Sunk cost fallacy #854

When our kids went to primary school, once a term they would be sent home with a sales brochure from a company called “Scholastics”.

Inside this work of fiction were adverts for books and toys. My suspicion is the school was incentivised to hand this magazine out with kick backs in terms of money or “free” books for the school library and the Principal justified this because it encouraged the kids to request their parents to let them buy and read books.

Except, the kids were never interested in the books, but the toys grabbed their attention.

The adverts for the toys were case studies in creative marketing. What do I mean? This, for example.

The “Ultimate Spy Mission Kit” for just 25 bucks? What could possibly go wrong?

Well, let’s ask customer reviewer, S. Poyser:

Bought kit through loop book club. Spy ear – wires came off the circuit board during first use. Very disappointed 7yo. No circuit diagram to figure out how to reconnect it, even if I had a soldering iron.

That was the experience of our kids with everything they were tricked into splurging their hard-earned pocket money for.

Yesterday, I spoke to my now teenage daughter about the cycle of emotions she experienced during these purchases. First came the excitement of realising she could afford such a wonderful and life-changing toy. Then the anticipation and delayed gratification until the delivery. The unwrapping and playing brought a mild disappointment followed by grief and upset when the inevitable happened and the cheap plastic shite broke in her hands.

Rinse and repeat next term.

Our kids generally took three cycles of this until they realised Scholastic was a cynical wealth redistribution project to relieve kids of their pocket money in return for useless Chinese-manufactured crap.

I use this example frequently when trying warn my kids about falling for the sunk cost fallacy. I go on to explain how gamblers often trick themselves into throwing more money after their losses in the hope of a big win to make them whole again.

In completely unrelated news worth considering as you queue for your third and fourth booster shot, international flight routes have been shut down again, Central European countries are back in various versions of lockdown and masks are back to compulsory fashion wear in shops and public transport in the UK.

Bill’s Opinion

Remember how elated you felt when the vaccines were announced?

Perhaps you downloaded the vaccine passport with a little frisson of glee once that second shot had been given and the two weeks for it to “bed in” had elapsed?

Did you post a virtue signalling selfie on Instagram or LinkedIn urging everyone to do the right thing and get jabbed so we could /checks notes/ get back to normal?

How’s that investment going for you now?

Perhaps I might interest you in the exquisite rampant mackerel ashtray, diligently fashioned in blue onyx?

5 Replies to “Sunk cost fallacy #854”

  1. But, lo, what variant through yonder leaky vaccine breaks?* It’s omicron**, and so the next wave of terror begins.

    White unvaxxed Australians to be in the camps, sorry, “Centre for national resilience” in winter 2022. The NT aboriginals already are being forcibly removed by the ADF but apparently their human rights don’t count (whither art thou lefties?)

    *Apologies to the bard.
    **All I can think of is Futurama and the creatures from Omicron Persei 8.

    1. Look for the dog that isn’t barking;

      Why is this variant of concern?
      Kills more people? No evidence.
      Vaccines less effective? No evidence.

      So, why are we jumping at this one?

      1. I know. I have been puzzling over this for a fair while now, this insane push for 100% vaccination when even a cursory investigation of places like Gibraltar shows there is no point. Similarly a cursory glance at Japan shows a crash in cases 12 days after making Ivermectin available.

        I can no longer attribute this to greed, although perhaps it’s never enough when it comes to money? I find it increasingly difficult to attribute this to incompetence, can politicians and bureaucrats really be this stupid? Even a combination of extraordinary greed combined with unimaginable stupidity and ignorance, I still struggle to find credible.

        Veering into the fringe for a moment, protection against an impending bioweapon attack? Seems particularly unlikely, and if so, just say so – you’ll get more cooperation.

        Malice? It’s getting harder to discount this one.

  2. Scholastic to be really just books: Wonderful paperback copies of the originals that even a child could afford. I still have many of those tatty old read and re-read paperbacks.

    Just like vaccunes…

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