Let’s take the famous game theory example, “The Prisoner’s Dilemma”:
The prisoner’s dilemma is a classic game theory example from 1950 used to explain cooperation behavior. It’s a tale of two conspirators who get caught by the police. The cops only have enough evidence to convict a lesser charge, so they want to get one of criminals to rat out his partner.
The cops offer each prisoner separately a plea bargain: Rat on your buddy, and we’ll let you go free. If you both keep your mouth shut, we’ll get you both on a lesser charge.
There are four possible outcomes:
1. You and your buddy keep your mouths shut. You both get six months in jail.
2. You rat out your buddy. You go free, and he gets 20 years in jail.
3. Your buddy rats out you. He goes free, you get 20 years.
4. You both rat each other out, and you each get eight years.
In this game matrix, the best outcome is to betray your buddy:
OK, but how does this relate to peeing in the pool?
An astute Quora user pointed out this can be applied to making #1 in the big blue toilet. When applied to the pool peeing scenario, ratting out = peeing.
Such is the Pool Pisser’s Dilemma. The outcomes are:
1. No one ever pees in the pool.
2. You’re the only one peeing.
3. Someone else pees and you’re swimming in their pee.
4. Everyone pees.
Sure, it would be in everyone’s best interest for no one to pee at all in the pool. BUT, if you know that there’s gonna be pee in the pool, wouldn’t it be better for it to be your own pee? Plus, you get the added convenience of not having to leave the pool and pulling down your wet bathing suit (is there anything worse that putting back on a cold, wet, women’s one piece?).
What to do? A game theorist would tell you: Pee in the pool.
In real-life tests, people tend to be more altruistic than the game theory dictates. The prisoners both stay silent more often than they statistically should. And most people don’t pee in the pool, because we all think it’s gross and bad to do it.
Remember: You’re not pissing in the pool; you’re just swimming in someone else’s piss.
This pee discussion inspired by this Quora thread.
P.S. Please don’t pee in the pool, people. That’s freakin’ nasty.
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