Life Lessons from Movies

A Beautiful Mind

In Drama, Movies on December 19, 2013 at 9:10 AM

A Beautiful Mind (2001) is a drama based on the book by Sylvia Nasar and directed by Ron Howard about John Forbes Nash (Russell Crowe), a Nobel Prize-winning theoretical mathematician diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Life Lesson:

Learn to tell the difference between what is real and what is only in your mind.

Movie Scene:

John Nash: “Would I embarrass you? Yes, it is possible. You see, I– I am crazy. I take the newer medications, but I still see things that are not here. I just choose not to acknowledge them. Like a diet of the mind, I choose not to indulge in certain appetites. Like my appetite for patterns. Perhaps my appetite to image and to dream.”

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  1. The movie’s explanation of Nash’s equilibrium:
    Hansen (Josh Lucas): “Recall the lessons of Adam Smith, the father of modern economics.”
    Sol (Adam Goldberg): “In competition, individual ambition serves the common good.” […]
    Ainsley (Jason Gray-Stanford): “Every man for himself gentlemen.”
    John Nash (Russell Crowe): “Adam Smith needs revision. If we all go for the blonde, we block each other. Not a single one of us is gonna get her. So then we go for her friends, but they will all give us the cold shoulder because nobody likes to be second choice. Well, what if no one goes for the blonde? We don’t get in each other’s way, and we don’t insult the other girls. That’s the only way we win… Adam Smith said the best result comes from everyone in the group doing what’s best for himself, right? That’s what he said, right? Incomplete. Incomplete, okay? Because the best result will come from everyone in the group doing what’s best for himself and the group. Governing dynamics.”

  2. Wikipedia’s definition of Nash equilibrium:
    “A strategy profile is a Nash equilibrium (NE) if no unilateral deviation in strategy by any single player is profitable for that player.”

    “If every player prefers not to switch (or is indifferent between switching and not) then the set of strategies is a Nash equilibrium. Thus, each strategy in a Nash equilibrium is a best response to all other strategies in that equilibrium.”

    • So in the movie, any one player can switch to “going for the blonde” and it will be profitable for him to do so. Hence, this particular example is probably not a Nash equilibrium. If helping the group is made to be more important, which requires subversion/sacrifice of individual ambition, then this would not serve the common good.

  3. The other thing of note from this movie is that it has gags and humor subtlety interwoven throughout. A drama is enhanced in every way by adding comedy.

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