Journal title QA Rivista dell’Associazione Rossi-Doria
Author/s Andrew Gelman
Publishing Year 2008 Issue 2008/2 Language English
Pages 10 P. 167-176 File size 177 KB
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The Evolution of Cooperation, by Axelrod (1984), is a highly influential study that identifies the benefits of cooperative strategies in the iterated prisoner’s dilemma. We argue that the most extensive historical analysis in the book, a study of cooperative behaviour in First World War trenches, is erroneous. Contrary to Axelrod’s claims, the soldiers on the Western Front were not generally in a prisoner’s dilemma (iterated or otherwise), and their cooperative behaviour can be explained much more parsimoniously as immediately reducing their risks. We discuss the political implications of this misapplication of game theory.
Andrew Gelman, Methodology as ideology: some comments on Robert Axelrod's The Evolution of Cooperation in "QA Rivista dell’Associazione Rossi-Doria" 2/2008, pp 167-176, DOI: