The Why Axis: How to get People to Give More

In Chapter Nine of the The Why Axis, Uri Gneezy and John List examined some of the conventional wisdoms about the techniques used in charity fund raising to try to determine if they really work at all, as well as which work better than others. What are the motivations for people to give to charity? How might these motivations be exploited to get people to donate more? The authors noted that in their travels, that most charities rely on the assumptions and conventional wisdoms of the previous decision makers, “rather than verifiable data.” One of the conventional wisdoms John came Continue reading The Why Axis: How to get People to Give More

The Why Axis: Innovation is Key

Chapter 10 of the Why Axis discusses the reason behind many people’s willingness to give to nonprofits and how this changes the way these nonprofits run their companies. The chapter starts off by telling of a child who was the star of a 2008 Academy Award winning documentary entitled “Smile Pinki.” This child from India, Pinki Sonkar was born with a cleft lip and faced many hardships early in her life because the way people treated her. But one day she was introduced to a doctor employed by a nonprofit who agreed to preform surgery to rid of this problem. Continue reading The Why Axis: Innovation is Key


There’s been a lot of interesting talk about “homo-economicus” on the blog this semester, so I figured it would be fun to close things out with a post on “robo-economicus.” That is, robots using strategies modeled on economics to cooperate. Let me explain… A few months ago, I was applying for REU positions in mathematics and computer science. One of the programs I considered was Oregon State University’s Robotics in the Real World. In doing my due diligence in preparing an application, I stumbled upon this paper, “Learning to trick cost-based planners into cooperative behaviour.” In the paper, the authors essentially Continue reading Robo-Econimus

Free Money: Part 2

Free Money trial 2 We made this nice banner because I think my poorly drawn signs and our addition of “no joke, no questions” was a bit deterring. But I’ve gleamed an interesting observation from this: even when the sign (albeit drawn in color pencil and sharpie) specified no questions, people asked questions. Perhaps the two of us (senior blogger Nicky and I) didn’t seem intimidating to back up the “no questions” rule, I don’t think that’s true though. What is clear is that participants just want to know what the heck we’re up to. “Come on guys, somethings up.” Continue reading Free Money: Part 2