[ExI] Critter's Dilemma on the African Plain

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Tue Aug 12 07:07:53 UTC 2008

Stuart wrote (Sent: Wednesday, August 06, 2008 8:31 PM)

> Ignorance and defection both are failures to cooperate, so to
> speak. Although for precision I would prefer to simply call them alternative
> options. Remember that all three moves are very precisely defined. Defection
> does not have to be at all violent or aggressive or even intentional.

Well, that really seems to do violence to the original meaning of
the *game* theory in which one is trying to win by causing another
to lose. I have searched through several pages of Google links
without apparently finding any usage that does not involve both
a conscious decision and a definite adversarial stance. In fact,
almost all the links for "game theory defect" that I've seen go
straight to the classic PD.

Therefore, you are using the term in a very non-standard way
so far as I can see.

> I define it as the incurring of a non-neglible economic cost upon
> the other player by any measure of utility one desires, whether it
> be space, time, dollars, calories, offspring, or Darwinian fitness.

So if I rent an apartment, I may be defecting against whoever it
is that would have come along next wanting the apartment, and
who may have to settle for something he or she doesn't like as
well? And if the population control zealots are right, then we are
all defecting against one another by our mere presence; and if
I enter a crowded theatre, then clearly I am, once again by your
usage, defecting against the other patrons.

> With that in mind, you are right that some people would consider the incurring
> of a cost upon them, especially if they didn't get any benefit out of it, to be
> "aggression" of a sort. Indeed "cost" and "benefit" are completely open to
> interpretation because they are for the most part subjective.

People who would consider me to be defecting because I'm in a car
that's preceding them in a traffic jam, and conclude that this was 
"aggression" of a sort, are really overreacting. So the "some people"
you refer to here, while they do exist, I hardly consider to be rational
or sane types.

> This subjectivity of perceived cost and benefit leads to seemingly irrational
> behavior. Like the notorious gunslinger John Wesley Hardin who allegedly shot a
> man for snoring. Hardin certainly must have rationalized the snorer as costing
> him something worthy of some fairly brutal retaliation.

Well, it was aesthetically unappealing---so naturally we might not
be surprised that he shot the snorer. I wouldn't call that irrational
at all. What's irrational about it?  Vlad the Destroyer got a lot of
respect from his people for very similar actions. 

It's simply low down, mean, unscrupulous, homicidal, and psychopathic,
and people like that must be first of all (1) hated, and hated passionately
by us all, and (2) seized, tried, (to make sure we got the right guy), and
executed. And if it will cut down on the probability of other psychopaths
taking similar action, I wouldn't even mind having his head displayed on
the end of a pole, the bastard.

> Similarly people sometimes rationalize cooperating with defectors. "My friend
> always intends to pay me back whenever I loan him money, he is just never able
> to because he is unlucky." Or paying for cable when you never watch TV. In
> these cases "retaliation" is as non-violent as saying no to your friend or
> getting your cable disconnected. Of course as non-violent as it is, there is
> liable to be resistance from both the friend and the cable company to your
> retaliation.

"Retaliation"?  *I* am retaliating against the cable company because
*they* serve me up a product I don't any longer find appealing or
worth the cost?  Then it must mean to you that Defection (on your
usage) is often praiseworthy.  On the other hand, your usage is so
broad here that I could be defecting against the other customers who 
use that cable company if I *don't* unsubscribe.

> So yes defection is always aggressive just sometimes in a very
> passive or defensive way. 

Aggressive too.  Well, so entering a crowded theater is not only
defecting against the other patrons, but committing an act of
aggression.  I dare say, few people are going to go along with 
your usage of words, so few, that you simply will not be

> Disagreement or challenge is only defection when it costs me
> something and banter on a chat list seldom does.

What about a lot of silly posts (from your POV) that cost you time
and effort to wade through?  Why is that not defection (according
to you)?  And since defection is always aggression, I am almost
surely committing an act of aggression towards someone who reads
my post, since surely some people will wish they hadn't.

> Besides I was hoping for some peer review or
> criticism from the scholarly types on the list. I am after all forwarding this
> as a scientific theory. So please keep trying to give voice to any "bad
> feelings" you might have about it.  

Oh, well, all right. In that case, I guess I should just let fly and tell you
what I really think   :-)

Trying only to strive for the truth, not *trying* to be aggressive,
best regards,

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