Tag Archive | psychology

The Science of a Simple Scam

Last weekend, I put up a couple of ads on Craigslist for some of my old furniture and appliances – amongst them, a big rug.  For those of you who have never heard of such a thing, Craigslist is an online, unsecured, unverified market place.  You put up your ad for free and prospective buyers can contact you over email.  You then haggle, arrange a rendezvous and exchange your wares.  This is all well and good in theory, but in practice, things get a bit more….  interesting.  Consider this reply that I received with respect to the rug that I put up for sale.

still available for sale? please let me know..

This is how most Craigslist conversations start.  Very informal.  Not much detail revealed besides an email address (and perhaps, a name).

It is for sale!  You can reach me at XXX-XXX-XXXX.
Let me know when you want to come pick it up.

So far so good.

Hi,
Thanks for your response. I'm going on a vacation to London
but I will instruct my assistant to prepare and mail your
payment which I'm sure you will get in about 4 - 6 business
days. I'll add $20 extra for the delay. I'll pay by M O or
cashier check so send me your info (i.e full name, mailing
address and your phone number) so payment can be mailed out
immediately. I will also make arrangement for pick-up which
will be after you must have received and cashed the payment.Awaiting your info.Thanks
Frank

Now things are getting a little more interesting.  How many of you think that this is reasonably innocent?

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Wishful Thinking: A Critical Analysis of Homeopathy Part II

Homeopathic 1 gram globules

Homeopathic 1 gram globules

This is a continuation of my post on homeopathy in which I talked about the history of homeopathy and how it is scientifically tested.  I ended the post wondering why there was so much public acceptance for such an ineffective product.  In this post, I will discuss the various cognitive biases that allow well-intentioned individuals to falsely believe that homeopathic interventions have positive effects.

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An Offer You Cannot Refuse

Currency - by bradipo

Imagine that you are on a game show.  Consider the following two scenarios:

The host has given you $2000 to begin with.  You are now given a choice – you can stay with your money or participate in the “Double or Nothing”.  Should you choose the event, the host would flip a fair coin.  Should the coin land heads, you will get an extra $2000.  Should it land tails, you lose the $2000 you have.

The host has given you $4000 to begin with.  You are now given a choice – you can participate pay a fine of $2000 or participate in the “Trap of Doom” event.  Should you choose the event, the host would flip a fair coin.  Should the coin land heads, you get to keep all $4000.  Should it land tails, you loose all $4000 to the “Trap of Doom”.

Would you participate in the “Double or Nothing” event?  Would you participate in the “Trap of Doom”?  Are your answers different?

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