Brownian thought space

Cognitive science, mostly, but more a sometimes structured random walk about things.

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Chronically curious モ..

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Socially Stable Strategies?

Am reading Freakonomics... and of course, I'm not convinced :) The essential point of freakonomics so far (3 chapters down) seems to be that somehow economics has the tools for the answers to pretty strange questions. Like, what's common between sumo wrestlers and high school teachers? And then there is some reasoning about this and that and some clever way of getting actual data and doing some clever analysis. [pic credits: freakonomics.com] But why economics?? Some of the things, like selling bagels or selling crack in Chicago a few decades ago does have a clear economic angle. Others, like sumo wrestlers have a less clear (at first pass) economic angle, and some (dating) have very little. So what's the correct generalization here?

Socially Stable Strategies - SSS

A truism:
Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of evolution -(Theodosius Dobzhansky [bah! the Dictionary cannot spellcheck this]).
Some of the recent literature has started looking towards biology for ideas about why we make the 'economic' choices we do.

Hypothesis: 'Economics' is a special case of 'Resource Management' in Eco-Evo*

(*Eco-Evo being the Ecologically situated Evolutionary theory.. [does this actually exist??]) I think a better way of seeing everything that Freakonomics examines, and much more and in a better light is to consider economics as a special case of resource management that all creatures must figure out in some way or another. Take the curious facts that we do not behave in a 'rational' manner under certain circumstances (e.g. Comsides & Tooby). I'm not sure that this can be explained easily in an economic theory. Put it differently: without knowing the biology of the animal and factoring that in, their 'economic' behaviors will not make sense. So why SSS? Simple: comes from the ESS of John Maynard Smith (and others). Instead of Evolutionarily Stable Strategies, the SSS is supposed to reflect the fact that at different time-scales (evolutionary vs social), there might be differences in strategies.

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