Star Trek TNG — Data Overanalyzes

 

Data is trying to formulate a battle plan for Commander Riker, but he’s assuming that Commander Riker is rational and knows that Data has analyzed his move. Data takes it a step further and hypothesizes that Commander Riker knows that Data knows that the commander has a battle plan. Full information is a tough assumption about rationality, but bounded rationality lets us assume that people have limitations but still respond to incentives in a predictable way. While perhaps a human failure, most of society does not operate on the same level as Data.

Thanks to Peter Nencka for the clip suggestion!

A League of Their Own

 

Dottie decides to quit right before the World Series, and her coach isn’t too happy about it. One of the most salient topics taught in a section on behavioral economics is the idea of ignoring sunk costs. When things get boring or tough, a rational agent may decide to quit. Dugan believes that baseball is a great separating equilibrium and that it shows who’s tough and who isn’t. If baseball were an easy game then the it wouldn’t be a beneficial signal to everyone watching.

Thanks to Jose Fernandez for the reference!

Prison Break — What is Game Theory?

In the re-boot of Prison Break, we look at how game theory impacts the decisions made by Michael Scofield. It starts with the idea that players in the game are focused on self-interest even when it comes at the expense of other players in the game. The setup is described as a one-shot game where players focus on themselves with no future implications.

Big Bang Theory — Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock

 

Sheldon isn’t a fan of traditional rock, paper, scissors so he introduces a new variant of the game with two more options, which increases the number of possible outcomes. The guys decide to use RPSLS to solve their disagreements, but they seem to struggle with the notion of needing to have mixed strategies. While Spock is not a dominant strategy in this game, the others don’t seem to comprehend ways to beat the throw.

For more Big Bang Theory clips, check out Bazinganomics!

BudLight — Rock, Paper, Scissors

 

Rock, paper, scissors is a good game to help settle a dispute, but this simultaneous move game has no clear advantage. It helps if you have an actual rock in your back pocket though.

Footloose — Playing Chicken with Tractors

Two high school students decide to play a game of chicken on a dare. In this classic game, two contestants head straight for one another and the winner is the one who doesn’t bail or turn away. If both participants turn away then they both are deemed “chickens.” However, if both stay the course then they will crash into one another and possibly die.

Thanks to Austin Boyle for the clip!

Wanda Sykes — Being Tested

Wanda Sykes describes how she tests her husband when he doesn’t even know he’s being tested. She’s okay with a sink of dirty dishes one or two days, but if it continues for much longer than she’ll extract her revenge (later in the clip she talks about how all the fury comes out when they’re having sex). This tit-for-tat behavior where one party waits for the other one can turn into a situation where both parties are eating off of napkins and no one is cleaning anything.

Sherlock — Prisoner’s Dilemma

Sherlock works on a case involving missing women who recently arrived in London. It turns out that a taxi driver was abducting women and having them choose a poisonous pill to determine whether they lived or die. Eager for more excitement, the cabbie convinces Sherlock to play. Sherlock works through the process of trying to determine, by backward induction, which pill would be deadly.

He never finds out if he was right.

This clip was recommended by Christine Cai.

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