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Archive for March, 2012

Gore Vidal interviewed in The Nation 7 Nov, '05

Gore Vidal, Octocontrarian


[from the November 7, 2005 issue]

Gore Vidal remains one of the more prolific contemporary
American writers and certainly one of the most politically
outspoken. Shortly after his recent 80th-birthday celebration,
Nation contributing editor Marc Cooper interviewed him in his
Hollywood home. Herewith, a condensed version of that
conversation. .   –The Editors

Q:In the introduction to your new book, Imperial America, you
begin by saying that the four sweetest words in the American
lexicon are "I told you so." What were you gloating about?

A:Oh, everything. The principal bit of wisdom that I had to
purvey, which I got from Thomas Jefferson and he got from
Montesquieu, is that you cannot maintain a republic and empire
simultaneously. The Romans couldn’t do it. The Brits could only
manage it up to a certain point, but then ended up going broke.
The Venetians were an empire, and the United States. And in each
case the republics were lost. Starting with our war against
Mexico in 1846, which was to acquire California, we’ve been in a
serious, naked grab, grab, grab imperial mood.

Q:In that respect, how different is the Bush Administration?
Anything new here, or part of that same historical arc?

A:Well, a lot is different. The machinery is all changed.
Nuclear and bacteriological weapons exist. We can kill a lot
more people. But there have been things unimaginable to me and
most Americans–that we would have a government that is
absolutely in your face to every country on earth. We have
insulted everybody.

Q:We now see that House majority leader Tom DeLay has been
indicted. The Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, is under
investigation by the SEC. We’ve seen the debacle around Michael
"Brownie" Brown and FEMA. Is this Administration finally
collapsing under its own weight?

A:"Under its own lack of weight" [laughing], I think, is the
phrase you are searching for.

Q:Sort of the unbearable lightness?

A:Yes, the unbearable lightness. Or here DeLay–gone tomorrow.
Yes, I do believe it is breaking up. And the indictment of DeLay
would not have happened had there not been two hurricanes, which
dramatized to everybody in the United States that we don’t have
a government. And to the extent we do have one it is not only
corrupt but a menace to other countries, to our liberties, to
our Bill of Rights.

Q:If, indeed, this Administration is collapsing for lack of
weight, what comes after it?

A:Martial law, that’s next. Bush is like a plane of glass. You
can see all the worms turning around in his head at any moment.
The first giveaway of what’s on his mind–or the junta’s mind.

Q:The junta being…?

A:Cheney, who runs everything, I suspect. And a few other
serious operators. Anyway, I first noticed this was on their
mind when Bush finally woke up to the fact that the hurricanes
were not going to be good PR for him. And he starts to think
friends of his are going to be running in ’08. So what’s the
first thing he does? The first thing on the mind of a dictator?
He gets the National Guard away from the governors. The Guard is
under the governors, but Bush is always saying, Let’s turn it
over to the military. This is what’s on their mind. Under
military control.

Q:Are you predicting a coming military dictatorship? And that
the American people would stand for that?

A:They’ll stand for anything. And they will stand for nothing. I
deal with a lot of European journalists who are very well versed
in American politics. But they will ask me silly questions like,
"So, Kerry didn’t turn out very well. So who’s the next leader
of the opposition who can become President?" I answer, Well,
first the New York Times won’t interview him. He won’t get on
prime-time television if he looks like a winner. That’s out. Or
he will be made a fool of, like they did with Howard Dean when
they amplified his famous cry. That was all done at CBS to make
him look like a maniac. They are very resourceful! So if you
have a media that is completely controlled by corporate
America–or whatever phrase you want to use to describe our
rulers–no information is getting through that is useful to the
public. No White Knight is going to be acknowledged in the press
or seen on television. He would have no way of connecting with
the people. And this a permanent fact in our situation…. If
there could be a viable opposition to the oil and gas junta that
has seized power–all three branches of government, I think–it
will have to be at the grassroots. Then you will have to find a
way of publicizing through the Internet the White Knight–or the
Black Knight, whoever comes along to save us.

Q:What are three or four main things the White Knight would have
to say to motivate us, in your words, to keep the Republic?

A:First of all, we should be allowed to keep the money we earn.
Because most of us are heavily taxed.

Q:That’s what the Republicans say.

A:That’s what they say, but they don’t mean it. What they mean
is, "We people who have money, we don’t want our children to pay
any inheritance tax. We don’t want our huge incomes to be taxed.
We don’t want the profits of our big corporations ever to be
taxed." And they’ve pulled all that off. When you run against
them, you have to say the profits on corporations are going to
be taxed. As they always were. The people understand this. And
if they don’t, you can explain it in ten minutes.

Q:What would the White Knight do with the military?

A:Cut its budget in half. That would save us a lot of money. We
could rebuild a lot of levees. We don’t need it…. We can’t win
a war anymore. They can’t bring back the draft. We are at end
times now for this regime. Just keep your fingers crossed we are
not at end times for our country….

Q:One area where things seem to have improved in America
concerns homophobia. Gay marriage can now be discussed in polite

A:I don’t know that it much matters as a theme. Talk to anybody
in the military and it’s just as bad as when I spent three years
in the Army during World War II and those suspected of same-sex
activities were Section Eighted out or locked up. It was bad
then, and it’s bad now. An issue like gay marriage just keeps
homophobia alive.

Q:So you’re not an advocate of it?

A:No. I know to what purposes that issue is put…. You get an
issue, like gay marriage, which doesn’t concern 99.9 percent of
the population, and you go on and on and on about it. Proving
that the Democrats are all crazy, if not all queer. Someone
wants to get married, fine. What’s it to me?

Q:If we pick a point forty years ago, in the middle of the
1960s, when you were half your age, did you think then the
United States would take the course it eventually did?

A:I never thought the President would dare to favor pre-emptive
war. I never thought it would come to this, a sort of maniac for
President who goes around attacking verbally and physically any
country he wants. The ownership of this country has usually been
pretty shrewd. They knew what they wanted. They don’t want to
pay taxes, certainly. They don’t want people blowing them up in
the night like 9/11. And if there ever was great cause for
impeachment it would be over 9/11. Never been a case of
negligence like that.

Q:You are not possibly suggesting that the Bush Administration
allowed this attack to go ahead?

A:No. I’m not saying anything even close to it. If there had
been some sort of wicked collusion between elements of our
government and the 9/11 team from Saudi Arabia, in a country
like ours, by now, at least two of them would have been on
television talking to Barbara Walters. That’s what kind of
country we have. We can’t keep secrets. No, it’s unthinkable.
Whatever was behind 9/11 was well worked out. And there isn’t a
brain in this Administration that could have worked out
something like 9/11. Either to prevent it or to do it.

Let’s see how his theories work out in the next few days

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Fitzgerald contraction of the Bush administration!

This is an inside joke for physics history cognoscenti:

Fitzgerald has shrunk BushCo a little bit today – perhaps acceleration
closer to light speed is in the works?

Merry Fitzmas! Hey, one pony under the tree is better than none at all.

Background: Because this is the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s miracle year
(including the special theory of relativity), I propose a title for the
effect of Fitzgerald’s indictments on the Bush Administration: the
Fitzgerald contraction. Some science history: the notion that moving objects
contract in the direction of motion was actually first proposed by Irish
physicist George F. Fitzgerald in 1894, as a way to explain the negative
results of the Michelson-Morley ether-drift experiment. (Later, Einstein
changed the idea from an ether effect to a genuinely relative fundamental
property of space-time relations.) Hence if Bush’s crew was reduced to say
60% of original numbers, we could say Fitz has hurled them away at 0.8 the
speed of light. Clearly, he could only achieve around 0.1c at this
juncture – but keep watching the skies. God help us in the future!

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Neurocam Collage

<a href="http://www.geocities.com/christitan718/themyth.html">A

…spawned by swiming in the murky world of Neurocam International. Is
this organization on the brink of destruction or is it about to spread
it’s tendrils around the globe?

 As an investigator of paranormal phenomenon I have found some very
interesting qualities that Neurocam seems to possess. I call it a
Synchronicity Generator. The caliber of FNORDS one encounters as they
explore this mystery is exceptional.

 Readers of Wilson will recall that Leviathan and FUCK-UP merge and
become one. This was written before I had any idea that the internet
would play such a huge role in my life. This is the conscious
internet…the gnostic computer…google and copperman are the two most
pronounced interfaces.

 Neurocam seems to be the latest manifestation of this conscious
super-being…an organization that has and is branching out by internet
connections that stimulate action in the real world. No one seems to be
sure where the Orders are coming from.

 This is not some fake I love bees…ARG pretend Artificial
Intelligence…this is real intelligence that has evolved to use the
connections of the Internet as its nervous system.

 Neurocam is not a easily consummed package. It is a secret within a
secret within a secret…most often termed the unveiling. To see the
FNORDS you have to engage the reality as fully as you possibly can.
This is where the years of arm chair magick comes in handy.

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Howard Campbell, Vonnegut and Ben Mack

"Vonnegut uses fantasy and science fiction to examine the horrors and
absurdities of 20th century civilization. His constant concern about
the effects of technology on humanity has led some critics to consider
him a science fiction writer, but the author himself has rejected this
– http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/vonnegut.htm

Reading ‘Poker Without Cards’ written by Ben Mack has enkindled my
interest in Kurt Vonnegut and his use of science fiction to discuss
manpiulation of media and the dehumanizing results of this. Howard
Campbell is a figure in both Mother Night and in Poker Without Cards.
Infact Poker Without Cards is a transcript between Howard Campbell and
a psychiatrist named Dr. Fink. Besides sharing a name the two
characters also have a paralell function of media manipulation.
Vonnegut is very direct in that Campbell is a radio show propagandist.
In Poker Without Cards, Howard Campbell is a markeing exeutive and
spends a lot of time discusing memetic engineering.

These books do not take place in outer-space, the science is the
science of media manipulation, it is pure psychology pushed to surreal

Ben Mack makes dissimilar claims that Poker Without Cards is a true
story and that it is fiction. I think it is safest to say that it is a
Bokonist tale. I know that Vonnegut has reviewed Poker Without Cards.
It is pretty funny stuff.

Poker Without Cards is a piece of technolgy more than it is a short
book, or at least this is the technical manual to the technology that
we have hard wired in our heads and have not learned to use.

The message we get from this science fiction is that if we do learn to
use the technology in our skulls then someone else will and will
manipulate us with that technology.

I am reading Sirens of Titan right now and it also has a similar
message in part…"I tell you Mr. Constant," he said genially, "it’s a
thankless job telling people it’s a hard, hard Universe their in."

Chris Titan

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pity is a virtue i adore

I am in love with the idea of pity.

there are definitely a lot of people to feel pity for, in this world,
in this universe. Not the least of which is the self.

I could go on and on about the reasons why and the causes for this
noble emotion, but instead i beseech everybody, search yourself. find
your own reasons.

There is also a lot of cause for sadness, depression, melancholia,
despair, even doubt fear and cynicism. nothing like a little healthy
cynicism, huh.

instead of being overly flexible/creative, looking for an opportunity
to laugh, wouldn’t it be easier just to keel over and cry?

man there is a lot of ‘badness’ in the world. also strangeness and
absurdity. absurdity is also something i get a kick out of. urban and
suburban absurdity.

so i suppose this is just the emotion of the day for me. Here’s to
pity, here’s to self-pity. negative thinking rules.

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Mainstream press interviews Chomsky

Published in today’s Guardian (UK), Emma Brockes interviews Noam
Chomsky. May or may not interest you. It interested me in parts to see
what a long "interview" by a not particularly sympathetic interviewer,
in a paper like the Guardian, would look like:


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Global Voices blog project

"Global Voices is an international effort to diversify the conversation
taking place online by involving speakers from around the world…"

"The idea came out of a one-day international blogging conference held
at Harvard in December 2004. Many attendees – bloggers from around
the world – felt that there needed to be a vehicle like Global Voices
to help bloggers from different countries find each other and engage in
a global conversation."


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Anyone From Scotland??

Hello, I am really interested in Robert Anton Wilson,Richard Bandler and
Noam Chomsky and many other guys.  I sometimes find it all so confusing
though, as everyone is slinging dirt and you are never sure what to
believe – although I know you should never believe anything.  This is one
good thing that the kabbalah has taught me.  Where are all you guys from?  I
am looking for people in Scotland that I could chat to, or maybe even meet
up with and chat about lots of things.  I find a lot of my friends at uni
call me a nutter for even bothering reading into this kind of thing.  Yet I
find these areas the most interesting to look into.

Can anyone tell me of some good websites or hava any knowledge on upcoming
seminars etc.

Cheers people.

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bibliography fetish?

[I confess I dig a phat bibliography every now and then, annotations
add to frisson, when the moon’s in and the sun’s periplum and all
that’s weird turns in my general direction. Here’s one from the journal
Isis. I liked mucking around in it and perhaps one or two of you may
too, even if you’re reading this in the year 2323. At the very least a
stray high school student who needs to pad hir biblio can cut and paste
w/glee from tidbits herein. I confess I haven’t read ALL of the books
listed here. -rmjon23]

Isis, Dec 2004 v95 i4 pS24(27)
E. Disciplinary classification.


253. CAUDILL, David S. Essay review of The Knowable and the Unknowable.
Metascience 12 (2003): 238-241.

Essay review of Arkady PLOTNITSKY, The Knowable and the Unknowable


254. BURTON, Dan, and David GRANDY. Magic, Mystery, and Science: The
Occult in Western Civilization. (xii + 390 pp.; ill.; bib.; index)
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004. ISBN: 0253343720.

255. DAVIES, Owen. Cunning-Folk: Popular Magic in English History. (246
pp.) London: Hambledon and London, 2003. ISBN: 1852852976.

Covers the period from the 15th to the 20th centuries.

256. ROSE, Elliot. A Razor for a Goat: A Discussion of Certain Problems
in the History of Witchcraft and Diabolism. (xiv + 257 pp.; bib.;
index) Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003. ISBN: 0802067689.

Originally published 1962; now with a new foreword by Richard


257. BALDWIN, Thomas. (Ed.) The Cambridge History of Philosophy
1870-1945. (xiii + 959 pp.; tables; appendix; bib.; index) Cambridge
[U. K.]: Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN: 052159104X.

Comprised of over sixty essays. Traces the history of philosophy from
the 1870s to the early years of the twentieth century, concentrating on
developments in logic, science, metaphysics, political philosophy, and
philosophy of religion.

258. BURNETT, D. Graham. "Mapping Time: Chronometry on Top of the
World." Daedalus 132(2) (2003): 5-19.

Introduction to a special issue devoted to time and measurement of
time. D. Graham BURNETT, Peter L. GALISON, "Einstein, Poincare &
Modernity: A Conversation," 41-55 [ref. 2110]. Danielle S. ALLEN, "The
Flux of Time in Ancient Greece," 62-73 [ref. 893]. Anthony GRAFTON,
"Dating History: The Renaissance and the Reformation of Chronology,"
74-85 [ref. 1148].

259. DAY, Matthew Christopher. "The Gods in Design Space: A Darwinian
Essay on Mind and Religion." Diss. Abstr. Int. A 64 (2003): 1288.

Dissertation at Brown University, 2003. Advisor: Twiss, Summer B. UMI
order no. 3087248. 159 pp.

260. KLEPEC, Peter. "Lyotard and the ‘Second Copernican Turn.’"
Filozofski Vest. 25 (2) (2004): 107-123.

261. KRAJEWSKI, Wladyslaw. "Aristotelian and Leibnizian Concepts of
Possibility." In Aristotle and Contemporary Science, edited by
SFENDONI-MENTZOU et al. [ref. 14], 51-56.

262. LIVINGSTON, Paul M. Philosophical History and the Problem of
Consciousness. (279 pp.) New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
ISBN: 0521838207.

263. MAIA NETO, Jose Raimundo, and Richard Henry POPKIN. (Eds.)
Skepticism in Renaissance and Post-Renaissance Thought: New
Interpretations. JHP Books Series. (252 pp.; bib.; index) Amherst, N.
Y.: Humanity Books, 2004. ISBN: 1591021561.

Contributors: Jose R. Maia NETO, Sarah HUTTON, Gianni PAGANINI,
Jean-Robert ARMOGATHE, Thomas M. LENNON, Luciano FLORIDI, Harry M.
BRACKEN, John Christian LAURSEN.

264. OOSTERHOFF, Prederika. Ideas Have a History: Perspectives on the
Western Search for Truth. (xviii + 375 pp.; bib.; index) Lanham, MD:
University Press of America, 2001. ISBN: 0761820310.

Reviews: [Ref. R612]

265. SMELTZER, Donald. Man and Number. (vii + 118 pp.; ill.; bib.)
Mineola: Dover Publications, 2003. ISBN: 0486432769.

Reprint of a 1958 book that discusses the history of numbers and number
systems in cultures around the world from ancient times to the present.

266. WEDEMEYER, Arnd. "Expanses of Thought: Interpretations of Space
from Kant to Heidegger." Diss. Abstr. Int. A 64 (2003): 515.

Dissertation at The Johns Hopkins University, 2003. Advisor: Tobias,
Rochelle. UMI order no. 3080792. 214 pp.

267. WHITAKER, Campbell. Metaphysics of Explanation: An Inquiry into
the Nature and Philosophical Limits of Explanation. Studies in the
History of Philosophy, 74. (iii + 490 pp.; bib.; index) Lewiston, N.Y.:
Edwin Mellen, 2004. ISBN: 0773464069.


268. ACZEL, Amir D. The Mystery of the Aleph: Mathematics, the
Kabbalah, and the Search for Infinity. (258 pp.; ill.; bib.; index) New
York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2000. ISBN: 156858105X.

269. ANDERSON, Marlow, Victor J. KATZ, and Robin J. WILSON. (Eds.)
Sherlock Holmes in Babylon and Other Tales of Mathematical History. (x
+ 387 pp.; ill.; maps; bib.; index) Washington, DC: The Mathematical
Association of America, 2003. ISBN: 0883855461.

"A collection of 44 articles on the history of mathematics, published
in MAA journals over the past 100 years." (from the publisher)

270. ARTEMIADIS, Nicolaos K. History of Mathematics: From a
Mathematician’s Vantage Point. Translated from Greek by Nikolaos E.
SOFRONIDIS. (ix + 454 pp.; ill.; bibl.; index) Providence: American
Mathematical Society, 2004. ISBN: 0821834037.

271. BERLINGHOFF, William P., and Fernando Q. GOUVEA. Math Through the
Ages: A Gentle History for Teachers and Others. (viii + 216 pp.,
illus.) Farmington, Me.: Oxton House Publishers, 2002. ISBN:

272. BIEN, Reinhold. "Gauss and Beyond: The Making of Easter
Algorithms." Arch. Hist. Exact Sci. 58 (2004): 439-452.

On algorithms for finding the date of Easter.

273. BOREL, Armand. Essays in the History of Lie Groups and Algebraic
Groups. (xiii + 184 pp.; ill.; bib.; indexes) Providence, R.I.:
American Mathematical Society, 2001. ISBN: 0821802887.

274. BRUMMELEN, Glen Van (Ed.). "Abstracts." Hist. Math. 31 (2004):
87-114, 231-258, 376-404.

275. COOKE, Martin C. "Infinite Sequences: Finitist Consequence." Brit.
J. Phil. Sci. 54 (2003): 591-599.

276. Du SAUTOY, Marcus. The Music of the Primes: Searching to Solve the
Greatest Mystery in Mathematics. (335 pp.; ill.; bib.; index) New York:
Harper Collins, 2003. ISBN: 0066210704.

277. GRATTAN-GUINNESS, Ivor. "The Mathematics of the Past:
Distinguishing its History from Our Heritage." Hist. Math. 31 (2004):

278. GROSHOLZ, Emily, and Herbert BREGER. (Eds.) The Growth of
Mathematical Knowledge. (xli + 416 pp.; ill.; bibl.) Boston: Kluwer
Academic Publishers, 2000. ISBN: 0792361512.

Contents: Jaakko HINTIKKA, "Knowledge of Functions in the Growth of
Mathematical Knowledge," 1-16. Michael S. MAHONEY, "Huygens and the
Pendulum: From Device to Mathematical Relation," 17-40 [ref. 1218].
Donald GILLIES, "An Empiricist Philosophy of Mathematics and Its
Implications for the History of Mathematics," 41-58. Ivo SCHNEIDER,
"The Mathematization of Chance in the Middle of the 17th Century,"
59-76 [ref. 1249]. Michael LISTON, "Mathematical Empiricism and the
Mathematization of Chance: Comment on Gillies and Schneider," 77-80.
Emily GROSHOLZ, "The Partial Unification of Domains, Hybrids, and the
Growth of Mathematical Knowledge," 81-91. Craig FRASER,
"Hamilton-Jacobi Methods and Weierstrassian Field Theory in the
Calculus of Variations: A Study in the Interaction of Mathematics and
Physics," 93-101 [ref. 1406]. Paolo MANCOSU, "On Mathematical
Explanation," 103-119. Francois de GANDT, "Mathematics and the
Reelaboration of Truths," 121-132. Mark STEINER, "Penrose and
Platonism," 133-141. Mark WILSON, "On the Mathematics of Spilt Milk,"
143-152. Carlo CELLUCCI, "The Growth of Mathematical Knowledge: An Open
World View," 153-176. Detlef LAUGWITZ, "Controversies about Numbers and
Functions," 177-198. Carl J. POSY, "Epistemology, Ontology, and the
Continuum," 199-219. Herbert BREGER, "Tacit Knowledge and Mathematical
Progress," 221-230. Madeline M. MUNTERSBJORN, "The Quadrature of
Parabolic Segments 1635-1658: A Response to Herbert Breger," 231-256
[ref. 1245]. Michael LISTON, "Mathematical Progress: Ariadne’s Thread,"
257-268. Colin MCLARTY, "Voir-Dire in the Case of Mathematical
Progress," 269-280. Hourya BENIS-SINACEUR, "The Nature of Progress in
Mathematics: The Significance of Analogy," 281-293. Eberhard KNOBLOCH,
"Analogy and the Growth of Mathematical Knowledge," 295-314. Alexei
BARABASHEV, "Evolution of the Modes of Systematization of Mathematical
Knowledge," 315-329. Isabella BASHMAKOVA, a. S. SMIRNOVA, "Geometry:
The First Universal Language of Mathematics," 331-340. Penelope MADDY,
"Mathematical Progress," 341-352. Michael D. RESNIK, "Some Remarks on
Mathematical Progress from a Structuralist’s Perspective," 353-362.
Volker PECKHAUS, "Scientific Progress and Changes in Hierarchies of
Scientific Disciplines," 363-376. Sergei DEMIDOV, "On the Progress of
Mathematics," 377-386. Klaus MAINZER, "Attractors of Mathematical
Progress: The Complex Dynamics of Mathematical Research," 387-406.
Christian THIEL, "On Some Determinants of Mathematical Progress,"

279. HEYDE, C.C., and Eugene SENETA. (Eds.) Statisticians of the
Centuries. (xii + 500 pp.; ill.; bibl.; index) New York: Springer
Verlag, 2001. ISBN: 0387953299; 0387952837.

Reviews: [Ref. R365]

280. HOUZEL, Christian. La Geometrie Algebrique: Recherehes
Historiques. Collection Sciences dans L’Historie. Preface by Roshdi
RASHED. (v + 365 pp.; bib.; index) Paris: Albert Blanchard, 2003. ISBN:

Reviews: [Ref. R384]

281. HOYRUP, Jens. "Conceptual Divergence–Canons and Taboos–and
Critique: Reflections on Explanatory Categories." Hist. Math. 31
(2004): 129-147.

282. LAKOFF, George, and Rafael E. NUNEZ. Where Mathematics Comes From:
How the Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics into Being. (xvii + 493 pp.;
ill.; bibl.; index) New York: Basic Books (Perseus), 2000. ISBN:

"How can

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Two Share Economics Nobel Prize

[The idea that Game Theory plays a major part in one nation not nuking
another – discussed in the article below – is a major hook in Robert
Anton Wilson’s short story, "Von Neumann’s Second Catastrophe,"
collected in _When the Music’s Over_, ed. by Lewis Shiner. These
scientific concepts involving altruism versus competition as an
evolutionary strategy – which I’ve seen in biology, evolutionary
psychology, Buckminster Fuller’s work, cultural anthropology, and in
other areas – needs much, much more recognition at Large, imo.


Two Game Theorists Win the Nobel Prize for Economics
Thomas Schelling’s and Robert Aumann’s work sheds light on conflict and
By Michael Muskal and Ken Ellingwood
Times Staff Writers

October 11, 2005

An American and an American Israeli were awarded the Nobel Memorial
Prize in Economic Sciences on Monday for fostering the understanding of
conflict and cooperation – in matters such as nuclear arms races,
trade battles or price wars.

Thomas C. Schelling, 84, an emeritus professor at the University of
Maryland and Harvard University, and Robert J. Aumann, 75, an emeritus
professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, used "game theory" as a
way to explain social, political and business interactions.

Working separately, the pair have "enhanced our understanding of
conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis," the Royal
Swedish Academy of Sciences said in its prize citation.

Game theory is a branch of mathematics and social science that tries to
explain actions and decisions in terms of choices that players may
make. It can sometimes show why a counterintuitive choice might be

Schelling, a political economist, and Aumann, a mathematician, took
different approaches in trying to explain why sometimes it was in the
best long-term interest of players to foster cooperation rather than

For example, two countries that trade together could find themselves in
conflict over a specific product. Traditional power politics would
argue that one country should force the other to bow to its will.

But Schelling, in his 1960 book "The Strategy of Conflict," explained
that a party could have long-term success by giving up some short-term
advantages, even if that meant worsening its own options. By making
concessions, the stronger party could build trust with the other party
and that long-term relationship could be more beneficial to both.

The work has had an effect on issues such as nuclear proliferation and
building so-called confidence steps in the hope of resolving ethnic and
social divisions in the Middle East. It also helps explain why housing
segregation continues to be a problem, even in areas where residents
say they have no extreme prejudice toward another group.

Schelling, who was born in Oakland and worked for the U.S. government
on the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II, said at a
news conference Monday that his greatest influence had been in nuclear
deterrence. His use of game theory explains why no nation would use a
nuclear weapon because retribution would be assured.

Even today, deterrence would probably prevent nations such as Iran or
North Korea from using nuclear weapons, he said.

"Iran’s main use of nuclear weapons is to hold them in reserve or as a
deterrent to make sure they do not get into a war with the United
States or Russia," Schelling said.

As a mathematician, Aumann’s contribution was to put the power of
numerical analysis behind social insights. He showed that peaceful
cooperation is often an equilibrium solution in a game played many
times. His use of the theory of "repeated games" has become a common
framework for analyzing cooperation.

"The theory of repeated games enhances our understanding of the
prerequisites for cooperation: why it is more difficult when there are
many participants, when they interact infrequently, when interaction is
likely to be broken off, when the time horizon is short or when others’
actions cannot be clearly observed," the academy said.

"Insights into these issues help explain economic conflicts such as
price wars and trade wars, as well as why some communities are more
successful than others in managing common-pool resources," it said.

Aumann’s work has been used to explain issues including how competing
companies can cooperate to maintain high prices and how countries can
enter into environmental agreements, even if some domestic industries
are hurt.

He is a philosophical heir of the Frankfurt School tradition of
focusing on the role of knowledge and information in explaining social
situations. Aumann studied how what one player knows about the other
can influence the decision-making process.

In a primitive example, two players are betting on poker. One knows the
other is inclined to bluff with certain low cards, but not with others.
He then formulates his betting strategy accordingly.

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, and now a dual U.S. and Israeli citizen,
Aumann is also a member of Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s
interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Rationality. He is an
observant Jew who said he once considered studying to become a Talmudic
scholar. His family fled Nazi Germany in 1938 and settled in the United

During a news conference Monday in Jerusalem, Aumann said conflict in
the Middle East was perfect fodder for game-theory analysis of
continuing conflict.

"That’s what it is. It’s an ongoing conflict," said Aumann, with a
lively demeanor and a white beard that reaches to his breast pocket.
"It’s been going on for at least 80 years – more than 80 years. As
far as I can see, it’s going to go on for at least another 80 years."

Americans have now won the economics prize for six consecutive years.
The prize, worth about $1.3 million, is the only one of the Nobel
awards not established by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel. It was
created in 1968 by the Swedish central bank but is awarded through the
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, as are the other Nobel Prizes.

————————————————————————— —–
Muskal reported from Los Angeles and Ellingwood from Jerusalem.



A look at the laureates

Robert J. Aumann

Born: June 8, 1930, in Frankfurt, Germany

Home: Israel

Position: Professor of mathematics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Education: Bachelor’s degree, City College of New York, 1950;
doctorate, MIT, 1955

Key works: "Values of Non-Atomic Games," 1974; "Repeated Games with
Incomplete Information," 1995*

Thomas C. Schelling

Born: April 14, 1921, in Oakland

Home: Bethesda, Md.

Position: Emeritus professor, University of Maryland and Harvard

Education: Bachelor’s degree, UC Berkeley, 1943; doctorate, Harvard,

Key works: "The Strategy of Conflict," 1960; "Arms and Influence," 1966


Compiled by Times research librarian Scott Wilson

Los Angeles Times

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