Twenty questions?

Or forty questions, as the case may be.  One of my favorite methods of giving a talk is to have the audience write out questions in advance, and then during the talk I have to try to answer them (without peeking at them beforehand).  The goal is not only to address the queries, but also to weave the answers together into the form of a broader talk with underlying themes.

I did this recently, and I thought the best question was something like this:

“If you were designing a ten question True-False test to fool the American public and induce the greatest number of wrong answers, which questions should go on the test?  Which question would people get wrong the most often?  How many questions of the ten would the American public get right on average?”

I also was asked which of my habitual errors I would most want to change, looking forward in life.

I was asked about Jeremy Lin, and whether he or LeBron James did more to maximize global wealth.  I suggested that Lin did more to maximize utility, as his fame in Asia did not much detract from the fame of any other NBA player, but that LeBron did more to maximize wealth, in part through endorsement income.

Another good question was “How far do you think real interest rates will fall into negative territory?”, or something like that.


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