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Polytopia
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Davis, US
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    The effect of money on humans
    Project: Polytopia
    I'm sure many of you know about the great mathematician, Paul Erdos, and may have heard this story about him (from Wikipedia):

    His colleague Alfréd Rényi said, "a mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems", and Erdős drank copious quantities. (This quotation is often attributed incorrectly to Erdős himself.)[6] After 1971 he also took amphetamines, despite the concern of his friends, one of whom (Ron Graham) bet him $500 that he could not stop taking the drug for a month.[7] Erdős won the bet, but complained during his abstinence that mathematics had been set back by a month: "Before, when I looked at a piece of blank paper my mind was filled with ideas. Now all I see is a blank piece of paper." After he won the bet, he promptly resumed his amphetamine habit.


    and today, I was reading an interesting article titled, "Should kids be bribed to do well in school?" which starts off with this anecdote:
    In junior high school, one of my classmates had a TV addiction - back before it was normal. This boy - we'll call him Ethan - was an encyclopedia of vacuous content, from The A-Team to Who's the Boss?

    Then one day Ethan's mother made him a bold offer. If he could go a full month without watching any TV, she would give him $200. None of us thought he could do it. But Ethan quit TV, just like that. His friends offered to let him cheat at their houses on Friday nights (Miami Vice nights!). Ethan said no.

    One month later, Ethan's mom paid him $200. He went out and bought a TV, the biggest one he could find.


    "Should Kids Be Bribed To Do Well In School? -Time Magazine"



    The connecting link between these two behaviors is the monetary reward each was given. One was a intelligent 12 year old, and the other was a middle-aged, brilliant mathematician, but both were able to stop their addicting behaviors for money and to prove they could. Do you think they would have truly succeeded if there was nothing to "win" or no bet and the end? Amphetamines are a physiologically and psychological addicting substance, and as for television, I sure as hell couldn't quit for a month. Well, I would considering it's 2010 and we have the internet I could, but I couldn't live for a month without using computers. Either way, monetary rewards have the psychological power to give one the strength to break an addiction, albeit for an extended, but temporary, period of time.

    This idea could make for some very interesting social policy that could prove to be incredibly effective, were there to be a society that would accept bribery of citizens (pay them to not pollute/stay in school/not get any driving violations... etc)

    Fri, Apr 9, 2010  Permanent link

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    AsylumSeaker     Sun, Apr 11, 2010  Permanent link
    I think it would be better to make clear to people the inherit rewards in not polluting, staying in school and obeying road rules. Rewards such as having a nice planet to live on, becoming an educated and mentally capable person, and not dying horribly in a car accident.
    meganmay     Tue, Apr 13, 2010  Permanent link
    "Yes, sometimes rewards do work, especially if people really don't want to do something. But when tasks are inherently interesting to us rewards can damage our motivation by undermining our natural talent for self-regulation." experimental evidence for how rewards can reduce motivation here.

    I also think money is one of the least dynamic rewards to bribe people with.
    PARADOX     Wed, Apr 14, 2010  Permanent link
    nightmarish proposition indeed; makes one wonder if it's actually meant to be a joke etc.…i have a counter proposition;
    let everyone in the world give all their money to wall street and let them have their great game of monopoly so we can get on with living in the real world…maybe the t.v. networks can join in and create a pro sport out of it too…
    alok subbarao     Wed, Apr 14, 2010  Permanent link
    Well, I wouldn't call it a nightmarish proposition. If you want to call it a nightmare, I'd say you need to wake up and take a look at the real world. What do you call carbon credits, health insurance policies, having kids w/ respect to mortgage/property taxes, agricultural subsidies, rent control, big business oligopolies, I could go on and on... we are already being paid to live certain lifestyles, go certain places, eat certain products, etc. In the US, you gain "points" for driving violations, and you can have a max of some number of points before you lose your license/face penalties. I forget where, but I believe a country shook up their system by having people start out with 7 points, and each driving violation was a lost point. This proved to be FAR more effective, as people are much more reluctant to lose a finite number of points than to abstractly gain points, even when there is a "ceiling" to it. This is slightly, but not entirely analogous, to the "nightmarish proposition" I have stated in the post.

    I don't like the effect that money seems to have on humans more than anyone else, but I won't deny it exists - and controls our world.
    PARADOX     Wed, Apr 14, 2010  Permanent link
    ooh…did i bruise your ego?
    well excuse me…i seem to have a talent for doing that to people who can't accept and respect opinions contrary to their own,and all too often resort to some sort of denigrating remark that only serves to place themselves in an unfavourable light…
    you're assuming quite a lot by telling me to wake up and see the "real" world;
    you don't know a thing about me,so let's stay on topic please…

    i never said anything about money's ubiquitousness;i am all too well aware of it's clutch…what i find "nightmarish is proposing that we involve it in all our decisions to an even greater extent…since you agree that it has a detrimental effect on humanity already, i can't understand why you'd see this as beneficial…
    but being as you are a 19 yr. old in the u.s., your comments, and the points you use to argue the case make me think that you're only considering how this might work for you where you live, regardless of the rest of humanity, and it would be just another extension of slavery that the majority would have to live with whether they liked it or not,( that's how it's been up 'til now)…
    who would decide what kind of behaviour(GREED?) is to be rewarded?
    are you assuming everyone shares the same values and visions of how they want to live? do you think people need to have a carrot dangled in front of them so they can get somewhere? why not just spread the money out and let people make up their own minds instead?
    i ride my bicycle where i please; on sidewalks,against the flow of traffic etc.
    should i be put in jail? what you propose would open the door to the total control of everything you do…according to your idea only those who "behave" will prosper; it's already that anyways, i say it has to go, like the song says:
    "FUCK YOU I WON'T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME"

    i suspect you'd be singing a different tune if you were living in squalor and some foreign country with lots of money came and blew up your community, stole all your resources,killed your children and left you with nothing…
    the economic "reality" you describe is an unreality perpetuated by greed,corruption and murder that is leading us all towards catastrophe…if everyone in the world lived as an american we'd need six planets, but that's not your problem right now, is it?
    are you going into banking? they'd like you…

    whether i'm awake or not,my friend you need to learn the value of humility and be more respectful of others if you'd like to be respected…
    when you do (and you will) you'll find that people will greet you with open arms wherever you go and they'll do it for FREE…
    alok subbarao     Thu, Apr 15, 2010  Permanent link
    Paradox,
    I meant no disrespect, I'm sorry that my comment did sound condescending. "Wake up" is pretty confrontational and I regret using that language. and I will readily admit that this post certainly is US-centric if not also euro/west-centric. However do realize that you too are assuming much about me, that I'm a 19 year old brought up in the US living in a nice peaceful suburb with no understanding of the hardships others face in the rest of the world. Yes I am 19, have much less life experience than you and probably most others on this site. It doesn't mean I'm not entitled to my opinion though. I have spent a little over a year of my life in India. I've lived for a few months in a relatives home where water was only on a few hours of the day, and if the power only went out two or three times it was a good day. I've seen a mother clothing her babies in newspapers and trash, and believe me it broke my heart to see. We have an apartment there in a nice part of the city, which means only one layer of trash and filth covers the ground, and there are only a few homeless children living on each block, instead of a few dozen. My family/people's history is quite accurately described by a foreign country with lots of money and power came and destroyed our community, stole many of the resources, killed god knows how many people, and left us with not much. (of course, I was fortunate enough to not experience that part!)

    Part of the problem with communicating over the internet is that tone and all of our nonverbal communications are not conveyed. I'm sure sitting face to face I'd have been able to express myself much more closely to how I mean it, and we'd be having a rousing but friendly argument. I also post things that cross my mind but do not always reflect me - believe me, I am much more of an idealist than an economist wallstreet asshole placing a price on everything. I will say though that I still believe the wallstreet assholes do control the world, and I don't think it'll change unless somehow we can hit a magical restart button. Either way, point taken, and I do apologize for coming off as egotistical/condescending... its usually not the way I am.
    PARADOX     Thu, Apr 15, 2010  Permanent link
    alok-
    i am most certainly pleased that you have taken it well…
    i feel that i need to clarify that i never said or assumed what kind of person you really are or where you live and what you've experienced, but the language you used gave an impression…to me everyone is entitled to their opinion(which i'd never deny you) regardless,so you don't need to justify your right to that…
    i was never insulted by your remarks, it is only when one identifies themselves with their ideas and care about being right that this happens(pride)…
    life (to me) is a learning process for which i have infinite patience and enthusiasm, i think people could take themselves a little less seriously and allow more room for trial and error, as well as being an asshole, which we all do-doo from time to time,some more than others perhaps,but this will never put a dent in my self-esteem or exuberance for it all…embrace the asshole; all of the soil or hummus which fosters life is the shit and death being recycled…when people say "holy shit" they don't realize how right they are…
    in japanese the words for shit and luck sound very similar (oon), and the people have a tradition of keeping small ornaments in the shape of a spiralling turd for good luck…
    "those that can laugh at themselves will forever be amused"

    as far as quick fixes go…anything that impinges upon freedom is something i will stand against, no matter how logical or "realistic" it may seem…
    to me this is the fundamental problem and issue facing humanity…
    no one has the right to direct another's life; if freedom is allowed to prosper all our problems will correct themselves along the lines of the self-organizing principles of life…it is the constant interference of the arrogance which humanity expresses towards natural systems that has us in this mess and is not allowing evolution to proceed in harmony…
    america was once the beacon of hope to oppressed people starving for freedom,but has sadly lost her way,so my hope is that you and others who live their and everywhere will take up the responsibility to steer their own lives towards this true calling…it is only through individual effort that the shackles will fall off…but if you look at things and think that you have to adjust to things as they are now,then change will never come in the way you'd like it to…
    the magical restart button is you…hit it!

    p.s.
    check out the song "broken hearts are for assholes" by frank zappa,
    it's pretty funny,if you're not offended by some foul language…


    Mariana Soffer     Sun, Apr 18, 2010  Permanent link
    Free shifts the economy from a focus on only that which can be quantified in dollars and cents to a more realistic accounting of all the things we truly value today.
    alok subbarao     Sun, Apr 18, 2010  Permanent link
    here's another example: fiverr.com is a cool site where people, some with amazing talent/ability, offer to do something for $5. these people are willing to put time and effort to do stuff for a fee of $5, its not much more than free but... thats the effect I think money has on humans.
    CoCreatr     Sat, Jul 17, 2010  Permanent link
    About effects of "straightforward" incentives on practical performance, listen to Daniel Pink's TED talk.

    About this talk

    Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don't: Traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories — and maybe, a way forward.

         Fri, Jul 30, 2010  Permanent link
    I live in British Columbia. If you pay your taxes on time they give you 100 bucks a year to spend on (in their words) "Something green". the cheque comes with a brief little info pamphlet and vaguely suggests things like compact florescent lightbulbs or bikes or stuff like that. I think a lot of people I know think it's funny to spend it on weed, though.

    I don't think it's funny that they throw 100 bucks at everyone to make them stop thinking about the fact that they're not really doing much that seems to actually care about the problem of the environment shitting the bed. Take the issue of worrying about money off the table and the people will be content with pretty much any of the distractions they can buy. I think that more creative, less corrupt incentives need to be thought out for this kind of plan to work.
     
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