reading diary 3

Q1: Comparing Personal vs. Market Value

Think of something that you own and are especially pleased to own, like your most comfortable

recliner or sofa, your most stylish piece of clothing, or the bicycle that has accompanied you on

so many adventures and pleasure rides. How much would you hope to get for this item if you

were to sell it? Next, find something comparable (and comparably old or worn) being advertised

online (for example, on eBay or Craigslist). How does the price of this item compare to your

asking price? Do you think that the price is fair? That is, would you buy the item for that price? Is

the seller an individual or a business? Granted that this isn’t nearly as rigorous as the kind of

experiments that Ariely describes, what would you conclude about “the price of ownership,”

based on what you have found, and how do your findings compare to Ariely’s?

Q2: Balancing the Effect of Expectations

How do you feel about the overall role of suggestion, expectation, and the placebo effect in our

lives? On one hand, Ariely points to some of the ways in which these can color our judgment and

cause us to make bad decisions. On the other hand, he also points to some of the ways in which

they can color our judgment for the better, making food taste better, making music sound better,

and even making us feel better physically. To what extent, then, is irrationality harmful, and to

what extent beneficial? Is it a worthy goal to want to eradicate all irrationality, even in its

occasional benefits? Is a firm grasp of reality and rationality more important than the perceived

quality of our food, music, and health? Or do we need a bit of irrationality in our lives, because

certain parts of life would be less enjoyable without it? Finally, can we sharpen our rationality in

some areas (where rationality is beneficial) while being irrational in others (where irrationality is

beneficial), or are we bound to go more or less all the way in either direction?

Q3: Poll Analysis

Investigate the validity of a poll for yourself, using what Wheelan has taught us about these

instruments’ potential biases. Start by finding a recently published poll online. (If you don’t

frequent news websites or have a particular issue in mind, an easy way to find a recent poll is to

go to a website like, or you can Google something like “new york times poll,”

“washington post poll,” “cnn poll,” etc.) State what poll you’re investigating, who carried it out

and when, and where it can be found online (with a specific URL). Next, find and read the

description of the poll’s methodology, and summarize the sampling methods used to collect the

data. Then skim the poll’s questions and evaluate how well some of the more interesting

questions avoid bias through their wording. Give three examples, either of bad choices of

wording, or of good choices where different wording might have produced biased answers.

Finally, evaluate the overall validity of the poll. Does the sampling method seem like it provides a

sample representative of the respective population? Are the questions asked in such a way as to

promote honest and accurate answers?

Q4: Statistics, the Breakfast of Champions

Imagine that you’ve just collected a bunch of data on college students, particularly their eating

habits and their performance in school. Because of all that you’ve learned from Wheelan, your

sampling and measurement methods are flawless, so now you’re ready to do some hypothesis

testing. You’re convinced that college students who eat Wheaties breakfast cereal (the “breakfast

of champions”) get better grades than those who do not eat Wheaties. Beyond that, you believe

that the more Wheaties a given student eats, the better his or her grades will be. Describe and

explain the process of carrying out your test of this hypothesis, step by step, beginning with a null

hypothesis and finally stating your findings. (Make up the needed unknown statistics if it makes it

easier to describe and explain the process.)

Answer each question at least 500 words please.

Rubric are also provided.

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