The Survival Game: How Game Theory Explains the Biology of Cooperation and Competition

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THE SURVIVAL GAME: HOW GAME THEORY EXPLAINS THE BIOLOGY OF COOPERATION AND COMPETITION by David P. Barash Owl Books, 2003, 302 pp. ISBN: 978-0-8050-7699-8

This book tries to explain why the Rolling Stones were correct when they sang, "You can't always get what you want". Or for those of you who don't relate to the Stones, author Barash writes that his book's goal is "Understand game theory, but don't confuse it with life itself." Barash shows that the complexities, nuances, and ubiquity of game theory affect our lives in countless and significant ways. He provides clear discussions of the fundamental concepts and conical examples of game theory - Prisoner's Dilemma, tit-for-tat, temptation, reward, punishment, payoff, personal gain versus public good, competition, cooperation, and the tragedy of the commons. However, Barash is even better at giving colorful examples of the nuances, dilemmas, and special considerations that can occur as real life is modeled by games and games are played to simulate life situations. He describes several dozen interesting examples of game scenarios that nearly everyone can relate to. Among them are games he names as Interrupted Telephone Call, Chicken, Gift of the Magi, Pascal's Wager, Battle of the Sexes, Coin Matching, Battle of the Bismarck Sea, Tosca, Watergate, Kidnapper, Say Twenty First, Water Shortage, Lighthouse Problem, Stag Hunt, and the Ultimatum Game. …