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I can't go to work, I have crops to harvest!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Fernanthonies, Mar 29, 2011.

  1. Fernanthonies

    Fernanthonies
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    There is an interesting article up on You Are Not So Smart about the Sunk Cost Fallacy and how it is the driving force behind Facebook's Farmville.

    From the article:

    The Misconception: You make rational decisions based on the future value of objects, investments and experiences.
    The Truth: Your decisions are tainted by the emotional investments you accumulate, and the more you invest in something the harder it becomes to abandon it.

    It is a pretty interesting article about sunk cost and the our aversion to loss. In the end it suggests that people don't play Farmville for fun or because they enjoy it, but rather:
    "Farmville players are mired in a pit of sunk costs. They can never get back the time or the money they’ve spent, but they keep playing to avoid feeling the pain of loss and the ugly sensation waste creates."

    Focus: Discuss the article and the Sunk Cost Fallacy. Do you fall prey to loss aversion like this anywhere in your personal life? Like the article said, it can be pretty hard to recognize when you're doing it.

    Alt Focus: Farmville. It sucks, obviously. Do you play it? Any good stories of people you know that have lost their job or destroyed relationships because of this game?
     
  2. DrFrylock

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    This is a microcosm of a much bigger problem in society, one that prevents me from going full libertarian retard. That is, there is this assumption in certain free-marketer communities that the emergent behavior of a bunch of self-interested humans will result in a great outcome for everybody. You know what the truth is? Humans are fucking terrible at assessing the value of nearly everything. There are individual humans that are probably good at it, but humans as a species are terrible at it.

    The Sunk Cost fallacy/principle is just the tip of a glacier-sized iceberg of human inadequacy that is going to doom us all.

    If that inadequacy does cause Armageddon, its harbingers will not be Famine, Plague, Pestilence, and War. They will be Facebook, Zynga, Blogspot and World of Warcraft.
     
  3. ssycko

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    Reminds me of this: Amusing Ourselves to Death.

    It's probably right.
     
  4. audreymonroe

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    The most powerful cervix... in the world...

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    Thanks to my economics-obsessed friend who, when he was my boyfriend, liked to use economic theories to discuss our relationship, I am all too aware of the sunk cost fallacy. It's pretty much the only one I can remember through my rage-filled memories of listening to him talk about human relationships as if they were math equations. It's extra annoying because, damn, now that I know what it is I see it EVERYWHERE. I mostly notice it in forms of "Well, I've waited this long, so I might as well just keep waiting/reading/watching this terrible movie/stick with this job or relationship I hate" etc. I've also learned that I'm extra guilty of this. I'm wondering if girls perhaps have more of a tendency to do this...thoughts? I have never pointed it out to someone when I hear them using this logic, though, because I know it's annoying.

    Just wait. It's like when you learn a new word and all of a sudden you hear it everywhere. Now you won't be able to not see examples of sunk cost fallacy. Damn you friend!!

    Also, sorry to be snarky, but first a thread about Xtranormal and now Farmville? Aren't both of these things a little outdated? I feel like both of them were A Thing last year.
     
  5. Nom Chompsky

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    I think any discussion of Farmville bears noting what SPECTACULAR asshole hacks the folks at Zynga are. Give me that sugar, blockquotes:

    Oh yeah. That's the good stuff.

    Full article here: <a class="postlink" href="http://www.sfweekly.com/2010-09-08/news/farmvillains/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.sfweekly.com/2010-09-08/news/farmvillains/</a>
     
  6. Juice

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    I can't think of a better example than gambling. It's a lot of fun, but logically it's absurd. Degenerate gamblers keep going because they feel that future earnings will mitigate their past losses, even when the odds are continually stacked against them. My old roommate's father won $40,000 on a slot machine a year or so ago and was very proud that he "beat the house." The thing is he really didn't, he's been going almost every weekend for the past 15 years and gambled away much more than $40,000. Even after he won he said, "Now I can use this to play at the high roller tables to get all the money Ive lost over the years." It was depressing.

    The problem is, there's no such thing as a rational actor except in hypothetical questions. Just irrational people occasionally acting in their own best interest. And most of the time, they don't even know what that would be.
     
  7. Frank

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    Focus: The funniest example I see of sunk costs is people that have too much stuff (my aunts) and putting things "we might need later" in a storage facility instead of just fucking throwing it out. I can appreciate the desire to not be wasteful, but take it to the Salvation Army or something and pretend someone will buy it so you can feel better about yourself. And even if you save something that someone ends up using, you spent $1,500 a year so they could get that $30 food processor or whatever. Don't even get me started on people who save old TV's or computer monitors because "someone might need it."
     
  8. Harry Coolahan

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    As audreymonroe pointed out, my habit of dwelling on an economics-based rationale can be annoying, but I think it's still a thoughtful way of working through situations.

    It's easy to assess a Sunk Cost Fallacy in day-to-day situations ("This tastes like shit but I'll eat it anyway because I paid for it") but it gets to be a lot more difficult when you have to consider more abstract ideas, taking into account sunk cost as well as projected future investment, etc. Most people don't realize that the most logical approach to avoiding sunk cost is to set a predetermined limit to one's investment, and then bail when you reach that investment, regardless of how close you are to success. Yet at the same time, sometimes it does make sense to reassess one's willingness for future investment based on an adjusted expectation for success.

    Trying to sort that out is difficult, but having a system for approaching a really difficult question like "Do I drop out of college/Do I take this job/Do I commit to this obligation?" at least gives you a way of approaching the question logically. Invariably, I find it to be especially valuable for making sense of emotionally-loaded issues.
     
  9. Trakiel

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    This is actually completely wrong. The Sunk Cost Fallacy only comes into play when you reach a point that of your available options [for any given cost] you choose an inferior option solely because of the resources you've already put into it. If the alternative is even more costly, it can still be perfectly rational to exceed your original investment/budget.
     
  10. lostalldoubt86

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    Alt-Focus: I started playing Farmville because a friend of mine was constantly harassing me to do it. This was a person whose opinion I trusted, so I got into it. becoming addicted is WAY too easy. I managed to get out before it took over my life, but do have a few friends who have let it take over everything. I have a cousin in particular who sends me requests and general wall-posts about 10 times a day. I've started blindly accepting, because I feel bad that she has no life.
     
  11. Crown Royal

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    Alt-focus

    Anybody that ruins ANY aspect of tbeir life from this boring, gay-ass game deserves exactly what's coming to them. I am completely on the floor here. How can something that sucks so much ass be a phenomenon?

    Actually, don't answer that.
     
  12. BL1Y

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    This is all I have to say about my time spent playing Farmville (spoilered for size):

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Disgustipated

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    Farmville? Pffft. I've got my backyard. Between being on a hill, with what turns out to be substandard, developer-made drainage and a friend who said, "No worries, I know all about landscaping and retaining walls", I have a busticated rear section of my block.

    I probably paid something in the order of $50,000 to $60,000 in labour and materials before one massive downpour broke the bottom retaining wall and made the rest rather precarious. After two landscaping companies, three engineers, two retaining wall firms and a surveying company I finally found someone who can fix the problem and put something workable in there... at a cost of $70,000 plus council approvals. The main problem is site access; they can't get machinery in to do the cheaper options and no engineer will certify on them.

    Given the market, it's on a very thin line between sunk cost and salvaging a bad position. I had to have a very hard think about whether or not to just bulldoze the lot and walk away. Ultimately, emotionally, I want it done because I hate to admit defeat.
     
  14. Clutch

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    What amazes me about Farmville and its ilk is the fact that they basically took the single worst part of RPG's--grinding--and made it the whole fucking game. There's no plot or story, no ending, and it takes no skill. I don't know what definition of the word "game" one has to use to call Farmville a game.
     
  15. toddamus

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    I have an econ degree and consider myself an economist as much as a person with a biology degree considers themselves a biologist. That being said, economics anymore has become much like politics and psychology, everyone has an opinion, and anyone who has read The Economist thinks they are an expert and will debate you to death about something they simply don't have the background to argue about.

    With that little intro, I think economics provides an interesting and helpful way to look at life. A person always makes decisions based on whatever is weighing on them in the moment. Economist seek to quantify these impulses and create mathematical equations to explain them. I'm sure there is an equation out there to describe this equation. Harry shows how economist think to a t, pretty crazy really. I hear my evil twin out there, Toddus, has a Ph.D in economics.

    I personally don't fall prey to the sunk cost fallacy, probably because I'm young and I've yet to invest any sort of significant personal money into an investment.
     
  16. kindalas

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    Scot Adams has a blog post where he discusses applying Economic theory to real life.

    Mild Super Power
     
  17. ssycko

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    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    C'mon, we're supposed to be intelligent on this board here. The more a thing sucks, the more likely everyone will like it.
     
  18. Nom Chompsky

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    folks talk a big game about sunk cost
    then come children
    with food for their mouths and metal for their teeths
    it's always too late
    to give up
    maybe get a furry dog
    or an xbox

    -- Carlo William Carlos
     
  19. DrFrylock

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    Does anybody here speak jive?
     

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  20. Fernanthonies

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    As much as I hate to admit it, I fall prey to the sunk costs fallacy when playing World of Warcraft. Thankfully I've gotten away from it and have cancelled my account, hopefully for good this time too, but there have been many times in the past where I'll pick it up and play it regularly for a couple months.

    For awhile I'll have fun with it, especially after the expansions come out and they raise the level cap. I'll get up to that max level, work on getting nice items and equipment so I can get into the harder content. And then I'll literally hit a wall where I become bored with the game. I'll know that I'm bored with it and that I want to quit, but I'll keep on playing for another month at least because I've put all this time and effort into my character and I had all these goals that I never hit, etc. Hopefully now that I recognize this for what it is I will be able to refrain from ever getting back into the game.

    Pretty bad, I know, but at least I'm not playing Farmville.