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Is Game Theory a scientific theory?

A wonderful quote about the nature of Game Theory

Game theory is no doubt wonderful for telling stories. However, it flunks the main test of any scientific theory: The ability to make empirically testable predictions. In most real-life situations, many different outcomes -- from full cooperation to near-disastrous conflict -- are consistent with the game-theory version of rationality. 

by Michael Mandel, on Kahneman and Smith 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics

Interestingly enough, as of Dec. 1st 2008, google finds 3 million pages about “game theory”, half of them containing criticisms about it. Mostly about the abuse of the “rationality assumption” but also about the confusion about using it as a normative theory (i.e. a theory of how humans must behave) instead of descriptive picture (i.e. a mathematical way to explain how humans could behave). More on normative vs. descriptive analysis in the wikipedia.

Author

admin

Professor at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and MIT Medialab. Working on Complex Systems, Social Networks and Urban Science.