Month: February 2011

*Euphemania: Our Love Affair with Euphemisms*

The author is Ralph Keyes and you can buy it here.  Here are three excerpts:

Yesterday's polite euphemism is tomorrow's prissy evasion.  "Cherry" was once considered more respectable than "hymen."  Now, just the opposite is true.  The former is thought to be vulgar, the latter decent.


When the unfortunately named rapeseed oil had trouble competing with products that had nicer names, a Canadian strain low in saturated fat was dubbed Canola (i.e., "Canadian oil") in 1978 and has done rather well since.


It used to be said that "Horses sweat, men perspire, and ladies glow."

Most of all, this book was…interesting.

The elasticity of trust in the Middle East

From a new experimental paper, by Iris Bohnet, Benedikt Hermann, Mohamad Al-Ississ, Andrea Robbett (she is speaking at GMU today), Khalid Al-Yahi, and Richard Zeckauser, here is one bit from the conclusion:

Mechanisms aimed at mitigating the cost of betrayal, such as damages or insurance provision, seem to work better in the United States, and arrangements focusing on preventing the occurrence of betrayal, such as a punishment threat, have greater impact in the Arab Middle East. In our experiments, trust was promoted by decreasing the cost of betrayal in the United States but not in Jordan. Punishment functioned differently. Giving the first mover the option to take revenge at a price should she be betrayed enhanced trust in Saudi Arabia but not in the United States.