The Ranking Game from a Hungarian Perspective

Monday, March 9, 2020
12:00pm
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room, 1219 International Affairs Building (420 W 118th St)

Please join us for a talk with Péter Érdi, author of Ranking: The Unwritten Rules of the Social Game We All Play (Oxford University Press, October 2019).

Human beings are competitive. We like to see who is stronger, richer, better, more clever. Since humans (1) love lists, (2) are competitive, and (3) are jealous of other people, we like ranking. Ranking reflects the reality, illusion, and manipulation of objectivity.

Some situations, like ranking people based on height, can be ranked in objective ways. However, many "Top Ten" lists are based on subjective categorization and give only the illusion of objectivity. In fact, we don't always want to be seen objectively since we don't mind having a better image or rank than deserved. Ranking: The Unwritten Rules of the Social Game We All Play applies scientific theories to everyday experience by raising and answering questions like: Are college ranking lists objective? How do we rank and rate countries based on their fragility, level of corruption, or even happiness? How do we find the most relevant web pages? How are employees ranked?

This book is for people who have a neighbor with a fancier car; employees, who are being ranked by their supervisors; managers, who are involved in ranking but may have qualms about the process; businesspeople interested in creating better visibility for their companies; scientists, writers, artists, and other competitors who would like to see themselves at the top of a success list; or college students who are just preparing to enter a new phase of social competition. Readers will engage in an intellectual adventure to better understand the difficulties of navigating between objectivity and subjectivity and to better identify and modify their place in real and virtual communities by combining human and computational intelligence.

Péter Érdi is the Henry R. Luce Professor of Complex Systems Studies at Kalamazoo College. He is also a research professor in his home town, Budapest, at the Wigner Research Centre of Physics. In addition, he is the founding co-director of the Budapest Semester in Cognitive Science, a study abroad program. Péter is a Member of the Board of Governors and the past vice-president of the International Neural Network Society, and serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Cognitive Systems Research. His books on mathematical modeling of chemical, biological and other complex systems have been published by Princeton University Press, MIT Press, Springer Publishing House.