Monthly Archives: July 2014

Tit-for-Tat. It ain’t all that.

The Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma (IPD) is a deceptively simple game that has sparked a lot of research in many different fields. However, despite all of this attention, the IPD’s lessons are still, surprisingly, widely misunderstood.

Over the next few weeks I plan to post an eight-part series that will hopefully be helpful in bringing interested readers up-to-speed with the latest thinking about this important and fascinating game.

Here are the parts I am planning.  I will add links as I add posts.

Tit-for-Tat. It ain’t all that.
Part 1: The Prisoner’s Dilemma, except repeated.
Part 2: When Tit-for-Tat was all that.
Part 3: The population is important.
Part 4: When everything was all that.
Part 5: When nothing was all that (for long).
Part 6: Whither uncertainty?
Part 7: Selecting this from that.
Part 8: Learning to play the game.



Some fortnights of links

It has been a long time since I posted any links.  Here is the backlog.

Soccer, a Beautiful Game of Chance –  John Tierney. One thing about soccer is that, because it is so low-scoring, the outcomes of individual games are very stochastic. John Tierney argues that, because there is such a large skew in skill level between teams, this randomness is a good thing for the sport. It is the only way that the less-skilled teams have any chance to win and keeps the matches exciting.  Sort of like slot machines, I guess.

Developmental Psychology’s Weird Problem – Jane Hu. I’ve posted about the issues with doing experiments mostly with people from WEIRD (Western Educated Industrialized Rich and Democratic) societies before. This problem even extend to developmental psychology.

How economics became a science – Giorgos Kallis. This is a brief article about some non-conformist economists in the 1960s (including Herb Gintis and Sam Bowles) challenging the economics establishment.

How Not to Be Misled by the Jobs Report –  Neil Irwin and Kevin Quealy.  Why we simulate data.

A list of 26 Species “Concepts” – John Wilkins. It is difficult to define a species. I’ve found that this topic is good fodder for particularly nerdy conversation on long car trips. You mileage might (literally!) vary.

Avoiding “Sagan Syndrome.” Why Astronomers and Journalists should pay heed to Biologists about ET – Nathan Taylor.

Insanity: genes ‘versus’ environment as causes – Ken Weiss. Seriously, we need to come up with a sensible way to talk about this stuff.

Developmental Plasticity and the “Hard-Wired” Problem – Patrick Clarkin with a long and thoughtful post on a similar problem.

How Political Science Makes Politics Make Us Less Stupid – John Patty at the Math of Politics blog.

Nicolas Wade recently published a book on human population genetics called “A Troublesome Inheritance.” Various science bloggers and scientists who study aspects of population genetics explain why his science is all mixed up. Jeremy Yoder, Eric Michael Johnson, H. Allen Orr, Massimo Pigliucci, Michael Eisen, Jennifer Raff.

How to get an ecology PhD in four years (a 12-step program) – Rosemary Hartman at the UC Davis Ecology blog.  As a bonus, you may-or-may-not see a photo of Biased Transmission’s author rocking a pink short skirt.
Entertaining (in that internet sorta way):

Cookie Monster has really strong priors (about cookies).

Controversial Jeopardy! champ Arthur Chu tells his story – Marah Eakin. This is from back in February.  The summary is that Chu used some game theory to do better at Jeopardy!, but it was not as nice for regular viewers of the show.

Old School Language – a PNAS paper inspires an old school rap song by Zach Sherwin.

John Conway sort-of hates the game of life –  Maybe someday I will be so famous for some scientific idea that I will hate it.

A Rough Guide to Spotting Bad Science – a poster in pdf for download.

Lisa Goldberg explains the Monty Hall problem. I try using the “millions of doors” example when explaining the solution with mixed success, but the video does a better job than I do. I think another problem is that  Let’s Make a Deal stopped airing in 1976.  I, in my mid-30s, barely remember it (in syndication) from my childhood. I think I probably don’t do as good a job explaining the set-up to people unfamiliar with the show as they do in the video.