Honor, Game Theory, & Evo-Psych | Forum

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XiaoGui17
XiaoGui17 Oct 23

Let us begin with the Prisoner's Dilemma. In case you are not familiar:


Eddie and Vinnie are partners in crime, both arrested for drug possession, with a one-year sentence. The authorities suspect (correctly) that both are also guilty of manufacture with intent to deliver (dealing), a two-year sentence. The D.A. separates them, and offers both the same deal: testify against your partner so we can convict him on the dealing charge, and we will drop the possession charge against you. (There is no guarantee that you will not be convicted for dealing if the other guy testifies against you.)


You are Eddie. Do your cost-benefit analysis. As I see it, you could look at this from three perspectives: the moralist, the isolationist, and the loyalist.


The moralist says drugs and crime are bad so confession is good for the soul and the social order. Not really up a Satanist's alley, but it is a perspective that warrants including, if for nothing other than its prevalence.


The isolationist looks at the range of possible outcomes for Eddie based on his own actions. If Eddie testifies, he gets 2 years in a worst-case scenario and walks in a best-case scenario. If he doesn't testify, he gets 3 years in a worse-scenario and 1 year in a best-case scenario. From an isolationist perspective--disregarding any repercussions beyond the immediate scenario, which shall be addressed later--one should always be the rat, because the outcome is always better for Eddie. Eddie cannot control what Vinnie does, but he can control whether the D.A. drops at least the possesion charge against him.


--BUT--


The loyalist, instead of analyzing from the perspective of what's in it for Eddie, instead looks at the game as though Eddie and Vinnie are both players on a single team. Then, the desirability of outcomes paradoxically flips. If both keep their mouths shut, that's a two-year strike against the team (each getting one year for possession). If one shuts up and the other squeals, that's a three-year strike against the team (with the silent one bearing the brunt of it and being convicted of both). If both squeal, that's a four-year strike against the team (each getting two years for dealing).


Which analysis is "correct"? And why?


In computer simulations, the moralist tends to immolate himself on the altar to the social good like a moth to the flame. The isolationists prosper briefly, but ultimately die out as loyalists ostracize them. The loyalists tend to win the long game, because they look out for one another and persist together to the end.


There are two reasons why the loyalist strategy is superior.


The first, and most obvious, is that no man is an island, and a solitary pariah will not fare long compared to a tribe. Sometimes, one must lose a battle to win a war, and to temporarily subsume individual interest to in-group interest is ultimately to individual advantage. Overall, one gets more from the group than one gives.


The second reason requires a bit more of a step back. Evolution is a long game. It is a game not of personal benefit, but of the perpetuation and lasting power of genes, which transcend the individual. No one lives forever. To take the moralist stance and care for all is an evolutionary mistake, since that is to the benefit of those whose genes differ substantially from one's own. But close in-group loyalty is often tied closely to genetic commonality. Many organized crime enterprises are made up of common ethnic groups, often with close family ties.


The repercussions beyond the immediate scenario become relevant, here. No one likes a rat. There's a powerful satisfaction in retaliating against the defector--even at great personal cost. It's a deeply-rooted instinct to seek retribution, even at a net loss to one's own interest. Why? What evolutionary force hard-wired this into our brains?


Given the premise that the loyalist stance is the best overall evolutionary strategy, secondary instincts developed to foster and enforce it. These instincts are not only affection toward one's own kind, though that is a factor. Nor are they merely admiration for those who put the group ahead of themselves, though that is not to be discounted. They include a visceral rage to crush all those who stray. That vengeful flame is the beacon that leads the honorable forward.


The moralist stance is prominent, these days. Humanity has become a massive, bloated behemoth. It is unsustainable. We have lost a sense of our selves, our heritage, and of that for which we stand. Humanity stands for nothing these days. It crawls, writhes on its belly.


What is sustainable, and what will ultimately outlast this identity crisis, is a return to our roots. Get too narrow in our definition of "our people," and we die out trying to be man-as-an-island. Get too broad, and we will give our lives for those who would never give anything for us in turn. But get a real, solid sense of who our people really are, and we will proceed forward as an unstoppable force of nature, arm-in-arm.

DefaultNamesake
Too analytical...

It comes down to two words and that's it: Don't Rat. Do the fucking time. If it's a cost/benefit analysis then you have no integrity, and even the cops using you for your testimony have no respect for your ass.

The end game is set.  If you can live with playing snitch-a-bitch to save yourself, then events will find a way to make that common knowledge to the person you fuck over. As the ethos fliters through an amoral familial bond of loyalty.

I mean... I'm guessing anyway. As a teenager I feared dealing with punishment so much I would toss anyone under the goddamn bus just to hold position... so sort of a hypocrite here. 
The Forum post is edited by DefaultNamesake Oct 23
XiaoGui17
XiaoGui17 Oct 24
Quote from DefaultNamesake Too analytical...  

My epitaph.


Quote from DefaultNamesakeIt comes down to two words and that's it: Don't Rat. Do the fucking time. If it's a cost/benefit analysis then you have no integrity, and even the cops using you for your testimony have no respect for your ass. 


The point of game theory is not to do a cost-benefit analysis when in the cell. Sure, act on the instinct. The point is to step back and figure out what forces shaped that instinct from the outside.


Some people don't care. They know what to do, and they do it. But I've always been "too analytical." I like to pick everything apart and figure out what's making it tick.


Quote from DefaultNamesakeI mean... I'm guessing anyway. As a teenager I feared dealing with punishment so much I would toss anyone under the goddamn bus just to hold position... so sort of a hypocrite here. 

Heck, at least self-preservation instinct is better than most of the actual criminals I deal with, who might have the right to remain silent but clearly lack the ability. Reminding them of their rights does all of jack and shit in getting them to exercise them.


That's why this is a hypothetical with actual smart gangsters. 99% of the time, real crimes are committed by drooling morons. Even those that are not being offered a deal and have jack to gain by flapping their gums cannot stem the tides of verbal diarrhea. They blather on to explain themselves. They try to get a second opinion from the prosecutor if they don't like what defense counsel told them. (Words to the wise: DON'T.) Or they rat others out not to get a deal, but just because it strikes them as really derned unfair that they got charged but the other guy didn't.




Edit: Or some try to have their cake and eat it too by "ratting out" people who are actually innocent. Great way to get on the prosecutor's good side once he inevitably figures out that you're full of shit. NOT.

The Forum post is edited by XiaoGui17 Oct 24
Dan_Dread
Dan_Dread Oct 24
Rat and get blanket parties every night for a year and worse.


Don't rat and do 2 easy.


Not much of a choice.


Edit - not to mention time served, good behaviour, parole etc. See you in 3-6 months.


Edit edit - and that's if it even makes it to trial.

The Forum post is edited by Dan_Dread Oct 24
SIN_JONES
SIN_JONES Oct 24
"What is sustainable, and what will ultimately outlast this identity crisis, is a return to our roots. Get too narrow in our definition of "our people," and we die out trying to be man-as-an-island. Get too broad, and we will give our lives for those who would never give anything for us in turn. But get a real, solid sense of who our people really are, and we will proceed forward as an unstoppable force of nature, arm-in-arm."


I can't even with this.  Even in prison, people change sides as it fits their survival needs.  This is why you see the Black and White working together on a common goal, like sniffing out a rat and organizing his death so everyone is cleared.


What is sustainable, is our impulses.  In recent evolutionary studies, we're losing more of our brawn in favor of brain.  This means, physically we are becoming weaker in the technological age.  How will our species fare in the future?  I for one am glad I'll be dead and not be here to witness it.

Entropic
Entropic Oct 24
From an evolutionary perspective, two physically weaker chimps with better bonding capabilities can overtake 1 physically strong chimp with weak bonding.
XiaoGui17
XiaoGui17 Oct 24

Quote from Dan_Dread Rat and get blanket parties every night for a year and worse.


Don't rat and do 2 easy.


Not much of a choice.


Edit - not to mention time served, good behaviour, parole etc. See you in 3-6 months.


Edit edit - and that's if it even makes it to trial.


I see we've chosen to ignore the stipulation about, for the sake of argument, accepting the rules as a closed-circuit system and ignoring any extended repercussions beyond the immediate scenario.


People tend to attach a lot of significance and extrapolate when it's presented as a real- world situation. But it's so much more dull if it's presented as a computer game in which you lose points if the other guy hits the red button. 


Quote from SIN_JONES
I can't even with this.  Even in prison, people change sides as it fits their survival needs.  This is why you see the Black and White working together on a common goal, like sniffing out a rat and organizing his death so everyone is cleared.

Going after a common enemy isn't itself "changing sides." You can collaborate and form alliances without being of a kind. 

SIN_JONES
SIN_JONES Oct 25
If those inmates overcome the identity crisis, the side their on is that of survival.  The rest is just puppet theater for those dangling the keys. 

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