Game theory is no doubt wonderful for telling stories. However, it flunks the main test of any scientific theory: The ability to make empirically testable predictions. In most real-life situations, many different outcomes -- from full cooperation to near-disastrous conflict -- are consistent with the game-theory version of rationality.On the contrary! There has been at least one testable prediction generated by game theory, from Shakespeare's Henry V, when the king gives orders to slaughter all the French prisoners in English captivity:
To put it a different way: If the world had been blown up during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, game theorists could have explained that as an unfortunate outcome -- but one that was just as rational as what actually happened. Similarly, an industry that collapses into run-amok competition, like the airlines, can be explained rationally by game theorists as easily as one where cooperation is the norm.
But, hark! what new alarum is this same?John Sutherland thought this scene makes Henry a war criminal, and indeed it does, but at least one other critic (I forget who, William Empson maybe) noted the strategic logic behind all of this: Henry had all the French prisoners killed in sight of the French army, so that all the English soldiers knew the French knew, and would then assume that the French would kill them if they lost the battle and were taken prisoner. Right? Henry was just giving the English incentive not to surrender. And they ended up defeating the much larger French army at Agincourt, so his theory panned out.
The French have reinforced their scatter'd men:
Then every soldier kill his prisoners:
Give the word through.