Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Member In Good Standing

A little bit of Megan McArdle while I work on Ayn Rand:

You don't have to be right or even intelligent to get on tv and the radio. You just have to be a member of the club. (TM driftglass). From Planet Money:

[Jacob] GOLDSTEIN: We called up really smart people. And they had actually, like, really interesting, really little ideas. One of them is how to get people to lie less. Another one is a way to take the edge off in your personal life when things are going badly.


[David] KESTENBAUM: Which brings us to our last tweak. This tweak is useful exactly at moments like that, when your plan to fix the tax forms doesn't work, when your plan to change the legal forms doesn't work.
GOLDSTEIN: Really in general, when anything doesn't go your way.
KESTENBAUM: That's what this tweak is for.
GOLDSTEIN: It comes from Megan McArdle. She's a columnist at Bloomberg View. And we're going to call her tweak, bet against yourself.
KESTENBAUM: Megan discovered the genius of betting against yourself back when she was in business school. She and her classmates were out at a bar. They were waiting to hear if they were going to get job offers from the places they'd interned at.
MEGAN MCARDLE: I'm out with a bunch of friends. And we've now been talking about the fact that we are not going to get - we might not get our jobs.
GOLDSTEIN: How are you feeling at that moment?
MCARDLE: Extremely anxious (laughter).
KESTENBAUM: Someone came up with the idea of creating a pool. Everyone would put in 50 bucks. And if you do not get a job offer, you get the money in the pool. If multiple people don't get jobs, those people will split the pool. It's not like the winner gets it. The loser gets it.
GOLDSTEIN: There's a technical term for betting against yourself. It's called a hedge. And McArdle says hedging is great. She says everybody should do it in all kinds of settings. Bet against yourself - not a lot, just enough to take the edge off.
MCARDLE: Then, when something bad happens, you've got that little psychological backstop, you know, like, I won money. Everyone loves winning money.
KESTENBAUM: If you're a sports fan and there's a really big game coming up, she says bet against your own team. You can do this with all kinds of stuff, she says, even really personal stuff.
GOLDSTEIN: Find a friend. They will bet on you. You can bet against yourself.
MCARDLE: One example is if you are - if you're going to propose to your girlfriend. You're not quite sure she's going to say yes. That would be an excellent time.
GOLDSTEIN: (Laughter) You are making a bet, before you propose...
GOLDSTEIN: That your girlfriend is going to say no, is going to reject you. That's your advice.
MCARDLE: Yes (laughter). That is something you could do, yes.
GOLDSTEIN: Who - who would do this? Like, what kind of person, at this key moment in life, would bet against themselves? It makes sense. But it feels wrong, right? It feels wrong for, like, the super fan to be voting against their team. I mean, why do you think that is? Why do you think it feels wrong?
MCARDLE: Human beings, if you think about how we evolve - right? - we evolve in these small groups. And one of the biggest things that these small groups worry about is loyalty.
GOLDSTEIN: We as human beings are sort of built to be loyal. And betting against yourself or betting against your team is disloyal.
MCARDLE: Exactly.
GOLDSTEIN: Megan says there are times when you should not bet against yourself. You know, for example, if you're a professional athlete, do not bet against your team. That's against the law. If you're actually married, do not bet against your marriage. It screws up the incentives.
KESTENBAUM: But if you are, say, in graduate school and worried that you might not get that job offer, that is a great time to bet against yourself. It worked for her, sadly.
MCARDLE: I did not get a job offer from the place where I'd interned.
KESTENBAUM: But she did get the money from the pool.
MCARDLE: I got enough money to take myself to a pretty nice dinner. And it did - it really - it was funny how much that lessened the sting because now, instead of just thinking, oh, this is terrible; I didn't get a job offer, I had something nice to think about at the moment when I needed it most.
GOLDSTEIN: So tweaks are hard to make happen. The status quo is really powerful. But one good thing about this tweak, about betting against yourself, you don't need an act of Congress. You don't need some big company to do anything. This tweak, it's on you.
KESTENBAUM: Jacob, I like this tweak. I'm not going to do it.
GOLDSTEIN: No, there's no way. I'm not going to do it either (laughter).

Her ideas were dumb but let's pay her to give them anyway because she's super smart.


cynic said...

And I thought Planet Money was actually smart

aimai said...

Filler. She's like the styrofoam packing peanuts of infotainment. Her function is to fill the spaces between the advertisements.

Susan of Texas said...

That's very true, aimai. It's like they pull her out of the junk drawer every time they need filler, like when they used a year-old podcast at Valentine's Day.

Unsalted Sinner said...

To be fair, always betting against Megan McArdle does sound like a good strategy. It probably works great for her.

Anonymous said...

Remember the time she dated a guy who didn't want to marry her and missed the obvious when he would never say he loved her?