Below are imagined introspective inquiries by a middle-aged white man who is for Trump and a middle-aged white woman who is for Clinton:
Elrod: Why am I for Trump? Yes, I'm mad. I'm sick of a privileged elite of women and minorities like Obama and Hillary who think they're better than the rest of us. The kind of sexism and racism you can get away with nowadays is all against men and against whites, and it's garbage. Trump! And he's fun, too. There's always a twinkle in his eye--I bet I could have a great time with him. Yes, I admit I've got some reservations. I think Hillary gets politics and how things work, and Trump doesn't. And does Donald have any shame, I wonder. Hey, I do. I know I treated Vera wrong with all my drinking and my catting around. But Donald--I wonder if he ever has felt ashamed about anything. And I worry about that.
Vera: Why am I for Hillary? God, I'm so happy that there finally is going to be a woman president! So happy I can cry. And yes, I'm mad. I look at Trump and I see all the male garbage that I and every woman has had to put up with for fifty thousand years, big as a giant dump truck on an Imax screen. I see Elrod and his lawyer, asking for alimony from me because Elrod drank his life away and couldn't hold a job. Hillary! I'm with her!!! And yes, though...yes, I worry. Partly for practical reasons--I think Trump and the Republicans get business and how the economy works in a way that Hillary and the Democrats don't. And part of it's emotional. I'm huge on taking responsibility, I told our children all the time that life is about what you can do, not blaming other people...and I worry that Hillary and the Democrats encourage people to do that.
In both Elrod and Vera, their active, or yang temperaments--the angry/choleric and happy/sanguine--tilt them toward their preferred candidates, while their passive, or yin temperaments--the ashamed/melancholic and the calm/phlegmatic tilt them in the other direction.
A few potential research questions: How could one measure political ambivalence based on temperaments? What proportion of us have temperament-related political ambivalence? Is it the case, as the example above implies, that the more active temperaments usually prevail over the quieter ones?
The last chapter of my book:
In my class this Sunday for second and third graders at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair, I told about the life of Cecilia Payne, an Anglo-American astronomer who went to Cambridge University in the early twentieth century but couldn't get a degree (none for women until 1947), and then found a home in the somewhat more female-friendly Cambridge, Mass., where she earned her Ph.D.
Wikipedia told me that as a student Cecilia Payne did an experiment on the efficacy/non-efficacy of prayer. That led me to devise an experiment for us in Montclair. I divided the class (11 children, me, my assistant Sue Zapata, and our teenage helper Ana) at random into Team Science and Team God. Team God recited, "Oh great and good God, please help the poor children around the world," and Team Science recited, "I believe in science and doing good for the poor children around the world." I then asked the children to fill out whether they thought people were good or not and whether the universe was good or not. Then I asked the members of Team Science to wish for heads in seven coin tosses so that poor children could be helped. After that, I had the members of Team God do the same.
My fairly weak priors were that members of Team God would be more positive about people and the universe, and my super-strong prior was that neither team would have the power to tilt the coin to heads. In our small sample, my priors on prayer and positivity were true. (Some of the children kept their papers; for this and other reasons, further research is definitely called for:))
The coin flips? Team Science had 3 heads, 4 tails. Team God was doing all right with heads for a while, but the tide turned. Ana as the last member of Team God flipped a tails, and it wound up the same 3 heads, 4 tails for both teams.
If particularist religion PR was the enemy/partner for Judaism J, if PR and J were the enemies/partners for Christianity C, if PR, J, and C were the enemies/partners for Islam I, if PR, J, C, and I were the enemies/partners for the Enlightenment E, PR, J, C, I, and E alike will be the enemies/partners for the Post-Enlightenment P-E.
Who are the key members, the clerisy, of the E, who will be the enemies/partners of the new clerisy of the P-E? My answer, today: Professors. (I've had other answers to that question in the past, and will, I'm sure, in the future :))
Does ethics pay?
One way to operationalize the question: Analyze all of the 144 possible matrices representing ordinal utility in one-shot 2 x 2 games.
If the analysis in the attached powerpoint is correct, a "social" player who plays the highest joint value outcome for the two players narrowly outperforms a "selfish" or "non-social" player who plays a dominant strategy where applicable and mixed Nash otherwise. The edge of the social player in S-S interactions over the non-social player in N-N interactions narrowly overcomes the edge of the non-social player in S-N interactions.
A more fine-grained breakdown: The significant edge of the N player in the 15 PD matrices is narrowly overcome by the considerable edge of the S player in the 9 Stag Hunt and 8 Battle of the Sexes matrices, along with a tiny edge for the S player in the 17 Chicken matrices. There are plenty of nuances--two of them are that the edge of the S player is dependent on the S player and not the N player being able to employ Schelling focal points in 4 Battle of the Sexes matrices, and that the edge of the S player is substantial in the 7 symmetrical PD, Chicken, Stag Hunt, and Battle of the Sexes matrices.
Got all riled up yesterday by an article in the WSJ sports section on the hot hand fallacy and then by reading a paper by Miller and Sanjurjo on SSRN...
When I calmed down, started thinking about a topic I've been mulling over a long time: whether cognitive biases can be usefully understood in terms of matched opposites that help in solving social games.
An example: you've got the hot hand bias, and then you've got the opposing gambler's fallacy. Why? Maybe it's all about adjusting people's payoffs in social games in a way that helps us solve prisoner's dilemmas and other games that are tough for unbiased people.
If that's the case, morality in the four temperaments line I espouse and cognitive biases would work similarly...there's a certain probability of being in one biased state or another biased state, just as there's a certain probability of being sanguine or choleric...the jolts that the biases impart to neutral, unbiased payoffs lead to social solutions that would be elusive absent the biases.
To be continued :)
Written on my phone...the usual disclaimers apply...
The uber-game of classical game theory as it developed in the 1950s was the Prisoner's Dilemma...
In the PD--or "Disharmony", as I call it--the logic of dominance (play a strategy that is best regardless of what the other player does) and the logic of highest joint value (do what is best for both of you, or the entity of which you are both a part) point in opposite directions...
The PD/ Disharmony is a very rough, very nasty game indeed...
The key applications context for the PD in the 1950s/early 1960s was nuclear strategy...
Schelling and others noted that the US and the USSR could be understood as trapped in a dilemma of rationality that could be addressed by rational measures to communicate and coordinate...
Schelling's advocacy of a hotline between Moscow and Washington was one key proposal....
Perhaps classical game theory and its cool, detached perspective on the USSR-US rivalry is one of the reasons we're all still here...
Thank you, Professor Schelling!
Pages of my book discussing the perverse logic of the PD/Disharmony: 4, 16, 64-65, 163
Pages of my book discussing Schelling: xi, xiv, 2, 18, 23
My notes on slide 2:
Classical game theory was born in a deeply pessimistic moment...
The Holocaust, the gulag, the atom bomb and the H-bomb...
My "greatest influence" professor Thomas Schelling and John Nash were two central figures in creating the field...
Schelling with his concept of credible commitments showed how an emotion driven player could in many circumstances do better than a cool, calculating, "rational" player...
Nash with his analysis of equilibrium strategies showed how calculating egoists do strikingly poorly in one-shot games...a great deal of value is left on the table by such players...
Parts of my forthcoming Palgrave book that discuss these points: Intro, p. 2; Chapter 1, p. 29
With my book Why Business Ethics Matters: Answer from a New Model of Game Theory coming out next month, I thought it was a good time to do a presentation for my department. The presentation focused more on the analysis of matrices than the book does--the slides are below.
...is the title of the fourth chapter of my forthcoming book from Palgrave.
[Cue Justin Timberlake video, for those of you who like me are JT fans...]
For our classical predecessors, the idea that nature and everything in it has a purpose was a commonsensical position. So, too, was the idea that the purpose--the telos--of nature as a whole, and of most, though not all, the individual things that make up nature, was ethically good. Now, a belief that nature and the things in it have a good purpose is usually understood as a matter of faith, not of rational judgment. My aim in this chapter of the book is to suggest that our optimistic predecessors had it basically right, and that we pessimistic moderns have it wrong. There is, I believe, an evolutionarily stable solution to social games played by things of all kinds--people, animals, and inorganic matter--that is ethically good.
In the past, blogging in the past was a way for me to work through ideas that eventually become the Four Temperaments approach to social games I take in my book. Now, as I return to blogging after writing the book and submitting it to Palgrave--yay!--I see it as a way to explore thoughts I'll express more formally in my article, and of expressing the ideas in the book in a different way.
Competitiveness and fairness/"trickiness" as factors in solving math problems—compare Cosmides and Tooby on Wason tests and cheater detection
New York Times NUMBERPLAY column
APRIL 21, 2014
You and an opponent are to play a game with three dice. Your opponent starts by choosing one of the three dice, and then you choose one of the two dice that remain. You both then roll your chosen die, and whoever rolls the highest number wins. Our challenge is the following: design three dice (each with three distinct numbers between one and nine, with opposing faces identical) so that no matter which die your opponent chooses, you’ll always be able to choose a better die. That is, you’ll always be able to choose a die that will beat your opponent’s die on average. What set of three tricky dice will do this?
From the numbers 1 through 9, pick three sets A, B, and C that satisfy the following properties:
Hypothesis: Solving times and accuracy will be significantly better for condition A than for condition B.
Enjoyed reading the SSRN paper by Eric Posner and Glen Weyl proposing quadratic voting as an efficient way to aggegate intense preferences, and skimming Weyl's SSRN paper that makes the same argument in more technical, mechanism design terms. The core idea is simple: People would be able to buy votes at a cost of the square of the number of votes they buy, with the amount paid rebated to everyone per capita.
It's great stuff. First, right on for mechanism design, and for the tech econ skills of the kind Myerson, Maskin, and Hurwicz, and others such as Weyl, possess. I played around a lot around ten years ago with vote banks and other devices to weigh preference intensity, and couldn't get anything that worked. I believe Weyl, drawing on his skills and on other sources in his field, has got a model that does work, and that that is a very important result. Second, right on for the "thinking the unthinkable" quality of Posner and Weyl's work. If there are real improvements to be made in political institutions, my strong intuition is that such improvements will involve pushing emotional and ideological hot buttons, as vote buying most certainly does.
I have two questions. I am persuaded by quadratic voting as a way to counter majority tyranny. But what about the problem of minority tyranny in an environment in which there are costs of political participation? So, for example, suppose 999,999 of each million people in America lose $1 from protecting mohair wool producers, one person gains $500,000, and that participation costs $10. Can the quadratic voting model be adjusted to solve this problem? Might it solve it already in a way I'm not seeing?
Second, might it be fruitful to combine the quadratic voting model with a model of competitive and altruistic preferences associated with political ideology, such as the one proposed in my SSRN paper with Deirdre Collier or in the journal version of the paper? As discussed in that paper, I believe that left-right ideology is fruitfully understood as a device to solve majority tyranny and minority tyranny problems; I suspect that that insight can be usefully integrated into Posner and Weyl's work.
A new potential title for the next book, on the psychological logic of law and politics. Now I gotta write the actual book that I have a contract to finish by December: Why Business Ethics Matters: The Logic of Moral Emotions in Game Theory. Thank you very much, Palgrave! Gonna have to change the "fighting the man" outsider style of this blog at some point...as potential models, I like this one by my supply chain colleague Arash Azadegan, and this webpage w/ a blog on the side by my long-time b-ethics and b-law colleague Michael Santoro...way to go, Arash and Michael!
[The following squib grows out of a long-term interest in whether the position of universities and professors as key left-leaning elites, and of businesses and those who run them as key right-leaning elites, is likely or not to change over time in favor of both sides being closer to the center than they are now...]
School as an institution rewards smartness as a skill or a talent on a routine, long-term basis. Profs who have risen to the top in school and get their jobs as profs in large part because of that are guilty, both because they feel their smartness is unearned, based as it is in large part on genetic and environmental factors, and because they recognize that it is to a large degree decoupled from their actual skill or lack of skill in generating valuable new ideas. Incredibly smart people may do little or nothing of moment--people of middling gifts may make great intellectual contributions.
There is no central social institution for children that rewards rising to the top in team production skills the way school rewards smartness skills. Unlike profs, top business leaders are not likely to suffer from a guilty or ashamed sense of having been picked out from a very young age as stars for reasons that are in large part unconnected to their own merits, and that do not necessarily relate to their actual contributions.