• English Conversation Classes with TED: Conflicts of Interest

    I don’t think I’ve met a student yet who is happy with the politicians in his or her country. In the United States, we complain a lot about how “special interest groups” corporations, foundations, organizations and anyone else with a lot of money, influence politics. By donating to election campaigns, we believe these groups create situations where the politicians have a “conflict of interest.”

    On the one hand, the politicians are supposed to be representing their voters, on the other, they’ve got these groups who have given them a lot of money to help them get elected, and will be happy to give the money to someone else if the politicians don’t do what the special interest group wants.

    Politics are perhaps the easiest place to spot people with conflicts of interest, but in this TED talk, Dan Ariely shows how the effect much more personal decisions, in others and in himself, and he talks about how we can be aware of them.

    Why you should listen do Dan:

    Despite our best efforts, bad or inexplicable decisions are as inevitable as death and taxes and the grocery store running out of your favorite flavor of ice cream. They’re also just as predictable. Why, for instance, are we convinced that “sizing up” at our favorite burger joint is a good idea, even when we’re not that hungry? Why are our phone lists cluttered with numbers we never call? Dan Ariely, behavioral economist, has based his career on figuring out the answers to these questions, and in his bestselling book Predictably Irrational (re-released in expanded form in May 2009), he describes many unorthodox and often downright odd experiments used in the quest to answer this question.


    Below is the video, and some listening and conversation classes. Contact us to take English conversation classes via Skype.


    What was his doctor’s “brilliant” idea?

    Why would it fix his face?

    What were his concerns?

    And then came one of the biggest _____ _____ of my life.

    Why did the doctor want him to use the treatment?

    What was wrong with the test Dan did?

    Why did they redo the experiment?

    What do incentives do to people?

    Why is he positive at the end?

    Have you ever allowed a conflict of interest to change your decisions? Have you seen other people do this? How do you think this affects society?

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