Posted by: Tobias | February 20, 2009

Are you peeling bananas wrong?

The funniest thing I’ve read all week, by Steven Landsburg at Slate:

My friend Petal peels her bananas from the bottom. Well, it's the top, actually, since bananas grow upside down. Come to think of it, that's not quite right either—bananas grow the way they grow, which should be right-side up by definition, even if we think of them as upside down. So let me start over. Petal peels her bananas from the end without the stem.

I mentioned as much at the lunch table last week and triggered a firestorm of debate that has put several research careers on hold and seriously jeopardized the marriage of at least one colleague who, in his single-minded pursuit of truth, has refused for over a week to talk about anything other than the pros and cons of alternative peeling methods. As of this writing, he and his wife have reached an uneasy truce that prohibits him from ever again mentioning the word “banana” in the marital household.

Petal's method is counterintuitive and thus instantly appealing to economists, who love nothing more than to overturn conventional wisdom. Multiple experiments (well, two experiments, actually, since we only had two bananas) quickly convinced a majority of the department that Petal's way is—surprisingly—easier than the traditional method, though the econometricians thought you'd need to test at least 30 bananas to report that result with confidence. The labor economists immediately resolved to apply for a grant.

It only gets better from there.


  1. “The labor economists immediately resolved to apply for a grant” 😀

  2. Very funny, will have a look at the rest of the article.

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