A Cauldron of Irrationality

Shrinkwrapped discusses the psychological basis for “counterknowledge,” the absurd conspiracy theories that seem to be enjoying more credence these days. We are living in dangerous times. Anxiety over the future and the pace of change (change ushered in by magical technologies that no one can fully understand) naturally produces powerful regressive forces in a culture. Our rationality can be so subtly and easily subverted that … Continue reading A Cauldron of Irrationality

Prisoners’ Dilemmas

A few days ago I talked about flaccid strategies for iterated prisoners’ dilemmas, noting that strategies without retaliation cannot win. I remarked: Many Western leaders seem committed not only to avoiding retaliation but to responding to defection on an opponent’s part with forgiveness and even more extensive cooperation. [Emphasis added.] That inspires a further thought. Robert Alexrod and others have investigated strategies for iterated prisoners’ … Continue reading Prisoners’ Dilemmas

Going for It

David Romer has studied football coaches’ decisions on whether to punt or go for it on fourth down. He has written a paper arguing that, generally, going for it makes much more sense than punting. Yet NFL coaches go for it on fourth down only in very circumscribed situations. This leads Romer to conclude that people often fail to choose the most rational option to … Continue reading Going for It