The Illusion of Choice

L. Szugyi
Guest Author

Our newest author will make a welcomed addition to the pod.  She’s a great writer, please enjoy her work.  She is beyond intelligent, and has amazing wit. Please welcome her.  Random thoughts while observing what is not a passing charade, I’m J.C.

Reckon the whole Nudge thing is old news, but it really struck a chord today.

I was listening to Glenn Beck during my jog.  Cass Sunstein was the topic.  Audio was recently discovered, in which Sunstein promoted the idea of internet site linking to opposing views, voluntarily or by mandate if necessary.  Pat or Stu (I can’t tell the difference between them, sorry) explained, tongue in cheek, that Mr. Sunstein doesn’t want to mandate any particular behavior.  He prefers “altering the choice structure.”

Thaler and Sunstein provide a look at the future.

Altering the choice structure.  I’m well familiar with that technique.  As the mom to two young boys, I’m a pro.  Long ago I dubbed it “The Illusion of Choice” (draw out the letter “u” when you say it:  “the illoooooh-sion of choice”).

Here’s how it works.  Want to leave the park or the birthday party in 15 minutes with minimum fuss?  Ask your child, “Are you ready to leave now, or do you want me to give you another 15 minutes of playtime?”  “Fifteen more minutes!” he will quickly respond.

Plan to serve a vegetable at dinner, about which your child usually moans?  Pair it with a vegetable he hates even more, and ask:  “Do you want the brussel sprouts, or the spinach?”  “Spinach!” he will quickly choose.


It’s the illooooooh-sion of choice!  And it works a charm.  They don’t even realize what I’m doing.

Do you see my next point?  (Really, comment and let me know ‘cuz I’m curious.)

The Illusion of Choice is a tactic a parent uses on her child, to manipulate him into complying with the very thing he would normally resist.  Perfectly appropriate for a parent to use this slick little trick on her child.

But is this the way adults should treat other adults?

‘Course not.  It is not based on mutual respect.  It does not acknowledge the inherent right of an adult to make his own choices, good or bad.

“Choice architecture” is simply a form of parenting.  Paternalism.  As a recent New York Times article on Sunstein puts it,

“behavioral economists have replaced the rational actor in economic models with an often befuddled character — bedeviled by impulses and sentiments, overwhelmed by choice.”

So, this befuddled man should be guided.  Nudged by those who know which choice is best.  Like me:  the mom who knows her son should leave the park soon, and eat some spinach.

This is a real problem, people.  Alarms should be going off in your head.  Robots, with arms flailing, should be repeating “Danger, Will Robinson!”  Because Cass Sunstein, head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wants to treat you like his child.  And people out there agree with him.

That New York Times article quoted above is certainly enamoured:

“Many innovative ideas — among them, some of the corrections proposed by behavioral economics — are still hypotheses. Like Sunstein, their brilliance comes with speculation, and it comes with whimsy.”

This blog on Social Capital is favorable as well (whatever the devil “social capital” is):

“In Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler‘s wonderful book Nudge (2008), they note that individuals’ choices can be influenced by countless factors that people are unaware of . . . .”

Even this intelligent blog, which does criticize Sunstein and the New York Times article, still seems guilty of taking the guy too seriously.

Libertarian paternalism.  An oxymoron if I ever heard one.

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23 responses to “The Illusion of Choice

  1. I’m a mom of three—two girls and a boy.
    Growing up, the middle one was “culinary-challenged”, shall we say. You could offer
    her choices of healthy vegetables all day long
    and she wouldn’t let EITHER choice pass her
    lips. First of all, I was not running a restaurant.
    At the time we were on a majorly tight budget. What was on the table was it.

    My best ploy was setting the oven timer for x-number of minutes and the food of the day better be gone when it went off. If not, well, then to her room with no TV. Most of the time, this was extremely successful. As a mom, I made sure she ate what she needed—not what she wanted.

    Choices, schmoices. Sunstein & his ilk would have us choose the lesser of two evils. This is a smokescreen designed to obscure that Obama and his minions would also make choices for us–choices which will lead America into Fascist serfdom. We must continue to reject and expose any radical legislation this administration offers.

    One of my best investments was a sweatshirt with the words, “Because I’M the mom, that’s why!” Sometimes it was the ultimate argument settler.

    The Constitution is our most important “meal” argument settler, offered 230+ years ago as the only choice to avoid corruption and chaos. God put Our Founding Fathers at that place, at that time, so that generations to come would have lives of freedom. And we have to re-discover it and teach it to others for the benefit of our children’s generations to come.

    Several days ago I received a packet from the Heritage Foundation, which I have supported for the past 15 years. In it was a pocket-size Constitution/Declaration of Independence. I will be ordering many copies to give out at my shop to the unenlightened.

    Also, I have asked a conservative lawyer-church friend to consider teaching a class on the
    Founding Fathers’ documents.

    Citizens have been on a starvation diet of liberal cotton candy, and must realize the meat & potatoes of the Constitution is the diet that will ensure safe, healthy lives for generations to come.

  2. Absolutely right on the mark !
    Beck has stated over and over again that Sunstein is the most dangerous person in the administration.
    Your mention of the ‘nudge factor’ is on the money.
    Make tiny movements under the radar, restrict the press from reporting on it, and the folks will never notice until they have their hands securely around the throat of America.
    Obama is a liar, a pathological liar, demeaning our country overseas, insulting Arizona, dismissing any ties to Chicago crooks and thugs, and yet the ‘deer in the headlights people’ still think he’s fantastic.

    It’s almost like we are living in a parallel universe !
    I enjoyed reading your post, well done !

  3. What’s that saying, “Moms know best!” Very well written article pointing out ulterior motives of ole Curse of the Sunstein and Co, as well as SUPERMOM rebuttal from tried & true reasonable logic! Way to go Nee Nee! Pod material for sure! Only thing needing nudging is the Progressive kooks in US gov’t that need nudging on our the door! (into the Communsit/Muslim country of our choosing!)

  4. The ‘illusion ‘ continues – the Senate passed a finance bill, ostensibly to reign in Wall Street. However, as expected, it does nothing to sanction the real culprits, namely Fannie and Freddie.

    Perhaps when the liar in chief promised “transparency” , he really meant “illusion”.

    Just a thought .

    • I would be great to wake up and find the illusion gone. America can’t take a great deal more of their screw policies on how to grow an economy. Watch what happens when he lets Bush tax cuts expire, jobs will tank, stock market my head south. Jim

  5. Chin up folks.
    Pretty soon We the People are going to get the chance to stick it right back in their face.
    I can’t wait !
    We just have to do the best we can to put the strongest representatives we can find in office.
    If we don’t do our homework, and fail to recognize the ‘good ones’, we are screwed big time.

  6. Mt Top Patriot

    Great piece and so very succinct to the time we live in. Bravo!
    Uumm, “Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs”. What a piece of nasty misdirection this title of regulatory office is.
    Sounds like obot speak for;
    “Office for Propaganda and Communist Social Engineering”.

    Choice is everything in the founding and principles of Liberty, Self Determination and our Republic. Choice is the engine of Prosperity and wealth, last but not least in the positive outcome of the pursuit of Happiness.
    But, and here is the crux, it is Freedom of All Choices, not what somebody else decides what choices Americans can have and not have. In its essence what Ms. Szugyi has presented is how freedom of speech is everything. Without it we have no Liberty or other Freedoms, period.
    If what you have implied with your narrative Ms. Szugyi is understood by this commenter, this is what has been generated between my ears by your thoughtful and fun logic:

    I’m certain beyond any doubt of any kind that what we are faced with in America is a doctrine behind the actions, and events, we as a people and nation are threatened with, with the assumption of obama the dictator, (and make no mistake, obama is one who dictates, he IS not a representative elected to a position of trust) ; in simple nut shell terms, the new order in our government is a restructuring of our republican form of governance into a hierarchy of privileged and elite party members who hold sway over every facet of our lives and society. These are people consisting of the soros/ obama machine who understand that regulatory and ad-ministerial power vested in an elite class, or caste if you will, is the best viable method of effectively nullifying and rescinding the tenets and rule of law contained within our founding documents of constitution.
    I have a name for this ruling class, “Amerikan Nomenklaturer”.
    The Amerikan Nomenklaturer is essentially based on the outcome of Trotskyism and subsequent ruling Nomenklaturer of the old Soviet.
    This a privileged class of people holding regulatory and ad-ministerial positions that control every sphere of life; agriculture, financial, transportation, industrial, medicine, energy, natural resources, education, law enforcement, judicial and elective branches of government, news/media and information, population control, science and the military, etc.
    Control by a mere handful of a special class over 100’s of Millions of We The People.
    Control information and the message and these elites believe they control everyone outside their clique. Take the facts, politicize facts into a narrative that divides people and you control the outcome through dissimulation and emotion, you mold the choices by sleight of hand essentially into something that gives ever more power over the many by the few. It is just a form of control over choice.
    It all comes down to choice.
    In this form of Tyranny it comes down to controlling the illusion of and illusion of types of choices.

    Do you recognize similarity’s to what I have described above and what you may witness on a daily basis in your life and in your country?

    Now here is the question, and it involves ultimate choice, choice for you; do You see the uncanny parallels between the above and what is transpiring in our, and to our beloved great Republic.
    Please understand, I am an American first and last, a regular person living an honest simple life, it is my perspective, life experience and instincts I choose to trust. In that light I’m telling you my fellow American, I do see beyond any reasonable doubt what is going down in My country, and make no bones about it, this Is My Country.
    All the characters are in place within our federal government regulatory bodies, they are not unlike a deadly virus that permeates the body politic, our republican form of government is rapidly devolving into a system based on super elite cronyism. Power and Wealth is the root of what is unquestionably Tyranny that is taking place right now before our eyes.
    So I ask you my fellow Patriot and American, does any of this look familiar to you?

    I honestly believe so. I chose to consider the facts, I chose to think through the logic of the situation, I chose to use facts and preponderance of evidence relating to what has transpired, not what someone told me in a manner that due to facts of actual events was not true.
    When I choose to make choices it empowers me as person, it sets me free, it is my Liberty I choose.
    And that is what it is all about.

  7. MTP YOU NAILED IT TO THE WOODSHED WALL with your comments! You put into words EXACTLY the way I see things going down and how it makes me feel! The Anti-American bunch is very close to totally destroying our country with the power grabbing going on it is pretty much self authorizing with a Congress that has become irrelevant but for rubber stamping all of the Marxofascist agenda so it gives the appearance of a Constitutional working body of govt. Really sickening to realize Scott Brown is just another RINO…. Along w/Charles Grassley!!!!, and well known RINOS, Susan Collins + Olympia Snowe, they have insured Executive Branch has power to wield in through the Financial Reform POS legisltation to call the shots now on just about any business they want to fail or succeed…..another jewel in their imaginary crown representing Marxism, Communism, & taking over the USA. Chavez and Castro are onlooking with envy for sure!

  8. Mt Top Patriot

    @ you GlowGirl, Rubber Stamp Government is right on the money! These traitors and Benedict Arnold’s in both houses are rubber stamping the transformation taking place. Party affiliation don’t mean squat.
    Does it frost my ass something fierce let me tell you!
    Seems at times ain’t none of them have a backbone or worth a bucket of warm spit. Even Sen. Joe Wilson when he called out obama as a liar last year, he just put his tail between his legs and genuflected to polosi.

    Come on you guys in that cesspool on the Potomac, when are you who believe in We The People and constitution going to grow a set of balls?

    This is for all the marbles for Gods sake, for all our sakes!

  9. Optimism is powerful.
    JC, you said ‘not likely this time’.
    You may underestimate the ire of the American People.
    This upcoming election cycle is very important.
    This country has never experienced draconian policies being imposed upon our Republic at this rate since FDR’s regime.
    FDR restricted the the media, and all the folks had to rely on for information was a scratchy radio broadcast or, a newspaper.
    Many people had no access to either one.
    The government manipulated this country into a socialistic direction during the 30’s.

    The dictatorial direction of this government has got to be stopped.

    The attitude of ‘nah, it’s not gonna get that bad’, is what will eventually secure our demise as the free country we have grown up in.

    • Misunderstanding AFVET..I was attempting to answer a negative as in if we don’t win we are screwed big time, not likely was the reply,. Here this my friends, Remember the article I wrote, Nancy and Harry will be seeing red in November? It will be running in the streets, Jim

  10. OBTW, I see you found way to scan your Psy ops badge! NICE ADDITION there Torch! Comments from AFVET & MTP get me going! I am just as frustrated and fever pitched as the rest of Freedom loving Americans! Think “REAL AMERICA” is growing tired of having to sit and wait for Nov. to roll around hoping to provide a different direction with new faces and attitudes in Congress that will do whatever they can to right the course the Socialists have set us on. I don’t put anything past the crooks and AMERICA HATIN’ bunch in office. I am terrified they will manage to somehow pull off holding onto their majority rule and then there will be civil war I imagine b/c the American people KNOW WE’VE BEEN BENT OVER AND SLIPPED A FISTFULL! Have you read Barry’s graduation speech today to WestPoint Grads? Calling for “International Order” to fix challenges ahead. The contemptous bunch is moving us a lot farther along than we know I imagine…here’s the video from FOX news:

    Also AFVET I hope you know I was just messin’ with you a little in RE:Gingrich/GOP. I don’t see a whole lot of difference in either party either…they’re all a bunch of Globe trottin, self absorbed, FOOLS and the Obama thugocracy HATES AMERICA! These weasels do NOT have the authority to do the things they are doing! Since they don’t seem to understand that, it might be that the US citizens that dont’ like the new change will have to show them what happens when REAL PATRIOTS GET MAD! Its’ not just the men in America that are angry this time! They’ve stirred a hornets nest amongst the women! HA! There was a brief summary on Soros today, exerpt from one of his books, “The Shadow Party: How Soros, Clinton, & 60’s Radicals stole the democratic party” Soros is banned from a number of countries around the planet. US needs to join that list. He IS EVIL! the thought of him laughing after destroying nations is SICK AND MADDENING! All of this is maddening that is happening to our country while we wait for Nov. Look at Scott Brown helping hand the Progressive takeover of our country! I supported him with a contribution I’d like to have back! SO MANY LIE AND FOOL US ALL TO GET INTO OFFICE THEN DOOM CHANGES FOR OUR COUNTRY TO GET BACK TO COMMON SENSE GOVERNANCE! I’m mad as hell about it all! FURIOUS!!!!!!!!!!

    • You will love my read in the Examiner, it’s already in the can. I discuss Federal Immigration Law and the Arizona Law. Amazingly while I was tripping along the rabbit hole I picked up a gem, the UN authorities met in the Philippines and have declared that our law amounted to a human rights violation. That was an absolute Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment for me. The longer we wait for the elections the more likely we are to crawl on our hands and knees over ground glass to get rid of the current group of miscreants, hairballs and nare do wells! Jim

  11. Book mentioning Soros was by David Horowitz….who has it all right! All the commies must be banned from our country once we take it back! THEY MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE CHISELING AWAY AT AMERICAN CULTURE, FREEDOM, BIBLE-THUMPING, FREEDOM LOVING, GUN TOTING, CONSTITUTIONAL ABIDING LAWS AND RIGHTS!

  12. Thanks for the clarification ARMY, I thought that maybe I had contributed to the wrong blogsite.

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