“FreakonomicsRadio” podcast, 7/10/14
This episode of FreakonomicsRadio struck me because it drew a parallel between two things that have a special place in my heart: Biblical Wisdom and Van Halen.
We all provide a ‘check and balance’ to what we do and what we expect to happen as a result, the question is how well it works and if it provides a clear picture of what is most important to us.
This episode is all about a part of ‘game theory’ which allows for errors and issues to be found easily, as well as quickly and discreetly. Certain traps or tripwires which ensure that attention to detail and correct action is taken. “Teaching your garden to weed itself” is how Levitt & Dubner refer to creating checks within a system that are not easily identified, but tell you what you need to know. Weeding out the truth if you will.
Do you have something in place that makes sure the right thing is happening?
The real life example? David Lee Roth, at the time with the band Van Halen, would place the requirement for M&M’s with all brown ones removed deep within the contract rider for all big concerts. It ensured that all promoters were approaching their large scale shows with the utmost care and diligence. The rider was 53 pages long, and some would skip over the details before signing on the line.
Brown M&M’s meant they needed to check the complex light and stage setup before they played.
The philosophical example of Solomon solving the problem of what to do with the 2 mothers but only 1 living baby. The solution presented proved the heartlessness of the one who was not the mother, and the love for the child presented by the real mother.
She would rather give the child away than have it killed so both parties would have a piece.
A great example that is not in the podcast, but found its way into the comments on the website, was how students would make sure their professors were actually reading their assignments. Usually by adding some obscure line to the middle of a paragraph.
A friend of mine actually included in one such assignment: “The playful kitten chased the bouncing ball across the kitchen floor”, among other such unrelated and hilarious lines in his assignments. We were all convinced that there was no way our teacher was actually reading the literally hundreds of pages of material he would receive from all of us each week. My friend got top marks, while some would have lines underlined and harshly critiqued.
Next to the paragraph in question the teacher wrote in bright red letters, “These are great insights!”