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Thursday, June 5, 2014

More about Trust June 5, 2014

Have you ever listened to Radiolab? I never have but I attended a program last night where award-winning co-hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich demonstrated how difficult it is to trust anyone.Check it out on

The premise of the program was to guess if you could figure out correctly whether you were going to be scammed or not. For example, if you know a stranger has been given $100.00 and the game is for him to share it with you or lose it entirely, how much would you need to receive in order to be satisfied? 
Because if you give the money back, he forfeits his share as well.
If you are the holder of the money, how much would you give so the receiver doesn't refuse it and no one gets anything?
How it turns out is important mainly to see how the audience predicted it would turn out.
As interesting as it is to see the outcome, the analysis of the audience participation was fascinating. Everyone used their smartphones to vote and the votes were also tallied by gender. Fascinating.

The next game was a real television show from England called Golden Balls. Each contestant held 2 spheres which when twisted open revealed one word each --either STEAL or SPLIT. An amount of money was to be split by the 2 participants if both chose SPLIT or stolen by one if one voted SPLIT and the other said STEAL. The stealer would get all the money. If both said STEAL, no one gets anything.

The 2 contestants had a few minutes to convince each other to split the money before they chose. Then the frame was frozen and the audience voted on what the contestants would choose. We were between 40 and 60 percent correct in guessing the outcome  because in 2 out of 3 games the money was indeed stolen.

In an age where we post and purchase so much online, we share so much with strangers, we are more vulnerable than we thought to getting scammed. And the science showed that we are less trustworthy in the US than folks are in Africa or other smaller more homogeneous societies where these experiments were also tried.

Back to last week's post, I will be less trusting in the future, choosing what I say to whom with more caution than before. How about you?

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