Levitt on Reddit: “Ask Me Anything” at Noon

I’m not sure how I got talked into it, but I agreed to do an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit today.

These are the sorts of questions I’m looking forward to:

Q: Would you rather fight one hundred duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?

And here are the kinds of answers I’ll be giving.

A: I would take the one big duck, for sure.  I’ll be an underdog either way (that is true in most fights I’m in).  When you are the underdog, you want luck to play as big a role as possible.  With one big duck, maybe I manage to get in a lucky swing with my 7-iron and end it quickly.  With 100 little horses, even if I get lucky and wipe out a few of them, there are still 97 more to deal with.  Plus, I’ve been bit by a horse, and it is no fun.  I also recently got attacked by fire ants, and that was no fun either.  The thought of horse jaws on those fire ants makes my skin crawl.

To check it out, just go to Reddit IAmA at noon, ET.

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  1. frankenduf says:

    my question is how did a 7-iron enter the mix

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  2. Ben says:

    I’m gonna try to get a question in, but I’m in class at noon. Considering I am the first comment on this blog post, it may be likely that you will read this. You should totally answer this question when you get there.

    Could you take us through the process of how Dubner and you wrote Freakonomics, Superfreakonomics, etc? I’ve always been curious about how those books were co-written.

    Also, I just broke up with my girlfriend because of a coin flip, so you should totally guarantee me admission to UChicago for the class of 2017.

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  3. Justin says:

    You should probably launch the AMA now, and start answering questions at noon – that way people can get their questions in and you can concentrate on those most up-voted by noon.

    Just a thought

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    • Drunken_Economist says:

      As a mod of /r/IAmA, *don’t do this*. I don’t know how people started to think this is a good idea, but it isn’t. The strength of the AMA platform is that users are able to interact with the subject in a way that simply isn’t possible on other media. If a thread is started early, it will become oversaturated with comments before Professor Levitt even gets there.

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  4. Pranjal says:

    1. Which is more rational, to cheat on your partner with 10 other people or to cheat on your partner with one person 10 times? Provided the utility derived is the same.

    2. Is it better to sleep when your roommates are studying and study when they sleep, or vice versa?

    3. What would you give more importance, efforts or time, in a romantic relationship function?
    Love = f(e, t)

    4. Is it better to do many petty thefts or one big heist?

    5. Which deathly hallow has maximum utility for the average individual? The reserection stone, invisibility clock, elder wand (source of power)

    6. What would make a mother happier, in life time utility, that a) her son married early but divorced quickly or b) her son married late but divorced after considerable time?

    7. A boyfriend told his girlfriend – if you give up smoking, so will I.

    Each gets utility in smoking and not letting the other smoke. Each gets dis utility in not smoking and letting the other smoke. The magnitudes of utility and dis utility is same.

    Should the girl take the deal?

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  5. Rick Bonlender says:

    Why are students required to finish a graduate degree in a certain amount of time? About 30% of student do not finish the thesis or last stage required for a degree. Why can’t they take a break from school and come back to finish when they are ready? Does the classwork loose value over time? Is this an unfair business practice?

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    • Enter your name... says:

      Related to this: Why don’t universities automatically issue Associates’ Degrees to anyone that has met the requirements for a two-year degree, but has dropped out before earning the four-year degree? The school could count them as “graduated” and the student would have a degree that didn’t “expire” while they were taking that break.

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  6. Ronald S Karr says:

    Definitely fight a horse-sized duck. That much mass over two feet would be unable to maintain balance, and it wouldn’t have enough muscle mass to move its wings. Also even if it could stand up, webbed feet that big wouldn’t be able to chase after you very effectively, or even turn around.

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    • James says:

      Wrong. We have numerous examples of approximately horse-sized birds – everything from ostriches and emus to the extinct Phorusrhacidae or “terror birds”.

      On the other hand, one doesn’t fight horses, but uses their inherent herd instincts to become herd leader. See any book on “natural horsemanship”.

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      • James says:

        PS: A few bags of baby carrots will probably be more effective than the 7-iron. Works on my horse, anyway.

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      • MW says:

        Yes, there have been horse-sized birds, but they weren’t scaled up ducks. Their entire physiology was drastically altered to accommodate being so big.

        The scaled-up-duck would be unable to support its own weight, possibly unable to lift its head, and would maybe would be unable to breath in against its own weight when lying on the ground. You’d win by just standing out of beak range and waiting.

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  7. Alex Johnson says:

    In his book “The Better Angels of Our Nature”, Steven Pinker argues against your theory that abortion was a contributing factor to the declining crime rate in the US in the 90′s. What do you think of Pinker’s critique of your theory? Do you still think that your theory is supported by the evidence?

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  8. Eric M. Jones says:

    One hundred duck-sized horses would be much easier to defeat than one horse-sized duck. (Let’s forget about the 7-iron.)

    Small animals like duck-sized horses can be picked up and booted or tossed. You only need to address the one nearest to you. Their legs would be like match-sticks. Their biting capability negligible.

    A duck is a surprisingly difficult creature even with a duck-sized-duck. An enormous duck would be extremely difficult to fight. For a duck to be so large that the square-cube law would work in your favor is difficult to judge, but giant moas indicate that the horse-sized duck still would have plenty of power and be a fearful creature to fight.

    The smart bet is to fight the 100 duck-sized horses.

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