Christian Long

Dan Gilbert: Why Are We Happy?

In TED Talks on April 16, 2010 at 9:10 am

Reflection by COLTON C.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Dan Gilbert:  Why Are We Happy?

What is making the right choice?

Dan Gilbert came on TED to talk about how to make the right choice or why we make the wrong choice. There are to two parts to the decisions that we as humans make. The first is the odds that the action will allow us to gain something and the value of that gain to us. The first example he gives is one that almost everyone is familiar with, a coin toss. He uses that to explain to us a simple level of the equation and one that normally everyone makes the right decision.

One of the most common mistakes people make is estimating the odds.

He says Americans lose more in gambling than any other forms of entertainment. To help explain this he uses an example about which is more prevalent in Oxford, dogs or pigs on leashes. Now some people would instantly say that of course it is dogs, but its not. The reason we think it is dogs is because it is more natural and we normally only see dogs on leashes. Now I know that when I saw that I thought that pigs weren’t even on leashes. Dan says the reason we think dogs are on leashes more is because when we think about both of them being on leashes, dogs on leashes comes more readily to our mind so we assume that it is dogs.

Now Dan Gilbert is a very intelligent guy who has a bunch of cool facts. He puts a slide up on the screen of four pictures and you had to choose which one was out of place. There is the Twin Towers being hit by a plane, a building destroyed by and earthquake, a plane crash, and a ordinary swimming pool. As you and I probably guessed, it is the pool that is out of place but it is because it is the only pictures that is actually very dangerous. You are more likely to do die in a swimming pool than all of the others combined. The reason we do not realize this is because of what is on television and what we see everyday. We don’t pick up a newspaper and see that a kid drowned in a pool but rather 15 people died when a building collapsed.

The next area of mistakes is in value. The example he gives about this has to do with a big mac and is it worth 25 dollars. Of course you would say no but he asks ” if you were on a plan the Australia and it was a sixteen hour flight and the airlines was to serve nothing. Would you play 25 dollars for that big mac?” It all has to do with context. We give the big mac its value based on what we had payed for it in the past not by what is possible.

This is just a small bit of what Dan Gilbert talks about. It’s almost as if he gives financial advice based on his examples of all of the dumb decisions we make. Dan Gilbert is someone who can help guide you on how to make the right decisions every time.


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