Scarcity Brain with Michael Easter (Ep. 367)

I don’t like casinos. I gamble enough it real life to get much of a thrill at the craps table or the roulette wheel. In particular, I don’t like the slot machines. Every time I go to Vegas, I’m struck by their ubiquity, and by the sheer number of people who are drawn to them. Back in November, I saw a morbidly obese gentleman asleep in his scooter, parked in front of a slot. The cigarette in his hand had burned down to the filter, and the bucket of change at his feet had tipped over. His free hand was still on the lever, but his need for sleep had finally eclipsed his need to pull it one more time.

I’ve always thought there must be something more than boredom or greed or laziness, to attract so many to sit like zombies before these electronic temptations for hours on end. And sure enough, there is. A lot more. Michael Easter is back on the podcast this week, to talk about the science behind slot machines, and the fundamental forces at work in our brain that keeps us pulling the lever. Turns out, it’s the same exact science that compels us to do all sorts of other things that are not good for us. It’s a fascinating conversation you can listen to here.

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