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Don't Eat Fortune's Cookie
June 4, 2012 9:42 PM   Subscribe

"My case illustrates how success is always rationalized. People really don’t like to hear success explained away as luck—especially successful people. As they age, and succeed, people feel their success was somehow inevitable. They don’t want to acknowledge the role played by accident in their lives. There is a reason for this: the world does not want to acknowledge it either." Michael Lewis's address to the Princeton Class of 2012.
posted by vidur (58 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh no, the fact that I have any money and a career at all is totally, 100% luck, and I've always known it.

I leave this here so my 80-year old self can think of my now self as a dumbass.
posted by fnerg at 9:46 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Luck is not a real force in the universe. Unless you consider being born white and male as "lucky".
posted by Brocktoon at 9:51 PM on June 4, 2012


Yes, but nobody speaking to a Princeton graduating class would get out alive if he were THAT honest.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:55 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Luck is not a real force in the universe. Unless you consider being born white and male as "lucky".

Read to the end
posted by one_bean at 9:55 PM on June 4, 2012


There seem to be two related but very different definitions that people use for the word "luck", and everyone always assumes that anyone else using the word means to use the same definition as their own.

Definition one is something like, "a supernatural force that associates with a person and offers him assistance" kind of like a guardian angel, or maybe some form of subconscious prayer.

The second definition is simply "random chance that turns out to work in your favor", it has no spiritual or supernatural component and no moral implication. If you are given two possible outcomes of a situation, and the one that would be beneficial to you occurs, that is "lucky", whereas the other outcome would have been "unlucky".

I often see people using what seems to be the second definition being admonished by people who use the first definition of the word with some sort of "luck doesn't exist" atheistic remark, which often seems totally unwarranted to me, hence my whole theory here.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:02 PM on June 4, 2012 [68 favorites]


The speech also seems to be pointing to a third definition of luck, which is simply having more opportunities to get lucky. The luck that Lewis attended the business dinner where he got the gig was not just "luck" as in hazard (which it certainly was). It was also "luck" as in having a larger range of opportunities-- Princeton, mentorship, grad school, etc-- than many people get as a default, and hence having more chances to try again.
posted by kettleoffish at 10:15 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


My beloved father went on to finish a PhD and a lucrative 35-year career working as a scientist for the Federal goverment, all thanks to two years of (non-combat) service in the Navy and then the GI Bill.

He currently receives a pension of over $7,000 a month from the same Federal government, gold-plated health and dental, and is happily retired in a nice big house in the country.

Of course, he hates "Barak HUSSEIN Obama" for taking so many of his hard-earned tax dollars and allowing so many (invisible) poor people to suck at the government teat.

So I sometimes ask him why it was OK for tax dollars to provide him, almost directly, with an education and a career and a pension and health-care, but in 2012 its' a sin for the local, state, or Fed to offer a 30K/year job to a teacher or cop or firefighter.

"Because they didn't earn it!"
posted by bardic at 10:19 PM on June 4, 2012 [68 favorites]


Brocktoon: "Luck is not a real force in the universe. Unless you consider being born white and male as "lucky"."

Perhaps it's a weaker force, only capable of favoring Bill Gates over Gary Kildall. Certainly Bill Gates believes in luck:
Luck played an immense role. Some of it came after I entered the business world, but my lucky streak started much earlier than that. I was fortunate to have family and teachers who encouraged me. Children often thrive when they get that kind of attention. I was incredibly lucky to become boyhood friends with Paul Allen, whose insights proved crucial to the success of the company we founded together. Without Paul, there would have been no Microsoft. Our timing in setting up the first software company aimed at personal computers was essential to our success. The timing wasn't entirely luck, but without great luck it couldn't have happened.

...

When you're lucky and successful, it's important not to get complacent. Luck can turn sour, and customers demand a lot of the people and companies they make successful. Big mistakes are rarely tolerated. I hope to remain successful, but there are no guarantees.
posted by pwnguin at 10:22 PM on June 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Danm I'll be lucky if I live to 80.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:22 PM on June 4, 2012


I can't quite remember the quote perfectly and can't find it on the intertubes but here's the rough version..

Paul Newman, toward the end of his life, said 'if you have had the kind of career and life I've had and you don't think luck had anything to do with it, then you're an idiot.'

I have this very under developed theory that people who do really well in life and manage to sustain it understand what part of their success is luck and respond accordingly.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 10:22 PM on June 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


"Luck" seems like it's a function of number of attempts. Probability of success increases as one tries for success more and more -- especially if you start with a socioeconomic advantage. Just seems like human nature is to acknowledge examples more than counter-examples; so a successful person will look at all the times they've succeeded and see pieces fall into place, as if it were inevitable. But they've almost certainly failed a bunch in the process, too.
posted by gnidan at 10:27 PM on June 4, 2012


I have this very under developed theory that people who do really well in life and manage to sustain it understand what part of their success is luck and respond accordingly.

I think this is also well described as the ability to respond to opportunity and capitalize on it. Not many people can really "surf the wave" as it comes their way, and often only in hindsight realize that they should have done THAT or had THIS response or been willing to undergo THAT THING in order to allow the scales to tip into their favor.

Those that can do these things, either by intuition or insight or some other factor, tend to do better in our world than those who make more conservative in-the-moment decisions about their paths and then realize in hindsight that perhaps X or Y were the cliffs of opportunity they might have leaped off of which would have led to better success in their lives.

So, yeah... luck has something to do with it, in that opportunities don't present themselves to everyone. But also there's a bit of a personal ability or willingness to toss oneself into opportunity when it presents itself, which a lot of people might turn away from, for any number of reasons, which factors into why some people succeed where others would fail.

There's a bit of a hippie philosophy about this, that has to do with "why say no?". As in, unless you can really justify to yourself why you MUST say no to something adventurous and outside your comfort zone, then why not just say yes and see what happens? Of course, saying yes also means being committed to the success of your choice -- otherwise all you're giving is a false first face while your real self remains doubtful. But if you can say yes, and really mean it and throw your weight and energy behind making that yes actually mean something, then you are allowing the Universe to present you with opportunity which you are then assisting to create its own fullness with you involved.

Or something. I don't always talk about hippie philosophy here because hippies have a stereotyped bad reputation which is only fully earned in the eyes of Babylon.

But yeah -- if you hear the call of opportunity, which is itself a matter of chance (or luck), and then you throw yourself into a positive response with the full force of your will and nature, you will find good things generally happen as a result.
posted by hippybear at 10:33 PM on June 4, 2012 [9 favorites]



Luck is when hard work and preparation meet with opportunity.

You can't just discredit all successful people simply because they got lucky. Most 'lucky' people have a closet full of failures. But they kept trying and were prepared for the day when the right opportunity came along.

To a large extent, they created their own luck.

Not everybody, not always, but a very big chunk.
posted by Witold at 11:23 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


The opportunities in a city of millions are a lot different than those in Beyond, Nowhere. It sure helps to live in an upper-class white neighbourhood.

Equality of opportunity is impossible. That said, we should work towards it.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:42 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I believe that he saying is "Fortune favors the prepared."

Bill Gates is a good example. If IBM and Gary Kildall had connected, Microsoft would not be what it is today, if it even existed. But Gates was there, and prepared to do whatever it took, even buying someone else's product to make the deal.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:46 PM on June 4, 2012


There are five things that make people rich in America, in increasing order of importance:

1) luck
2) skill/perseverance to capitalize on the lucky turn of events
2) inheritance
4) government subsidies
5) fraud
posted by wierdo at 11:49 PM on June 4, 2012 [12 favorites]


Most 'lucky' people have a closet full of failures.

Some people don't have the kind of economic and social safety nets that tolerate failure. Those safety nets are part of the "luck".

This doesn't discount their hard work and whatever luck they create on their own, but there is a lot that goes into success that's "luck" in one of its many definitions.
posted by vidur at 11:55 PM on June 4, 2012 [28 favorites]


“ Above all, recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck — and with luck comes obligation. You owe a debt, and not just to your Gods. You owe a debt to the unlucky. I make this point because — along with this speech — it is something that will be easy for you to forget.”
posted by migurski at 12:16 AM on June 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


An expression that I like is that you should always work to increase your "luck surface area". Now, while it's true that most of us have had to work hard for whatever we have, it's also true that there is a lot of our luck surface area that has been thrust upon us by circumstances of birth: gender, socioeconomic stratum, country of origin, language, education.

Luck surface area also grows by compound interest, so a lot of the luck surface area that we have accreted by our hard toil is due to starting early and with a sizeable principal. So yes, lucky breaks may seem irrelevant in comparison to all those hard years of preparation and work. But again, most of us we were given the chance to lever that preparation and work through a big karmic lottery. That's the luck Lewis refers to.

There are five things that make people rich in America, in increasing order of importance:

1) luck
2) skill/perseverance to capitalize on the lucky turn of events
2) inheritance
4) government subsidies
5) fraud
posted by wierdo at 4:49 PM on June 5 [1 favorite +] [!]


Wierdo, I'd like to see some data and pick it for secondary factors. I can't find the link now, but some time ago we linked here on mefi to a story about how the best predictor of whether you were rich was whether your parents were rich. Straight inheritance of assets is only one way that parents can influence the "richness luck" of their offspring.
posted by kandinski at 12:29 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


I love his cookie experiment example, very apt.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:35 AM on June 5, 2012


I find it interesting to observe the type of people who seem resistant to the plain obvious fact that luck (in the sense of hazard) has a huge effect on how well or poorly we do in life. They seem to have some great drive to feel that they are unusually talented or dedicated. It's almost like a form of superiority complex, or over-compensation.
posted by Decani at 1:15 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Luck is a complicated thing. Everyone who's had success has been lucky, although it's hard to tell them that and not have them resent it, since of course they worked hard to get there, and success inevitably involves both.

I think of poker tournaments: If you don't get lucky, you're not going to win, but how well you play the rest of the time determines how valuable your moments of luck are going to be, and whether or not they will be enough for you to win.

I try to remember that I have been lucky to even be where I am, in many senses of the word. I try to remember that because when I do it keeps me humble and grateful and I think those are good things to be.
posted by nath at 1:16 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think the anger we see in the articles from Ivy League-educated people who spent $x100K on their education and now can't find a job is because they expected a career like Lewis' - study something you love (art history in this case) then get a job making millions of dollars even without directly applicable skills.
posted by StephenF at 1:35 AM on June 5, 2012


I think he was spot on, all the debate about the intended / implied definitions of luck aside. I don't personally believe in chance or luck, but at the same time I can't deny that I'm damn lucky to have been born a white male in America with the means to go to college and figure out the business world there and pay off my school debt by the time I was 30. I gave a decade of my life to pay for that degree (not counting the years I actually was studying for it), so while I feel like no one can tell me I didn't earn it, at the same time the majority of humanity will never get the option to even try for it.

What has helped me, and what most Americans will never get (since they don't even bother to get a passport, a luxury most don't even contemplate as freely available to them), is a very concrete view at the 4th cookie, from the perspective of those who don't eat get to eat it. My whole life until my late twenties, I was essentially eating the 4th cookie. I rose to middle management and probably even did it quite literally without thinking about it enough times. After all, I had earned the right, natch.

Then I read a book about the Lost Boys of Sudan. I couldn't, in my mind, equivocate my first-class upgrades and a spacious apartment in Chelsea stupidly large salary with kids who were being bombed out of their homes, walking barefoot and mostly naked from country to country while fricking lions ate them. But, the fact of the matter was that it was happening.

I guess you could say that I was also lucky enough that once I decided I wanted to try to help, I was able to get into the field relatively easily. Hell, I've been contacted by all kinds of kids in college and the years soon after asking me how I did it, and I've never really thought I have an easy answer.

What I do have, from living and working in over half of the 30 poorest countries (and/or failed states), is a unique view of the other half of the world that doesn't get to have the 4th cookie. And what I've learned is this: they don't even think about having it. Their concept of having that cookie is about as far away from reality in their own minds as the concept of not having the cookie is for me - and everyone else I call a countryman.

My point here is that it is incredibly, indescribably hard to really see things from the opposite perspective, whether you're a have, or a have not. Lewis' speech probably flew over the heads of 99% or more of those Princeton grads, the true meaning of it. I'm not even really sure how he stumbled upon the realization himself - I guess he was lucky too. But he can see it.

In the end, he wasn't talking about luck or success. He was talking about doing the right thing.
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:00 AM on June 5, 2012 [27 favorites]


I'm stupid lucky. I was born in a lucky country, the right gender, the right colour. My parents were poor, but I was lucky that they valued education. I was lucky enough to be born smart. I achieved a lot with little effort. In three industries where a degree is everything, I was insanely lucky enough to hit a string of bosses who didn't care that I didn't have a degree, and promoted me anyway. When I wanted to study, I was lucky enough that somebody else paid for it, and gave me time off work to do it. Twice. I'm lucky to work with nice people, with a nice boss, and to not have to work too hard. I'm lucky to live close to work - not in the sense that I deliberately chose to work there, but in the sense that it was an option at all. I have a family history of depression, but it doesn't seem to have got me. And so on. I could seriously fill a book with how dumb luck has put me where I am.

For every 'me', I reckon there's got to be a thousand other people who were born here, but female, or black, or to parents who didn't value education, or who weren't born with academic smarts, or who didn't meet all of the right people at just the right time, or who face circumstances so miserable they can't even get out of bed in the morning. Maybe ten thousand, given my income.

And when I meet people who say 'no, really, it was all hard work on my part, and I believe in a meritocracy, and if you're not doing well, you're stupid and/or lazy and you deserve what you've got' I'm lucky enough that I have enough control not to live out my claw hammer fantasy.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:01 AM on June 5, 2012 [15 favorites]


on the hand there is the Science of the 'Unlucky' (called Sociology).

statistically speaking its very unlikely a child will actually emerge from being born unto poverty, absentee incarcerated fathers, urban drug using and dealing, gang warfare, and stretched inner-city schools. its a pretty well-understood yet dismal science...
posted by dongolier at 3:14 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love his cookie experiment example, very apt.

I think a lot of the 'leaders' in that situation would actually have refused the cookie and doled it out to someone else (the hungriest?) and felt pretty proud of themselves for their altruism. The others would have regarded them as generous, even though the 'leader' never owned the cookie in the first place. This is how patriarchy works.
posted by Summer at 4:17 AM on June 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


The Cal Berkley experiment was sobering. Success born of luck breeds a sense of entitlement. I seriously hadn't realized that but it sure explains some of my more asshole moves.
posted by klarck at 4:22 AM on June 5, 2012


Sorry,
In a meeting where cookies are involved you will lose the fourth cookie to me every time - even if your the leader. Social graces be damned - I love cookies. Also, I recommend that if you are given a cookie near me, that you eat it quickly. Leaving it there to sit in front of you when I've just eaten two cookies is a sure sign that I'm about to eat a third cookie, and possibly a finger if you suddenly get interested in my third cookie.


As for how this relates to whether I deserve it - I don't take cookies based on some sense of entitlement that makes me the cookie master supreme. I take the cookies because I like them.

Anyway, I can tell you right now, I am going to have to find some cookies today. I might share them with co-workers, I might not. Luck and entitlement aren't going to get me my cookies in this case., instead I'll rely on cash. Anyways... something something something.... cookies aren't a sometimes food. Eat that, Cookie Monster.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:43 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Nanukthedog
posted by caddis at 4:50 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


People really, really buy into the just-world fallacy. It's everywhere. It gets indoctrinated into kids from the first time they watch a Disney movie, and forms the backbone of most simple-minded political philosophy (up to and including the central tenets of the GOP); when you point out that the third word in 'just-world fallacy' is, in fact, 'fallacy,' you're attacking an article of faith for most people. One of the most vicious arguments I've ever gotten into started when I pointed out that all of us roll a metaphorical set of Yahtzee dice every morning when we wake up, and that continuing to avoid rolling all 1's does not imply that you are some sort of masterful Yahtzee tactician.
posted by Mayor West at 5:32 AM on June 5, 2012 [12 favorites]


"Unless you consider being born white and male as 'lucky'."

Isn't that kind of thing ... pretty much the definition of luck? I mean, no one DECIDES to be born white and male, I'm assuming.

I certainly don't remember getting an application form or anything.
posted by kyrademon at 6:19 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Apparently, when they handed out backpacks, I got one full of toys and opportunity...and privilege.

Seriously, though, I did: white, two educated parents, an amazing education as a kid, a friend in college who offered me an entry-level job where she worked (which lead to my current career), etc., etc. There's no shame in carrying that backpack as long as you sometimes open it up and share out some of what's inside: give someone a hand up, fer chrissakes.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:20 AM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


pwnguin: " Certainly Bill Gates believes in luck: "

Wow. reading that certainly put a new spin on the guy for me.
posted by notsnot at 6:26 AM on June 5, 2012


wierdo: "There are five things that make people rich in America, in increasing order of importance:

1) luck
...
5) fraud
"

You don't work in contracting, do you. "Fraud" would be my #2.
posted by notsnot at 6:29 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mike = very lucky. Born white, male, wealthy, accepted into good schools, Ivy Club, investment banking etc. Was he aggressive to capture the opportunity presented to him? Sure, but that opportunity isn't presented to everybody. He is also a gifted writer, but then the world is replete with gifted writers that no one will ever read. More luck, some dozen or two folk from his class in college went into publishing. I don't know if that had anything to do with getting his first book published. Anyway, it was a great book and his writing is fun to read so he became a big time success. You can believe his expressions of humility and gratitude for his good fortune, he really means it.
posted by caddis at 6:43 AM on June 5, 2012


> "Because they didn't earn it!"

My father, who grew up, worked, raised a family and retired early with the assistance of a) the full array of post-WWII Canadian social services and b) strong union membership, seems to be falling into this line of thinking in his old age. All of Canada's fiscal problems are being caused by "people" who "leech" off the system. "They" should be forced to work or "sent back to where they came from." Listening to him rant about this stuff and getting in arguments about it is unbelievably depressing (particularly because he raised me better than that when he was a younger man), but it has made it easier to understand how and why his federal riding flipped to the Conservatives a couple of election cycles ago.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:44 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


FINE, internet, have it your way, I'll finally read "Liar's Poker".
posted by jcreigh at 7:26 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Luck is when hard work and preparation meet with opportunity.

I think the difference between liberals and conservatives might be whether you think the problem is the scarcity of opportunities or the scarcity of hard-working people.

"Lots of people work hard, only a few have the opportunity to turn that hard work into success."

"Lots of opportunities, only a few work hard enough to turn those opportunities into success."
posted by straight at 7:54 AM on June 5, 2012 [13 favorites]


Weirdo, I predict 75% of readers misunderstand your comment because you numbered it the opposite way.
posted by straight at 7:57 AM on June 5, 2012


The problem with taking this luck thing too far is it can end up devaluing the very real hard work, intelligent risk taking, gumption, and vision of many people who did succeed. Luck exists.

So does merit.
posted by shivohum at 8:56 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, Steve Carell (w/ audio)
posted by caddis at 9:04 AM on June 5, 2012


I often think/talk about my luck. At several critical points in life, I have gotten an open door under circumstances where the door could have easily been closed. Plus some significant privilege to begin with (especially a quality higher education). So I will say, "I got some lucky breaks," which is true. My mom, who is of course totally biased, will always respond, "but you were smart enough to make the most of them."
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:05 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Considering there have been several times in my lid I would have literally died if not for the random chance of luck, yes I think most of what has pushed me along has been blind stupid chance.


I mean there's a reason I have a shrine to Fortuna in the back.



When did everyone decide sharing was a huge hardship?
posted by The Whelk at 9:13 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


When did everyone decide sharing was a huge hardship?

1980. I thought it was common knowledge.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:18 AM on June 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


When did everyone decide sharing was a huge hardship?

Easy. When the message from the top became anti-sharing. Shared sacrifice and community is so 40 years ago.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:21 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Art history?!?!? That's news to me. I had the impression that he had majored in economics, somehow, after reading a couple of his books.

And I feel deeply unlucky.
posted by Listener at 10:49 AM on June 5, 2012


I had the impression that he had majored in economics, somehow, after reading a couple of his books.

I believe he has a graduate degree from the London School of Economics, so your impression wasn't that wrong.
posted by Copronymus at 10:56 AM on June 5, 2012


Thanks, Copronymus. I should have JFGI to confirm that.
posted by Listener at 11:06 AM on June 5, 2012


I love his cookie experiment example, very apt.

Yes, but can anyone find a reference to it other than this speech? ...
posted by mrgrimm at 1:43 PM on June 5, 2012


CheeseDigestsAll: "Bill Gates is a good example. If IBM and Gary Kildall had connected, Microsoft would not be what it is today, if it even existed. But Gates was there, and prepared to do whatever it took, even buying someone else's product to make the deal."

Microsoft's innovation was its business model -- cheap software sold direct to consumers. There was nothing terribly interesting or revolutionary about CP/M, and the success of DOS had more to do with the way that it was marketed, and its compatibility with the prevailing cheap hardware of the time.

If IBM had gotten to it, they probably wouldn't have done anything with it, because the concept that Microsoft thrived on was completely foreign to IBM, and even all these years later, IBM have finally given up on trying to understand or conquer Microsoft's market segment. Considering just how famous it made them, IBM were never really all that good at making and marketing Personal Computers; the PC (and Microsoft's) success were a well-timed fluke. Even once IBM got good at making the hardware (ie the ThinkPad), they never managed to market it well, or sell many to consumers. They never competently understood the business that Apple have now come to completely own.
posted by schmod at 2:15 PM on June 5, 2012


mrgrimm: "Yes, but can anyone find a reference to it other than this speech? ..."

I want to say I read about this in Roy Baumeister or Dan Arielly's book. It definately wasn't invented by Lewis from whole cloth, but I think he did exaggerate the findings for dramatic effect.
posted by pwnguin at 3:34 PM on June 5, 2012


I'm not claiming invention (unless he's dying to get caught), but there's something off there. Maybe it wasn't cookies?
posted by mrgrimm at 3:53 PM on June 5, 2012


kandinski: "Wierdo, I'd like to see some data and pick it for secondary factors. I can't find the link now, but some time ago we linked here on mefi to a story about how the best predictor of whether you were rich was whether your parents were rich."

Sure, but the best predictor of whether you go from rich to being one of the masters of the universe is whether or not you can land millions to billions of dollars worth of government subsidies and whether or not you can get into a position to bilk a company out of half a billion dollars or more worth of compensation for running it into the ground.

notsnot: "You don't work in contracting, do you. "Fraud" would be my #2."

Increasing, not decreasing. Blatant fraud appears to be the primary means of people getting filthy rich from my perspective. Tax evasion helps, but the high income (or large inheritance) is a prerequisite to getting in on that deal.

Luck is a prerequisite. However, very few people can make it big (or even not big) without at least some effort to capitalize on the lucky opportunities that happen along. If their parents are rich and they're a complete shit who alienates them, they may not get even a small slice of the fortune (see the Hilton family, until a few judges made a few questionable decisions regarding the will). Some people, unfortunately, never get that chance because they weren't lucky enough to be born to parents or in a place where they're likely to have parents who can or meet the sort of people who can help them get ahead.
posted by wierdo at 6:16 PM on June 5, 2012


One of the most vicious arguments I've ever gotten into started when I pointed out that all of us roll a metaphorical set of Yahtzee dice every morning when we wake up, and that continuing to avoid rolling all 1's does not imply that you are some sort of masterful Yahtzee tactician.

If memory serves, rolling all 1's is a Yahtzee and is worth hundreds of points.
posted by valrus at 7:54 PM on June 5, 2012


mrgrimm: "I'm not claiming invention (unless he's dying to get caught), but there's something off there. Maybe it wasn't cookies"

No, it was totally cookies. Guess what I'll be doing tonight...=(
posted by pwnguin at 8:55 PM on June 5, 2012


I love his cookie experiment example, very apt.

Yes, but can anyone find a reference to it other than this speech? ...


This blog post from 2009 says it was "reported by Keltner, Gruenfeld & Anderson (2000)". Having googled that, I think this is the paper. It has 5 cookies though, not 4.
posted by vidur at 9:08 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, that's annoying. Looks like it's an unpublished manuscript from Keltner and Ward (1998), and later self-cited by Keltner in vidur's linked paper, a widely cited lit review article. It seems mrgrimm's bullshit meter is well calibrated.
posted by pwnguin at 9:31 PM on June 5, 2012


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