The “prisoner’s dilemma” of pandemics.

“Gay” winter festival, Miami. Maybe don’t hug your parents now…..

The Winter Party Festival, an annual, week long LGBTQ event held in Miami, drew thousands from across the country when it kicked off earlier this month. But though it ended March 10, in the week following the event several attendees have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to festival organizers. (NBC)

Steve Berman, writing for TheResurgent.com: “Do you know what the ‘prisoner’s dilemma’ is? In short, it’s a game theory involving cooperation and rational people doing the wrong thing. Here’s how it goes: two prisoners are separated in their own rooms and cannot communicate. They are offered a deal to rat out the other prisoner, and if the other prisoner stays silent, they go free. If they both rat each other out, they both serve two years. If they both stay silent, they each serve one year.

“Pretty simple. You’d think they’d both stay silent, do their year, and let bygones be bygones. But that almost never happens, because it’s not the rational choice to obtain the best outcome. The rational choice is to rat out and assume the other guy will be silent, which means they both rat each other out and end up with the worst outcome. We are in a similar dilemma on Coronavirus. The facts are the facts here. The virus cannot speak, negotiate, or surrender. It’s a virus, and its properties are fairly set (unless it mutates, but we won’t go there). If we do nothing, with an R0 (R-Naught) of around 2.3-2.8, it will continue to exponentially increase until in a few weeks, those turning up with symptoms will overwhelm our hospitals. We will be like parts of Italy.

At this point, we have a choice. We can cooperate and take draconian measures for social distancing, which has its own punishment. We will be home with our kids, no eating out, cancelled trips, no partying, no gym, no visiting. We may have some local shortages if an outbreak hits the area where we live. Or we can decide everyone else will get the virus, and if we’re young and healthy, we can ride it out. We can be like the young people in Nashville, packing the bars like nothing is wrong. We can be like those who tell the authorities, “you’re not the boss of me” and do whatever they please. We can be like Mayor Bill de Blasio who tweeted ‘I live in the regular world’ after refusing to shut down NYC gyms.

“The virus doesn’t care about your gym, or your school, or your job, or your paycheck. We are left with the classic prisoner’s dilemma. We can cooperate, and flatten the curve, so that the virus doesn’t overwhelm our health care capabilities. Or we can betray each other and watch the worst outcome play out before our eyes. Cooperation will mean at the end we will let bygones be bygones, and the past be the past. We can’t replay ‘what if’ to see what would have happened had we ‘lived in the regular world.’ To us, it will seem like all this was a tempest in a teapot–a massive overreaction, because we cannot know what would have happened if we ratted each other out. But this game, like the prisoner’s dilemma, is played in the open. We know the rules because we know what this virus does. We know what ‘it will do if we don’t cooperate’.

“There is really only one rational choice here, and it’s to cooperate. We don’t get to go free if the other person remains silent, because the virus isn’t playing the game. If half of Americans choose to ignore the warnings and continue life as usual, we will all lose. We will never really know what we avoided, but we will know that cooperation was the best, and only path in this dilemma.

That’s one man’s rational, mature perspective. Then there is Spring Break!

Spring break: No one’s the boss of meeee………

March 17, 2020: Defying concerns about the rapid spread of the coronavirus, vacationers in Florida have crowded a popular beach in the central part of the state, gathering in large numbers even as authorities have warned that such behavior risks amplifying the disease to a considerable degree. Photographs show hundreds of beachgoers swimming in the water and laying in the sand. Local media have reported that municipal authorities may vote to close the beaches on Thursday as a public health measure. Multiple other localities such as Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale have already announced beach closings. Florida has confirmed nearly 200 coronavirus cases and three deaths as of Tuesday afternoon.

The spread of an infectious disease from its country of origin is a complicated process involving many factors, but at its core, it is related to the movement of people.

Newsweek report, as of March 15: Why such a low # of cases in Russia? Also, it is interesting that in the 15 countries that share land or sea borders with China (shown in bold), only 310 cases have been reported. Only India has reported more than 100 cases and 10 countries have reported between zero and five cases. Given that many of these countries have significant trade and travel relationships with China the low level of cases is surprising.

coronavirus cases

Folks are gonna do what they gonna do…until they don’t. Now’s the time to put others, and society first…..

Author: iamcurmudgeon

When I began this blog, I was a 70 year old man, with a young mind and a body trying to recover from a stroke, and my purpose for this whole blog thing is to provoke thinking, to ridicule reflex reaction, and provide a legacy to my children.

2 thoughts on “The “prisoner’s dilemma” of pandemics.”

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