happ ĮPhilosophy, oh, she got no bailiwick.                        



Please click here for any information concerning courses I am currently teaching.


   G. Randolph Mayes


       Department of Philosophy

       Sacramento State University

       Mendocino Hall 3028


              Contact   Interests   CPPE    Scribble   Roll   Tauts  Pheepherisms














Hi, my name is Randy Mayes. I look a lot like this 1899 self-portrait by Giovanni Giacometti.  I'm a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Sacramento State University.  You can contact me the following ways:

E-mail:  mayesgr@csus.edu

Google Talk or Skype: grandolphmayes



















Randy's Interests

I see philosophy as the study of conceptual problems and am mostly interested in problems that arise in the scientific study of human rationality and behavior. I am particularly interested in the nature of explanation and how humans deal with uncertainty.  Some of my recent publications are on the concept of explanation, the concept of privacy, and the concept of cruelty. 









































Randy's Scribble

This is a selection of some things I've written fairly recently. 




























Affect Heuristic

Allais Paradox

Ambiguity Aversion

Anchoring Bias

Availability Heuristic

Base Rate Neglect

Bayes Rule

Certainty Effect


Cognitive Dissonance

Confirmation Bias

Congruence Bias

Crowd Wisdom

Ellsberg Paradox

Expected Value




Hindsight Bias

Implicit Association

Inattentional Blindness

Information Bias

Loss Aversion

Marginal Utility

Mental Accounting

Negativity Bias

Opportunity Costs

Paradox of Choice


Precautionary Principle

Prisoner's Dilemma

Prospect Theory

Recognition Heuristic

Regression Toward the Mean

Representativeness Heuristic


Risk Homeostasis

Status Quo Bias

Sunk costs

Wason Selection Tasks











































Roll Call Questions

(a selection of some favorites)

A perfect stranger sits down next to you on a park bench on a hot summer day, opens a cooler, and offers you 1000 dollars to drink a cold bottle of Evian water.

A perfect stranger hands you a gun and offers you 1000 dollars to put it to your head and pull the trigger.  You may check to see whether it is loaded.

A perfect stranger offers you a million dollars cash in exchange for your soul.  You must sign a document transferring ownership.

Would you agree to 24 hours of incredibly painful torture in exchange for 10,000 dollars if you were assured that it would do no physical damage and that you would remember it (falsely) as an amazing sexual experience?

What do you mean _____?

Would you participate in a scientific experiment about the efficacy of prayer in which you are required to pray earnestly everyday for  a month that someone you don't know will die?  You will be paid 1000 dollars.

I'd give _____years of my  life for 1 million dollars.

Would you spit on a perfect stranger for 500 dollars?  Assume s/he could not retaliate.  Alternatively, assume that it is an old lady.

Just because I'm _____ doesn't mean I'm  _____.

What is the least amount of money that you would accept to break an inconsequential promise to a close friend?

You won't believe this but  _____.

Would you rather believe a beautiful lie or know the terrible truth?

I always lie about  _____.

Somewhere over the rainbow is my _____.

The meanest thing I ever did as a kid is _____.

I felt really stupid the time I _____.

Should you respect the wishes of dead people?

If I were a  condiment  I'd be _____.

If I were a tool I'd be _______.

I can't shake the feeling that ______.

What I really want to know is _____.

I'd give a month of my life to spend a day with  _____.  (Any person dead or alive.)

Would you mow your teacher's lawn to improve your grade from a D to an A?

Would you play Russian Roulette for a billion dollars? (Assume it involves drinking one of six cups filled with a tasty beverage, one of which contains a poison that will kill you instantly and painlessly.)

A bad dream in one sentence or less.

Last time I really messed things up was when _____.

Good childhood experience in a sentence.

I'm not a _____.

You just don't ______.

Something I like that most people don't is _____.

I'd like to have a snack with _____.

Would you rather belong to a world of all men or all women? ('All' includes you.)

I'd rather not have to choose between ____ and _____.

It's bad manners to ______.

My least favorite body part is _____.

Name of your least favorite elementary school teacher.

I was never so mad as when _____.

There ought to be a law against  _____.

It's really awkward when _____.

If I could be invisible for a day, I would _____.

Is it wrong or merely rude  to take something out of a person's shopping cart before s/he has paid for it?

What name would you give yourself after your sex change operation?

I wish I didn't care so much about ___.

Would you rather be fabulously rich and loved by no one or dirt poor and loved my many?

Would you rather have a spouse who is warm, faithful, loving, and butt ugly, or one who is faithful, cold, indifferent and incredibly beautiful?

Is it ok  to spy on people in intimate situations as long as they never find out?

What's the funniest way you ever got hurt?

What people sometimes don't get about me is ______.

If I were a man (woman) I would be attracted to _______.

I take a peculiar pleasure in ________.

I tend to exaggerate my  ______ .

When I get old I hope I don't  ______.

You can't ____ a _____.

I'll give you evidence of irrationality:  ________.

It kind of took me by surprise when ______.

Tried and true or something new?

Would you trade all the days you are likely to be sick during your life for a life shorter by that many days?

If happiness and intelligence were negatively correlated, what proportions would you choose?







































  • Nothing succeeds like success.

  • I like my friends.
  • You don't get a second chance to make a first impression.

  • The universe is not a coincidence.

  • Money is money.

  • There is always more than one option.

  • There's nothing you can do that can't be done.

  • Everybody's healthy until they're not.

  • You can't get out of your own way.

  • You can't drill a square hole.

  • You can't milk a bird.

  • I havenít had a drink since my  last one.

  • It was working right up to the time it broke.

  • East is East and West is West.

  • Whatís right is right.

  • Enough is enough.

  • Too much is too much.

  • Itís best not to overdo it.

  • You can't give more than you have.

  • Pubic hair doesn't grow out of your ears.

  • Everything is what it is and not another thing.

  • No means no.

  • You ought to do the right thing.

  • Youíve got one life to live.

  • Youíre not me.

  • I am what I am.

  • Iíve gotta be me.

  • A man's got to do what a man's got to do.

  • I believe what I believe.

  • I know what I know.

  • Iím right here.

  • Youíve got to start somewhere.

  • First things first.

  • You play the hand youíre dealt.

  • It is what it is.

  • It ainít over till itís over.

  • If it ainít broke, donít fix it.

  • Don't cross the bridge till you come to it.

  • A win is a win.

  • Youíve got to die of something.

  • Whatís done is done.

  • Whatever will be will be.

  • There are no records of the future.

  • You can't predict the past.

  • Nothing is harder to forecast than the future.

  • When youíre dead youíre dead.

  • You canít choose your parents.

  • You canít remember what didnít happen.

  • Whatever happens happens.

  • You canít finish what you donít start.

  • You canít be denied if you never ask permission.

  • You can't learn what you already now.

  • You can't compare something to itself.

  • You canít fail if you never try.

  • You canít be rejected if you never apply.

  • You can't hit a five run homer.

  • Whoever scores the most points wins.

  • If you win the first game, you won't be swept.

  • Wherever you go, there you are.

  • What comes around goes around.

  • Boys will be boys.

  • You donít know what you donít know.

  • You go to war with the army youíve got.

  • The law is the law.

  • This world of dew is a world of dew.
  • If you can you can, if you can't you can't.

  • You can't prove an assumption.

























































































The Wizdom of Johannes Pheeper


  • Deal with your nugatoriness.

  • You are not a pencil.

  • Reasons are your friends.

  • Making sense is easy.  What's hard is making sense of "making sense."

  • Philosophy, oh, she got no bailiwick.

  • A whole mess of mistakes in life can be blamed on the simple failure to count.

  • The tads accrue.

  • Bivalence is for wussies.

  • A brain is only as strong as its weakest think.

  • It's always sumthin', but it's usually nuthin'.

  • A rut is a groove you've been in too long.

  • Nothing is everything.

  • Speak your hair.

  • Don't seek certainty to make yourself comfortable with your decisions.  Seek uncertainty, and then make them anyway.

  • The smart things you do don't matter nearly as much as the dumb things you don't.

  • Bayes Rules.

  • It's all about the priors.

  • A tutu is not a safety device.*

  • One day you will realize that everything you realize is wrong.

  • Deal with your nugatoriness.

  • There is always more than one option.

  • Gentlemen, start your reasons.

*Retracted 1/19/09 when compelling evidence to the contrary was provided by Christina Bellon.