When Demand Elicits Fake Supply


(Photo: istolethetv)

I visited the Mütter Museum (a great collection of medical and related memorabilia and information in Philadelphia), which had the following sign on one exhibit about shrunken heads: “Westerners traveling to the territory in the late 19th century … were fascinated with the heads and offered the tribe money and guns in exchange. … This led to an increase in warfare … both to get more heads to sell and because of the prevalence of guns.  It also led to the creation of counterfeit heads … made from real human heads but not prepared by the tribe, and others [that] were made from monkey, goat, or other animal skin.”  Nice to see how, even for a bizarre object, a large increase in demand elicits a supply response of both genuine and fake products.

I welcome other equally weird examples of induced supply responses with both genuine and fake products.

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  1. steve cebalt says:

    Virginity. Until recently, most brides allowed/encouraged people to assume that they were virgins, and marriages often were major economic transactions between families, where virginity was a necessary condition (“sold”) for the marriage to happen and dowries to change hands.

    My kids, however, would have no idea what a “shotgun wedding” is. It’s just a “wedding, attended by the longtime couple’s young children.”

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  2. Pallavi says:

    Isnt plagiarism and ghost writing essentially a problem of induced supply? Your undergraduate degree course requires you to write a million papers by the time youre done, and that acts as demand. In response, students tend to find creative means of plagiarising or using other people or indeed, organisations, to write their papers for them, which are the fakes, as opposed to genuine researched and cited papers written by themselves.

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    • John says:

      Integrity is the only thing that keeps me out of the supply side of this racket…I can crank out a “B” paper in most undergrad subjects in a few hours. And with the way the current generation writes, an A may simply require decent grammar and structure.

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      • Pallavi says:

        If we are looking as being on the supply side, perhaps the ones who actually do engage in these activities do not have to worry about integrity or being caught by an authority. The show “Suits” comes to mind, where the main protagonist carries on a profitable business of supplying well written papers to Law students, mainly because he himself was kicked out of school and hence doesn’t care anymore.

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