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I listened to the Zak interview with a mixture of horror and fascination.

Over-looked in this discussion of whether a recession is cleansing (one could make the horrific argument that Katrina "cleansed" the city of New Orleans) but also the notion that one should do acts of charity because it makes you feel good about yourself.

The story of the adopted pet is illustrative. Yeah, it is a good thing to take in an animal in need of a home--and yeah, it is easy to feel good about helping a sweet "innocent" animal. But there was no mention of the family who had to give up their beloved companion due to homelessness. No mention of what he and his family were doing to help this family get back on its feet. There was no sense of having had to sacrifice anything in this gesture (and actual sharing requires that you relinquish something) and I don't get why he defines that action as altruistic. Rather it sounds like a cool hip way to get a new pet for the family. My intuition tells me that this "science" of neuro-economics has the capacity to be just as deluded and dangerous as the idea that all markets are rational and fair.