Skinner-box rats trained to predict currency market movements

A negative result is also a successful experiment. If the hypothesis can be either proved or disproved, the experiment is successful. Too bad data for either outcome counts as failure.

Except that he says: “The results were astounding: the second generation of top traders had a much better performance than their parents, but undoubtably, further research will be necessary to confirm this finding of ours.”

Indicating that he hasn’t the faintest idea what he’s talking about, or it’s a joke.

The rat is a bio-assay for a neural network.

They’re experimenting on us!

I don’t believe this. It would likely be illegal under EU laboratory animal regulations, and nobody has the space and time to breed new strains of lab rats privately so it would have to be done in a lab so it wouldn’t get approved.

Are we talking the cocaine and hookers study group, or the controls?

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The EU may have their consistency a bit more in order; but at least in the US it’s amazing what you can get away with as long as you aren’t doing science. If your purpose is to pet it, eat it, or make a coat out of it, you enjoy broad latitude. If you are planning on learning something, though, better put on your mercy hat and prepare to face the IRB…

As mentioned above, he is an artist, not a scientist. It’s probably better to regard this as a piece of art rather than a joke or serious science.


Ahh. I am corrected.

A LOT of things can be done privately. There are (admittedly rare but existing!) people with the resources, and it’s amazing what you can do for pennies on a dollar with just a bit of creativity and tech skills.

There is even an emerging sector of DIY science, with real (and usually improvised) high-end lab equipment. There are even budding vendors making money on it, and more (including me) aspiring for that.

There are more and more regulations on “big” institutional labs, more commissions, and one has to do a week of paperwork for a day of research. A little competition from the garage-lab sector is only a good thing.

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I used to have domestic rats as pests, they were horrible. I hate rats!

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Teela Brown is unimpressed, but doesn’t quite get what’s going on here.

“The trouble is, even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.” — Lily Tomlin.

I thought hedge-fund managers were actual rats…

They’re Pinky and The Brain
Pinky and The Brain!
Which one is the Genius?
Which one is Insane?

Mr. Munroe addresses the correct methodology for economics in the first embedded cartoon of one of his “What If?” series.

All the Money

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Hehe. @GilbertWham. Snap. I loooved the Halo Jones series.

Being a piece of art is not incompatible with being a joke. I think it can be both.

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I’m wondering if one could blow air through it to make a “fluidized bed” of money in which you skinner-box rats could dive and swim?

edited to keep it somewhat (tangential) on topic. :wink:


It would be a group D fluidized bed. The intensity of gas jets to keep the coins separated enough to behave like a fluid would be, due to their very large size and density (compared to usual fluidized bed particles), needed to be rather very high. Possibly high enough to strip skin from muscles and muscles from bones at too close contact with the jets; deeper diving would therefore be strongly unadvisable. Another problem will be with the tendency of the coins to settle and form channels for the gas instead of hovering in it; may be alleviated by further mechanical agitation.

Maybe if the coins were made from metallic foam, tailored to the density of a fluid so they would float/hover, it would work better.

Thought… some sort of a supercritical fluid with high enough density, nontoxic, and mixed with oxygen, so both the coins (the foam-metal ones) and the swimmer could hover in it? Would however need some time in a decompression chamber after exiting the pool.