Revenge of the Pies

This post will summarize the learning from the last couple, which can then be safely ignored.

In my original “pie” post, Dividing the Pie, I briefly discussed the possibility of using the fairness (C) measure to find optimal ways of dividing a prize fund for a particular tourney. But I then said it wouldn’t serve that purpose because the payout scheme would always devolve into a winner-takes-all.

That was incorrect, but incorrect in a really trivial and unuseful way. What I found, after many, many rounds of simulation, was that that happens in some very low-luck scenarios, but not in the more typical case. Well, it turns out that what does happen in a more typical case is that the payout scheme devolves into an equally unhelpful share-the-wealth division.

Nothing to see here. Move along. I had a bad idea, and then spent a couple of days discovering that it was, indeed, a bad idea – just bad in a novel way.

Sorry to have wasted your time. Please come back. I promise to write something better soon.

So why don’t I just delete the posts?

Well, I was once a scientist after a fashion, and one of my specialties was the sociology of information. I liked to look at and think about the way that scientists interact with each other and with their literatures.

Imagine that my recent “pie” posts had been submitted to the International Archives of Tourneygeekery (the “IATg”). The work wouldn’t have been published. It wouldn’t even have been sent out for peer review. The IATg, like any self-respecting scientific journal, wants to publish exciting articles with important results. And the discovery that bad ideas are, indeed, bad ideas doesn’t get anyone excited.

And that’s a problem. It leads to what’s sometimes called the publication bias. It’s a bias that causes all sorts of errors to become part of “the literature”.

When scientists have bad ideas, they usually manage to see why the ideas are bad. But sometimes they are not able to do this. Then the bad idea looks like an important good idea, and it gets published. No matter that it’s something that has been dismissed as hogwash by everyone who’s looked at it so far. By seeking to publish only important work, the journals are complicit in a process that causes layers of sludgy bad ideas to clog up the literature.

Now the IATg does not, alas, exist. As far as I can tell, there’s no real scientific journal that publishes the kind of work you read here on tourneygeek.

But there is that one guy. Me. I absorbed, in a past life, some of the norms of science. I try to write tourneygeek with the rigor I would bring to work submitted to the IATg, if only it existed. And, as proprietor of tourneygeek, I also get to act as the gatekeeper for what gets published. And I decree that tourneygeek, in the interest of eliminating publication bias, will publish negative results!

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