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The Prisoner's Dilemma

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 - 12:18 PM

tic tac toe tic tac toe (cigno5!/flickr)

In our episode The Good Show, we wrestle with the question of whether natural selection inherently favors selfish behavior. Is the process of evolutionary competion cruel, or does it sometimes pay to be nice?

One way to approach this question is to consider a scenario known as the prisoner's dilemma--a problem in game theory that illustrates the advantages and disadvantages of cooperation. In the final section of The Good Show, Jad and Robert take a stab at the prisoner's dilemma, and ask whether there are circumstances in which even selfish people are inclined to work together. Listen to "One Good Deed Deserves Another" here. And if you want to test your own strategic mettle, we ran across an online version of the prisoner's dilemma.


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Comments [9]

G from Uk

You have to do a game theory episode about Trump
How does he measure up

Jan. 10 2018 04:51 PM

Thanks for the updated link. This story deserves a third title that reflects the applicability of the research to peace-making strategies in all layers of society - in all countries! I am so grateful to WFAE in Charlotte, NC for rebroadcasting this show on August 7, 2015. It clarifies, for me, the "hunch" that the negotiated Nuclear Treaty with Iran is not a "head in the sand" approach but instead a wise decision reached by thoughtful nations, including Iran.

Aug. 09 2015 01:03 PM
Dorothy from Denton, TX

This link works..

Jul. 27 2013 11:14 AM

Wow what a lousy site wanted to share thie content with my kids but was unable. Withdrew my donation. You need to make EXCELLENT content like this transferrable across te net.

Shame on the web masters/hosters for not making content availible to all.


Jul. 14 2013 07:42 PM
Nate Diplock

ooooooooooooooooooo I love this page soooooo much! ;) tee heheheheh

Mar. 28 2013 12:51 PM
Sam Hird from Amherst MA

Mr O'connor is the best :)

Mar. 28 2013 12:27 PM
Jim from Brooklyn

The energy "prisoner's dilemma".
All Nations need to decrease energy use. Going first (cooperating) is an economic disadvantage. Increasing energy use (defecting) gives you a short term economic advantage. How will cooperation become the equilibrium?

Mar. 17 2011 06:46 PM
andy from Finland

The link seems to be broken... :/

Jan. 15 2011 06:34 AM
Danielle from Colorado

It seemed like most of the situations presented are situations in which people are equal, or on the same playing field so to speak. What about when there is inequality between people, how then does selfishness benefit? Or where there is not enough to go around, how does evolutionary competition play a role? If there is no niceness to begin with, why should it ever evolve?

Dec. 28 2010 12:23 PM

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