[ExI] Critter's Dilemma on the African Plain

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Wed Aug 13 00:44:28 UTC 2008

--- Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:

> 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.

Yeah I know. But it is a brand new game and I had to call the moves something.
If you prefer, you can call the moves Snap, Crackle, and Pop instead of
Cooperate, Ignore, and Defect. As long as you keep the payoffs the same, the
math and the game still work. Furthermore you can easily see that PD is a
subgame of CD. All one has to do is eliminate the Ignore (Crackle?) option. But
I wouldn't, it is much more advantageous to be a critter than a prisoner.

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

Yes. I think I gave fair warning of that in my initial post.

> > 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.

Those are interesting examples that show that you have been thinking about CD.
While we may quibble over whether an opportunity cost is an actual cost or not,
in terms of utility, (how can you lose something you don't yet have?) in a
general sense you right. By virtue of having to compete for apartments, seats
in a theater, jobs, or ecological niches, we ARE mutually defecting (popping)
on one another. That is what intraspecies competition is all about.

All that defection flying around can be somewhat depressing but then you come
to realize that it is a fate shared by all living things, so at least we have
company in our misery. And even top predators feel the sting of intraspecies
competition sometimes more so then they do interspecies competition. Just ask
the deposed male lion who loses his territory, pride, life, and youngest cubs
to a young upstart, inevitably, every generation like clockwork.

Of course by virtue of intelligence, humanity is capable creating economies,
laws, and other cooperative systems that lessen the spite of competition. So
out of all the critters of earth, we have the most cause for hope and optimism.
> 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.

Well if one car length on a crowded freeway is considered a non-neglible cost
to someone, they must be really impoverished, so much so that all the money in
the world will not make them rich. 

> 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. 

The irrationality lies in how unbalanced the retaliation was compared to the
initial defection. It is like a hundred tats for a tit.
> 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.

Well, Lee, if you leave justice to the state, you may be disappointed. By his
own admission, John Wesley Hardin killed 44 men. He was eventually caught and
tried. According to Wikipedia:

"Hardin was tried and sentenced to prison but entered prison with a pre-law
degree he had earned along with his brother. He finished his law degree while
incarcerated. After serving 17 years in prison Hardin was released, pardoned
for any outstanding offenses, and began practicing law as an attorney in El
Paso, Texas."

Of course, those who live by the sword do die by the sword, and at the age of
42, Hardin was shot in the back of the head by a *private citizen* who was
later aquited by a hung jury. So the justice of CD is harder to escape than
state law enforcement. Which is fortunate for those critters who don't have

> "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.

Would the cable company consider your unsubscribing to be a non-neglible cost?
Would other cable subscribers see you *not* unsubscribing as a non-neglible
cost to them? 
> > 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
> understood.

If it's opening night of an eagerly anticipated movie, you probably won't get a
seat, *unless* you agressively pursue your goal of seeing the movie that night.
You have to get there early, get a place in line, and defend your place in line
from all attempts to cut in front of you. In other words, you pay a price in
time, stress, and aggravation that far exceeds the ticket price of $6.00.
Sorry, I don't make the rules. I just try to understand them. 

> > 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.

No poster forces anyone to read their post. If someone does and afterwards
regrets spending the time to read it, they have essentially defected on
themselves. Kind of like flushing their own money down the toilet. That is not
to say that anybody who *knowingly* posts garbage to the list is not defecting
on the list, just that one critter's garbage can be another critter's lunch.   

Stuart LaForge
alt email: stuart"AT"ucla.edu

"A portion of mankind take pride in their vices and pursue their purpose; many more waver between doing what is right and complying with what is wrong." - Horace


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