When a Typo Improves an E-Mail

We received a pretty standard e-mail recently that included the following sentence:

“We will be using experimental economic sand psychology to explore the motivations behind …”

Wow, I thought — that sounds interesting: experimental economic sand psychology. I wonder how that works. Is each subject given a pile of sand and asked to create a sand castle that represents his or her view of capitalism? Or maybe each subject bids on a variety of piles of sand in an auction/game theory setting?

And then I read it again. Oh. It was supposed to read “experimental economics and psychology,” not “economic sand psychology.”

Never mind. Into the trash bin.


My first thought was that they are referring to the "Sandpile model" of earthquakes and economic instability.

Seminymous Coward

I suspect that a full-scale experimental economic sand psychology project would likely result in the introduction of awesome glass coins. As such, I wholeheartedly support it. I suggest you dig the email out of your deleted items to reply suggesting a change to suit the typo.

Mike B

If this blog was more like xkcd, by this time next week there would be a paper published on experimental economic sand psychology.


There are already people working on 'smart sand' (e.g. http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/smart-robotic-sand-0402.html). Maybe experimental economic sand psychology is when you start trying to program them to have an economy.

Pablo Ben

I thought they where trying something on sandbox style where you can test things without interfering the real system.


I took "economic sand psychology" in the sense of "head in the sand".