Learning Applied Game Theory from Television Shows Combined with Scientific Thinking
Someone asked me how I got involved with game theory as a tool for efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity? Well, I learned pretty early that to be successful one must see that life really is a game.
As I got older I developed an interest in strategy based television shows like Num3ers, the reality show Survivor and other movies and shows based on GT and game thinking. In time I developed a deeper and more detailed fascination with applying GT to daily life. I began to view my life and the world around me systematically. It was as if life was millions of different games played by billions of people all intersecting at some point, All motivated through the human need to connect and create communities of common interest. The list was endless. I began with what was familiar to me exploring specific areas of thought. I researched the major religions, genres in rock n’ roll, the natural sciences, and political systems. I explored hundreds of different ideas and concepts. I wrote them down and studied them, always looking for how they came into being and how they were named, defined and codified. I began to look at virtually everything systematically. I was not concerned with whether it was true, factual, or logical. I was only concerned with the idea that there was a game-based system of some type with names, rules, players, and referees to make the players accountable. Some of these games existed as a natural expression of logical scientific thought such as dentistry, neurobiology, chemical engineering, auto mechanics, brain surgery, or rocket science. Others were academic specialties that were not scientific in the rigid sense of the word but were explored and studied rigorously with experts, professional organizations, journals, prizes, and committees.
I researched all of these categories, disciplines, and systems, and saw that I needed to organize them in some way that would enable me to see how they all intersected. I began to research how the great thinkers had organized it all, and then I began to explore these great thinkers.
I learned that to see life as a game, and not have people think I was “nuts,” would require a common language that almost anyone could understand. Of course, what would be the benefit of creating this system if no one could use it, or even understand what I was talking about? With this in mind, I began to organize the various games (game-based systems) that I came across. I was elated to learn it had been done already – by Francis Bacon hundreds of years ago. It is called “science”.
Francis Bacon was an English philosopher, author, lawyer, statesman, and most importantly, a scientist. Bacon, as a seeker of knowledge, came upon the idea that in order to define the quality of information or knowledge at hand, it would be extremely valuable to have a planned procedure of investigating things. As obvious as this may seem now, it was not as obvious in the late-sixteenth century. Bacon’s idea created an entirely new way of understanding the world. By asking a question and then using logic, mathematics, and systematized investigations with rigorous definitions and methodologies, he was able to create greater clarity on many things that were not clear before. Today’s inductive methodologies for scientific inquiry often called the Baconian Method, or more simply the scientific method, have become invaluable for solving many of the mysteries of life as well as for mundane activities like making a successful soufflé and dentistry.
So, with Francis Bacon’s basic theories as a guide, I began to explore how the various systems of scientific thought had been traditionally organized. I am sure I had been taught this in high school and college. The problem is that I slept through high school and meditated through college. So in a sense, I was re-learning what I should have learned in high school but didn’t.
I learned that most academics place the sciences into three categories. These are not written in stone and there are many important thinkers that do not agree with this approach to defining the sciences. Nonetheless, I began with this approach because I had to begin somewhere and this approach seemed as reasonable as any other. Most of the people who even care about this, especially academics and various experts divide the sciences into one of three divisions with some cross disciplines that include elements of all three.
- Natural Sciences:These are organized categories of information that involve the study of phenomena (laws of the physical world). Among the most well-known of the natural sciences are physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, and so on.
- Formal Sciences:A “formal science” uses words and terms with very specific definitions (formal language) and combines them with deductive reasoning* as a means for creating a system by which some well-formed specific formulas, rules, and codes can be derived from others that are more general. Within the category of formal science are mathematics, logic, statistics, information theory and theoretical computer science. All of these use deductive reasoning and tell us that if something is true in one game (a class of things in general), this truth applies to all legitimate players in that game (class). The key, then, is to be able to properly identify players in the game (members of the class). Mis-categorizing them will result in invalid conclusions, for example, “He is a vegan.” This is based on the logic that in the vegan game (class) a person does not consume foods that contain meat, fish, eggs, poultry, dairy or any other “animal ingredients.” Thus, if a person says, “I am a vegan,” we can have a certainty of what they mean by this since the meaning of the word “vegan” is very specific. The power of this approach in science and game theory is that it frees us from the need to examine the eating habits of each and every vegan we ever come across. Because of the validity of specialized and specific language with deductive reasoning, we are able to make an effective assumption.
- Social Sciences:The term “social science,” like “game theory,” is an umbrella term for many different games of organized knowledge and information. Social science games, as I now call them, require that one explore aspects of human society in ways that cannot be easily explained mathematically. Among the most familiar social sciences are anthropology, communication, cultural studies, developmental studies, economics, history, linguistics, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, social network analysis, social psychology, and sociology.
So there it was. The three types of sciences all organized and bundled up in a not-so-neat package. I say “not-so-neat” because many important thinkers question where something like computer science even fits the definition of what a science is. Bacon would have required real-world experiments to come to some conclusion about truth or fact. Many of the “so-called” sciences lack any real-world experimentation to support their conclusions.
As I developed my own body of work and despite the lack of empirical basis, I decided to follow the path of most of the scientists I spoke with, and treat the formal sciences as sciences simply because they are extremely important. In fact, all quantitative sciences – including many of the social sciences I have listed depend on them.
It may be an ongoing debate as to whether any of the formal sciences can be named a true science, but when playing the game of life, they become invaluable; especially when you come face to face with the hundreds of sub-disciplines, sub-categories and specialized games within games that make up the game of life.
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