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Things worth looking at - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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April 12th, 2007


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12:40 pm - Things worth looking at
First off, if you enjoy either comics or SF, you should definitely be reading Newuniversal by Warren Ellis here's a preview of the first 5 pages of the most recent issue. It's simultaneously a re-imagining of the rather dismal Marvel New Universe of the 80s, that is vastly better than the original (and all contained in one book) and the best SF comic I've seen in many years. Despite having superheroes, it's very much done in an SF mode and is everything that a good comic should be. Also, in this case quality is not at odd with sales, the first two issues sold out.

And now for some social science news:

Here's a the latest in a series of decision-making studies proving that ideas of economic fairness are deeply imbedded in people in the US, and like in most residents of modern first world nations. I strongly suspect that results would be dramatically different if used on members of drastically different socioeconomic systems. However, it's also clear that despite what libertarians and other conservatives say, most people are happier and more comfortable in an economic system that works to somewhat equalize wealth. Hardly surprising, but more evidence that euro-socialism is the best system for maximizing happiness in first world nations.
Current Mood: pleasedpleased

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[User Picture]
From:frater_treinta
Date:April 12th, 2007 08:57 pm (UTC)
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I don't know if the study proves much of anything, though. One of the issues I have with using game simulations for research is that it's very easy to let the game get in the way of the research.

Many chess players, myself included, tend to favor a meta-game strategy called "grinding." The idea being that if I have a slight edge over you, and I use my resources to grind away at your resources, I will maximize the value of my edge. I play Risk this way, too. It's also why I suck at Go.

If the game is "be the last one with a dollar," I have $6, and you have $5, and we can force the other person to give back a dollar for a dollar, I will win by forcing you to give back $5, leaving me with $1, and thus the win. Grinding works well in this case.

If the game is "maximize wealth," I may be able to use my additional dollar as leverage. I can freeze you out, and still walk away with a dollar. Alternately, you may be able to extort from me. You can take me down to $1, in theory making it worth up to $5 for me to buy you out. The threat of Grinding makes negotiation work in this case.

On the other hand, we could create an interesting case by altering the game to "the winning group leaves the room the most satisfied." In this case, there is no one strategy that predominates. If one person has $100 and 50 people have $1, a massive wealth-redistribution may result in a 50-fold increase at a cost of a single dissatisfactor. Alternately, if you're playing two-handed, with a $6 and a $5 hand, a $5.75-$5.25 split may lead to the greatest satisfaction from both players.

In any case, the distinction between playing a game for nickels and examining peoples' attitude towards money may not have been equal. I'd much prefer to hand people a dossier of different types of work done on a programming assignment and ask them to assign monetary payouts to each worker.

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