the seller and pay nothing or close to it. This is a classical Tragedy of the commons situation.
Typical tactics to increase pricing include:
- Suggested price. Provide a minimum, suggested amount, or related guidelines, similar to donations in the public sector world.
- Peer Pressure. Displaying what other users paid.
- Premium. Award a bonus or publicity scaled by payment amount.
- Transparency. Disclose actual costs so the consumer can hopefully make an informed decision about how much profit he’s willing to let you make.
Add Charity share to the list. Giving an amount or percentage to charity has long been a part of the marketing toolset to raise sales or conversion. But it works especially well with consumer-set pricing. The Freakonomics blog points to a wonderful study in How to Maximize Pay-What-You-Wish Pricing where donating a major share of the payment has a huge impact on both consumer sales and price.
Ayelet Gneezy, a marketing professor at the University of California-San Diego, conducted a field experiment at a theme park (sample size: over 113,000). Gneezy presented four different pricing schemes for souvenir photos: a flat fee of $12.95; a flat fee of $12.95 with half going to charity; pay-what-you-wish; and pay-what-you-wish with half going to charity. At a flat fee of $12.95 per picture, only 0.5% of people purchased a photograph; when customers were told that half the $12.95 purchase price would go to charity, a meager 0.59% purchased a photo. Under the simple pay-what-you-wish variation, 8.39% of people purchased a photo, but customers paid only $.92 on average. The final option — pay what you wish, with half the purchase price going to charity — generated big results: purchase rates of 4.49% and an average purchase price of $5.33, resulting in significant profits for the theme park. “When the charity factor is introduced, these casual freeloaders balk at the idea of paying nothing, because it’s more likely to reflect badly on them,” writes Ed Yong. “Rather than naming a higher price, their preference is to avoid buying altogether -– for them, it isn’t worth it. Sales fall, but the actual profits go up because the remaining customers are motivated by their desire for the product and for the cause, will pay for both.”
What other techniques have you seen?