Digits: A bot’s mistake, a persuasive word, and more weird numbers

How to be more persuasive, a bot’s screw-up, Americans are less satisfied, and more numbers from around the web.

14%: Decline in US-produced scripted original series in 2023. There were still 516 adult TV shows made last year, so it’s not like there wasn’t a ton of new TV, but that number marks the biggest annual slump in 20+ years and follows a record high of 600 TV shows in 2022. The cause? Five months of strikes across Hollywood’s writers’ and actors’ guilds, plus budget cuts among streaming platforms.

A TV with a declining red chart line on the screen, a cartoon robot holding a mobile phone displaying a messaging app in front of the outline of a plane, a man holding up a sad-face sign, and a cartoon of two people reaching an agreement against a black-and-white background.

47%: Share of Americans who say they’re “very” satisfied with their personal lives, per an annual Gallup survey. This is the third time since 2002 that fewer than 50% of Americans reported being less than very satisfied. Both previous times, in 2008 and 2011, came amid economic turmoil. Also, shoutout to the 9% of Americans who said they’re “very” dissatisfied. We’re rooting for you.

$650.88: How much Air Canada must pay in damages to a man who received wrong info from the airline’s chatbot. The bot told the man that bereavement fares could be claimed within 90 days of when the ticket was issued, which he learned was inaccurate when he submitted his grandmother’s death certificate less than a week later. Air Canada argued it couldn’t be held liable for the bot’s mistake, but to no avail.

50%: How much more persuasive you’ll be if you use the word “because” when making a request, per Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Apparently, an old Harvard University study demonstrated this by having people ask to cut in line at a Xerox machine. It didn’t matter if people gave a valid reason for skipping ahead or if they simply said it was “because” they — duh — needed to make copies. People were still 50% more likely to comply.

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