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Are We All Bozos on this Minivan? (Or the Detroit version of the Prisoners' Dilemma)

By       Message maurice nobert       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink

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We are in a lifeboat containing the captain, 2 officers and 12 crew, outside the shipping lanes, 10 days from the safety of land if we keep at least 6 of the oars and 1 bailing bucket fully manned.  The captain sits on a chest containing gold, gems, sacred relics and priceless tapestries. The value of the treasure lessens by the hour as the perishables become increasingly damaged by the rising seawater. We are unlikely to be rescued.  We have 5 days of subsistence rations for all 15.  Cutting rations further will initiate rapid starvation.  The captain and officers have 4 loaded pistols each.  The crew has no weapons other than the oars.  In case of a mutiny, the captain and officers could easily shoot and kill the crew.

 

Our national bursar has received our SOS via carrier pigeon.  They have dispatched 3 more days of rations by hybrid dolphin (all that the dolphin can stomach).  The dolphin is instructed to disgorge the extra rations only if he judges that it shall not go to further waste.

 

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The dolphin waits patiently off the starboard bow to render judgment.

 

The captain has several choices, none very attractive:

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1)      Share subsistence rations equally and hope that he and at least 7 others can live and row for the 12-15 days it will take to get to shore (it will take longer since all will be debilitated).  This option likely has less than a 20% chance of success since most or all will be dead 1-3 days after the subsistence rations run out in 5 days.

2)      Shoot and kill the 8 weakest of the crew immediately. This option could work if the crew can be totally cowered and the captain and officers can stay awake in shifts guarding the remaining crew for 10 days.

 

The crew has several unsavory options as well:

1)      Just keep rowing while the captain shoots the 8 weakest crewmembers, hoping they can get to land and that the captain doesn’t decide to kill the rest as soon as land is in site, because they are witnesses to the preceding murders.

2)      Mutiny now and hope for the best. 

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3)      Threaten to throw all the oars overboard at the same time, which would be unrecoverable in the rough seas, unless the captain and officers negotiate a satisfactory agreement.

 

Just as the captain and officers are trying to decide whether they think the crew will make good on their threat, and the dolphin begins turning back toward home, one of the crew begins to speak.

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Maurice Nobert lives in Shaker Hts, Ohio. He has 5 children and 1 grandchild. He is a managing partner in SixthSense Partners, an analytically focused management consulting firm.

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