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Posts Tagged ‘Harry Potter’

The Myth of Common Sense: Why The Social World Is Less Obvious Than It Seems

This is a guest post by Duncan Watts, a principal research scientist at Yahoo! Labs, and the author of Everything is Obvious: Once You Know The Answer.

The Myth of Common Sense: Why The Social World Is Less Obvious Than It Seems
By Duncan Watts
“Mankind, it seems, makes a poorer performance of government than of almost any other human activity.”
Barbara Tuchman, The March of Folly
“This is not rocket science”
Bill Frist on fixing health care, The New York Times
As these two quotes illustrate, there is something strangely conflicted about contemporary views on government and policy. On one hand, many people are in apparent agreement that government frequently accomplishes less than it ought to, sometimes embarrassingly so. Yet on the other hand, many of these same people are also of the opinion that the failings of government do not imply any great difficulty of the problems themselves—that they are not rocket science, as it were.

What Is Fantasy For?

We know that Levitt loves the Harry Potter series. The Golden Compass trilogy — not so much. But the bigger question is: why do any of us love fantasy, and what good does it do us? Some good ideas have tumbled out of a lively discussion on the subject at Oxford’s Overcoming Bias blog, where Robin Hanson points out that . . .

That Damn Harry Potter

When it comes to Harry Potter, I was a late adopter. For years, I chuckled at the avid readers who camped out at book stores the night before the latest book’s release. My wife is hard to buy for, so when she mentioned half-heartedly that she should read Harry Potter because all of her friends were fans, I bought her . . .

The FREAK-est Links

eBay structures micro-loans for businesses in impoverished regions. (Earlier) Is the “Kitty Genovese Effect” overblown? (Hat tip: BPS Research) Amazon quadruples profits from Harry Potter sales. (Earlier) Just how skin-deep is beauty?

Here Comes Harry!

Tomorrow morning — at 12:01 AM, to be precise — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will go on sale. While coverage of the event has been crammed with reports of lawsuits over early shipments, outrage over Internet spoilers, and protests over potential Sabbath desecration, there’s also been plenty of Freakonomic-ish news in the Potter realm. Here’s a summary: A . . .

The FREAKest Links: Potter Deathwatch Edition

Included in the hubbub leading up to the final Harry Potter installment is a prediction exchange in which participants bet on whether Harry lives or dies — although betting has now been influenced by an anonymous Web spoiler claiming insider knowledge that the hero doesn’t meet an untimely doom. Gelf magazine has an interview with the economist Uri Gneezy, who . . .

Incentivized Potter-ing: Amazon Runs Harry Potter Pre-Order Contest

The final installment in the Harry Potter series is near (much to the dismay of its profiting publisher), and the release date for lucky No. 7 is fast approaching. Meanwhile, is marking the occasion by running a contest called “The Harry-est Town in America.” Whichever town pre-orders the most copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will receive . . .

Lucky Sevens

The new issue of People lists the 10 best-selling movies, books, CDs, DVDs, etc. of the year. Freakonomics was the No. 7 book among those first published in 2005. (The new Harry Potter was No. 1 by a landslide.) Here, from the other categories, are the other No. 7’s. #7 movie: Madagascar #7 CD: Gwen Stefani: Love. Angel. Music. Baby. . . .