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132. Jane Austen, Game Theorist

2013-07-03 | 🔗
What does "Pride and Prejudice" have to do with nuclear deterrence?
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I now continue the fight learn more at three m dot com, slash covert eleven. What is your your personal favorite, Jane Austen Book What from W? Am I see an ATM american public media? This is broken comics radio podcast that explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your host, Stevens, Abner, Steve Levitt, my for economics friend and CO author,
teachers at the university Chicago in Economics Department, not the literature department. So when I asked him about Jane Austen Man, I didn t write a book called Emma. I wasn't so surprised that the conversation kind of stalled out now. Why would I ask an economist about Jane Austen novelist who died in eighteen? Seventeen, because today's show about games? I love it. I define game theory for me.
I would define game theory. Has the study of the strategic interactions between a small number of adversaries, usually two or three competitors, so that sounds pretty simple, doesn't love? It is written several papers and involve game theory, mostly papers about sports and gambling and cheating things like that. So how does it actually work, while here it gets a bit more cop ghetto game theory that the promise of game theory? so one of the predictions of game theory is that when you are in a well it's ok, wait a minute wait a minute. I would describe game theory as a mathematical formula. Zation circular me
You said it yourself. You're actually know what way you know not do them. Yeah limited by my frustration with game theory. Now go back into that actually have written periods that came through out as apply yet so my applications of game theory and there, a handful of them have essentially all been to sports, really, my so so my so my unloaded another very particular predictions that theory make about how pitchers should Mitch make their very particular predictions about how pictures should midst mixup niches? Let me start of interconnected. They think differently about it. So when a pitcher sometimes shows fast boss- and sometime
those curve boss. It must be the case that, in the end, the pitcher must be indifferent between whether the idea came to suck so bad. We consider ring, and everything is backwards and game theory, irony that these were talking about, because the predictions are just did just impossible to describe without going into what equilibrium Michael did you catch? What Levitt said right there at the very end of his eloquent description of games? Tat Michael, does it Michael? Who is this Michael? When is Michael churned? I teach you look assigns to carbon you silly Michael Chair, that's C H. W E is an economist by training. Before you see away, he thought of the University of Chicago, that's how Levin knows the Mai researchers on game theory to sabbatical subject on its applications to make social movements and on macro economics and violence.
sending this latest things about its obligations, maybe to literature, game theory as Michael Jesse's. It is about thinking strategically making conscious decisions. And making those decisions based on how you in two separate someone else responding to your decision. Think of a decision tree with a lot of branches. So if you would tell us the name of your most recent book, then oh yeah, what's Jane Austen Game clearest, I have to say that on the best book titles effort in the long term. Thank you so much to the point in its lovely and weird all the same, to offer us a gene asking your game theorists in and tell me how the idea took root in your brain. Well, I mean I was watching
My kids know we have now their older than we used to watch movies all the time together, we watched clueless, and I just thought it was a funny movie in and news all about manipulation. So now that's with Alisha Silverstone and Base based, we should say on a Jane Austen, novel exactly to go down in danger since everyone or Emma Feelin, yet Emma load people fields that are the best in terms of the spirit of the novel and adaptation of Emma, which I kind of agreement now remember Emma is the one Jane Austen Book that Steve Levitt could name. I have never read a gene asked about the Mrs I've come to reading it Jane Austen book. Is I used to love the movie, less with Lucy Silverstone. Said over and over? And I think that was actually one of her story, so academic economists love Blue this who knew and why might that be well clueless, adapted from Jane Austen?
Emma is about a young woman whose constantly scheming to set people up romantically. This kind of scheming it turns out, is not unusual in Austin novel also talks about anything but really one of the major themes, the whole the of meddling manipulation is gaining, but Michael Chaz Point isn't just the Jane Austen is doing all this inner novels Emma pride and prejudice and Mansfield Parkin sense and sensibility. His point is it. he's doing it intentionally that Jane Austen was a game theorist and this is noteworthy, because It was essentially writing game theory more than a hundred years before there was game theory. I guess you could say if you're looking historically, the game theory was kind of part of the young cold war as those in a way I mean a lot of early game. Theory was developed, it like
ran corporation and which, on NASH, some and I shall be very heavily involved in the Van Corporation and drank operation, of course, was a commentary, think tanks at a bone funded by the? U S, government you know guy back then, was that we somehow model things like an ovum nuclear deterrence or like a shipping able to intervene, after a submarine or suddenly tat would have some through advantage over the Soviet. but I'm not sure we really gives you a huge advantage more. I think the reason which is useful for us simply gives you some clarity it discussed. It makes you think about things in a more clear way and in a brings up in some sense problems which you might not have anticipated, I'm so it's kind of what I think came three does forest generally, it doesn't a silly teaches us mortals problems are anything but rather through brings up the new wrinkles in kind of adjusting promised she had thought about so uneasy. I think a sceptic might say that game theory is a bunch of heavily educated, particularly mathematical, p,
for writing, down complicated quote elegant formulas to quote prove what every small business person or housekeeper, or anybody has known their entire lives. Can you dispute that? I mean two sons, That's true, I mean people act strategically. All the time now you write a few times throughout the book from different versions of a similar statement. I wanna run one or two past you in just dumb challenge you to defend the thesis. Essentially, so you write that quote: Austin consciously intended to theorize strategic thinking in her novels. Another time you argue that Austin quite explicitly intended to explore. The phenomenon not of game theory per se, but of a strategic thinking. So persuade me first all Michael, that you'd who have explicit proof that this was an inn. mentioned in her writing and not a case of sort of content-
issue bias. Were you the game? Theory scholar goes back to her writing and says: oh this matches up very well with what I call this, but persuade me that she actually intended to do that well, having I dont have like a smoking gun. like a letter from also saying hey medicines to ITALY, but Humph people vast Messina Obviously, Austin is interested in scheming and meddling, but seeing that she's explicitly interested in this as a theoretical subjects, a deafening entirely right. That's that's kind of mountains that likened the rank and so well say- is that there are lots of little parables or little aside, the novels, which don't have anything really What should I do with the plot or anything you can just take them out and nor would care, but they do seem to be little explicit discussions of aspects of choice and ask as a strategic thinking. So like gum example, I can present prejudice so like on the very first manipulation. Is this kind of work as a whole novel started is so well
No, the Bingley come into town and the Bennett family has five unmarried daughters and that's kind of a huge problem is so Miss Bennet is super focused anchored. Hunters married and for obvious reasons in us like that they can get jobs, everything, that's that's the main we either you could become a governess org merit has basically it so. The very first manipulation is mister. Bingley shows up with his sister and they went out Netherfield, which is this estate nearby, and Mister Bingley sister invites gene to come for dinner at the first modulation is Miss Venice's. Once you ve gotta, go on horseback and proposing that the daughters Elsie, why horseback initiative should take the carriage and Lisbon Well, it's gonna rain and dome. If she goes on horseback, it's very likely that they will invite her to stay the night and handsome she'll get to spend more time. So right from the beginning, we haven't the manipulation, and that was not the same kind of silly, but you know you have to play for keeps. This is a big deal. You know it. somebody marriageable is near by, and you know you have a chance,
Then twenty minutes of that person you gotta go for it. It said life or death is not too strong with his harness. So that many fishing to start in it works in United works too well, Jean gets wet and the rain and a false second. She had spent in spending several days, who does Mister Bingley, ending at the kind of works and does so in print prejudice. Miss Bennet is not a very sympathetic character and she seems to be very foolish, but if you look at what she Compas, it is pretty good and she gets surging aid and on she kind of even sort of she incentivize Lydia Lydia is another younger sister who, in a very kind of crises and away she runs off with wicked men, die without being married, which is a scandal that I go in the book that maybe she does that but she realizes that the only way should get some money in your marriage is to me. Somebody who is not normally super committed to hers, so decreed kind of a crime.
Situation. So the Richard members of a family will then solve the problem for and that's what happens, coming up Fr Economics, radio, beckoned, eighteen, thirteen, gene Austin was encouraging young women think strategically so whose doing that now, two hundred years later, I read girls and Brutes book that I should do this and Shall Sandberg has asked me to ask you for packets and later Steve Levitt talk. Well, why game theory is for people like him, a big fat disappointment. I think the economist has gained through got interest had that same feeling of how game there was an open up the world to a canvas, and I in the end, that kind of wondrous promise was never
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from W and Y see and eight p M american public media. This is free economic, radio. Here's your host Stephen donor! Could the novelist dream Aston Tree the godmother of game theory Michael Chair, an economist who teachers in the political science department you see allay says the answer is an emphatic yes, even though Austin died more than a century before game theory became there there used to be thought that awesome was a kind of act alone and in a room and really didn't tell anybody else, but a lot more evidence now of how she was every part of the intellectual world them, she would Adam Smith. She read Hume on that kind of thing, so
it's interesting. Here's one line the Jane Austen wrote down before this is from a sir enemy to make China with this is actually from. Ok said that this is from while it's called a memoir. Oh, I don't know this, but the memory of Jane Austen by looking oats buy em, and I asked them, lay, is at a nephew the executive that he was like the first person who really kind of thumb memorialize and could give a biography of fast, and so he kind of he's like beginning of Austin Mania started with Isaacs had a very good ok. So he writes that before she began Emma that she wrote, I guess in a journal or a letter, I am going to take a heroine referring Emma whom no one, but myself were much at night, so sounds like an economist there to my mind, because I thought that the commissary you know quite proud of the fact that they can make dispassionate arguments about anything labour markets, love in Margarets and so on, and so
I guess what I want to know is how much you know I have thought about. Her would have been able to learn about the kind of person she was and what her, what her family salvation is: Lake and how'd that influenced the way that thought you mentioned? You know she read Smith, an hue and so on. We know she was from gentry re kind of lower and lower gentry levels. At right I mean there are people who spend entire lives. Doing this and reading your letters and trying to get more into an I haven't done then as much I mean, I would simply say, that these ideas were floating around, but also the same time. You know like in the book argue that in a lot of snaefell tales, talk about gained so, like means slaves are in touch with David Human. Isn't that right him, and so am I The actual you know, a lot of these things are, you know, come close to common sense. This is kind of like a
Brady common sense and as people say, hey that came through sensible comes in, and I say yet actually does it is. It is like common sense and prevent a good thing that isn't exactly that's a good thing. I said, give me another example or more evidence that Jane Austen was thinking like an economist welcoming the one example. I give some I'm says on in economics, we have this idea of opportunity cost. When you ve taken action. the value of the action, not just in terms of its past, but also how good it is well to do some other thing right. So simple. If I gotta go, I just called the opportunity causes the money I would have made had I got the job, so this isn't it. little economic concept? It comes from thinking about you in other words, you always choose between not just ain't, nothing but a and some other alternative, which is a real alternative. Be ok, so One little thing in the novels is in Emma and her friend, Miss Westerner. Talking about Jane Fairfax, Jane Fairfax is another young fashion. The woman whose in the area of the neighborhood
They say. Well, you know emphasis while she spends a lot of time with Missus Elton kind of a silly person, not very thoughtful. Why does she spending so much time in the Sultan and Miss West says well before we condemn what she chooses, we had to consider what she quits. In other words, we have to consider fact at home. You know if you stayed at home. She too has to hang out with her arm and in her grand held. So in other words, we need to think about her choice here to think about what she would have done. Otherwise again, there is no reason for that to be in the plot. There's no reason for that little discussion to be there No one thing, that's particularly interesting out. Austin is she was obviously a female novelist at the time when there weren't term, so many novelist at all and being a female novice was not the most natural or common things your world, an additional
most of the characters that we really care about our our females themselves. So talk for a minute about game theory and girls and young women the way that they use it or often uses it for them in her novels. Well, I mean the book cut. It makes an argument that women are generally better strategic thinking in the real world. So there is some evidence from psychology like, though the classic thing is sort of theory of mine tests. Like are you able to put yourself? the mind of another and like can you tell somebody's emotions spilling their eyes and women generally to be better at this. So let me ask this question- and this is probably unanswerable, but I want to know what you have to say about it. I'm, let's assume that women are better at what we call strategic thinking than men in do we have any idea of
there are the why, and that is something to do with genetics or something to do perhaps with the fact that women are more often in a position where they need to learn to be strategic thinkers, because they have historically had a lot less power in ITALY. I would There might be genetic explanation, I mean I'm not gonna rule it out, but I would the bookstore the second one, which is exactly that people who Barnes Situations where they don't normally have a lot of power. That's exactly the kind of person who needs, and you know to think strategically. I mean, and some kind of okay, call this little game. Three was like one of the original weapons. The week I mean it's one of the original ways of getting ahead. If you don't have a lot to start out with and since, if you already have a lot of power, you don't have to think strategically, because everyone else's already doing with their spouses do you know you're happy without them. America Kaminski, whose use your vine and he was in a polish prison, he's pollution. He was put in prison because of democratic activists. He did He said you know in prison prison totally.
trains you to act hyper rationally because in prison? It's possible that the one right move in just the right spot could give immense consequences like it. You out early Oreo transfer different cell, so he says the world of prisoners is hyper rational, since this execute this kind of because you know, if you have a lot of power you need, you know, use whatever it is. You have in the best possible way and strategic thinking is some absolute one, you read that young women of the day often learned not necessarily this We shall queues and mores, but that the means of strategic thinking through novel and because you know they were that one of the few shared forms of public communication. I guess at that time
What about now? You? You have children, daughters over the sun, in a direction in college. My voters, nice, okay. So I'm curious to know from your perspective, where your daughter has learned on strategic think I gathered now Jane Austen, that's interesting! I mean I think you learn it. I guess you learn from all just ordinary interactions till I come in the say hello, Catherine Morland, she'd like sixteen or seventeen is she learns. You know just dump you learn how to make your own decisions by this play going along with everyone else for a while, then realizing hey, you know this going along with everyone else is really working out for me. So I got to make my decision so if something goes through a lot, but I think that there was this kind of shared glossy, be culture. You know like the idea of an article about on you know. It will send birds, leaning book how so big Sandberg says in her book. If you ask for a raise Don Quixote,
also say hey. I need a re say actually one of my superiors, you know your boss, his boss, told me I should come and ask if Hermes soldiers array, specific strategic thing in which great about it as a kind of taste. the onus off view right and MRS it's not my is I've. Let me ask the rays if somebody else telling you should get a recent. Actually, I'm you know- and I just know don't blame here- knows it's just and so it doesn't. This article said not only are women as for raises in this way, which is an eye strategic thing he asked you say now You know I ridden Charles and Brutes book that I should do this and shall Sombre has asked me to ask you for us so what's going on theirs will again, I think sandwich book is kind of like you know, another kind of. Shared strategic culture among women. It's it's part of a long tradition which offers a part of and we'll occurs among peoples conversations every day
which is a way about how to go through life and how to have listened, specific techniques really work, and when I try them- and we share some of these things up with each other- and you know it's kind of like a shared strategic culture, Let's get back to Steve Levick, my for economics friend and co author, as you heard earlier, Levitt is not really the biggest fan of game theory, cadmium sucks so bad because so hard part of this disillusion, maybe because game theory was supposed to be the next big thing in economics, and then it was when I first got introduced game theory. It seemed to me like it might
the answer to everything important. I think many economists has gained through got interest had that same feeling about how game here was an open up the world to economists, and I in the end, that kind of wondrous promise was never fulfilled, and the difficulty is that game. They really only applies to narrow set of problems. That's a set of problems where there are just two or three or a very small number of actors, and it really does much better when either the game that is being played is repeated in infinite number of times, The same game is played exactly over and over and over and over to infinity or is played precisely once
it, turns out that in the middle ground of there being a handful of participants or a handful of place game, three dozen often do such a great job of solving our problems and end in the real world. There just aren't very many problems that end up being the right kinds of problems for game theory. Let let me just ask you this leather. What does it take to be good at game theory? There are two things that are point two doing well in strategic settings and the first one is knowing enough and being skilled enough to put yourself in the shoes of the other person. So you cannot do game theory. Unless you can say, if I do this, she will do that. If I do that she will do this, for that is so fundamental. The game theory that, if you aren't
habit or don't have the ability to understand how someone will react. You have no hope whatsoever. The second trade which is viable is to be able to look many steps, the future, so you can be only so good a game theory. If you can think yourself. If I do this than he does that really good game there is the most skilled ones will say if I d distant he'll, do that then other this and he'll? Do that cannot do this and healed? that again is kind of the difference between a really good chess player and a Nazi good chess player is being the sea down the road much further, but you and I have talked a lot over the years about how the future is essentially unknowable listed in certain realms into certain degrees. So how do you get good at or better
at knowing what somebody else, whether its collaborator or an opponent will do in the future. I think the answer to that question must be the answer to every question that involves giving good at something which is feedback try. and experimenting and learning whether or not your insides were correct or incorrect and then updating your behaviour as funny. then I think, the only way to learn into practice into practice and telling them what you get good feedback about, whether you're right for Europe, but there are substitutes for practice and leaving about stuff right, Savior actually emitted. I have to do stuff if you can read about smart people and how they ve things. That is another matter. That is an interesting idea, learn to do by reading. It helps by reading about how smart people you think by reading an author like now
Austin Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever and rich with a comfortable home and happy disposition seem to unite some of the best lessons of existence. nearly twenty one years in the world with very little to distress when they purchase listeners on the next freak mammoths radio, we ask what is the cheapest most nutritious, an accountable food that is ever existed in history, technically their pickles, so I didn't Reginald has made clear, fresh reconstituted meat powder dry and slightly there you know piece of Synaptic II for American Mass land synthetic corporatism. What are they talking about? That's next time and freedom,
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Transcript generated on 2021-03-15.