There are many effective approaches to problem-solving, and decision making in applied game theory. Sometimes, the most effective approach is to ignore what seems obvious, logical, and rational. I have come to call these theories un-common sense. It is not that they are actually illogical it is that the logic of them is not obvious on the first appearance.
Tip #1 — Seek out unexpected facts or distortions when you are solving a problem. Many people are familiar with this way of thinking through Black Swan Events (BSE). A BSE is an unpredictable event that is beyond what is normally expected of a situation and which has potentially severe consequences. When dealing with complex and extreme problems simply using critical thinking and deductive reasoning — the process of reasoning from one or more statements (premises) to reach a logical conclusion — simply won’t work. One must also seek out unexpected facts or distortions to that orderly sequence of data. It is these distortions that may inhibit or even assist us in problem-solving. Immersing oneself in game theory strategies is the solution here.
Immerse yourself in gamer psychology and solve many problems. Photo licensed under CC by Stuart Wainstock
Tip #2 — Go beyond traditional approaches to rational thinking: Generally speaking, virtually all problems and obstacles can be addressed through critical thinking — The systematic ordering of information in error correction and detection schemes.
Of course, the application of critical thinking to problem-solving, and obstacle removal, as well as approaches to unexpected irrational or unexpected events like BSE all originate with mathematics. Though we are not going to deal with extreme problems and obstacles in this article it may be useful for the advanced critical thinker to know that BSE, and other uncommon sense approaches system are essential to understanding things like chaos theory.
One need not be a mathematician to understand basic logical, and rational thought. Common sense will get you where you need to go, and if more is needed simple addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication will do the trick. Any common-sense approach to a problem is likely an expression of this way of thinking.
When one is confronted with an extreme problem such as a game theory concept called The Monte Hall Problem, it is the uncommon factor that is likely to lead to the solution. This also applies to some of the challenges that appear in our daily lives. There are some things in our lives that cannot be easily planned for, controlled, or even defined other than to say, “It is the unexpected.” Sometimes these things show up in a negative form and you don’t even recognize them when they happen. I call these “Un-intended Negative Consequences”. Applied Game Theory has won many Nobel Prizes for addressing these types of issues.
Book cover design and photo CC License by brewbooks
Tip #3 — Keep an eye out for unintended negative consequences: These don’t usually happen immediately and that’s why they can be so devastating. Un-intended negative consequences normally develop over an extended period and have a momentum of their own that one may not so easily separate from.
Examples of non-linear factors include extreme weather, unexpected violence, unruly crowds, anything that we commonly call “acts of God”.
All things that appear as uncommon sense may not be the result of external events. There are some internal factors or elements in our being that we are unaware of but which constantly affect who we are and how we think. Often we are unable to move forward on a goal or a vision if we are limited by what seems like an irrational obstacle. Obviously one cannot transcend irrational elements through logic. Yes, there may be logic hidden in plain sight, yet we just can’t see the logic that is there.
One can only adjust and budget for these factors and somehow figure out how to integrate them into daily life. These obstacles are almost always non-sequential and unexpected. There are no trends or patterns you can evaluate to predict for them. All you can do is recognize them when they arrive, compensate for them, and wait them out. The American actor-comedian Dennis Leary has a saying about this which is explored in the very funny and poignant video link below : “Life is tough! Get a helmet.”
Many consider what I have come to call non-linear events, to be negative but this is not necessarily the case. If you are impatient, have a poor support system, or like to be in control of everything — all of the time — the arrival of a non-linear factor can be frightening, or even overwhelming. But it doesn’t need to be so. It can be positive, serendipity if you will. A simple example might be that you are pulled over by the police because your car’s tail light was not functioning and you were unaware of it. Nevertheless, the officer who pulls you over chooses not to issue you a summons. Sometimes the non-linear factor presents us with serendipity — some effect where we accidentally discover something fortunate, particularly while looking for something else entirely.
There is a subtle link, a thread, or pattern between common and uncommon sense. This why non-linear events are not always as surprising as one might think. There is a subtle skill that some people have of being able to decipher where this pattern lies. Thus, what often appears as an accidental discovery or serendipitous event is actually the end result of subtle, even unconscious factors that bring an individual out of seeming chaos to a sudden unexpected discovery.
A self-actualized person must live in uncommon/common sense reality simultaneously. They have a full experience of the peak experience that comes from a highly evolved aesthetic sensibility and an appreciation of detail and order. They also have a naturally self-regulating and intuitive form of knowledge and expression.
Among some of the great thinkers who explored the distinction between common and uncommon sense and the linear and non-linear are Beethoven, R Emerson, von Goethe, Jefferson, and Adam Smith.
In fact, a person who understands applied game theory can actually create order out of chaos if they master uncommon sense. This is what happens when a vision comes to fruition.
Below is the book I wrote on the basics of game theory. I wrote it for nine- year-olds. If you can play Tick-tac-to or checkers you’ll understand it.
Book cover design by Lewis Harrison
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