Bryan Caplan  

Spotted at the Johnson Center

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At GMU's student center, a group of student activists sat behind a table bearing the following sign:

We Will Pay You $1 Cash to Watch a 4-minute Video!

I was shocked.  I've never seen another activist group offer cash for attention.  My two challenges for readers:

Challenge #1: Guess their cause.

Challenge #2: Explain why this cause is the exception that proves the rule.


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COMMENTS (22 to date)
Adam Ozimek writes:

1. Animal rights
2. Nobody is able to stomach sitting through the full 4 minute video, which is probably very graphic and disturbing

Did you take them up on the offer?

Curt writes:

I'm gonna guess it's the "My Friend Sarah" video created by some GMU undergrads, and the money is offered because libertarians understand opportunity costs.

Blackadder writes:

Adam has it right, I think.

Greg writes:

1) Russ Roberts' Keynes rap video.

2) Something about trickle down theory.

Trevor H writes:

The other groups are all offering the status of being able to show you care. This group is probably low status in that regard. Another angle is that the 4 minute video concludes with a powerful enough solicitation for donations that they have a new cash flow intake.

So what's a low status or unpopular cause that needs money more than "Facebook fans" or other costless means of showing support? Someone's trying to get together funding to make a porno movie?

Bruce N. Stein writes:

My guess is it's something in regard to the Citizen's United rule trying to "prove" how money on ads = votes.

My second guess is something about advertising.

Not good guesses, mind, but "animals rights" was already taken.

David C writes:

This is very interesting.

I keep thinking about it, but I can't beat Adam's guess. If not animal rights, then something similar like poverty.

Niklas Blanchard writes:

Bruce's Citizen's United ruling idea is pretty clever reasoning.

I'm behind it.

Steve Miller writes:

1. Lyndon LaRouche supporters.
2. They really are that desperate for attention.


agnostic writes:

1. A young repubs / libertarians club

2. They understand enough basic econ to know incentives matter, and that the only incentives you can apply to perfect strangers busily walking through the union -- especially poor college students -- are monetary. They're more pragmatic, hence don't care if they give of non-idealistic signals like cash for eyeballs.

CrisisMaven writes:

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Todd Kuipers writes:

I'm betting either Haitian Relief, but Curt's response sounds quite plausible.

Yancey Ward writes:

The Jay Leno Show fan club?

Yancey Ward writes:

And I really liked Bruce's answer.

Martin S writes:

A group in favor of trade in human organs ?

Robert Simmons writes:

They were showing Fear the Boom and Bust?

"Explain why this cause is the exception that proves the rule."

Easy. Proves means tests in this context.

mattmc writes:

My initial thought it was an embedded YouTube video on Mesothelioma and they are abusing the Google Adwords terms of service to make money by clicking on the related ads, or something like that in that they actually making money via the viewing of the video.

Another trick would be to include a plea for a cause of some sort at the end where if you give them a dollar, they will match your contribution with the dollar they were going to give you.

Or perhaps they just have an very entrancing video and are picking your pockets while you watch.

In another case, they may be associated with a cause that a person would not want to accept a dollar from, since the loss in status from being on the list of people that took a dollar from them would be worth more than a dollar.

Okay...I'll guess they are activists for Quantitative Easing and Bernanke has sent them out to put more dollars into circulation.

V writes:

Were they advocating raising the minimum wage?

ab writes:

1. Anti lobbying and government stimulus activists, or maybe pro ethics reform movement?

2. If they can pay you $1 to waste 4 minutes of your time, imagine what a lobbyist could do with millions.

Josh writes:

When do we get the answer?

Brian writes:

My guess it is some sort of experiment on human behavior since all the better choices have been picked already.

Loof writes:

Is this a good example of self-promotion, Bryan?
#1 Can you guess Loof's cause?
#2 Explain why the cause is the exception that proves the rule?


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