Jason Merchant sent me a link to this animation of Keith Chen's ideas about tense marking and future-orientation in financial and health behaviors:
There are many errors in the reporting of Chen's paper in this animation (mostly overstating the conclusions and controls), but overall the animation is pretty impressive. I guess you know your idea has made it if someone makes an animated movie out of it featuring you. (Because Chen did not control for cultural factors though, it remains at best a supposition that language, and not the cultures of the people using them, are responsible for the savings and other behavioral differences found. In the two cases I know best of his 5 intra-country subcases, Belgium and Switzerland, it is simply a sociological error to believe that the Flemish and Walloons (bzw. German-speaking vs French-speaking Swiss) are culturally uniform and that they differ *only* [as eg the video claims, and as is implicit in Chen's paper] in their languages. I personally plan on doing a follow-up study showing that knowledge of drinking songs increases proportionally with savings rate (since German-speakers culturally have more drinking songs than French-speakers, including in Switzerland, this will show the same correlation that language does with savings rate: once again showing that correlation is not causation, the Achilles' heel of Chen's work. Hopefully this will lead to more people learning drinking songs?)
Thought you might enjoy this nonetheless–the meme is loose, and while the media did its transitory best to spread it, there's nothing like a well-done YouTube animation to influence people for all time…
I'm more persuaded by Chen's controls than Jason is, though of course I agree about the difficulties of separating correlation and causation, and the need for more field research on drinking songs.
With respect to the video, I had a hard time getting past the pronunciation of Sapir as "supper", but I might have more to add after further viewing.
Previous LLOG coverage of Keith's work:
"Keith Chen, Whorfian economist", 2/9/2012
"Cultural diffusion and the Whorfian hypothesis", 2/12/2012
"Whorfian Economics", 2/21/2012
"Thought experiments on language and thought", 2/22/2012
"Keith Chen at TED", 2/20/2013
For those readers who might not be familiar with Edward Sapir and the pronunciation of his name, the Wikipedia article gives it as /səˈpɪər/, which rhymes with "a seer".