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October 13, 2004

Grasses and Game Theory.

Duncan Campbell writes about the sea change that has occured in the last 30 odd years. That career criminals never used to inform in return for shorter sentences, and now they do, continually.

In declining to "talk and walk", the robbers followed the underworld's 11th commandment: thou shalt not grass. Traditionally, the two most hated sets of prisoners were sex offenders and informers. A career criminal despised them both and would have been proud to have on his tombstone the words "he never grassed".

Britain has become a nation of grasses. The opprobrium that once attached to informers, snitches, snouts, shoppers and narks in all walks of life no longer exists. Anyone who wants to betray a former lover, friend or colleague feels free to do so, whether they are a former butler ratting on the memory of the person who once trusted them, or a former personal assistant cashing in on a brief relationship.

I'm not all that certain how much of this is actually true, in the sense of statistically verfiable, and how much is impressions. However, it does offer an idea for any budding games theorist out there. Are the choices in the Prisoner's Dilemma actually culturally conditioned?

October 13, 2004 in Economics | Permalink


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