Econ Major Learning About Prisoner’s Dilemma Again

EVANSTON—Katherine Eisner, a Weinberg economics major, was dismayed to hear that she would be once again learning about the famous Prisoner’s Dilemma in her game theory class. “Great,” sighed an exasperated Eisner, “just great. I don’t think it stuck the first 12 times I learned it, but 13th time’s the charm, right?”

“The Prisoner’s Dilemma is a fundamental and central example in the field of game theory,” explained Joan Docter, Eisner’s professor, “and it is impossible to proceed without first reviewing this basic concept.” Eisner’s reply was simple: “I really don’t care. I swear to god, if I hear about each individual’s likelihood to defect one more time, I will flip. There won’t be any hope for a cooperative equilibrium after that.”

“I would ignore it,” the junior explained, “but I know there will be that one question on the test about tit for tat, and that shit always gets me. I don’t have a choice besides showing up and listening to the definition of ‘iteration’ again.”

Eisner believes that the constant repetition of the Prisoner’s Dilemma prevents students from learning more important concepts. “We could be learning about so many more interesting things if not for this damn concept. For instance, every time I think about the Prisoner’s Dilemma, I get a headache. I guess there’s a causal link between the two. Now there’s something that would be interesting to learn about.”

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