Game theory applies to all living organisms. I was recently saying this to a surprised undergraduate. Yet, it is true, as this blog post from Not Exactly Rocket Science illustrates: Cooperating bacteria are vulnerable to slackers : Not Exactly Rocket Science. It tells the story of a kind of bacterial colony in which some members freeload on the efforts of the others to make the environment more nourishing for all members of the colony. In a range of population sizes of the colony, the freeloading bacteria do so well that they multiply faster than the rest. This advantage dissipates, however, when they become so preponderant in the population of the colony that the whole colony is weakened. It seems like these bacteria have figured out how to deal with the “tragedy of the commons”, where people (or living creatures of any kind) overexploit a common resource because it is in the benefit of each individual to do so, even if it harms the group.
This should show up on my wordpress.com site.
So after saying on this blog that I would not buy Superfreakonomics, Amazon informed me it was shipped to me. It arrived today. Apparently, I had put a preorder in several weeks ago and totally forgot about it. OK then, I can now read that infamous chapter about global warming by myself. But not before I read the two dozen or so books that are ahead in the queue!
Read it here. I note it does not discuss Krugman’s criticism, which I deem serious, and which aired in a NYT blog, just as the freakonomics blog is a NYT blog. I am curious to see what their response will be to Krugman, if any. Dubner and Levitt can hardly say Krugman is spreading smears about them; they either misread the Weitzman article, or they did not. It looks like they misread it; it’s up to them to convince me otherwise.
I still have no intention of buying Superfreakonomics. I’ll be damned if I reward the authors and the publisher of such stuff that passes for science writing. Again, I will keep an eye open for any adequate answers by Levitt and Dubner; I have not seen any yet.