Curious Facts

Page 26

  • Most people would reject the opportunity to take part in a game (such as tossing a coin) which gives them a 50% chance of losing $100 and a 50% chance of winning $200. This is known as “loss aversion”. It was first described by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman. 1 & 2
  • You can calculate your “loss aversion ratio by asking yourself “What is the smallest gain I need to balance an equal chance to lose $100?” Divide your answer by $100. According to Kahneman, the average loss aversion ration is in the range of 1.5 to 2.5. 1 & 3
  • People are likely to put more money into an honesty box when there is an image of staring eyes above it than when there is an image of flowers above it. In one published study at a British University people paid three times more for tea and coffee when faced the saw staring eyes rather than flowers. 1 & 4
  • Judges are more likely to grant parole after they have had a meal break. One study of parole judges in Israel showed that immediately after meals breaks approximately 65% of parole requests were granted. Approval rates reduced the longer the time since the last break, dropping to nearly 0% immediately before a meal break. 1 & 5
  • The sum of all the numbers on a roulette wheel is 666. 6
  • Starfish are more closely related to humans than they are to jellyfish.
  • A study published in 2008 estimated that the number of people are killed each year by lightning is 24,000, and that 10 times that number are struck and injured. 7
  • There is eight times as much energy in a pound chocolate chip cookies than in a pound of dynamite. 8
  • In 2001 the cigarette and tobacco company Philip Morris commissioned a report which estimated that the “net effect of smoking on public finance in the Czech Republic in 1999 is +5,815 mil. CZK” [= $515 million USD]. That equates to a savings of over $1200 for each person who died prematurely due to smoking. 9 & 10
  • Napolean did not meet his Waterloo in Waterloo. It is even claimed that he never set foot in Waterloo. Most of the Battle of Waterloo took place south of Waterloo in the towns of Braine-l’Alleud and Plancenoit. The Duke of Wellington wrote his official report of the the battle from his headquarter in Waterloo, which why it became known by that name. 11
  • More Americans were killed by gun violence (including homicide and suicide) between 1968 and 2015 than have been killed in all the US wars in history (including the Civil War, both World Wars and Vietnam). 12
  • 71 people died on American soil due to extremist attacks between 2005 and 2015. During the same period an estimated 301,797 Americans were killed by gun violence. 13

1. Thinking, Fast and Slow. Daniel Kahneman. Penguin books (2011).

2. Matthew Rabin, “Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem,”, Econometrica 68 (2000): 1281-92.

3. “The boundaries of loss aversion,” Journal of Marketing Research 42 (2005): 119-28.

4. Melissa Bateson, Daniel Nettle, Gilbert Roberts, “Cues of Being Watch Enhance Cooperation in Real-World setting,” Biology letters 2 (2006): 412-14

5. Shai Danziger, Jonathan Levav, and Liora Avnaim-Pesso, “Extraneous factors in Judicial Decisions,” PNAS 108 (2011): 6889-92

6. The sum of the numbers from 1 to 36 can be calculaed using Gauss's formula: S = [n(n+1)] / 2
In this case: S = (36 x 37) / 2 = 1332 / 2 = 666.

7. Ronald L. Holle. Annual rates of lightning fatalities by country. 20th International Lightning Detection Conference. 21–23 April 2008. Tucson, Arizona, USA.

8. Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines. Richard A. Muller, W. W. Norton (2008)

9. Public Finance Balance of Smoking in the Czech Republic. Arthur D. Little International, Inc. Report to Philip Morris CR a.s. November 28, 2000.

10. Michael Sandel, Justice, Episode 2:

11. The Wall Street Journal, When Napoleon Met His Waterloo, He Was Out of Town, 9 June 2015

12., More Americans killed by guns since 1968 than in all U.S. wars, columnist Nicholas Kristof writes, August 27, 2015.

13., Fact-checking a comparison of gun deaths and terrorism deaths, October 5, 2015.

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