Tag Archives: Adam Curtis

The Trap: We Will Force You To Be Free


This documentary look at the restrictions imposed on ourselves by simplified economic and research models into human behaviour by the wonderful Adam Curtis. Our ideas of freedom have led us to some how restrict our true selves.

“how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today’s idea of freedom.”

This documentary was originally released in 2007. I’ve only just come across this since watching the All Watched Over By Machines of Love and Grace.

Curtis discusses Game Theory in relation to the two models of liberty as highlighted by Isaiah Berlin. Game Theory originally used as part of the USA’s Cold War Strategy. This used mathematical models of human behaviour and this eventually became embedded into economic research into the Free Market. Curtis highlights the important role of John Nash (he of the movie, A Beautiful Mind) with regards to this particular theory, citing that Nash believed that all humans were inherently suspicious and selfish. More described in this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nash_equilibrium.

As usual with Curtis, he has managed to delve in and really explore such a broad subject and dig into key historical events. There’s an interesting discussion raised regarding the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and the part Neo-cons in the US (influenced by Game Theory) had in overthrowing these democratically elected Marxists, because it wasn’t quite the right democracy that the US wanted. He then discussed the real affect of economic freedom in Russia using the Shock Therapy tactics from US advisors.

Curtis concludes that the game theory/free market model is now overshadowed by economic research into how irrational models of behaviour is appropriate and useful. Cheekily, he comments that there have been formal experiments that prove that people who behaved exactly according to the mathematical models created by game theory are economists themselves, and psychopaths.

An interesting insight into the dangers of narrow thinking.

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