Listen to a conversation between a student and the professor.
Hi, professor Handerson. That was a really interesting lecture in class today.
Thanks, Tom. Yeah, animals' use of deception, ways they play tricks on other animals, that's a fascinating area.
One we are really just starting to understand.
Yeah, you know, selective adaptations over time are one thing.
Oh, like non-poisonous butterflies that have come to look like poisonous ones.
But the idea that animals of the same species intentionally deceive each other, I have never heard that before.
Right, like, there are male frogs who lower their voices and end up sounding bigger than they really are.
So they do that to keep other frogs from invading their territory?
Right, bigger frogs have deeper voices, so if a smaller frog can imitate that deep voice. Well ...
Yeah, I can see how that might do the trick.
But, anyway, what I wanted to ask was, when you started talking about game theory.
Well, I know a little bit about it, but I am not clear about its use in biology.
Yeah, it is fairly new to biology.
Basically, it uses math to predict what an individual would do under certain circumstances.
But for example, a business sells, oh computer, say, and they want to sell their computers to a big university.
But there is another company bidding too. So, what should they do?
Well, try to offer the lowest price so they can compete, but still make money.
Right, they are competing, like a game, like the frogs.
There are risks with pricing too high, the other company might get the sale, there is also the number and types of computers to consider.
Each company has to find a balance between the cost and benefits.
Well, game theory creates mathematical models that analyze different conditions like this to predict outcomes.
Ok, I get that. But how does it apply to animals?
Well, you know, if you are interested in this topic, it would be perfect for your term paper.
The literature review?
Yeah, find three journal articles about this or another topic that interests you and discuss them.
If there is a conflict in the conclusions or something, that would be important to discuss.
Well, from what I have looked at dealing with game theory, I can't say I understand much of the statistics end.
Well, I can point you to some that presents fairly basic studies, that don't assume much background knowledge.
You'll just need to answer a few specific questions: What was the researchers' hypothesis?
What did they want to find out?
And how did they conduct their research? An then the conclusions they came to.
Learning to interpret these statistics will come later.