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Travelogue 1 – The Trap/Adam Curtis

The Trap

This film brought up several points that most of us do think about subconsciously but never act on. The concept of people monitoring and strategizing against each other is very true in a humanistic way. Our first level of consciousness doesn’t believe in such a tactic but if we were to analyze our own minds in depth we would mind that it is the survival of the fittest in essence. The author’s idea of political control I believe is quite accurate in the sense that this type of control does prevent individualism and freedom.

Nash’s idea of “Fuck Your Buddy” or “Game Theory” struck me as something that can be applied to any situation that relates to two parties. In your own daily life you can see that those who are cut throat and not care for the outcome of others seem to succeed more. Now this opinion can be called into question by many, but it is a fact that if you are too nice to your enemy they will attack and you will lose.  Possessing a common courtesy for others can get you “Trapped.” Everyone should have the ability to pursue their own goals.  Nash proved that through this system of selfishness and suspicion a balance or sense of equilibrium can be created. If we were all to cooperate and become slaves to the government, it would actually be more dangerous for society. Each of us adjust to one another’s strategies, and we are all trying to gain our own personal advantage against each other.

Another part of the film I found interesting and was completely unaware of was the attack of the elite psychiatrists. This group of people was trampled on simply by one study of 8 fake patients. I was stunned to find that because they all stated they thought of the same word and acted normal they were all diagnosed with some mental illness. It made me doubt how dangerous the power of these doctors were.  As the documentary states, the categories in psychiatrity did change into a series of checklists that one can self diagnosis and calculate through numbers. I don’t personally believe this is entirely accurate either, it would cause an epidemic of people who would constantly find something wrong with themselves. A computer should not have the ability to calculate if one is suffering from depression. The concept of the checklists also led to dangerous consequences. A medicated society on anti depressants would make humans be just as the market is, a system of numbers that is automated and robotic.

The idea of freedom in the west – was deeply rooted in the paranoia and basis that develop in the Cold War – which led to corruption and inequality. We are really the lonely individuals that the cold war scientists had developed.

The attempt to liberate people has actually led to a system of complete control which might not be the type of people humanity may need. It will cause a dramatic collapse of social mobility, there will be great distinctions between social classes. There may be a reason why the middle east rejects the ideas of the western idea of democracy and freedom.

The idea that politicians that served the public was impossible. This documentary makes an interesting point in that one person cannot represent society or the “public good.” A politician that serves the public can only make decisions for himself, and represent himself and what benefit himself, not others as a collective. It is better to base our society on the market , similar to having a voting system, the author is documentary believe this is the only way one could have freedom.  I found the idea of market democracy to be very interesting because it is a system that actual works because it is based on what the people want and are buying into. It is better for the people and their interests run the market and then in return the economy will flourish.

Chagnon’s experiment was also very intriguing in development of models of humans beings, based on genes that guide people or “codes” or “instructions” that make people who are alike, act the same way. DNA is can explain why certain people act the way they do. People who have similar genetic makes up tend to gravitate towards defending one another more. This I personally believe is just a simple rule of human nature, but through Chagnon’s experiment and mathematical theory he was able to prove this as true.

Here is an interesting video I watched on the Naro – it actually elaborates on Chagnon’s research as well:

World without meaning, instead of re instilling freedom in the western thought, they have stripped it from us. It would be want Berlin would state as the transition from negative liberty to positive liberty which was questioned by the Cold War scientists.

Reagan’s policy on the Sandinistas was argued and questioned because we participated in giving weapons to Nicaragua supplement the global war on terror which the United States was against. Through the idea of “Perception Management” the American people could be convinced that the Sandinistas would threaten the American people and that we were left with no other choice but to retaliate.

These were my thoughts on the 3 videos – Enjoy!

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  1. DanJee 09:45, Jan 25th, 10

    I mention in my post as well, but I think your point about Game Theory is based on narrowed-down version Curtis showed. Nash equilibrium is only one half of Game Theory solution. It is completely not the case that Nash equilibrium negates the socially optimal solution point. The Prisoner’s Dilemma example is a unique example in which the two are different, which is what makes it interesting. In more cases, the game theory solution are solutions that yields outcome best for all parties involved.

  2. Alexandra Cale 17:39, Jan 25th, 10

    So, I have an example of a time when I acted in accordance with Game Theory. I was in line for a salad at All About Food and it was very crowded. The “line” was really a group of people all smushed towards each other and the cash registers, so it wasn’t clear who was next. I caught the eye of one of the people behind the counter and started to order my salad. A girl standing near me gave me a disgusted look and said “Ugh! You’ll never get ANYWHERE in life!” I assume she was pissed because I had “cut” in front of her in line. In my defense, I don’t think that I knew that she was supposed to be next.

    In this case I guess I did “betray” my fellow human – and guess what? I got my salad before her! But, as a counterpoint: if I had known that girl personally, I’m sure I would have asked whether she was next before starting to order. I think that is where Nash’s theory just doesn’t make sense. I don’t believe that people you know, love and trust are really out to get you, no matter what his economic models say. He was a paranoid schizophrenic, after all.