KLUDGES. The title of the sunk cost article refers to sunk costs as a “memory kludge”. This wikipedia article defines a kludge as: “A kludge (or kluge) is a workaround, a quick-and-dirty solution, a clumsy or inelegant, yet effective, solution to a problem, typically using parts that are cobbled together.” It’s a new word. The OED traces its first usage to a 1962 article in a computer magazine. It seems to be a fairly common term in economics now, and wikipedia says that it is used in computer science, aerospace engineering, and evolutionary neuroscience. The usage in the title of the sunk cost article means that sunk costs sometimes can be used as a proxy or substitute for memory—roughly that “we can’t remember all the analysis that went into this decision, but the amount we spent is a reminder that at one time, we placed a value on the decision of the magnitude of the sunk costs.”

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