Thursday, September 11, 2008

McGame Theory Part II - Introductory Palin Level

Today, in her ABC interview, Sarah Palin said we might have to go to war with Russia
Let's think about that for a moment, shall we:

When one of your five children (or new grandchild) misbehaves, if you threaten to punish them, one of two things might happen:

1. They back off, scared by the threat of punishment
2. They ignore you and carry on or do something worse.
(a) This might happen because they just do not believe you're going to carry out your punishment as it involves a large cost to you - that is, your threat is incredible.
(b) Or they might hate being punished and prefer a fight to backing off.

So, you should use threats if you think (1) will happen and/or you can commit to punishment so (2a) will not occur. But if you cannot commit (those kids are soooo cute) or if (2b) is a distinct possibility, you might want to explore other options before threatening punishment.

Replace "your five children (or new grandchild) misbehaves" with "Russia is aggressive" in above passage for intermediate version of course. (Note: Putin less cute, but he does have those pesky nuclear weapons). For advanced version, read an older post called McGame Theory.


Nancy Drew said...

I was wondering how the game theory matrix (?) would look for Saddam Hussein's calculated pretense that he had weapons of mass destruction when he didn't. It seemed sort of obvious to me even at the time why he would want to pretend this (although apparently never occurred to Rice et al), but otoh, was a huge miscalculation in terms of the US actually following through on the attack. Does this suggest we were crazier than he thought?

Ken Houghton said...


Not to be snarky—oh, all right, to be snarky—when the eldest children becomes a couplet from your opponent's theme song ("Got in a little hometown jam/So they put a rifle in my hand") and the next-eldest makes Jamie-Lynn Spears look like the model of responsible parenting, your management style may be questionable.

But, of course, that has nothing to do with how you would act as the Commander-in-Chief of the largest, most heavily weaponed, standing Army in the world.