Utility is non-linear.
'Deal or No Deal' has been a surprise hit. It's such a remarkably simple idea that it's a surprise it hadn't been done before. I've watched bits of it and to be fair, although I know it's drivel, it has held my attention for 15 minutes or so, which isn't bad.
As a gambler, what interests me is how people decide whether to deal or not. Most people are very risk-averse from what I've seen. For instance in the repeat I just saw today, a woman faced five boxes with a combined total worth of #61k. So her 'equity' was just under #12k. She took a deal at #6,125.
Should she be criticised for this? I think many people would take a deal that was below their equity. In fact, I reckon that the show should be retitled to refect that. I propose 'Utility is non-linear'. Catchy isn't it?
It's obviously the case that your happiness would increase more if your net worth rose from nothing to #1m than if it rose from #1m to #2m. But where do we draw the line? What would influence us? I think that the presence of a live audience makes people take poor deals. I think some people are afraid of looking stupid and walking away with 10p after being offered #6k.
"If it's 9.30, then that's not the disease".
I'm a big fan of the medical drama House on Channel Five, Thursday nights. Hugh Laurie is brilliant as the misanthropic doctor - a truly inspired piece of casting. Having made his living playing stupid English men, who would have thought of having him as an intelligent American? Not me, that's for sure.
But much as a I love the show, it has a big flaw that is common to other "detective" stories. You know that the solution will only be discovered three minutes before the end of the show. So when it looks like the patient is only suffering from a simple lung infection and a course of antibiotics will do the trick, you can be absolutely sure he'll convulse on the floor with a bleeding foot fifteen seconds later.
I first noticed this problem when I used to watch WWF wrestling years ago when Dominic shared the flat with me. We could tell that the main event wasn't over by looking at the clock. So the fact that The Undertaker was pinning Val Venus to the canvas at 11.51pm meant absolutely nothing. There was at least 6 minutes left to go. I found there was more suspense when we taped the show and watched it the next day. I'm not sure how that works for House, Morse, Prime Suspect etc. Probably best to watch a tape of it and cover up all the clocks in the room.
I was idly scanning the channels a couple of nights ago when I suddenly realised that I was watching John Kabbaj's wife playing poker. It was part of some dire 'team' poker show. It was such crap that I'm not going to bother looking up its name. Apart from the obvious fact that poker is not a team event, I hated it anyway. In the Russia vs Ireland heat that I was watching, they had given the Russians red shirts to wear ... with the Hammer and Sickle embossed over the chest!
The Soviet Union was disbanded in 1991. Has nobody told Sky this? I felt genuinely embarrassed for the Russians. Some of them may have lost family members to the salt mines of Siberia or the famines of the early 20th century. Will they give the Germans swastikas to wear?