Great column by David Brooks in the NYTimes:
When it comes to understanding the world's thugs and menaces, I'd trust the first 40 names in James Carville's P.D.A. faster than I'd trust a conference-load of game theorists or risk-assessment officers. I'd trust politicians, who, whatever their faults, have finely tuned antennae for the flow of events. I'd trust Mafia bosses, studio heads and anybody who has read a Dostoyevsky novel during the past five years.
David Brooks realizes that intuition matters. Knowing what motivates other people--knowing how they think, how real, flesh and blood people go about the business of chosing actions, knowing what they value and why--matters. And never more than when violence is involved. Theorists distance themselves from intuition, almost perversely. I would not want a theorist to command my army. It is good to remember this when listening to Krugman lecture us on Iraq and North Korea. (He has a lovely little model to back up everything he says, I have no doubt).
Dr. Edgeworth Boks, who is an economist specializing in game theory (for those new to this blog), would engage in armed conflict by choosing a best response to what he perceived would be his opponents strategy. The good doctor thnks all others would do likewise. I asked him for a direct quote on the subject. "I will choose an optimal stratgey," he said, "and my opponent, realizing that I will do so, will choose a best response to my best response, and I, having anticipated that he will have anticipated that I will do so, will have limited my choice to best reponses to his best response to my best response, and so on, so that eventually, in a way that is hard to make explicit, my opponent and I will find ourselves on the blessed equilibrium path, with each of us best-responding to the other, and from which there us no deviation by either of us that will yield a preferred outcome." So says Boks.
Picture now, if you will, Dr. Boks' opponent in this conflict. The enemy is a person ufamiliar with game theory. He is a person who believes passionately that his cause is just. He does not speak of equilibrium paths or best responses, but says : "I would die to protect my homeland."
Who would you rather have on your side?