born1945/flickr

Offsetting Behavior

Suppose I told you that putting on a seatbelt makes you drive more dangerously. "Nonsense!," you might think, "why would wearing a seatbelt change how I drive?" Well, suppose I told you instead about a different car modification: a very sharp spike that attaches to the front of the steering ... Read more »

Path Dependence

If you drive to work in the morning, you probably do so in a gasoline-powered car. Compared against the electric cars that actually exist (versus maybe the ones we wish existed), gas-powered cars just make more sense for most people: they're just much cheaper and far more convenient than electric. ... Read more »

Truck and Forklift by Ricecracker

Orders of Magnitude

Imagine you're building yourself a new house, from scratch, and you're trying to guess how many bricks you'll need. You can't be sure in advance what the exact number will be, but you can try to calculate within the right ballpark: will it be thousands? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of ... Read more »

Backwards bend induction

Game Theory: Strategy and Backward Induction

Let’s play a game. I’ll let you go first which I promise will let you win… if you play just right. The game is called 50 and the goal is to say the number 50 first. Before you shout it out like a smart ass, I should clarify ... Read more »

Sunk Costs Battleship

Understanding the Sunk Cost Fallacy

At the beginning of this year, I bought an annual bus pass to get onto my university campus. Halfway through the year, though, I realised that I hated getting the bus: it was always crowded and wasting so much time waiting for busses was driving me mad. If I drove ... Read more »

Principal Agent Problem by Leonardo Rizzi

Understanding Principal-Agent Problems

You're young and lazy and you've been hired for a summer job at the record store downtown (remember those?) The boss' interest is for her store to make as much profit as possible, long term; this probably routes through selling more records today and keeping customers happy so she can ... Read more »

Thinking at the Margin

Economists often talk about "thinking at the margin" -- you might even hear them say "everything happens at the margin." What does that actually mean? Imagine you're taking your piggy-bank on a walk through the forest when you trip on an unfortunately-placed rock and your precious piggy flies out of ... Read more »

This is kind of an equilibrium

Second Best Equilibrium

In economics, most of our models of the market/economy assume some stylised but ultimately unrealistic assumptions. For example, they assume perfect information, or risk neutrality, or rational decision making on the part of various actors. The second best equilibrium is the equilibrium that occurs in our imperfect world, where ... Read more »

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Greatest Hits


Thinking At The Margin: what to do when you drop your piggy bank in the middle of the forest.

Strategy and Backward Induction: how to win a week of lunches from your unsuspecting colleagues.

What is Multiple Imputation?: when statisticians turn into detectives.

On Shuttle Drivers, Chocolate and NP Completeness: a deliciously difficult problem in computer science.

Rest and Digest vs Fight or Flight: how your body (and medications) help with fighting tigers.

Sites we like


William Shaw, writing about Politics, Theatre, Sci-fi… Mainly Sci-fi.

Better Explained, for maths explanations that click.

Science Non Fiction, a graduate student perspective on science in the news and in our lives.

Clearer Thinking, learn to think more clearly and make better decisions.

EconScribe.org, working to improve the quality of research communications.

Jess Whittlestone, a blog about decision making and behavioural science.