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Are there certain products and services in the world that would not exist if not for weaknesses of some individuals, such as dishonesty, fraud, impatience, irresponsibility, et cetera? 

Here's a list of some products and services (simply, "products" from now on) that may fit this description:

-Check cashing services/credit cards--I understand these services to profit by the mistakes of customers--not paying bills on time, thus being charged interest.
-Most gambling products--exploiting those looking for escape, prone to addiction, etc.
-Fat burners and other nutritional supplements that claim to do what they cannot--exploiting impatience and lack of scientific education.
-Cigarettes and other dangerous consumables--exploiting those who value a buzz or the image the product provides over their health.
-Sunbathing products and tanning beds--same as above.
-Those damned "free trial for a month, but then we'll slap you with a huge monthly credit card charge when you forget to cancel" subscription services--exploiting those who don't know better.
-What else??

Let's not forget black markets. While bootlegged products take advantage of a lack of respect for property rights, other "black markets" may reflect our perseverance to obtain products that are banned by governments. 

Also,  many products may be "rational" in certain quantities, settings and contexts, but the same products may be irrational if purchased too often, or in the wrong context. An example of this might be the candy at the check-out line at a store, which can either target (less rational) impulsiveness or (more rational) post-shopping hunger, or clothing--one pair of dress shoes is handy, but twenty can be excessive. Or mid-day infomercials selling products that you can surely find online for 1/10 the price--not smart unless perhaps you don't have online access or are not web-savvy, in which case it might be your only practical way of obtaining that one-of-a-kind 50-piece engraved-handle hunting knife set.

In sum, I am fascinated by this topic, which falls under psychological economics/decision-making science, more recently dubbed "neuroeconomics." 

Let me know what you think.




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    Aaron Keefe likes to Pondr (pronounced "ponder") about science, business, and art.

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