Press

Haas Profile of Lab Research

Haas Now just posted a profile on some of our recent research, and how they might change the future of business and marketing. If you are too lazy to read the whole thing, this is the one sentence summary of why businesses should care about what we are trying to do.

People say a lot of things, a lot of which are true but some are not. We want to develop ways to separate these.

Gene learning paper in Berkeley Science Review

Kevin Doxzen from Berkeley Science Review has written a fantastic piece about our genetic basis of strategic learning paper. The best part is that Kevin in his day job is a biophysicist, which allowed me to geek out a bit during the interview. Luckily he also translated most of that into language normal people speak. :)

HuffPost Live

Many thanks to Abe Forman-Greenwald and the HuffPost Live crew for inviting me to take part in The Matter of the Mind and talk about a topic that is never too far away when I tell people I study how our brains make decisions. That is, someone eventually asks about free will. Nowadays there is also a bit of queasiness when they find out I’m in marketing (but that’s a conversation for another day!). For those interested, check out the video here.

Radio Interview

Yesterday I participated in a live radio interview with the Edmonton radio program Skeptically Speaking. It was quite fun and had very well-informed audience questions. There was even one question about how our research applies to game theory, which is exactly what we are doing these days.

The last question from the hosts kind of stumped me though. It was something like, "If there was a song that described your life arc, what song would it be?" After the show Desiree told me one previous answer was the Imperial march from Star Wars, which is pretty good. I have nothing to rival that. I've thought about it and still can't think of anything. Maybe Dirt Off Your Shoulders, but I don't even like that song.

Anyway I am looking forward to getting the podcast soon. Here's hoping that everything sounds better on air, or over iTunes in this case.

Update (5/4): The episode is up now. A couple of thoughts.

  1. It's hard to keep things on a lay level. I made a conscious effort at the beginning but it was hard to maintain. Science blogs complain bitterly about the media butchering their science reporting. They are certainly right in some cases, but what gets overlooked is just how difficult it is to be engaging without overloading on jargon and details. It doesn't help that people tend to fixate on the headlines, which to me seems harder to write and typically not even written by the author of the article.
  2. The length of the show (~40min) surprised me. And since it started recording at 7PM CST, I was totally starving and noticeably running out of steam towards the end. If it had gone on further I would have either ordered take out or starting speaking in tongues.

Neurofinance Webcast

Interesting interview with Peter Bossaerts from the private banking consulting group Arvetica. Alas for the consulting firm he does not reveal the secret to using neurofinance to make billions. Read More...

Forums

The WSJ article had an accompanied forum, which is always interesting to see for the varied reactions to really anything under the sun. This one particularly caught my attention.

"As a professional economist, I winced as I read your aticle [sic]. I'm afraid that this type of "research" only shows how weak some aspects of our discipline have become. Unfortunaltely [sic], too many economists take the view that they are qualified to study anything under the sun. Forget about wether it has to do with prices, output or equilibrium. These days "economists" are "studying" everything from autism to how the brain processes information. I think that these people would best serve the discipline by migrating to another field. We have (medical) doctors and bioligists [sic] for studying these sorts of topics. If it really interests them then perhaps they should consider making a switch to a medical field. After all, as economists, wouldn't they agree with the principle of specialization? I know how most economists would react to a bioligist [sic] trying to explain the movement of interest rates (think crackpot). I shudder to think how medical scientists would react to these sorts of "economists" that you discussed in your article."

My first reaction was just how much rarer this type of criticism has been over the past 3-4 years. It used to be quite commonplace. I suppose people have either gotten bored of repeating themselves or have changed their minds (probably the former :p). I remember Ken Binmore told me while I was on the job market that, in the 70s, many economists thought game theory was preposterous. On the other hand, the suggestion that I migrate to another field is quite ironic given the reputation of “economic imperialism”.
My second reaction is, it’s “biologists”, good god!

PBS Special: CURIOUS

It’s no long “Big Science”, it’s now “Curious”, and it will finally be airing. Some of the clips can be viewed on the WNET/Thirteen website. It’s pretty funny to see people I used to drink with on TV.

Wall Street Journal Article

Lee Hotz of the Wall Street Journal wrote a very nice article about our study on distributive justice. It is entitled “Charting the Agony Of a Brain as It Struggles to Be Fair”, which sounds a whole lot better than the titles that I can think of.