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The Ultimatum Game

A social experiment that may offer an explanation about the recent political developments in the world.

President Obama put it right: "Now is the greatest time to be alive".

Compared to 100 or, in most cases, even 50 years ago, thanks to technological advancements and political stability we live longer, our kids get better education, we have fewer wars, we have access to services and goods that even kings could not afford.

So how come people seem to be so angry to the point of making self-destructing decisions? Why do they revolt, why are they so prone to making (political) decisions that could jeopardise even their own access to all this?

The ultimatum game is a game in economic experiments.
The first player (the proposer) receives a sum of money and proposes how to divide the sum between the proposer and the other player.
The second player (the responder) chooses to either accept or reject this proposal. If the second player accepts, the money is split according to the proposal. If the second player rejects, neither player receives any money. The game is typically played only once so that reciprocation is not an issue.

From a "rational", "profit maximising" point of view the best strategy for the second player is to accept any offer. I mean he has to choose between getting something or nothing. The best choice is obvious, right? Well, that's not what people think.

When carried out between members of a shared social group (e.g., a village, a tribe, a nation, humanity) [...] offers of less than 30% are often rejected. -Wikipedia: Ultimatum game (worth reading the explanations section)

Technology has created an incredible amount of surplus during the last 50 years. Those who are angry are not angry because they don't have access to it, or because their lives are worst. They are angry because they they did not get a "fair" share of the pie -"fair" compared to what they think they deserve, or to what they think others got, that's not the point here.

And they are ready to blow the whole deal up.

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