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Monday, January 5, 2015

The Cliff dance, Hawk and prey, Chicken and Crazy Chicken Dance

I frequently refer to game theory. So I wanted to explain some of the games:

The Cliff Dance

The Cliff Dance occurs when one side of a game is playing "crazy" and refuses to compromise with the other. It's related to the game of Chicken.

The Game of Chicken

Andrew Steele refered to it in an article in the Globe and Mail titled "Obama, Game Theory and the Fiscal Cliff" [] when covering the Fiscal Cliff negotiations that year.
Andrew Steele
“In the most memorable image of the sport, James Dean and his opponent hurl themselves toward a cliff in their cars; the first one to jump out is labelled a “chicken.” Unfortunately for the opponent, his jacket snags on the car and his game ends with his death.” [Steele Article]
“Chicken – or Hawk-Dove – is also an established tool in the science of game theory. As I have explained previously, this is a two-player game where both players would mildly prefer the other to yield, but where neither yielding is the worst possible outcome.” [Steele Article]

In the Cliff Dance as Andrew Steele envisioned it, both parties really wanted compromise and going off the cliff would punish one or both of them. That version of the cliff dance is almost rational.

The Crazy Cliff Game or Crazy Chicken Dance

The Cliff Game involves the perception by one side that the opponent is crazy and willing to go off the cliff. When Andrew Steele wrote he was sure all the potential for loss would be on the side of the Republicans. And that was true if one looked at what was going on universally and rationally. But the problem is that most of the participants weren't looking at the situation universally and rationally. Even in 2012 the Con movement was increasingly being dominated by Right Wing Authoritarians for whom the loss of the country would be their game. There was no net loss for them in going off the cliff with their base. In fact their base wanted them to go off the cliff.

The Crazy Cliff Game

In the Crazy Cliff Dance game the insane (or pretend insane) party grabs hold of the opponent and dances with them threatening to go over the cliff if they don't comply. And what makes that game irrational, is that for the game to work the opponent must believe they are serious about the death wish they are dancing to.

What is frightening is that because of human psychology in order to convince the opponent they are serious they must act in ways that may transform their psyche to where they really are in fact willing to commit suicide to get their ends. In many cases they convince themselves they have no choice but to get their wishes or both die. At that point this is no longer a rational game. Trauma can cause Sudden Personality Change. Indoctrination induces personality and belief changes gradually. But willingness to do the Crazy Chicken Dance is a symptom of deep personality issues. Indeed, it is a symptom of needing to dominate others something called "Social Dominance".

Further Reading

Game theory:
Further Reading:

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