Smash theory

As a somewhat Economics major, I ended up taking some (what?) Economics courses. By far the most interesting was Game Theory. (By far the most bullshit was Economics of the Internet.) Most people employ game theoretical concepts instinctively throughout the course of a day*; this is the interesting part. Steven Levitt, in his always interesting Freakonomics blog, writes that "Modern game theory has become extremely mathematical, notation heavy, and removed from everyday life." My experience in college confirms that, I guess, though the fact that I didn't do as well as I would have liked in the class probably has more to do with me constantly missing lectures to go on interviews or the fact that I usually sat directly across from a model/actress, which could be a little... distracting. (Rachel Nichols has a part in the newly release Shopgirl, as it turns out, and I'm looking forward to seeing that infinitely more than Elizabetown.)

*Everyday game theory example: I have to cross Atlantic Ave. every day on my way to work. This is a big street and you often have to wait for a while for the traffic light to change. I often find myself a block away when things are Walk in my direction. I know that if I continue at my current pace I will likely make it to the intersection a few seconds after the flashing Don't Walk comes on, and at that point it's tempting but somewhat dangerous to try to cross; Atlantic Ave. is a big, busy intersection. Rather than put myself in situation in which I have to make such a decision, even though I know that the right thing to do is not risk it, I will deliberately limit my "choices" (this isn't going to be a treatise on choice) by slowing down while I'm still a block away, so that it's a solid Don't Walk when I finally reach it.


  1. You lose, jeffypuff. Actually, we all lose. Social welfare decreases because of your decison not to risk it. Thanks for making my life a little worse.

  2. How on earth does my not crossing the street against the light decrease social welfare? Or even your personal welfare?

  3. i usually speed up so as to make it in time. unless i'm not late and then i slow down, which is pretty rare.

  4. When you don't take the risk of crossing the street or even of having the opportunity of crossing the street while the light is red and then reproduce, you perpetuate the genes of people who are not risk-takers. Without risk-takers, there is little innovation. Without innovation, overall social welfare goes down. Anyway, I was being facetious. Risk-takers are also people who get their genes eliminated from the gene pool. The best bet is to take calculated risks. That's the name of the game -- Lux.


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