One way to understand a nudge—a government policy that inclines you to make a particular choice, often without your awareness—is that it makes it easier for you to do what you really would have wanted despite your fallible human nature. But how do you know what you really want? You want to lose weight but you had that candy bar instead of an apple. You want to save money but you went ahead and ordered that new Kindle even though your old one still works. You want to recycle but you threw that plastic bottle in the trash. Familiar as it is, the sense that I did something that I didn't want to do is quite strange. After all, you did it. That's good evidence you wanted to. Your argument that you didn't suggests that you have a true self which was temporarily overruled by a lesser version of you. How do you know that the regretful one is the real you? Wanting to perfect yourself is all well and good, as D.H. Lawrence once wrote, but "every man as long as he remains alive is in himself a multitude of conflicting men." Which of these do you choose to perfect, at the expense of every other?"

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In my motley career I have had long conversations with heads of state and Nobel Prize winners. I have hiked north of the Arctic Circle and watched humpback whales amble by while snorkeling in the tropics. I've published a book and watched the birth of my son. And it has not escaped my notice that compared to these (and other) peak experiences, most of my days are rather mousy and glum, when not twisted in anxieties as cutting as they are trivial. Such is life, as many have noted (here's just one fine example of the sentiment). So of course we chase adventure, excitement and glamor. They're a bulwark against sadness. Right? Wrong, says this paper. The emotional cost of such adventures is greater than their rewards, write the authors. Peak experiences will make you feel worse in the long run than you would have if you had stayed home.

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Should You Be Able to Sue the Government That Nudged You?

"Nudge" policies are spreading across the globe because they supposedly offer a less expensive and more effective way to get people to make the "right" decisions. In the original formulation, such decisions are defined as those that people would like to have made, had they not been hobbled and blinkered at the time by irresistible irrationality.

"Nudge" policies are spreading across the globe because they supposedly offer a less expensive and more effective way to get people to make the "right" decisions. In the original formulation, such decisions are defined as those that people would like to have made, had they not been hobbled and blinkered at the time by irresistible irrationality.

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Culture & Religion

Whatever your native language, you've probably noticed that city people speak it differently than do country folk. But so what? It's also true that Chicagoans speak a bit differently than do Baltimoreans, and the French of Marseilles is not that of Paris. When it comes to differences in accent, grammar and vocabulary, you might expect that region, culture, social class and gender would count for more than the size of your town. So the people of, say, Caracas, should sound more like their fellow Venezuelans than like people in Miami. But according to this paper, you would be wrong. "The Spanish language," its authors write, "is split into two superdialects"—a city dialect in which Caracas and Miami have a lot in common, versus a dialect of rural regions and small towns.

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