Nautilus

Minority Groups Lose When They Collaborate with Power

Cailin O’Connor—a philosopher, scientist, and mathematician—may not enjoy tense situations, but they fascinate her. Last year, in a Huffington Post article titled “Game Theory and The Walking Dead,” she wrote that the zombie show’s “plot lines are rich with strategic tension.” She goes on to analyze three of what she calls “the most strategically compelling scenes,” and seems to relish in the fact that the characters—since they so often die—aren’t great game theorists. (Game theory, as she sometimes has to remind her students at the University of California, Irvine, isn’t really about games, but about predicting rational behavior.)

Recently, she’s brought this sort of scrutiny on the behavior of her fellow academics. In a recent paper, she analyzes how they strategically cooperate and bargain at a time when, in most scientific fields, published work is most often co-authored, and how power discrepancies can affect these collaborations—between grad students and professors, say, or between men and women, or between whites and people of color (or, indeed, combinations of these).

In the paper, co-authored with Justin Bruner, a philosopher

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus10 min read
Raising the American Weakling: There are two very different interpretations of our dwindling grip strength.
When she was a practicing occupational therapist, Elizabeth Fain started noticing something odd in her clinic: Her patients were weak. More specifically, their grip strengths, recorded via a hand-held dynamometer, were “not anywhere close to the norm
Nautilus8 min read
Why Our Postwar “Long Peace” Is Fragile
You could be forgiven for balking at the idea that our post-World War II reality represents a “Long Peace.” The phrase, given the prevalence of violent conflict worldwide, sounds more like how Obi-wan Kenobi might describe the period “before the dark
Nautilus5 min read
Why We Need Court Jesters in Space: Behavioral scientists explain why Mars missions need humor.
The great polar explorer Roald Amundsen credited expedition cook Adolf Henrik Lindstrøm as having “rendered greater and more valuable services to the Norwegian polar expedition than any other man.” He was citing not only Lindstrøm’s vaunted prowess a