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The economics of practical jokes and consumer revolts

But before I get to the academic theory, I’m going to start with a story about an encounter I had with some serial pranksters my freshman year in college. (While I’m not pretending to be deep, this is going somewhere. Please indulge me.) For some reason, these three gentlemen decided that I would be the perfect target for their continued attentions. Without going into the painful details, suffice it to say that at some point I decided that it had to stop. I called up about a dozen friends and gave them the dorm room phone number of the three gentlemen in question. I told them to call the number, pretend that they thought they were calling Pizza World, and try to order a large pie and liter of soda. It struck me at the time as a lame idea for revenge, but it was the best one that I had.

The operation was to commence at 2:00 PM. At 2:15, the first call came in. The next one came in at 2:40. Then 2:55. Then 3:15. By 4 PM, the calls were coming about every 15 minutes. By 6, the next call was coming almost as soon as the previous one ended. My victims’ phone continued to ring non-stop until around midnight, at which point the calls began tapering off, finally petering out altogether at around 2 AM. As the calls came in, the details became more imaginative. “I saw a flyer on campus offering a free liter of soda with a large pie.” “I clipped a coupon for a free topping from the Daily Targum [the college newspaper].” The targets of my joke soon came to believe that I had blanketed all of the university with their phone number, and that the calls would keep coming until they changed their numbers. I didn’t provide any of these details to the callers; they made them up on their own.

The next day, when I called my friends back to thank them for a job well done, several of them begged me to continue the joke for a second night. One of them said that he had random people from his dorm floor standing in a line that stretched halfway down the hall, waiting for their turn to make a call. Many of them would then go to the end of the line and start over, eager for a second shot at the prank. Most of these people didn’t know me or their targets. But it turned out that I had hit upon the ideal formula for a practical joke. Given an opportunity to participate with little risk of getting caught, a high percentage of college students who are hanging out on a dorm floor will commit surprising amounts of time and creativity to random acts of mischief. Some of my anonymous allies may have taken satisfaction in believing that they were bringing justice down on some bullies (even if they didn’t quite know who the bullies are or why they needed justice to come down on them). Others undoubtedly just wanted to get away with something. The beauty of the setup is that both kinds of motivations could be satisfied at a cost that was low enough for them to act. The key lesson here is that certain kinds of costs constrain behavior more than we realize. Lower the cost, lower the barrier to participation sufficiently, and you cross a kind of event horizon of human participation. Suddenly, the normal rules no longer apply.

Questions & Answers

where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, The impact of open source software on education. OpenStax CNX. Mar 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10431/1.7
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