Utility and preferences are not* directly measurable. All we can go by is people’s actions — what they do (and eschew in doing so), what they spend money on.

On that basis, someone spending money on bingo, lottery, cigarettes or vodka must be assumed to derive at least some momentary utility from those transactions. Whether that utility outweighs the eventual cost over their lifetime is impossible to determine in general terms.

To me, ‘rational’ means ‘providing a net benefit to overall, long-term well-being’. This cannot be anything else than a personal judgement.

That is why I dispute your claim of irrationality.

*: the word ‘not’ was inadvertently omitted originally

Accidental behavioural economist in search of wisdom. Uses insights from (behavioural) economics in organization development. On Twitter as @koenfucius