Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cruz, Trump, boo-ing and reciprocity

On Tuesday, I speculated about what would have to happen for Trump to get boo-ed during his speech, and pointed out that he popped up briefly on Monday without it happening, which boded well.

Let's... revisit that.  Trump obviously has a lot of fans in the party, or he wouldn't have won the nomination.  But Cruz has loyalists too.  Getting boo-ed doesn't mean otherwise, and last night's debacle just rubs Cruz loyalists and the rest of Trump's remaining detractors raw.

Reciprocity.

Social science time!  It is what I supposedly do for a living.  Remember a little game called "the prisoner's dilemma?"  Econ 101.

The cops pick up two suspects for some crime, pretty sure they worked together on it.  They interrogate the suspects in separate rooms.  They try to get the suspects to rat each other out.  Cue cheesy music...

The cops don't have enough evidence for more than a minor conviction if neither turn on the other.  One year each, max.  But, if the crooks rat each other out, five years each.  If one rats the other out, the rat gets away scot-free, and the patsy does ten years.

What happens?  They both rat each other out, doing five years each.  Why?  Because if I think you're staying quiet, my best move is to rat you out (no time versus one year), and if I think you're ratting me out, my best move is to rat you out (five years versus ten).  The game is symmetric, so both players turn rat, and both do five years.

However, if we repeat the game, we can play a strategy of "tit-for-tat" cooperation.  We each stay quiet until one rats the other out, and then apply punishment.  Wanna read a good book?  Sure you do.  Robert Axelrod, The Evolution of Cooperation.

Anyway, the Trump loyalists "defected," in game theory terminology.  They boo-ed.  Let's see how Axelrod holds up tonight...

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