Playing Pyramid Games + Notes

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I gave this presentation (slides + notes) at the Dutch postdoc retreat on June 25 2009. I was asked to talk about my move from a PhD in cell biology to running your own software company. I decided that telling my specific story wouldn't be very interesting to all, instead I tried to distill the 10 lessons I learned to help people understand science and decide whether they should stay or leave science. A version without notes is also available. Big thanks to Matt Wood for his slides design.

Text of Playing Pyramid Games + Notes

  • 1. Playing Pyramid Games Alexander Griekspoor
  • 2. 1 Whats a pyramid game? This is an ad from the 1930s.
  • 3. Money 1 Air 10 The guy tries to sell air to 10 of his friends, who give him money.
  • 4. Money 1 Air 10 More Money Thin Air 100 Who sell it each to 10 more friends in exchange for more money.
  • 5. Money 1 Air 10 More Money Thin Air Loads of 100 Very Thin Money Air 1000 Image source: wikipedia article on Madoff Recently shown how dangerous it is by a guy called Madoff who almost single handedly brought the whole banking industry to the ground.
  • 6. PI Postdoc You! Graduate Student The pyramid seems familiar doesnt it? Science is exactly the same. Instead of money the layer above gets citations in exchange for a lot of promises and wishful thinking. And this is where you are.
  • 7. Science == Pyramid Game If science is a pyramid game, how do we understand it? What we need is some game theory.
  • 8. Game Theory Typically in game theory you start out with describing the game, which we just did, and then you analyse different strategies, trying to understand the system and choices the games players make.
  • 9. 10 rules that made me understand Science 3 or 4 years ago I was sitting somewhere in the audience, exactly like a few of you for sure. Now Im doing something completely different. In between Ive learned a lot. Here are the 10 rules of the game that made me understand science.
  • 10. ...and step out of it. ...and step out of it. I hope it will help some of you to make the same big choice.
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MEKENTOSJ DOES NOT WARRANT AGAINST INTERFERENCE WITH YOUR ENJOYMENT OF THE MEKENTOSJ SOFTWARE, THAT THE FUNCTIONS CONTAINED IN THE MEKENTOSJ SOFTWARE WILL MEET YOUR REQUIREMENTS, THAT THE OPERATION OF THE MEKENTOSJ SOFTWARE WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR-FREE, THAT THE MEKENTOSJ SOFTWARE WILL BE COMPATIBLE WITH THIRD PARTY SOFTWARE OR THAT DEFECTS IN THE MEKENTOSJ SOFTWARE WILL BE CORRECTED. NO ORAL OR WRITTEN INFORMATION OR ADVICE GIVEN BY MEKENTOSJ OR AN MEKENTOSJ AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE SHALL CREATE A WARRANTY. SHOULD THE MEKENTOSJ SOFTWARE PROVE DEFECTIVE, YOU ASSUME THE ENTIRE COST OF ALL NECESSARY SERVICING, REPAIR OR CORRECTION. SOME JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW THE EXCLUSION OF IMPLIED WARRANTIES OR LIMITATIONS ON APPLICABLE STATUTORY RIGHTS OF A CONSUMER, SO THE ABOVE EXCLUSION AND LIMITATIONS MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU. 8. Limitation of Liability. TO THE EXTENT NOT PROHIBITED BY LAW, IN NO EVENT SHALL MEKENTOSJ BE LIABLE FOR PERSONAL INJURY, OR ANY INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, Game Theory INDIRECT OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES WHATSOEVER, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF PROFITS, LOSS OF DATA, BUSINESS INTERRUPTION OR ANY OTHER COMMERCIAL DAMAGES OR LOSSES, ARISING OUT OF OR RELATED TO YOUR USE OR INABILITY TO USE THE MEKENTOSJ SOFTWARE, HOWEVER CAUSED, REGARDLESS OF THE THEORY OF LIABILITY (CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE) AND EVEN IF MEKENTOSJ HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. SOME JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW THE LIMITATION OF LIABILITY FOR PERSONAL INJURY, OR OF INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, SO THIS LIMITATION MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU. In no event shall Mekentosj's total liability to you for all damages (other than as may be required by applicable law in cases involving personal injury) exceed the amount of fty dollars ($50.00). The foregoing limitations will apply even if the above stated remedy fails of its essential purpose. 9. Export Control. You may not use or otherwise export or reexport the Mekentosj Software except as authorized by Dutch law and the laws of the jurisdiction in which the Mekentosj Software was obtained. disclaimer 10. Government End Users. The Mekentosj Software and related documentation are "Commercial Items", as that term is dened at 48 C.F.R. 2.101, consisting of "Commercial Computer Software" and "Commercial Computer Software Documentation", as such terms are used in 48 C.F.R. 12.212 or 48 C.F.R. 227.7202, as applicable. Consistent with 48 C.F.R. 12.212 or 48 C.F.R. 227.7202-1through 227.7202-4, as applicable, the Commercial Computer Software and Commercial Computer Software Documentation are being licensed to U.S. Government end users (a) only as Commercial Items and (b) with only those rights as are granted to all other end users pursuant to the terms and conditions herein. 11. Controlling Law and Severability. This License will be governed by and constructed in accordance with the laws of The Netherlands, as applied to agreements entered into and to be performed entirely within The Netherlands between The Netherlands residents. This License shall not be governed by the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, the application of which is expressly excluded. If for any reason a court of competent jurisdiction nds any provision, or portion thereof, to be unenforceable, the remainder of this License shall continue in full force and effect. 12. Complete Agreement; Governing Language. This License constitutes the entire agreement between the parties with respect to the use of the Mekentosj Software licensed hereunder and supersedes all prior or contemporaneous understandings regarding such subject matter. No amendment to or modication of this License will be binding unless in writing and signed by Mekentosj. Any translation of this License is done for local requirements and in the event of a dispute between the English and any First a disclaimer. This presentation is highly opinionated. You might disagree. I kind of hope you do at times. Still, please ask questions at end, Ill try to keep it not too long to allow for discussion. Ill be around later as well, Id be happy to hear your point of you or convince me Im wrong and should see things differently.
  • 12. Rule1 of pyramid games A classic.