So much brainpower… what if it could have been put to good use? We’ve all come across the laborious scientific studies that conclude the patently obvious or irrelevant. Here’s one that basically takes the cake: a scientific paper on The Social Norm of Leaving the Toilet Seat Down: A Game Theoretic Analysis by Hammad Siddiqi. Yes, really.
The issue of whether the toilet seat should be left up or down after use seemingly generates a lot of passion among the parties concerned, however, scientific inquiries into the matter are almost non-existent.
Gee, I wonder why.
In this paper, we internalize the cost of yelling and model the conflict as a non-cooperative game between two species, males and females.We find that the social norm of leaving the toilet seat down is inefficient. However, to our dismay, we also find that the social norm of always leaving the toilet seat down after use is not only a Nash equilibrium in pure strategies but is also trembling-hand perfect. So, we can complain all we like, but this norm is not likely to go away.
The study analyzes the "welfare contribution" of various scenarios, male and female, married and unmarried, and the impact of the specific bodily function being performed. After lengthy analytical discussion of the results, the conclusion:
For “mankind”, the analysis in this paper has the following appeal: Once again, it has been found that the social norm of leaving the toilet seat down is inefficient; hence, “mankind” may feel vindicated.
For “womankind”, the analysis in this paper is appealing for the following reason: It has been shown that the social norm of leaving the seat down is a trembling-hand perfect equilibrium. Hence, this norm is not likely to go away, at least in the near future.
Life goes on… unchanged. To be fair, the author’s bio does provide an explanation for the topic:
Most of his time is spent on serious academic writings for fellow economists. However, at times, he writes for general audience with an objective of raising their interest in economics.
That’s valid. There does need to be better understanding of fundamental economics in the world. Perhaps that would save us from nonsense like almost all European countries lowering tax rates to improve their economies to emulate the U.S. growth engine while many in the U.S. propose to do the opposite to emulate Europe. Go figure.
But have you taken a look at what your organization is spending resources on to study? Will those studies mean anything, or just look good on paper?