National Institutes Of Health Spent Almost $500,000 To Study Gambling Pigeons

By Adam Andrzejewski for RealClearPolicy

There has been a lot of discussion about gambling and its impact on a growing population due to the rise in mobile betting. Gambling is a problem. There are many legitimate ways that money can be spent to support those who struggle with addiction.

There is even value in studying the causes of addiction – but pigeons?

According to Sen. Rand Paul’s 2021 Waste Report, the National Institute of Health (NIH) granted $465,339 to researchers at Reed College in Portland, Ore. to “create a token-based economy where pigeons are taught to gamble with slot machines.” The pigeons were provided tokens, and could then choose whether spend, save, or gamble them.

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This study, according to researchers, helps in understanding behavioral economics. The NIH never felt the need to explain how pigeons’ gambling habits relate to the gambling habits of humans. However, they did admit the study focused more on “laboratory models rather than practical applications.”

Also, it is not clear why the study cost so much. While we’re not experts, pigeons and tokens probably come relatively cheap. The average cost of essential equipment and tools is nearly half a billion dollars.

Researchers could gather data in casinos, survey former or current gamblers, and conduct randomized experiments on humans.

Each of these could lead to useful findings that can help people suffering from addiction. Our government instead funded a study about pigeons.

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