Check out this link that I found in John Taylor’s blog. The best 3:53 clip in game show history:
A few reactions (watch the clip first.) As Taylor says, this is a great example to use when teaching the Prisoner’s Dilemma.
If find this a jaw-dropping illustration of the fruits of 4.5 million years of human evolution since “Ardi.” The cognitive arms race between game-playing and detection has produced humans with superb game-playing skills. Yes, doctors may be unable to understand conditional probability, and investors may be unable to spot bubbles when they are right in front of them, but no one can question the social IQs of us humans. Could dolphins play this sort of game? I don’t think so. I’ve never been more proud to be human.
But what about the, how shall I put it, ethical issues involved here? This is not a zero sum game. Doesn’t this game-playing conflict with my utilitarian ethics? Yes. I have a philosopher friend who favors the Golden Rule—a consequentialist ethic similar to utilitarianism. I like to tease him that if everyone followed his advice then we’d have to discard all the plays of Shakespeare, as they’d all seem incomprehensible. The motivations of the characters would be foreign to us. That makes me wonder how this game show would appear to cultures outside of the UK. What would the Danes think? What would the Russians think? Would people in some cultures find the show boring, wondering why anyone would be such a fool as to pick “share,” and would other cultures find the show too disgusting to watch, like a sort of ethical pornography? Maybe our narrative arts require both good and bad people, good and bad behavior. I don’t have any answers, but the questions seem interesting.
Update: I just had a thought—I’d love to play this game against (or should I say “with”) John Rawls.