Game Theory & You: Media and Writing

Hidden Traps in Our Social Interactions and How to Cope With Them

127. How can we cooperate? A new lesson from the bees.

The world is rapidly going down the road of competition rather than cooperation. In doing so, as I have shown in previous posts and in my book Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life, its citizens face the deadly dilemmas exposed by game theory – in particular, the ongoing circular dilemma that: cooperation brings rewards but if our minds are set on competition, it appears in many situations that we can do better for ...

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126. The ethics of game theory: Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby & Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid

I avoid political commentary on this website , but in the current climate (31st January, 2017) I believe that it is very important for as many of us as possible to look dispassionately at what is happening and  try to understand what is going on below the surface rhetoric. The tool for this is game theory, about which I have written a book Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life.In it, I emphasize the paradoxes that scientists have ...

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124. Trump, Russia and Lysenko: A cautionary tale

Submitted to Washington Post just before Christmas 2016. Nearly made it, but eventually missed out, The message for science is sadly stark. The U.S. should learn from Russian history “Are you now, or have you ever been, a climate scientist?” Donald Trump’s recent demand that the Department of Energy provide the names of all staff who have been involved in climate research smacks of McCarthyist paranoia, but this worrying aspect of ...

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On the Fat-Headedness of Crowds

July 25th, 2016 The result of the recent UK referendum on whether to stay in or to leave Europe has come as a shock to many of us. More than one correspondent has asked me “I thought there was this thing called group intelligence which said that, the larger the group, the surer they are to get the right answer?” I wrote quite a lot about this in my book The Perfect Swarm, and there are two points to be made: Group intelligence ...

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Where did “Rock-Paper-Scissors” originate? Well, Nature started it all.

Posted on December 9, 2015

I recently had an inquiry from a Russian website wanting to know where the game "Rock, Paper, Scissors" originated. Probably they asked me because I had written a best-selling book "Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life," which was in fact not about the game itself (that just made for a good title). Nevertheless, I had done some digging, and I was able to answer that non one knew about the human version (it may have originated ...

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107. Terrorism and the refugee crisis

Posted on December 4, 2015

The journal Nature has been taking a strong interest in terrorism and the refugee crisis, even publishing an article of mine on the latter (see As a leading scientific journal, Nature has been particularly concerned with identifying underlying causes – a way of thinking that is familiar to scientists, but which many politicians have been slow to embrace, preferr...

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The secrets of cooperation

Several years ago (well, OK, in 2012) I did an interview for “Nature and Health” on the subject of cooperation ( Looking back, I am very impressed by how the interviewer paraphrased what I had to say, and I still stand by the ten rules (based on scientific studies) that I came up with: Stay if you win, shift if you lose If your choice between cooperating and using an independe...

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93. Kurt Gödel and the hole in the U.S. constitution

Posted on June 30, 2015

The Austrian mathematician Kurt Gödel upset the world of mathematics, and came close to upsetting the world of U.S. politics. In mathematics, he took the final step in a long line of upsetters of apple carts that stretched right back to Euclid, who came up with the first systematic treatment of geometry based on making deductions from a small set of axioms. Then in the nineteenth century mathematicians like Lobachevsky and Riemann proved ...

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The Problem of Trust

Notes for Talk at Granada seminar “Physics meets the Social Sciences: Emergent Cooperative Phenomena, from Bacterial to Human Group Behaviour” (Wednesday, June 17 (2005)). This has been a staggeringly interesting meeting from my point of view, because I’m in the business of communicating the important ideas that we’ve been talking about to a much wider audience – to the public through books and broadcasts, and to decision makers and ...

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91. Our beautiful minds

Posted on June 4, 2015

Scientists at the University of Virginia have found a previously unsuspected network of lymphatic vessels connecting the brain directly to the immune system ( Why is this so important? For a start, because, as Jonathon Knipsis, Director of the Center where the discovery was made, said “We always perceived it [the effect of the mind/brain on the body] as something ...

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