Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

Irrational about money

Michael Shermer’s blog about money (“Why People Believe Weird Things About Money“) describes how people would choose less money over more as long as the less money is more than someone else would get.  The article also describes how this “irrational” trait has been observed in monkeys too, suggesting that it is a behaviour that evolved pre-humans.  A very worthwhile read.

I found one of the responses (reproduced below) questioning the “irrational” label of this trait, highly entertaining:

Alex Says:
January 23rd, 2008 at 12:06 pm Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the whole point of evolution and survival of the fittest basically about trying to pass on your genes as efficiently as possible, i.e. copulating with as many females as you can (in case you are a male, of course)?

Let me make this clearer:

Assumption/Premise 1: You are a male.
Assumption/Premise 2: A female will rather copulate with the fittest male.
Assumption/Premise 3: The fittest male = the most powerful male = the richest male.

Scenario: Would you rather earn $50,000 a year while (all) other males make $25,000, in which case you are the fittest male, and hence get all the girls? Or would you rather earn $100,000 a year while (all) other males get $250,000, in which case you are the weakest male, and hence never get laid?

Surprisingly — stunningly, in fact — my intuition tells me that the majority of males will select the first option; they would rather make twice as much as other males even if that meant earning half as much as they could otherwise have and getting twice as many girls – because that would help their genes. How rational is that?

By the way, the tone of this letter is meant for comedic purposes only.

January 24, 2008 - Posted by | behaviour, decision making, evolutionary psychology, neuroeconomics, neuroscience

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