Kater Cheek's Reviews > Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life

Rock, Paper, Scissors by Len Fisher
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May 24, 10

Read in May, 2010

Game Theory is one of those subjects I only know a little bit about, and this book promised to lead me to understand it with a cheerful, pop-science writing style. In a way, it succeeded, in that it's peppered with personal anecdotes, some of which are quite enjoyable.
But as far as getting me to understand and be enthusiastic about game theory, it failed. I already understand about brinkmanship and the prisoner's dilemma, and how rock-paper-scissors work, so Fisher's descriptions added little. In fact, in some ways, they made it worse. He has several charts which explain the outcomes of various decisions made in the prisoner's dilemma, and, try as I might, I could not make any sense of the charts. Maybe it was a typo? I don't know. I also would have liked to understand the concept of quantum game theory, and about how he came to the numbers of the formula used in the Nash barganing theory. I read the passage over several times, and didn't understand it, which is quite disappointing, as I am neither completely ignorant of game theory nor am I unintelligent. It's just that he assumed we knew what was going on, and skipped past with only the briefest of descriptions.
Another problem I had with this book was the structure. It had numerous footnotes and text blocks that sometimes went on for several pages, forcing me to flip back and forth, and lose my train of thought about what I'd been reading. In short, while the anecdotes were entertaining, they couldn't overcome the fact that Fisher's explanations weren't clear and lucid enough for me.
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