a positive motivational influence
The final outcome of the Chicago study is further testament to the power of
incentives: the following year, cheating by teachers fell more than 30 percent.
being present everywhere at once
ubiquitous, with every category of crime falling in every part of the country.
suppress or crush completely
If it was gun control and clever police strategies and better-paying jobs that
quelled crime—well then, the power to stop criminals had been within our reach all along.
representing the perfect example of a class or quality
It is the
quintessential blend of commerce and camaraderie: you hire a real-estate agent to sell your home.
As the world has grown more specialized, countless such experts have made themselves similarly
the official who holds an office
The one candidate you won’t contribute to is a sure loser. (Just ask any presidential hopeful who bombs in Iowa and New Hampshire.) So front-runners and
incumbents raise a lot more money than long shots.
extremely impressive in strength or excellence
Incumbents and front-runners obviously have more cash, but they only spend a lot of it when they stand a legitimate chance of losing; otherwise, why dip into a war chest that might be more useful later on, when a more
formidable opponent appears?
with respect to its inherent nature
Now picture two candidates, one
intrinsically appealing and the other not so.
able to attract interest or draw favorable attention
appealing candidate raises much more money and wins easily. But was it the money that won him the votes, or was it his appeal that won the votes and the money?
as a subordinate or chance occurrence
Often we will take advantage of patterns in the data that were
incidentally left behind, like an airplane’s sharp contrail in a high sky.
the act of judging a person or situation or event
It is well and good to opine or theorize about a subject, as humankind is wont to do, but when moral posturing is replaced by an honest
assessment of the data, the result is often a new, surprising insight.
a philosopher who specializes in ideas of right and wrong
It is worth remembering that Adam Smith, the founder of classical economics, was first and foremost a philosopher. He strove to be a
moralist and, in doing so, became an economist.
lacking intent or capacity to injure
What might lead one person to cheat or steal while another didn’t? How would one person’s seemingly
innocuous choice, good or bad, affect a great number of people down the line?
have force or influence; bring about an effect or change
So through a complicated, haphazard, and constantly readjusted web of economic, social, and moral incentives, modern society does its best to
militate against crime.
difficult or impossible to understand
Thomas Jefferson noted this while reflecting on the tiny incentive that led to the Boston Tea Party and, in turn, the American Revolution: “So
inscrutable is the arrangement of causes and consequences in this world that a two-penny duty on tea, unjustly imposed in a sequestered part of it, changes the condition of all its inhabitants.”
beat through cleverness and wit
circumvent donation limits by using fake IDs.
the quality of having a superior or more favorable position
Whatever the incentive, whatever the situation, dishonest people will try to gain an
advantage by whatever means necessary.
of superficial relevance if any
There are two noteworthy points to be made about the children in classroom A,
tangential to the cheating itself.
conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible
This is a conservative estimate, since the algorithm was able to identify only the most
egregious form of cheating—in which teachers systematically changed students’ answers—and not the many subtler ways a teacher might cheat.
harshly uninviting or formidable in manner or appearance
Not every result of the Chicago cheating analysis was so
treated as if holy and kept free from violation or criticism
With its purification rituals and its imperial roots, sumo is
sacrosanct in a way that American sports will never be. Indeed, sumo is said to be less about competition than about honor itself.
absence of moral or spiritual values
The 1919 Chicago White Sox, who conspired with gamblers to throw the World Series (and are therefore known forever as the Black Sox), retain a stench of
iniquity among even casual baseball fans.
spread negative information about
The City College of New York’s championship basketball team, once beloved for its smart and scrappy play, was instantly
reviled when it was discovered in 1951 that several players had taken mob money to shave points—intentionally missing baskets to help gamblers beat the point spread.
of the greatest importance
Since so much depends on a wrestler’s eighth win, he should be expected to fight harder in a
But perhaps there are further clues in the data that prove
Aside from the crooked matches, they said, sumo was
rife with drug use and sexcapades, bribes and tax evasion, and close ties to the yakuza, the Japanese mafia.
not straight; dishonest or immoral or evasive
So if sumo wrestlers, schoolteachers, and day-care parents all cheat, are we to assume that mankind is innately and universally
difficult to manage or mold
It might seem ludicrous to address as large and
intractable a problem as white-collar crime through the life of a bagel man. But often a small and simple question can help chisel away at the biggest problems.
be bossy towards
If a company habitually paid below 80 percent, Feldman might post a
hectoring note, like this one: The cost of bagels has gone up dramatically since the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, the number of bagels that disappear without being paid for has also gone up. Don’t let that continue.
firm and dependable especially in loyalty
But soon the Klan evolved into a multi-state terrorist organization designed to frighten and kill emancipated slaves. Among its regional leaders were five former Confederate generals; its
staunchest supporters were the plantation owners for whom Reconstruction posed an economic and political nightmare.
being truly so called; real or genuine
The film quoted a line from A History of the American People, written by a renowned historian: “At last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a
veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country.”
a person who objects to some established policy
But Kennedy would go on to become a self-described “
dissident at large,” writing numberless articles and several books that railed against bigotry.
a religious doctrine proclaimed as true without proof
But as it happened, a central
tenet of life in the Klan—and of terrorism in general—is that most of the threatened violence never goes beyond the threat stage.
highly complex or intricate
So what really matters is the price. Shopping around for the cheapest policy, a process that had been
convoluted and time-consuming, was suddenly made simple.
a club that is used as a weapon
Information is a beacon, a
cudgel, an olive branch, a deterrent— all depending on who wields it and how.
conducting business within or between groups
It is common for one party to a
transaction to have better information than another party.
a manner of speaking natural to a language's native speakers
parlance of economists, such a case is known as an information asymmetry.
a postulated sequence of possible events
scenario in which your loved one has just died and now the funeral director (who knows that you know next to nothing about his business and are under emotional duress to boot) steers you to the $8,000 mahogany casket.
the act of obtaining by coercion or intimidation
A few months later, a pair of Enron traders named Kevin and Bob talked about how California officials wanted to make Enron refund the profits of its price
express or state indirectly
If you like granite, you might like the house; but even if you don’t, “granite” certainly doesn’t
connote a fixer-upper.
worn and broken down by hard use
“Spacious” homes, meanwhile, are often
decrepit or impractical.
unfair treatment of a person or group based on prejudice
How might you determine whether the lack of
discrimination against blacks and women represents a true absence or just a charade? The answer can be found by looking at other groups that society doesn’t protect as well.
a datum that can be represented numerically
Each site operates a bit differently, but the gist is this: You compose a personal ad about yourself that typically includes a photo, vital statistics, your income range, level of education, likes and dislikes, and so on.
contemptibly small in amount or size
This leaves only about 30 percent of the users with “average” looks, including a
paltry 1 percent with “less than average” looks—which suggests that the typical online dater is either a fabulist, a narcissist, or simply resistant to the meaning of “average.”
a person who takes a practical approach to problems
(Or perhaps they are all just
pragmatists: as any real-estate agent knows, the typical house isn’t “charming” or “fantastic,” but unless you say it is, no one will even bother to take a look.)