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Sidestep and Twist by James Gardner

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HERD BEHAVIOURS TWIST

During the 1630s, something bizarre happened in Holland: everyone began to believe tulip bulbs – flowers with features quite unremarkable except that they’d become something of a status symbol for the wealthy – were amongst the most valuable commodities in the world.

A tulip bulb takes somewhere between 10 and 12 years to develop from a seed. After that, it produces one flower for one week in every year. It is not, therefore, an especially prolific grower. Because the plant is dormant for so much of the year, individual bulbs can be uprooted and moved around after the flower is produced. This characteristic allowed Dutch traders to write contracts for the future supply of bulbs, in the process inventing the concept of the ...

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