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Freud expert also a Korea expert

I received the following email:

Dear Dr Andrew Gelman,

I am writing to you on behalf of **. I hereby took this opportunity to humbly request you to consider being a guest speaker on our morning radio show, on 6th August, between 8.30-9.00 am (BST) to discuss North Korea working on new missiles

We would feel honoured to have you on our radio show. having you as a guest speaker would give us and our viewers a great insight into this topic, we would greatly appreciate it if you could give us 10-15 minutes of your time and not just enhance our but also our views knowledge on this topic.

We are anticipating your reply and look forward to possibly having you on our radio show.

Kind regards,


Note – All interviews are conducted over the phone

Note – Timing can be altered between 7.30- 9.00 am (BST)




This email is CONFIDENTIAL and LEGALLY PRIVILEGED. If you are not the intended recipient of this email and its attachments, you must take no action based upon them, nor must you copy or show them to anyone. If you believe you have received this email in error, please email **

I don’t know which aspect of this email is more bizarre, that they sent me an unsolicited email that concludes with bullying pseudo-legal instructions, or that they think I’m an expert on North Korea (I guess from this post; to be fair, it seems that I know more about North Korea than the people who run the World Values Survey). Don’t they know that my real expertise is on Freud?


  1. Garnett says:

    Ha Ha! It took me a sec to realize the picture is upside down :)

  2. I’m not a fan of many personality assessments of leaders, which substitute for evidence for policies. The reason I’ve become disillusioned with them is that the assessments seem amateurish to me. The more biased ones as you can imagine are tainted with bises. More fundamentally, I think people are too enamored with historical accounts. Specifically, most will read one or two and call it a day. I am not sure how to remedy this. Whether it is even possible. Of course, some accounts are more or less accurate than others.

  3. Lim-Smith says:

    I get similar emails all the time (although usually from China). I thought everyone did. And I know nothing about any of the topics they want me to discuss.

  4. This brings up the question: Who qualifies as an “intended recipient”? If the radio show hosts/programmers sent you the email because they believe that you, Andrew Gelman, are an expert on North Korea, then that makes you the intended recipient, even though their belief is mistaken. On the other hand, if they were thinking of someone else (for instance, the photographer Sam Gellmann) and got the name mixed up, then you were not the intended recipient, but you would have no way of knowing this. The same holds true if they were thinking of a different Andrew Gelman. And what if they themselves were unsure who the recipient was supposed to be? In that case, is there an intended recipient at all?

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