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Title: Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious
Author(s): Gerd Gigerenzer
Number of Referenced Stories: 7

Publication Year: 2007
ISBN: 9780143113768
Dewey Decimal Class: 100
Dewey Decimal Division: 153
Author Website:

    Berlin Philharmonic
    East German Official, Gunter Schabowski

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    #301 - Opt-in, Opt-out Organ Donor Countries
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B's Buzz

Professor Gerd Gigerenzer thumbnails one featured story:

"If there is a default, do nothing about it.

How would that rule explain why people in the U.S. die because there are too few organ donors, whereas France has plenty?  Since 1995, some fifty thousand U.S. citizens have died waiting in vain for a suitable organ donor.  In countries such as the U.S., Great Britain, and Germany, the legal default is that nobody is a donor without registering to be one.  You need to opt in.  In countries such as France, Austria, and Hungary, everyone is a potential donor unless they opt out. 

The majority of Americans, British, French, Germans and other nationals seem to employ the same default rule.  Their behavior is a consequence of both this rule and the legal environment, leading to a striking contrast between countries.  Interestingly, among those people who do not follow the default, most opt in but few opt out—28 percent of Americans and 12 percent of Germans opted in to be organ donors and 0.1 percent of both the French and the Austrians opted out." 

Opt in versus opt out—to the unaware—seems a nuanced distinction.  Although the distance between Munich, Germany and Linz, Austria is 200 kilometers (120 miles) with a shared language and culture between, don't tell that to someone in need of a human organ. If a Munich patient is on the medical rolls for a transplant this can be a life and death distance; all because of a choice of organ donor behavioral definitions and the way his countrymen react to the resulting default rule. 

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