Lost and Found

In a post On Returning the Lost | Talking Philosophy, philosopher Mike LaBossiere raises the question as to whether his habit of returning found wallets without removing the money is abnormal.

I should hope not! but in fact one commenter confessed to the opposite practice (which I'm afraid drew me in to a rather heated exchange - prompted in particular by his self-serving presumption about the relative wealth of the wallet's owner).

In any case, the question of actual statistics is interesting, and another commenter referred to experiments in which wallets have been deliberately "lost", so I thought it might be worth reporting on another such experiment study.

We only have about half a dozen sample points so far, but my wife seems intent on running a long term observational study of this matter and in Vancouver BC has had 100% return of the wallet, 50% with cash included and 50% cash removed (including one case where the wallet returned for reward had been in a dropped bike pannier with other items which were never recovered).

Although the financial benefit of getting the money back is usually quite small (at least in relation to other matters) the sense of faith in one's fellow humans that results from such an event is quite wonderful - and I am pretty sure that benefits of that sort continue to multiply.

One Response to “Lost and Found”

  1. Connie Hubbs Says:

    Another example... A co qworker was out visiting and when she returned to the car, she found a gold bracelet. It was obviously valuable. She picked it up with delight and wore it to work the next day telling us the story of her good luck.
    I got to work pointing out that a piece of jewelry like that is typically given on a special occasion and may have significant sentimental value above and beyond the material value and therefore it was important to try to return it.
    Convinced, she made inquiries, soon found the owner and that was the case. The woman was overjoyed. I don't recall any material award being given but my co worker was pleased to be the heroine in the story.

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